My Adventure Through Our Family Tree Branches

For over 50 years my Dad researched both his and my Mom's family tree branches - and loved every minute of it! Trying to fulfill the promise I made him the last month of his life, I have spent the past four years continuing where he left off - finding out about all the many family members who came before us, from the many branches of our family trees. The histories will still be published as my Dad always wanted. But what he wanted most was to share the stories of the people who came before us - the places they lived, the cultures of the times, the families they created, and the circumstances - good and bad - that would one day lead to us, their descendants. These are the stories of my Mom's families. . . .

Surnames in this Blog

BRUNETT, DeGRUY, DeLERY, FLEMMING, FORTIER, FRISSE, HORST, HUBER, JACKSON, McCAFFREY, McCLUSKEY, O'DONNELL, WEINSCHENK



Wednesday, November 19, 2014

WONDERFUL WEDNESDAY'S PHOTOS - Happy 130th Birthday, Grandmother Pearl Horst Flemming!



Today is a special day - 130 years ago today, on November 19, 1884, my great-grandmother Pearl Alphonsine Horst Flemming was born. She was the middle of five children, and the oldest daughter, born to Charles Frederick Horst (1856-1912) and Felicite Odalie Fortier (1857-1920). Her father was born in Mobile, Alabama, and her mother in New Orleans, Louisiana, but about 1883 they moved, along with their two sons Charles Frederick Horst, Jr. (1880-1864) and Edward Martin Horst (1882-1812) to Cincinnati, Ohio, because of Charles, Sr.'s health. It was here that Pearl was born, most likely in the home of Charles' paternal aunt, Elizabeth Horst Ginter (1827-1877) at 30 Rittenhouse. Her father worked in a saloon, as he had in Mobile. It was also in Cincinnati that her younger brother Omer Leo Horst (1887-1945) was born.
(clockwise from top left) Charles, Edward, Pearl
and Omer in Cincinnati, Ohio (ca. 1892)

The family lived in Cincinnati until the early 1890's when they moved and settled permanently in Birmingham, Alabama. Charles went into business with his brother Edward P. Horst (1858-1901) who was owner and saloon keeper of the Palace Royal Saloon, serving as the "Mixologist" at the bar. It was in Birmingham that Pearl and her brothers went to public school at the Powell School on 6th Avenue North and 24th Street. In 1896 her younger sister Odalie Marie Horst, later Wittges, (1896-1990) was born.

On April 18, 1906, Pearl married Harry Clinton Flemming (1878-1955), who had moved with his family to Birmingham from his birthplace of Rome, Georgia. They were married at St. Paul's Cathedral; Harry was 28 and Pearl was 21. Harry bought their first and only home that year, in Birmingham's new Southside neighborhood at 1402 N. 17th Street. Harry was an Engineer on the Great Alabama Southern Railroad, taking him out of town every other night. Because of this Pearl was too afraid to live in the house for the first year as she felt it was "too far out" from the city, so she continued living with her parents, who lived at 2430 4th Avenue North.

Pearl (standing) with (l to r) daughter Susie, Harry,
and son Harry, Jr. - Birmingham, Alabama (1914)
Pearl and Harry had eight children: Pearl Alphonsine, born 1907; Susan Elizabeth, born 1909; Odalie Felice, born 1911; Harry Clinton, Jr., born 1913; Charles Frederick, born 1916; John Edward, born 1918; Margaret Mary, born 1920; and Ann Marie, born 1923.

Lots of stories have been told about Pearl through the years - of her dedication to the Catholic Church and the Cathedral where she and her family attended; of her big holiday gatherings of family every year for holiday dinners that she prepared; of her marriage and the love of her husband. There are other stories I have heard, most from my grandmother Susie, who "never let the truth get in the way of a good story." So I won't repeat them. But her life and accomplishments prove that she was quite a remarkable woman.

