Tag Archives: Peter [Di Lorenzo] Laurence

1901: Peter Laurence (di Lorenzo) marries Mary “Mamie” Curcio

Sepia Saturday 582. Eighth 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

His first five years in Gloversville, Fulton County, New York (1896-1901), my Italian immigrant great-grandfather Peter D. Laurence (nee Pietro di Lorenzo) led a bachelor’s life — rooming with Italian boarders his age, working as a leather dye master and socializing  with friends when time allowed.

But according to my sister Amy’s high school biography of Peter — based on information from our mother Peg (Laurence) Charboneau — he was probably also looking for a wife.

During that time he met Mary Curcio at a social function and they planned to get married. In 1901, he opened his own junkyard and auto repair. He married Mary and they settled down to begin their family.

Let’s take a further look at the Laurence-Curcio family history.

Mary “Mamie” (Curcio) Laurence, circa 1901. This may be my great-grandmother’s engagement or wedding portrait. She certainly looks young and wistful — and the dress appears light enough to be a bridal outfit. Scan by Molly Charboneau/Charboneau-Laurence Family Collection

Meet Mamie Curcio

My great-grandmother Mary Curcio was born on 15 Aug. 1882 in Saratoga Springs, Saratoga County, N.Y.  The oldest child of Antonio and Antoinette (Del Negro) Curcio, she went by the nickname “Mamie” [pronounced MAY-mee].

Mamie’s parents immigrated separately in the late 1800s from Atena Lucana in Italy’s Salerno province. Antonio arrived first in the Five Points area of lower Manhattan. Antoinette followed, and in 1880 they married — possibly at the Little Church Around the Corner on Mott Street, but definitely in a civil ceremony witnessed by Vincenzo “Jimmy” Del Negro (Antoinette’s brother).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atena_Lucana#/media/File:Atena_Lucana1.jpg
Atena Lucana, Salerno, Campania, Italy (2004). My second great-grandparents Antonio and Antoinette (Del Negro) Curcio immigrated from Atena Lucana to the U.S. in the late 1800s. Photo: Wikimedia/Anthony Pape

Embraced by the Curcio family

By the time Peter met and fell in love with Mamie Curcio, circa 1900, her parents were well-established in Gloversville. Her father Antonio operated a junk shop located behind the family’s 128 East Fulton Street home — and her mother Antoinette was running a lively household with eight children, including Mamie.

The Curcio family must have seemed like a little slice of home to my great-grandfather Peter. As shown on the map below, Mamie’s parents’ hometown of Atena Lucana (lower right) and Peter’s hometown of Limotala (upper left) were both in Italy’s Campania region. (Click on the red icons for details.)

The young Laurence (di Lorenzo) couple

When they married circa 1901, Peter was 28 and Mamie was 19 — and they initially lived as a couple in the large Curcio household. Peter left his job as a leather dresser and began work in Antonio’s junk shop — eventually taking it over from his aging father-in-law and adding a garage/auto repair shop.

The above photo of Mamie might be her engagement or wedding portrait. She certainly looks young and wistful — and the dress appears light enough to be a bridal outfit. No doubt Peter would have wanted a photo of his bride to send back to his family in Italy.

In my Italian ancestral album, Mamie’s photo is mounted next to the portrait of Peter shown below. Could Peter’s photo have been taken near the time of the wedding as well?

Studio portrait of Peter Laurence/Pietro di Lorenzo (c. 1899-1900). In my Italian ancestral album, this portrait of Peter is mounted next to the above photo of Mamie. Could Peter’s photo have been taken near the time of the wedding as well? Scan by Molly Charboneau/Charboneau-Laurence Family Collection

Oddly, there is no wedding photo of the two of them together. Was cost a factor? Was such a photo unnecessary, since Mamie’s family knew Peter — and he would only need to send her photo to his family? As always, many unanswered questions.

Fortunately, once Mamie and Peter had children, they did take time to pose for a family portrait — and that’s coming up in the next post.

Up next: The Laurence/di Lorenzo family of Gloversville, N.Y. Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants.

© 2021 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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Silvio Pellico and the Italian Risorgimento: An ancestral connection

Sepia Saturday 581. Seventh 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

Among the photos of my Italian ancestors from Gloversville, Fulton County, N.Y., I discovered a fascinating group photo of my maternal great-grandfather Peter Laurence (née Pietro di Lorenzo), his brother Antonio and other family members at a September 4, 1910 gathering of the Societa Silvio Pellico.

This got me wondering about the society. Who was Silvio Pellico, the namesake of their fraternal group? And what role did the organization play in my ancestors’ lives?

The fraternal society era

The Gloversville gathering of the Societa Silvio Pellico took place toward the end of a 50-year period when U.S. social life centered around such clubs — according to a 2015 Detroit News article titled “Clubbing in days past: When fraternal societies ruled.”

Societa Silvio Pellico gathering in Gloversville, Fulton County, N.Y. (4 Sep. 1910). Front row, at left in apron, Peter D. Laurence (nee Pietro di Lorenzo) and, center in vest, his brother Antonio di Lorenzo. Photo: Charboneau-Laurence Family Collection

The article sums up the sweep of these clubs from the 1870s-1920s.

In the 1870s men began founding and joining new clubs by the thousands from all levels of society. Immigrants organized clubs, as did African-Americans. Women would not be left out either and created auxiliaries of men’s clubs or founded major new sisterhoods. From 1870 to the end of the 1920s Americans’ social life centered on these clubs.

Silvio Pellico fraternal groups

A newspaper search did not turn up any stories about the Gloversville society — but a general online search returned a reference to a  Societa Silvio Pellico cemetery in Roslyn, Kittitas County, Washington, which shed some light on its namesake.

Named in honor of a northern Italian patriot. Pellico was a carbonari, a member of a secret revolutionary society that influenced the development of Italian nationalism and contributed to Italian Unification in 1861. Roslyn Italians founded this lodge, Societa’ Silvio Pellico and its cemetery in the early 1900s.”

A walking tour brochure places the Silvio Pellico Cemetery in a cluster of fraternal group cemeteries in Roslyn, Wash. — including one for the Ancient Order of Foresters, which my maternal great-grandaunt Rose Curcio (Peter’s sister-in-law) was affiliated with in Gloversville. Clearly my Italian ancestors embraced the social connections offered by the fraternal club movement.

The arrest of Silvio Pellico and Piero Maroncelli (by Carlo Felice Biscarra). The painting depicts their nighttime transfer, on 26 March 1822, to prison in Austria’s Spielberg fortress in Moravia. Source: Wikimedia/Museo Civico, Casa Cavassa, Saluzzo

Silvio Pellico and the Italian Risorgimento

As for the social club’s namesake, a full history of the life of poet, writer, dramatist and revolutionary Silvio Pellico, who fought for Italian unification (aka the Resorgimento) in the early 1800s, is beyond the scope of this blog.

Suffice to say that — at the end of the Napoleanic era in Europe, when what is now Italy was placed under Austrian rule — Pellico became a voice for Italian independence and unity, for which he was arrested in 1820 and served 10 years in Austria’s Spielberg fortress in Moravia.

Pellico’s chronicle of his life in prison Le mie prigioni (My Prisons), published in 1832, was translated and widely read — perhaps even by my Italian ancestors, since there are numerous references to it in historic U.S.newspapers. Pellico’s prison diary stands as his lasting contribution to Italy’s 1861 unification..

New country, new pride

Today’s Italy was only 12 years old when my great-grandfather Peter Laurence (nee Pietro di Lorenzo) was born in 1873. When he and his brother Antonio attended the 1910 Gloversville gathering of the Societa Silvio Pellico, Italy had not yet celebrated it’s 50th Anniversary.

As Italians like Peter and Antonio went abroad to seek a better life, they carried a sense of social and cultural unity with them — along with pride in the relatively new Italy that they left behind.

That pride is memorialized in the name of their Societa Silvio Pellico — and seems to glow in the members’ faces as they raise their beer steins in this remarkable photo.

Up next: Peter D. Laurence takes a bride. Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants.

© 2021 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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1910: The di Lorenzo brothers and the Societa Silvio Pellico

Sepia Saturday 580 and 6th Annual Genealogy Blog Party Picnic. Sixth 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

On Sept. 4, 1910, a unique gathering of Italian immigrants and Italian Americans took place in Gloversville, Fulton Co., N.Y. — featuring two generations of my maternal ancestors and collateral relatives.

