19th Century Brick Manufacturer Andrew Stoutner

Sepia Saturday 559. Eleventh in a series on my maternal German ancestors, the Stoutners, of Gloversville, Fulton Co., N.Y.

Andrew Stoutner (1832-1910). Scan by Molly Charboneau

While my great-great grandmother Christina (Albeitz) Stoutner tended to the domestic side of the household, my great-great grandfather Andrew was earning a living as a brick manufacturer on the outskirts of Gloversville, Fulton Co., N.Y.

Although he appears to have worked as a laborer when he arrived in the U.S. in 1855, within five years Andrew had established brick making as his primary career — only turning to farming and commerce in his senior years as his working life wound down.

Andrew Stoutner’s Occupation in US and NYS Censuses of Johnstown-Gloversvillle, Fulton Co., N.Y. —  Source: FamiliySearch
Census Name Age/Details Occupation
1855 NYS census Andrew Stoutner 22; In town 2 months on 30 June 1855 Laborer
1860 US census Andrew Stoutner 26 Mechanic – Brick Maker
1865 NYS and 1870 US censuses Andrew Stoutner 36/38 Brick Maker
1875 NYS and 1880 & 1900 US censuses Andrew Stoutner 42/47/67 Brick Manufacturer
1905 NYS census Andrew Stoutner 72 Farmer
1910 US census Andrew Stoutner 77 Commerce

Brick making in the 1800s

Brick making has a long history in the U.S., but really took off in the 1800s as a reliable, fireproof medium for building and home construction. An article titled “Brickmaking and Brickmakers” in the Encyclopedia of Philadelphia describes nineteenth century brick making:

“Brickmaking was a poor man’s game, as it required no capital to start with,” noted New York brickmaker James Wood  in 1830. This was especially true early on, when firing bricks required only enough bricks to build a kiln and, most importantly, an abundance of clay.

The process of making bricks changed little from its origins through the mid-nineteenth century. Brickmakers dug the clay, allowed it to weather, tempered it, molded it, let it dry, then burned the bricks in a kiln….They then sorted the bricks by firmness and color.

Nineteenth century brick making practices

A brick from Andrew Stoutner’s brick works in Gloversville, N.Y. (c. 1870-1900). My mom got a set of these Stoutner bricks from her cousin Stephanie — and now my siblings and I each have one. Mine, shown above, resides in special display case on a bookshelf. Photo: Molly Charboneau

So my ancestor Andrew could have begun his brick manufacturing career as a modest enterprise, then expanded as business picked up — a common practice in the brick industry. Also, according to the article:

Brickmaking was frequently a family business, spanning generations. Mechanics who worked in the trade became brickyard owners, often in partnership with family members.

In fact, Andrew worked as a Mechanic in 1860, and by 1865 was a Brick Maker — and he later brought his oldest son William into the business once he was of age. So my great-great grandfather appears to have followed the standard practice of the time.

The building of Gloversville, N.Y.

Fortunately for Andrew, he arrived in the Gloversville, N.Y., area just as the need for bricks was ramping up. In the 1850s, with its proximity to hemlock forests, the Mohawk Valley town was a center for tanning and leather production — and there were already scores of glove making shops.

https://goo.gl/maps/HZ4tvuVbtkuXSCqj8
Contemporary photo of the once-bustling Four Corners intersection of E. Fulton and Main Street, Gloversville, Fulton County, N.Y. No doubt some  of the bricks used to construct these buildings came from the Stoutner Brick Works. Photo: Google Maps

As the 1800s progressed, the glove industry grew and the bulk of those shops were brick structures — as were the stores, workshops and hotels near the bustling Four Corners intersection of E. Fulton and Main streets. No doubt some of the brick for those structures came from the Stoutner Brick Works.

No place like home

And there is perhaps no greater tribute to my great-great grandfather’s skill as a brick manufacturer than the family home Andrew built circa 1882 at 4 Wells Street, Gloversville, N.Y.

