Tag Archives: John H. Stoutner

The Stoutners’ brick house at 4 Wells Street, Gloversville, NY

Sepia Saturday 508. Second in a new series my maternal German ancestors the Stoutners of Gloversville, Fulton Co., N.Y.

In August 1992, I went with my mom Peg (Laurence) Charboneau on a genealogy road trip to Gloversville, N.Y., so she could show me around her childhood home town. In particular I wanted to see the many ancestral homes that appeared in census and other records.

One of the houses we visited and photographed was the home of her German immigrant great-grandparents Andrew and Christina (Albeitz) Stoutner at 4 Wells St. near East Fulton — a house my mom knew well.

The Stoutner home in 1992. My great, great grandfather Andrew Stoutner, Sr. built this house circa 1882 with bricks from his brick works. Home to three generations of Stoutners, the house was 110 years old when I snapped this photo during a  genealogy road trip with my mom. Photo by Molly Charboneau

The Stoutner home is one of my favorites because it was built with brick from Andrew Stoutner’s brick works in Berkshire, on the outskirts of Gloversville. On the summer day when Mom and I visited, the house looked lovely — dappled with sun and surrounded by mature trees.

Pride of place

My Stoutner immigrant ancestors were clearly proud of this house. They even had photo cards made of their 4 Wells St. home — perhaps to send to family back in Prussia as a symbol of their successful new life.

Photo card of Stoutner home at 4 Wells. St. (circa 1908). The woman at the left is my German immigrant great-great grandmother Christina (Albeitz) Stoutner. One of the men may be my German immigrant great-great grandfather Andrew Stoutner Sr. but the men’s faces are unclear. I don’t recognize the younger man. Scan by Molly Charboneau

In his will, Andrew Stoutner Sr. left the house to his wife Christina and — after she no longer had use of it — to their son Andrew J. “Pete” Stoutner, Jr.

That’s how my  maternal grandmother Elizabeth (Stoutner) Laurence — Pete’s oldest child — came to grow up in the house at 4 Wells St., and why my mom was so familiar with this ancestral home.

My grandmother’s details

My grandmother Liz was a meticulous record keeper. She ran an antique shop when I was growing up — and I remember seeing record books in which she carefully logged purchase price, sale price and other details about her vintage business.

Fortunately, she was also meticulous about labeling her family photos. So she wrote details on the back of the Stoutner house photo about their home at 4 Wells St. — including that it was constructed with Stoutner bricks.

In my maternal grandmother’s words. My maternal grandmother Liz (Stoutner) Laurence grew up at 4 Wells St. Shown are the details she wrote on the back of the house photo about the Stoutner home — including its construction with Stoutner bricks. Scan by Molly Charboneau

In her description, Andrew Sr. is our German immigrant ancestor, and Andrew Jr. is his son (her father Pete). Of special note is her closing sentence, “Birthplace of Andrew Jr. and his family.”

In the days before hospital delivery, women gave birth at home. So my great-grandfather Pete Stoutner and his siblings John and Gertrude were born at 4 Wells Street, as were my grandmother Liz and her younger siblings Andy and Margaret. Making this house special indeed!

Still standing strong

Naturally, I wanted to see if the 4 Wells St. home is still standing, so I did an Internet search of the address.

Happily, the house is still there — although it has undergone some aesthetic and structural changes since the Stoutners’ time. I was also pleased to discover that a real estate site included interior views of this ancestral home, which I have never been inside of.

Contemporary photo of 4 Wells St. The bricks have been painted green, the original front porch has been removed, and a second story was added to the side room. But the basic brick structure erected by my German great-great grandfather Andrew Stoutner circa 1882 has stood the test of time. Photo: Zillow.com

Best of all, the brick house was obviously well-constructed circa 1882 by my German immigrant great-great grandfather Andrew Stoutner — because it is still standing strong more than 130 years later!

Up next: Andrew Stoutner Sr. poses for a photoPlease 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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1899: Professor John Stoutner’s school of dance

Sepia Saturday 391: Eighth in a series on piecing together the origins of my maternal grandmother Elizabeth (Stoutner) Laurence’s fashion sense.

When I discovered that my grandmother’s Uncle John Stoutner won a first prize for waltz at an 1895 company picnic, I assumed he was participating in a once-in-a-lifetime event — a lighthearted, informal competition among colleagues to liven up a summer gathering.

http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/96506904/
Grand ball at the Baltimore Academy of Music for the benefit of the Nursery and Child’s Hospital, from a sketch by Walter Goater. (April 24, 1880) Source: Library of Congress

But it turns out Uncle John was serious about his dancing.

Because four years later — on Sept. 27, 1899 — the Gloverville Daily Leader announced the upcoming launch of Professor John Stoutner’s school of dance in Gloversville, Fulton Co., N.Y.

Of course Uncle John was not literally a professor. However, Miriam-Webster’s dictionary says a professor can be “one that teaches or professes special knowledge of an art, sport or occupation requiring skill.”

Imparting his skill

So Uncle John, as a dance instructor, was imparting his special knowledge and skill — complete with an honorific that added a feather to his cap as professional milliner.

Gloversville,N.Y. Daily Leader (Oct. 5, 1899). Uncle John had to move his successful class to a larger hall to accommodate the dancers. He also ran short ads every week to attract students. Source: Old Fulton NY Post Cards

Apparently, social dancing was tremendously popular at the turn of the century, because another news article said Uncle John’s first class (held 118 years ago this month) drew 80 dance students.

