Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Martha Ann Bryan Long (1820-c.1900)

52 Ancestors #15 – Martha Ann Bryan Long (1820-c1900)

Bio –Martha Ann Bryan Long (1820-c.1900)

Martha Ann Bryan was born on the 24th of April, 1820, the fourth of nine children of John W Bryan and Cherry Price of Martin County, North Carolina.

She grew up in Martin County.  When she was sixteen, her mother Cherry died. Her father then married one of Cherry’s cousins.

In 1844 Martha married Samuel Aquilla Long, also of Martin County.

Ariel view Conoho Creek on right.
Thanks to Google Maps.
In 1860,  the family lived in District 9, Martin County, North Carolina and had a mail address of Hamilton.  Apparently they lived about half way between Goose Nest and Conoho Creek.  An area that today is open farmland.

It isn’t clear, but it appears that Martha & Samuel may have had 11 children.
1.     John          b. abt 1841
2.     Joseph      b. 28 Mar 1844
3.     William     b. at 1845
4.     Ann           b. 7 Jul 1846
5.     Mary         b. abt 1848
6.     Sarah        b. 7 May 1850
7.     Benjamin  b. 8 May 1852
8.     Susan        b. abt 1854
9.     Martha     b. abt 1856
10. Samuel     b. abt 1860
11. Jennie       b. 24 Jun 1962

A review of the 1860 and the 1870 Censuses indicates there was only one Sam, or Samuel Long in Martin County. So I’m fairly certain that the Samuel A Long from Martin County who fought in the Civil War was Martha’s husband.  Certainly the  Civil War would have been a difficult time for Martha with a husband and one or two teenage sons of service age.  Her husband, Samuel, served for the Confederacy enlisting as a private and coming out of the war as a second Lieutenant.  I am sure that Joseph served as well.  I have a lot more research to confirm their participation in the war.

General Hospital #24 (aka Moore's Hospital)
In September of 1862, Martha’s husband Samuel donated one barrel of vegetables to the Moore’s Hospital (aka General Hospital #24) in  Richmond, Virginia.  According to Civil War Richmond, hospital #24 was a converted tobacco factory. The three-storied, flat-roofed, brick building. Opened summer-1861 and was first used for Union prisoners. It was taken over by North Carolina on 29 July 1864.

There is a “family Story” regarding  Martha’s Civil war experience. It is said, “that the family hid everything of value deep in the stored cotton. The mules, horses, and cows were taken to the woods and tied, leaving only one young horse, Hector, who had never been bridled. A Yankee officer strapped his overcoat to the colt's back and took him with them. That night he broke loose and came home.
“Also related that the Yankees plundered the house and took every feather bead to the yard where they had great fun cutting them open and yelling "It's snowing, it's snowing.  They also cut the feet of the chickens, geese and young pigs leaving them in great misery.”

It is notable that the 1880 census indicates Martha living without her husband, however, she is listed as married (not widowed). I’ve searched at length and have been unable to find her husband in the 1880 censuses anywhere, so I believe he passed before 1880.

I’m not sure when Martha Ann passed. It appears that she was alive in 1870 and 1880 censuses. She doesn’t show in the 1900 census that I can find, so I believe she died before 1900. The DAR Descendants database indicates that she died in Martin County but none of the entries indicate a death date. Likewise, she is not identified in Find-a-grave or Billion Graves.

We remember Martha Ann Bryan Long, my wife's 2nd great grandmother as the 194th anniversary of her birth approaches next week.

List of Great Ancestors

  • Ann Debora Long 
  • Martha Ann Bryan
  • John W. Bryan
  • Lewis Bryan
  • Robert Bryan (the patriot)

Further Research

Finding a record of Martha Ann Bryan Long’s death and cemetery record.
Exploring the lives of her children in greater detail to find additional connections.


