Tag Archives: Peg (Laurence) Charboneau

Circa 1912: Peter Laurence’s Working Animals

Sepia Saturday 589. Fifteenth in a photo blog series on my maternal Italian ancestors from Gloversville, Fulton Co., N.Y.

Returning to the history of my direct-line ancestors, this post features a favorite photo of my maternal Italian immigrant great-grandfather Peter D. Laurence (nee Pietro di Lorenzo) with what I assume were his working animals.

To the right stands his horse Nelly and in front sits his dog Diamond. I have two copies of this photo, which was printed on a postcard — so I assume multiple cards were printed to send to family back in Italy.

Photo postcard: Peter D. Laurence with horse Nelly and dog Diamond (circa 1912). I believe this photo was taken at 12 Wells St., Gloversville, N.Y., where Peter and family were living by 1920. This may be the stable shown at that address on a 1912 Sanborn map. Wish I knew what those lapel pins said. Scan by Molly Charboneau

Peter may have been a farmer in his hometown of Limatola, Benevento, Campania, Italy. That’s the occupation his younger brother Antonio listed on his passenger manifest when he came to the U.S. to visit Peter in 1902. So it’s possible my di Lorenzo ancestors had a family farm in the Italian agricultural region.

A mark of prosperity

Owning a work horse — which cost about $150 in 1870 and probably more by 1912 — was a mark of prosperity that any farm family would appreciate. The $150 price would be about $3,100 in today’s dollars — plus the ongoing cost of food, board and upkeep for the animal.

Back of the photo postcard. My maternal grandmother, Liz (Stoutner) Laurence, penned Peter’s name. I added the names of the horse and dog, which were provided by my mom Peg (Laurence) Charboneau. Scan by Molly Charboneau

The same was probably true of owning a dog. Diamond may have been a working dog — whose bark would scare intruders away from Peter’s home/business. Or the canine may have been a pet. Either way, owning a dog presupposed a level of income over and above what was needed to raise a family and keep a roof overhead.

Gloversville stables

To board a horse required a stable — which appears to be where this photo was taken. That took me back to the 1912 Sanborn Map of Gloversville, N.Y. to see just where my great-grandfather’s horse Nelly may have spent her leisure time.

Stables on Sanborn maps are marked with a large X on top, and there were still quite a few on the 1912 Gloversville map — the last year that digitized maps are available for the town.

1912 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map, Gloversville, N.Y. Detail of the 12 Well St. stable (labeled E at right) where Peter’s horse Nelly may have boarded. Source: Library of Congress/Sanborn Maps

On the map above, there is a 2-story stable marked X between No. 4 and No. 14 Wells St. — around the corner from my second great-grandfather Antonio Curcio’s home/junk yard.

The address is 12 Wells St. (labeled E on this map) where Peter Laurence eventually built a house and moved by 1920 with his wife Mary (Curcio) Laurence and sons Antonio (my maternal grandfather) and Joseph.

My mom, Peg (Laurence) Charboneau, told me that the photo of Peter, Nelly and Diamond was taken on Wells St. So it’s possible that Peter first boarded his horse there — perhaps purchasing the property when there was only a stable and later building a house.

Diamond in the rough

How Peter’s dog Diamond ended up with his sparkling name leads me down another family history path. In 1992, my mom and I made a family history road trip to her Gloversville home town so she could show me around.

We stopped at 128 E. Fulton St. — the location of the junk shop/garage where our Curcio and Laurence/di Lorenzo ancestors worked and where the Curcio home once stood.

Building at the back of 128 E. Fulton St., Gloversville, N.Y. (1992). Could the vintage Diamond Tires sign have been the inspiration for Peter’s dog’s name? Photo by Molly Charboneau

The house was gone, but I snapped a photo of the remaining building — a wood frame structure at the back of the property with a vintage Diamond Tires sign nailed to the front.

The tire company took that name in 1909 — before the photo of Peter and his animals was taken. While it may be pure coincidence, I have to wonder: Could that sign have been the inspiration for the little dog’s name? Perhaps a nod to the future of car travel while Nelly symbolized the past?

Up next: My grandfather Antonio W. Laurence and his brother Uncle Joe. Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants.

© 2021 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

Circa 1904: My long-lost great-granduncle Antonio di Lorenzo

Sepia Saturday 578. Fourth 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

Valuable family history information often gets lost with each succeeding generation — unless it is recalled, retold or written down.

