Tag Archives: Ursula (Zinsk) Charbonneau

1908: Albert Charboneau leaves Hawkinsville, N.Y.

Sepia Saturday 525. Third in a series about Albert Barney Charboneau — my paternal grandfather’s brother who died in the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918.

Albert Barney Charboneau circa 1910. Scan by Molly Charboneau

Available documentation indicates that my dad’s Uncle Albert — who died in the 1918 influenza epidemic — spent his childhood and early teen years in Hawkinsville, Oneida Co., N.Y.

He was born there in 1885 and enumerated there in the 1900 U.S. census at age 15, as described in the last post.

Yet Albert’s adult years were spent in Dolgeville, Herkimer Co., N.Y., where he moved circa 1908 with his parents and three brothers — among them my paternal grandfather William Ray Charboneau — in the search of a better life.


A Black River Canal boom town

In the mid 1800s, Hawkinsville (shown below) was a small boom town located on the Black River Canal, which ferried Adirondack lumber, wood products and other goods to the Erie Canal and thence to markets throughout New York State and beyond.

My paternal French-Canadian great-great grandfather Laurent Charbonneau moved there in the 1850s, working first in the lumber industry and later as a farmer. His German-Swiss wife Ursula Zinsk, her parents and brothers also immigrated to the area, where the nearby mountains probably reminded them of home.

A thriving Hawkinsville, N.Y., in 1855 from the Rome Daily Sentinel. Click to enlarge. Source: Old Fulton Post Cards

Hawkinsville’s sad decline

But by 1900 when their eldest grandson Albert appeared in his first census at age 15, Hawkinsville has fallen on hard times. An 11 Oct. 1939 article in the Rome, N.Y. Daily Sentinel titled “Bustling Village Fades To Hamlet With One Mill” summarizes the town’s decline.

A busy, thriving, industrial town, with prospects for a bright future was Hawkinsville, shown in the picture taken above about 1855, but the course of the Black River Railroad completely changed the picture.

Hawkinsville in the early days was larger than Boonville and had every prospect of growing steadily, until the railroad was built through Boonville, leaving Hawkinsville entirely off its course. Gradually the mills closed until the hamlet can now boast of but one mill.

The Dolgeville decision

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/39231713/lawrence-charbonneau
Lawrence (Laurent) Charbonneau’s  stone, Beechwood Cemetery, Forestport, Oneida County,  N.Y. Source: Find a Grave

Such an unfortunate demise for a village that once boasted three churches, two hotels, two saloons, a carpenter shop, four blacksmith shops, a wagon-shop, a cheese factory, a tannery, a millinery store — and so many mills that it was originally called Slab City for the slab wood turned out there, according to the same article.

Nevertheless, it may have been a sad family event that ultimately sealed the Charboneau family’s decision to leave Hawkinsville for good — the 1902 death of my great-great grandfather Laurent Charbonneau.

While Laurent was living, his home, land and farm may have anchored the family. But once the Charboneau family patriarch was gone, why not strike out for new opportunities? And those opportunities beckoned from the expanding Mohawk Valley town of Dolgeville in nearby Herkimer Co., N.Y.

There, German immigrant Alfred Dolge had set up a unique factory complex that drew thousands of workers from the U.S. and abroad — among them Uncle Albert, his parents and three brothers — and turned the sleepy town of Brockett’s Bridge into a bustling manufacturing center that was renamed Dolgeville in his honor.

More on this in the next post. 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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1865: The Lawrence Charbonneau family in Boonville, N.Y.

First in a series about my paternal Charbonneau and Zinsk ancestors in New York State’s Adirondack region during the 1800s.

January is here, and winter is settling over the Adirondack foothills. What better time to resume the search for details about my Québecois immigrant great, great grandfather Lawrence Charles Charbonneau in the Town of Forestport, Oneida County, New York.

http://www.woodgatelibrary.org/wg_history_images/myers_coll_forestport/index.htm
Town of Forestport, Oneida County, N.Y., below the state dam. My Charbonneau ancestors were enumerated in the 1865 NYS Census for Boonville, N.Y. — which is located in the Town of Forestport. Image: Woodgate Library – Postcards of Forestport – Meyers Collection

When last I wrote about Lawrence in A Charboneau by any other surname variant, I was grappling with the multitude of surname spellings that was frustrating my search for records of my gg grandfather’s early years in upstate New York.

He last appeared with his family of origin as Laurent Charbonneau, 20, in the 1851-52 Canadian Census for St. Eustache, Deux Montagnes, Québec — chronicled in 1852: Charbonneau family of St. Eustache.

Presumably he moved south into New York State some time after that Canadian census — but when? In hopes of finding an answer, I began a series of online U.S. and New York State census searches working through the various census-taker spellings of Charbonneau.

An 1865 census breakthrough

A breakthrough finally came when I found Lawrence Charbono and family in the 1865 New York State Census for Boonville, Oneida, N.Y. — a census entry that helps narrow down the year he likely settled in New York State.