Census Records:

  • 1850 Census - Martin, North Carolina; Roll: M432_636; Page: 426B.
  • 1860 Census - District 9, Martin, North Carolina; Roll: M653_905; Page: 443.
  • 1870 Census - Hamilton, Martin, North Carolina, Pages 59 & 60. 
  • 1880 Census - Goose Nest, Martin, North Carolina, ED 103, Page 32. 

Daughters of the American Revolution Database,

  • Member # 639203 - Ancestor # A016279. Robert Bryan.
  • Member # 517846 - Ancestor # A016279. Robert Bryan.
  • Member # 597793 - Ancestor # A016279. Robert Bryan.

Hughes, S. J. N., & Martin County Historical Society (N.C.), Martin County Heritage (Williamston, NC, , 1980), Article # 89 - John Bryan Family.

Newspapers.Com - Semi-Weekly Standard (Raleigh, North Carolina) 10 Sep 1862, Page 1.

 ---------- DISCLAIMER ----------

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Donna & "Chin Chin" Play "The Grand Theatre," Calgary, Jan 8-10, 1920

Donna & "Chin Chin" Play "The Grand Theatre," Calgary, Alberta, Canada -Jan 8-10, 1920

Sometimes a little mention, a tidbit, can open the way into finding a lot of new information. When Donna played in Grand Rapids there was a mention in the paper about the company having played in Calgary, Canada. So, I thought I’d see if I could find any Canadian newspapers that might help in the quest. 

Kenneth R Marks
"A long time ago"
One of my favorite sources for newspaper information is The Ancestor Hunt (http://theancestorhunt.com).  I checked there and sure enough, Kenneth Marks had an entry for Alberta Canada and lots of papers listed. I checked the links he had there that mentioned Calgary and didn’t find anything for the month and year I was looking for — Bummer. Although his links didn't help this time, they usually do. 

When I poked around I found a site, “Our Future, Our Past” that had early Alberta Newspapers. Following the Early Alberta Newspapers link brought me to a couple searches, one papers by year, another by place. I figured that 1920 is the year I’m looking for so away I went. Wow.  Over thirty newspapers listed.  The dates threw me off for a second as they are listed dd/mm/yyyy but I got past that and jumped into “The Calgary Daily Herald.  Hummm… It was the Daily Herald, however only 10 papers were there for January, 1920.  I later learned that those were the pointers and the other papers were also there.

I clicked on the Friday, January 9th newspaper and began to peruse.  Wa-La!  there on page 14 was the now familiar Tom Brown Saxophone Clown photo and an article, “ACTOR HAS GOOD WORD TO SAY FOR RAILWAY SERVICE - Roy Binder, of “Chin Chin” Company, Strong for Canadians.” The article talks mostly about Roy’s thinking that the Canadian Railroad is better than the US railroads. The article also mentions that they (the “Chin-Chin” company) played in Lethbridge for two nights preceding. (Apparently the 6th & 7th) and in Medicine Hat. 

Page 16 had a fairly standard Chin Chin ad and that the show was playing at The GRAND. Then Page 26 had an article where Donna is called out.  

Calgary Daily Herald - Page 26
January 9, 1920
Courtesy: Our Future Our Past
Donna Montran, as the Goddess of the Lamp, has a splendid voice and sings sweetly, as does Ethyl Lawrence as Violet Bond.…
The article also mentions an “almost at capacity house.” Which got me to wonder what the capacity is.

The Grand Theatre, Calgary

Looking at the January 5th newspaper there was an ad that showed the show's run for three days.
Calgary Daily Herald
January 5th, 1920, Page 10
Courtesy: Our Future Our Past

A Google search brought up the theater’s website and a Wikipedia entry. According to Wikipedia, The theater was built in 1912 with a capacity of 1300 seats and was the largest stage in Canada when it opened. It was very modern for its time, boasting 15 changing rooms below the stage with hot and cold running water and electric lights. In 1957 the Grand converted to a movie house. In 2005, the Grand was purchased and turned into a “culturehouse” for contemporary live arts. 

