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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