Category Archives: Charboneau

Bridesmaids revisited #tbt

Lately I have been writing about family reunions and social gatherings — those landmark events that bring together relatives, in-laws and family friends in celebration of life’s special occasions.

So I was delighted when my sister Amy sent me a photo recently of my dad and me at my youngest sister’s wedding 30 years ago — just in time for #throwbackthursday. Dad was the father of the bride and I was maid of honor.

Father of the bride and maid of honor (1987). My dad Norm Charboneau and I share a relaxed moment at my youngest sister’s wedding 30 years ago. Photo by Norma Tagliaferro

Dad, 63,  was still working but preparing for retirement. On the table in front of him, as always, was his trusty camera — evidence of his lifelong passion for photography.

At 37, I was not yet bitten by the genealogy bug — but  I was becoming nostalgic.  On my left wrist I wore a vintage wind-up dress watch my mom gave me — a gift to her from Dad. And my antique necklace resembled the one my mom’s sister, Rita Mary Laurence, wore as maid of honor at my parents’ 1948 wedding.

Meeting extended family

A new family connection took root that day when I met some of my Welsh-Irish collateral relatives for the first time — my dad’s cousin Jane (Owen) Dukovic, her husband Jim and their son John.

Jane is a daughter of Arthur T. Owen, a brother of my paternal grandmother Mary (Owen) Charboneau. I didn’t know it then, but Jane is also the family historian for the Owen-Dempsey branch of the family.

Several years later, when I began doing genealogy research in earnest, Jane’s knowledge, photos and carefully-crafted family trees proved invaluable. And that family connection has continued to grow — as evidenced by the great turnout at a recent reunion of  Dempsey and Owen descendents.

Aunt Rita as maid of honor

The bride and her maid of honor (1948). My aunt Rita Mary Laurence, right, adjusts my mom Peg’s veil before her November 1948 wedding in Gloversville, N.Y. Scan of a family photo by Molly Charboneau

My Aunt Rita was maid of honor for my mother — her only sibling — wearing an aqua gown with matching jewelry. She was 19 and training for a career as a blood bank technician. My mom, Peg, was 22 and working as a music educator.

On 31 Oct. 1948 — shortly before my parents’ wedding — Rita wrote with her usual wry humor about the upcoming nuptials in a letter to a family friend, who was kind enough to send me a copy.

We’ve got everything almost set for Peg’s wedding — I’m to be maid of honor — this should be priceless to say the least.

The happy couple are center stage at a wedding. But supporting cast is also important — at major events, in a family’s history and in life — as captured in this pair of #throwbackthursday photos and the stories behind them.

Up next: Having introduced Aunt Rita’s letter, let’s hear what else she had to say about her life at the time. Please stop back!

© 2017 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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1934: A Charboneau reunion in the news

Third in a series on my Charboneau ancestors in New York’s Adirondack foothills during the summer of 1934.

In August 1934, my paternal grandmother Mary (Owen) Charboneau received a Self Book from a guest at the Otter Lake Hotel. In it she wrote about several happenings that summer — including a reunion of the extended Charboneau family:

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Moose River by Levi Wells Prentice (1884). A Charboneau reunion was held in 1934 at Riverside Farm along the Moose River near Otter Lake, N.Y. My great-grandfather Will, 78; grandfather Ray, 46; and Uncle Owen, 23, attended along with my dad Norm, who was 10 years old. Artwork: The Athenaeum

Family reunion of the Charboneau clan was held Sunday, Aug. 12 – 1934 at the home of Wm. Charboneau on the Moose River at Boonville, N.Y. A large gathering were there. Ray, Owen and Norman attended from here. Next year’s reunion is to be held in Prospect Park. Pa Charboneau was the oldest member of the family at the reunion.

I vaguely remembered seeing a news clip about this reunion, so I took another look at the Old Fulton New York Postcards website. Sure enough, there was a write-up of the event in the Aug. 14, 1934, evening edition of the Rome Daily Sentinel.

Write-up of the Charbonneau Reunion in the Aug. 14, 1934. Rome Daily Sentinal. (Click image to enlarge). Source: Old Fulton New York Postcards

Headlined “Boonville: Four Clans Meet In Yearly Events,” the article included a section on the well-attended family get together — spelling Charbonneau with with a double-n (our branch uses just one):

The annual reunion of the Charbonneau family was held on the spacious lawn at Riverside Farm with Mr. and Mrs. W. D. Charbonneau and family. Dinner was served with covers laid for 64.