Yet sometimes, even in the recalling and retelling, a story or a person may be inadvertently left out.

That appears to be what happened with my great-granduncle Antonio di Lorenzo — brother of my great-grandfather Peter D. Laurence/di Lorenzo.

Fortunately, unearthing family history is a collaborative effort.  That’s how oral history, genealogy research and a serendipitous photo caption by various family members helped resurrect Antonio and restore him to the Laurence/di Lorenzo branch of our family’s tree.

Studio photo of Antonio di Lorenzo (c. 1904). This photograph, captioned by my maternal grandmother, was taken by an upstate New York photographer, confirming that Antonio — brother of my great-grandfather Peter D. Laurence/di Lorenzo– spent time in the U.S. Scan by Molly Charboneau

Forgotten in the 1970s

For a high school assignment in the late 1970s, my sister Amy wrote a biographical sketch about our great-grandfather Peter — based on an oral history interview with our mom Peg (Laurence) Charboneau, who did not recall any of Peter’s family coming to the U.S.

Not much of his life [in Italy] is known, but it is known that he joined the Italian army at the age of 20. After four years of service he came to the United States. He was the only member of his family to come and unless he met a friend here he didn’t know anyone.

Mom was just 18 when her grandfather Peter died on 15 Nov. 1944 — relatively young for her to know much about his earlier life, let alone that he had a brother.

Resurrected in the 1990s

Fast forward 20 years to 1992, when my mom and I made a family history trip to her Gloversville, N.Y., home town. While there, we interviewed two family members: Mom’s grand-aunt Rose Curcio (Peter’s youngest sister-in-law) and one of Mom’s Italian-American cousins.

Imagine our surprise when they each told us Peter had a brother! His name was Antonio — and they said he came to Gloversville, N.Y., where he stayed for a while, but he didn’t like it and returned to Italy.

Peter’s obituary, which Mom and I got on the same trip, corroborates their story.

The survivors are his wife. Mary, and two sons, Joseph and Anthony Laurence, the former proprietor of a drug store in the North-end; also one brother, Anthony of Italy.

Antonio’s U.S. studio portrait confirms the story

Of course, family tradition could be the source of the obituary detail. But when I recently began digitizing my Italian ancestors’ photos, I discovered the above studio portrait of Antonio — taken in the U.S. — which more tangibly supports the oral history.

Studio photo of Antonio di Lorenzo (c. 1904), reverse side. On the back of the photo is faint, blue printing that says “W. H. Pearse, Photographer” with what appears to be a State Street address. A 1915 city directory gives a State St. address in Schenectady, N.Y., for the photographer, confirming that Antonio spent time in the U.S. Scan by Molly Charboneau

My maternal grandmother Elizabeth (Stoutner) Laurence — wife of Peter’s oldest son Tony — thoughtfully noted Antonio’s name and relationship on the front of the photo. On the back, faint blue printing says W. H. Pearse, Photographer with what looks like a State Street address.

On Ancestry, I found a 1915 Schenectady city directory that lists William H. Pearse, photographer, at 459 State Street in Schenectady, N.Y.[1]Ancestry.com. U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Original sources vary according to directory. William H. Pearse, 1915, p 423.

Schenectady is not far from Gloversville — and earlier city directories show that W.H. Pearse previously operated his photography business from nearby Syracuse, N.Y., and Utica, N.Y., from the late 1800s. Pearse’s stamp on this photo confirms that my great-granduncle Antonio di Lorenzo did indeed spend time in the U.S.

Up next: Antonio di Lorenzo’s ship arrives in New York Harbor. Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants.

© 2021 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

References

References
1 Ancestry.com. U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Original sources vary according to directory. William H. Pearse, 1915, p 423.

Circa 1899: Peter Laurence and pals pose for a photo

Sepia Saturday 577. Third 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 this  Laurence-di Lorenzo-Curcio family album. Photo: Molly Charboneau

By 1896, when my Italian great grandfather Peter D. Laurence (née Pietro di Lorenzo) emigrated to the  U.S., studio photography had become well established in and around his new Gloversville, Fulton County, N.Y. hometown.

Having a likeness or portrait made was no longer exclusively for the rich. Now, the average working person could sit for a portrait at a local photographer’s studio for a reasonable fee — to either keep for themselves or to give or send to loved ones.

