The Del Negro brothers of Gloversville, N.Y.

Sepia Saturday 585. Eleventh in a photo blog series on my maternal Italian ancestors from Gloversville, Fulton Co., N.Y.

Although I try to focus on researching my direct forebears, my attention is inevitably drawn to collateral relatives — aunts, uncles, cousins and their families — who were part of my ancestors’ lives.

Case in point:  Vincenzo “Jimmy” Del Negro and Michael Del Negro — the brothers of my Italian second great-grandmother Antoinette (Del Negro) Curcio. So let’s take a brief detour to learn about them.

Bleeker Street near Fulton Street, Gloversville, N.Y. (circa 1900). My maternal Italian immigrant ancestors were just beginning to establish themselves on E. Fulton Street when this photo was taken. Image: Front Page Gloversville

Close ties from back home

My second great-grandparents Antonio and Antoinette (Del Negro) Curcio immigrated to the U.S. from Atena Lucana, Salerno, Campania, Italy — with Antonio arriving first then sending for Antoinette to join him, according to family oral history.

In Vincenzo Del Negro Witnesses a Wedding, I wrote about Antonio and Antoinette’s 1880 New York City civil marriage, which was witnessed by her brother Vincenzo — known in our family as “Jimmy.”

Subsequent census research revealed that Antoinette’s brother Michael Del Negro and his wife and children lived in the Curcio’s Gloversville household at 128 East Fulton Street from 1900-1910.

So close ties between the Curcios and Del Negros appear to have predated their arrival in the U.S. — and continued once they established their new Gloversville homes.

An interesting land record

I assumed that Michael’s residence in the Curcio household was a favor extended to a relative to help him and his family get established. However, I recently discovered an illuminating land record[1]FamilySearch requires free login to view records.that gave him a financial stake in a portion of the Curcio family property.

Gloversville Business Directory map detail (1868). In 1896, my second g-grandparents Antonio and Antoinette (Del Negro) Curcio sold a half-interest in their property at 128 E. Fulton Street — labeled E. Coon above — to Antoinette’s brother Michael for $1.00. Was there a legal reason for this sale? Image/scalable map at: NYPL Digital Collections

On Feb. 22, 1896, for the sum of $1.00, Antonio Curcio and his wife “Antonia” sold Michael Del Negro, of Amsterdam, N.Y.,  “one individual half interest” in the land they owned, which was “known as the Coon property” and located on the south side of E. Fulton Street in Gloversville.

The map detail above, from an 1868 Gloversville Business Directory,[2]Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division, The New York Public Library. “Gloversville Business Directory; Gloversville Fulton Co. N.Y. [Village]” New York Public Library Digital … Continue readingshows the name E. Coon on the 128 E. Fulton Street property that eventually became the Curcio’s home and business.

The 1896 land conveyance stipulates that Michael “shall not part with the ownership of the heretofore described premises without the written consent of Antonio Curcio.”[3]“United States, New York Land Records, 1630-1975,” database with images, FamilySearch … Continue reading

Detail from a 1902 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map showing the Curcio home at 128 East Fulton Street — top center with a letter D for dwelling — with the junk yard at the back and a Cobbler Shop (also a dwelling) next to the house.

The cobbler shop mystery

There must have been a legal reason why my second great-grandparents sold Michael Del Negro an individual half interest in their property for merely $1.00.

Which brings me back to the cobbler shop from the last post, which appears on Sanborn Fire Insurance maps of 128 E. Fulton Street beginning in 1902[4]Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Gloversville, Fulton County, New York. Sanborn Map Company, Oct, 1902. Map 20. Detail: Antonio Curcio Junk Shop at 128 E. Fulton, Gloversville, N.Y. … Continue reading.

As will be discussed in the next post, Antoinette’s brothers Jimmy and Michael worked as “bootblacks” in Gloversville, N.Y., shoe parlors.

So is it a stretch to imagine that they may have launched their careers from the cobbler shop on the Curcio property?

Did Michael need a financial stake in the property in order to legally open/operate a business? And how did Jimmy come into the picture?

Up next: The Del Negro brothers’ shoe parlor careers. Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants.

© 2021 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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References

References
1 FamilySearch requires free login to view records.
2 Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division, The New York Public Library. “Gloversville Business Directory; Gloversville Fulton Co. N.Y. [Village]” New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1868. Accessed August 28, 2021. https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e3-6f06-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
3 “United States, New York Land Records, 1630-1975,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9WC-635K?cc=2078654&wc=M7H1-QP6%3A358134701%2C358862601 : [Accessed 27 Aug. 2021]), Fulton > Deeds 1894-1904 vol 90-91 > image 357 of 619; multiple county courthouses, New York.
4 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Gloversville, Fulton County, New York. Sanborn Map Company, Oct, 1902. Map 20. Detail: Antonio Curcio Junk Shop at 128 E. Fulton, Gloversville, N.Y. https://www.loc.gov/item/sanborn05951_004/ Accessed 12 Aug. 2021.

10 thoughts on “The Del Negro brothers of Gloversville, N.Y.”

    1. This has been a fun post to illustrate. It’s amazing the maps, photographs and postcards that are now available — and a great help to genealogy research as well.

  1. Sometimes detours can turn up the most interesting way around things. Nice job here with fun and interesting interconnected information!

    1. Thanks so much! I do love family history detours. They paint a fuller picture of my ancestors’ extended family life and the family’s overall role in the community.

  2. The branches of your Italian family tree seem to get more entangled with each episode. The property sale for $1 seems very like the classic “peppercorn” payment used in English common law to satisfy the requirements for creation of a legal contract. Perhaps that was the case here with Michael’s half interest.

    The occupation “boot black” sent me to the US census archives where the enumeration documents describe all the possible kinds of work that people of 1900 might do. I wondered if “boot blacks” were part of the leatherworkers trades. It seems the Census Bureau considered them a type of domestic worker. In the list for earlier censuses they were in the column with “Astrologists, Bathroom keepers, Billposters, Bootblacks, Chimney sweeps, Feather dressers, Gunners, Hunters, Trappers, interpreters, and Scavengers.” Doesn’t seem like it was a skilled craft or trade.

    1. I am now wondering if the land sale might have been a way to make Mike Del Negro a “property owner” so he could apply for naturalization — which I believe was a requirement. That’s an interesting list of occupations that boot black was part of. One might consider these blue-collar trades — but requiring a certain level of specific skill and some entrepreneurial ability.

  3. Weren’t black boots shoeshine boys? From Horatio Alger’s stories no license was needed for this work. The boys could work from any spot on the street unless it was “taken” by another boy. They seemed to move around a lot and worked for themselves. They could make more money than a boy with a job in a shop or company. Those books were about the late 1800s and mainly set in New York, though sometimes elsewhere.

    1. They were, but the trade was not limited to the young. My second great-granduncle Mike and Jimmy worked as bootblacks in shoe parlors as adults — with Uncle Mike eventually owning his own shoe shining parlor.

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