Tag Archives: Laurent Charles Charbonneau

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.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

© 2017 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

My Swiss ancestor’s given name: Oceline, Angeline or Ursula?

Second in a series about my paternal Charbonneau and Zinsk ancestors in New York State’s Adirondack region during the 1800s.

My Swiss immigrant great, great, grandmother, the wife of my Quebecois immigrant ancestor Laurent Charles Charbonneau, was a late arrival on my family tree — sweeping in with an aura of mystery that continues to surround her.

Wright and Algonquin peaks in New York’s Adirondack Mountains. The Adirondak peaks near her Boonville, Oneida, New York residence likely reminded my Swiss great great grandmother of the Alps back home. By: Martin Morissette

Her maiden surname name was Zinsk. But awareness of her Swiss origins had faded from our family’s story until I discovered U.S. census reports pointing to her birth in Switzerland — which revived my dad’s vague memories about her heritage.

Also hazy was the exact spelling of her maiden surname — alternatively appearing as Zinsk, Zink or Sink. Which spelling was correct? After much research, Zinsk eventually won out because that’s the spelling that her father, Nicholas, used when he signed his U.S. citizenship papers.

First name conundrum

But no sooner was that problem resolved then a new conundrum emerged — what was my great, great grandmother’s correct given name?

Ursula is the given name that appears in later documents. Yet she appears as Angeline pretty consistently for 20 years, both single and married, in many other records — some of which are compiled in the table below.

Name Variants of Ursula Angeline (Zinsk) Charbonneau
Year Name Source
1850 Oceline Sink U.S. Census Boonville, Oneida, NY
1855 Angeline Zink  NYS Census Boonville, Oneida, NY
1860 Ursula (Zink) Sherbenah St. Trinitatis Church records Hawkinsville, Oneida, NY (not digitized)
1865 Angeline Charbono NYS Census Boonville, Oneida, NY
1870 Angeline Sharbono U.S. Census Boonville, Oneida, NY
1875 Angeline Charbonne NYS Census Boonville, Oneida, NY
1880 Ursula Sherbenon U.S. Census Boonville, Oneida, NY
1900 Ursula Charbono [FS Index: Charhaus] U.S. Census Forestport, Oneida, NY
1910 Ursula Charbonneau U.S. Census Forestport, Oneida, NY

Moniker musings

What are we to make of all of this? Here are my theories based on the preliminary evidence — pending future research discoveries.

Oceline: This given name, which I have only seen once in the 1850 U.S. Census, appears to be a phonetic error by a census taker, who likely heard the name Ursula pronounced with a German-Swiss accent and wrote it down as Oceline. Or he may have been told Ursula Angeline rather quickly by the informant, and merged the two names into one. Either way, this given name seems to be an anomaly.

Ursula: This name first appears in an 1860 church baptismal record for one of my gg grandmother’s children — an occasion when  she would have used her official first name (the one she was baptized with). Similarly, from about 1880 on — when formal records in general were becoming more widely kept — her first name appears consistently as Ursula.

Angeline: This name appears from around 1855 to 1875 in the records I have found. I suspect this may have been my great great grandmother’s middle name and the “call name” she used in everyday life — hence the name she, a family member or a neighbor would have given to the census taker. And, coincidentally, a name far easier for her French-Canadian husband to pronounce.

So for the time being, my Swiss great, great grandmother’s full name appears to be Ursula Angeline (Zinsk) Charbonneau.

What more can we learn about the family of Lawrence Charles and Ursula Angeline (Zinsk) Charbonneau? Stop back for the next post.

© 2017 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

1865: The Lawrence Charbonneau family in Boonville, N.Y.

First in a series about my paternal Charbonneau and Zinsk ancestors in New York State’s Adirondack region during the 1800s.

January is here, and winter is settling over the Adirondack foothills. What better time to resume the search for details about my Québecois immigrant great, great grandfather Lawrence Charles Charbonneau in the Town of Forestport, Oneida County, New York.

http://www.woodgatelibrary.org/wg_history_images/myers_coll_forestport/index.htm
Town of Forestport, Oneida County, N.Y., below the state dam. My Charbonneau ancestors were enumerated in the 1865 NYS Census for Boonville, N.Y. — which is located in the Town of Forestport. Image: Woodgate Library – Postcards of Forestport – Meyers Collection

When last I wrote about Lawrence in A Charboneau by any other surname variant, I was grappling with the multitude of surname spellings that was frustrating my search for records of my gg grandfather’s early years in upstate New York.

He last appeared with his family of origin as Laurent Charbonneau, 20, in the 1851-52 Canadian Census for St. Eustache, Deux Montagnes, Québec — chronicled in 1852: Charbonneau family of St. Eustache.

Presumably he moved south into New York State some time after that Canadian census — but when? In hopes of finding an answer, I began a series of online U.S. and New York State census searches working through the various census-taker spellings of Charbonneau.

An 1865 census breakthrough

A breakthrough finally came when I found Lawrence Charbono and family in the 1865 New York State Census for Boonville, Oneida, N.Y. — a census entry that helps narrow down the year he likely settled in New York State.

 1865 New York State Census of Boonville, Oneida, N.Y. – E.D. 02-03  – 15 June 1865  – Page 19 (penned), dwelling 143, family 143 – from FamilySearch.org
No.  Name  Age  Reln. Birthplace Births Times Wed Job
14 Lawrence Charbono  33 Canada  1  Sawyer
15 Angeline Charbono  30  Wife Switzerland 3  1  None
16 Willard L. Charbono  7  Child Oneida

The ages, birthplaces, occupation and and family structure in this census report coincide with other records in my files for the Lawrence Charbonneau family. So, despite the surname variant, this appears to be my gg grandfather’s family.

