Tag Archives: Peg (Laurence) Charboneau

The Laurence Family’s Wells St. Home In Gloversville, N.Y.

Sepia Saturday 600. Twenty-second in a photo blog series on my maternal Italian ancestors from Gloversville, Fulton Co., N.Y.

By the time the 1920 federal census[1]FamilySearch requires free login to view 1920 census records. was taken, my great-grandparents Peter and Mary (Curcio) Laurence/di Lorenzo had moved with their sons Tony and Joe into a newly-built home of their own at 12 Wells St. in Gloversville, Fulton County, N.Y.

They may have moved there as early as 1917, since Peter gave a Wells St. address when he registered, at 45, for the WWI draft.[2]FamilySearch requires free login to view WWI draft records.

Circa 1923: The Laurence/di Lorenzo family on the front steps of 12 Wells Street, Gloversville, N.Y. From left, Joseph B. Laurence, Mary (Curcio) Laurence, Antonio W. “Tony” Laurence and Peter Laurence (nee Pietro di Lorenzo). Scan by Molly Charboneau

The large Laurence house was right around the corner from the home of Mary’s parents, Antonio and Antoinette (Del Negro) Curcio, at 128 E. Fulton Street.

A home of their own

How proud Peter and Mary must have been to finally have a home of their own where their teenage sons could grow into adulthood. The Wells St. house even had a barn out back for Peter’s horse and vehicles — and was within walking distance of the junk dealership he took over from Mary’s father.

The wide steps where they posed, above, led to an open side porch to the right. Later owners narrowed the front steps and enclosed the side porch — as shown in the 1992 photo of the house below.

1992: Former home of the Laurence/di Lorenzo familiy in Gloversville, Fulton Co., N.Y. The house originally had wide front steps and an open side porch. Later owners narrowed the front steps and enclosed the porch. Photo by Molly Charboneau

My mom’s Wells St. connection

In 1992, my mom — Peg (Laurence) Charboneau — and I took a family history grand tour of her Gloversville, N.Y., hometown. One of our stops was the former Laurence home at 12 Wells St.

After taking the above photo, I noticed Mom looking wistfully up at the house. That’s when she made an unexpected revelation.

“I was born in that house,” she said. Wow, this was news to me. My siblings and I are from the Baby Boom generation — and we were all born in hospitals.

My grandfather Tony holding my mom Peggy, born 4 May 1926. This photo appears to have been taken outside 12 Well St. — possibly by my grandmother Elizabeth (Stoutner) Laurence, a photo buff who is not pictured. Penciled on the back is “May 1926, Tony & Peggy.” Scan by Molly Charboneau

So, I was astonished to learn my mom had been born at home — and in her grandparents’ house at that. Yet after researching my Italian ancestors, I am no longer surprised at mom’s home birth.

Welcoming extended family

In true Italian fashion, my Laurence ancestors quickly opened their home to extended family — starting with their oldest son.

After my grandfather Tony and my grandmother Elizabeth Stoutner got married in 1924, they set up house with the Laurences at 12 Well St. and lived there for several years, through the 1926 birth of my mother Peggy — their first child and the Laurences’ first grandchild.

Nov. 1926: A studio portrait of my mom Peggy at 6 months. My maternal grandmother Elizabeth , who was a fashionable dresser, seems to have gone all out on my mom’s cute winter outfit. Scan by Molly Charboneau

By 1930, the federal census shows[3]FamilySearch requires free login to view 1930 census records that my grandparents Tony (by then a garage proprietor) and Elizabeth — along with my mom and her younger sister Rita — had moved across the street to 9 Wells St.

The same year, my great-grandmother Mary’s younger sister Millie, her husband Frank Somella (a junk dealer) and their children Anthony and Marie were living with the Laurences at 12 Wells St.[4]ibid.

And so it went. House sharing, job sharing, mutual support — that was a way of life for my maternal Italian ancestors as they helped one another make progress for themselves and their children.

And much of it was wrapped up in the Laurence house at 12 Wells St.

Up next, Season’s Greetings and a holiday break for Molly’s Canopy. Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants.

© 2021 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.


References

References
1 FamilySearch requires free login to view 1920 census records.
2 FamilySearch requires free login to view WWI draft records.
3 FamilySearch requires free login to view 1930 census records
4 ibid.

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.

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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.