The event was an outdoor get-together of the Societa Silvio Pellico — likely an Italian fraternal organization, given the absence of women.

For the special occasion, the society apparently hired a professional photographer — who thankfully captured an image that holds pride of place in my family photo collection.

A unique family-community portrait

The original photo was fading when I received it, so I had it professionally copied and enhanced — asking that the identifying markings be retained.

Below is the conserved image — a unique portrait that places my Laurence-di Lorenzo ancestors in their vibrant Italian community in Gloversville, N.Y., in 1910.

Societa Silvo Pellico in Gloversville, N.Y. (Sept. 4, 1910). My maternal great-grandfather Peter, his brother Antonio, my grandfather Tony and other family members attended this unique gathering. Photo: Charboneau-Laurence Family Collection

Who’s Who in the Silvio Pellico Society

There is much to say about this remarkable photo — so let’s begin with a “Who’s Who” of the various relatives appearing in it.

In the front row, seated at left, is my maternal Italian great-grandfather Peter D. Laurence (nee Pietro di Lorenzo) — looking jaunty with his bushy mustache and wearing a white apron. He appears to be serving something out of the basin in front of him. Is it wine? Is it beer? Is it what some of the men are drinking from their little glass mugs?

Also in front, kneeling and looking handsome in a white shirt, black vest and bow tie, is Peter’s brother — my great-granduncle Antonio di Lorenzo, who came to the U.S. in 1902 but eventually went back to Italy. His appearance in this 1910 photo indicates he stayed for at least eight years.

Sitting behind Uncle Antonio, wearing a bowler hat, is Antimo Ferrara — an Italian immigrant and one of Peter’s brothers-in-law. Antimo married Julia Curcio (sister of Peter’s wife Mary Curcio), which brought him into our family orbit. They moved to nearby Amsterdam, N.Y., and had two children — Carl and Marie/Mary (as noted on the frame below his image).

Societa Silvio Pellico of Gloversville, N.Y. (Sept. 4,, 1910). From the original photo, a closer view of my great grandfather Peter (left with apron), his brother Antonio (center with vest) and Antimo Ferrara (in bowlser hat behind Antonio.) What is the significance of the tag or ribbon worn by Uncle Antonio and some of the others, including the man at right? Photo: Charboneau-Laurence Family Collection

On the edge of the building roof

At the back of the group is a row of men and boys sitting on the edge of a building roof — among them more family members.

Seated third from the right on the roof, wearing a white apron and toasting with a little glass mug, is Frank Somella — also from Italy and another of Peter’s brothers-in-law. Frank joined the family when he married Millie Curcio (another sister of Peter’s wife Mary Curcio). They had two children, Anthony and Marie — and for a time the Somella family lived with my great grandparents.

Next to Frank is a little boy with “Tony” penned over his image. That’s Peter’s older son — and my maternal grandfather — Antonio W. Laurence (aka Gramps to me and my siblings).

Societa Silvio Pellico of Gloversville, N.Y. (Sept. 4,, 1910). From the original photo, a more focused view of family members seated on the building ledge. Frank Somella (seated fourth from right, wearing an apron), my grandfather Antonio Laurence (fifth from right, the boy seated in front of Frank) and my grandfather’s brother Joe Laurence (the boy dressed in light clothes, seated eighth from left). Photo: Charboneau-Laurence Family Collection

Rounding out the family group is the little boy seated eighth from the left on the roof with “Joe” penned over his image. That’s Peter’s younger son Joseph B. Laurence — Gramps’s brother, known to us as Uncle Joe.

May questions about the photo

Having found and restored the photo, and identified family members in it, I had to wonder about the context of this gathering and the Italian society that convened it — and even arranged to have it photographed.

Was it a special celebration? An annual warm-weather event? Peter, Antonio, Frank and Antimo were all from Italy — did they know one another from back home? Were all the adults in the photo immigrants, too?

Who was Silvio Pellico, for whom their society was named? And what is the significance of the tags or ribbons worn by some of the men, including Uncle Antonio? Lots of questions — and some interesting answers — starting with the next post.

Up next: Silvio Pellico and the Italian Risorgimento. Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants. Then pop over and visit the participants in the the 6th Annual Genealogy Potluck Picnic: Blogger’s Choice.

© 2021 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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