My great grandfather Will Charboneau (who later shortened his surname by dropping an n) appears here for the first time as a child at age 7 — putting his birth at about 1858 in Oneida County, New York.

Based on this information, Lawrence likely settled in New York State some time between 1851-52 (when he last appeared in the Canadian census) and 1857 (the year before his son was born Oneida County, N.Y.) — a span of about 5 years.

My great, great grandmother’s details

Also of interest are the details on my Swiss immigrant great, great grandmother (maiden name: Zinsk) — which suggest new avenues for research.

Her given name here is Angeline — which appears in other records I have for her. But in most later records, her given name is Ursula. Was Angeline her middle name? Perhaps for that reason, was it the name she went by in everyday life? Hence the one she gave to the census taker in 1865?

Next to her name in Column 11 (“Of how many children the parent.”) the census taker wrote three  — yet only Will is enumerated in this 1865 census. What became of the other two children?

New mysteries to be solved — more in the next post.

© 2017 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Swiss family Zinsk

Letter Z: Last of twenty-six posts in the April 2016 Blogging From A to Z Challenge. Crossed the finish line today! Thanks for joining me on the journey!

The Swiss family Zinsk was a late arrival on my family tree . They showed up unexpectedly while I was investigating my paternal Charbonneau ancestors — and restored Switzerland as a long-forgotten source of my family’s roots.

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 was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2004. Photo by Tom/The Backroads Traveller

I was excited about our Swiss ancestry because my family was completely unaware of this heritage  — or so I thought until I called my dad to tell him the breaking news.

“You know, I seem to remember hearing something about that,” Dad said thoughtfully, while I rolled my eyes and had a face-palm moment at the other end of the phone.

Yet in some ways it’s understandable how awareness of our Swiss heritage might have faded with each succeeding generation, given how challenging it was to find details about these elusive ancestors.

Seeking Ursula’s maiden name

My first hint of our paternal Swiss ancestry came from the 1900 U.S. Census for Forestport, Oneida County, N.Y. The record for my great, great grandfather Laurent Charles Charbonneau (spelled Charbono), who emigrated from Quebec to New York’s Adirondack foothills, listed his wife Ursula — born in Switzerland.

To learn more, we needed her maiden name — always a challenge. So Dad and I added this to the list of goals for our next pre-Internet family history road trip in August 1992.

We examined Laurent’s tombstone in Beechwood Cemetery, Forestport, Oneida County, N.Y., but the inscription was no help. All it said was “Ursula, His Wife.”

Then Dad and I found Laurent’s obituary in the Irwin Library and Institute in Boonville, Oneida County, N.Y. — but Ursula’s name did not appear in that, either, much to Dad’s chagrin.

A census breakthrough

Clearly, we needed more to go on. So back I went to the census, where the various spellings for Charbonneau (such as Charbono, Charbonno, Sharbono and Sherbenon) slowed my microfilm research.

But one evening — while browsing door-to-door through the 1870 U.S. Census for Boonville, Oneida County, N.Y. — I found Nicholas Zink, 84, and Barnard Zink, 40, (both from Switzerland), living in the home of Laurence Sharbono (from Canada) and his wife Angeline [Ursula](from Switzerland). This looked like the breakthrough we needed on Ursula’s maiden name!

There were more surname variants to come — from Zink to Sink to Zingg  to Zinsk — which eventually led to records that clarified our Swiss ancestors’ family relationships and even identified the church where they worshipped, shown above.

Best of all: I found my ggg grandfather Nicholas’s naturalization papers, on which his signature confirmed Zinsk as the correct spelling of the surname — opening the door to future research into my family’s once-hidden Swiss heritage.


With this post, I have completed my first April 2016 Blogging From A to Z Challenge on the theme Ancestors From A to Z. I made it! I’m thrilled! And I can’t wait to order my tee-shirt!

Coming soon – One-stop summary: Ancestors from A to Z Please stop back for the victory lap.

© 2016 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Charbonneau breakthrough: Hooked on family history

Letter C: Third of twenty-six posts in the April 2016 Blogging From A to Z Challenge. Wish me luck and please join me on the journey!

If every journey begins with a single step, then mine was entering an archive in Montréal, Québec, Canada seeking information about my paternal great, great grandfather Laurent Charles Charbonneau.

By: Blok 70
Street scene in Montréal, Québec, Canada. Discovering the baptismal record of my paternal gg grandfather Laurent Charles Charbonneau in a Montréal archive got me hooked on family history research. By: Blok 70

My brother Jeff was already researching our Charbonneau ancestors and had narrowed down where I should look.

So on a vacation in August 1991, I stepped to the archive’s information desk and — in rusty, high school French — managed to explain what I was looking for.

“Très bien,” said the archivist and led me to a cabinet filled with cards listing family names and birth dates. I needed the year 1832, so she looked it up and said to check all names on the card — they might be relatives. Amazingly, I understood her French, but like a young child I could only nod in return.

The card led to microfilm, and soon I was in a darkened room viewing undecipherable cursive records — from what I later learned was Québec’s Drouin Collection of vital and church records (1621-1968). I wanted to cry. I had come all this way and couldn’t read any of it!

Hooked on genealogy

But as I scrolled along I started to recognize months, then surnames, then I remembered I was looking for my own surname. And when I reached October, there he was — my paternal great, great grandfather Laurent Charles Charbonneau. Well, how exciting was that!

I ran to get the archivist. She printed and embossed a certified copy and patiently wrote out what the document said (since I still could not read it). And with that Charbonneau breakthrough, I was hooked on family history research!

Have you ever wondered about your ancestors? Or considered researching them? If not, you should give it a try! You might get hooked, too — just like my Dempsey cousins, who you will meet in the next post.

© 2016 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin