Tag Archives: Peter [Di Lorenzo] Laurence

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 1919: Tony Laurence & the mysterious vehicle crash

Sepia Saturday 598. Twentieth in a photo blog series on my maternal Italian ancestors from Gloversville, Fulton Co., N.Y.

We all have them. Those mystery photos, with no caption, that show a major event in our ancestors’ lives. Those pictures that are worth a thousand words — too bad nobody thought to write down one or two to give us a heads up. So, we are left to conjecture and try to make sense of the images left behind in albums, boxes or file drawers.

One of my more intriguing mystery photos is shown below. It features an overturned vehicle – possibly a car, but more likely a truck – lying belly up by the side of the road. Tires in the air, running boards aloft, license plate askew and debris strewn about seem to indicate a major accident.

Mystery vehicle crash with inset of Tony Laurence (circa 1919). This photo has no caption or other markings. So, what happened and how was my maternal grandfather involved? Scan by Molly Charboneau

Oddly, there is an inset photo of my Italian American maternal grandfather Antonio W. “Tony” Laurence, who may have been about 17 years old at the time the photo was taken. In the distance, past the vehicle wreck, two standing women appear to be pondering what may have happened – much as I am doing now, in the absence of other clues.

A few possibilities come to mind: Tony was in the crash or he saved someone after the crash or he towed the vehicle from the scene long after the emergency was over. So, let’s unpack the possibilities and see what emerges.

Possibility 1: Tony was in the crash

This option does not seem likely. Although this photo looks like a newspaper memorial for someone who died in a vehicular crash, my grandfather Tony lived to age 80. I also don’t remember any references in the family to him being in a serious roll-over like this one. And I have not yet found any newspaper articles linking him to such an accident.

Possibility 2: Tony saved someone after the crash

This option seems more likely. At age 17, according to the 1920 U.S. census of Gloversville, Fulton County, NY,[1]FamilySearch requires free login to view records Tony was working as a junk collector in his father Peter’s junk dealership. He may have been out on his rounds, saw or came upon this accident, and helped the driver/passengers out of the overturned vehicle – meriting an inset portrait in the larger photo of the accident.

Gloversville Morning Herald, 27 March 1919. An ad for my great-grandfather Peter Laurence’s junk dealership, which he took over from his father-in-law, Antonio Curcio. Image: fultonhistory.com

Possibility 3: Tony towed the vehicle after the crash

This option is not out of the question. Peter Laurence had a tow truck, and Tony later operated it to rescue stranded vehicles. However, it seems unlikely that Tony would have gotten a cameo photo for the routine task of righting and hauling off a vehicle after it overturned.

There is no way to know for sure what happened — unless future research turns up some solid evidence. But my best guess is Possibility 2: My grandfather came to the rescue to help people out of the overturned vehicle – earning him a hero spotlight in this mystery photo.

Up next, more mystery photos of my Italian extended family. 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 records

Circa 1915: Tony and Joe, the Laurence Teens

Sepia Saturday 597. Nineteenth in a photo blog series on my maternal Italian ancestors from Gloversville, Fulton Co., N.Y.

At one time, the teen years weren’t recognized in U.S. popular culture as a special time of life. That changed after WWII, according to Derek Thompson in his Saturday Evening Post article titled “A Brief History of Teenagers.”

“The teenager emerged in the middle of the 20th century thanks to the confluence of three trends in education, economics, and technology. High schools gave young people a place to build a separate culture outside the watchful eye of family. Rapid growth gave them income, either earned or taken from their parents. Cars (and, later, another mobile technology) gave them independence.

This sociological development occurred after my maternal grandfather Tony Laurence (b. 1902) and his brother Joe (b. 1903) were adults. Yet their adolescent photos shown below, from circa 1915, seem to reveal the type of teenage changes we recognize today.

Circa 1915: My maternal grandfather Antonio W. “Tony” Laurence at about age 13. He posed for this photo at Forbes Studio in Gloversville, N.Y. Scan by Molly Charboneau

More mature expressions

In his baby and toddler photos, my grandfather Tony looked playful and sported an infectious grin. In this teen picture, however, he looks more serious and worldly in a stiff-collared shirt, suit jacket and tie.

The same is true of his younger brother, my mom’s Uncle Joe. Although he was a “tween” in 1915 — about the time these photos were taken — he also looks more staid and serious than in his youth. Every hair is in place and he also wears a suit, shirt and tie.

Circa 1915: My maternal grandfather ‘s younger brother Joseph Bernard Laurence at about age 12. He posed for this photo at Forbes Studio in Gloversville, N.Y. Scan by Molly Charboneau

The Forbes Studio

Tony and Joe posed for their photos at Forbes Studio of Gloversville, N.Y. — a different studio than the one their parents took them to as children. So I went online see what I could find about this photographer, and discovered an interesting ad.

Gloversville Morning Herald, Oct. 12, 1915. Source: fultonhistory.com

Forbes Studio apparently joined other Gloversville businesses in the raffle of a “Pony outfit” — which I am guessing may have been a Halloween costume, since the ad appeared in October 1915.

Forbes Studio placed other ads in the Gloversville newspapers over several decades encouraging parents to bring their children in for portraits at the start of each new school year.

Headed for adulthood

Whatever the impetus, I am glad my great-grandparents Peter and Mary (Curcio) Laurence/di Lorenzo took my grandfather and Uncle Joe to have these photos taken at a transitional point in their young lives.

In 1915, my Laurence/di Lorenzo ancestors were still living at 128 E. Fulton Street — in the crowded Curcio household of Mary’s parents (and my great-great grandparents) Antonio and Antoinette (Del Negro ) Curcio. My grandfather Tony and his brother Joe were both still in school.

Yet how handsome and mature they looked as they headed toward adulthood. And how grateful I am for these portraits — the only adolescent images of Tony and Joe that I have found in the family photo collection.

Up next, my grandfather Tony in a mystery photo. Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants.

© 2021 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.