Tag Archives: Orville Nile Charboneau

1918: The brief WWI service of Uncles Tom and Dewey Charboneau

Sepia Saturday 540. Eleventh 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

While my dad’s Uncle Albert and his brother Ray (my grandfather) performed alternative service during WWI, the other two Charboneau brothers — Tom and Dewey — were called to active duty.

Yet they mustered in so late in the war that each only served briefly — and neither went abroad.

Orville Nile “Tom” Charboneau was inducted into the U.S. Army in Little Falls, Herkimer Co., N.Y. on 3 Sept. 1918. According to his service card, he was appointed as a Private 1st Class on 15 Oct. 1918. However, where he served is a bit of a mystery.

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WWI: Basic training exercises (ca. 1918). Photo: Library of Congress

Where did Uncle Tom serve?

Tom was in service when his brother Uncle Albert died from the 1918 influenza — and his places of service were given in Albert’s obituaries.

  • One obituary, in the 24 Oct. 1918 issue of the Utica Herald Dispatch, says Albert was survived by a brother “Orville, who is stationed with the American forces at Fort Schuyler on Long Island.”
  • Another of Albert’s obituaries, in the 29 Oct. 1918 issue of the Little Falls Journal and Courier, lists him as “Orville, of Camp Shutler, L.I.”
https://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2014704955/
WWI: Camp at Ft. Totten, Queens, New York. (ca. 1918) Photo: Library of Congress

Meanwhile, his service card — under Organizations served in, with dates of assignments and transfers — says he served in  “C Def of Eastern NY Ft Totten NY Co 9 to disch.”

Did Tom have three assignments?

Is it possible that Uncle Tom served in all three places? Maybe so. There were temporary WWI training camps all over Long Island at the time, so he could have started out in a Camp Shutler.

And if Tom was in coastal defense, then Fort Schuyler (located on Long Island Sound in the Throgs Neck section of the Bronx)  seems consistent with the final assignment listed on his service card — Fort Totten (in northeast Queens on Long Island Sound).

With so many soldiers mobilized, there was undoubtedly a great deal of troop movement here and there to fill assignments — and Tom may have been caught up in that during his brief time in service.

https://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2014704956/
WWI: The mess hall at Fort Totten, Queens, New York. (ca. 1918). Photo : Library of Congress

Proud to be veterans

Tom was was honorably discharged on 9 Dec. 2018 at the end WWI — after serving for three months.

Uncle George Dewey Charboneau’s time in the Army was even shorter than Tom’s. He was drafted on  11 Nov. 1918 — but returned home before reaching camp when Armistice was declared, ending the war.

Yet despite their brief stints, both Tom and Dewey were proud to be veterans. In his book Herkimer County in the World War: 1916-1918, Franklin W. Christman compiled an Honor Roll of Herkimer County veterans of WWI.

Here are Tom and Dewey’s entries, which I later confirmed they authored themselves in response to a survey.

CHARBONEAU, ORVILLE N., Little Falls, N.Y.; born April 23, 1891; drafted September 3, 1918; U.S. Troops, Syracuse, Fort Schuyler; discharged December, 1918.

CHARBONNEAU, GEORGE D., Dolgeville, N.Y.; born June 12, 1898; drafted November 11, 1918; returned before reaching camp, Peace Day; honorably discharged.

A Memorial Day posting

Fast forward to the year 2000, when this Honor Roll appeared online as part of a Memorial Day celebration — then to 2006, when I first saw Tom and Dewey’s names on the list and emailed for details.

Back came this response from Marine veteran Paul T. McLaughlin, Village of Ilion editor for the Rootsweb site where I found the list. Sadly, Paul died in 2017 so I will let him have the last word.

I continue to be amazed by how many inquiries I have received since that list was posted in the 2000 4-County Memorial Day extravaganza. Here’s what your relatives wrote in response to the questionnaire. [Here he typed in the above listings verbatum.]

Strange that they spelled it [their surname] differently, but that may have been a typo from the transcriber. Orville [Tom] had only to serve a couple of months, and George [Dewey] was drafted on Armistice Day, so they didn’t have much to write about. That’s good!

Up next: The deadly 1918 influenza emerges. Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants here.

© 2020 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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1917: Uncle Albert and the Charboneau Doughboys

Sepia Saturday 538Ninth 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

At the outbreak of World War I, my father’s Uncle Albert Barney Charboneau and his brothers were required to register for the draft.

And this they did, carefully penning their information on cards that have survived into the digital age.

Albert, the oldest brother, was age 33 when he registered in 1918 — giving his date of birth as 15 Feb. 1885, his address as 42 State Street, Dolgeville, Herkimer Co., N.Y. and his wife’s name as Annie E. Charboneau.

He wrote that he was employed as Woodworking Foreman at Julius Breckwoldt lumber works. The registrar described Albert as tall and stout with black hair and blue eyes.

WWI Doughboy statue in Woodside, N.Y. (2020). Selected in 1928 as the best war memorial of its kind by the American Federation of Arts, this statue depicts a returning WWI soldier with bandaged head, holding his helmet with his gun to one side. Photo: Molly Charboneau

My grandfather Ray’s draft registration

Two of Albert’s brothers registered before him. My paternal grandfather William Ray Charboneau registered on 5 June 1917. Born 3 April 1888 in Forestport, N.Y., he was age 29 and described as tall and slender with blue eyes and black hair.