Contemporary photo of 4 Wells St. The bricks have been painted green, the original front porch has been removed, and a second story was added to the side room. But the basic brick structure erected by my German great-great grandfather Andrew Stoutner has stood the test of time. Photo: Zillow

The bricks have been painted green, the original front porch has been removed, and a second story was added to the side room. But the basic brick structure erected by my German immigrant great-great grandfather Andrew Stoutner has stood the test of time — and is still going strong 131 years later!

More on the Stoutners and other ancestors in March. Please stop back! Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants here.

© 2021 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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1869: Baby John brightens the Stoutner household

Sepia Saturday 558. Tenth in a series on my maternal German ancestors, the Stoutners, of Gloversville, Fulton Co., N.Y.

Christina (Albeitz) Stoutner (1844-1924). Scan by Molly Charboneau

The marriage of my German immigrant great-great grandparents Andrew and Christina (Albeitz) Stoutner got off to a difficult start with the tragic October 1868 death of 7-month-old baby Rose — their first child together.

The couple was already co-parenting William, 6, and Mary Elizabeth, 4 — Andrew’s children with his second wife Elizabeth, who died in 1865. Now, the blended Stoutner family had to begin a new period of mourning for a lost child/sibling.

Fortunately, Rose’s passing came at a time when mourning rituals were changing in the wake of the U.S. Civil War. Mourning periods grew shorter and there was more focus on looking to the future – with cemeteries designed like parks to encourage family visits.

https://www.facebook.com/Pictorial-History-of-Gloversville-148220148548697
Prospect Hill Cemetery, Gloversville, N.Y. (1898) After the U.S. Civil War, cemeteries were designed like parks to encourage family visits. Prospect Hill Cemetery, where Rose is buried, was one of these garden cemeteries — with softly winding paths, trees and foliage that must must have been a healing balm to the Stoutners. Photo: Pictorial History of Gloversville

Prospect Hill Cemetery in Gloversville, N.Y., where Rose is buried, was one of these garden cemeteries, with softly winding paths, trees and foliage – which must have been a healing balm to the Stoutners.

Baby John is born

Yet perhaps the surest sign that my great-great grandparents were looking forward was the October 1969 birth of their first son together – John Stoutner, who would survive into adulthood.

How relieved the family must have been to have a new addition to brighten the household and distract them from past losses.

When the census taker called on 7 July 1870, baby John was nine months old — enumerated for the first time, along with his step siblings and parents, as excerpted below.

Andrew Stoutner Household in the 1870 U.S. census, Johnstown, Fulton County, N.Y. – Source: FamilySearch
Person No. Name Age Born Occupation/School
20 Stoutner, Andrew 38 Prussia Brick Maker; U.S. Citizen
21 Stoutner, Christina 26 Prussia Keeping House; cannot read/write
22 Stoutner, Wm. 8 N.Y. Attended School; Can’t write
23 Stoutner, Mary E. 6 N.Y. Attended School; Can’t read or write
24 Stoutner, John H. 9/12 N.Y. Month if born within one year: Oct.

A gem of a census

Sometimes family history research turns up a gem of a census return, packed with helpful details and clues — and the 1870 enumeration of the Andrew Stoutner household is one such example.

Andrew Stoutner (1832-1910). Scan by Molly Charboneau

Through this census, I learned that Andrew and Christina were from Prussia in northern Germany. And while Andrew, a brick maker, could read and write, Christina could not — at least not in English, although the census does not stipulate a specific language.

Birth, schooling, citizenship details

Because John was born during the previous year, the census return provides his birth month “Oct.” in column 13 — which is headed “If born within one year, state month (Jan, Feb, &c.).”

The 1870 census also reveals that Andrew was a U.S. citizen through a tick mark in column 19 — which is headed “Male Citizen of the U.S. 21 years of age and upwards.”

Even William and Mary’s enumerations offer telling details. William could read, but could not yet write — while his younger sister Mary, no doubt new to school, could not yet read or write.

