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.

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