at Bluffton
1908 - 1938

Buster Keaton
and the
Muskegon Connection

The Millards

Charles Leroy "Pop" Millard
Born:   March 9, 1850
near Pewamo, MI
Died:  October 20, 1943
Muskegon, MI
Catherine "Kate" Donnersback
Born:  February 3, 1872
Died: December 29, 1947
St. Petersburg, FL

Mildred Elizabeth Millard
Born: September 8, 1897, Boston, MA
 Died: July 6, 1999, St. Petersburg, FL
The Millards      Charles Leroy "Pop" Millard began his career in entertainment at the age of 11, playing the fiddle at dances.  A few years later, he joined a medicine show that passed through town, and began a life in vaudeville.  His journey led to a spot in the Hi Henry Minstrel show.  Later, he worked for boxer John L. Sullivan, who also owned a minstrel show.  Eventually, Pop formed his own act, Millard's Minstrels.
     In 1898, he married Catherine Donnersback and they began performing together in a comedy act, "Barnyard Fun" that featured songs and Pop's fiddle playing.  Soon after, they added their daughter, Mildred to the act.  According to Mildred, the family were witnesses to the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, as they were performing in the area at the time.  Around 1908, they took up residence in Muskegon as members of the Actor's Colony.  The family toured the nation until 1923, when Leroy and Catherine retired from the road.
     Pop and Kate remained celebrities in Muskegon.  Many residents remember the popcorn and potato chip stand that Pop operated in front of the Millard cottage in Bluffton.  In 1937, his fiddle playing was a featured performance for the centennial celebration honoring the formation of the city of Muskegon.  Sometime in the 1940’s, a street in the Bluffton area was name in honor of the family.
     Mildred ventured out on her own following her parent’s retirement.  After performing solo in vaudeville for a number of years, she ran "Mildred Millard's School of Dance" in Muskegon.  Eventually, she moved to Chicago and worked for Encyclopedia Britannica, among other places before settling in St. Petersburg.  Her mother joined her in Florida following Pop's death in 1943.
     Mildred celebrated her 100th birthday in St. Petersberg in 1997.  The last surviving member of the Actors' Colony, she was spry as ever, and could still recite scripts from memory from her vaudeville days. She passed away in 1999.
Mildred Millard at age 100