Tag Archives: Frank Somella

The Laurence Family’s Wells St. Home In Gloversville, N.Y.

Sepia Saturday 600. Twenty-second in a photo blog series on my maternal Italian ancestors from Gloversville, Fulton Co., N.Y.

By the time the 1920 federal census[1]FamilySearch requires free login to view 1920 census records. was taken, my great-grandparents Peter and Mary (Curcio) Laurence/di Lorenzo had moved with their sons Tony and Joe into a newly-built home of their own at 12 Wells St. in Gloversville, Fulton County, N.Y.

They may have moved there as early as 1917, since Peter gave a Wells St. address when he registered, at 45, for the WWI draft.[2]FamilySearch requires free login to view WWI draft records.

Circa 1923: The Laurence/di Lorenzo family on the front steps of 12 Wells Street, Gloversville, N.Y. From left, Joseph B. Laurence, Mary (Curcio) Laurence, Antonio W. “Tony” Laurence and Peter Laurence (nee Pietro di Lorenzo). Scan by Molly Charboneau

The large Laurence house was right around the corner from the home of Mary’s parents, Antonio and Antoinette (Del Negro) Curcio, at 128 E. Fulton Street.

A home of their own

How proud Peter and Mary must have been to finally have a home of their own where their teenage sons could grow into adulthood. The Wells St. house even had a barn out back for Peter’s horse and vehicles — and was within walking distance of the junk dealership he took over from Mary’s father.

The wide steps where they posed, above, led to an open side porch to the right. Later owners narrowed the front steps and enclosed the side porch — as shown in the 1992 photo of the house below.

1992: Former home of the Laurence/di Lorenzo familiy in Gloversville, Fulton Co., N.Y. The house originally had wide front steps and an open side porch. Later owners narrowed the front steps and enclosed the porch. Photo by Molly Charboneau

My mom’s Wells St. connection

In 1992, my mom — Peg (Laurence) Charboneau — and I took a family history grand tour of her Gloversville, N.Y., hometown. One of our stops was the former Laurence home at 12 Wells St.

After taking the above photo, I noticed Mom looking wistfully up at the house. That’s when she made an unexpected revelation.

“I was born in that house,” she said. Wow, this was news to me. My siblings and I are from the Baby Boom generation — and we were all born in hospitals.

My grandfather Tony holding my mom Peggy, born 4 May 1926. This photo appears to have been taken outside 12 Well St. — possibly by my grandmother Elizabeth (Stoutner) Laurence, a photo buff who is not pictured. Penciled on the back is “May 1926, Tony & Peggy.” Scan by Molly Charboneau

So, I was astonished to learn my mom had been born at home — and in her grandparents’ house at that. Yet after researching my Italian ancestors, I am no longer surprised at mom’s home birth.

Welcoming extended family

In true Italian fashion, my Laurence ancestors quickly opened their home to extended family — starting with their oldest son.

After my grandfather Tony and my grandmother Elizabeth Stoutner got married in 1924, they set up house with the Laurences at 12 Well St. and lived there for several years, through the 1926 birth of my mother Peggy — their first child and the Laurences’ first grandchild.

Nov. 1926: A studio portrait of my mom Peggy at 6 months. My maternal grandmother Elizabeth , who was a fashionable dresser, seems to have gone all out on my mom’s cute winter outfit. Scan by Molly Charboneau

By 1930, the federal census shows[3]FamilySearch requires free login to view 1930 census records that my grandparents Tony (by then a garage proprietor) and Elizabeth — along with my mom and her younger sister Rita — had moved across the street to 9 Wells St.

The same year, my great-grandmother Mary’s younger sister Millie, her husband Frank Somella (a junk dealer) and their children Anthony and Marie were living with the Laurences at 12 Wells St.[4]ibid.

And so it went. House sharing, job sharing, mutual support — that was a way of life for my maternal Italian ancestors as they helped one another make progress for themselves and their children.

And much of it was wrapped up in the Laurence house at 12 Wells St.

Up next, Season’s Greetings and a holiday break for Molly’s Canopy. 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 1920 census records.
2 FamilySearch requires free login to view WWI draft records.
3 FamilySearch requires free login to view 1930 census records
4 ibid.

1910: The di Lorenzo brothers and the Societa Silvio Pellico

Sepia Saturday 580 and 6th Annual Genealogy Blog Party Picnic. 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. Then pop over and visit the participants in the the 6th Annual Genealogy Potluck Picnic: Blogger’s Choice.

© 2021 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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