A photo of Peter and his pals

So imagine the enthusiasm of Peter and his friends for the new medium and their desire to have a portrait taken together — perhaps on a group outing, since photographer George Kibbe’s studio was located out-of-town in nearby Amsterdam, Montgomery Co., N.Y.

Circa 1899: Peter and pals pose for a photo. My Italian immigrant great-grandfather Peter D. Laurence (di Lorenzo) is third from left in this  studio photo with friends/colleagues. The photographer George Kibbe operated from Amsterdam, Montgomery County, N.Y., not far from where  Peter lived and worked as a leather dresser in nearby Gloversville, Fulton County, N.Y. Scan by Molly Charboneau

It’s hard to choose what I like best about this picture of Peter and his pals. Is it the white pocket handkerchiefs draped stylishly from their jacket pockets? Or the cigars that three of the four men are holding? Or the symmetry of the men on either side holding their hats, while Peter and his seated friend have their legs crossed in mirror image?

One thing I love is that the photographer seems to have told everyone to look to one side — yet my great-grandfather apparently ignored the instructions and looked straight into the camera lens.

Who were Peter’s pals?

This photo was probably taken around 1899, when Peter also posed for solo portraits before he married. In this photo, he wears a pinkie ring on his left hand, but no wedding band — and none of these men were his in-laws, who appear in later photos. Then who were the other fellows in this photo? And how did Peter know them?

For a high school assignment in the late 1970s, my sister Amy wrote a biographical sketch about our great-grandfather Peter — based on an oral history interview with our mom Peg (Laurence) Charboneau — which includes information about his immigration and early years in the U.S.

…unless he met a friend here, he didn’t know anyone. The reason he came was very common, he came for better job opportunities. No one knows where he arrived in the United States, perhaps Ellis Island, but he first settled down and started work in Gloversville, New York. His first job was as a dye master, coloring skins in a skin mill….He worked in the mill for about five years.

Clues in the 1900 U.S. census

Could these men have been friends from Peter’s work at the skin mill? Let’s take a look at the 1900 U.S. population census of Gloversville, Fulton County, N.Y. — the first one in which Peter appears, four years after his arrival in the U.S.[1]“United States Census, 1900,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MSXT-THQ : accessed 3 July 2021), Peter D Lorendes in household of Petsie … Continue reading

Peter D. Laurence in the 1900 US Census, 5 Washburn St., Gloversville, Fulton County, N.Y. — Source: FamilySearch[2]FamilySearch requires free login to view records.
Name Age Born Imm.
In U.S. Household Job
Petsie Pierce 25 Italy 1896 4 yrs. Head (with wife & child) Leather dresser
James Ets 24 Italy 1893 7 yrs. Boarder Leather dresser
Peter D Lorendes 27 Italy 1896 4 yrs. Boarder Leather dresser
Patrick Berry 28 Italy 1896 4 yrs. Boarder Leather dresser

As summarized in the table above, in 1900 Peter was living at 5 Washburn St. in Gloversville, N.Y. in the home of Petsie Pierce and family. Apparently my great-grandfather wasn’t the only one victimized by a pronunciation problem — because all the adults in the household, although born in Italy, were enumerated with anglicized surnames.

Friends from back home or the U.S.?

However, what stands out for me is that all four men were in their early twenties, were from Italy, worked as leather dressers — and three of the four, including Peter, had immigrated in 1896.

Circa 1899: Reverse side of Peter and pals photo. Alas, the back of the photo offers no additional clues. Just the rubber stamped signature of my great-grandfather Peter D. Laurence. Scan by Molly Charboneau

Did Peter know them from back home or from the boat? Meet them in the U.S.? Get to know them through work or from boarding together? There’s no way to know for sure — nor to decide that they are the three posing with Peter in this photo. But it certainly is a tantalizing prospect.

Up next: Peter Laurence/di Lorenzo and his brother Antonio. Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants.

© 2021 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

References

References
1 “United States Census, 1900,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MSXT-THQ : accessed 3 July 2021), Peter D Lorendes in household of Petsie Pierce,  Gloversville city Ward 6, Fulton, New York, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 17, sheet 4A, family 80, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1972.); FHL microfilm 1,241,037.
2 FamilySearch requires free login to view records.