She raised eight children, all to adulthood. She remained married to her husband for 49 years, until his death. She received the proEcclesia et Pontifica medal from Pope Pius XXIII the year before her death for her work within the Catholic Church. She sent two sons off to war during WWII. She was the grandmother of twenty-five. At the time of her death she was also the great-grandmother of thirteen, with many more to come. She died on September 25, 1961, less than one month before I was born.

49th Wedding Anniversary Party - with Children (1955)

Today marks 130 years since baby Pearl Alphonsine was born in a tenement row in Cincinnati, Ohio, beginning a lifetime of 76 happy, productive years on Earth, serving her husband, her children, the less fortunate in our community and God. So, Happy Birthday, Grandmother Pearl!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

THURSDAY'S TREASURE - The 1993 Flemming Family Cookbook

I love October! I love the cooler weather, the changing leaves, decorating the yard for Halloween and celebrating my birthday. One special thing I really look forward to doing each year is baking Pumpkin Bread - eating it as well as sharing it with friends and family. It wasn't something I grew up with - we were strictly homemade Banana Bread people. But that all changed 21 years ago.
My copy of The Flemming Family Cookbook

In the summer of 1993 I organized a Flemming Family Reunion in Birmingham, Alabama. [Click here to see more - 1993 Flemming Family Reunion post] It wasn't the first one ever held, but it was my first to plan. And part of the event included each family receiving a very special family cookbook that I had published, comprised only of special recipes from members of our extended Flemming Family. Each adult was asked to send in 5 recipes that were special to their own families, so that for generations forward families could still prepare the dish exactly as their grandmothers, great-grandmothers and great-great-grandmothers had prepared it. There are even recipes in the book sent in by some fathers and grandfathers.

And one of the recipes that I have made every year - especially in the fall - is "Pumpkin Bread", found on page 43 in the "Bread" chapter.  It was sent in by Jane Hale Flemming (1919-2003), wife of Joseph Lambert Flemming (1918-1985). [One of Jane & Joe's daughters-in-law sent in the same recipe for the "Holiday Specialties" chapter.] Joe is the son Charles Clinton Flemming (1884-1935) and Katherine Aurelia Lambert (1885-1935); his grandparents, Charles Clinton Flemming (1854-1932) and Elizabeth Agnes McCaffrey (1858-1922), are my great-great-grandparents. [NOTE: His father Charles is the younger brother of my great-grandfather Harry Clinton Flemming (1878-1955), making Joe a first cousin of my grandmother Susie Flemming O'Donnell (1909-1999).]

But this recipe for Pumpkin Bread is Jane's recipe, one she made for her own family - including her six children and thirteen grandchildren. I don't know where she got it, or how for how many years she made the bread, but I'm so glad she did. It is THE BEST - full of spices like nutmeg, cinnamon & cloves. It makes the house smell wonderful and the flavor is amazing! It's now part of my family's tradition.


My Much Used Pumpkin Bread Recipe, page 43
For the past ten years or so I began adding chocolate chips to half or all of my recipe before I bake the loaves (the recipe makes two). My middle child made the suggestion after coming home from a school Thanksgiving party proclaiming he had eaten "the best pumpkin muffins." Knowing that he had to be wrong I questioned further and found that he thought the pumpkin part wasn't as good but it had chocolate chips baked inside. So now I often add them to the recipe. I also bake the recipe into muffins and share them, if we haven't already eaten them all.

This is only one of the 297 recipes inside the cookbook. It includes recipes from many family members who are now deceased, including my grandmother, her sisters, and many of her cousins. There are recipes from the next generation younger than them, as well as from my own generation.  Included are recipes for "9 Day Slaw" from Rita Obering Flemming (1923-1994); "Oyster Pie" from Margaret Flemming Selman (1920-2013); "Pecan Pralines" from OD Flemming Daly (1911-1994); "Shrimp Stuffed Potatoes" from Mike Flemming Millican (1910-2003), and "White Wine Sauce" from Jack Flemming (1918-2008) and his wife Georgia Rice Flemming (1918-2005). I haven't tried one recipe yet that isn't yummy.

