Gloversville, N.Y. and my maternal ancestors

Letter G: Seventh of twenty-six posts in the April 2016 Blogging From A to Z Challenge. Wish me luck and please join me on the journey!

image
Louis Meyers & Son glove factory making room, Gloversville, Fulton County, N.Y. Some of my maternal ancestors worked in glove shops like this one. Others sewed gloves at home. The second woman on the right looks a bit like my grandmother’s sister, Margaret (Stoutner) Rothbell. Photo: Steve Oare/Pictorial History of Gloversville

Most of my paternal ancestors have been in North America for centuries, but my maternal German and Italian ancestors arrived more recently and settled in Gloversville, Fulton County, New York.

As the name implies, the town was once home to a bustling glove manufacturing industry, with small brick shops the size of New York City brownstones dotting the thoroughfares and side streets — and women workers all over town making gloves at home.

Gloves and other trades

But that was not the only industry. My great, great grandfather Andrew Stoutner — who emigrated from Prussia in the mid 1800s — operated a brick manufacturing works, supplying the bricks for his own home and many others. His son Pete (my great grandfather) worked for the railroad, and his other son John was a milliner who ran a hat shop.

Another great, great grandfather Joseph A. Mimm, from Baden-Württemberg, was a glove die maker — while his wife Eva Elizabeth (Edel) Mimm was a glove factory worker. Their daughter, my great grandmother Celia (Mimm) Stoutner (who married Pete the railroad worker) sewed and turned gloves at home.

My mom told me that when she was young, she and her sister Rita would run back and forth to the factory for their grandmother Celia — dropping off finished gloves and picking up new glove kits. I inherited a wooden Meyers glove turner from one of the companies Celia worked for (maybe the one in the photo above).

A family filling station

My Italian great, great grandfather Antonio Curcio started a junk business that morphed over time into a garage and filling station. It was taken over by his son-in-law, my great grandfather Peter Laurence [Di Lorenzo]. They were both from Italy’s Campania region within sight of Mount Vesuvius — as was my great, great grandmother Antoinette (Del Negro) Curcio.

Family legend has it that Peter came to the U.S. in response to recruitment ads from the glove companies, where he initially worked as a leather dresser after his 1895 arrival.

Gloversville is a beautiful town in the Mohawk Valley region with some lovely boulevards and a Carnegie library. Once it even boasted an opera house downtown, as my mom and I discovered on a family history trip. With the exit of manufacturing from upstate New York, the town is less vibrant than it was in my ancestors’ day, but I still consider it a shining part of my heritage.

Have you visited towns where your ancestors lived? What were your impressions? Communities and their history are an integral part of our ancestors’ stories.

Tomorrow: Heritage and identity. Please stop back.

© 2016 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Please like and share:

7 thoughts on “Gloversville, N.Y. and my maternal ancestors”

  1. Dear Molly:

    Read A–E and loved them!

    That’s a great lead on your Letter A–and a nice hook at the conclusion.

    About those hundreds of family photos–I have a room full and need to tackle them. My husband’s family photos, lovingly preserved by his mother, all need to be disbursed to the proper repositories.

    So exciting about your Irish ancestors! I wonder if you are familiar with the great novel by Thomas Flanagan, “The Year of the French”?

    If not, I recommend it–it’s about the 1798 Rebellion…I can lend it to you if you like.

    I met this incredible woman in Florida and her last name is Gormley…she’s a friend of my sister’s…wonder if she is related through her husband?

    Re patterns in family names; at one point in my family tree [maternal side] the name Napoleon was very popular! That’s easy to figure out why…

    It’s great to see so many people “hooked on history.” Keep going and good luck! It’s so interesting to read!

  2. Such an interesting heritage…having that glove turner must be pretty special. Sounds like the piece workers had to work as hard as today, or harder.

    I love to walk the land of my ancestors and have been lucky enough to visit them around the world. It’s a very special feeling…and yes, learning about their communities is such an important part of our research.

    @cassmob from
    Family History Across The Seas

    1. Thanks for your comment, Pauleen. The glove turner will make a cameo appearance in a future post. It is just too beautiful not to share! I found it tucked away in my maternal grandmother’s sewing cabinet, sitting quietly among the wooden spools of silk thread just waiting to be discovered.

  3. I think it’s so cool you know all this family history!

    Before my Uncle Larry died he gave me a bunch of information on our ancestors. My predecessors were the Campbell Brothers Circus! Lol!

    1. Now there is a story you should write up! Perhaps as a series, if you have enough information.

    1. So true. My maternal ancestors had such rich, full lives in Gloversville during its heyday as New York’s glove capitol that I wanted to capture a bit of their experience in this post. Thanks for stopping by!

Comments are closed.