The widowhood of Annie E. (Miller) Charboneau (1885-1968)

Sepia Saturday 549. Postscript to the series about Albert Barney Charboneau — my paternal grandfather’s brother who died in the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918.

Annie E. (Miller) Charboneau circa 1912. Scan by Molly Charboneau

The death of my dad’s Uncle Albert Barney Charboneau in the 1918 influenza pandemic was a blow to the Dolgeville, N.Y., Charboneau family — and particularly to his wife, Annie E. (Miller) Charboneau.

She and Albert had only been married six years when he passed, leaving her a widow at age 33 — and I assumed she went on alone, since she is buried beside him in the Dolgeville Cemetery.

An online clue

Yet genealogy research is full of surprises — and one was the discovery that Annie married a second time! The clue to her second marriage came from a note left by a nephew on the Find-a-Grave listing I created for her.

She was a daughter of Charles and Mary Gray Miller. She was twice married. She married Albert B. Charbonneau in 1912. He died in 1918. She was married to Frank Gleason in 1930. He died in 1938. She leaves a nephew, Richard George, Camp Hill, PA

I was happy he left the note, because I hated the idea of Annie having a long, lone widowhood after the traumatic loss of Albert.

Annie (Miller) Charboneau in Dolgeville, N.Y. (circa 1916). Annie is shown here with her younger brother Arthur in a photo that may have been taken by her first husband Albert Barney Charboneau. Scan by Molly Charboneau

Second marriage and widowhood

I checked the New York State Marriage Index for 1930 online, and sure enough — the second marriage of Annie Charboneau (indexed as Charbonean) took place on 3 April 1930 in Dolgeville, N.Y., with the same certificate number as Frank Gleason.

I found only one WWI draft registration card for a Frank Gleason in the Little Falls-Dolgeville area. If this was Annie’s second husband, he could not have been more different from tall, robust, dark-haired Uncle Albert. Frank, a china moulder, was described as short, of medium build, with brown eyes and light hair.

Unfortunately, Annie’s second marriage did not last much longer than her first — she lost Frank on 14 April 1938, as confirmed by the New York State Death Index for that year.

A working woman

Annie did not have children with either of her husbands — and she appears to have continued working outside the home throughout both of her marriages and beyond.

She was mainly employed by the Dolgeville shoe factory once owned by Alfred Dolge, and later by Daniel Green Co. However, federal and state census entries indicate that Annie also worked as an Auxiliary Clerk at the Dolgeville post office (in 1920) and supervisor of a school cafeteria (in 1925).

Albert B. and Annie E. (Miller) Charboneau circa 1912. Cruelly parted by the 1918 influenza pandemic, they are buried together in Dolgeville Cemetery. Scan by Molly Charboneau

When Uncle Albert died in 1918, Annie remained in their home at 42 State Street in Dolgeville. She was enumerated there as Annie Gleason, 54, along with her widowed father Charles in the 1940 U.S. census.[1]FamilySearch requires free sign in to view records.She was then working as a sole closer.

Annie’s immediate family appears to have been a tremendous support after Albert’s death — her parents moving in with her at the State Street home in 1920 and living with her until the end of each their lives.

Their support likely enabled her to keep her longtime home. In 1953, she appears as Anna Gleason, widow of Frank, at the same State Street address in the Little Falls-Dolgeville City Directory.

Reunited in the end

Annie lived another fifty years after the untimely death of her first husband, my dad’s Uncle Albert. She passed on Christmas Day (25 Dec. 1968) in her Dolgeville, N.Y., hometown.

Dolgeville Cemetery graves of Albert and Annie (Miller) Charboneau before a central Charboneau stone, Dolgeville, Herkimer Co., N.Y. (2015). Photo: Molly Charboneau

And in the end, she was buried next to Uncle Albert on the Charboneau plot in the Dolgeville Cemetery — where they remain reunited to this day.

Up next: A holiday break for Molly’s Canopy. Regular blogging will resume in January 2021. Meanwhile, during December, please visit the blogs of the intrepid Sepia Saturday participants here.

© 2020 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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1 FamilySearch requires free sign in to view records.

Bidding farewell to Uncle Albert Barney Charboneau…and series recap

Sepia Saturday 548Eighteenth and final in a series about Albert Barney Charboneau — my paternal grandfather’s brother who died in the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918.

Albert Barney Charboneau circa 1910. Scan by Molly Charboneau

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.

