Tag Archives: William Ray Charboneau

1930s-1940s: Frank Owen’s later years

Sepia Saturday 414: Seventh in a series about my Welsh immigrant great grandfather Francis Hugh Owen, who married into the Irish Dempsey family in Baltimore, Maryland.

After the 1922 death of his beloved wife Elizabeth C. (Dempsey) Owen, my great-grandfather Frank H. Owen, 59, lived for more than twenty-five more years — finishing up his working life, then residing with his children during his retirement.

In 1920, Frank was working as a railroad watchman and four of his adult children — Arthur, Katherine, Joe and John — still lived with him and Elizabeth. By 1930 — the start of the Great Depression — his circumstances had changed significantly.

Francis Hugh Owen in his later years, on the porch of the Otter Lake Hotel in New York’s Adirondack region. My great-grandfather spent summers there with my grandmother — his daughter Mary “Molly” (Owen) Charboneau — when it was her turn to house him. That’s where my dad Norm got to know him. Photo by Norman J. Charboneau

The 1930 U.S. Census of Baltimore City, Maryland (10th Ward), enumerated on April 9, shows Frank as the head of a household that only included his daughter Katherine, 32.

They lived at 1215 Preston St. — likely in an apartment of a multi-family dwelling, because two other households are listed at the same address.

Katherine, single, was working as a operator in a tailoring shop. Frank, widowed, was not working — so presumably retired.

They were paying a monthly rent of $25 (about $355 today). The census gave Frank’s year of immigration as 1883 and indicated he was naturalized.

Living with one child, then the next

Around 1930 seems to be when my great-grandfather Frank began living with one child, then the next — which he continued to do until the end of his life.

A 1930 City Directory of Baltimore lists Frank renting at 803 n. Payson — again with his daughter Katherine, who is listed as an “operator” at the same address.

Frank Owen’s sons Arthur and Joe with their wives (undated). From left, Nettie and Arthur Owen, Joseph and Alma Owen. My great-grandfather took turns living with his children as he aged. Photo courtesy of Jane (Owen) Dukovic

Six years later, a 1936 City Directory of Baltimore shows Frank renting at 2830 Clifton Ave. —  the same address as Arthur T. and Nettie M. Owen (his son and daughter-in-law). Arthur is listed as a salesman for the Baltimore Sales Book Company.

By the time of the 1940 U.S. Census of Baltimore City (9th Ward), enumerated on April 3, Frank was living at 607 E. Thirteenth Street with yet another son and daughter-in-law — Joseph C. and Alama P. Owen. Joe was a mechanic at an appliance factory, and they had four children under the age of 10.

From the Adirondacks to Illinois to New York City

During 1930s and ’40s, Frank also spent summers in the Adirondacks with his oldest daughter — my grandmother Mary Frances “Molly” (Owen) Charboneau, who with my grandfather Ray ran the Otter Lake Hotel. That’s where my dad Norm got to know him.

From Otter Lake,  my great-grandfather traveled by train to Illinois, where his daughter Charlotte and her husband James Wilson also hosted him for periods of time. Then he would camp out with my Aunt Kate (his daughter Katherine), who by the 1940s lived in New York City.

Francis Hugh “Frank” Owen had come a long way from Wales — and he continued to venture a long way from his Baltimore home town as his children took turns housing him in his old age. Fortunately, his vagabond existence led to some correspondence and passed-on stories about him, which I will share in the next post.

Up next: Family lore and unanswered questions about Frank Owen. Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants here.

© 2018 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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1948: Liz (Stoutner) Laurence as mother of the bride

Sepia Saturday 394: Eleventh and last in a series on piecing together the origins of my maternal grandmother Elizabeth (Stoutner) Laurence’s fashion sense.

Mother of the Bride (1948). My maternal grandmother Liz (Stoutner) Laurence (c.) was eye-catching as Mother of the Bride at my parents’ wedding. With her are  (l.) my dad’s brother and Best Man William Francis Charboneau (Uncle Frannie) and (r.) my maternal grandfather Tony W. Laurence, the Father of the Bride. Scan by Molly Charboneau

In November 1948, my maternal grandmother Elizabeth (Stoutner) Laurence, 43, appeared at my parents’ wedding as Mother of the Bride in a dress to die for.

Liz never had a bridal gown of her own, since she and my grandfather eloped — so she seems to have compensated by pulling out all the stops for my mom Peg’s wedding with an eye-catching outfit that made her a standout in the wedding party.

My grandmother looked pretty good as a Maid of Honor at her younger sister’s wedding, but Aunt Margaret would have chosen Liz’s dress for that occasion.

This time, the choice was up to Liz — and clearly, she aimed to dazzle from head to toe. She wore a black feathered fascinator hat at a jaunty angle and sported stylish eyeglasses that could be worn today. Subdued accessories — tiny watch, small drop earrings, wedding ring and corsage — meant her dress took center stage.