The Julius Cahn-Gus Hill Theatrical Guide and Moving Picture Directory for 1913-1914 indicates that the theater was much larger than the Wikipedia entry says, hosting 1590 seats -- 913 on the lower floor, 280 balcony, 263 gallery, 68 loges, and 66 in boxes.  The stage was large, 36x36; the distance from the footlights to the back wall was 40 feet. The rigging loft was 75 feet up.  This was a very large theatre for a city with a population of only 30,000 (Drawing population of 60,000).  By comparison, the Lyric theatre only seated 980 and the Empire theatre only 700 people.

Theatre Junction Grand
Photo By Qyd [CC-BY-SA-3.0
via Wikimedia Commons
Today, Theatre Junction GRAND | Multidisciplinary Live Art is Western Canada's oldest theatre and home to theatre, dance, music and film.

Chin Chin played the Grand Theater, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, on January 8th, 9th, & 10th, 1920. 


Sadly, the “Our Future, Our Past” newspapers haven’t been OCRed, so the collection is not word searchable. However, it is an amazing collection and well worth looking at. Many thanks to the many folks at the Alberta Heritage Digitization Project for making the collection available.

Calgary Daily Herald - January 5, 1920 via Our Future Our Past
Calgary Daily Herald - January 9, 1920 via Our Future Our Past
The Julius Cahn-Gus Hill Theatrical Guide and Moving Picture Directory, Volumes 16-17 (Google eBook), Page 694
Wikipedia: The Grand (Calgary) 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

John Montran (c. 1874-bef.1911)

52 Ancestors # 14 – John Montran (c1874-bef. 1911)

John Montran is the most mysterious of my ancestors.  My grandmother, Madonna, never spoke of him and I didn’t have the where-with-all to ask her about him before she passed over. I didn’t know his first name until I received a copy of Donna’s application for a Social Security number. 

 When Madonna was married in 1911, she listed her father as Robert Montran and indicated that he was deceased. So, I’m not really certain if his name was John Robert or Robert John.

When Madonna’s mother married Max Fisher in 1897, she indicated her name as Ida B Montran Barber and she had been married one time before although reading the entry, the clerk may have written Montrani or possibly Montram. 

Assuming that Ida married Montran before Madonna was born, Ida and John were probably married in 1892. I also assume that John was a contemporary of Ida, that is to say about the same age, that would put his birth about 1874.

In 1900, Madonna’s step-father was Max Fisher. He was identified as having been born in Wisconsin and Madonna’s father is identified as having been born in Michigan. In 1910, Madonna’s father was again identified as having been born in Michigan. Because her stepfather at that time, Jos Holdsworth, was born in New York, I am fairly sure that John Montran was born in Michigan.  However, the 1920 Census indicates that Madonna’s father was born in Pennsylvania. Madonna was on the road with the show “Chin Chin” at the time so the information was probably given by her grandmother, Sarah Barber, who may or may not have known for certain Madonna’s father’s birthplace.   Madonna was out of the country for the 1930 census so that census adds nothing additional.

In searching a bit more for John Montran, I found that he was father of bride for "Mae Donna Montran" who was married on 24 Nov 1915 to Thomas Valentine Rooney in Waltham, MA.  This was a completely unknown marriage. It is interesting to note that it indicates that this was the first marriage for both. I guess Madonna was thinking it was her first US marriage or else she forgot about her 1911 marriage to Chester Fenyvessey in Canada.

John Montran

Born about 1874, probably in Michigan (possibly Pennsylvania).
Married Ida Barber about 1892, probably in Michigan.
Died before 1911, probably before 1897.

Further Research

Montran is a uncommon surname; so, when I do find something about Montran I get excited to investigate more. For example, in the 1920 San Francisco city directory indicates that a Maude Montran was living there and Maude was the widow of John F Montran. I didn’t find Maude in any earlier city directories or elsewhere.  I certainly can do much more research in this area.  As more and more birth, marriage, and death records, as well as newspapers come on-line I hope to find more about the John Montran.


