Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Y-DNA Projects - 16 December 2014

Where I am at with my Y-DNA Projects, 16 December 2014

My Wife’s Y-DNA - Ancestry

My wife's brother tested his Y-DNA with Ancestry.Com. Because they have quit supporting Y-DNA and because I haven’t done a transfer of the Ancestry results to Family Tree DNA, there are no new results. I’ve thought about transferring his results to Family Tree DNA however, it costs $58.00 and I’m feeling broke this month. Maybe next year. Also, I’m disillusioned by my Y-DNA results (see below), so maybe not next year either. We’ll see.

Family Tree DNA 

Join the Genealogy Revolution.
Search for your surname in the largest DNA database of its kind!

My Surname

My closest hit to my DNA (89% likelihood a common ancestor in 8 generations) still hasn't answered. So, I emailed him again last month. Still no answer. No new matches either. Sigh....

My Friend T-Roy

I've been helping a friend, T-Roy, with his genealogy. In particular, his paternal side is lost. We know precious little regarding his grandfather and nothing before that. Because of the many disappointments I have had with Y-DNA testing, I am reluctant to recommend that path any longer. Maybe an atDNA test will provide results. There is such a large base if atDNA test subjects.


I’ve decided to break my blogs regarding DNA testing into two groups threads. This one regarding Y-DNA and another thread regarding atDNA. That way I can track and report statuses on each of the project areas better.

------------Disclaimer -------------

Friday, December 12, 2014

Donna in Eau Claire, WI, at the Grand Theater – Feb 12, 1920

I didn’t know that Donna and the “Chin Chin” company were in Minneapolis on February 1st until I read the newspapers announcing “Chin Chin” was coming to the Grand Theatre. That bit of information will provide keys to finding further newspaper articles.

"Chin Chin" ad
Feb 1, 1920
Eau Claire Leader via
Advertising for “Chin Chin” began unusually early for the Eau Claire showing on Feb 1st. I found it unusual that the initial ad for the show specifically featured Roy Binder and not his co-star Walter Wills. On another page of the Feb 1st paper, there was a photo of the two that duo with a caption stating that “the company is now playing in Minneapolis to crowded houses.” Unfortunately the photo is particularly blotchy.

There was another of those unusual ads on February 4th that featured Roy Binder, and not Walter Wills. Finally, on February 5th a regular ad shows in “Eau Claire Reader.” Those ads continued on the 6th and 7th. Also on the 7th ran a nice little article which stated:

“Chin Chin” has a name of magic – Music that is sorcery – bears and little furry things that open their mouths amazingly, and wave their ears when you aren’t expecting it; coolies, little nifty Chinese maids, mandarins, tiny children, clowns and bareback riders (with the really, truly, big white circus horse ambling gently and flatly around the ring), toys that wigwag their little arms, a great stir of fun, a dainty little maid, a Japanese doll woman, and Aladdin – the figure looms high in all child’s minds, be they three or thirty – and Chin Hop Lo, with his partner in mischief, Chin Hop Hi, the slaves of the lamp. All this and so much more that no one could ever tell you about.

The Eau Claire Leader has another article which ran on the 8th. This advertising article includes a photo of two of the cast members either dancing or in some kind of embrace. I can’t tell from the blotchy scan if it is Donna in the photo or not. I think it is, but I can’t tell for sure. There were only four women in the show that were ever highlighted so the photo certainly has a one in four chance of being Donna. The same photo ran again on the 12th, this time the image available is somewhat better. As I look at the photo more and more I think it is probably Irene McKay and not Donna. Hopefully, we will find a clearer version of this photo somewhere.

Finally, in the February 11th paper we learn why the focus on Roy Binder. That article headlines with:

Eau Claire Boy and Walter Wills Constitute Principal Feature of Musical Comedy.

It looks like the show was a hit. A post show review says, "Donna Montran, stately goddess of the lamp, carried off honors for her singing, particularly of ‘Violet.’”

In another post show article where is mention that the Kiwanis were expecting the Tom Brown Saxophone Sextette to play at their meeting but the band couldn’t because much of the “Chin Chin” company had to go to Chippewa Falls to find hotel lodging. The show played at Janesville the next night, so having some of the company needing to stay in Chippewa Falls must have been due to inadequate facilities in Eau Claire.

