1890s: Hattie Charbonneau attends Sunday School

Seventh in a series about my paternal Charbonneau and Zinsk ancestors in New York State’s Adirondack region during the 1800s.

My great grandfather Will Charboneau’s younger sister Harriet — better known as Hattie — had the genealogical misfortune of coming of age in New York State’s Adirondack region during a period for which records are hard to come by.

https://www.google.com/search?q=Forestport+Presbyterian+Church&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjLscL0qu3RAhUG_IMKHT0VAysQ_AUICigD&biw=1168&bih=497#imgrc=8uE49rR_qw7UZM%3A
Presbyterian Church, Forestport, Oneida, N.Y., founded in 1839.  During a 1992 family history road trip, my dad and I discovered references to Hattie Charbonneau in this church’s Sunday School attendance records. Photo: Woodgate Library – Fallon Collection

Most of the 1890 U.S. census returns were destroyed in a fire, and the 1892 New York State census records for Oneida County are missing. By the next census, in 1900, she was married.

So I have little information about Hattie as a child or a single young woman beyond the 1880 U.S. census for Boonville, Oneida County, N.Y. — enumerated when she was just 4 years old.

Road trip with Dad yields clues

However — armed with what evidence we had at the time — my dad and I made a valuable discovery about Hattie on a family history road trip to Forestport, Oneida County, N.Y., in 1992.

From my great, great grandfather Laurent Charbonneau’s obituary, we knew his 1903 funeral was held at the Presbyterian Church in Forestport, pictured above. So we decided to stop at the church to see if they had any records.

We took our chances, making a cold call at the church without advance notice — but our effort was rewarded. The minister drove up just after we arrived, and she was happy to show us the few records they had.

Dad’s disillusioning discovery

Dad and I divided up the work: he reviewed the minutes of the Presbyterian Church meetings and I tackled the Sunday School attendance records.

Dad didn’t find any references to our family members in the minutes — but he did unearth something else.

“You know, I’ve lost respect for some of the prominent names in town based on their dismal meeting participation,” Dad remarked dryly after he finished his task.

Dad grew up in the area, so this disillusioning discovery tarnished his childhood image of the town — one of those pitfalls of family history research that fledgling genealogists are warned about.

Hattie’s attendance records

Fortunately, I did better with the Sunday School attendance records. Jotted here and there in the ledger books was Hattie Charbonneau’s name (with various spellings) — as summarized in the table below, with her age added as a point of reference.

Sunday School Attendance Records – Forestport, Oneida County, N.Y. Source: Transcript in author’s files
Year Page Name Age
1894 8 Hattie Charbonneau 18
1895 36 Hattie Charbono 19
1896 64 Halter Cherbono 20
1897 92 Hattie Charbonnos 21
1898 125 Hattie Charbonnos 22

There was no scanning or photocopy equipment available at the church, and our visit predated smartphones, tablets and portable scanning devices — so we could not copy the records. But Dad and I were still thrilled with our discovery.

While Dad chatted with a man who had popped by the church — someone he recognized from childhood — I carefully transcribed what we’d found.

From Lutheran to Presbyterian

Hattie’s presence in the Presbyterian Church records over a period of years seems to indicate that my Charbonneau ancestors had a longstanding relationship with this church. They may have become Presbyterians after their previous German Evangelical Lutheran Church parish declined.

The family’s change in church affiliation points to a new line of research into the lives of my immigrant great, great grandparents Laurent Charles and Ursula Angeline (Zinsk) Charbonneau and their three children — Will, Herbert and Harriet (Hattie) — in the late 1800s.

Please stop back next week when this series concludes with Laurent’s transition from lumberman to family farmer.

© 2017 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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1876: Hattie joins the Charbonneau family

Sixth in a series about my paternal Charbonneau and Zinsk ancestors in New York State’s Adirondack region during the 1800s.

When they were in their forties, my great, great grandparents Laurent Charles and Ursula Angeline (Zinsk) Charbonneau welcomed their last child into the world — a little girl, Harriet M. Charbonneau, who was better known as Hattie.

Little girl on a farm (1889). What did the Charbonneaus make of little Hattie, the youngest child who brightened their maturing family in 1876? By: Internet Archive Book Images

She appears with a surname variant as Hattie M. Sherbenon, 4, in the 1880 U.S. Census for Forestport, Oneida County, N.Y. — placing her birth around 1876.

My great grandfather Will Charboneau was 22 and still living with his parents, and his brother Herbert was 13.

The table below shows the Charbonneau household on 9 June 1880 — the day the census taker called.

1880 U.S Census – Town of Boonville, Oneida County, N.Y. – Household of Laurent Charles Charbonneau – Page 7, Family 69 – Source: FamilySearch.org

Pers. No. Name Age Reln. Job Where Born
25 Lawrence Sherbenon 47 Head Farmer Canada
26 Ursula Sherbenon 45 Wife Keeping House Switz.
27 Willard Sherbenon 22 Son Farmer N.Y.
28 Hulbert B. Sherbenon 13 Son At school N.Y.
29 Hattie M. Sherbenon 4 Dau. At home N.Y.

