Tag Archives: Laurent Charbonneau

1908: Albert Charboneau leaves Hawkinsville, N.Y.

Sepia Saturday 525. Third in a series about Albert Barney Charboneau — my paternal grandfather’s brother who died in the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918.

Albert Barney Charboneau circa 1910. Scan by Molly Charboneau

Available documentation indicates that my dad’s Uncle Albert — who died in the 1918 influenza epidemic — spent his childhood and early teen years in Hawkinsville, Oneida Co., N.Y.

He was born there in 1885 and enumerated there in the 1900 U.S. census at age 15, as described in the last post.

Yet Albert’s adult years were spent in Dolgeville, Herkimer Co., N.Y., where he moved circa 1908 with his parents and three brothers — among them my paternal grandfather William Ray Charboneau — in the search of a better life.


A Black River Canal boom town

In the mid 1800s, Hawkinsville (shown below) was a small boom town located on the Black River Canal, which ferried Adirondack lumber, wood products and other goods to the Erie Canal and thence to markets throughout New York State and beyond.

My paternal French-Canadian great-great grandfather Laurent Charbonneau moved there in the 1850s, working first in the lumber industry and later as a farmer. His German-Swiss wife Ursula Zinsk, her parents and brothers also immigrated to the area, where the nearby mountains probably reminded them of home.

A thriving Hawkinsville, N.Y., in 1855 from the Rome Daily Sentinel. Click to enlarge. Source: Old Fulton Post Cards

Hawkinsville’s sad decline

But by 1900 when their eldest grandson Albert appeared in his first census at age 15, Hawkinsville has fallen on hard times. An 11 Oct. 1939 article in the Rome, N.Y. Daily Sentinel titled “Bustling Village Fades To Hamlet With One Mill” summarizes the town’s decline.

A busy, thriving, industrial town, with prospects for a bright future was Hawkinsville, shown in the picture taken above about 1855, but the course of the Black River Railroad completely changed the picture.

Hawkinsville in the early days was larger than Boonville and had every prospect of growing steadily, until the railroad was built through Boonville, leaving Hawkinsville entirely off its course. Gradually the mills closed until the hamlet can now boast of but one mill.

The Dolgeville decision

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/39231713/lawrence-charbonneau
Lawrence (Laurent) Charbonneau’s  stone, Beechwood Cemetery, Forestport, Oneida County,  N.Y. Source: Find a Grave

Such an unfortunate demise for a village that once boasted three churches, two hotels, two saloons, a carpenter shop, four blacksmith shops, a wagon-shop, a cheese factory, a tannery, a millinery store — and so many mills that it was originally called Slab City for the slab wood turned out there, according to the same article.

Nevertheless, it may have been a sad family event that ultimately sealed the Charboneau family’s decision to leave Hawkinsville for good — the 1902 death of my great-great grandfather Laurent Charbonneau.

While Laurent was living, his home, land and farm may have anchored the family. But once the Charboneau family patriarch was gone, why not strike out for new opportunities? And those opportunities beckoned from the expanding Mohawk Valley town of Dolgeville in nearby Herkimer Co., N.Y.

There, German immigrant Alfred Dolge had set up a unique factory complex that drew thousands of workers from the U.S. and abroad — among them Uncle Albert, his parents and three brothers — and turned the sleepy town of Brockett’s Bridge into a bustling manufacturing center that was renamed Dolgeville in his honor.

More on this in the next post. 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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A Charboneau by any other surname variant

Any genealogy researcher will tell you that having an unusual surname can be a bonus when combing through records in search of ancestors — and I was sure my Charboneau surname fit into this category.

By: Karyn Christner
The letter C.  Charboneau is a unique enough surname that it should be easy to identify in record searches — if it were not for those pesky surname variants! By: Karyn Christner

“How do you say your last name, Molly?” my teachers would ask each year — hesitating over the printed sheet when they called roll on the first day of school.

“SHAR-buh-no,” I would reply, which is how my family pronounces it.

My childhood friend Betty Ann’s dad said Charboneau sounded like “shrapnel” to him — which morphed into “shrabnel” and soon enough I was known as Shrab over at their house.

Because it’s a tricky surname for those with no French background, I usually have to spell Charboneau in full when leaving a phone message or calling anywhere that requires account verification.

My younger siblings got so fed up with this, they frequently substituted an easy-to-spell “pizza name” — such as Clark — when ordering a delivery.

An endless stream of variants

So, when it came time to look for my great, great grandfather Laurent Charbonneau in the federal and New York State census returns, I figured it should be easy enough.

Surely, our unique surname (give or take an “n”) would pop right up in genealogy indexes and record searches — and be quicker to pinpoint than a more frequently-occurring moniker.