The Grand Opera House

Grand Opera House, Eau Claire, WI
Photo Courtesy: Eau Claire 
The Grand Opera House was once the cultural center of Eau Claire. In the early 1870’s, a woefully inadequate, even by 1870 standards, Music Hall was built. In the early 1880’s the editor of the “Free Press” newspaper ran a series of articles and editorials promoting the building of an Opera House. In 1883, the Grand Opera House was built on Barstow, between Main and River (today Graham) Streets.

In 1897 the Grand Opera House hosted its first motion picture, casting its “magic shadows upon a sheet.”

The Julius Cahn Report for 1913-1914 states that the Grand Opera House had a 32 x 32 foot stage and a capacity of just over 1200, 508 on the floor, 382 in the balcony, 300 in the gallery and 12 boxes.

After World War I, the theatre began a slow decline. “Chin Chin” played in 1920 early in the theatre’s decline. In 1923, the theatre “closed for the summer;” by 1930 it was closed for good. The building was demolished in 1938.

A number of sources indicate that the old Opera House was haunted and the hauntings have continued on in the replacement building. According to Haunted Places, the “old Opera House site is home to a spirit who moves chairs and closes doors.“

According to Haunted Chippewa Valley[i], says the building that replaced it still says Opera House on the outside and in the front there is a plaque with a picture and information about the former site and theatre.

Further Research

  • Visit the site of the Grand Opera House and get a photo of the plaque and information about the theatre.
  • Find information regarding "Chin Chin" playing in Minneapolis.


[i] Bell, Devon. 2013. Haunted Chippewa Valley.

Friday, December 5, 2014

My First “Job” – Trapper

I was recently catching up on some videos I have long wanted to watch.  One of them was the Friday Keynote speech as the 2014 Roots Tech conference.  In the speech, Judy G. Russell, JD, CGSM , CGLSM , spoke about many of the day-to-day things that we don’t know about our ancestors. She reminded us that unless our ancestors proactively left stories about their lives, any such information is lost in three generations.  She also reminded us that our stories will be important for our great-grand children and later generations and that those stories will be lost unless we pass them on, in an intentional and accurate way, to future generations. A day or two later I was speaking with my wife and told her a story of my youth that I hadn’t told her before and probably haven’t thought of in decades.  I then realized it was the kind of story that future generations might like to know about.  It is a story that I’m certain neither of my sons know about, let alone my grandchildren or my great-grandchildren.

Fridley House abt 1958
From personal photo archives.
When I was nine or ten years old, we lived in Fridley, Minnesota, in a tiny little house on Northeast 2nd Street. The house was a 480 square foot, one bedroom house that still stands today. It did have a large closet in the bedroom. That closet acted as my bedroom. There was just enough space for a single bed and a small dresser.  The actual bedroom is where my mom and grandmother slept.  I had to walk through it to get to my “bedroom.”

My mom was a “single mom” and the sole support for herself, my grandmother, and me. Needless to say, a woman working in 1959-60 America didn’t earn much. We certainly had enough food, were warm in the winter, and the times were good, but there just wasn’t much money.  Certainly, not enough for me to have an allowance or a way to buy Christmas presents or birthday gifts for either of them.

Gopher Mounds
Photo Courtesy: Minnesota
Wild Animal Management
Across the street from us was an empty lot, beyond that was Main Street.  As a developing suburb, Fridley had a problem with gophers.  Although Minnesota is nicknamed the “Gopher State,” gophers are not particularly loved and are destructive varmints. It is the mounds that pocket gophers create that are the biggest problem.  They are typically much larger than molehills and destroy lawns.  Also, in fields where cutting machines try to manage growth, which was done in Fridley to reduce fire threats, the cutters would hit mounds and be damaged or at least dulled. As such, the City of Fridley put a bounty on gophers.  Bring the right hind foot of a gopher to City Hall, about a mile away, and they would pay 15 cents per foot.

In those days there was nothing build west of Main Street all the way to the railroad tracks. The area was several blocks wide and many blocks long of nothing but scrub grasses and sand burrs, which we called “Fridley Strawberries." To earn money I took up trapping gophers. At first, I trapped across the street and a few neighbor’s yards and just a few traps. Then I expanded to the large field across Main Street and used my earnings to purchase more and more traps. To trap a pocket gopher, first you find a fresh mound. Then use a probe to find the tunnel near that fresh mound and dig out the area to access those tunnels; there are two tunnels at each mound.  Then, you place the traps into the tunnels one in each each direction so that when the gopher crosses over the trap and presses the pressure plate when they come along that tunnel. Stake the trap so it won’t move if you get a poor hit or if a dog or raccoon tries to take away your catch.  Cover the mound back so it is dark again. Come back the next day, or two at the most, and pull out the dead critter. Sometimes, you’d even get two, one in each trap in each of the tunnels.

