Category Archives: Charboneau

1890: Settling Arthur T. Bull’s estate

Sepia Saturday 433: First in a new series on the settlement of my great-great grandfather Arthur T. Bull’s estate. He was the father of my paternal great grandmother Eva (Bull) Charboneau.

When my great-great grandfather Arthur T. Bull, 57, died on 30 January 1890, he did not have a will.

Because he died intestate, his wife — my great-great grandmother Mary E. (Blakeslee) Bull, 50 — had to sign and file a number of documents in New York State Surrogate Court to become administratrix of his estate. In so doing, she unknowingly created more family history records of interest.
Park Square in Franklinville, N.Y. (undated). In this town my gg grandmother Mary Elizabeth (Blakeslee) Bull was named administratrix on 15 August 1890  of  the estate of her late husband, my gg grandfather Arthur T. Bull. Image: Historic Path of Cattauraugus County

Mary had to do this while simultaneously applying for U.S. Civil War widow’s benefits from her late husband’s Union Army service. And it appears that at least one of her attorneys from her widow’s application, Carey D. Davie,  rendered services in the probate process, too.

Mary named administratrix

My Bull great-great grandparents lived in Salamanca, Cattaraugus Co., in western New York at the time of Arthur’s death. However, Mary had to travel to the county surrogate court in Franklinville, about 50 miles south of Buffalo, to file the estate documents.

On 15 Aug. 1890, almost seven months after he died, Mary was granted letters of administration naming her “administratrix of all the singular goods, chattels and credits which were of the said Arthur T. Bull, deceased.”

She was directed to execute an accurate inventory of Arthur’s estate “to exhibit, or cause to be exhibited, in the office of the Surrogate of the County of Cattaraugus, at or before the expiration of three calendar months from the date thereof.”

After that, the document was witnessed and signed. (Handwriting underlined below.)

Witness: Alfred Spring, Surrogate of said County at Franklinville the fifteenth day of August in the year of our Lord, one thousand, eight hundred and eighty ninety.

More work for a grieving widow

Being named administratrix was just the beginning of the estate-settlement process for my grieving great-grandmother. She then had three months to tally up all of Arthur’s holdings and report back to the court. Alas, more work for a grieving widow.

Maybe this activity distracted Mary from waiting to hear about her Union Army widow’s pension — and the dependent pensions for her two minor children.

Or perhaps it was a burden that her nearby married daughters and their husbands helped her with. Either way, there was also the matter of an administration bond — which is the next record that will be reviewed in this series.

More on this in the next post. Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants here.

© 2018 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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Crossed Paths: Brookdale, Broome County and my Bull ancestors

Sepia Saturday 430: Fifth in a series about my great-great grandmother Mary Elizabeth (Blakeslee) Bull, a U.S. Civil War widow. Mary was the mother of my paternal great-grandmother Eva (Bull) Charboneau.

At times during my genealogy research I have been surprised to learn that my life unknowingly crossed paths with areas where my ancestors lived — yet I was oblivious to the connection until I began exploring my family history.

In this context, I want to pause and examine the 1856 marriage of my paternal great-great grandparents Arthur T. Bull and Mary Elizabeth Blakeslee in Brookdale, Susquehanna Co., Penna. — which was detailed in her 1890 application for Civil War widow’s benefits.
Valley of the Susquehanna River where New York and Pennsylvania meet (1912). Cross-border interactions were common, so it’s not unusual that my Bull great-great grandparents met and married in 1856, even though they were residents of different states. Image: psa.power

A cross-border courtship

Arthur T. Bull was raised in New York State’s Catskills region, where he learned the leather tanning trade. He later moved with his parents and siblings to Conklin, Broome Co., N.Y., where they were enumerated in the 1855 federal census.

Conklin is located along Little Snake Creek, west of the Susquehanna River and just north of the Pennsylvania border — about an eight-minute drive today from Brookdale, Penna.

Mary Elizabeth Blakeslee resided in Brookdale at the time of her 1856 marriage to Arthur — likely with her parents Zebulon and Hannah (Hance) Blakeslee. An abstracted newspaper announcement of their wedding gives Arthur’s residence as Corbettsville, N.Y. — a bit closer to Brookdale.
Railroad map of Susquehanna County, Pa. (1895). Click map to enlarge. Brookdale in Liberty Township, where my great-great grandparents Arthur and Mary E. (Blakeslee) Bull married in 1856, is at the center of the northern border. Broome County in New York’s Southern Tier lies just above that border.  Image:

Then, as now, cross-border interactions were common — with Broome County in New York’s Southern Tier just a stone’s throw from Susquehanna County, Penna. So it’s not unusual that my Bull great-great grandparents met and married while residing in different states.