Three families in one

I am particularly fond of this ancestral family because it reminds me of my own family growing up.

We had similar gaps in age among siblings. I was born first; my two brothers, close in age, arrived a few years later; and a while after that my two sisters, also close in age.

Our birthdays span the entire post-1950s Baby Boom era — and we often joke that it was like having three families in one. The Laurent Charbonneau household in 1880 looks much the same.

The oldest boy, my great grandfather Will, was a young adult working the family farm with his father. Herbert was a teenager at school. Then along came their little sister, Hattie, to brighten up the household.

I have to wonder: How did Hattie feel as the youngest in an older family? What did the family make of this little girl running around in their midst? And how did my great, great grandparents cope with a having a grown son, a teenage son and a young daughter under one roof?

Looking to the future

I suspect Laurent and Ursula were happy to be surrounded by their “three families” of surviving children — all of whom had made it past the high-risk infant years, unlike their second child Ludwig Nicholaus. The Charbonneaus were now a maturing family looking to the future.

Ten years earlier, during the 1870 N.Y. State census of Boonville, Oneida County, N.Y., their household included Ursula’s father Nicholas Zinsk, 84 — who may have required caregiving on her part — and her brother, Bernard Zinsk, 40, a carpenter.

By 1880, it was just Ursula, Laurent and their children living on the Charbonneau farm — with my great grandfather Will of an age to move out and set up a household of his own, and Herbert not far behind. But what more do we know about Hattie, their youngest?

Up next: Hattie Charbonneau attends Sunday School. Please stop back.

© 2017 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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1860: Diphtheria strikes the Charbonneau household

Fifth in a series about my paternal Charbonneau and Zinsk ancestors in New York State’s Adirondack region during the 1800s.

The last post chronicled the brief life of my great grandfather Will Charboneau’s younger brother, Ludwig Nicholaus — who died in July 1860, at one month old, from diphtheria.  Sadly, this heartbreaking loss was not unusual in the mid-nineteenth century.

https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=Charbonko&GSfn=Lewis&GSbyrel=all&GSdyrel=all&GSob=n&GRid=12949379&df=all&
July 2011: The gravestone of little Ludwig Nicholas [Lewis Nicholas] Charbonneau in Hayes Cemetery, Boonville, Oneida, N.Y. Photo: CHerr/Find a Grave
In Prescription potions, I discussed the medical treatments my Union Army great, great grandfather Arthur Bull might have received when he gave out on the battlefield in 1864.

How much more rudimentary would such treatments have been nearly 5 years earlier when little Ludwig Nicholaus fell ill?

There were no vaccines then, no antibiotics, no trauma units — little to protect children against infectious disease. There was just the parents’ hope that their child would survive their first years of life and make it through the childhood illnesses that laid so many low.

Shared pain

Alas, my great, great grandparents Laurent Charles and Ursula Angeline (Zinsk) Charbonneau — then living in Boonville, Oneida County, N.Y. — were not the only members of my extended ancestral family to lose children in 1860.

The same year — across the border in St. Eustache, Deux Montagnes, Quebec — Laurent’s younger sister Elise (Charbonneau) Bouchard lost two triplets less than a year old. Her infant sons died from “debility” of unknown origin. Only the third triplet, Marie, made it to her first birthday.

 Hayes Cemetery yields its secrets

Where was little Ludwig laid to rest? I found my answer among papers I received from the Boonville, Oneida, N.Y., town historian — which included a typed transcript of tombstones from Boonville’s Hayes Cemetery.

On this list, Ludwig’s name is Americanized and spelled phonetically, and the date of death differs slightly from the church records — but his story is much the same:

CHARBONNO, Lewis Nicholis — son of Lawrence & Angeline Charbonno, died July 25, 1860, aged 35 days.

Restored to the family tree

I can only imagine the Charbonneau family’s sadness on that warm July afternoon as they laid Ludwig to rest in Hayes Cemetery — so soon after his birth and baptism — in a graveside ceremony that their toddler Will, age 2, may have attended.

My ancestors’ lives went on and history nearly erased this wrenching loss. Memory of Ludwig’s short life faded with succeeding generations of my family.

But one of the joys of genealogy research is resurrecting forgotten loved ones and restoring them to their proper place in their family’s history — as little Ludwig Nicholaus Charbonneau has now been restored to his. Please pause for a moment to remember his brief life — and to welcome him back home.

Next week: Join me to celebrate the birth of my great grandfather Will’s younger sister, Harriet “Hattie” Charbonneau.

© 2017 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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1860: Little Ludwig Nicholaus Charbonneau

Fourth in a series about my paternal Charbonneau and Zinsk ancestors in New York State’s Adirondack region during the 1800s.

Although family history research benefits from a methodical approach, chance also plays a role. How else to explain the unexpected emergence of little Ludwig Nicholaus [Lewis Nicholas] Charbonneau, a younger brother of my great grandfather Will Charboneau?

http://backroadstraveller.blogspot.com/search?q=Otter+Lake+Community+Church
Otter Lake Community Church (2015). My Swiss ancestors, the Zinsk family, attended services here when it was St. Trinitatis, a German Evangelical Lutheran parish in Hawkinsville, Oneida County, N.Y. The church was later moved to its present location on Route 28 in Otter Lake, where it is on the National Registry of Historic Places. Photo by Tom/The Backroads Traveller

In the last post, I described evidence that my great, great grandparents Laurent Charles and Ursula Angeline (Zinsk) Charbonneau had lost two children by the time of the 1865 New York State Census.

