Tag Archives: Peter [Di Lorenzo] Laurence

1899: Introducing my Italian great-grandfather Peter D. Laurence (di Lorenzo)

Sepia Saturday 574. Genealogy Blog Party June 2021. First in a photo series on my maternal Italian  ancestors from Gloversville, Fulton County, New York.

Featuring photos of my maternal Italian ancestors from this Laurence-di Lorenzo-Curcio family album. Photo: Molly Charboneau

We all have bucket lists — and prominent on mine is to scan, preserve and share the large photo archive passed down from both sides of my family.

My maternal ancestors in particular — Italian and German immigrants and their descendants — sat for studio portraits in the late 1800s and early 1900s, which they likely sent to family back home as a way of staying connected.

Later, as popular photography emerged, casual portraits of my maternal and paternal ancestors at work and play also began to fill family albums.

https://pixabay.com/photos/camera-old-antique-voigtlander-711040/
Antique camera. Perhaps the time has come to let ancestral photos guide the narrative rather than the other way around. Photo: Pixabay

These photographs meant something to my ancestors. So perhaps the  time has come to let ancestral photos guide the narrative rather than the other way around —  starting with a photograph of my great-grandfather Peter Laurence [di Lorenzo]

Portrait of Peter Laurence [di Lorenzo]

For decades, a large studio portrait of my maternal Italian immigrant great-grandfather Peter Laurence hung on the dining room wall of my parents’ home. It was a colorized photo in a rectangular frame, and showed him sitting proudly in his Italian army uniform.

One of my siblings now has the large portrait, while I have a smaller black and white version of the same photograph — which happily contains some valuable notations.

Peter D. Laurence (aka di Lorenzo) in 1899, not long after his arrival in the U.S. Scan of family photo by Molly Charboneau

My maternal grandmother Elizabeth (Stoutner) Laurence — who married Peter’s oldest son Antonio — thoughtfully wrote Peter’s name on the front.

There is also a photographer’s mark — W. L. Havens, Gloversville — which does not appear on the larger, colorized portrait.

I had long assumed that the photograph was taken in Italy and that Peter brought it with him — but here is the proof that the photo was taken in the U.S.

Reverse-side clues

The back of the photo also contains details that help place Peter’s photo in context.

My great-grandfather’s name is printed in the center of the back as “Peter D. Laurence.” He was born Pietro di Lorenzo — and in this anglicized version of his name, he included a middle initial D in an apparent bow to his birth name.

Back of photo of Peter D. Laurence (aka di Lorenzo) showing an Oct. 21, 1899 date and printed name. Scan of family photo by Molly Charboneau

The back of the photo also includes a crucial date, Oct. 21, 1899 — which means it was taken three years after my great-grandfather’s 1896 arrival in the U.S. and the year before he first appeared in a U.S. census in 1900.

Peter appears confident and forward looking in this photograph, which may be the first one taken of him in Gloversville, Fulton County, N.Y. — his new U.S. home.

Yet he nostalgically hearkens back to his country of origin by posing in his Italian army uniform — which, incidentally, still fit him pretty well.

Amazing how much information can be contained in just one ancestral photograph! What will subsequent photos reveal?

Up next: More on Peter Laurence [di Lorenzo]. Please stop back! Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants here. Then head on over to the June 2021 Genealogy Blog Party: “How You Did It” for valuable family history research techniques.

© 2021 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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A Stoutner by any other surname variant

Sepia Saturday 507. First in a new series my maternal German ancestors of Gloversville, Fulton Co., N.Y. — starting with the Stoutner family.

The 1926 birth of my mother Margaret Antoinette Laurence linked four immigrant families in Gloversville, Fulton Co., N.Y.  Shown are my grandparents proudly holding my mom, their firstborn child — who went by Peggy in her youth, shortened to Peg as an adult.

Proud parents. My maternal grandparents Tony and  Liz (Stoutner) Laurence proudly pose outside their Gloversville, N.Y., home with my mom Peggy shortly after her 1926 birth. Their marriage brought together four immigrant family lines — Laurence [DiLorenzo], Curcio, Mimm and Stoutner — and opened the door to some interesting genealogy research for descendants like me. Photo scan by Molly Charboneau
My mom’s father Anthony W. “Tony” Laurence was Italian-American. His father Peter Laurence [nee DiLorenzo] arrived from Italy’s Campania region circa 1895 and married U.S.-born Mary “Mamie” Curcio, whose parents had immigrated earlier from the same area.

My mom’s mother Elizabeth Christina “Liz” Stoutner was German-American. The parents of her mother Celia Mimm had immigrated from Baden-Württemburg, and the forebears of her dad Andrew J. “Pete” Stoutner hailed from Prussia.

Ah, those surname variants

Thus begins the journey to unpack my maternal ancestry one family at a time — starting with the Stoutners. And as with many immigrants, right away there is the challenge of surname variants.

My grandmother and her siblings went by Stoutner — spelled just that way — and her dad’s generation seems to have done the same, judging by census and other records.

But was that the original surname of my immigrant great-great grandfather Andrew Stoutner? Maybe not.