Oldest attendee and officer elections

My grandmother’s journal entry said my paternal great-grandfather (Pa) was the oldest at the event — and the news clip backed her up.

The oldest member present was William L. Charbonneau, 78, Dolgeville, and the youngest was Clifford Charbonneau, age one and a half years, Old Forge.

The extended Charboneau family was large enough back then to elect officers — though I am still parsing out how they and the other attendees fit into my Charboneau family tree.

Officers as follows were elected: president, Charles Donnelly, Utica; Vice President, Lawrence Charbonneau, Utica; secreatary, Mrs. William F. Karlen, Utica; treasurer, Mrs. Peter Zimmer, Oriskany.

Riverside Farm and the guest list

Curious about the venue, I did a bit of research on Riverside Farm and found a 2003 obituary for Douglas Charbonneau, 86. It said he lived on the farm as a child with his parents Louis and Vera (Jenks) Charbonneau.

According to the 1934 Daily Sentinel clip, all three were at the Charboneau reunion — as was Douglas’s brother Billy. Douglas would have been 12 at the time.

The rest of the guest list — detailed in part in the clipping above — is a roster of Charboneau relatives and in-laws , with the furthest traveling from Albany, N.Y., to attend.

Dad remembered the gathering

When my dad (Norm) and I began researching our family’s history together, he told me he remembered going to a Charboneau reunion near his Otter Lake home town when he was a kid. Perhaps this was the one.

According to my grandmother, my father went from our branch of the family — along with his father Ray, 46, and his oldest brother Owen, 23.  Dad turned 10 in July 1934, so he was old enough to retain memories of such an impressive  gathering — and I regret I never asked him more about it.

Yet my grandmother’s journal and the Rome Daily Sentinal have helped fill in that gap — providing valuable details about the Charboneau reunion that made such an impression on Dad as a boy.

Up next: A recent family reunion of my grandmother’s Dempsey-Owen family. Please stop back.

© 2017 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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1934: Summer season in Otter Lake, N.Y.

Second in a series on my Charboneau ancestors in New York’s Adirondack foothills during the summer of 1934.

After my paternal grandmother Mary (Owen) Charboneau received a Self Book from a guest, she used the blank pages to write about events at the Otter Lake Hotel — which she operated with my grandfather William Ray Charboneau in Oneida County’s Town of Forestport.

Otter Lake Hotel (circa 1930). My paternal grandparents Ray and Molly (Owen) Charboneau operated the Otter Lake Hotel in the 1930s. To liven up the summer season, they organized social events, musical performances and card parties like the one shown here on the hotel porch.  Scan of a family photo by Molly Charboneau

My dad said the hotel could not have run without her. She handled deliveries, coordinated hotel and kitchen staff and created an enjoyable atmosphere for guests escaping hotter climes to summer near the Adirondacks.

My grandmother’s newsroom style

Reading her entries, I can’t help but think that — with training and editorial help —  she might even have made a good local newspaper reporter. Her first short piece described a birthday party at the hotel.

A very enjoyable party was held in the dining room of the Otter Lake Hotel on Saturday, August 11 – 1934. The occasion being Mrs. P. J. De Vries birthday. A birthday cake and favors for all the guests were enjoyed. Also Mr. James Burrus passed wine to all. Guests were Mr. & Mrs. P. J. De Vires, Mr. James Burrus and Miss Margaret Saum [all from Brooklyn]; Mr. & Mrs. Louis Migurt, Misses Hilda and Adele Migurt, Misses Lillian Hundley and Jennie Wilson, Mr. & Mrs. Edward Manning, Mr. & Mrs. R. G. Norton.

A  cultural gathering place

In a later entry my grandmother reveals that, beyond being a guesthouse, the Otter Lake Hotel served as a cultural gathering place for the lakeside community — spreading goodwill by hosting performances.

A string trio and soloist gave a lovely concert on the evening of August 22 – 1934 in the parlor of the Otter Lake Hotel. The trio was composed of George Wald pianist, Eugene Gantner violinist and Edward Creswell cellist. Symphonic selections and Russian music were much enjoyed. Mr. Creswell gave the Liebestraum and Tarantella as solo numbers. Mr. Gantner gave Ave Maria in a very beautiful manner. Mr. Elliot Stewart sang several selections and rendered Old Man River in a wonderful manner. The concert was much enjoyed by the guests and people from around the lake.