Stunning in copper and black

Parents of the bride and groom at my Mom and Dad’s wedding (1948). From left: William Ray and Mary (Owen) Charboneau; Norm Charboneau and Peg (Laurence) Charboneau; Liz (Stoutner) and Tony W. Laurence. Scan by Molly Charboneau

And what a dress! Shiny copper-colored stripes alternated with black matte at a bias angle on the sleeves and skirt and horizontally across the torso — so whenever Liz moved, the dress would pick up the light.

Normally, my grandmother wore flats when out with my grandfather since she was several inches taller — but she went ahead and wore strapped heels for this special occasion, which nicely complemented her dress. Long black gloves completed her stunning look.

Not to take away from anyone else in the wedding party. Everyone looked wonderful befitting their own personal styles — and it was my parents’ special day after all. But even among family, my maternal grandmother displayed a certain unique style that was all her own.

A shimmering dream

You may wonder how I know that my grandmother’s dress was copper and black, since the photos are black and white.

The explanation is simple — I actually saw the dress hanging in an attic closet during a visit to her house when I was in my twenties.

I may have asked her about it or recalled the dress from seeing my folks’ wedding photos — but what stays with me is the beautiful iridescence of the copper and the garment’s clean, tailored lines.

Years later, when my family closed out my maternal grandparents’ house after they both passed, I checked in the closet for the dress — but it was gone.

Yet its image still lingers like a shimmering dream — a beloved reminder of my maternal grandmother Liz who set a high bar for family style and lived by it all her life.

Up next: A family holiday get together. Meanwhile, please visit the posts of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants here.

© 2017 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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1934: A Charboneau reunion in the news

Third in a series on my Charboneau ancestors in New York’s Adirondack foothills during the summer of 1934.

In August 1934, my paternal grandmother Mary (Owen) Charboneau received a Self Book from a guest at the Otter Lake Hotel. In it she wrote about several happenings that summer — including a reunion of the extended Charboneau family:

http://www.the-athenaeum.org/art/list.php?m=a&s=tu&aid=626
Moose River by Levi Wells Prentice (1884). A Charboneau reunion was held in 1934 at Riverside Farm along the Moose River near Otter Lake, N.Y. My great-grandfather Will, 78; grandfather Ray, 46; and Uncle Owen, 23, attended along with my dad Norm, who was 10 years old. Artwork: The Athenaeum

Family reunion of the Charboneau clan was held Sunday, Aug. 12 – 1934 at the home of Wm. Charboneau on the Moose River at Boonville, N.Y. A large gathering were there. Ray, Owen and Norman attended from here. Next year’s reunion is to be held in Prospect Park. Pa Charboneau was the oldest member of the family at the reunion.

I vaguely remembered seeing a news clip about this reunion, so I took another look at the Old Fulton New York Postcards website. Sure enough, there was a write-up of the event in the Aug. 14, 1934, evening edition of the Rome Daily Sentinel.

Write-up of the Charbonneau Reunion in the Aug. 14, 1934. Rome Daily Sentinal. (Click image to enlarge). Source: Old Fulton New York Postcards

Headlined “Boonville: Four Clans Meet In Yearly Events,” the article included a section on the well-attended family get together — spelling Charbonneau with with a double-n (our branch uses just one):

The annual reunion of the Charbonneau family was held on the spacious lawn at Riverside Farm with Mr. and Mrs. W. D. Charbonneau and family. Dinner was served with covers laid for 64.

Oldest attendee and officer elections

My grandmother’s journal entry said my paternal great-grandfather (Pa) was the oldest at the event — and the news clip backed her up.

The oldest member present was William L. Charbonneau, 78, Dolgeville, and the youngest was Clifford Charbonneau, age one and a half years, Old Forge.

The extended Charboneau family was large enough back then to elect officers — though I am still parsing out how they and the other attendees fit into my Charboneau family tree.

Officers as follows were elected: president, Charles Donnelly, Utica; Vice President, Lawrence Charbonneau, Utica; secreatary, Mrs. William F. Karlen, Utica; treasurer, Mrs. Peter Zimmer, Oriskany.

Riverside Farm and the guest list

Curious about the venue, I did a bit of research on Riverside Farm and found a 2003 obituary for Douglas Charbonneau, 86. It said he lived on the farm as a child with his parents Louis and Vera (Jenks) Charbonneau.

According to the 1934 Daily Sentinel clip, all three were at the Charboneau reunion — as was Douglas’s brother Billy. Douglas would have been 12 at the time.

The rest of the guest list — detailed in part in the clipping above — is a roster of Charboneau relatives and in-laws , with the furthest traveling from Albany, N.Y., to attend.

Dad remembered the gathering

When my dad (Norm) and I began researching our family’s history together, he told me he remembered going to a Charboneau reunion near his Otter Lake home town when he was a kid. Perhaps this was the one.

According to my grandmother, my father went from our branch of the family — along with his father Ray, 46, and his oldest brother Owen, 23.  Dad turned 10 in July 1934, so he was old enough to retain memories of such an impressive  gathering — and I regret I never asked him more about it.

Yet my grandmother’s journal and the Rome Daily Sentinal have helped fill in that gap — providing valuable details about the Charboneau reunion that made such an impression on Dad as a boy.

Up next: A recent family reunion of my grandmother’s Dempsey-Owen family. Please stop back.

© 2017 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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