Tag Archives: Sepia Saturday

1915: Family fashionista John H. Stoutner

Sepia Saturday 388: Fifth in a series on piecing together the origins of my maternal grandmother Elizabeth (Stoutner) Laurence’s fashion sense.

In the last post, I introduced my Stoutner ancestors from Gloversville, Fulton County, N.Y. Among them was family fashionista John H. Stoutner — a ladies garment professional who had the most potential to influence the clothing style of my maternal grandmother Elizabeth (Stoutner) Laurence.

Stoutner & Van Arnam’s Smart Shop in Gloversville, N.Y. (circa 1915). Growing up I was told that my grandmother’s Uncle John ran a “millinery shop.” Newspaper ads reveal this was a full-service women’s fashion store. Scan by Molly Charboneau

I knew little about my grandmother’s Uncle John growing up — just that he owned a “millinery shop,” according to my mother.

Born in 1870, Uncle John embarked on his career at a time when women still wore extravagant hats, so this explanation made sense.

Later I inherited a spectacular photo of his Gloversville shop (above) and sure enough, there was the profusion of ladies hats — some behind cases and others decoratively placed on the selling floor.

Stoutner & Van Arnam’s Smart Shop

Newspaper ad for The Smart Shop (1915). This ad from the March 22, 1915 issue of the Gloversville-Johnstown Morning Herald was one of many placed by Uncle John and his partner Crosby to advertise their women’s fashion store. Source: Old Fulton New York Post Cards

From the Stoutner family photo, I knew that Uncle John had a business partner, Crosby Van Arnam. I wondered whether newspaper research might tell me more — and I was pleased to discover several advertisements for their shop.

The one posted here, from the March 22, 1915 issue of the Gloversville-Johnstown Morning Herald, advertises the millinery portion of their store.

However, other Smart Shop ads on the same page featured clothing and outerwear, indicating they ran a full-service operation.

Uncle John and Crosby placed the ads to coincide with Gloversville’s Spring Style Show, giving the address of their shop as 13 West Fulton St. A Google search for a street view of this address reveals a row of charming row of storefronts right around the corner from Main Street.

Looking good a wholesale prices

The Stoutner siblings (circa 1916). From left, Andrew J., 7, Margaret C., 2 1/2,  and Elizabeth C. Stoutner, 11. My grandmother Liz, at right, was growing into a fashionable young lady. Did her Uncle John influence her style? Scan by Molly Charboneau

In the days before big-box stores, having an uncle in the fashion business meant my grandmother Liz and her siblings could be looking good at wholesale prices — and look good they did!

Here are the Stoutner siblings in a circa 1916 outdoor photo, each fashionably dressed. My grandmother Liz, at right, is nearly 11 years old and growing into a young lady.

Her outfit is hard to make out, but it appears to be a sailor-necked blouse with a tie and a matching skirt. White stockings and stylish ankle-strap shoes complete her look — and for the first time she is wearing what would become her signature collar-style necklace.

Next to her, Aunt Margaret is precious at age 2 1/2 with her long hair, little white dress, striped socks and black patent leather shoes. Rounding out the group. Uncle Andy, 7, sports an outfit that echoes my grandmother’s — with the variation of a low-slung belt and black stockings and shoes.

Did Uncle John play a part in dressing the family? Hard to know for sure. But I suspect his garment industry expertise was looked to by his relatives — and may have influenced my grandmother Liz in a stylish direction.

Up next: A bit more on family fashionista Uncle John H. Stoutner. Meanwhile, please visit the posts of other Sepia Saturday participants here.

© 2017 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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1908: My Stoutner ancestors in Gloversville, N.Y.

Sepia Saturday 387: Fourth in a series on piecing together the origins of my maternal grandmother Elizabeth (Stoutner) Laurence’s fashion sense.

Seeking the roots of my maternal grandmother’s signature style, I turned to a group shot that captures three generations of my German Stoutner ancestors from Goversville, Fulton County, N.Y.

My grandmother Elizabeth Christina (Stoutner) Laurence is the youngest family member. In her little white dress and hair ribbon, Liz was probably about three when the photo was taken — which dates it to circa 1908. Surrounding her are some spiffy-looking adults.

