Tag Archives: Antonio Curcio

1897-1912: Evolution of a Shoe Shine Parlor

Sepia Saturday 587 and the Genealogy Blog Party. Thirteenth in a photo blog series on my maternal Italian ancestors from Gloversville, Fulton Co., N.Y.

The previous post chronicled the 1906-1917 Gloversville, N.Y., shoe shine careers of Michael and Vincenzo “Jimmy” Del Negro — the brothers of my maternal Italian second great-grandmother Antoinette (Del Negro) Curcio.

https://pixabay.com/photos/shoeshine-shoe-polish-shine-brush-72477/
Tools of the shoeshine trade. Photo: Pixabay

I wondered what more I could learn about the Del Negro brothers’ various work locations, which were listed in the Gloversville-Johnstown Business Directories. So I turned once more to Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps for the next phase of their story.

Evolution of a shoe shine parlor

Michael Del Negro moved to Gloversville, N.Y., in the late 1800s — buying property in 1896 from his sister and her husband Antonio Curcio and moving in with the Curcio family by 1900.

By 1909, he was the proprietor of Mike’s Shoe Shining Parlor at 12 N. Main Street — with a commercial listing under Boot Blacking in the Gloversville-Johnstown City Directory.[1]Gloversville, New York, City Directory, 1909, p. 385. Ancestry.com. U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line accessed 9 Aug. 2021]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Which made me wonder: what was the evolution of his shoe shining parlor?

In 1897, a Cigar Store operated at 12 N. Fulton St in Gloversville, N.Y., a small yellow wedge labeled Cigars on the lower left of this map. By 1909, Michael Del Negro operated Mike’s Shoe Shining Parlor from that location. What was the evolution of his parlor? Source: Library of Congress/Sanborn Map

The detail above — from an 1897 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map of Gloversville — shows that when Uncle Mike arrived in town, a cigar store operated at 12 N. Fulton St., the future premises his shoeshine parlor.

The tiny building labeled “Cigars” was a one-story, wedge-shaped wooden structure (yellow on the map) with a slate/tin roof in a long line of stores near the Kasson Opera House.

Uncle Mike builds his career

On the 1902 Sanborn map of Gloversville, the 12 N. Main St. building still housed a cigar store. However, on the 1907 map (see detail below) “Shoe Shining” was added to “Cigars” at that location — the same address Uncle Mike gave as his place of employment in the 1906 Gloversville-Johnstown Business Directory. The “x” indicates the tiny building then had a shingle roof.

https://www.loc.gov/resource/g3804gm.g3804gm_g059511907/?sp=21
In 1907, 12 N. Main St. offered Shoe Shining and Cigars as shown in this detail from the Sanborn Fire Insurance Map of Gloversville, N.Y. Michael Del Negro gave this as his work address in a 1906 city directory. Image: Library of Congress/Sanborn Maps

A shoe parlor of his own

Fast forward another five years and the cigar store is gone. The 1912 Sanborn map of Gloversville shows “Boot Black” as the sole business operating from 12 N. Main Street (below) — the address listed as Mike’s Shoe Shining Parlor in the 1909 Gloversville-Johnstown Business Directory.

 https://www.loc.gov/resource/g3804gm.g3804gm_g059511912/?sp=8
By 1912, 12 N. Main St. was exclusively a Boot Black parlor as shown in this detail from the Sanborn Fire Insurance Map of Gloversville, N.Y. Michael Del Negro listed “Mike’s Shoe Shining Parlor” at this address in a 1909 city directory. Image: Library of Congress/Sanborn Map

Not only that, but the neighborhood had improved. A fireproof bank with a clock dome had been constructed at the corner of E. Fulton St. and N. Main St., two doors down from Uncle Mike’s parlor — which undoubtedly added some foot traffic to his shop. And the shoe shine parlor had a black dot, indicating a composite roof.

