Tag Archives: Antonio W. Laurence

Italian Ancestors and Indian Arrowheads #AtoZChallenge

I is for Italian Ancestors and Indian Arrowheads. Ninth of twenty-six posts in the April 2020 Blogging From A to Z Challenge on the theme “Endwell: My Elementary Years”— where my genealogy journey germinated. Wish me luck!

One of the big area employers during my elementary years was the Endicott Johnson Corporation — a mass manufacturer of shoes.

EJ, as everyone called it, recruited workers from southern and Eastern Europe. This explained the large Italian and Czech populations in Endwell, N.Y. where I lived — and their closeness to their immigrant heritage, which was only one or two generations away.

I, on the other hand, was a motley mix of French, English, Irish, Welsh and Swiss on my dad’s side and German and Italian on my mom’s — all many generations back. Yet I longed for a more definitive ancestral identity to mesh with my playmates. Enter my Italian ancestors.

Four generations of Italian heritage (1956). Photo: Norman J. Charboneau

Just Italian enough

I took after my dad’s side — tall, fair with blue eyes and a mercurial Irish temper — but whenever my little neighbors or classmates rolled out their single-ethnic heritage I would chime up, “My mom is half Italian.” And just like that, I fit in.

Not only that, I had proof. Right before we moved to Endwell, our family went to Gloversville, N.Y. to visit my great grandmother Mamie (Curcio) Laurence [an anglicized version of Di Lorenzo] — and my dad snapped a picture.

Gathered on the steps of my Italian ancestors’ East Fulton St. home (shown above) are my great grandmother Mamie, my grandfather Antonio (Tony) Laurence, my mom Peg (Laurence) Charboneau along with me and my brothers — four generations of Italian-Americans all in one spot. So even if I wasn’t all Italian, I was still Italian enough to get by during my elementary years!

Indian arrowheads

Yet there was another heritage underlying our neighborhood that predated us all  — that of the Native American people who were early guardians of the land and inhabited the area before settlers arrived.

Depiction of a Susquehannock on the Smith Map (1624). The handwritten caption reads “The Susquehannocks are a giant-like people and thus attired.”  The Susquehannock people, whose original tribal name has been lost, lived along the Susquehanna River until displaced by settlers. Source: Wikimedia Commons

On my street —  just one block from the Susquehanna River — pretty much any digging with a backhoe unearthed carefully chiseled arrowheads.

These exquisite projectiles bore historic testimony to the sheer numbers of displaced Native people — like the Susquehannocks and others — who for generations had lived, planted, hunted and fished along same shores where I later lived during my elementary years.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Native_American_arrowheads.JPG
Indian arrowheads (2006). On my street, just one block from the Susquehanna River, pretty much any digging with a backhoe unearthed carefully chiseled arrowheads — tangible traces of the rich Native culture that preceded us. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The history of these Native people was not taught at Hooper School, so we kids had to learn what we could from Mr. Hughes — one of our street’s earliest residents.

He had a chest filled with arrowheads and other artifacts — unearthed as our houses were built — and once a year he’d invite us kids in to look over the amazing collection.

Our ancestors had been immigrants. But in Mr. Hughes’s living room we learned that a rich Native culture had preceded us — leaving tangible traces for us to discover many centuries later.

Up next: J is for Jello and other culinary delights. Please stop back! 

© 2020 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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Grandparents and Aunt Rita #AtoZChallenge

G is for Grandparents and Aunt Rita. Seventh of twenty-six posts in the April 2020 Blogging From A to Z Challenge on the theme “Endwell: My Elementary Years”— where my genealogy journey germinated. Wish me luck!

Before my brothers were born, my early childhood family team was my parents, maternal grandparents (Tony and Liz Laurence, who we called Boom and Gramps) and my mom’s younger sister Aunt Rita. We shared a large farmhouse with my grandparents in Altamont, N.Y. — and Aunt Rita lived nearby in Albany.

Maternal grandparents and Aunt Rita

But families grow and change. So along came my brothers, then dad got a transfer to the Binghamton area from his GE job in Schenectady — and before you knew it we were arriving in Endwell and my grandparents and aunt became episodic visitors.

Christmas 1958: A visit from my mom’s parents Boom and Gramps and her sister Aunt Rita. The baby doll notwithstanding, I also got a new bike that year (parked behind me) which gave me freedom of travel around the neighborhood with my many neighborhood friends. Photo: Norman J. Charboneau

The holiday schedule

During my elementary years, my parents worked out an equitable holiday schedule. My maternal grandparents came to our house for Christmas — and as shown above, my Aunt Rita joined them before her eventual move to San Diego, California. For Thanksgiving and Easter, we piled into the car for the three-hour drive back to my grandparents’ house at the farm.

In the summer, my brothers and I would travel on our own by train (and later bus) to visit Boom and Gramps. I went by myself at first — boarding the Delaware and Hudson Railroad in Johnson City, N.Y. and debarking at the Altamont train station, where my grandmother met me.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/7327243@N05/5462930480
Landmarked Altamont, N.Y. train station, now used as a library (2011). I traveled on my own to visit my mom’s parents, boarding the Delaware and Hudson Railroad in Johnson City, N.Y. and debarking at the Altamont train station, where my grandmother met me. Photo: Doug Kerr, Altamont, N.Y.

Later my mom sent my younger brother Mark with me — and I spent much of the trip distracting him, especially when the train went through a dark, frightening tunnel en route.

A spirit of independence

When train service ended, my mom put us on the bus. Usually, I went by myself for a week (my grandmother was in charge of me) and my brothers traveled together for a separate visit (overseen by Gramps).