At the time I had the book professionally printed I was the mother of one child, just one-year-old. Now I've got 3 kids, the youngest a senior in high school. And I've got a cookbook saved for each of them, for when they set up their own homes. I think it's a wonderful family treasure that countless families have enjoyed, and can enjoy for years to come. If you don't have one for you to use, or for your children or grandchildren, I have good news....

**FOR SALE** A couple of years ago I had a second printing of the cookbook made, so that other generations - many who were too little to have their own book twenty years ago, some who weren't even born yet - can have their own copies to use and enjoy. I will be putting some of the books up for sale on E-bay for the next couple of weeks for anyone who may want a copy. Just type in "1993 Flemming Family Cookbook". The cost is just $18.95, plus shipping. On E-bay you can charge the book or books. If you want to buy one and would rather deal with me directly you can contact me by email or Facebook.  ***FAMILY MEMBERS ONLY*** It will make a great gift for the holidays, or to include in a wedding/shower gift.  I only have 26 copies left.  If you want one, don't hesitate to order your copy today. I won't be making any new copies anytime soon.

P.S. - Enjoy the Pumpkin Bread!


Saturday, September 20, 2014

SATURDAY'S STRUCTURES - Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, LaGrange, Kentucky

When my great-great-grandfather Patrick O'Donnell died in June 1911 he included the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in LaGrange, Oldham County, Kentucky as a benefactor of his estate - his family's parish. I had previously assumed, incorrectly, that my O'Donnell family had been members of the Church of Saint John Chrysostom in Henry County, and have even written a post here about this church. But recently in reading the small print of Patrick's will I was proven wrong.

This brief history of the church comes from History & Families Oldham County, Kentucky: The First Century 1824-1924.
"The history of the Immaculate Conception Parish in Oldham County dates back to the mid-1800s. When the construction of the L&N Railroad between Cincinnati and Louisville began, the railroad company maintained its shops in LaGrange. Many of the railroad workers were Irish Catholics. Priest from the Cathedral of the Assumption and St. Joseph's Church in Louisville served the Catholics in Oldham County. In 1871 a resident pastor was appointed for St. Aloysius Church in Peewee Valley, and LaGrange Catholics formed its Mission Church.
Father William Hogarty, pastor of St. Aloysius and the LaGrange Mission Church (1873-1877) built the first church at LaGrange and placed it under the patronage of Mary Immaculate. A majority of its members included the men employed by the railroad and their families. The land from the church was purchased from the Joseph Sauer family for the sum of $150.00, to be paid in three payments of $50.00 each. This church seated about 300 people. It was located on North Street (which was later renamed Madison Street) between 1st and 2nd avenues. It was dedicated on Dec. 6, 1875, with a list of the pewholders: Alex McKie, Mr. A. Carrol, Pat O'Donnell, Joseph Sauer, Ned Kenney, Michael Kenney, Mrs. L.A. Conners, James McLaughlin, Thomas Curley, Dan Delaney, Maurice Whelan, John Donaghue and George Boemicke. (note: bold italics from me)
The construction and the upkeep of the church was all the result of the labors of the people of the congregation: no memorial gifts or large sums of money were donated.
The church recorded its first marriage on April 16, 1877, when Michael Kenney, son of Patrick Kenney and Honora Doyle, married Sara McLaughlin, a widow. The witnesses were John Kenney and Bridget Doyle and Fr. William Hogarty was the officiating priest.

Immaculate Conception Catholic Church
LaGrange, Kentucky (built 1900)
In 1899 the railroad moved its main operation from LaGrange to Louisville. Most of the Catholic workers moved with it and the parish began to dwindle. The church history indicates that the original church was torn down and a much smaller one was erected on the same site in 1900." [page 200]
 As a mission church, the LaGrange church held Mass once a month during the winter while in summer parishioners were expected to attend St. Aloysius in Pewee Valley.

A third church was built in LaGrange in 1950 and this church (right) was also torn down.  It is no longer a mission church, having received official status as a parish in 1956.