While pursuing city directories for Gloversville, Fulton Co., N.Y., I found the spelling of “Stoutner” had changed over the years — with at least two possible surname variants emerging, as shown below

Gloversville, Kingsboro and Johnstown City Directories – Fulton Couty, N.Y. – Various Listings for Andrew Stoutner – 1875-1890
Year Name Occupation Residence
1875 Stautner Andrew brickmaker house 1 Wells
1879-80 Stoudner Andrew brick maker 1 Wells
1880-81 Stoudner Andrew brickmaker 1 Wells
1882 Stautner Andrew Brick mnfr., off . Fulton, out corp. 4 Wells
1885-1890 Stoutner Andrew Brick mnfr., off . Fulton, out corp. 4 Wells

In addition to Stautner and Stoudner, I have found several other variations during online searches — including Staudtner, Staudner, Stettner, Steudner, and Statner. So what’s a descendant to do? Take it step by step, name by name, and see what turns up!

Fortunately, Stoutner eventually became the preferred surname spelling of my ancestors in Gloversville city directories, census enumerations and newspaper articles. So at least for U.S. research, this surname spelling should yield results.

A new Stoutner address?

One other discovery in my preliminary Stoutner sleuthing was a new address — 1 Wells St. — for Andrew and his family from 1875-1881.

My mother was familiar with the brick home he built across the street at 4 Well St.  She and I visited and photographed that house on a 1992 genealogy road trip to her Gloversville hometown.

So what more can I find out about these homes? Quite a bit, it turns out — thanks to the Internet and various real estate and other online sites. Stay tuned for new house-hunting discoveries in the next post.

Up Next: The Stoutner homes on Wells Street –– second in a new series about my maternal ancestors. 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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NYS Library: A new family find in Gloversville city directories

Sepia Saturday 504. Fourth in a series based on recent research discoveries at the NYS Archives & Library: More on my maternal immigrant ancestors of Fulton County, N.Y.

On a recent trip to the New York State Archives and Library, I spent time perusing the library’s large collection of city directories for Gloversville, N.Y., where my maternal immigrant German and Italian ancestors lived from the mid 1800s.

While many of the directories have been digitized, scrolling through the library’s microfilm allowed me to browse multiple ancestors at once — and to experience the broad sweep of my mother’s extended Gloversville family in just a few hours.

North Main St. and Family Theatre, Gloversville, Fulton County, N.Y. (circa 1908). My maternal German and Italian ancestors lived here from the mid 1800s, working in the glove industry or as small proprietors. The NYS Library’s city directories for Gloversville helped me verify when they were first listed, where they lived and their occupations.

Beginning with the 1879-80 directory, I set an initial goal of searching the collection chronologically to see when each of my immigrant ancestors first appeared. Yet as I went on, I remembered collateral relatives I wanted to include — and before long my mother’s Gloversville ancestral tree began to take shape before me, one year at a time.

My German ancestors arrived first

I knew that my German forebears were the first to arrive in Gloversville. So I was not surprised to find my great-great grandfathers Andrew Stoutner and Joseph Mimm in the 1879-80 directory for Gloversville, Kingsboro and Johnstown, as excerpted below..

In contrast, the first listing for my great-great grandfather Antonio Curcio, from Italy’s Campania region, did not appear until 1891. Last to appear in 1903 was my great-grandfather Peter Laurence (nee Di Lorenzo), also from the Campania region, who married Antonio’s oldest daughter Mamie after his 1895 arrival in Gloversville.

Gloversville, Fulton Co., N.Y. -My Immigrant Ancestors’ First City Directory Listing – Source: New York State Library
Year Name Address Occupation
1879 Andrew Stoutner (appears as Stoudner) Wells St. Brick Maker
1879 Joseph A. Mimm Broad c. Fifth Tool Maker
1891 Antonio Curcio 84 E. Fulton Junk Dealer
1903 Peter Laurence (nee Di Lorenzo) (appears as Lawrence) 128 E. Fulton Laborer

A surprise Curcio address

I expected the city directory listings to simply reinforce what I already knew about my Gloversville ancestors from censuses and other sources. What I didn’t expect was a new-to-me address for Antonio Curcio at 84 E. Fulton Street!

As far as I knew, the Curcios had always lived at 128 E. Fulton Street — where their son-in-law Peter Laurence lived with them in 1903.

1891: Gloversville and Johnstown City Directory. (Click to enlarge.) My great-great grandfather A. Curcio is the last name on this page. It’s his first listing in a Gloversville city directory — and at a new-to-me address! Photo by Molly Charboneau

So I later followed up with searches of online Gloversville city directories, and sure enough — in 1891, 1892 and 1893 the Curcios lived at 84 E. Fulton Street. Antonio was not listed at 128 E. Fulton Street until 1894.

Valuable lessons

Genealogy research trips offer valuable lessons, even for longtime family historians — as I learned during my time at the NYS Library.

First, city directories are excellent substitutes for the 1890 federal census, which was destroyed in a fire. Although these books don’t always include female ancestors, they can help place listed ancestors in a time and place. Thus the 1890s directories unexpectedly rewarded me with the Curcios’ first Gloversville address.

The other lesson? Finding family history records and filing them away, as I have done for years with my maternal forebears, are only the first steps in reconstructing an ancestral story. It’s the time spent studying those records — and thoughtfully examining new ones — that truly teases out an ancestor’s narrative.

Well okay, I already knew that. But it never hurts to be reminded.

Up next: One more research discovery at the NYS Library and Archives. 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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