Gopher Trap
Courtesy: Garden
Web Forum
At my peak of trapping I had about 35 traps and during the summer I spent many hours tending my them, gathering the feet, and about once a week going to City Hall to collect my bounty. 

One summer the man who counted gopher feet and paid the bounty went on vacation.  While he was gone, a woman was supposed to count the feet and pay the bounty.  I don’t think she like being tasked with the job and apparently she didn’t know the right hind foot from the left front foot. One of the other kid trappers figured out that she didn’t know the difference and would pay for each foot brought to her. So instead of getting 15 cents per gopher, you could get 60 cent’s per gopher.  It didn’t take long for all the kids trapping to learn of it. Kids were stealing other kids traps, raiding traps for the bounty and doing all kinds of things to exploit the poor woman’s lack of knowledge.  Today, I feel guilty about exploiting her and the bounty system.  I know it was wrong, but at the time, I felt everyone was doing it so it was okay.  I know better now.

In relating this story to my wife, I recognized that trapping gophers was the first work I did where someone other than a family member paid me. It dawned on me that is the definition of a job and I then realized trapping was my first job.

The following year, I got my first (of many) paper route and gave up trapping. 

We lived in the Fridley house longer than anywhere else when I was growing up – about 2-1/2 years.  All of third grade, all of fourth grade, and about half of fifth grade. The next house we lived in was in Spring Lake Park. Another one bedroom. My bedroom was an unheated “breezeway” but that is another story….

Friday, November 28, 2014

Bio – Margaret Mary Lamb (1860-c.1927)

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 47 – Margaret Mary Lamb (1860-)

By – Don Taylor 

No Story Too Small
It is often said that when you do research it is imperative that you obtain the actual record and not rely solely upon indexes.  Margaret Mary Lamb McAllister is an example of that.  I thought I know Margaret’s death.  Right name, right place, about the right year, even the right cemetery, or so it appeared.  However, when I ordered an actual death certificate I was surprised.  Not the right Margaret McAllister. Back to the drawing board to find the right Margaret McAllister’s death information.

Bio – Margaret Mary Lamb (1860-c.1927)

Margaret Mary Lamb was born in April of 1860, in Appleby-in-Westmorland, Cumbria, England, to Edward and Jane Lamb (or Lambe). Appleby-in-Westmorland is near the Lake District National Park in northern England.

Margaret’s father died when she was young. We don’t know if the family moved to Egremont, Cumbria, England, before or after Edward died. However, we do know that according to the 1871 England Census, her mother was widowed and running a beer house in Egremont . She also had an older sister, also named Jane, who lived with them at the beerhouse. They had a sixteen-year-old domestic servant, Elizabeth Wardle, living with them as well.

St. Michael's Church in Workington before fire.
Margaret moved up the coast to Maryport and was living there when she married Peter McAllister on 22 August 1878. At the Parish (St. Michael’s) Church in Workington.
Margaret was 18 and Peter was a 26 year-old seaman living in Workington.

The following year, 1879, their first child, Frank, was born.  On March 21, 1881, their second child, Elizabeth was born and the young family was living in Workington on High Church Street.

The following year, 1882, their second son, Edward Lamb McAllister was born in Cockermouth.  Cockermouth is about 7 miles east of Workington and is where Peter was born. Peter may have had family there when Margaret gave birth or they may have lived there a short time.
In 1884, Hannah was born and the family was back in Workington, living at 8 Lamport Street.

SS British King
Photo courtesy: Ancestry.Com
In June of 1885, Margaret’s husband Peter headed for America and left Margaret in England. In June the following year, Sargaret headed to America with her four children, Frank, Elizabeth, Edward, and Hannah, aboard the steamship The British King, which arrived at Philadelphia.  She and the children joined Peter in Catasauqua, Lehigh, Pennsylvania.

1887 was a year of both joy and tragedy. In March, their fifth child, John William, was born, but in May their oldest son, Frank, who was only eight-years old, drowned in the Lehigh Canal.

