Sepia Saturday 609. Twenty-fifth in a photo blog series on my maternal Italian ancestors from Gloversville, Fulton Co., N.Y.
On the same day that my great-grandparents Peter and Mamie (Curcio) Laurence posed for a photo in their backyard, my widowed third great grandmother — Mamie’s mother — also sat for a portrait at 12 Wells St., Gloversville, N.Y.
Born in 1861 in Atena Lucana, Salerno, Campania, Italy, my ancestor Antoinette (Del Negro) Curcio was 80 in 1941 — the year her photo was likely taken.
“My mother was strong as an ox,” said her daughter Rose Curcio in a 1992 family history interview. That description certainly fits with Antoinette’s determined expression in the photo below.
Taking a chance on a new life
According to the Library of Congress, some 300,000 Italian immigrants passed through Ellis Island in the 1800’s and by the 1920 they numbered 4 million — making up more than 10 percent of the U.S. immigrant population. My third great grandmother Antoinette Del Negro was among them — as were her brothers Vincenzo (aka Jimmy) and Michael.
In New York City on 24 Aug. 1880 she married my third great grandfather Antonio Curcio, who she knew from back home. Economic conditions were hard in Atena Lucana — and all over southern Italy — so they took a chance on a new life by setting out for the U.S.
After they married, Antoinette and Antonio lived briefly in the teeming Five Points area of lower Manhattan before moving north — first to Saratoga (where Mamie was born) then back to Brooklyn (where their son Michael was born) then to their final home in Gloversville.
Raising a family
By 1911, when an extended Curcio family photo was taken, Antoinette was surrounded by 10 of her children — some married adults with children of their own and others still in grade-school. From simple beginnings she and Antonio had built a life for themselves — as had her brothers Jimmy and Michael.
Celebrating eight decades
Antoinette is very nicely dressed with a jeweled clasp at her neckline in the first photo. My grandparents, Mamie and Peter, were also dressed up in their photo taken the same day.
In the last post, I speculated that the circa 1941 photos were taken to celebrate Peter and Mamie’s 40th wedding anniversary. But they could also have been taken to celebrate Antoinette’s 80th birthday. Or maybe it was a double celebration of both!
Whatever the occasion, I am eternally grateful that they took time to pose for photos that form a lasting legacy to their descendants.
Up next, four generations of Italian-Americans. Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants.
© 2022 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.