 1865 New York State Census of Boonville, Oneida, N.Y. – E.D. 02-03  – 15 June 1865  – Page 19 (penned), dwelling 143, family 143 – from FamilySearch.org
No.  Name  Age  Reln. Birthplace Births Times Wed Job
14 Lawrence Charbono  33 Canada  1  Sawyer
15 Angeline Charbono  30  Wife Switzerland 3  1  None
16 Willard L. Charbono  7  Child Oneida

The ages, birthplaces, occupation and and family structure in this census report coincide with other records in my files for the Lawrence Charbonneau family. So, despite the surname variant, this appears to be my gg grandfather’s family.

My great grandfather Will Charboneau (who later shortened his surname by dropping an n) appears here for the first time as a child at age 7 — putting his birth at about 1858 in Oneida County, New York.

Based on this information, Lawrence likely settled in New York State some time between 1851-52 (when he last appeared in the Canadian census) and 1857 (the year before his son was born Oneida County, N.Y.) — a span of about 5 years.

My great, great grandmother’s details

Also of interest are the details on my Swiss immigrant great, great grandmother (maiden name: Zinsk) — which suggest new avenues for research.

Her given name here is Angeline — which appears in other records I have for her. But in most later records, her given name is Ursula. Was Angeline her middle name? Perhaps for that reason, was it the name she went by in everyday life? Hence the one she gave to the census taker in 1865?

Next to her name in Column 11 (“Of how many children the parent.”) the census taker wrote three  — yet only Will is enumerated in this 1865 census. What became of the other two children?

New mysteries to be solved — more in the next post.

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Swiss family Zinsk

Letter Z: Last of twenty-six posts in the April 2016 Blogging From A to Z Challenge. Crossed the finish line today! Thanks for joining me on the journey!

The Swiss family Zinsk was a late arrival on my family tree . They showed up unexpectedly while I was investigating my paternal Charbonneau ancestors — and restored Switzerland as a long-forgotten source of my family’s roots.

http://backroadstraveller.blogspot.com/search?q=Otter+Lake+Community+Church
Otter Lake Community Church (2015). My Swiss ancestors, the Zinsk family, attended services here when it was St. Trinitatis — a German Evangelical Lutheran parish in Hawkinsville, Oneida County, N.Y. The church was later moved to its present location on Route 28 in Otter Lake, where it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2004. Photo by Tom/The Backroads Traveller

I was excited about our Swiss ancestry because my family was completely unaware of this heritage  — or so I thought until I called my dad to tell him the breaking news.

“You know, I seem to remember hearing something about that,” Dad said thoughtfully, while I rolled my eyes and had a face-palm moment at the other end of the phone.

Yet in some ways it’s understandable how awareness of our Swiss heritage might have faded with each succeeding generation, given how challenging it was to find details about these elusive ancestors.

Seeking Ursula’s maiden name

My first hint of our paternal Swiss ancestry came from the 1900 U.S. Census for Forestport, Oneida County, N.Y. The record for my great, great grandfather Laurent Charles Charbonneau (spelled Charbono), who emigrated from Quebec to New York’s Adirondack foothills, listed his wife Ursula — born in Switzerland.

To learn more, we needed her maiden name — always a challenge. So Dad and I added this to the list of goals for our next pre-Internet family history road trip in August 1992.

We examined Laurent’s tombstone in Beechwood Cemetery, Forestport, Oneida County, N.Y., but the inscription was no help. All it said was “Ursula, His Wife.”

Then Dad and I found Laurent’s obituary in the Irwin Library and Institute in Boonville, Oneida County, N.Y. — but Ursula’s name did not appear in that, either, much to Dad’s chagrin.

A census breakthrough

Clearly, we needed more to go on. So back I went to the census, where the various spellings for Charbonneau (such as Charbono, Charbonno, Sharbono and Sherbenon) slowed my microfilm research.

But one evening — while browsing door-to-door through the 1870 U.S. Census for Boonville, Oneida County, N.Y. — I found Nicholas Zink, 84, and Barnard Zink, 40, (both from Switzerland), living in the home of Laurence Sharbono (from Canada) and his wife Angeline [Ursula](from Switzerland). This looked like the breakthrough we needed on Ursula’s maiden name!

There were more surname variants to come — from Zink to Sink to Zingg  to Zinsk — which eventually led to records that clarified our Swiss ancestors’ family relationships and even identified the church where they worshipped, shown above.

Best of all: I found my ggg grandfather Nicholas’s naturalization papers, on which his signature confirmed Zinsk as the correct spelling of the surname — opening the door to future research into my family’s once-hidden Swiss heritage.


With this post, I have completed my first April 2016 Blogging From A to Z Challenge on the theme Ancestors From A to Z. I made it! I’m thrilled! And I can’t wait to order my tee-shirt!

Coming soon – One-stop summary: Ancestors from A to Z Please stop back for the victory lap.

© 2016 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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