“I would never send you alone today,” my mom told me years later. “But back then, things were safer.” And I’m glad they were — because those lone trips to visit my maternal grandparents fostered a spirit of independence during my elementary years.

Visiting Grandpa Charboneau

My dad’s father, William Ray Charboneau, was another story. Grandpa Charboneau was was older than my mom’s parents — and a widower [my paternal grandmother Mary “Molly” (Owen) Charboneau had died when was 4]. So it was on our  family to drive north of Utica, N.Y. to visit him and my dad’s brothers, who lived nearby.

My dad’s father, Grandpa Charboneau (1958). Grandpa C was a widower and older than my mom’s parents, so it was on our family to drive north of Utica, N.Y. to visit him and my dad’s brothers, who lived nearby. Photo: Norman J. Charboneau

Grandpa Charboneau lived in a small house in Holland Patent, N.Y. (such a cool name, I thought) with a stream out back and an elementary school across the street. Around the corner, my dad’s oldest brother Uncle Owen and Aunt Gig ran a grocery/convenience store, which they lived above with Gig’s mother “Ma Mere.”

Grandpa Charboneau’s house as it looks today (2015). Visiting my dad’s father wasn’t as much fun as visiting my mom’s parents at the farm. Much better was stopping by my Uncle Owen’s grocery/convenience store near Grandpa C’s house. Photo: Molly Charboneau

Visiting Grandpa Charboneau’s house wasn’t as much fun as visiting the farm — but my brothers and I made due with fishing for pollywogs in the creek out back or hitting the playground at the school across the street.

Much better was stopping at Uncle Owen’s store and climbing up the stairs to the cozy apartment above — an experience that so impressed my brother Mark that he went on to a career in the supermarket industry, including a brief stint as a small grocery proprietor.

So although we kids had no nearby relatives during my elementary years, my parents did a good job of keeping us connected to extended family — an effort I appreciate as I continue researching my ancestral heritage.

Up next: H is for Howdy Doody and Hooper School. Please stop back.

© 2020 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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A Stoutner by any other surname variant

Sepia Saturday 507. First in a new series my maternal German ancestors of Gloversville, Fulton Co., N.Y. — starting with the Stoutner family.

The 1926 birth of my mother Margaret Antoinette Laurence linked four immigrant families in Gloversville, Fulton Co., N.Y.  Shown are my grandparents proudly holding my mom, their firstborn child — who went by Peggy in her youth, shortened to Peg as an adult.

Proud parents. My maternal grandparents Tony and  Liz (Stoutner) Laurence proudly pose outside their Gloversville, N.Y., home with my mom Peggy shortly after her 1926 birth. Their marriage brought together four immigrant family lines — Laurence [DiLorenzo], Curcio, Mimm and Stoutner — and opened the door to some interesting genealogy research for descendants like me. Photo scan by Molly Charboneau
My mom’s father Anthony W. “Tony” Laurence was Italian-American. His father Peter Laurence [nee DiLorenzo] arrived from Italy’s Campania region circa 1895 and married U.S.-born Mary “Mamie” Curcio, whose parents had immigrated earlier from the same area.

My mom’s mother Elizabeth Christina “Liz” Stoutner was German-American. The parents of her mother Celia Mimm had immigrated from Baden-Württemburg, and the forebears of her dad Andrew J. “Pete” Stoutner hailed from Prussia.

Ah, those surname variants

Thus begins the journey to unpack my maternal ancestry one family at a time — starting with the Stoutners. And as with many immigrants, right away there is the challenge of surname variants.

My grandmother and her siblings went by Stoutner — spelled just that way — and her dad’s generation seems to have done the same, judging by census and other records.

But was that the original surname of my immigrant great-great grandfather Andrew Stoutner? Maybe not.

While pursuing city directories for Gloversville, Fulton Co., N.Y., I found the spelling of “Stoutner” had changed over the years — with at least two possible surname variants emerging, as shown below

Gloversville, Kingsboro and Johnstown City Directories – Fulton Couty, N.Y. – Various Listings for Andrew Stoutner – 1875-1890
Year Name Occupation Residence
1875 Stautner Andrew brickmaker house 1 Wells
1879-80 Stoudner Andrew brick maker 1 Wells
1880-81 Stoudner Andrew brickmaker 1 Wells
1882 Stautner Andrew Brick mnfr., off . Fulton, out corp. 4 Wells
1885-1890 Stoutner Andrew Brick mnfr., off . Fulton, out corp. 4 Wells

In addition to Stautner and Stoudner, I have found several other variations during online searches — including Staudtner, Staudner, Stettner, Steudner, and Statner. So what’s a descendant to do? Take it step by step, name by name, and see what turns up!

Fortunately, Stoutner eventually became the preferred surname spelling of my ancestors in Gloversville city directories, census enumerations and newspaper articles. So at least for U.S. research, this surname spelling should yield results.

A new Stoutner address?

One other discovery in my preliminary Stoutner sleuthing was a new address — 1 Wells St. — for Andrew and his family from 1875-1881.

My mother was familiar with the brick home he built across the street at 4 Well St.  She and I visited and photographed that house on a 1992 genealogy road trip to her Gloversville hometown.

So what more can I find out about these homes? Quite a bit, it turns out — thanks to the Internet and various real estate and other online sites. Stay tuned for new house-hunting discoveries in the next post.

Up Next: The Stoutner homes on Wells Street –– second in a new series about my maternal ancestors. Please stop back! Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants here.

© 2020 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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