Family on the guest list

A bridge party in full swing on the porch of the Otter Lake Hotel (circa 1930). My paternal grandmother wrote about 1934  hotel events in her journal. My dad said the hotel could not have run without her. Scan of a family photo by Molly Charboneau

My grandmother included herself and my grandfather among the August 22 concert guests (Mr. & Mrs. W. R. Charboneau). And I was surprised to see my Aunt Gig — who later married my dad’s oldest brother Owen — listed as a guest under her maiden name (Aline Des Jardin).

Guests present were Misses Lillian Hundley and Jennie Wilson, Mr. W. R. Wilson, Mr. & Mrs. Migurt, Misses Hilda and Adele Migurt, Mr. & Mrs. Edward Manning, Miss Irene Hundley, Mr. & Mrs. Stewart George, Mrs. Arthur Logan, Mr. & Mrs. Stanley Reese, Barbara Reese, Mary Berthalman, Aline Des Jardin, Mrs. John White, Mary White, May Mangan, Ed Unser, Sadie Underwood, Marie Sorenson, Mr. & Mrs.  W. R. Charboneau, Mr. & Mrs. R. G. Norton, Mr. & Mrs. Dan Tanner, Mr. & Mrs. Edwin Tanner and many others.

Roscoe Norton ‘s curtain call

Two other interesting guests at both events were Mr. & Mrs. R. G. Norton.

Roscoe Norton was the original owner of the Otter Lake Hotel. He was also instrumental in saving and moving St. Trinitatis Church, where my German-Swiss Zinsk ancestors worshipped. Today it stands on land he donated as Otter Lake Community Church.

My dad often told stories about Roscoe, who operated the Whistlestop general store/post office across from the hotel — like how he would put on his official hat when he went to the postal window in his small store, then take it off again in the general-store side, on again, off again all day long.

Dad even patterned a character after Roscoe in his Labor Day Mystery novel — so it was nice to see him listed with his wife among the party goers at the hotel.

Up next: My grandmother’s write-up of a 1934 Charboneau family reunion. Please stop back.

© 2017 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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1934: Christmas in August at the Otter Lake Hotel

First in a series on my Charboneau ancestors in New York’s Adirondack foothills during the summer of 1934.

During the 1930s, my paternal grandparents William Ray and Mary (Owen) Charboneau operated the Otter Lake Hotel in the scenic Adirondack foothills of New York State’s North Country.

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Otter Lake Hotel. During the 1930s, my paternal grandparents William Ray and Mary (Owen) Charboneau operated the Otter Lake Hotel in the scenic Adirondack foothills of New York State’s North Country. Photo: Larry Meyers/Fulton Chain of Lakes Postcards

My grandparents were known as Ray and Molly to family and friends — and they did their best to entertain hotel guests and encourage return visits.

Since the hotel was closed during the winter, one of the high points at the end of each summer season was the Christmas-in-August party before the last guests departed.

At one of these parties, a guest gave my grandmother a “Self Book” with a calendar, a page for important dates and journal pages for notes. Here’s the first one she wrote:

This book was given to me by Mrs. O’Donnell at a Christmas party held at Otter Lake Hotel August 14 – 1934.

Party highlights and guests

Grandma Charboneau then described the party in an entry that reads like a local newspaper community events column item:

A very lovely Christmas party was held at Otter Lake Hotel on August 14 – 1934. A lighted Christmas tree and presents with a poem for each was a feature of the occasion. Mr. James Burris made a delightful Santa Claus. After the tree and presents, the rest of the evening was spent in parlor games and music. Singing was enjoyed by both ladies and gentleman.

Otter Lake Hotel ice cream dish from the author’s collection. My paternal grandparents Ray and Molly (Owen) Charboneau ran the ice cream stand at the hotel before they graduated to operating the hotel itself. Photo by Molly Charboneau

Even better is the guest list, which includes some of my family members (in bold below):

Guests at the Christmas party – Mr. & Mrs. Louis Migurt, Miss Adelle & Hilda Migurt, Mrs. Nora O’Donnell, Miss Lillian Hundley, Miss Jennie Wilson, Mr. W.R. Wilson, Mr. & Mrs. Edward Manning, Mr. &  Mrs. P. T. De Vries, Mr. James Burris, Miss Margaret Saum, Mr. Wm. Charboneau, Mr. Frank Owen, Norman Charboneau, Frederic Charboneau, Mr. & Mrs. W. R. Charboneau.