[NOTE: I have researched the church for hours but have not found any photograph or picture of the original church built by the parishioners, including Patrick O'Donnell. I am still waiting to hear back from the priest in charge of the Archives of the Diocese of Louisville. But I wanted to include this picture of the second church built in 1900 after the original was torn down. Patrick and his daughter Josie, who cared for him in his last years, would have attended this church.]

PATRICK O'DONNELL
Patrick O'Donnell married Bridget Kennedy (1838-1893) in 1856 in Louisville and they soon moved to the town of Jericho in nearby Henry County, because of his job with the L&N Railroad. They settled here and soon had seven children - Maggie (b. 1858), Mollie (b. 1859), Alice (b. 1860), Fannie (b. 1862), Josie (b. 1864), Johnny (b. 1865), and Ella (b. 1869). Their only son, John Martin O'Donnell, is my great-grandfather.

In 1902 Patrick added a codicil to his will to include the following:
"I, Patrick O'Donnell, want to be used of my estate the sum of twenty-five dollars in celebrating Masses in the Catholic Church at Lagrange, Kentucky, for the repose of the soul of my wife Bridget Kennedy O'Donnell and my own."
JOHN J. SHEEHAN
John J. Sheehan was the brother-in-law of Patrick O'Donnell. John was born in Ireland in 1839 and had come to America as a young man. In the 1860 Census John was single and living in the home of Patrick & Bridget in Jericho, Kentucky, as a boarder, along with thirteen other men, all who were "laborers" for the railroad. Also living in their "boarding house" were their first three daughters, ages 3 months to 3 years; Patrick's brother John O'Donnell (1822-UNK), age 37; and Bridget's two sisters - Anne, age 21, and Johanna, age 29. Both Patrick and John O'Donnell listed their occupation as "Supervisor Railroad". Anne and Johanna Kennedy listed their occupations as "Domestic", most likely responsible for keeping the boarding house clean.

John married Anne Kennedy (1839-1913) about 1865 and together had nine children, only 3 living to adulthood. They settled in LaGrange, Oldham County, and were members of this same Catholic Church.

[It's interesting to note that Bridget's sister Johanna Kennedy (1830-1901) married Maurice Phelan (1835-1889) who at the time of the 1860 Census was also a boarder in the O'Donnell home. They, too, settled in Oldham County. Maurice is mentioned in the above church history as also being a pew holder; his last name is misspelled.]

John Sheehan is mentioned briefly in another history of the mission church, quoted here:
"Official 'collector of revenue', John Sheehan, took up the collection for fifty years. And for those fifty years used a long handle collection basket he passed in front of the people. The basket was handmade from a cheese box and covered with velvet. It had a flat board as a lid and was noted for its long handle. Every Sunday before he began taking up the collection parishioners could hear Mr. Sheehan drop the first coin, usually a five cent piece. They took it as a hint that everyone should contribute. When he died, Mr. Sheehan left thousands of dollars to his church." [from The Tremendous Champion of All that is Catholic, pg. 69-70]

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

WEDNESDAY'S WORLD OF PHOTOS - 1985 O'Donnell Family Reunion, Birmingham, AL

Susie O'Donnell and 18/20 Grandchildren
Recently while scanning family photos from one of my mother's photo albums I came across all the pictures that my younger sister took of the last O'Donnell Family Reunion, held in the summer of 1985 in Birmingham, Alabama. That year Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev were world leaders. New Coke was introduced to the world, as was the first Nintendo console in America and DNA in its first criminal case. It was also the year "We Are the World" and Live Aid took place to raise funds for the Famine in Ethiopia, as well as the beginning of the fall of Communism throughout the world. In other words, it was a long, long time ago.
l to r - Loretta Crawford, Barbara Nelson, Charles
O'Donnell, Susie O'Donnell, Mary Slade

I remember attending the Saturday evening dinner held at my aunt's home and hanging out with my sisters and cousins and new baby niece that night but not much else. O'Donnell families came from around the country including California, Virginia, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi. Unfortunately I honestly don't remember even meeting one new relative at the event.