Albert Barney Charboneau (1885-1918) looking dapper in Dolgeville, N.Y. (undated). Scan by Molly Charboneau

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.

Dolgeville Masons Lodge 796 photos of brothers Albert Barney Charboneau (in 1918) and George Dewey Charboneau (in 1930). The lighting was bad and the photos were behind glass, so this photo is not the best. But Uncle Albert is at upper left and Uncle Dewey is at lower right on the memorial wall to past lodge leaders. Photo by Molly Charboneau

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

Albert’s work, family and fraternal life

Albert and the Charboneau brothers in WWI

Albert succumbs in the 1918 influenza

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.

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The medical mystery of Uncle Albert and the 1918 pandemic

Sepia Saturday 547Seventeenth in a series about Albert Barney Charboneau — my paternal grandfather’s brother who died in the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918.

Albert Barney Charboneau circa 1910. Scan by Molly Charboneau

When the 1918 influenza pandemic swept through Dolgeville, N.Y. — where my dad’s ancestors lived — only his Uncle Albert, 33, caught the dreaded virus and died.

“Nobody else in the family caught it, only Albert,” he told me — and I had to wonder why.

Of the four Charboneau brothers, Albert was the oldest and seemingly the most robust — with enough energy to hold a full-time job as foreman of woodwork in Julius Breckwoldt’s piano-related lumber works and be active in fraternal groups besides.

He was described as tall and stout when he registered for the WWI draft — and photos of Albert with his wife’s family, the Millers, bear out his stature.

The Charboneau brothers (circa 1910). From left, my paternal grandfather William Ray (b. 1888) and his brothers Albert Barney (b. 1885), George Dewey (b. 1899) and Orville Nile (b. 1892). Albert was the oldest and seemingly the most robust. Why did he catch and die from the 1918 influenza? Scan by Molly Charboneau

A medical mystery

As we have learned from the current COVID-19 pandemic, viruses behave in specific ways that provoke an immune response — sometimes so strong it overwhelms their human host.

Scientists have speculated that this may be why the 1918 influenza took a heavy toll among the young and robust — such as the WWI troops — many of whom did not survive their body’s strong immune response.

Perhaps that was the case with Albert. His Utica Herald-Dispatch obituary, on 24 Oct. 1918, said he died from pneumonia after contracting influenza — possibly brought on by a powerful immune response in the lungs.

Uncle Alert Charboneau with his in-laws (undated). From right, father-in-law Charles Miller, Albert, brother-in-law Arthur Miller, wife Annie Miller and mother-in-law Mary Miller. Albert towers over everyone in this photo — yet he was felled in 1918 by the pandemic flu. Scan by Molly Charboneau

An obituary clue

As with today’s coronavirus, those with pre-existing medical conditions also likely fared worse during the 1918 influenza pandemic. And according to Albert’s obituary in the Little Falls and Courier (29 Oct. 1918), he had a co-morbidity that made him vulnerable.

Albert B. Charbonneau passed away Wednesday afternoon at his home on State street, after making a valiant fight against Bright’s disease superceded [sic] by influenza.

Bright’s disease was a term used at that time to describe chronic inflammatory disease of the kidneys (today called nephritis) — often accompanied by high blood pressure, heart disease and excess weight.

Events and gatherings

Finally there was Albert’s role at work and in his fraternal groups — all of which required his presence at large gatherings where he could have caught the flu before social distancing was widely encouraged.

Adirondack lumber camp mess hall (1912). Crowded conditions in lumber camps could have spread the 1918 influenza. Was Uncle Albert exposed on trips to the camps? Photo: NYSA

The influenza was prevalent in the U.S. Navy during the fall of 1918, and Naval officers visited Julius Breckwoldt’s lumber company, where Albert worked, to select wood for seaplanes. Could they have exposed him to influenza?

As foreman of woodwork, Albert may also have visited Breckwoldt’s crowded lumber camps — with or without Naval officers — to see about wood supplies for the piano factory. Could he have caught it there?

Finally, as the head of the Dolgeville Mason’s lodge, Albert would have been in demand for ceremonies, member funerals and other gatherings — any of which could have been influenza-spreading events in the fall of 1918.

Many of these questions will remain unanswered. Yet however he caught the influenza, and whatever his risk factors, Uncle Albert’s death from the 1918 influenza left a hole in the Charboneau family of Dolgeville, N.Y. — and they never forgot him.

Next in this series: Bidding farewell to Uncle Albert. Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants here.

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Growing family trees one leaf at a time