The widowhood of Annie E. (Miller) Charboneau (1885-1968)

Sepia Saturday 549. Postscript to the series about Albert Barney Charboneau — my paternal grandfather’s brother who died in the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918.

Annie E. (Miller) Charboneau circa 1912. Scan by Molly Charboneau

The death of my dad’s Uncle Albert Barney Charboneau in the 1918 influenza pandemic was a blow to the Dolgeville, N.Y., Charboneau family — and particularly to his wife, Annie E. (Miller) Charboneau.

She and Albert had only been married six years when he passed, leaving her a widow at age 33 — and I assumed she went on alone, since she is buried beside him in the Dolgeville Cemetery.

An online clue

Yet genealogy research is full of surprises — and one was the discovery that Annie married a second time! The clue to her second marriage came from a note left by a nephew on the Find-a-Grave listing I created for her.

She was a daughter of Charles and Mary Gray Miller. She was twice married. She married Albert B. Charbonneau in 1912. He died in 1918. She was married to Frank Gleason in 1930. He died in 1938. She leaves a nephew, Richard George, Camp Hill, PA

I was happy he left the note, because I hated the idea of Annie having a long, lone widowhood after the traumatic loss of Albert.

Annie (Miller) Charboneau in Dolgeville, N.Y. (circa 1916). Annie is shown here with her younger brother Arthur in a photo that may have been taken by her first husband Albert Barney Charboneau. Scan by Molly Charboneau

Second marriage and widowhood

I checked the New York State Marriage Index for 1930 online, and sure enough — the second marriage of Annie Charboneau (indexed as Charbonean) took place on 3 April 1930 in Dolgeville, N.Y., with the same certificate number as Frank Gleason.

I found only one WWI draft registration card for a Frank Gleason in the Little Falls-Dolgeville area. If this was Annie’s second husband, he could not have been more different from tall, robust, dark-haired Uncle Albert. Frank, a china moulder, was described as short, of medium build, with brown eyes and light hair.

Unfortunately, Annie’s second marriage did not last much longer than her first — she lost Frank on 14 April 1938, as confirmed by the New York State Death Index for that year.

A working woman

Annie did not have children with either of her husbands — and she appears to have continued working outside the home throughout both of her marriages and beyond.

She was mainly employed by the Dolgeville shoe factory once owned by Alfred Dolge, and later by Daniel Green Co. However, federal and state census entries indicate that Annie also worked as an Auxiliary Clerk at the Dolgeville post office (in 1920) and supervisor of a school cafeteria (in 1925).

Albert B. and Annie E. (Miller) Charboneau circa 1912. Cruelly parted by the 1918 influenza pandemic, they are buried together in Dolgeville Cemetery. Scan by Molly Charboneau

When Uncle Albert died in 1918, Annie remained in their home at 42 State Street in Dolgeville. She was enumerated there as Annie Gleason, 54, along with her widowed father Charles in the 1940 U.S. census.[1]FamilySearch requires free sign in to view records.She was then working as a sole closer.

Annie’s immediate family appears to have been a tremendous support after Albert’s death — her parents moving in with her at the State Street home in 1920 and living with her until the end of each their lives.

Their support likely enabled her to keep her longtime home. In 1953, she appears as Anna Gleason, widow of Frank, at the same State Street address in the Little Falls-Dolgeville City Directory.

Reunited in the end

Annie lived another fifty years after the untimely death of her first husband, my dad’s Uncle Albert. She passed on Christmas Day (25 Dec. 1968) in her Dolgeville, N.Y., hometown.

Dolgeville Cemetery graves of Albert and Annie (Miller) Charboneau before a central Charboneau stone, Dolgeville, Herkimer Co., N.Y. (2015). Photo: Molly Charboneau

And in the end, she was buried next to Uncle Albert on the Charboneau plot in the Dolgeville Cemetery — where they remain reunited to this day.

Up next: A holiday break for Molly’s Canopy. Regular blogging will resume in January 2021. Meanwhile, during December, please visit the blogs of the intrepid Sepia Saturday participants here.

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10 thoughts on “The widowhood of Annie E. (Miller) Charboneau (1885-1968)”

  1. Annie’s story makes a very fitting epilogue to your series on Albert. It’s sad how death or divorce often prunes a branch of a family tree, hiding relations-in-law from genealogy research in multiple families. I think this is where, Find a Grave, and other internet genealogy websites have helped reconnect those missing family links.

    On a previous post I meant to remark on Albert’s height. He was taller than I expected from the photo of him with his brothers. All four must have been 6 foot plus. Many Europeans were impressed at how tall American soldiers were when they joined the war in 1918.

    Best wishes for a peaceful holiday.

    1. Genealogy websites and digitization of records have indeed helped reconnect family relationships that might otherwise be hard to discover.

      And you are right about Albert’s height. He and his brothers were over six feet tall, as were my dad and his brothers — and as are my brothers and male cousins. My paternal Welsh-Irish grandmother and her sisters were also about six feet tall. So height definitely ran in the family on my paternal side. Happy

      Holidays to you as well!

  2. A lovely but sad story about Annie’s life. But please do tell me what was her work was as a sole closer? I have a similar story of my great great aunt who was widowed childless twice by the age of 32.

    1. I tried to find “sole closer” in a couple of directories of old occupation titles, but could not find anything that specific. My guess is that the job involved attaching the sole of the shoe to the upper, which would in effect “close” the shoe in its final stages of production.

  3. It was sad that her second husband died after just eight years of marriage. Sometimes you have no choice but to be independent, as she learned early in life that you cannot depend on things remaining as they are. Her burial beside Albert brings things full circle, doesn’t it?

    1. I was also saddened to learn that her second marriage ended as soon as it did. After the 1918 influenza pandemic, there must have been many other widows a like Annie (and widowers, as well) who lost spouses to the deadly illness. I admire her pluck in remarrying and continuing to work in the wake of the influenza’s deadly sweep through Dolgeville, N.Y.

  4. Obviously, with the difference in physical appearance between Annie’s first and second husbands, she put more stock in love and companionship. Good for her if that’s right. 🙂

  5. I was wondering whom you’d write about next. Annie sounds independent since she worked so much of her life. Even though she remarried, her second husband didn’t live that long and in total she was only married 14 years. I suppose that was common.

    1. Annie and Albert were the same age, and they married later in life, at age 27, than many of their contemporaries. Annie had already been working for years before they wed. Her wise decision to continue working undoubtedly gave her the economic stability to weather the loss of two husbands, yet remain in her home — with the help of her parents — through it all.

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