1900 Census, Ancestry.com, 1900; Manistee Ward 6, Manistee, Michigan; Roll: T623_728; Page: 4A; Enumeration District: 36.

1910 Census, Ancestry.com, 1910; Detroit Ward 7, Wayne, Michigan; 
Roll: T624_683; Page: 8A; Enumeration District: 0106; FHL microfilm: 1374696. Holdsworth, Ida - Head, 

1920 Census, Ancestry.com, Manhattan Assembly District 13, New York, New York; Roll: T625_1209; Page: 24A; Sarah Barber Head

Form SS-5 - Application for account number.  Donna Montran Kees
Ontario, Canada Marriages, 1801-1928, Ancestry.com, http://www.Ancestry.com.

Massachusetts, Marriages, 1841-1915 (Massachusetts, State Archives, Boston), Family Search, FHL microfilm 2411236, p 650 no 312. https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/N4XD-X3L.

R.L. Polk & Co., City Directory - San Francisco - 1920 (San Francisco, H.S. Crocker Co, 1920), Internet Archives, Page 1157.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Henry Brown (c. 1843- c. 1888)

52 Ancestors # 13 – William Henry Brown (1842-c. 1888)

Henry Brown is one of the most challenging of my ancestors to follow and figure out. Through the years I have confused him with others on several cases, establishing lines that weren’t correct. There are many researchers that have linked him as the son of Benjamin Brown and Eliza Fowler.  I agreed with that assessment for a long time, however, recently I’ve begun to think he was the son of Barney and Mary Brown. I am hoping that by writing this biography I will be able to solidify in my mind key relationships and provide the mechanism to provide proof for some of my assumptions.  

Biography - William Henry Brown (c. 1843- c. 1888)

With a name as common as Henry Brown, finding the right Henry Brown has always been a challenge.  
W. H. Brown (Henry) and his wife Marion are in the 1885 Census in Jamestown, Stutsman county, Dakota Territories. Their youngest son, Edward, was born in Dakota Territory about 1884  and their youngest daughter, Ada, was born in Michigan about 1882, so it appears they located to Dakota Territory about 1883.  I have been unsuccessful finding anything about Henry or Marion after 1885.  By 1900 their children appear to be scattered throughout the upper midwest with Arthur in Crow Wing county Minnesota, Charles in Montana, Clifford in Wisconsin, Clyde in Wells, ND, and Edward in Kidder county, ND. Tracking their other children may yield further results.  Henry & Marion don’t seem to appear in Find-a-Grave or any of the ND newspapers I’ve been able to search.  They just sort of vanish.

Property that Henry Brown probably rented.
Map courtesy of University of Michigan,
Digital Library Production Services 
The 1880 census shows Henry in Saline, Washtenaw county, Michigan. He was a 37 year-old farmer. With him is Marian and eight of his children, Arthur, Charles, Mary, Ahmond, Clifford, William, Clyde, & Addison. Of interest, his oldest, Nettie, does not appear with them in the 1880 Census, however, she does in the 1885 Dakota Census.  Frederick who shows in the 1885 census shows in the 1880 census as Addison. The 1880 census also indicates that his parents were both from New York.  Also, based upon the 1880 census and the neighbors and the 1870 census and his neighbors then, it appears that he was farming land owned by either Ezra Sanford (uncle of Marion) or possibly property of J. Perry (unknown relationship) as shown in an 1874 map of the Saline Village and area. You can also see that Chester Parson, Marian’s grandfather, owns a lot of the land in the area.

The 1870 census shows Henry in Saline with wife Marian and children Nettie and Arthur, as we would expect. Henry is 25 years old and his wife is 23.  Son Arthur is 7 months old, which confirms the December 1869 birth (Census was taken 2 Aug 1870). Neighbors included William Sanford (Marian’s father) and Peter Trim (P.E. Trim’s Est on the map). 