Well, was I ever wrong! I had no idea there could be so many variants of the Charboneau surname.

Seeking every census

Laurent immigrated to New York State from Québec in the early 1850s — last appearing in the Canadian census with his family of origin in 1851/52 — so I hope to track him through all the U.S. and New York State censuses after his arrival.

Here are the five surname varients I have found so far (and notice his given name varies, too!):

  • Sharbono — My ancestor appears as Laurence Sharbono in the 1870 U.S. census for Boonville, Oneida County, N.Y.
  • Charbonno — He is listed as Laurence Charbonno  in the 1875 New York State census for Boonville, Oneida County, N.Y.
  • Sherbenon — An 1880 New York State census manuscript schedule in the Utica, N.Y. public library shows his name as Lawrence Sherbenon.
  • Shavanaugh  The 1880 U.S. census of Lyonsdale, Lewis County, N.Y. enumerated Laurent’s brother — Louis Desiré Charbonneau — as Desiré Shavanaugh.
  • Charbono —  The 1900 U.S. census for Forestport, Oneida County, N.Y. lists my great, great grandfather as Lawrence Charbono.

So that just leaves New York State censuses for 1855, 1865 and 1892 and federal censuses for 1860 and 1880 to search — and now I have a whole bunch of Charboneau name variants to choose from.

Wish me luck, and please stop back for more on this as the search progresses.

© 2016 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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1860: The sad demise of Olivier Bouchard

Second in a series about the younger sister of my French-Canadian ancestor Laurent Charbonneau, who  emigrated from Québec to New York State around 1852.

When researching an ancestor, such as my great, great grandfather Laurent Charbonneau, an unexpected path sometimes opens into the lives of collateral relatives. In this case, it was the life of Laurent’s younger sister Elise.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Eglise_Saint-Eustache,_Saint-Eustache,_Qu%C3%A9bec,_Canada.jpg
Dec. 2012: Historic Church of St. Eustache, showing damage from the British military suppression (circled) and a memorial to the 1837 Patriots (right). This land-marked Catholic church was the likely site of many baptisms, weddings and funerals for my Charbonneau ancestors and collateral relatives. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Upon discovering in the 1861 Canadian census that Elise (Charbonneau) Bouchard had lost her husband and two children in 1860 — which I wrote about in 1861: The widow Elise (Charboneau) Bouchard — I was moved to learn more about her star-crossed family.

Who was Elise Charbonneau’s husband?

Seeking details about Elise’s family life, and the name of her late husband, I searched the Drouin Collection of Québec parish records and found a marriage record for Olivier Bouchard and Elise Charbonneau — signed by her father (my ggg grandfather) Louis Charbonneau.

The record indicated Elise and Olivier were married in 1858 in St. Eustache, Deux Montagnes, Québec — about a year before their daughter Elise Bouchard was born.

Olivier Bouchard: A St. Eustache apprentice

To learn more about his background, I searched in the 1851/52 Canadian census for an Olivier Bouchard around age 20 — and found only one person of that name and age living in St. Eustache during the census year.

In 1851/52 Olivier Bouchard, 21, resided in a household of seven headed by Charles Bouchard, 39, a meunier [miller]. Was Charles his father? Possibly. He was 18 years older than Olivier.

However, Marie-Anne Parent, 29 — who was listed with Charles — was too young to be Olivier’s mother. There were also three Boucher toddlers in the household, suggesting she might have been a second wife of Charles — or that Charles may have been an older brother or other relative of Olivier’s.

Coronor’s ruling: accidental death

On the census, Olivier’s occupation was given as apprentice — perhaps a miller’s apprentice in Charles Bouchard’s facility, or maybe in another trade.

Either way, the term “apprentice” implies an occupation that might have been hazardous — a job where inattentiveness while mourning for his lost sons might have proved fatal for Olivier if his accident occurred at work.

In the  Drouin Collection, I found a record of Olivier’s burial on 19 December 1860, which indicated:

  • He was the spouse of Elise Charbonneau, of the parish of Montréal [where she was born].
  • He was from St. Eustache parish and was buried in the parish cemetery.
  • He was buried two days after dying accidentally, according to the coronor’s verdict, at age 30. [The circumstances were not given.]
  • Charles Bouchard and Louis Bouchard were named as present at Olivier’s burial.

Family support for Elise

More research is needed to fill out and confirm the full details of Elise (Charbonneau) Bouchard’s family tragedies, and to shed light on the circumstances of Olivier’s death and those of their two children — research for another day and a future blog post.

But for now, this much is certain: My ggg grandparents Louis Charbonneau and Suzanne Marcille opened their home to Elise and her two daughters (even employing a servant to help with duties at the inn) — so she and the children had family to turn to for warmth and support in their time of sorrow.

To be continued.

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