Category Archives: Edel

Researching my Fulton County family

Sepia Saturday 503Third in a series of posts based on recent research discoveries at the NYS Archives & Library, introducing my maternal immigrant ancestors of Fulton County, N.Y.

For the last few years I have mainly written about my paternal ancestors whose family lines go back generations in the Western Hemisphere.

However, this year I hope to spend more time researching and writing about my maternal German and Italian immigrant ancestors who arrived in the mid to late 1800s and settled in the Mohawk Valley town of Gloversville in Fulton County, N.Y. So let me introduce them.

The Stoutner family of Gloversville, N.Y., circa 1908. My great-great grandfather Andrew Stoutner, center, holds my grandmother Elizabeth on his lap. To his left is my great-great grandmother Christina, his third wife. They are surrounded by their extended family. Click here for fuller caption and details. Photo scan by Molly Charboneau

Meet my Gloversville ancestors

Andrew and Christina (Albeitz) Stoutner. My great-great grandfather Andrew, a brick manufacturer, immigrated from Germany circa 1855. My great-great grandmother Christina, who arrived from Germany circa 1864, was his third wife. I wrote about them briefly in a previous post.

Joseph and Eva Elizabeth (Edel) Mimm.  My great-great grandfather Joseph, a machinist and glove company tool-and-die maker, immigrated from Baden-Württemburg in Germany. My German immigrant great-great grandmother Lizzie was a glove maker. They each arrived in 1873 and were married in Gloversville in 1876.

Mulberry Bend in lower Manhattan (1894). My Curcio ancestors from Italy were married in New York City in 1880 and survived this rough neighborhood before relocating and raising a huge family in Gloversville, Fulton County, N.Y. Image: NYPL Digital Collections

Antonio and Antoinette (Del Negro) Curcio. My Italian great-great grandfather Antonio immigrated first. My great-great grandmother Antoinette arrived later. Both were from the Campania region. They married in New York City in 1880 — near where they lived in the Five Points area of lower Manhattan. They eventually relocated to Gloversville.

Peter and Mamie (Curcio) Laurence (nee Di Lorenzo). My great-grandfather Peter immigrated from Italy in 1895. He was also from the Campania region and was the last to arrive in Gloversville. There, he met and married my great-grandmother Mamie — the Curcios’ oldest daughter who was likely born in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

Finding family in city directories

Unlike my dad’s ancestors, who lived all over — from Quebec, New York and Pennsylvania to New Jersey and Maryland — my mom’s immigrant ancestors all lived in one place.

After settling in Gloversville, they lived out their lives there and were buried in Prospect Hill Cemetery (shown in green on the map below). Some of my maternal ancestors worked in the glove industry, others were small proprietors — and all left a helpful trail of records.

1868 map of Gloversville, Fulton County, N.Y.
1868: Map of Gloversville, Fulton County, N.Y. Click here to enlarge. My maternal German and Italian immigrant ancestors arrived in Gloversville in the mid to late 1800s. Some worked in the glove industry, others were small proprietors. All lived out their lives there and were buried in Prospect Hill Cemetery, shown in green. Image: NYPL digital collections

On my recent research trip I spent time perusing one set of those records, the Gloversville and Johnstown, N.Y., city directories, at the New York State Library — which turned out to be a worthwhile exercise.

In the next post, I will begin sharing what I found. 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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1910: My fashionable grandmother at age five

Sepia Saturday 385: Second in a series on piecing together the origins of my maternal grandmother Elizabeth (Stoutner) Laurence’s fashion sense.

In the last post I discussed my maternal grandmother Elizabeth (Stoutner) Laurence’s fashionable attire at age one. This trend continued as she grew, as shown in the photo below of Liz at age five.

My maternal grandmother Elizabeth (Stoutner) Laurence at age five (circa 1910). She is wearing a fur-trimmed wool coat with fashion-forward accessories: a fur muff, a spectacular hat and satin bows. Scan by Molly Charboneau

My grandmother is wrapped in a fur-trimmed wool coat accessorized with a spectacular hat and muff — each sporting shiny satin bows. Her long, ringlet curls complete the look.

Clearly Liz did not select these toddler clothes or hairstyle herself — so I wondered whether her German-American family’s fashion sense contributed to her evolving clothing style.

Fashion in the family

My maternal ancestors lived in Gloversville, Fulton County, New York. They were German immigrants on my grandmother Liz’s side and Italian immigrants on my grandfather Antonio W. Laurence’s side (Tony’s surname anglicized from Di Lorenzo).

