1905-06: The Other Laurence Brothers (The Two Peters)

Sepia Saturday 596. Eighteenth in a photo blog series on my maternal Italian ancestors from Gloversville, Fulton Co., N.Y.

Most family history discoveries are happy ones — finding previously unknown relatives, linking up long-forgotten branches of a family tree and generally adding richness to ancestral stories.

Yet there are also sad discoveries — and finding evidence of children who died young are among the most heartbreaking.

Alas, such untimely deaths were not unusual in the 19th and early 20th centuries — and my maternal Italian second great grandparents Peter and Mary “Mamie” (Curcio) Laurence/diLorenzo experienced two such tragedies in 1905 and 1906.

Memorial cabinet card for Peter Laurence, Jr., who died in 1905 at age 2 months. Scan by Molly Charboneau

Remembering a lost son

Among the photos of my Italian ancestors I found a memorial cabinet card for a child my Laurence ancestors lost — their third son Peter Laurence Jr., who died on 9 April 1905 at age 2 months. The card was printed by H.F. Wendell & Co. of Leipsic, Ohio — a company that specialized in memorial lithography.

Peter’s card features a lovely poem below an angel of peace carrying a child and a bouquet of flowers, with pastoral background images of a waxing crescent moon, stars and a church.

Grave stone of the first Peter Laurence, Jr., Prospect Hill Cemetery, Gloversville, Fulton Co., N.Y. (1992). Photo by Molly Charboneau

I was already aware of Peter’s untimely 1905 death from his gravestone in Prospect Hill Cemetery, Gloversville, Fulton Co., N.Y. — which my mother and I found during a 1992 trip to her home town. However, the memorial card was an unexpected discovery in an album of ancestral photos.

A second heartbreaking loss

On the same trip to Gloversville, my mom Peg (Laurence) Charboneau and I discovered a second stone nearby with the same inscription — only that one was dated 1906.

That’s how we learned that Peter and Mamie had lost a another son — who they also named Peter — the year after their first loss. How devastated they must have been by these tragic deaths so close together.

Grave stone of the second Peter Laurence Jr., Prospect Hill Cemetery, Gloversville, Fulton Co., N.Y. (1992). Photo by Molly Charobneau

There is no memorial cabinet card for the second Peter among the Laurence family photos. Could my second great-grandparents have been too overwhelmed by this new loss to have one printed?

The brief lives of the two Peters

Having discovered the two Peters, I wondered if I might be able to memorialize their brief lives in some way. So I turned to the New York State birth and death indexes to see if they had been recorded.

Amazingly, they both appear in the birth index — and the second Peter’s death appears in the death index. The first Peter’s date of death is not in the index but is printed on his memorial card. So below is a record of the brief lives of the two Peters — the lost, but not forgotten, Laurence brothers.

NameDateWhereNYS No.
Peter Laurence 1Born 17 Feb 1905G’ville#4936
Peter Laurence 1Died 9 Apr 1905G’ville
Peter Laurence 2Born 25 May 1906G’ville#21839
Peter Lawrence 2Died 26 Sep 1906G’ville#40340
Birth and death dates of the two Peters, the other Laurence brothers.

Fortunately, Peter and Mamie’s older sons — my maternal grandfather Antonio W. Laurence, born in 1902, and his brother Joseph B. Laurence, born in 1903 — lived into their senior years. That they survived and thrived must have been a healing balm to their parents.

Up next, the Laurence brothers Tony and Joe as teens. Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants.

© 2021 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

Similar Posts:

Please like and share:

12 thoughts on “1905-06: The Other Laurence Brothers (The Two Peters)”

  1. Such a poignant story, with a beautiful memorial card remembering the first Peter. It brought back to me the sadness of my great great aunt who emigrated to Brooklyn, New York, in 1888, had five children, with three dying in infancy. So much suffering for families in those days.

    1. I was also taken with the memorial card, which has a coppery-toned ink that doesn’t reproduce exactly. It says something about the extend of infant mortality then that printers had cards to help families in their bereavement.

  2. I have a very old advertisement of the grocery store. Charboneau Bros General Store Holland Patent New York. Phone # is 2301. Has a thermostat that works. Would like family to have it!

  3. So sad to lose children. Life was hard back then, and many families lost children young. Many, many children were lost in my lines. Thank you so much for the perspective of thinking of how they must have felt and what they must have went through! It must have been heart breaking! ❤

    1. I also have infant deaths on other family lines — and they are common to see on tombstones from this period during cemetery visits. Always heartbreaking.

  4. A death of a child is always heartbreaking, even when hidden by time. Finding records of both Peters was very lucky for you, considering that they were born between the censuses. I wonder what the cause of death might have been. It’s sad to think how easily our current pandemic may be forgotten after another century has passed.

    By strange coincidence, when my wife and I visited Gloversville a few weeks ago, we also stopped at the Prospect Cemetery. I didn’t expect to find any Laurence/di Lorenzo graves, but it was interesting to see the great variety of monuments and markers, a legacy of when Gloversville was more prosperous.

    1. I was very surprised to find index listings for both Peters. New York State was late to get started and it took awhile for vital statistics gathering to hit its stride. I’m glad you and your wife had a chance to visit Prospect Hill Cemetery. It’s a great example of “rural cemetery” design aimed at creating a park-like atmosphere for mourners.

  5. Unfortunately, it wasn’t all that rare for young children to not survive to adulthood in the earlier centuries. That couldn’t, however, have made it any easier for the parents who lost their children. I can’t imagine becoming used to it happening – ever!

    1. Well observed. And to lose two infant sons just a year apart? Doubly heartbreaking for my Laurence/di Lorenzo great-grandparents and their extended family.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.