Inherited Craziness
A place to share all the nuts found on my family tree

Showing posts with label Ellis Island. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ellis Island. Show all posts

Monday 10 July 2023

Con Colleano and Winifred Constance Stanley Trevail

Winifred Constance Stanley Trevail and Con Colleano

My 2nd cousin, twice removed, Winifred Constance Stanley Trevail, daughter of Herbert Fleming Trevail and Alice Maud Stanley Blazey was the wife of Con Colleano (Cornelius Sullivan), who was the most famous and highest paid "swashbuckling circus performer with matinee idol looks" of his time, known as “The Australian Wizard of the Wire”. A member of the Circus Hall of Fame, Con Colleano is in the Guinness Book of World Records as the first person to prefect the forward somersault on the tight wire. IMDB is the only source to list a date for their marriage as 10 July 1926, but does not say where.

"Mrs. Winnie Colleano (neé Trevail) was herself a well known Australian Vaudeville Soubrette", dancer and trapeze artist." One article says that Winnie Trevail began appearing on the stage in Sydney as a child, but actually, she was performing before that in New Zealand. There in Lyttelton, New Zealand in 1909 - where her father's aunts, Ellen Higgs and Mary Ann Burn Trevail Bawden then lived - reports in the Lyttelton Times in Oct 1909 detail that Miss Winnie Trevail was appearing in one of the principle roles in a production staged by the Garrick Juvenile Opera Company, at the Opera House there. Trevail abandoned her own career in 1924 to travel with her husband.

Con Colleano on a slack-wire, circa 1920
Con Colleano, born Cornelius Sullivan, on 26 Dec 1899 in Lismore, New South Wales, was of Aboriginal, Anglo-Irish and West Indian descent and adopted a Spanish persona and a costume of a ‘toreador’ or bullfighter.

Colleano’s Indigenous heritage was unknown to his fans – which included one of history’s most infamous racists - "Few people are aware of the fact that in the 1930’s, Adolf Hitler issued an Aboriginal Australian tightrope walker with a German passport so he could come and go as he pleased."

Passenger lists reveal that Cornelius Sullivan and Winifred C. S. Trevail left Southampton, England on 13 Sep 1924, on the RMS Berengaria (former SS Imperator), The first Cunard "Queen". This was their first trip to the US, so their port of arrival was the infamous Ellis Island, New York. Various sources tell us that, in 1924, Con made his debut at the New York Hippodrome before returning to the circus with Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

There's also record of Cornelius and Winifred C Sullivan Colleano travelling from Southampton to New York, on the Berengaria, on 24 Feb 1937.

On 7 Jan 1938, Cornelius and Winifred (Sullivan) Colleano, left Sydney, bound for California, on the luxury ocean linerSS Mariposa (1931).

On 8 Sep 1939, Cornelius and Winifred Sullivan, listed as British, boarded the Italian ocean liner, SS Rex, leaving Genoa, bound for New York.

These, I'm sure are just the tip of a globe-trotting iceberg, but it was finding these records of voyages that led me to discover more of their story.

The former Albion Hotel (pub) at Forbes, New South Wales, Sheba, CC BY-SA 2.0

"Sadly Con and Winnie ultimately lost all their money indulging in a luxurious lifestyle, giving it away to friends and making a disastrous investment in a pub in outback Australia in the 1950s (what were they thinking?)."

Con died, in Miami, on 13 Nov 1973, after which Winnie returned to Australia, where she died, in Sydney, in January 1986. They had no children.


Were they really married? Who cares?

IMDB is the only place to list a supposed date, but not place, for their marriage. I've [so far] been unable find a record of a marriage anywhere in the world, which, of course, doesn't mean there wasn't one. However, in all the articles I've read about the couple, including Con's obituary, not once is the date and place of their marriage ever mentioned, which I find strange.

On the other hand, I did find a record of a marriage of a Winifred C Trevail, in Victoria, Australia, in 1919 to a Leonard Mendoza. It would take $20 AUS to obtain the certificate to see if there are enough clues to tell whether this is the same Winifred C Trevail or not, but several things occur to me: Just how many people named Winifred C Trevail are there likely to be? One source claims that Winnie met Con, in Melbourne, which of course is in Victoria, when she was 22. Not hard to imagine she may have been there when she was 19. Someone with the surname Mendoza even sounds like her "type". Who knows?