The 1860 census has long been problematic for me. For a long time I had believed that Henry was with his father Benjamin and mother Eliza (Fowler) in Vernon, Shiawassee county about 60 miles away from Saline.  I often wondered how Henry and Marian could have met — 60 miles is a long ways - but not impossible.  

After more research, I found another candidate for Henry in the 1860 Census in Saline.  17 year-old Henry W Brown shows up in the 1860 census living with Daney  and Mary E Brown. The age and place are right but the parents were born in the wrong states. As I mentioned  before the 1880 census indicates his parents were born in New York.  This 1860 census indicates his father born in New Hampshire and mother in New Jersey. Hummm — Not good. I had initially dismissed this family unit out of hand.  The conflict is mitigated in the 1850 census and find “Daney" as “Barney” and mother Mary born in New York instead of New Jersey. Also, the name of the child Henry W. changes to William H., which puts Henry’s name into the proper order and the W. H. Brown of the 1885 census makes sense. The 1870 Census doen't show Barney/Daney, however, there is a Mary Brown (born in New York) of the right age living alone. So I think Barney/Daney passed between 1860 and 1970. 

If Henry was the child of Barney/Daney and Marion he would have several siblings, apparently a brother Myron O, sister Alice C, and brother David V.  His paternal grandmother would have been Jane.   

If Henry’s parentage was Barney/Daney and Mary instead of Benjamin and Eliza, he would have been born between July 5th and September 6th, 1842 (He was 8 on 6 Sep 1850 and 17 on 5 Jul 1960.) In 1870 he was 25 and in 1880 census he was 37 in 1885 and those dates I’m sure of.

Returning to the previously assumed Benjamin & Eliza parentage, we would find Henry as 7 years old in 1850 and 16 years old in 1860.  Again this doesn’t reconcile itself with his being 25 and 35 in 1870 and 1880. If correct that would put his birthdate between 15 June and 8 August 1843. 

Now the 1870 enumeration date was 2 August says Henry was 25 and the 1880 enumeration was 9 June and finds Henry as 37. 

So, If I consider the 1870 census incorrect, then the Henry whose childhood was in Saline fits and is the most likely.  

I’d love to hear from anyone who has more information or can otherwise can help me untangle these conflicts. Please feel free to comment below.

Short Bio - William Henry Brown (1842- c 1888)

William Henry Brown (Henry) was born between July 5th and September 6th, 1842 of Barney/Daney and Mary Brown in Saline, Washtenaw county, Michigan; He was the oldest of at least four children. 

By First Presbyterian Church (Saline, Mich.),
Nehemiah P. Stanton [Public domain],
via Wikimedia Commons
He married Marian Sanford about 1866.  They lived in Saline, having at least 10 children there. 

About 1883 they moved to North Dakota and had one more child there. Both he and his wife probably died before 1900. It is unknown where they are buried.

Future Research

Switch William Henry Brown to indicate different/parents in all my records. 
Flesh out the Barney/Daney Brown family unit.
Do a "deep dive" into William Henry Brown.

1850 Census - Barney Brown.
1850 Census - Benjamin Brown.
1860 Census - Daney Brown.
1860 Census - Benjamin Brown.
1870 Census - Saline, Washtenaw, Michigan - Henry Brown.
1880 Census - Saline, Washtenaw, Michigan - Henry Brown.
1885 Census - Dakota Territory, NDSU Archives, Page 44-018. Brown, W. H., et al.
Minnesota, Death Certificate #2215, Arthur D Brown.
University of Michigan's Digital Library Production Services. - Pictorial History of Ann Arbor - Map of Saline Township. T.P. No. 4 S. Range No. 5 E [plat]; 1874

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Bio – Mary Lillian Hobbs (Howell) (1885 - bef 1964)