Crossing paths with the Bulls

Fast forward a century to 1956, and it was my family of origin that was moving to Endwell in Broome County, N.Y. — just one block north of the Susquehanna River. Thus begins the study in similarities, contrasts and crossed paths with the Bulls.

Like Arthur’s father, my dad Norm Charboneau was relocating with our family for a new job — setting up house just 17 miles from where the Bull family lived in 1855. However, we had no idea the Bulls even existed — much less that they were paternal ancestors of ours!

Page Lake in New Milford, Penna. (1910). This vintage post card captures the summer pleasures my family of origin enjoyed at Page Lake in the 1950s-60s. I had no idea then that we were just a few miles from Brookdale, Penna., where my paternal gg grandparents Arthur T. Bull and Mary Elizabeth Blakeslee married 100 years before. Image: Lakeside Outing Club, Inc.

Path to Page Lake

My parents grew up in the Adirondack foothills of northern New York — where everyone who could afford it had a lakeside camp where they went in the summer. So that’s how the next crossed path originated.

As children, my parents learned to swim, fish, boat and trek through woods filled with flora and fauna at their families’ camps — and they wanted the same for their children.

So my dad found an affordable lot and built a small lean-to on Page Lake in New Milford, Penna. (shown on the map above) — just 13 miles south of Brookdale where Arthur and Mary Bull were wed in 1856!

We spent most summer weekends at Page Lake throughout the 1950s-60s — commuting back and forth past Conklin and Corbettsville and Brookdale, yet never imagining our proximity to these family history landmarks from 100 years before.

By contrast, today it’s a genealogical treat for me to examine ancestral areas discovered through research — and trace my own family’s paths running through them.

More on this in the next post. Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants here.

© 2018 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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Fourth Blogiversary: Dedicated to my parents Peg and Norm

Sepia Saturday 416: Today is the Fourth Blogiversary of Molly’s Canopy, which I am dedicating to my late parents Norman J. and Peg (Laurence) Charboneau.

Reviewing the last four years of Molly’s Canopy, I can hardly believe what an incredible family history journey it’s been — filled with new research, ancestral discoveries, friends, cousins, and blogging experiences (like the A to Z Challenge and Sepia Saturday).

And I owe a debt of gratitude to my parents for accompanying me on my fledgling steps down this road.

Mom and Dad: The start of it all

My genealogy journey began in 1950 with my first road trip with Mom and Dad. That’s me in the cat overalls with my parents Peg (Laurence) and Norm Charboneau. Back row, from left, my maternal grandmother Elizabeth (Stoutner) Laurence, paternal grandfather W. Ray Charboneau and maternal grandfather Tony W. Laurence. At the far left, with just her elbow showing, is my paternal grandmother Mary (Owen) Charboneau. Photo by Rita Mary Laurence

Because in truth, my genealogy journey began long ago — with my first road trip with Mom and Dad, when I was six months old,  to move in with my maternal grandparents.

My early childhood in our shared farmhouse near Albany, New York, chronicled in Whispering Chimneys: My childhood home, planted seeds that grew into an abiding interest in my family’s history.

And decades later, when I was ready to start looking back, so were my recently-retired Mom and Dad.

They were happy to join me on family history road trips to their upstate New York hometowns — where they showed me around, introduced me to relatives, helped with oral history interviews, and shared the joy of discovering unknown family stories and documents.

They also enthusiastically embraced my subsequent genealogical finds about our common ancestors — whose stories have unfolded on Molly’s Canopy these last four years. So I regret that my parents are not around to read the stories their love and support engendered.

Dad, Mom and me in the 1990s on a Cape Cod family vacation. When I was ready to look back at our family history, so were my recently-retired parents — and they enthusiastically accompanied me on my fledgling steps down this road. Photo by Jeffrey A. Charboneau

Wish they were here

My dad — who was a blogger before mepassed in 2012 before Molly’s Canopy was launched. But our shared discovery that we had a  Union Army ancestor, Arthur T. Bull, was what led me to start this blog in 2014 during the U.S. Civil War Sesquicentennial. And Dad has appeared or been quoted in many blog posts since then.

