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!
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.