My Stoutner ancestors in Gloversville, Fulton County, N.Y. (circa 1908). My stylish maternal grandmother Elizabeth (Stoutner) Laurence is shown here at about age three sitting on the lap of my German great-great grandfather Andrew J. Stoutner. The entire group is smartly dressed. Even the dogs are well groomed. Photo poss. by Rector Mann. Scan by Molly Charboneau

Standing, from the left: Edson Haggart and his wife Gertrude (Stoutner) Haggart;  my great-grandfather Andrew J. “Pete” Stoutner and his wife, my great-grandmother Ceila (Mimm) Stoutner; and Crosby Van Arnum, friend and business partner of John H. Stoutner, who is seated in front of him.

Seated, from the left: Mary (Stoutner) Mann; my grandmother Liz held by my great-great grandfather Andrew J. Stoutner; his wife, my great-great grandmother Christina (Aleitz) Stoutner; and their son Uncle John.

The two boys are Gertrude and Edson’s sons Clyde E. Haggart, at left, and Gilbert Haggart, standing in front. Mary’s husband, Rector Mann, was living when this photo was taken, but he does not appear in the picture — so he may be the photographer.

A tale of three families

My German immigrant great-great grandfather Andrew J. Stoutner (b. 1832) had three families over his lifetime. According to family lore, his first wife died in childbirth — but I have yet to discover her name or further details.

He remarried and, with his second wife Elizabeth D. Stouther (b. 1844), had two children — William A. Stoutner (b. 1862) and Mary E. Stoutner (b. 1864). Mary appears seated in the photo above. Sadly, Elizabeth also died in 1865, leaving Andrew a widower with two small children.

Andrew and his third  wife — my great-great grandmother Christina (Albeitz) Stoutner, also from Germany — had three surviving children together: John H. Stoutner (b. 1869), Gertrude Stoutner (b. 1871) and my great-grandfather Andrew J. “Pete” Stoutner (b. 1875). They all appear in the photo above.

Generations of style

From whom did my grandmother inherit her style? If this photo is any indication, probably from her entire extended family!

Uncle John and his partner Crosby, who co-owned The Smart Shop, were women’s clothing professionals. They appear nattily attired at the right of this photo — and everyone else looks pretty good, too.

My great-grandfather Pete Stoutner, a strapping railway employee and Liz’s dad, shows a bit of flare with his white shirt and vest. Next to him, my great-grandmother Celia (Mimm) Stoutner, Liz’s mom, looks lovely in a Gibson Girl blouse and au courant updo.

Couture consciousness

The wall behind them may be the side of my great-great grandparents’ house at 4 Wells Street — constructed with bricks manufactured at my great-great grandfather Andrew Stoutner’s Gloversville brick works.

I suspect this three-generation photo of my German immigrant ancestors, their children, and grandchildren was carefully posed to send a message of success to relatives back home.

From oldest to youngest, everyone seems well turned out — even my grandmother’s cousins Clyde and Gilbert are snappily dressed. So is it any wonder that my grandmother developed couture consciousness — learning an early lesson from her elders about putting her best fashion foot forward?

Up next: More on Uncle John H. Stoutner, the family clothier. Meanwhile, please visit the posts of other Sepia Saturday participants here.

© 2017 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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1915: The stylish Stoutner siblings

Sepia Saturday 386: Third in a series on piecing together the origins of my maternal grandmother Elizabeth (Stoutner) Laurence’s fashion sense.

By the time my maternal grandmother Elizabeth (Stoutner) Laurence was 9 years old, she had two younger siblings — Andrew J. Stoutner, born in 1909, and Margaret Catherine Stoutner, born in 1914.

The Stoutner siblings in 1915. From left, my maternal grandmother Elizabeth (Stoutner) Laurence,9; Margaret Catherine Stoutner, 1; and Andrew J. Stoutner, 5. Scan by Molly Charboneau

They appear together in this studio photograph, which was probably taken for Aunt Margaret’s first birthday in January 1915.

This picture provides the clearest evidence yet of a family influence on how the Stoutner children dressed.

Lovely in linen

At the left, my grandmother wears what appears to be a linen or cotton-linen dress — long-waisted, short sleeved, with contrasting piping at the neckline and yoke.

White stockings and a white, high-necked blouse, with vertical stitching at the yoke and lower sleeves, echo the piping detail. High-buttoned black boots, a pendant necklace and two satin bows containing a looser hair style complete my grandmother Liz’s fashionable portrait.