My dad, Norm, was 10 years old at the time. Uncle Fred, his brother and hotel roommate, was 16. My paternal great grandfather Will Charboneau, 76, lived locally. My maternal great grandfather Frank Owen, 72, was from Baltimore, Md., and known as “Pop” to the family.  My grandfather Ray was 46 and my grandmother Molly was 45.

Pop  Owen’s summers up north

I once asked my dad about Pop’s presence at this gathering. He said by then Pop had given up his Baltimore, Md., home and took turns staying with one or another of his children throughout the year.

My grandmother’s turn came in the summer so Pop could spend the hot months up north at the hotel. That’s how he ended up at the August Christmas party.

Pop was born in Wales and Dad considered him quite a character. “Every day he would put on a World War I pith helmet and march across the street and up the hill to Norton’s store, near the railroad tracks, to pick up the mail,” he said. A cousin told me Pop also drank a daily glass of Epsom salts and took cold bath as a constitutional.

I am grateful to Nora O’Donnell for giving Grandma Charboneau the “Self Book” that inspired her to write about this party and several other happenings that summer. There was even a brief entry about a Charboneau family reunion!

More in the next post. Please stop back!

© 2017 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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Memories of Dad on his 93rd birthday

Today my dad would have turned 93. I recently wrote about his younger years. Here, to commemorate his birthday, is an earlier blog post about his landmark eightieth birthday.

The year my dad, Norm Charboneau, turned 80, our family threw him a surprise birthday party a little ahead of the big event at a lovely restaurant near my parents’ home outside Syracuse, N.Y. Dad had a great time — and so many of us turned out from far and wide that we had to take the group photo in two parts to fit everyone in.

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Labor Day Mystery book cover (2005). When he turned 80, my dad Norm Charboneau started blogging and finished up the process of self-publishing his mystery book, which was set in the Adirondacks in the 1940s. Photo by Molly Charboneau

This meant that on his actual 80th birthday — besides celebrating with Mom — Dad was left to his own devices. And as always, he had a plan.

“Today I drove over to Carol’s Polar Parlor, ordered a banana split with everything on it and ate the whole thing myself,” he announced proudly when I called to say Happy Birthday.

Norm felt this was the most suitable way to mark eight decades of a pretty active life — and to anticipate two major octogenarian projects he had in the works.

Chabonews blog

One month later,  Norm started blogging — designing and launching his blog Charbonews all on his own, with a full bio, photos, the works. I have always loved my dad’s forward looking, let’s-try-a-new-challenge attitude — and starting a blog at the ripe old age of 80 was certainly an inspiring act.

Norm wrote short pieces — more as an online journal whenever the mood struck him — about his home town, Elderhostel trips with my mom, and even a post titled Famous Relative? about our family history. Dad had a mini marketing plan, too — emailing family and friends to alert them to blog posts. Like I said, way ahead of his time.

Labor Day Mystery: A Red Flannel Yarn

Norm’s other landmark project, which he was finishing up as he turned 80, was self publishing his book Labor Day Mystery: A Red Flannel Yarn — set in the fictional town of Panther Lake and featuring an amateur sleuth Red Flanneau (aka Red Flannel) loosely based on himself.

Dad modeled other characters and plot lines after friends, family and events from his home town — Otter Lake, Oneida County, N.Y. — to create a murder mystery true to its North Country setting.

Mom and I shared the spoiler alert of reviewing and giving feedback on the manuscript, while Dad handled all the publishing arrangements. Then, like any good publicist, Norm emailed his list and did a blog post alerting us when the book was out — and also made sure that family members got a copy.

Some day, with luck and healthy living, we could all turn 80. When my time comes, I hope I am still writing, blogging and living life to the fullest — though perhaps without the banana split — just like my dad Norm was doing on his 80th birthday.

Up next: Christmas in August 1934 at the Otter Lake Hotel. Please stop back.

© 2017 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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