Alas, the building that housed Uncle Mike’s shoe shine parlor at 12 N. Main St. has not survived — but many of the surrounding buildings have. In the next post, we’ll take a look at the once bustling Gloversville neighborhood that made shoe shining a successful career — including for Uncle Jimmy, who shined shoes at various other locations.

Up next: Modern and vintage photos of the Del Negro brothers’ workplaces. Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants. Then visit the September 2021 Genealogy Blog Party: What You Learned to check out the skills genealogy bloggers have shared.

© 2021 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

References

References
1 Gloversville, New York, City Directory, 1909, p. 385. Ancestry.com. U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line accessed 9 Aug. 2021]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.

The Del Negro brothers of Gloversville, N.Y.

Sepia Saturday 585. Eleventh in a photo blog series on my maternal Italian ancestors from Gloversville, Fulton Co., N.Y.

Although I try to focus on researching my direct forebears, my attention is inevitably drawn to collateral relatives — aunts, uncles, cousins and their families — who were part of my ancestors’ lives.

Case in point:  Vincenzo “Jimmy” Del Negro and Michael Del Negro — the brothers of my Italian second great-grandmother Antoinette (Del Negro) Curcio. So let’s take a brief detour to learn about them.

Bleeker Street near Fulton Street, Gloversville, N.Y. (circa 1900). My maternal Italian immigrant ancestors were just beginning to establish themselves on E. Fulton Street when this photo was taken. Image: Front Page Gloversville

Close ties from back home

My second great-grandparents Antonio and Antoinette (Del Negro) Curcio immigrated to the U.S. from Atena Lucana, Salerno, Campania, Italy — with Antonio arriving first then sending for Antoinette to join him, according to family oral history.

In Vincenzo Del Negro Witnesses a Wedding, I wrote about Antonio and Antoinette’s 1880 New York City civil marriage, which was witnessed by her brother Vincenzo — known in our family as “Jimmy.”

Subsequent census research revealed that Antoinette’s brother Michael Del Negro and his wife and children lived in the Curcio’s Gloversville household at 128 East Fulton Street from 1900-1910.

So close ties between the Curcios and Del Negros appear to have predated their arrival in the U.S. — and continued once they established their new Gloversville homes.

An interesting land record

I assumed that Michael’s residence in the Curcio household was a favor extended to a relative to help him and his family get established. However, I recently discovered an illuminating land record[1]FamilySearch requires free login to view records.that gave him a financial stake in a portion of the Curcio family property.

Gloversville Business Directory map detail (1868). In 1896, my second g-grandparents Antonio and Antoinette (Del Negro) Curcio sold a half-interest in their property at 128 E. Fulton Street — labeled E. Coon above — to Antoinette’s brother Michael for $1.00. Was there a legal reason for this sale? Image/scalable map at: NYPL Digital Collections

On Feb. 22, 1896, for the sum of $1.00, Antonio Curcio and his wife “Antonia” sold Michael Del Negro, of Amsterdam, N.Y.,  “one individual half interest” in the land they owned, which was “known as the Coon property” and located on the south side of E. Fulton Street in Gloversville.

The map detail above, from an 1868 Gloversville Business Directory,[2]Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division, The New York Public Library. “Gloversville Business Directory; Gloversville Fulton Co. N.Y. [Village]” New York Public Library Digital … Continue readingshows the name E. Coon on the 128 E. Fulton Street property that eventually became the Curcio’s home and business.

The 1896 land conveyance stipulates that Michael “shall not part with the ownership of the heretofore described premises without the written consent of Antonio Curcio.”[3]“United States, New York Land Records, 1630-1975,” database with images, FamilySearch … Continue reading

Detail from a 1902 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map showing the Curcio home at 128 East Fulton Street — top center with a letter D for dwelling — with the junk yard at the back and a Cobbler Shop (also a dwelling) next to the house.

The cobbler shop mystery

There must have been a legal reason why my second great-grandparents sold Michael Del Negro an individual half interest in their property for merely $1.00.

