All posts by Molly C.

1918: Charboneau brothers Albert and Ray in WWI

Sepia Saturday 539Tenth in a series about Albert Barney Charboneau — my paternal grandfather’s brother who died in the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918.

A previous post reviewed the WW I draft registrations of my dad’s Uncle Albert Barney Charboneau and his three brothers — among them my paternal grandfather William Ray Charboneau. Yet for various reasons, none of them ended up serving abroad.

Albert Barney Charboneau circa 1910. Scan by Molly Charboneau

Albert’s alternative service

Albert was not called up for active duty, perhaps because he was married. But he may have performed a sort of alternative service through his job as Woodworking Foreman at the Julius Breckwoldt Sounding Board Company in Dolgeville, Herkimer Co., New York.

In its 12 July 1918 issue, the Otsego Farmer and Republican — published in Cooperstown, N.Y. — carried a front page column on Central New York that describes U.S. Naval officers visiting the Breckwoldt company where Uncle Albert worked to select spruce wood for military hydroplane construction.

www.fultonhistory.com
The Otsego Farmer and Republican, Cooperstown, N.Y. (12 July 1918). This item, from a front page column covering Central New York news, describes U.S. Naval officers visiting the Breckwoldt company where Uncle Albert worked to select spruce wood for military hydroplane construction. Source: fultonhistory.com

According to the article, the U.S. government planned to take “between five to ten percent of the spruce timber turned out at the Fulton Chain mill” of the Breckwoldt company.

https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47db-144e-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
An N-1 seaplane taxiing at high speed (c. 1918). Spruce was considered the ideal wood for hydroplanes and some of the best came from the Fulton Chain in New York’s North Country. Was Uncle Albert on hand when Naval officers came to select lumber at the Breckwoldt company where he worked? Photo: Library of Congress

Even without documentation, it’s not a stretch to suppose that Uncle Albert — a Woodworking Foreman who had worked with Fulton Chain timber since the age of 15 — may have been on hand when the Naval officers made their lumber-selection visits.

My grandfather’s home defense work

Meanwhile, my paternal grandfather Ray — exempt because he was married with three children — did alternative service of his own.

In Franklin W. Christman’s book Herkimer County in the World War: 1916-19181W.R. Charboneau is listed among non commissioned officers and privates who served in the Dolgeville Home Defense Unit of the Herkimer County Defense Committee — a local affiliate of the Council of National Defense.

https://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/91483205/
U.S. Student Nurse Reserve recruitment poster issued by the Council of National Defense Women’s Committee (1917). This prophetic poster was issued the year before the Great 1918 Influenza Pandemic took hold. Source: Library of Congress

One of the first tasks of the county group was to conduct a military census and inventory of resources and report back to the New York State group.

Christman’s book2details some of the group’s many other  tasks, which make clear the profound daily economic and social impact of the world war — from cultivating fallow farmland and working with the Red Cross on healthcare issues to recruiting workers to fill jobs that were vacated by those who were called up.

Yet amid helpful tasks were other duties that likely turned neighbor against neighbor — such as reviewing and signing off on the credentials of immigrant job applicants in an area with a huge German-born or descended population.

A telegraphy school graduate

https://pixabay.com/photos/telegraph-key-communication-retro-4891039/
Vintage telegraph key. I don’t know what tasks my grandfather Ray carried out as part of in the Dolgeville Home Defense Unit. However, his obituary says he was a graduate of the New York State Telegraphers School in Albany, N.Y. So that skill may have placed him in the sphere of communications. Photo: Pixabay

I don’t know what tasks my grandfather Ray carried out. However, his obituary says he was a graduate of the New York State Telegraphers School in Albany, N.Y. 3So I like to think that skill may have placed him in the more helpful sphere of communications.

And Ray and Albert may have worked together here and there as well — since Uncle Albert was head of the Dolgeville Masons lodge, which the Defense Committee collaborated with on various community-aid projects.

Up next: The brief WWI service of Uncles Tom and Dewey Charboneau. Please stop back! Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants here.

© 2020 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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1917: Uncle Albert and the Charboneau Doughboys

Sepia Saturday 538Ninth in a series about Albert Barney Charboneau — my paternal grandfather’s brother who died in the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918.

