Tag Archives: Mamie (Curcio} 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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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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NYS Library: A new family find in Gloversville city directories

Sepia Saturday 504. Fourth in a series based on recent research discoveries at the NYS Archives & Library: More on my maternal immigrant ancestors of Fulton County, N.Y.

On a recent trip to the New York State Archives and Library, I spent time perusing the library’s large collection of city directories for Gloversville, N.Y., where my maternal immigrant German and Italian ancestors lived from the mid 1800s.

While many of the directories have been digitized, scrolling through the library’s microfilm allowed me to browse multiple ancestors at once — and to experience the broad sweep of my mother’s extended Gloversville family in just a few hours.

North Main St. and Family Theatre, Gloversville, Fulton County, N.Y. (circa 1908). My maternal German and Italian ancestors lived here from the mid 1800s, working in the glove industry or as small proprietors. The NYS Library’s city directories for Gloversville helped me verify when they were first listed, where they lived and their occupations.

Beginning with the 1879-80 directory, I set an initial goal of searching the collection chronologically to see when each of my immigrant ancestors first appeared. Yet as I went on, I remembered collateral relatives I wanted to include — and before long my mother’s Gloversville ancestral tree began to take shape before me, one year at a time.

My German ancestors arrived first

I knew that my German forebears were the first to arrive in Gloversville. So I was not surprised to find my great-great grandfathers Andrew Stoutner and Joseph Mimm in the 1879-80 directory for Gloversville, Kingsboro and Johnstown, as excerpted below..

In contrast, the first listing for my great-great grandfather Antonio Curcio, from Italy’s Campania region, did not appear until 1891. Last to appear in 1903 was my great-grandfather Peter Laurence (nee Di Lorenzo), also from the Campania region, who married Antonio’s oldest daughter Mamie after his 1895 arrival in Gloversville.

Gloversville, Fulton Co., N.Y. -My Immigrant Ancestors’ First City Directory Listing – Source: New York State Library
Year Name Address Occupation
1879 Andrew Stoutner (appears as Stoudner) Wells St. Brick Maker
1879 Joseph A. Mimm Broad c. Fifth Tool Maker
1891 Antonio Curcio 84 E. Fulton Junk Dealer
1903 Peter Laurence (nee Di Lorenzo) (appears as Lawrence) 128 E. Fulton Laborer

A surprise Curcio address

I expected the city directory listings to simply reinforce what I already knew about my Gloversville ancestors from censuses and other sources. What I didn’t expect was a new-to-me address for Antonio Curcio at 84 E. Fulton Street!

As far as I knew, the Curcios had always lived at 128 E. Fulton Street — where their son-in-law Peter Laurence lived with them in 1903.

1891: Gloversville and Johnstown City Directory. (Click to enlarge.) My great-great grandfather A. Curcio is the last name on this page. It’s his first listing in a Gloversville city directory — and at a new-to-me address! Photo by Molly Charboneau

So I later followed up with searches of online Gloversville city directories, and sure enough — in 1891, 1892 and 1893 the Curcios lived at 84 E. Fulton Street. Antonio was not listed at 128 E. Fulton Street until 1894.

Valuable lessons

Genealogy research trips offer valuable lessons, even for longtime family historians — as I learned during my time at the NYS Library.

First, city directories are excellent substitutes for the 1890 federal census, which was destroyed in a fire. Although these books don’t always include female ancestors, they can help place listed ancestors in a time and place. Thus the 1890s directories unexpectedly rewarded me with the Curcios’ first Gloversville address.

The other lesson? Finding family history records and filing them away, as I have done for years with my maternal forebears, are only the first steps in reconstructing an ancestral story. It’s the time spent studying those records — and thoughtfully examining new ones — that truly teases out an ancestor’s narrative.

Well okay, I already knew that. But it never hurts to be reminded.

Up next: One more research discovery at the NYS Library and Archives. 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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