Category Archives: Stoutner

Two Years: Second Blogiversary

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

Tomorrow will mark two years since Molly’s Canopy first appeared as a family history geneablog on 24 April 2014. Since my Second Blogiversary falls on an A to Z Challenge rest day, I decided to celebrate early and reflect on the blog’s development since my First Blogiversary one year ago.

Two roses and rosebuds_2
Roses and rosebuds (2014). Two blooming roses for the Second Blogiversary of Molly’s Canopy and two rosebuds for the future. Photo by Molly Charboneau

At the start of my second blogging year, in May 2015, I was finishing up the last posts about my great, great grandfather Arthur Bull’s Union Army service during the U.S. Civil War.

The Civil War Sesquicentennial was drawing to a close and I attended and wrote about a ceremony marking the war’s conclusion 150 years before.

Over the summer of 2015, I finally had an opportunity to research in the U.S. Sanitary Commission collection at the New York Public Library — and came away with two more details about my ancestor’s medical treatment during the Civil War.

Then it was on to peace time and Embracing the Empire State, as Arthur Bull returned home to New York State and I began exploring his back story.

Spending a year and a half focused primarily on a single ancestor’s experiences taught me the value of taking a deep dive into one particular family on my tree and drawing lessons from the history they lived through. Subsequent posts unfolded in serial format, as my focus turned to the Bull family and their civilian lives before and after the war.

Cousins come calling

Perhaps the most exciting development in year two of Molly’s Canopy was the arrival of cousins — first my Dempsey cousins and soon thereafter cousin Don from my Bull line, whose ggg grandfather was likely a brother of my ggg grandfather Jeremiah Bull (Arthur’s father).

Through blog comments and email, we got to know one another and shared information about our respective research — making the family history journey so much richer.

Cameo appearances

The other development in year two was cameo appearances by individual ancestors and collateral relatives. First was my maternal Aunt Rita for Veteran’s Day, then my paternal grandmother Mary Frances (Owen) Charboneau for the holidays and most recently my maternal grandparents Tony and Elizabeth (Stoutner) Laurence for Valentine’s Day.

My readers particularly enjoyed these portraits — which provided a break from the longer saga of the Bull family and allowed me to introduce new ancestors who will appear again on the blog when their family’s stories are told.

GeneaBloggers introduction

Two landmark events turned the end of my second genealogy blogging year into a new beginning.

On April 18, I was honored to be introduced to the genealogy blogging community as part of the GeneaBloggers interview series profiling family history bloggers.

May I Introduce To You…Molly Charboneau could not have appeared at a better time, since this is my Second Blogiversary week!

In my challenge post for Letter P — Proud to be a family history blogger — I shared my tremendous sense of validation to be recognized by my peers in this way.

Blogging challenge

And now I am heading into my third year of Molly’s Canopy by participating in the April 2016 Blogging From A to Z Challenge — and a challenge it is, but an satisfying one.

Blogging daily, except Sundays, has allowed me to share shorter, single posts about individual relatives, research techniques, past discoveries and the joy of the search on the theme Ancestors From A to Z.

And I am meeting so many wonderful bloggers in the process — family historians; genealogists; writers of narrative and memoir, and other fellow travelers who show up at the page (or screen) and write passionately about the subjects that move them.

How wonderful to have them along as I celebrate Two Years: Second Blogiversary — joining my loyal readers who have accompanied me from the beginning — to usher me into year three.

Thank you all for making my family history journey so much more enjoyable!

Up next: Undergarments and Aunt Kate. Please stop back.

© 2016 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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Quotes: Letting ancestors speak

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

Quotes from relatives and ancestors enrich a family history story more fully that mere description. Letting our ancestors and relatives speak for themselves — through something they said or something they wrote — truly enlivens a family narrative.

Modern rendition of the letter Q. Quotes from ancestors, relatives or contemporaries can add depth to family history narratives and enliven events that shaped ancestors’ lives. By: Tibor Hegewisch

The voice and personality of my paternal grandmother Mary Frances (Owen) Charboneau made its way into A holiday gift: My grandmother’s voice through entries from her diary.

Because she died when I was very young, I barely knew her. But inheriting my grandmother’s diary allowed me to get acquainted with her — and to let her tell parts of her own story through quotes from her journal.

My maternal grandmother’s younger sister — my mom’s Aunt Margaret (Stoutner) Rothbell — told me the story about my grandparents’ secret meetings as they waited for the chance to elope. Aunt Margaret was an eyewitness to that family drama, so I quoted her rendition in A Valentine’s Day love story: My grandmother elopes.

Then there are my Uncle Fred’s letters (he was one of my dad’s brothers) written to my paternal grandmother during World War II — expressing in his own words a longing for home during the holidays.

Quotes from contemporaries can also animate a family history story. Such as the reactions of friends and co-workers in “You’re going where?” when I told them I was headed to a U.S. Civil War reenactment. Or the initial communications from my Dempsey cousins in Shamrocks and Shared Heritage.

Do you have quotable ancestors, relatives or friends? Have you interviewed any of them? Inherited letters or other writings? Bringing them onstage can add depth to your narratives and enliven the events that shaped your ancestors lives.

Up next: Research, repositories and relaxation. Please stop back.

© 2016 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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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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