Glove turning tool from Meyers Glove Company of Gloversville, N.Y.  Discovered  in my grandmother Liz’s sewing cabinet, this tool may have been used by my great-grandmother Celia (Mimm) Stoutner to turn gloves with internal seams when she worked at home sewing gloves. Photo by Molly Charboneau

When Liz was growing up, fur, leather and glove production were primary industries in Gloversville and nearby Johnstown.

Many of my German-American and Italian-American ancestors worked in these fashion-related trades.

Liz’s mother — my great-grandmother Celia (Mimm) Stoutner, — was among hundreds of women who sewed and turned gloves at home using materials provided by nearby factories. Her mother — my great-great grandmother Elizabeth (Edel) Mimm — was also a glove worker.

My strapping great-grandfather — Liz’s dad Andrew J. “Pete” Stoutner — broke with this tradition and worked for the railroad. However, his brother — Liz’s uncle John H. Stoutner — made his career in fashion.

A commercial clothier’s influence

Uncle John and his partner Crosby E. Van Arnum operated The Smart Shop in Gloversville — a women’s millinery and clothing store carrying everything from undergarments to outerwear — and ran ads in the local newspapers.

A New York Times notice of Uncle John’s arrival in New York City as a buyer for the Argersinger Company of Gloversville, N.Y. (11 Nov. 1913). Did Uncle John’s garment expertise contribute to my grandmother’s fashion sense? Source: Old Fulton New York Post Cards

Did Uncle John play a role in recommending or providing outfits for my grandmother? There’s no way to know for sure — but he certainly had the credentials.

According to the New York Times, Uncle John traveled to New York City to buy the latest in suits, waists, corsets and millinery for the Argersinger Co. before opening The Smart Shop.

My grandmother Liz was the first female child born in her generation to the extended Stoutner family — so she was probably surrounded by doting adults.

They may have given fashionable gifts for her wardrobe — particularly Uncle John, who was 41 and single when my grandmother was born and knew his way around the garment business.

In whatever way it happened, one thing is apparent — by age five Liz was well on her way to a signature style that would last throughout her life.

Up next: The stylish Stoutner siblings. Please stop back. Meanwhile, please visit the posts of other Sepia Saturday participants here.

© 2017 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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Gesundheit: A little linguistic legacy

If you are several generations removed from immigrant ancestors, you may find yourself longing — as I did — for some lingering evidence of a heritage connection within your own family.

Tissues. My family’s use of the word “gesundheit” when someone sneezed was likely passed down from my maternal German immigrant ancestors. By: Chris Costes

My advice is to pay careful attention, because — as I discovered with my maternal German ancestors — the evidence you seek might be found in the most unlikely place.

My German heritage comes from my maternal grandmother Elizabeth Christina Stoutner — who eloped with Anthony [Di Lorenzo] Laurence, the Italian-American boy next door in Gloversville, Fulton County, N.Y.

My mom — their oldest daughter — grew up near both my grandparents’ families, with many reminders of her ethnic roots.

Where were my ethnic clues?

But off my mom went to college. Then there was a career move, marriage to my dad, children and more moves — so by the time I was growing up in the suburbs of Binghamton, Broome County, N.Y., we were an assimilated, Baby Boom family living several hours’ drive from our nearest relatives.

I envied my friends who had closer ties to their immigrant heritage — as I enjoyed perogies and kolachkis with my Eastern European friend up the block or watched a school friend’s Italian grandmother lay handmade pasta to dry over the backs of her kitchen chairs.

Alas, there were few ethnic clues in the basic meat-and-potatoes dinner my family sat down to most evenings. But then someone would sneeze, and we would all say, “Gesundheit!” — and presto, there was my first heritage hint.

A healthful heritage hint

Gesundheit means “health” in German, but I never gave this much thought as a child. It was just something our family said. Not until at school, when I heard others say “bless you,” did I realize that not everyone said gesundheit.

Many years passed before I delved into why — and many more years still until I seriously researched my German heritage and made the connection to this salutation.

It turns out the word gesundheit arrived here with early German immigrants — like my ancestors, who came to these shores in the mid 1800s — then proliferated through the general population as German immigration picked up.

“Used to wish good health to a person who has just sneezed,” according to thefreedictionary.com, the word’s frequency of use over the decades is depicted by an online n-gram graph.

Who would have imagined that as my German-American ancestors sneezed down through the  generations, they would pass along the hearty response “Gesundheit!” as a little linguistic legacy from one generation to the next?

Or that their healthful German salutation would be passed from my immigrant Mimm, Stoutner, Albeitz and Edel great, great grandparents to their children, then to my maternal grandmother, my mom and me?

Such a small ancestral bequest — but one I am reminded of whenever I hear someone sneeze!

© 2016 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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