Susie O'Donnell and Children


At the family reunion were descendants of Patrick O'Donnell (1823-1911), who came to America from Ireland, and his wife Bridget Kennedy (1838-1893), also an immigrant from Ireland. They had seven children, 6 daughters and 1 son. Those at the 1985 Reunion were descendants of two of their children - Mary Ann "Mollie" O'Donnell Casey Kenealy (1859-1936) and John Martin O'Donnell (1865-1937). John is my great-grandfather.

Family of Ed and Mamie O'Donnell
My grandmother Susie Flemming O'Donnell (1909-1999) was there. Her husband, my grandfather, John Huber O'Donnell (1905-1964), was the oldest child of John O'Donnell. Huber, as he was called, had 2 younger brothers and a younger sister. Brother Charles Patrick O'Donnell (1906-1987) came from Atlanta with a large number of his family. Youngest brother Edward Joseph Kennedy O'Donnell (1908-1989), called Ed, lived with his wife Mary Elizabeth "Mamie" Watters (1908-1996) in Los Angeles, California, and they didn't make the trip, but many of their children, their spouses and grandchildren did come. Also in attendance was youngest sister Barbara Lena O'Donnell Nelson (1909-1996), who travelled from her home in Biloxi, Mississippi, and members of her family.

Charles O'Donnell (seated) and Family


Barbara Nelson (seated) and Family
 
Also in attendance at the reunion were descendants of Patrick & Bridget's second child Mollie. Mollie had married twice. In attendance were the grandchildren of Mollie and her first husband Thomas "Pat" Casey (1841-1896), the children of their oldest daughter Frances Loretta Casey Slade (1879-1960), known as Lottie. Both daughters of Lottie and husband Charles Albert Slade (1867-1917) were in attendance - Mary Slade (1904-1990) and Loretta Slade Crawford (1906-1986). Loretta brought several of her own family members along with her to the reunion. Mary & Loretta both lived in Birmingham.



[Click on pictures to enlarge]


I would love to know exactly who the individuals are in each of these families for posterity's sake. If you can name them from your family I really would love to hear from you - everyone who knows can write me. Better to have too many than not any. Please don't write them on the comments below. But if can help me name them from your family please, please, please contact me on Facebook or email me! (I said please.) And if you're interested in where you can find all the pictures of the reunion let me know.






















Wednesday, July 9, 2014

WEDNESDAY'S WEDDING - Flemming-Lambert Wedding 1910

Charles Clinton Flemming, Jr. (1884-1936) married Katherine Aurelia Lambert (1885-1935) on January 26, 1910, in Atlanta, Georgia. Charles, my great-great-uncle, is the son of Charles Clinton Flemming (1854-1932) and Elizabeth Agnes McCaffrey (1858-1922), my great-great-grandparents, the fifth of their eleven children. Charles, Jr., is the younger brother of my great-grandfather Harry Clinton Flemming (1878-1955).

This was not Charles' first marriage. He had married to Marie Sophia Fidger (1884-1908) on Thanksgiving Day, November 26, 1903, in Birmingham, Alabama. They were both nineteen at the time of their wedding. The following year they had their only child, Florence Elizabeth Flemming. Unfortunately, their happiness was short lived. Sophia died in childbirth on September 15, 1908. Florence, just 4 years old, moved in with her grandparents - they would eventually take full legal custody of her.

Charles worked for his father's business, Charlie's Transfer, in Birmingham, first as a clerk then later as the company's vice-president. His bride Kate, as she was called, was born in Atlanta, Georgia, the daughter of Joseph W. Lambert (1830-1914), an immigrant from Belgium, and Mary Agnes Monaghan (1843-1920). When Kate and Charles were married she was 24, he was 25.
On January 2, 1910, the Atlanta Constitution announced the couple's engagement - "LAMBERT-FLEMMING  Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Lambert announce the engagement of their daughter Katherine Amelia, to Mr. Charles Clinton Flemming, Jr., of Birmingham, Ala., the wedding to take place January 26, at St. Anthony's Chapel, West End."