52 Ancestors # 12 – Mary Lillian Hobbs (Howell) (1885-1964)

Sometimes one simple fact, one vital fact, can be incredibly difficult to trace down. This is the case for the death of Mary Lillian Hobbs Howell. From her husband’s death certificate I’ve learned that she preceded him in death but I have been unable to find her in any of the death records or indexes. I’m not seeing her death on Ancestry, Family Search, Mocavo, Vital Records, Genealogy Bank, or Newspapers.com. Family recollection indicates that died in the Washington, DC area (Virginia, Maryland, or the District).  I’ve contacted several relatives and received several “don’t know” responses. Several others that I’ve attempted to contact have been completely silent (non-responsive to my emails). And sadly enough, when I tried to contact several others that I thought would definitely know for certain, in the process of trying to contact them I learned of their passing.

I recall seeing something once but figured I’d find it again. That perceived missed opportunity has prompted me to use Evernote to help organize and track such findings. I use Chrome as my browser for genealogical work for several reasons. One of them is the very handy plugin, Evernote Web Clipper, which allows you to capture a web page into Evernote with just a couple clicks. Click the button, decide which format you want to save the item in – Usually simplified web for me, but article text, full page, and highlighted text are also options. Decide which folder to put it in and apply any tags to the file as appropriate. I usually put it into my “Action Genea” folder and tag the file with the individual’s name. I can then later go through my “Action Genea” folder, process the information into my Ancestry Family Tree for Mac tree, and then file the record into an appropriate Research folder, in this case it would have been my “Howell-Hobbs” folder.

Using Evernote as the foundation of collecting and organizing my research has revolutionized my work process. If you haven’t tried Evernote, give it a try.

Bio – Mary Lillian Hobs (Howell)

Mary Hobbs
Thanks to Debby Ziegler & Flickr

Mary Lillian Hobbs was born 28 March, 1885 in Hamilton, Martin County, North Carolina. She was the youngest of 10 children born to James Ashley Hobbs and Ann Debora Long.

She grew up in Hamilton and in 1898 her father was elected clerk of court for Martin County so the family moved to the county seat, Williamston. The 1900 census reports living in a house with her father, mother, older brother James Floyd Hobbs and attending school. The 1910 census shows her still at home with her father and mother.

She married James Dallas Howell on April 27th, 1910, in Williamston.

Her mother lived long enough to see her youngest daughter have her first child, James Dallas Howell, Jr. on December 31st, 1911. Her mother died in May 1913. In September, 1913, she gave birth to a second son, Ashley Long.
It must have been a difficult time as her husband was a Baptist minister which caused her to move many times. In 1916, her third son, Frank Armstrong Howell, was born in Brown Marsh, Bladen County. A fourth son, Clarence Fletcher Howell, was born in 1918 in Beulaville, Duplin County.
The 1920 Census reports Mary living in Plymouth, Washington county with her husband and her four sons. Her father died later in the year at Hobgood, Martin county.

Finally, in 1925, while living in Onslow county, she gave birth to a daughter, Mary Elizabeth Howell.

The 1930 Census shows the entire family together, Mary, her Baptist preacher husband, her four sons and one daughter renting a house in Ansonville, Anson County,
Mary Lillian Howell

In the 1940 Census, her husband J. D., as he was often called, was still preaching and their two youngest children, Clarence and Mary Elizabeth were still living with them.

I don’t know when, or even where, Mary Lillian died. It was was before her husband died in 1964. I have been unable to find her in any death indexes not a record of her burial.

This week is the 129th anniversary of her birth; we remember Mary Lillian Hobbs Howell and her life...

Further Research

Determine Mary’s death date and place.
Research more of James Dallas Howell ministry and see if there are any mentions of her in church bulletins, etc.


Ancestry.Com – 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, and 1940 Censuses.
Martin County Heritage published 1980 by The Martin County Historical Society http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/7138421

Maryland, Dept. of Health, Death Certificate, James Dallas Howell - 2 Sep 1979 - 18 Dec 1964
North Carolina, Marriages, 1759-1979, Family Search, J. D. Howell & Mary Lillian Hobbs - Accessed 2013-12-07.