Everybody Blew Glass

I came for the embroidered cape, but stuck around for the genealogy. Seated in the middle of this handsome group is Louis Boudon. On the right are his maternal cousins Alfred and Marie Camus, with Alfred’s wife Laura (Staes) on the left. The Boudon and Camus families immigrated to the United States from France. The Lang sisters, Arsène and Eugenie, were what bound them together. Alfred and Marie were the children of Arsène. Louis was the son of Eugenie.

The Boudon troupe came from France in 1880 and settled in New York. The first of the Camus crew to arrive in America was 22-year-old Alfred in 1892. He boarded with his Aunt Eugenie’s family in Ithaca. Cousin Louis, 27, was living nearby, already married with one son and one on the way. Marie, 19, and her parents, in their 60s at the time, made their way to Ithaca on the French steamer, La Normandie, in 1893.

Photo source Corning Museum of Glass

This was a family of glass blowers; including Alfred, his father Jean Baptiste Camus, Alfred’s Grandfather Lang, Louis Boudon, and Louis’ father Laurence. Alfred’s father-in-law, Gust Staes, was a member of the Glass Makers’ Union in Belgium. Oh, and Marie married a glass man!

Photo property of Museum of American Glass

Alfred Camus tied the knot in Ithaca in 1895, but his bride, Orena Dilger, died not two months later. By the time he wed Miss Laura Staes two years later, the Camus family was living in Kane, Pennsylvania which was a magnet for glass and bottle factories due to the abundant gas wells and sandstone. Standard Window Glass, pictured above, was just one of the glass works in the area.

Louis appears to have remained living in New York until about 1910. Since this tintype photo dates to the late 1890s I wonder where it was taken. Who was visiting who? Notice the women are holding flowers. It’s possible this portrait was celebrating Alfred and Laura’s marriage in 1897.

Twenty-six year old Marie Camus wed Gustave Nicolas on September 5, 1900, just days after burying her mother. What a mix of sadness and joy that must have been. Gustave, five years Marie’s junior, was from Belgium and lived a few doors down from her brother Alfred on Janeway Street. Maybe that’s how the two met. About five months later, on January 27, 1901, the couple welcomed a son, George. Each following year another bundle of joy arrived; Clara on March 9, 1902, Jane on June 1, 1903, and Mary on July 14, 1904. This constant state of pregnancy couldn’t have been easy on Marie.

Sep. 3, 1911 ~ The Times, Shreveport (LA)

Alfred and Laura had two sons, Frank Gustave and Alfred Herman. In 1911, the family, including Laura’s parents, moved to Cedar Grove, Louisiana where Alfred was one of the founders of…you guessed it, a glass factory. The Caddo Window Glass Company opened in 1912. Based on newspaper articles from the time it was a big deal long before the first pane of glass was manufactured. And Alfred was right in the thick of the celebrations, leading a 50 piece band! Laura passed away in 1943 at the age of 64. Alfred lived five years more. His death was caused by a freak accident while visiting his son. He fell into the basement through a hole in the kitchen floor which contractors had failed to cover. Alfred and Laura are buried in Saint Joseph Cemetery in Shreveport, Louisiana.

Apr. 24, 1922 ~ Times Herald, Olean (NY)

Louis Boudon appears to have shared his cousin Alfred’s appreciation for band music. I have to imagine the two men played at least one instrument. How I wish we knew! Louis and wife Theresa (Felker) were parents to Adrian Charles and Henry Lawrence Boudon. Louis worked in the glass factories until his death in 1935. The family are buried in Saint Gabriel’s Cemetery.

Arsène and Jean Baptiste Camus had six children, but I only know of one other besides Alfred and Marie and that is Heloise, born in 1866 in France. She isn’t featured in the tintype because she didn’t land in America until December 18, 1902. Heloise, her husband Frederic Lang, and their two young daughters sailed on the S.S. La Touraine. The ship’s manifest reported that the family were “joining Gustave Nicolas living in Kane, Pa.” Heloise’s family survived the sea voyage but a missed train stop appears to have resulted in tragedy soon after their arrival. After passing their desired station, the conductor put them out and they were forced to walk back a mile in the snow. It’s important to note that Kane is located in the Allegany mountain region and is known as “The Icebox of Pennsylvania” due to extremely cold winter temperatures. Heloise and her oldest daughter, 10 year old Jeanne, contracted pneumonia and soon died.

Marie must have felt like death was stalking her…first her brother’s wife, followed by her mother, father, niece, and sister, in 1900, 1901, 1902, and 1903 respectively. If that thought did cross her mind, unfortunately she was right. Marie died in 1904. Did complications from childbirth prove fatal? Without a death record we can only speculate. Gustave never remarried. For a time he and the children lived with Marie’s Aunt Eugenie. He was remembered in his 1953 obituary as the “former Kane window glass blower and cutter.”

During all of this research, my mind always remained focused on Marie…the woman in the embroidered cape that caught my eye. None of the family trees I found list her as a daughter of Arsène and Jean Baptiste Camus. Somehow she’s been forgotten. I’ve created a public Camus family tree on ancestry (an account is required to view), sent edits and a note to the owner of her memorial on Find a Grave, and have added the tintype image to both of those platforms. I can only hope that this will help “reunite” Marie with her family.

Census records
Find a Grave
New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957
Bienvenue sur l’arbre d’Annie et Jean-Luc – Geneanet
ancestry.com user mscynthia1969 (Heloise’s death)

3 thoughts on “Everybody Blew Glass

  1. Seems there was a lot of tragedy in this family. That story about the train is just awful. I do hope Marie’s family do get in touch. I haven’t had much luck with that sort of thing, but it does happen sometimes.

    Liked by 1 person

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