Albert Barney Charboneau circa 1910. Scan by Molly Charboneau

At the outbreak of World War I, my father’s Uncle Albert Barney Charboneau and his brothers were required to register for the draft.

And this they did, carefully penning their information on cards that have survived into the digital age.

Albert, the oldest brother, was age 33 when he registered in 1918 — giving his date of birth as 15 Feb. 1885, his address as 42 State Street, Dolgeville, Herkimer Co., N.Y. and his wife’s name as Annie E. Charboneau.

He wrote that he was employed as Woodworking Foreman at Julius Breckwoldt lumber works. The registrar described Albert as tall and stout with black hair and blue eyes.

WWI Doughboy statue in Woodside, N.Y. (2020). Selected in 1928 as the best war memorial of its kind by the American Federation of Arts, this statue depicts a returning WWI soldier with bandaged head, holding his helmet with his gun to one side. Photo: Molly Charboneau

My grandfather Ray’s draft registration

Two of Albert’s brothers registered before him. My paternal grandfather William Ray Charboneau registered on 5 June 1917. Born 3 April 1888 in Forestport, N.Y., he was age 29 and described as tall and slender with blue eyes and black hair.

Ray lived on Dolge Ave. in Dolgeville, N.Y. and worked as a warehouse clerk at the Daniel Green Felt Shoe Co. — which had taken over the original Dolge factory complex. Ray also had an exemption from the draft: He was married with three children — my dad’s older brothers Owen, Franny and Hube

Uncle Tom signed up with Ray

Next in line on 5 June 1917 — registered the same day as Ray — was Orville “Tom” Charboneau. Born on 23 April 1892, Tom was 25 and described as tall with medium build, blue eyes, brown hair and slight baldness.

Tom lived at 10 Church St. in Little Falls, N.Y., where he worked as an automobile repairman for C.A. Ross on West Main St. He was single with no dependents.

Uncle Dewey registered in 1918

George Dewey Charboneau, the youngest brother, registered on 12 Sept. 1918 — the same year as Albert. Born 12 June 1898, he was age 20 and described as tall and slender with blue eyes and brown hair.

Uncle Dewey worked as a shoemaker at the Daniel Green Felt Shoe Company — where my grandfather Ray also worked — and lived with his parents Will and Eva (Bull) Charboneau on Cline Street in Dolgeville, N.Y. Unmarried, he listed his father Will as his next of kin.

Wartime service

Of the four, Tom and Dewey were called up — toward the end of the war — and their service was entered onto a roster compiled by the Herkimer County Home Defense Committee of soldiers who were drafted or volunteered their services in WWI.  However, Uncle Albert and my grandfather Ray appear to have performed service of their own in Herkimer County.

More on this in the next post. Please stop back! Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants here.

© 2020 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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A summer break for Molly’s Canopy

Sepia Saturday 532. The series about Albert Barney Charboneau — my paternal grandfather’s brother who died in the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918 — will continue in September. For now, a summer break.

The dog days of summer are upon us, so Molly’s Canopy is taking a break in August to refresh and regroup. The vintage post card below captures the spirit of this blogging vacation.

The card was sent in August 1908 by Aunt Gertie — who was vacationing in upstate New York — to her niece Olive J. Wilcox in Winfield, New Jersey.

Am spending my vacation here & wish you were here today, It is grand here & so cool by the water. With love, Aunt Gertie

Neither woman is related to me. But Mountain Lake is near Gloversville, N.Y., where my mom and maternal ancestors lived — and that prompted me to add the card to my collection.

I doubt Gertie or Olive could have imagined that 112 years after this affectionate post card changed hands it would end up on a blog in cyberspace.

But such is the beauty of the internet — and the timeless allure of a boat floating gently in the moonlight on a cool mountain lake. Here’s hoping this image sustains you through the heat of August!

Molly’s Canopy will be back in September — well before the autumn leaves commence their colorful cascade — to resume the ongoing series about Albert B. Charboneau.

Meanwhile, enjoy the rest of your summer! And throughout August, be sure to visit the blogs of the other intrepid Sepia Saturday participants who will be posting weekly here.

© 2020 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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