Stylish siblings

Next to my grandmother, one-year-old Aunt Margaret wears a frothy, white dress with lacy cuffs and collar and vertical yoke stitching.

Although similar to my grandmother’s dress at age one, Aunt Margaret’s dress features two contrasting flower details, perhaps in a shade of pink, at each side of the yoke . Her fair hair is combed in a simpler style and she wears no jewelry. White stockings and little button boots finish her look.

Beside her, Uncle Andy completes the group — his hair dark like my grandmother’s and trimmed in a handsome cut. He appears to be all in white, from a sailor-collared shirt and knee-length bloused pants with button detail to stockings above his polished black boots. At the neckline is a contrasting satin bow, perhaps in a shade of blue.

The Stoutner family in 1915

I wondered what the Stoutner family looked like in 1915 when the children’s photo was taken. The New York State census for that year (in which they were enumerated as “Staughther”) provides a snapshot, as excerpted below.

1915 New York State Census – Gloversville, Fulton County, N.Y. – ED 1, Ward 3 Census date: 1 June 1915 – The Andrew Stoutner Family living at 4 Wells Street – Source: NYS Archives/Ancestry.com
Name Relationship Age Occupation
Andrew Stoutner Head 40 Machinist
Celia Stoutner Wife 37 Housework
Elizabeth Stoutner Daughter 9 School
Andrew Stoutner Son 5 School
Margaret Stoutner Daughter 1 No occupation

Families have high hopes for the next generation and my German-American great-grandparents Celia (Mimm) and Andrew J. “Pete” Stoutner were no different.

As children of immigrants, Pete and Celia were probably strivers who sought to give their children every advantage — starting with dressing for success. My grandmother Liz learned this fashion lesson early and stuck by it all her life.

But who else played a role? Did Pete’s brother John — a garment industry professional — help out with this? What about the rest of the extended Stoutner family? Were they also snappy dressers who passed on their flair for style?

More on this in the next post. Meanwhile, please visit the posts of other Sepia Saturday participants here.

© 2017 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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1910: My fashionable grandmother at age five

Sepia Saturday 385: Second in a series on piecing together the origins of my maternal grandmother Elizabeth (Stoutner) Laurence’s fashion sense.

In the last post I discussed my maternal grandmother Elizabeth (Stoutner) Laurence’s fashionable attire at age one. This trend continued as she grew, as shown in the photo below of Liz at age five.

My maternal grandmother Elizabeth (Stoutner) Laurence at age five (circa 1910). She is wearing a fur-trimmed wool coat with fashion-forward accessories: a fur muff, a spectacular hat and satin bows. Scan by Molly Charboneau

My grandmother is wrapped in a fur-trimmed wool coat accessorized with a spectacular hat and muff — each sporting shiny satin bows. Her long, ringlet curls complete the look.

Clearly Liz did not select these toddler clothes or hairstyle herself — so I wondered whether her German-American family’s fashion sense contributed to her evolving clothing style.

Fashion in the family

My maternal ancestors lived in Gloversville, Fulton County, New York. They were German immigrants on my grandmother Liz’s side and Italian immigrants on my grandfather Antonio W. Laurence’s side (Tony’s surname anglicized from Di Lorenzo).

Glove turning tool from Meyers Glove Company of Gloversville, N.Y.  Discovered  in my grandmother Liz’s sewing cabinet, this tool may have been used by my great-grandmother Celia (Mimm) Stoutner to turn gloves with internal seams when she worked at home sewing gloves. Photo by Molly Charboneau

When Liz was growing up, fur, leather and glove production were primary industries in Gloversville and nearby Johnstown.

Many of my German-American and Italian-American ancestors worked in these fashion-related trades.

Liz’s mother — my great-grandmother Celia (Mimm) Stoutner, — was among hundreds of women who sewed and turned gloves at home using materials provided by nearby factories. Her mother — my great-great grandmother Elizabeth (Edel) Mimm — was also a glove worker.

My strapping great-grandfather — Liz’s dad Andrew J. “Pete” Stoutner — broke with this tradition and worked for the railroad. However, his brother — Liz’s uncle John H. Stoutner — made his career in fashion.

A commercial clothier’s influence

Uncle John and his partner Crosby E. Van Arnum operated The Smart Shop in Gloversville — a women’s millinery and clothing store carrying everything from undergarments to outerwear — and ran ads in the local newspapers.