In fact, turnout was so good that Uncle John had to change venues for the remainder of the season from Gloversville’s Music Hall to the larger Mills Hall — where his second class was attended by 300 dancers and their friends!

A social and masquerade  party

Invitations to a Private Masquerade Party and an E. L. Social held in February 1898 in Gloversville, N.Y. Uncle John was on the committee that organized the masquerade party and may have had a hand in the social. Scan by Molly Charboneau

Nor was this the first extravaganza Uncle John had organized. Among inherited family papers, I found a formal invitation to a Private Masquerade Party held on Monday, Feb. 14, 1898 at the Gloversville armory.

Printed at the bottom are the names of the Masquerade Party Committee: J.H. Stoutner, L.H. Rinefort and W.J. Nelson.

Tucked in with this announcement was a hand-drawn invitation inviting Miss Celia Mimm, my maternal great-grandmother, to attend another event Uncle John may have had a hand in — an E. L. Social held earlier the same month on Feb. 4, 1898.

Celia, then 21, eventually became Uncle John’s sister-in-law when she married his younger brother — my maternal great-grandfather Andrew J. “Pete” Stoutner.

Musical heritage

Although I have no pictures of him teaching or waltzing or emceeing an event, I was nevertheless thrilled to discover this social dance history of my maternal grandmother’s Uncle John.

Gloverville Daily Leader (Oct. 25, 1899). A brief story about the success of Uncle John’s second dance class. Source: Old Fulton NY Post Cards

Throughout my adult life, I have been a regular social dancer — favoring swing and Latin dance styles.

My mother — a talented pianist, singer, composer and arranger — was a career music educator before she retired.

My maternal grandmother Liz apparently danced socially — because I still see all the moves she taught me during my teens whenever someone breaks into the Charleston swing.

Now it turns out that long before all of us there was Uncle John H. Stoutner — winning waltz contests, leading dance classes, booking halls and orchestras, and contributing his dramatic dancer’s dip to our family’s musical heritage!

Up next: My maternal grandmother develops her own signature style. Meanwhile, please visit the posts of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants here.

© 2017 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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1895: John Stoutner wins a waltz award

Sepia Saturday 390: Seventh in a series on piecing together the origins of my maternal grandmother Elizabeth (Stoutner) Laurence’s fashion sense.

When I was a teenager, my maternal grandmother Elizabeth (Stoutner) Laurence taught me to dance the Charleston. I figured she learned it from her peers during the 1920s — when she sported a short “flapper” haircut and rebelliously eloped with my grandfather.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/jumborois/3188893874/
Passionate Waltz by artist Ferdinand Von Reznicek (circa 1900). In 1895, my maternal grandmother’s Uncle John Stoutner won a waltz contest at a company picnic — and later ran a dance school in their Gloversville, Fulton Co., N.Y. home town. Image: Susan Lenox/Flickr

Yet it’s possible Liz was coached years earlier by her talented, quick-stepping Uncle John H. Stoutner.

For not only was her Uncle John a milliner who operated a ladies fashion store in Gloversville, Fulton Co., N.Y.

In his late twenties, he was also an award-winning ballroom dancer!

A coveted prize

My first hint of Uncle John’s acumen on the dance floor was the Aug. 19, 1895 newspaper article below from the Gloverville Daily Leader about the Booth & Company annual picnic.

Excerpt from The Big Booth Picnic (Daily Leader, Aug. 19, 1895).  (Click to enlarge). Uncle John Stoutner won the first gentleman’s prize in the waltzing contest. Source: Old Fulton New York Postcards

The lively story describes a sudden thunderstorm that sent everyone running for cover. Then — once the clouds parted — there was a dance contest in a pavilion so crowded the judges could barely make their way around.

Despite the crush that “considerably incommoded” the dancers, Uncle John managed to make an impression because he was awarded the “first gentleman’s prize” for waltz — a set of pearl opera glasses.

The “first lady’s prize,” a gold chain, went to Miss Nellie Dodge — but the article doesn’t say whether she was Uncle John’s dance partner.

A seasoned dance enthusiast

The waltzing competition was one of the highlights of the annual Booth & Co. picnic –along with tug-of-war contests and other sporting events that were detailed in the full article.

Alas, no photo of Uncle John. But he must have been waltzing for some time if he was good enough to come in first among all the men who swept their partners around the dance floor.

I wondered whether his German heritage influenced his choice of dance style. An article by competitive ballroom dancer Patsy Holden in American Ethnography Semimonthly had this to say about the waltz:

Beginning in the late seventeenth century and continuing into the early twentieth century, the Waltz enjoyed almost exclusive popularity in the ballrooms of both Europe and America. The Waltz, which is from the German word “walzen” and means “to revolve,” describes a graceful and romantic couple’s dance in ¾ time.

Regardless of how my grandmother’s Uncle John became a dance enthusiast, he clearly continued to cultivate his talent after winning the waltz prize. Because four years later a Daily Leader article, dated Sept. 27, 1899, announced that Professor John Stoutner had opened a dance school!

More on this new revelation in the next post. Meanwhile, please visit the posts of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants here.

© 2017 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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