Which brings me back to the cobbler shop from the last post, which appears on Sanborn Fire Insurance maps of 128 E. Fulton Street beginning in 1902[4]Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Gloversville, Fulton County, New York. Sanborn Map Company, Oct, 1902. Map 20. Detail: Antonio Curcio Junk Shop at 128 E. Fulton, Gloversville, N.Y. … Continue reading.

As will be discussed in the next post, Antoinette’s brothers Jimmy and Michael worked as “bootblacks” in Gloversville, N.Y., shoe parlors.

So is it a stretch to imagine that they may have launched their careers from the cobbler shop on the Curcio property?

Did Michael need a financial stake in the property in order to legally open/operate a business? And how did Jimmy come into the picture?

Up next: The Del Negro brothers’ shoe parlor careers. Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants.

© 2021 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

References

References
1 FamilySearch requires free login to view records.
2 Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division, The New York Public Library. “Gloversville Business Directory; Gloversville Fulton Co. N.Y. [Village]” New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1868. Accessed August 28, 2021. https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e3-6f06-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
3 “United States, New York Land Records, 1630-1975,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9WC-635K?cc=2078654&wc=M7H1-QP6%3A358134701%2C358862601 : [Accessed 27 Aug. 2021]), Fulton > Deeds 1894-1904 vol 90-91 > image 357 of 619; multiple county courthouses, New York.
4 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Gloversville, Fulton County, New York. Sanborn Map Company, Oct, 1902. Map 20. Detail: Antonio Curcio Junk Shop at 128 E. Fulton, Gloversville, N.Y. https://www.loc.gov/item/sanborn05951_004/ Accessed 12 Aug. 2021.

1902-1912: A tale of three junkyards

Sepia Saturday 584 and the Genealogy Blog Party. Tenth in a photo blog series on my maternal Italian ancestors from Gloversville, Fulton Co., N.Y.

In the last post, I included a detail from a 1912 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map showing the Gloversville, Fulton Co., N.Y., home of my great-grandparents Peter and Mary (Curcio) Laurence, who lived with Mary’s parents — and my second great-grandparents  — Antonio and Antoinette (Del Negro) Curcio.

Main and Fulton Streets, Gloversville, N.Y. (circa 1900). This vintage post card shows the commercial area of Gloversville in its heyday. The Curcio-Laurence Junk Yard at 128 E. Fulton Street was located blocks away on the outskirts of town — so far out that it was not included on Sanborn maps until 1902. Source: Front Page Gloversville

Behind the house at 128 East Fulton Street in 1912 was the outline of the A. Curcio Junk Yard, where Peter worked — which was owned and operated by Mary’s father. But I wondered, had it always looked this way?

So back I went to the digital Sanborn maps to see how the house and family business had changed over time — and what else I might learn about my direct and collateral Italian relatives.

The 1912 map

Detail from a 1912 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map showing the one-story Curcio home at 128 East Fulton Street — top center with a letter D for dwelling — with the junk yard at the back.

The Sanborn map from 1912[1]Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Gloversville, Fulton County, New York. Sanborn Map Company, Oct, 1912. Map 15. Detail: A. Curio Junk Yard at 128 E. Fulton Street, Gloversville, N.Y. … Continue readingis the most recent rendition of the house and junkyard on the family property — prominently labeled A. Curcio Junk Yard. Here’s what the map tells us:

  • All images are yellow, indicating they are wood-framed structures with either a slate/tin roof (o), a shingle roof (x) or a composition roof (dark dot).
  • There are three dwellings (labeled D) along Fulton St. at the top of the image: A 2-story barber shop, with dwelling above, at 126 1/2 ; the 1-story Curcio-Laurence home at 128, with a dotted line indicating a front porch and a large eat-in kitchen at the back; and a 1-story cobbler shop, also labeled as a dwelling.
  • There is a set of scales between the Curcio home and the cobbler shop — enabling items to be valued by weight.
  • There is a 2-story building labeled Junk at 128 1/2, which likely held the business’s recyclable items.
  • The back of the lot is labeled Scrap Iron Yard.
Detail from a 1907 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map showing the one-story Curcio home at 128 East Fulton Street — top center with a letter D for dwelling — with the junk yard at the back.