In 1889, their last child, Joseph M. McAllister was born in Catasauqua.

House that Peter built at corner of Vine and Cologne
"Vine" was changed to "Berg" and house was
numbered 2800 Berg
Photo Courtesy: Google Maps.
The family moved to Pittsburgh sometime in 1890 as evidenced by Peter taking out a building permit for a 16x32 two-story house at corner of Vine & Cologne in Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh in the early 1890 was a tumultuous time in the steel industry with labor-management clashes regularly.  Margaret’s husband, Peter, was in the thick of it, being arrested at the Homestead Steel Plant on 2 September 1892.

On 24 February 1894, Margaret’s husband, Peter, became a citizen of the United States. Due to naturalization laws, when Peter became a citizen, so did Margaret. Vine Street was renamed Berg Street and the family lived there, 2800 Berg Street, which is at the corner of Berg and Cologne. The house that Peter built stands today.

The family moved over to Patterson Street sometime between 1894 and 1900.

In 1905, Margaret’s daughter Hannah took up with an older man, Rufus Darling, who was more than twice Hannah’s age. Hannah was 21 and Rufus was 48. In March of 1906, Hannah had her first child, Elizabeth.  In December of 1906, she got pregnant again. This time Rufus made an honest woman of her and in February, 1907, Hannah and Rufus were married. In August of 1907, their second child, Robert Harry Darling, was born.

About 1906, son Edward Lamb McAllister married Violet Yellig. They had three children, Edward L., Albert W., and Paul Y.  Violet died in October of 1910. And Edward married Therisa Bauckmann. Therisa died in November, 1924 of a cerebral hemorrhage and stroke. The following year, 1925, Edward was murdered in Savannah, GA.

In 1909, their oldest daughter, Elizabeth, married Harold Lane. They would go on to have three children, James Allen, Frank C., and Katherine Lane.

Family oral history indicates that Margaret sided with Hannah during the events between Hannah and Rufus, while Peter was aghast at the idea of his youngest daughter taking up with a man nearly as old as he was. It is clear that Margaret and Peter were estranged before 1910. The 1910 census indicates Margaret living in the Berg Street house with son Joseph, daughter Elizabeth and Elizabeth’s husband Harold Land and Elizabeth’s son James.  I haven’t been able to find Peter in the 1910 Census; however, in 1914 he is living at 2237 Salisbury in Pittsburgh.

On 13 July 1913, tragedy struck again and daughter Hannah died of “pelvic peritonitis due to a ruptured ovarian cyst.“ Hannah’s two young children, Elizabeth and Robert, came to live with their grandmother, Margaret, rather then with their father, Rufus.

About the same time, in 1913, Margaret’s youngest son, Joseph, married Myrtle (last name unknown). They would go on to have four children,  Margaret, Jack, Lewis, and Elizabetha.

View of Downtown Pittsburgh Today from
411 Arlington Ave.
Courtesy: Google Maps
The 1920 Census finds the 59 year-old Margaret living at 411 Arlington Ave. Interestingly, she is listed as Widowed, although her husband Peter was living cross town at 2237 Salisberry Street. Peter would get a passport in 1921 and return to England, apparently never to return. Living with Margaret was her 13 year-old granddaughter, Elizabeth, and her 12 year-old grandson, Robert Harry Darling.  Also living with Margaret was her son John, John’s wife Emma, and their two daughters, Lillian and Helen. Today, 411 Arlington Ave. is a vacant lot on the side of a very steep hill, but has a great view.

Margaret is mentioned as being alive when her son, Edward Lamb McAllister, was murdered January,  1925, in Georgia; however, I have found no mention of her after that.

There was a Margaret McAllister, who was also born in England and who died in Pittsburgh on 27 Mar 1929.  For a while I thought this was my Margaret McAllister’s death date; however, when I ordered and received a copy of the death certificate, I found that it was a different Margaret McAllister, this one was married to a John McAllister and the informant didn’t fit our McAllister family.  So, this is one of those cases where I thought I had valid information but once the actual document was received I knew it was wrong.

Further Actions: 

  • Continue search for Margaret McAllister’s death and burial.  Because she owned the property at 411 Arlington, there should be records of that property transfer and possibly probate records.
  • Follow other descendants of Margaret McAllister and connect with cousins. 