The story of their wedding appeared in the same newspaper on January 27th of the same year:
                                                                                        Lambert-Flemming
Wedding Announcement
Jan. 27, 1910
"The marriage of Miss Katherine Lambert and Mr. Charles Clinton Flemming, Jr., was an event of interest yesterday, assembling a large acquaintance.
     The ceremony at 4:30 o'clock was performed by Father o. N. Jackson at the Church of St. Anthony, in West End, and was followed by a supper at which were gathered the attendants and relatives as the guests of the bride's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Lambert, in West End. In the evening from 8 until 10 o'clock, there was a large wedding reception.
     The church was artistically decorated with foliage plants, narcissus and carnations, and at the home the same the same flowers with plants and ferns were used with effective taste. An orchestra provided the music for the reception, and an elaborate hospitality was enjoyed.
     The bride made a charming picture in her wedding gown of satin and old lace, and her flowers were bride's roses with a shower of valley lilies.
     The matron of honor, Mrs. Wm. McAlphin, wore white satin draped with white marquisette embroidered with pink roses, her lace hat was trimmed with white plumes, and she carried American Beauty roses.
     The maid of honor, Miss Imogen (sic) Flemming, of Birmingham, and the bridesmaids, Misses Agnes Klein, Kate McGee, Monica Callahan, wore white broadcloth with white beaver hats trimmed with plumes, and their flowers were Meteor roses.
     The groomsmen were Mr. Clem Lambert, best man, Mr. James Jordan, of Birmingham, Mr. Thomas Lambert, Mr. James Flemming, of Birmingham, Mr. James Flynn.
     Mrs. Joseph Lambert, the bride's mother, was gowned in black satin, and assisting in entertainment, Mrs. Ed. Lambert, wore white chiffon cloth embroidered in pink geraniums, Mrs. J.P. Lambert wore old rose chiffon cloth, and Mrs. Michael Lambert wore white crepe de chine.
     Mr. and Mrs. Flemming went east on their wedding trip, and they will make their home in Birmingham where he is prominently and pleasantly known."

It's interesting to note that Charles' younger sister Elizabeth Imogene "Imo" Flemming (1886-1919) served as Kate's maid of honor, while one of Kate's older brothers, Clement Lee "Clem" Lambert (1880-1971) was Charles' best man. One of Charles' younger brother, James Benjamin Flemming (1889-1932), also served as a groomsman. Imo must have been a family favorite - she was also the maid of honor at the wedding of her oldest sister Susie Elizabeth Flemming (1879-1908), in 1906.

Charles and Kate set up their home at 1422 Thirteenth Place South on Birmingham's Southside. They went on to have seven children: Mary Agnes "Mike" Flemming, born November 1, 1910; Dorothy May Flemming, born January 1914 [she died July 4, 1915]; Charles Clinton "Hap" Flemming III, born May 15, 1916; James Benjamin Flemming and his twin brother Joseph Lambert Flemming, born May 5, 1918; Thomas Anthony "Tom" Flemming, born May 11, 1923; and Katherine Loretta "Katie" Flemming, born August 9, 1925.

Charles died on May 30, 1935, when his appendix burst. Then, just a little over 3 months later, Kate, too, passed away after a long illness. Charles was 51, Kate just 50. They were buried at Forest Hills Cemetery in Woodlawn, outside Birmingham. Their six surviving children were ages 10 to 24. After their passing 25 grandchildren were born, and to them were born 38 of their great-grandchildren. The number of great-great-grandchildren is still growing.

Monday, July 7, 2014

MONDAY'S MOTHERS - Augustine Melanie Laperle Degruy Fortier (1822-1872)

Augustine Melanie Laperle Degruy Fortier
(1822-1872)
[NOTE: I made a correction to daughter Alice's date of death - she was just three when she died.]

Laperle Degruy Fortier is my 3x-great-grandmother. She was the mother of eleven children, the grandmother of twenty-three, with dozens of great-grandchildren, like myself, that were descended from her. This is her story.

