Category Archives: Charboneau

Library research leads

Letter L: Twelfth of twenty-six posts in the April 2016 Blogging From A to Z Challenge. Wish me luck and please join me on the journey!

Online family history research is great — but because there are still so few genealogical resources that have been digitized, library research leads continue to play a significant role in my ancestral journey. And that’s fine.

http://frontpagegloversville.squarespace.com/home/2014/1/11/gloversille-free-library.html
Gloversville Free Library in Fulton Co., N.Y. On a family history visit here with my mom in 1991, we researched our Italian and German ancestors and met a librarian who knew one of our collateral relatives. Photo: Front Page Gloversville

Some of my most valuable clues and evidence have come from libraries — and the wonderful librarians who work there — both on road trips and by phone. Here are just a few examples.

Pictured is the Gloversville Free Library, which my mom and I visited in August 1991 on a family history trip to her home town. There, we consulted city directories that listed our Italian and German ancestors.

Even better, we met a librarian who knew Lucy Edel — a cousin of my great grandmother Celia (Mimm) Stoutner,  who my mom said, “could have been her twin.”

She told us Lucy was a career librarian at the Free Library and was very proud that she earned enough money to buy her own house. Now that’s not a story you will find on the Internet!

My dad and I made a similar trip to his Otter Lake home town in August 1991. At the Irwin Library and Institute in Boonville, Oneida County, N.Y., using an ancient microfilm reader, we found the obituary of our Montréal-born ancestor Laurent Charles Charbonneau — a landmark discovery! Alas, we were not so lucky on that trip learning the name of his spouse.

“His wife? His wife?” Dad fumed when he saw her nameless entry in the list of Laurent’s survivors. “Doesn’t she even get to have her name in the paper?”

Helpful librarians: a phone call away

Calls to libraries have also yielded breakthroughs. The Salamanca Public Library in Cattaraugus County, N.Y., maintains a index of newspaper obituaries. With a phone call to their librarian, I was able to obtain the obituaries of my great, great grandfather Arthur Bull and his mother-in-law, my great, great, great grandmother Hannah (Hance ) Blakeslee.

And when I called a helpful librarian at the Little Falls Public Library in Herkimer County, N.Y., he found and sent me the long-sought-after obituary of my Grand-Uncle Albert B. Charboneau — my paternal grandfather’s brother — who died in the 1918 Influenza Pandemic.

Are there libraries in the towns where your ancestors lived? Check their catalog and resources online, then consider planning a visit to see what genealogical treasures they hold. Not sure where to start? Call their help desk and speak to the librarian. And always send a thank you note, by mail or email, when they help you make a discovery.

Up next: Maps point the way. Please stop back.

© 2016 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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Including and honoring childless relatives

Letter I: Ninth of twenty-six posts in the April 2016 Blogging From A to Z Challenge. Wish me luck and please join me on the journey!

Including childless relatives in my family history research is a way of honoring and remembering their lives, since they have no descendants to take on the task.

Yet far from being lonely without offspring, these relatives often led varied and interesting lives while maintaining ties with their families of origin. Here are a few who stand out, a couple of whom I have written about before.

http://frontpagegloversville.squarespace.com/pictoral-history/gloversville-1900-1949/19580616
Gloversville Business School, Gloversville, Fulton County, N.Y. (1900-1949)  My great grand-aunt Rosie Curcio, a single career woman born in 1906, trained here and worked in glove factory offices until her retirement at age 70. Photo: Front Page Gloversville

My mother’s sister, Rita Mary Laurence, left New York State for southern California in 1955 for a job as a blood bank technician. She worked in San Diego and Los Angeles, created an independent life for herself far from family, and even met Albert Schweitzer’s daughter when she toured the lab where Aunt Rita worked.

Another of my maternal relatives, Rose Curcio — sister of my great grandmother Mamie (Curcio) Laurence — was also a single career woman. Born in 1906, she studied at the Gloversville Business School then worked in glove factory offices until her retirement at age 70. Aunt Rosie remained close to her siblings and their families and lived to be 105.

And one holiday season I wrote about my uncle Frederic Mason Charboneau, one of my dad’s brothers, and his lively letters home during his U.S. Army service in WW II — to begin sharing his story since he and his wife had no children.

Who are the childless relatives in your family? What do you know about them? How did they interact with your direct ancestors? Their stories can provide a fuller picture of your ancestral background if you are willing to go look for them.

Up next: Joseph Mimm’s bucket list. Please stop back.

© 2016 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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Charbonneau breakthrough: Hooked on family history

Letter C: Third of twenty-six posts in the April 2016 Blogging From A to Z Challenge. Wish me luck and please join me on the journey!

If every journey begins with a single step, then mine was entering an archive in Montréal, Québec, Canada seeking information about my paternal great, great grandfather Laurent Charles Charbonneau.

By: Blok 70
Street scene in Montréal, Québec, Canada. Discovering the baptismal record of my paternal gg grandfather Laurent Charles Charbonneau in a Montréal archive got me hooked on family history research. By: Blok 70

My brother Jeff was already researching our Charbonneau ancestors and had narrowed down where I should look.

So on a vacation in August 1991, I stepped to the archive’s information desk and — in rusty, high school French — managed to explain what I was looking for.

“Très bien,” said the archivist and led me to a cabinet filled with cards listing family names and birth dates. I needed the year 1832, so she looked it up and said to check all names on the card — they might be relatives. Amazingly, I understood her French, but like a young child I could only nod in return.

The card led to microfilm, and soon I was in a darkened room viewing undecipherable cursive records — from what I later learned was Québec’s Drouin Collection of vital and church records (1621-1968). I wanted to cry. I had come all this way and couldn’t read any of it!

Hooked on genealogy

But as I scrolled along I started to recognize months, then surnames, then I remembered I was looking for my own surname. And when I reached October, there he was — my paternal great, great grandfather Laurent Charles Charbonneau. Well, how exciting was that!

I ran to get the archivist. She printed and embossed a certified copy and patiently wrote out what the document said (since I still could not read it). And with that Charbonneau breakthrough, I was hooked on family history research!

Have you ever wondered about your ancestors? Or considered researching them? If not, you should give it a try! You might get hooked, too — just like my Dempsey cousins, who you will meet in the next post.

© 2016 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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