The Laurence Family’s Wells St. Home In Gloversville, N.Y.

Sepia Saturday 600. Twenty-second in a photo blog series on my maternal Italian ancestors from Gloversville, Fulton Co., N.Y.

By the time the 1920 federal census[1]FamilySearch requires free login to view 1920 census records. was taken, my great-grandparents Peter and Mary (Curcio) Laurence/di Lorenzo had moved with their sons Tony and Joe into a newly-built home of their own at 12 Wells St. in Gloversville, Fulton County, N.Y.

They may have moved there as early as 1917, since Peter gave a Wells St. address when he registered, at 45, for the WWI draft.[2]FamilySearch requires free login to view WWI draft records.

Circa 1923: The Laurence/di Lorenzo family on the front steps of 12 Wells Street, Gloversville, N.Y. From left, Joseph B. Laurence, Mary (Curcio) Laurence, Antonio W. “Tony” Laurence and Peter Laurence (nee Pietro di Lorenzo). Scan by Molly Charboneau

The large Laurence house was right around the corner from the home of Mary’s parents, Antonio and Antoinette (Del Negro) Curcio, at 128 E. Fulton Street.

A home of their own

How proud Peter and Mary must have been to finally have a home of their own where their teenage sons could grow into adulthood. The Wells St. house even had a barn out back for Peter’s horse and vehicles — and was within walking distance of the junk dealership he took over from Mary’s father.

The wide steps where they posed, above, led to an open side porch to the right. Later owners narrowed the front steps and enclosed the side porch — as shown in the 1992 photo of the house below.

1992: Former home of the Laurence/di Lorenzo familiy in Gloversville, Fulton Co., N.Y. The house originally had wide front steps and an open side porch. Later owners narrowed the front steps and enclosed the porch. Photo by Molly Charboneau

My mom’s Wells St. connection

In 1992, my mom — Peg (Laurence) Charboneau — and I took a family history grand tour of her Gloversville, N.Y., hometown. One of our stops was the former Laurence home at 12 Wells St.

After taking the above photo, I noticed Mom looking wistfully up at the house. That’s when she made an unexpected revelation.

“I was born in that house,” she said. Wow, this was news to me. My siblings and I are from the Baby Boom generation — and we were all born in hospitals.

My grandfather Tony holding my mom Peggy, born 4 May 1926. This photo appears to have been taken outside 12 Well St. — possibly by my grandmother Elizabeth (Stoutner) Laurence, a photo buff who is not pictured. Penciled on the back is “May 1926, Tony & Peggy.” Scan by Molly Charboneau

So, I was astonished to learn my mom had been born at home — and in her grandparents’ house at that. Yet after researching my Italian ancestors, I am no longer surprised at mom’s home birth.

Welcoming extended family

In true Italian fashion, my Laurence ancestors quickly opened their home to extended family — starting with their oldest son.

After my grandfather Tony and my grandmother Elizabeth Stoutner got married in 1924, they set up house with the Laurences at 12 Well St. and lived there for several years, through the 1926 birth of my mother Peggy — their first child and the Laurences’ first grandchild.

Nov. 1926: A studio portrait of my mom Peggy at 6 months. My maternal grandmother Elizabeth , who was a fashionable dresser, seems to have gone all out on my mom’s cute winter outfit. Scan by Molly Charboneau

By 1930, the federal census shows[3]FamilySearch requires free login to view 1930 census records that my grandparents Tony (by then a garage proprietor) and Elizabeth — along with my mom and her younger sister Rita — had moved across the street to 9 Wells St.

The same year, my great-grandmother Mary’s younger sister Millie, her husband Frank Somella (a junk dealer) and their children Anthony and Marie were living with the Laurences at 12 Wells St.[4]ibid.

And so it went. House sharing, job sharing, mutual support — that was a way of life for my maternal Italian ancestors as they helped one another make progress for themselves and their children.

And much of it was wrapped up in the Laurence house at 12 Wells St.

Up next, Season’s Greetings and a holiday break for Molly’s Canopy. 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 1920 census records.
2 FamilySearch requires free login to view WWI draft records.
3 FamilySearch requires free login to view 1930 census records
4 ibid.

12 thoughts on “The Laurence Family’s Wells St. Home In Gloversville, N.Y.”

  1. Wait, you’re wrapping up this series??!!…Noooooo, I absolutely loved following this story! 🙂
    You wrapped it up nicely! I love that you included the pic of the house much, much later. P.S., how did you get the link citation subscript numbers in your blog?

    1. Glad you loved the stories. And no worries, I’m only wrapping up this series for now. My maternal ancestors will be back in 2022.

  2. This series on your Italian family is fascinating for the wonderful photos but also because of the way it resembles so many other families of this earlier time. Partly it’s how their story is shared by other immigrants to America, both then and now. But it’s also the way the Laurence family was interconnected in businesses and housing like many other families of their generation. I suppose in this era before modern social services and protections, families were more dependent on friends and kin to make a good life.

    1. Thanks, Mike. This series has been a learning experience to me as well. I had no idea how interconnected my grandfather Tony was with his Italian cousins and extended family — but as you point out, it makes sense in the context of the immigrant and first-generation experience.

  3. Your Mom was such a darling little girl. And how lucky she was to have so much family around her as she grew up. 🙂

    1. It sure has. Writing about my Italian ancestors, I was somewhat envious at the huge extended family that surrounded them growing up — and was there to lend a helping hand in their adulthood.

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