Augustine Melanie Laperle Degruy was born on January 17, 1822, in New Orleans, Louisiana. Her parents were Jean Baptiste Valentin DuFouchard Degruy (1751-1838) and Melanie Gaudin (1786-1853), both natives of New Orleans. Laperle, as she was called, was the third of six (or seven) children. She was baptized at the St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans at the age of 2; her older sister Felicite (1818-1832), just six years old, was her sister's godmother.

On Saturday, May 9, 1840, Laperle, age 18, married 27-year-old Jacques Omer Fortier (1813-1867) in New Orleans. Omer's father Jacques Omer Fortier (1792-1823), called Jacques, had died when Omer was just 10 years old, leaving his widow and three young children. Omer's mother Charlotte Adele Chauvin deLery (1796-1834) died just over 10 years later.

Omer's grandfather had once owned a sugar plantation in Jefferson Parish, along the Mississippi River, just outside New Orleans, as had his great-grandfather. When this grandfather, Jacques Omer Fortier (1759-1820), died his widow Aimee Marie Victoire Felicite Durel (1768-1843) became the owner of Pasture Plantation. The plantation was eventually sold to Minor Kenner and burned to the ground in 1870.

Omer was a clerk in New Orleans and the family lived at 256 Bourbon Street (now 1120 Bourbon Street). Laperle and Omer's first child was born just thirteen months after their wedding -  the first of eleven:
  • Adele Augustine Philomene Fortier - born June 1841; she died August 17, 1841, at the age of two months.
  • Ida Fortier - born September 13, 1842; she died January 29, 1848, at the age of 5 years old.
  • Alice Fortier - born April 6, 1844; she died just before her big sister Ida, on January 26, 1848, at just 3 years old.
  • Odalie Fortier - born August 31, 1846; she died at the age of 2 years on January 2, 1849.
  • Adele Augustine Philomene Fortier - born January 2, 1849; she died at age 37 on February 16, 1886, leaving a husband and two young daughters.
  • Omer Auguste Fortier - born June 30, 1855; he died at age 41 on April 13, 1897, leaving a widow and four children.
  • Felicite Odalie Fortier - born August 31, 1857; she died November 14, 1920, at the age of 63. Odalie is my great-great-grandmother. She had been widowed, and was survived by four adult children.
  • Gaston James Fortier - born September 1860; he died on June 3, 1917, at the age of 56. He was survived by his widow and four adult children.
  • Lucian M. Fortier - born September 1861; he died at the age of 23 on October 21, 1884.
  • Luciana Fortier - born September 1861, Lucian's twin; she died on July 19, 1942, at the age of 81, leaving three adult children.
  • Jeanette Fortier - born May 1868; she died July 7, 1941, at the age of seventy-three, survived by one adult son.
Laperle had eleven pregnancies go full term - that's over 400 weeks being pregnant! She had her first baby when she was nineteen, and her last when she was forty-six. Four of her little girls died by the age of 5.

When her husband died on December 19, 1867, after 27 years of marriage, Laperle was four months pregnant. She had at home six children, soon to be seven, ages 6 to 17. How she managed to raise seven children at a time when women generally didn't work outside the home, and if they did their pay would be very low. There was no day care, no government assistance. Both of her in-laws were dead, as were both of her own parents. How she managed is unknown.

Omer Fortier Family Tomb
St. Louis Cemetery #1
New Orleans, Louisiana
What is known is that she lived less than five years after her husband's death, dying on November 1, 1872, in New Orleans. She was just 50 years old. She was buried in the family plot in St. Louis Cemetery #1.

[Translation of Obituary - "Died, yesterday morning, at 2 o'clock, at the age of 51 years, Mrs. Widow OMER FORTIER, born Laperle Degruy. Her friends and those of her brother, A. O. Degruy, and Fortier families, are respectfully requested to attend without further invitation, her funeral which will begin this morning at 10 am sharp. Her body is (? perhaps available for viewing) at Amour and Union Streets."  From page 1, column 6]

Notice of Death - Laperle Dugruy Fortier
New Orleans Bee, November 2, 1872


Friday, July 4, 2014

HOLIDAY SPECIAL - Two Kids and a Flag (c. 1918)

Happy Independence Day, 2014!