Sadly, my mom passed last month — a loss I am still mourning. But I have also written about Mom and her family in numerous posts, which I read aloud to her over the last couple of years. And my most popular post continues to be A Valentine’s Day love story: My grandmother elopes about her parents’ clandestine marriage — which includes a story Mom prompted her Aunt Margaret to tell me.

Creating a legacy

So today, I am thinking of my parents as I head into year five of Molly’s Canopy — remembering what fun we had exploring our common heritage, recalling all the stories they told me about each of their extended families, and grateful for the many photos they lovingly preserved and passed on.

There is still plenty of ancestral history to explore on each side of my family. And although Mom and Dad are no longer physically present, they are definitely along for the ride in spirit — as memories of their enthusiasm, good humor and curiosity inspire me to continue researching and writing about our family’s history, and creating a legacy that would make them both proud.

Up next: A Spring Break for Molly’s Canopy. May will be a busy month, so I am taking a much-needed blogging break to refresh and recharge. Please stop back when regular blogging resumes in June — and in the meantime, visit my fellow Sepia Saturday bloggers here.

© 2018 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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Frank Owen: Family stories and lingering questions

Sepia Saturday 415: Eighth and last in this series about my Welsh immigrant great grandfather Francis Hugh Owen, who married into the Irish Dempsey family in Baltimore, Maryland.

My great-grandfather Frank Owen’s late-in-life travels to stay with his children generated correspondence and stories about him from those whose homes he stayed in — yet some lingering questions remain, which point to future research.

A letter from Pop

I am fortunate to have a letter penciled by Frank, 82, while he was staying with his oldest child (my grandmother Mary Frances “Molly” (Owen) Charboneau) —  which mentions my father’s return from Navy service during WWII.

Letter from Frank Owen to his daughter Charlotte (Owen) Wilson (1946). Click image to enlarge. Scan by Molly Charboneau

Dated 17 June 1946, the letter is written to his daughter Charlotte (Owen) Wilson and is signed Pop — which is what the family called him.

Dear Charlotte, Well here I am at Otter Lake once more + thank you very much for your help. I got a through car + stood the trip very well + I am certainly glad to be here. All are well up here. Mary’s boys are back from the wars with the exception of Norman [my dad] — his last letter from Pearl Harbor, but hopes to be home by July. Sorry to hear that James [Charlotte’s husband] has not been well — glad he is better. I cannot see to write much. Love, Pop

Family stories about Frank

Stories shared with me by my dad and some cousins paint a picture of Frank as somewhat fastidious and a creature of habit.

My paternal great-grandfathers at the Otter Lake, N.Y. hotel (circa 1946). From left, Francis Hugh “Frank” Owen, with a hotel guest and Willard “Will” Charboneau, enjoying the Adirondack summer. Scan of a family photo by Molly Charboneau

My dad knew Frank from his Otter Lake Hotel stays and 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,” Dad said. (Perhaps Frank was hearkening back to his job in straw hat manufacturing?)

One of my cousins visited the hotel as a child. She told me Pop also drank a daily glass of Epsom salts and took cold baths as a constitutional.

A cousin of my father’s, who was a child when Frank stayed at her house, told me he was very particular in his eating habits. “Everything had to be just so,” she said, “And we children were told to be quiet by our parents while Pop ate alone, because the noise we made bothered him.”

Lingering questions: A new chapter

After settling in new a country, working hard and raising ten children, my Welsh immigrant great-grandfather Francis Hugh Owen, 85, passed away in New York City on 25 July 1949 while staying with his daughter Katherine (Owen) Negri.

Yet even as this series about Frank ends — having hopefully shed some light on his life — the following lingering questions mark the start of a new research chapter to see what more can be learned.

Did Frank immigrate twice? My dad told me the first time Frank arrived in the U.S., he couldn’t make a go of it, so he went back to Wales. But that didn’t work out either. So his family collected money to send him to the U.S. again, telling him, “This time, don’t come back.” This may explain the variations in his immigration years on federal censuses — and possibly two ship manifests to discover.