I'm much amused by self-aggrandising family stories, but this one probably takes the biscuit - although no surprise perhaps among theatrical types. In several articles, it mentions that Winnie "claimed descent from the Earls of Derby" and it appears that the source of that quote is her own brother, Eric, so it may well have been a story perpetuated in the family. A claim doesn't make it true though! And through which side would that be, I wonder? The line we share to the 'illegitimate born' former dyer who downgraded to labourer in Norfolk, or the bankrupted tenant farmer in Cornwall? Lovely people, I'm sure, but Earls or any other type of nobs they were not!

Sources (many of these links contain images):

Further reading: The wizard of the wire : the story of Con Colleano 

Wednesday 29 March 2023

George Daniel Tompson and Alice Oldfield

St Andrew's Church, Whittlesey
cc-by-sa/2.0 - © Tiger - geograph.org.uk/p/924937

George Daniel Tompson, son of Dan Tompson and his 2nd wife, Sarah Jane Baker, married Alice Oldfield, daughter of George Oldfield (1847-1913), former Licenced Victualler and Blacksmith and Caroline Hemmaway (m. 1868) of East Delph, Whittlesey, in the parish of Whittlesey St Andrew, on on 29 Mar 1910. (Pubs in East Delph were the Anchor, The Three Fishes and the Hare and Hounds, but records don't show which George Oldfield kept).

George Daniel Tompson had sailed from Liverpool, on the Lusitania, on 7 March 1908 and arrived in New York, to Ellis Island, on 13 March 1908. The passenger manifest shows the 22 year old bricklayer's intended destination had been Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. However, there's a line through his name, so it looks as if he was refused entry to the United States. Quite when, how and why he ended up in Toronto, Canada instead remains a mystery.

House on the right 133 Morrison Avenue, Toronto, Canada

After their marriage in Whittlesey, Cambridgeshire in 1910, in 1911, George, with wife Alice, were back in Canada, where, on 25 Apr 1911, Alice gave birth to a stillborn son at 133 Morrison Avenue, Toronto, Canada

On the 1911 Canadian Census on 1 Jun 1911, living at 133 Morrison Avenue, Toronto, were George Tompson (27), Alice Tompson (32), Richard Oldfield (26), Walter Oldfield (22), Charles Oldfield (19), William Tinkler (26) and Fred Tinkler (26), the last two being boarders. Richard, Walter and Charles Oldfield were all Alice's younger brothers. Richard and Walter were Bricklayers Labourers and Charles a labourer. Alices three brothers hadn't been in Canada long, as they had been listed on the 1911 United Kingdom census on 2 Apr 1911 in their father's household. Pure speculation, of course, but it would make sense if, having arrived in Toronto around 1908, George Daniel acquired the plot in Earlscourt and built the house at number 133 Morrison Avenue in the intervening years before going back to England to claim his wife once he'd prepared a home for them. The workforce of brickies' labourers turns up a year later and they build the house at 131 Morrison Avenue ready for Dad to move into in 1912. Possibly, maybe.

George and Alice went on to have at least five more children: 
  1. Stillborn son b. 25 Apr 1911 at 133 Morrison Avenue
  2. Daniel George Tompson b. 23 May 1912 at 133 Morrison Avenue
  3. Ruth Tompson b. 1915 (d. 2008)
  4. Richard Tompson b. 1916
  5. Charles Gordon Tompson b. 1919
  6. Walter Tompson b. 1921
In 1921, George Daniel Thompson (36) was at 124 Hatherley Road, Toronto with Alice (41), Daniel George (9), Ruth (6), Richard (5), Charles Gordon (2), and Walter, 2 months. 

In 1931, George D Thompson (46) was still at 124 Hatherley Rd, Toronto with Alice (51), Daniel G (19), Ruth (16), Richard (15) and Charles (12) and Walter (10).

George Daniel Tompson was listed at 124 Hatherley Road, in the Toronto Centennial City Directory in 1934, but I have not yet found any further records for him or Alice. Their son, Daniel George, was listed in that directory as a teacher at a York Public School. In 1938, Daniel George Tompson married Dorothy Adeline Bryant, who died in 2009, at the ripe old age of 96.