1901: Peter Laurence (di Lorenzo) marries Mary “Mamie” Curcio

Sepia Saturday 582. Eighth in a photo blog series on my maternal Italian ancestors from Gloversville, Fulton Co., N.Y.

A blog series featuring photos of my maternal Italian ancestors from the Laurence-di Lorenzo-Curcio family album. Photo: Molly Charboneau

His first five years in Gloversville, Fulton County, New York (1896-1901), my Italian immigrant great-grandfather Peter D. Laurence (nee Pietro di Lorenzo) led a bachelor’s life — rooming with Italian boarders his age, working as a leather dye master and socializing  with friends when time allowed.

But according to my sister Amy’s high school biography of Peter — based on information from our mother Peg (Laurence) Charboneau — he was probably also looking for a wife.

During that time he met Mary Curcio at a social function and they planned to get married. In 1901, he opened his own junkyard and auto repair. He married Mary and they settled down to begin their family.

Let’s take a further look at the Laurence-Curcio family history.

Mary “Mamie” (Curcio) Laurence, circa 1901. This may be my great-grandmother’s engagement or wedding portrait. She certainly looks young and wistful — and the dress appears light enough to be a bridal outfit. Scan by Molly Charboneau/Charboneau-Laurence Family Collection

Meet Mamie Curcio

My great-grandmother Mary Curcio was born on 15 Aug. 1882 in Saratoga Springs, Saratoga County, N.Y.  The oldest child of Antonio and Antoinette (Del Negro) Curcio, she went by the nickname “Mamie” [pronounced MAY-mee].

Mamie’s parents immigrated separately in the late 1800s from Atena Lucana in Italy’s Salerno province. Antonio arrived first in the Five Points area of lower Manhattan. Antoinette followed, and in 1880 they married — possibly at the Little Church Around the Corner on Mott Street, but definitely in a civil ceremony witnessed by Vincenzo “Jimmy” Del Negro (Antoinette’s brother).

Atena Lucana, Salerno, Campania, Italy (2004). My second great-grandparents Antonio and Antoinette (Del Negro) Curcio immigrated from Atena Lucana to the U.S. in the late 1800s. Photo: Wikimedia/Anthony Pape

Embraced by the Curcio family

By the time Peter met and fell in love with Mamie Curcio, circa 1900, her parents were well-established in Gloversville. Her father Antonio operated a junk shop located behind the family’s 128 East Fulton Street home — and her mother Antoinette was running a lively household with eight children, including Mamie.

The Curcio family must have seemed like a little slice of home to my great-grandfather Peter. As shown on the map below, Mamie’s parents’ hometown of Atena Lucana (lower right) and Peter’s hometown of Limotala (upper left) were both in Italy’s Campania region. (Click on the red icons for details.)

The young Laurence (di Lorenzo) couple

When they married circa 1901, Peter was 28 and Mamie was 19 — and they initially lived as a couple in the large Curcio household. Peter left his job as a leather dresser and began work in Antonio’s junk shop — eventually taking it over from his aging father-in-law and adding a garage/auto repair shop.

The above photo of Mamie might be her engagement or wedding portrait. She certainly looks young and wistful — and the dress appears light enough to be a bridal outfit. No doubt Peter would have wanted a photo of his bride to send back to his family in Italy.

In my Italian ancestral album, Mamie’s photo is mounted next to the portrait of Peter shown below. Could Peter’s photo have been taken near the time of the wedding as well?

Studio portrait of Peter Laurence/Pietro di Lorenzo (c. 1899-1900). In my Italian ancestral album, this portrait of Peter is mounted next to the above photo of Mamie. Could Peter’s photo have been taken near the time of the wedding as well? Scan by Molly Charboneau/Charboneau-Laurence Family Collection

Oddly, there is no wedding photo of the two of them together. Was cost a factor? Was such a photo unnecessary, since Mamie’s family knew Peter — and he would only need to send her photo to his family? As always, many unanswered questions.

Fortunately, once Mamie and Peter had children, they did take time to pose for a family portrait — and that’s coming up in the next post.

Up next: The Laurence/di Lorenzo family of Gloversville, N.Y. Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants.

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16 thoughts on “1901: Peter Laurence (di Lorenzo) marries Mary “Mamie” Curcio”

  1. I am wishing for several wedding photos as well. Apparently, none exist. A household of 11 (did I count correctly) was surely quite a honeymoon cottage!

  2. Family history always gives with one hand and leaves us with questions in the other. Strange there was no wedding photo…perhaps because these had to be taken at a studio? How wonderful to have such great images. I really need to learn more about effectively using Google mapping.

    1. Thanks, Pauleen. I am grateful to have these photos — and that they were arranged together in the family album. There are tutorials online about setting up and embedding these Google maps. I hadn’t done one in awhile, so I had to take a quick refresher training to create this one 🙂

  3. What a sweet story and lovely photos. They have the kindest faces! I love the way you created the map of Mamie and Peter’s hometowns, which, along with the photo of Atena Lucano, gives context to the story.

    1. Thanks, Linda. The map shows how geographically close great-grandparents’ ancestral roots were — creating a cultural connection that likely played a role in bringing, and keeping, them together.

  4. There was so much I enjoyed about your post – who could resist checking on a post headed “Wedding Bells.” You are so lucky to have the photographs of the good looking couple – my grandparens marred in 1907, but I have no image of the occasion, though in another branch of the family, I do have a 1910 wedding photo. l liked, too, the way you linked their lives back to their Italian background. Thank you for such an interesting profile.

  5. Ooooooh, I absolutely love reading the stories, but especially this one! I love how you added the story like style of writing to the genealogy, it made it so interesting, that it made me want to read more! I love the pictures too! I will definitely be back to read more!

    1. Thanks, Diane. The facts we collect in genealogy help establish time, place and ancestry — but they are dry indeed without the ancestral story.

  6. Very interesting to consider how this couple must have lived their lives…and they were of the same generation as my paternal grandparents, who also didn’t have a wedding photo.

    1. Thanks, Barb, and good to know about the wedding photo. Perhaps such photography was still too costly then and didn’t become a regular feature until the expense went down.

  7. Mamie’s beautiful portrait makes a nice addition to your story of your great grandparents. I suspect there were many customs and stylistic traditions that photographers followed in this era that have lost their meaning for us in the 21st century. Newspapers of the time did not yet print wedding photos, so this type of card mount was a private image for friends and family. Since photographers typically offered cabinet photos in multiple copies, usually a dozen, and in different protective finishes, i.e. gloss. they were likely given to distant relatives or shared with the friends in the wedding party.

    Peter’s photo with his perfectly coifed hair and white tie looks very like a groom’s wedding picture. And I think Mamie’s photo with her wistful faraway gaze is intended to symbolize a young woman’s final transition to adulthood. If you search for “husband wife” or “bride groom” in eBay’s listings for vintage photos under cabinet photos you can find many examples of these formulaic styles for both the photographer’s choice of pose as well as wedding fashions.

    1. Thanks for the history of wedding cabinet photos. I took a look on eBay, and most of couples together seem to be from later than 1901. Perhaps the couples wedding photo was not yet popular/affordable when my great-grandparents married? I also researched 1901 wedding dresses, and Mamie’s dress in this photo fits the style — with a high-necked bodice and puffy, ribboned sleeves. Peter’s white necktie also appears to fit as a groom’s outfit.

    1. Thanks, Susan. I love this photo of my great-grandmother. Mamie lived long enough for me to know her when I was a child — but by then she was know as “Little Grandma.” So it’s nice to have this teen photo of her.

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