In short, an informative 1870 snapshot of a family with shared experience of both sorrow and happiness moving into the future together.

Up next: Andrew Stoutner’s Brick Works. Please stop back! Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants here.

© 2021 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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Circa 1866: The Blended Stoutner Family of Gloversville, N.Y.

Sepia Saturday 557. Ninth in a series on my maternal German ancestors, the Stoutners, of Gloversville, Fulton Co., N.Y.

Christina (Albeitz) Stoutner (1844-1924). Scan by Molly Charboneau

When they marriage, around 1866, my maternal German immigrant great-great grandparents Andrew Stoutner, 34, and Christina Albeitz, 22, created the blended Stoutner family of Gloversville, N.Y.

They began their life together as co-parents of Mary E. Stoutner, 5, and William Stoutner, 2 – Andrew’s children with his second wife Elizabeth D. Stoutner, who died in 1865.

Andrew Stoutner (1832-1910). Scan by Molly Charboneau

And by 1867, Christina was pregnant with their first child together – a daughter Rose, born 20 Feb. 1868.

A promising beginning

I try to imagine my great-great grandparents’ first two married years. Presumably, it was a time of healing and renewal for widower Andrew and his children with Christina joining the household as a new wife and stepmother.

For recently-arrived Christina, Andrew and the children likely provided her with a sense of belonging as she adjusted to her new life in the U.S. And soon she and Andrew were expecting a new addition to their blended family — a promising beginning.

https://www.digitalcommonwealth.org/search/commonwealth:2v23vv82c
Rose Garden, Melchior Park, Gloversville, N.Y. (c. 1930-1945). Andrew and Christina (Albeitz) named their first daughter Rose (b. 1868). Yet life was precarious for infants and children in the nineteenth century, and Rose only lived seven months. Image: Digitalcommonwealth.org

Illness casts a shadow

Yet life was precarious for infants and children in the nineteenth century. There were no vaccines for infectious diseases — and pre- and post-natal care were not what they are today. According to one source[1]Field MJ, Behrman RE, editors. When Children Die: Improving Palliative and End-of-Life Care for Children and Their Families. Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Palliative and End-of-Life Care … Continue reading:

In 1900, 30 percent of all deaths in the United States occurred in children less than 5 years of age…pneumonia and influenza, tuberculosis, and enteritis with diarrhea were the three leading causes of death in the United States, and children under 5 accounted for 40 percent of all deaths from these infections.

Tragedy in the Stoutner household

Nor were illnesses tracked in the 1800s they way they are today by state departments of health, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization.

Every birth in the 1800s came with hidden dangers — both for the mother during her pregnancy and before/after delivery, and for the child in its first years of life.

Sadly, the Stoutner family was not immune to these risks. On 18 October 1868, little Rose Stoutner died at 7 months of age — her dates engraved on her tombstone in Prospect Hill Cemetery, Gloversville, N.Y.

Rose Stoutner tombstone, Prospect Hill Cemetery, Gloversville, N.Y. (1992). Rose’s exact cause of death is unknown. She may have succumbed to one of the illnesses that claimed so many infants at the time — or she may simply have started out poorly and failed to thrive. Photo: Molly Charboneau

New York State did not begin compiling death records until June 1880, so Rose’s exact cause of death is unknown. She may have succumbed to one of the illnesses that claimed so many infants at the time — or she may simply have started out poorly and failed to thrive.

Whatever the cause, Rose’s death undoubtedly cast a pall over the  Stoutner family — and Christina joined Andrew and the children in mourning the heartbreaking loss.

Up next: Happier days with baby John Stoutner. Please stop back! Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants here.

© 2021 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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References

1 Field MJ, Behrman RE, editors. When Children Die: Improving Palliative and End-of-Life Care for Children and Their Families. Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Palliative and End-of-Life Care for Children and Their Families;  Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2003.

Growing family trees one leaf at a time