List of Greats

1. Hannah (Anna) McAllister Darling (1884-1913)
2. Margaret Mary Lamb McAllister (1860-c.1928)
3. Edward Lamb (…-c. 1875)

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Donna Darling - May 17-18, 1924 - Babcock Theatre, Billings, MT

Donna Darling in Billings, MT, at the Babcock Theatre – Date: May 17-18, 1924

I’m still looking to find more about Donna’s time in the Spring of 1924. I know she was in Bridgeport, CT in early February but have nothing on her whereabouts until she appears in Billings, Montana, at the Babcock Theater on May 17th and 18th. There is a lot of time and there are many places between the two shows. More to research.

Babcock ad featuring
Donna Darling
Billings Gazette, 17 May 1924
Courtesy: Newspapers.Com

 I know very little (yet) about Donna’s “Novel Song and Dance Romance.” We doknow that the Babcock Theater advertised it as a headline act within its vaudeville offering for the day Featuring “Donna Darling” in their “Five Big Acts” for the day. [i]
The Billings Gazette of May 18th shows a photo of “Donna and the Boys” on Page 16. [ii] 
Unfortunately, all the copies I could find of the paper, both Newspapers.Com and Newspaper Archive.Com, have really poor quality  
Donna Darling and Boys
Billings Gazette, 18 May 1924
Courtesy: Newspapers.Com

images of the paper. If anyone has access to the original papers and would do a photo image of the paper I’d really love it. In the meantime, I’ll put trying to find a copy of it on my “want to do list.”
I also know on June 2nd she is in Oakland, California. Although it is only two weeks later, I doubt she went that distance without a few shows along the way. So much more to research.

Babcock Theatre

Babcock Theatre Building, c. 1913
Courtesy: Puget Sound Pipeline
In 1896, A. L. Babcock opened the Billings Opera House. Mr. Babcock operated that theater until September 22, 1906 when the building burned. Mr. Babcock built a new theater, the Babcock, a few blocks away and opened it just over a year later, on December 23, 1907.[iii]

At the time it was built, at the time was considered the largest theater between Minneapolis and Seattle.

The Julius Cahn Gus Hill Theatrical Guide, 1922 Supplement, reports that the Babcock Theatre seated 1200 people and the stage was 36x32 feet.

On February 21, 1935, the Babcock Theatre was rented out for a prize fight. It was a real “smoker.” The fire chief ask there be no smoking in the theatre, however, the patrons didn’t listen and a fire broke out under the boxing ring. The theatre entrance lobby and 13 rows of seating under the balcony were all that survived. The roof collapsed during the night, the proscenium arch failed, the stage was ruined and the amazing pipe organ demolished. The owner at the time considered rebuilding as entirely apartments or hotel, but decided to rebuild as a theatre. Within six months it was rebuilt. The reopening was a huge affair with the street being closed to handle the crowds, bands playing, and telegrams from Hollywood celebrities including Katherine Hepburn, W.C. Fields, Mae West, and Bette Davis [iv].
Billings, Montana. the Babcock Theater
Babcock Today

Today, after extensive renovations from 2008 through 2012, it houses 14 apartment units, retail shopping, and again operates a theatre for live performances.[v] The next live show scheduled at the Babcock is D. L. Hughley[vi], stand-up comedian, the original host of “Comic View”, and the eponymous character of The Hughleys.
Ninety years after Donna Darling and Company performed, comedy is still alive at the Babcock.

Further Research
Find better quality image of The Billings Gazette, 18 May  1924, Page 16.


[i] The Billings Gazette (Billings, Montana) 17 May 1924, Sat • Page 3 – Advertisement: Babcock Theatre – “Donna Darling and Company “ Source: Newspapers.Com, et al.
[ii] The Billings Gazette (Billings, Montana) 18 May 1924, Sun • Page 16 - Feature Vaudeville_Act. Source: Newspapers.Com, et al.
[iii] United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places , Registration Form – Babcock Theatre Building – Page 13: http://www.nps.gov/nr/feature/places/pdfs/13000153.pdf

[iv] United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places , Registration Form – Babcock Theatre Building – Page 22: http://www.nps.gov/nr/feature/places/pdfs/13000153.pdf
[v] Wikipedia: Billings, Montana; the historic Babcock Theater http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Billings,_Montana
[vi] Babcock Theater website - http://www.babcocktheater.com/