Was Frank naturalized? Some of Frank’s census returns said he was naturalized — and the 1940 U.S. Census said he was “naturalized at birth.” Yet my dad said that at the start of WWII, “Pop was furious that he had to go to the post office in New York City and register as an alien.” I wrote to the U.S. National Archives seeking his alien registration papers — but they found nothing. So his status remains a mystery.

What was his middle name? I was told that Frank’s name was Francis Hugh Owen. However, over his lifetime he appeared with a  range of middle initials — from Frank C. to Francis Francis W. — in city directories and federal censuses. He also frequently appeared as Frank H., so maybe these were informant errors. Or were they?

What were his parents’ names? My dad told me Frank’s parents were Evan and Sarah. But on Frank’s death certificate (his daughter Katherine was the informant), his parents were listed as Thomas Owen and Mae Edwards. “That can’t be right,” said my dad. “I never heard those names mentioned before.” So which names are correct?

Up next: Fourth blogiversary of Molly’s Canopy. Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants here.

© 2018 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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1930s-1940s: Frank Owen’s later years

Sepia Saturday 414: Seventh in a series about my Welsh immigrant great grandfather Francis Hugh Owen, who married into the Irish Dempsey family in Baltimore, Maryland.

After the 1922 death of his beloved wife Elizabeth C. (Dempsey) Owen, my great-grandfather Frank H. Owen, 59, lived for more than twenty-five more years — finishing up his working life, then residing with his children during his retirement.

In 1920, Frank was working as a railroad watchman and four of his adult children — Arthur, Katherine, Joe and John — still lived with him and Elizabeth. By 1930 — the start of the Great Depression — his circumstances had changed significantly.

Francis Hugh Owen in his later years, on the porch of the Otter Lake Hotel in New York’s Adirondack region. My great-grandfather spent summers there with my grandmother — his daughter Mary “Molly” (Owen) Charboneau — when it was her turn to house him. That’s where my dad Norm got to know him. Photo by Norman J. Charboneau

The 1930 U.S. Census of Baltimore City, Maryland (10th Ward), enumerated on April 9, shows Frank as the head of a household that only included his daughter Katherine, 32.

They lived at 1215 Preston St. — likely in an apartment of a multi-family dwelling, because two other households are listed at the same address.

Katherine, single, was working as a operator in a tailoring shop. Frank, widowed, was not working — so presumably retired.

They were paying a monthly rent of $25 (about $355 today). The census gave Frank’s year of immigration as 1883 and indicated he was naturalized.

Living with one child, then the next

Around 1930 seems to be when my great-grandfather Frank began living with one child, then the next — which he continued to do until the end of his life.

A 1930 City Directory of Baltimore lists Frank renting at 803 n. Payson — again with his daughter Katherine, who is listed as an “operator” at the same address.

Frank Owen’s sons Arthur and Joe with their wives (undated). From left, Nettie and Arthur Owen, Joseph and Alma Owen. My great-grandfather took turns living with his children as he aged. Photo courtesy of Jane (Owen) Dukovic

Six years later, a 1936 City Directory of Baltimore shows Frank renting at 2830 Clifton Ave. —  the same address as Arthur T. and Nettie M. Owen (his son and daughter-in-law). Arthur is listed as a salesman for the Baltimore Sales Book Company.

By the time of the 1940 U.S. Census of Baltimore City (9th Ward), enumerated on April 3, Frank was living at 607 E. Thirteenth Street with yet another son and daughter-in-law — Joseph C. and Alama P. Owen. Joe was a mechanic at an appliance factory, and they had four children under the age of 10.

From the Adirondacks to Illinois to New York City

During 1930s and ’40s, Frank also spent summers in the Adirondacks with his oldest daughter — my grandmother Mary Frances “Molly” (Owen) Charboneau, who with my grandfather Ray ran the Otter Lake Hotel. That’s where my dad Norm got to know him.

From Otter Lake,  my great-grandfather traveled by train to Illinois, where his daughter Charlotte and her husband James Wilson also hosted him for periods of time. Then he would camp out with my Aunt Kate (his daughter Katherine), who by the 1940s lived in New York City.

Francis Hugh “Frank” Owen had come a long way from Wales — and he continued to venture a long way from his Baltimore home town as his children took turns housing him in his old age. Fortunately, his vagabond existence led to some correspondence and passed-on stories about him, which I will share in the next post.

Up next: Family lore and unanswered questions about Frank Owen. Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants here.

© 2018 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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