Tag Archives: Antonio W. Laurence

1910: The di Lorenzo brothers and the Societa Silvio Pellico

Sepia Saturday 580. Sixth in a photo blog series on my maternal Italian ancestors from Gloversville, Fulton Co., N.Y.

A blog series featuring photos of my maternal Italian ancestors from the Laurence-di Lorenzo-Curcio family album. Photo: Molly Charboneau

On Sept. 4, 1910, a unique gathering of Italian immigrants and Italian Americans took place in Gloversville, Fulton Co., N.Y. — featuring two generations of my maternal ancestors and collateral relatives.

The event was an outdoor get-together of the Societa Silvio Pellico — likely an Italian fraternal organization, given the absence of women.

For the special occasion, the society apparently hired a professional photographer — who thankfully captured an image that holds pride of place in my family photo collection.

A unique family-community portrait

The original photo was fading when I received it, so I had it professionally copied and enhanced — asking that the identifying markings be retained.

Below is the conserved image — a unique portrait that places my Laurence-di Lorenzo ancestors in their vibrant Italian community in Gloversville, N.Y., in 1910.

Societa Silvo Pellico in Gloversville, N.Y. (Sept. 4, 1910). My maternal great-grandfather Peter, his brother Antonio, my grandfather Tony and other family members attended this unique gathering. Photo: Charboneau-Laurence Family Collection

Who’s Who in the Silvio Pellico Society

There is much to say about this remarkable photo — so let’s begin with a “Who’s Who” of the various relatives appearing in it.

In the front row, seated at left, is my maternal Italian great-grandfather Peter D. Laurence (nee Pietro di Lorenzo) — looking jaunty with his bushy mustache and wearing a white apron. He appears to be serving something out of the basin in front of him. Is it wine? Is it beer? Is it what some of the men are drinking from their little glass mugs?

Also in front, kneeling and looking handsome in a white shirt, black vest and bow tie, is Peter’s brother — my great-granduncle Antonio di Lorenzo, who came to the U.S. in 1902 but eventually went back to Italy. His appearance in this 1910 photo indicates he stayed for at least eight years.

Sitting behind Uncle Antonio, wearing a bowler hat, is Antimo Ferrara — an Italian immigrant and one of Peter’s brothers-in-law. Antimo married Julia Curcio (sister of Peter’s wife Mary Curcio), which brought him into our family orbit. They moved to nearby Amsterdam, N.Y., and had two children — Carl and Marie/Mary (as noted on the frame below his image).

Societa Silvio Pellico of Gloversville, N.Y. (Sept. 4,, 1910). From the original photo, a closer view of my great grandfather Peter (left with apron), his brother Antonio (center with vest) and Antimo Ferrara (in bowlser hat behind Antonio.) What is the significance of the tag or ribbon worn by Uncle Antonio and some of the others, including the man at right? Photo: Charboneau-Laurence Family Collection

On the edge of the building roof

At the back of the group is a row of men and boys sitting on the edge of a building roof — among them more family members.

Seated third from the right on the roof, wearing a white apron and toasting with a little glass mug, is Frank Somella — also from Italy and another of Peter’s brothers-in-law. Frank joined the family when he married Millie Curcio (another sister of Peter’s wife Mary Curcio). They had two children, Anthony and Marie — and for a time the Somella family lived with my great grandparents.

Next to Frank is a little boy with “Tony” penned over his image. That’s Peter’s older son — and my maternal grandfather — Antonio W. Laurence (aka Gramps to me and my siblings).

Societa Silvio Pellico of Gloversville, N.Y. (Sept. 4,, 1910). From the original photo, a more focused view of family members seated on the building ledge. Frank Somella (seated fourth from right, wearing an apron), my grandfather Antonio Laurence (fifth from right, the boy seated in front of Frank) and my grandfather’s brother Joe Laurence (the boy dressed in light clothes, seated eighth from left). Photo: Charboneau-Laurence Family Collection

Rounding out the family group is the little boy seated eighth from the left on the roof with “Joe” penned over his image. That’s Peter’s younger son Joseph B. Laurence — Gramps’s brother, known to us as Uncle Joe.

May questions about the photo

Having found and restored the photo, and identified family members in it, I had to wonder about the context of this gathering and the Italian society that convened it — and even arranged to have it photographed.

Was it a special celebration? An annual warm-weather event? Peter, Antonio, Frank and Antimo were all from Italy — did they know one another from back home? Were all the adults in the photo immigrants, too?

Who was Silvio Pellico, for whom their society was named? And what is the significance of the tags or ribbons worn by some of the men, including Uncle Antonio? Lots of questions — and some interesting answers — starting with the next post.

Up next: Silvio Pellico and the Italian Risorgimento. Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants.

© 2021 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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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.

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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.

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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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