The 1907 map

The Sanborn map from 1907[2]Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Gloversville, Fulton County, New York. Sanborn Map Company, Oct, 1907. Map 28. Detail: Antonio Curcio Junk Yard, 128 E Fulton St., Gloversville, N.Y. … Continue reading shows the home and junkyard five years earlier. Much is similar — the woodframe dwellings, the barber shop, the cobbler shop, the scales.

However, the 2-story woodframe recyclables repository is labeled Junk Shop — and there is no scrap iron yard at the back.

Was the scrap iron yard an innovation added by my great-grandfather Peter once he joined the business? Or was it merely a logical expansion of the junk business as automobiles and other large metal items became more commonplace?

Detail from a 1902 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map showing the one-story Curcio home at 128 East Fulton Street — top center with a letter D for dwelling — with the junk yard at the back.

The 1902 map

The earliest 1902 Sanborn map[3]Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Gloversville, Fulton County, New York. Sanborn Map Company, Oct, 1902. Map 20. Detail: Antonio Curcio Junk Shop at 128 E. Fulton, Gloversville, N.Y. … Continue readingshows a much less developed property at 128 E. Fulton Street:

  • No upstairs dwelling above the 2-story barber shop — nor are there any additional buildings/sheds behind it.
  • No scales between the Curcio home and the cobbler shop.
  • The Junk Shop is the same at 128 1/2 — but A. Curcio’s name does not yet appear, and it is colored green on this map as a “special” building.
  • No scrap metal yard yet — nor anything else at the back of the property.

The tale of three junkyards

My Italian immigrant great-grandfather Peter D. Laurence (nee Pietro di Lorenzo) joined the Curcio household when he married my great-grandmother Mary circa 1901.  So when the 1902 Sanborn map of Gloversville was created, Peter was new to the Curcio family business.

By 1907, however, he’d been working for Antonio Curcio & Co. for five years — and a set of scales had been added to the property to value items by weight.

After another five years, in 1912, a Scrap Iron Yard became part of the family business — creating an additional revenue stream.

A place for Antoinette’s brothers?

Another item of interest on all three maps is the cobbler shop, which was also a dwelling. Could this have been a residence and/or place of employment for Antoinette (Del Negro) Curcio’s brothers — Michael and Vincenzo “Jimmy”  Del Negro?

Both brothers gave their occupation as “boot black” in several censuses and — as discussed in the last blog post — Michael and his family were enumerated in censuses with the Curcio household at 128 E. Fulton St. in 1905 and 1910. Did they actually live behind the cobbler shop? Did he and Jimmy work there? More questions — and new research to do!

Up next: The Del Negro brothers of Gloversville, N.Y. Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants. Then visit the September 2021 Genealogy Blog Party: What  You Learned to check out the skills that genealogy bloggers have shared.

© 2021 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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References

References
1 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Gloversville, Fulton County, New York. Sanborn Map Company, Oct, 1912. Map 15. Detail: A. Curio Junk Yard at 128 E. Fulton Street, Gloversville, N.Y. https://www.loc.gov/item/sanborn05951_006/. Accessed 12 Aug 2021.
2 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Gloversville, Fulton County, New York. Sanborn Map Company, Oct, 1907. Map 28. Detail: Antonio Curcio Junk Yard, 128 E Fulton St., Gloversville, N.Y. https://www.loc.gov/item/sanborn05951_005/. Accessed 12 Aug. 2021.
3 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Gloversville, Fulton County, New York. Sanborn Map Company, Oct, 1902. Map 20. Detail: Antonio Curcio Junk Shop at 128 E. Fulton, Gloversville, N.Y. https://www.loc.gov/item/sanborn05951_004/ Accessed 12 Aug. 2021.