A New York Times notice of Uncle John’s arrival in New York City as a buyer for the Argersinger Company of Gloversville, N.Y. (11 Nov. 1913). Did Uncle John’s garment expertise contribute to my grandmother’s fashion sense? Source: Old Fulton New York Post Cards

Did Uncle John play a role in recommending or providing outfits for my grandmother? There’s no way to know for sure — but he certainly had the credentials.

According to the New York Times, Uncle John traveled to New York City to buy the latest in suits, waists, corsets and millinery for the Argersinger Co. before opening The Smart Shop.

My grandmother Liz was the first female child born in her generation to the extended Stoutner family — so she was probably surrounded by doting adults.

They may have given fashionable gifts for her wardrobe — particularly Uncle John, who was 41 and single when my grandmother was born and knew his way around the garment business.

In whatever way it happened, one thing is apparent — by age five Liz was well on her way to a signature style that would last throughout her life.

Up next: The stylish Stoutner siblings. Please stop back. Meanwhile, please visit the posts of other Sepia Saturday participants here.

© 2017 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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1906: My fashionable grandmother at age one

Sepia Saturday 384: Piecing together the origins of my maternal grandmother Elizabeth (Stoutner) Laurence’s fashion sense.

For as far back as I can remember, my maternal grandmother Elizabeth (Stoutner) Laurence was a clothes horse. She followed fashion trends and kept up with the latest in age-appropriate clothing, footwear and accessories.

Me with my stylish grandmother (1950). Even for casual times, like holding me as a baby out on the porch, my maternal grandmother Elizabeth (Stoutner) Laurence was always fashionably dressed and accessorized. Photo by Norman J. Charboneau

A 1950 photo from the day that she and I first met in Gloversville, N.Y., shows her stylishly attired with every hair in place.

Not that she spent inordinate sums on her outfits.

Known in our family as Boom from my childhood rendering of Grandma as “Booma,” my grandmother was a serious sales shopper keen to find quality at reduced prices.

To this end, she frequented garment industry company stores once common in her home town and in the Albany Capital District, where she lived when I was growing up.

Fashionable from a young age

My grandmother at age one in winter hat, coat and bows (1906). Scan by Molly Charboneau

I wondered how far back her fashion sense went — then I discovered two photos of Boom taken in 1906 when she was about one year old.

Clearly, her German-American parents started her on a fashion-forward footing at a young age.

In the first photo, my grandmother’s shiny black hair peeks out from beneath a snug little winter hat.

She is posed for the studio photographer in a light, double-breasted fur coat with a Bishop sleeve. Atop her head and at her neck are full, fashionable bows.

A dress with staying power

In the second picture, my grandmother looks very smart in a crisp, white ankle-length dress and patent leather shoes — accessorized with a chain and pendant, a baby ring and a little bracelet.

My grandmother at age one in eyelet dress, patent leather shoes and accessories (1906). Scan by Molly Charboneau

Her dark hair, gathered up at the top, shines even more brightly in this photo.

The dress features an eyelet hem, eyelet detail and gathered sleeves with eyelet cuffs. Vertical stitching adds interest at the yoke, which falls from a lacy neckline.

As I studied the photo, something about the dress seemed familiar — so I took a look in the closet where I store family heirloom garments.

How wonderful to discover this dress among several recently given to me by my younger sister Amy — saved and passed down through four generations.

A textile legacy

My grandmother’s little eyelet dress at 111 yeas old (2017). Photo by Molly Charboneau

My maternal grandmother Liz was big on family and heritage. She set up “baby boxes” for her daughters (my mom Peg and my Aunt Rita).

Then — starting with their baby shoes — she filled each box with important artifacts and documents from their childhoods.

Boom also maintained a huge collection of family photos, passed on by her parents and my grandfather’s family — which she carefully labeled for future generations.

So is it any wonder that she would save her baby dress from that handsome photo?

The cherished outfit was probably tucked away and passed down by her mother — my great grandmother Celia (Mimm) Stoutner. Although ivory with age, my grandmother’s little dress has held together for 111 years.

Could this be the quality garment that started my grandmother Liz on a lifetime of carefully dressing for every occasion? If so, what a wonderful textile legacy.

Up next: My fashionable maternal grandmother at age five. Please stop back.

© 2017 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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