Ray lived on Dolge Ave. in Dolgeville, N.Y. and worked as a warehouse clerk at the Daniel Green Felt Shoe Co. — which had taken over the original Dolge factory complex. Ray also had an exemption from the draft: He was married with three children — my dad’s older brothers Owen, Franny and Hube

Uncle Tom signed up with Ray

Next in line on 5 June 1917 — registered the same day as Ray — was Orville “Tom” Charboneau. Born on 23 April 1892, Tom was 25 and described as tall with medium build, blue eyes, brown hair and slight baldness.

Tom lived at 10 Church St. in Little Falls, N.Y., where he worked as an automobile repairman for C.A. Ross on West Main St. He was single with no dependents.

Uncle Dewey registered in 1918

George Dewey Charboneau, the youngest brother, registered on 12 Sept. 1918 — the same year as Albert. Born 12 June 1898, he was age 20 and described as tall and slender with blue eyes and brown hair.

Uncle Dewey worked as a shoemaker at the Daniel Green Felt Shoe Company — where my grandfather Ray also worked — and lived with his parents Will and Eva (Bull) Charboneau on Cline Street in Dolgeville, N.Y. Unmarried, he listed his father Will as his next of kin.

Wartime service

Of the four, Tom and Dewey were called up — toward the end of the war — and their service was entered onto a roster compiled by the Herkimer County Home Defense Committee of soldiers who were drafted or volunteered their services in WWI.  However, Uncle Albert and my grandfather Ray appear to have performed service of their own in Herkimer County.

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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1885: First born son, Albert Barney Charboneau

Sepia Saturday 524Second in a series about Albert Barney Charboneau — my paternal grandfather’s brother who died in the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918.

Studio portrait of Albert Barney Charboneau circa 1910. He often went by the nickname Bert. Scan by Molly Charboneau

My dad’s Uncle Albert, who died in the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918, was born on 17 Feb. 1885 in the small hamlet of Hawkinsville — located along the Black River east of Boonville in Oneida Co., New York.

Albert Barney Charboneau — who often went by the nickname Bert — was the first-born son of my paternal great grandparents Will and Eva (Bull) Charboneau.

A North Country childhood

Albert started his life in New York’s North Country — yet his birth year makes it difficult to learn more about his early childhood.

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Contemporary photo of the Hawkinsville Dam — near the North Country childhood home of my dad’s uncle Albert Barney CharboneauPhoto: Kris R./mapio

He was born five years after the 1880 U.S. census — and the next 1890 U.S. census was destroyed in a fire. New York State’s 1892 census is not much help, either, because records for Oneida County are missing.

So Albert first appears in the 1900 U.S. census at the age of 15 with the surname variant “Charbano.” He was living in the Town of Forestport  with his parents and three younger brothers — including my paternal grandfather W. Ray Charboneau.

Albert B. Charboneau and family – 1900 U.S. census – Town of Forestport, Oneida County, New York – Source: FamilySearch1
Name DOB Age Born in Father Born in Mother Born in Job/School
William L. Charbano May 1857 43 New York Canada Fr. Germany Stay. Engineer
Eva M. Charbano July 1867 32 New York New York New York
Albert D. Charbano
Feb. 1885 15 New York New York New York Laborer Sawmill
Ray M. Charbano April 1888 12 New York New York New York At School
Orville N. Charbano April 1892 8 New York New York New York At School
George D. Charbano June 1898 1 New York New York New York

An interesting heritage

This enumeration supports previous research on my Charboneau ancestors. Albert’s father Will Charboneau, a stationery engineer, was the son of immigrants.

Will’s father Laurent Charbonneau  immigrated from Quebec in the 1850s. Will’s mother Ursula Angeline Zinsk was a German-Swiss immigrant who arrived in New York State during the same time period. Both lived nearby2in 1900.

Albert’s mother, Eva May (Bull) Charboneau, was the daughter Arthur T. Bull (my Union Army great-great grandfather) and Mary Elizabeth (Blakeslee) Bull — whose parents divorced in 1866.

Was Albert aware of his interesting family heritage? Hard to know — but I do hope his parents shared some oral history with him.

https://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/hhh.ny1306.photos.124358p/
Vintage Sawmill in Warren County, N.Y. Albert’s 1900 U.S. census enumeration indicates that he was already at work, at just 15, as a laborer in a sawmill. Photo: Library of Congress

Albert’s lumber job

The other item that jumped out at me from Albert’s 1900 U.S. census entry was that he was already at work — at just 15 — as a laborer in a sawmill.

Lumber and its related products were big business in the Adirondack foothills — with loggers felling forest trees and sending  logs and finished lumber south on the Black River Canal, which fed into the Erie Canal.

At one time Albert’s Hawkinsville hometown had a saw mill, wood products firms and prospects for growth once a railroad line was established.

But those hopes were dashed when the railroad was built further west — and by 1910 the Charboneau family had moved south to up-and-coming Dolgeville in Herkimer County, N.Y.

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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