When my dad first told me about his Uncle Albert Barney Charboneau, who died at age 33 in the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918, he didn’t know any details.
“Well, it makes sense that the family wouldn’t talk about it,” I observed. “It must have been such a shock.”
“Oh, the family talked about Albert and what happened to him all the time,” Dad said. “I just can’t remember anything specific.” Dad was born six years after Albert died, so what he knew came from family oral history.
An elder brother remembered
Yet the place first-born son Albert (b. 1885) held in the Charboneau family of Dolgeville, N.Y., was acknowledged in loving acts by his three younger brothers — both during his lifetime and after.
My paternal grandfather William Ray Charboneau (b. 1888) was the next brother in line after Uncle Albert. And when his first son (my dad’s oldest brother) was born in 1911, he named him Owen Albert. Owen was for the maiden name of his wife Mary Frances Owen and Albert was for his oldest brother.
The next Charboneau brother Orville Nile “Tom” (b. 1892) missed Albert’s 1918 funeral because he was serving on coastal defense during WWI. On 25 Oct. 1920, Uncle Tom married his first wife Lena — and when their son was born in 1922 they named him Albert Bernard Charboneau (who went by Bud) in honor of his late uncle.
George Dewey Charboneau (b. 1899), the youngest, paid his own unique tribute to his oldest brother. Like Albert, he became active in the Dolgeville Masons and worked his way up to Worshipful Master of the lodge — the same post his brother Albert held in 1918, the year he died.
Today, the brothers’ photographs hang near one another on Lodge 796’s memorial wall to past leaders.
Bidding farewell to Uncle Albert
And this year was my turn to honor my childless Granduncle Albert by chronicling his life and its untimely end during the 1918 influenza pandemic — and by letting his experience 102 years ago inform those of us going through the coronavirus pandemic today.
Molly’s Canopy will run a brief epilogue to his story, exploring the life of his widow Annie (Miller) Charboneau.
But for now, in tribute to Albert Barney “Bert” Charboneau, here in chronological sequence are the other posts in this series. Comments are still open on the later posts.
Intro and Albert’s childhood
- Uncle Albert and the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918
- 1885: First born son, Albert Barney Charboneau
- 1908: Albert Charboneau leaves Hawkinsville, N.Y.
Albert’s work, family and fraternal life
- 1908: Albert Charboneau moves to Dolgeville, N.Y.
- 1874-1910: The sparkling lure of Dolgeville, N.Y.
- Albert Charboneau: A lumberman in love
- 1912: Wedding bells for Albert and Annie (Miller) Charboneau
- 1915: Uncle Albert joins the Masons and the Odd Fellows
Albert and the Charboneau brothers in WWI
- 1917: Uncle Albert and the Charboneau Doughboys
- 1918: Charboneau brothers Albert and Ray in WWI
- 1918: The brief WWI service of Uncles Tom and Dewey Charboneau
Albert succumbs in the 1918 influenza
- 1918: A severe influenza emerges in Kansas
- The deadly 1918 influenza spreads — around the world and back to Dolgeville, N.Y.
- The 1918 influenza strikes the Mohawk Valley
- 1918: Albert B. Charboneau falls ill with influenza
- 1918: Albert B. Charboneau succumbs to pandemic influenza
- The medical mystery of Uncle Albert and the 1918 pandemic
Up next: The widowhood of Annie (Miller) Charboneau. Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants here.
© 2020 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.