Tag Archives: Ursula Angeline (Zinsk) Charbonneau

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.

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