Category Archives: Laurence [Di Lorenzo]

Oneonta: City of surprises

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

When I was growing up, Oneonta in Otsego County, N.Y. was a place my family passed through on weekend road trips. The city marked the halfway point as we drove along Route 7 between our home near Binghamton, Broome County, N.Y. and my maternal grandparents’ farmhouse in Altamont, Albany County, N.Y.

Oneonta Normal School graduate Elizabeth Christina Stoutner. My maternal grandmother attended college in Oneonta, Otsego County, N.Y., and may have eloped from there to marry my grandfather in 1924. Scan by Molly Charboneau

Just about the time that my two younger brothers, two younger sisters and I were getting tired of sing alongs and road games, Oneonta would appear before us. This meant a welcome stop for lunch and curly fries at the Pink Pig, maybe some ice cream at Carroll’s and a chance to run around a bit.

When heading northeast, my dad — who was all about short cuts — would make a left turn just before we hit traffic on Main Street and drive uphill, then turn right and pass south of Oneonta State, then another right and back down to Route 7 for our lunch stop. Dad would reverse this maneuver on our trip home.

We did this for years as a family — but we were always preoccupied with getting to our destination. So imagine my surprise when I found an ancestral connection to Oneonta, which until then had been a mere stopover in our lives.

My grandmother’s college years

Mom told us that her mother Elizabeth Christina (Stoutner) Laurence went to college. Sorting through yearbooks and other materials inherited from my maternal grandmother, I discovered that she attended the Oneonta Normal School (now the State University of New York at Oneonta or “Oneonta State”).

The Oneonta Normal School was founded in 1889 as part of a statewide effort to expand public education and train teachers — among them my grandmother, who attended in the early 1920s and taught at a schoolhouse near her Gloversville, Fulton County, N.Y. home town.

While in college, she  lived on Elm Street near the campus, a side street that we drove right by on Dad’s short cut through Oneonta — though we were oblivious to its significance to our family!

My grandmother elopes

A more dramatic connection to Oneonta involves my maternal grandparents’ marriage — which I wrote about in A Valentine’s Day love story: My grandmother elopes.

Elizabeth’s mother did not want her to marry the boy next door from Gloversville — my Italian-American grandfather Antonio. W. Laurence [Di Lorenzo]. But they continued seeing one another in secret until my grandmother turned 18 and could marry without permission.

Until the day he died, my grandfather Tony carried my grandmother’s calling card in his wallet. On it she had handwritten her Elm Street address in Oneonta,  which is where I suspect he fetched her when they eloped and married in 1924.

Amazing that my family drove blissfully through Oneonta for all those years and never even knew!

Are there places where your family regularly traveled that might hold a secret family connection? Take a closer look. You may be delightfully surprised by what you find.

Up next: Proud to be a family history blogger. 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.
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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Gloversville, N.Y. and my maternal ancestors

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

Louis Meyers & Son glove factory making room, Gloversville, Fulton County, N.Y. Some of my maternal ancestors worked in glove shops like this one. Others sewed gloves at home. The second woman on the right looks a bit like my grandmother’s sister, Margaret (Stoutner) Rothbell. Photo: Steve Oare/Pictorial History of Gloversville

Most of my paternal ancestors have been in North America for centuries, but my maternal German and Italian ancestors arrived more recently and settled in Gloversville, Fulton County, New York.

As the name implies, the town was once home to a bustling glove manufacturing industry, with small brick shops the size of New York City brownstones dotting the thoroughfares and side streets — and women workers all over town making gloves at home.

Gloves and other trades

But that was not the only industry. My great, great grandfather Andrew Stoutner — who emigrated from Prussia in the mid 1800s — operated a brick manufacturing works, supplying the bricks for his own home and many others. His son Pete (my great grandfather) worked for the railroad, and his other son John was a milliner who ran a hat shop.

Another great, great grandfather Joseph A. Mimm, from Baden-Württemberg, was a glove die maker — while his wife Eva Elizabeth (Edel) Mimm was a glove factory worker. Their daughter, my great grandmother Celia (Mimm) Stoutner (who married Pete the railroad worker) sewed and turned gloves at home.

My mom told me that when she was young, she and her sister Rita would run back and forth to the factory for their grandmother Celia — dropping off finished gloves and picking up new glove kits. I inherited a wooden Meyers glove turner from one of the companies Celia worked for (maybe the one in the photo above).

A family filling station

My Italian great, great grandfather Antonio Curcio started a junk business that morphed over time into a garage and filling station. It was taken over by his son-in-law, my great grandfather Peter Laurence [Di Lorenzo]. They were both from Italy’s Campania region within sight of Mount Vesuvius — as was my great, great grandmother Antoinette (Del Negro) Curcio.

Family legend has it that Peter came to the U.S. in response to recruitment ads from the glove companies, where he initially worked as a leather dresser after his 1895 arrival.

Gloversville is a beautiful town in the Mohawk Valley region with some lovely boulevards and a Carnegie library. Once it even boasted an opera house downtown, as my mom and I discovered on a family history trip. With the exit of manufacturing from upstate New York, the town is less vibrant than it was in my ancestors’ day, but I still consider it a shining part of my heritage.

Have you visited towns where your ancestors lived? What were your impressions? Communities and their history are an integral part of our ancestors’ stories.

Tomorrow: Heritage and identity. Please stop back.

© 2016 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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