As New York did not collect statewide vital records until 1881, and local records were scant, I held little hope of finding these childrens’ names.

So I proceeded with research on my great, great grandmother’s family of origin.

A Lutheran lead

An online query seeking information about my Zinsk ancestors brought a reply suggesting I check German Evangelical Lutheran Church records on the Oneida County Genweb site — and that I follow up with the Boonville, N.Y., town historian, who had the transcripts.

Excited by this news, I contacted the historian who promised to send what he had on the Zinsk family along with a history of  St. Trinitatis Church and a transcript of gravestones from Hayes Cemetery, which included a Charbonneau stone.

The little Charbonneau boy

When I asked if there were any Zinsk children in these records, he said, “No, just the little Charbonneau boy.”

At first, this did not ring a bell with me, because there are other Charbonneau families in the North Country that are not part of my direct ancestral line.

But then the package of research materials arrived, and the unexpected story of little Ludwig Nicholaus Charbonneau unfolded in Old German script in the church records (translated into English below):

Ludwig Nicholaus, born the 14th June  1860, baptized the 14th July 1860. Parents: Lorenz Sherbenah [Laurent Charles Charbonneau] and Ursula, born Zink [Zinsk]. Sponsors: Andreas Sommer and his wife Magdalena.

My great, great grandparents solidified their family connection by naming their second son after their fathers — Ludwig for my Quebecois ggg grandfather Louis Charbonneau and Nicholaus for my Swiss ggg grandfather Nicholas Zinsk.

A tragic loss

Yet no sooner had little Ludwig Nicholaus entered their lives than tragedy struck and took him from them — the sad details recorded in the St. Trinitatis church records:

Died on the 18th July 1860 of diphtheria [literally “tan neck,” a symptom of the disease]…The child’s body was buried in a holy cemetery in the afternoon at 4 o’clock.

Alas, prevention and treatment of childhood diseases was rudimentary in the nineteenth century, so newborn and early childhood deaths like Ludwig’s were not uncommon.

What more could I learn about little Ludwig’s brief life and untimely death? More in the next post.

© 2017 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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Will Charboneau and his siblings in the 1800s Adirondacks

Third in a series about my paternal Charbonneau and Zinsk ancestors in New York State’s Adirondack region during the 1800s.

Though I bear their surname, the family of my great, great grandparents Laurent Charles and Ursula Angeline (Zinsk) Charbonneau has been slow to yield its full composition — so I still do not know the names of all of their children.

Pixley Falls State Park in Boonville, Oneida Co., N.Y.  The climate and ecosystem of the Adirondack foothills resembled conditions in Quebec and Switzerland, where my immigrant Charbonneau and Zinsk once lived. By: Nick Hepler

My great grandfather Will Charboneau (who dropped an “n” from our surname) was their oldest child — or at least their oldest surviving child, as later research would reveal.

Willard: Bold, resolute

My dad, who knew him well, always assumed Will’s full name was William — and in later records that’s the given name he used.

However, much to Dad’s surprise, early census returns list his grandfather as “Willard” — a German baby name that means “bold, resolute.” This name may have chosen for him by my German-speaking Swiss great, great grandmother Ursula Angeline.

“Well, how about that,” Dad said, amazed by this discovery. “I’ve learned something new about my own grandfather.”

Will’s mystery siblings

The earliest census in which I have found Will Charboneau is the 1865 New York State Census for Boonville, Oneida County, New York — which I wrote about in 1865: The Lawrence Charbonneau family in Boonville, N.Y.  My great grandfather was listed as Willard L. Charbono, 7, and was the only child enumerated in the Charbonneau household.

Yet the entry for my great, great grandmother, who was listed as Angeline Charbono, 30, yields a valuable clue about this family. The census-taker wrote “3” in Column 11, headed “Of how many children the parent.” — indicating two more children not named in the census.

A much younger brother

The next surviving child of my great, great grandparents Laurent and Ursula Angeline was Will’s younger brother, Herbert — a name with Germanic roots meaning “illustrious warrior.” He appears in their household as Herbert B. Charbonno, 8, in the 1875 New York State Census for Boonville, Oneida Co., N.Y. — which would place his birth around 1867.

I have long wondered about the 10-year age gap between the births of Will and Herbert — with the 1875 census enumerating a teen-aged Will, 17, along with his much younger brother. The unfortunate loss of two siblings during the intervening years might explain the significant span between them.

Since the possibility of learning more about them seemed remote, I set aside the idea of learning more about Will’s late siblings and moved on with other family history research.

So imagine my astonishment when a unexpected revelation about one of these children emerged while I was  researching the Swiss family of my gg grandmother Ursula Angeline (Zinsk) Charbonneau.

More in the next post. 

© 2017 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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© 2017 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Growing family trees one leaf (and road trip) at a time