Grider and Charles Horst (c. 1918)
Birmingham, Alabama
I love this picture of two of my grandmother's cousins holding an American flag, with all 48 stars proudly displayed. The children are the only children of Charles Frederick Horst (1880-1964) and Eliza Loy Dilworth (1885-1960). On the left is their daughter Frances Grider Flemming (1908-1995); on the right is her brother Charles Frederick Horst, Jr. (1911-1984). Charles, Sr. is the older brother of my great-grandmother Pearl Horst Flemming (1884-1961), making Grider and Charles my first cousins, twice removed.

The picture was taken in the front yard of their home in the Highland Park neighborhood of Birmingham, Alabama. It may have been taken to celebrate the Fourth of July. Another possibility is that the picture was taken in November 1918, in celebration of the end of World War I. If it were 1918 then Grider would be almost 10 and Charles would have just turned 7, the day before the war ended. The clothing is typical of the times, especially Charles' sailor suit. Grider, wearing knickerbockers (short pants with a cuff at the knee), was ahead of her time - girls were only beginning to try out typical boys' clothing in the 1910's.

The picture is such a moment of patriotism in a time long gone, almost a century ago. Have you taken pictures of your family and/or children that your descendants will be able to look at a hundred years from now and see how you celebrated your own patriotism?

Sunday, December 22, 2013

SUNDAY'S OBITUARY - Thomas O'Donnell (1827-1877) & Sophia Thompson O'Donnell (1839-1916)

NOTE: This story is about Thomas O'Donnell, my great-great-great-uncle. I found it just yesterday, and have now confirmed the county and parish of my O'Donnell ancestors. More exploration will now be necessary to find out about their life in Ireland, and maybe one day I can visit the exact town where my grandfather's family lived. But the story today is about Thomas, and it's not a happy ending for him.

Headstone of Thomas O'Donnell
St. Louis Cemetery, Louisville, KY
Thomas O'Donnell is one of six brothers of my great-great-grandfather Patrick O'Donnell (1823-1911). Thomas was born about 1827 to Richard O'Donnell (1787-1857) and Margaret (UNK-UNK). He was born in the Parish of Lisronagh, in the County of Tipperary, in Ireland. Thomas and Patrick came with their brothers William O'Donnell (1818-1882), Richard O'Donnell (1820-1899), Edward O'Donnell (1821-1860), John O'Donnell (1822-UNK), and James O'Donnell (1830-1894) to America and originally all settled in Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky. On December 1, 1849, Thomas, along with his brothers Richard, Edward, John and Patrick, arrived in the Port of New Orleans on board the ship Fingall.

Thomas, along with Patrick and John, soon settled in Henry County, all working as laborers with the Louisville, Cincinnati & Lexington Railroad (later part of the L&N Railroad). On October 18, 1857, Thomas married Sophia Thompson (1839-1916). He was 30 years old, she was just 18. Sophie, as she was called, was one of five children born in Switzerland County, Indiana, to David Thompson (1804-1866), a Scottish immigrant, and Elizabeth Bennett (1803-1865), an immigrant from England. Thomas & Sophia in the early years of their marriage lived with her family in Eminence, Henry County, Kentucky.

Thomas rose to the position of Section Boss for the L. C & L Railroad in Eminence, and he and Sophia had six children (possibly seven): James Richard O'Donnell (b. March 23, 1858); Frances J. "Fanny" O'Donnell (b. Nov. 20, 1859); Mary T. O'Donnell (b. February 18, 1862); Sophia O'Donnell (b. February 13, 1868); Elizabeth T. "Eliza" O'Donnell (b. August 1870); and Margaret "Maggie" O'Donnell (b. April 1875).

from Courier-Journal, page 1
June 20, 1877
[CLICK ABOVE TO ENLARGE]
A BLOODY SUICIDE
Thomas O'Donnell, a Section Boss on the Lexington Road, Cuts His Throat from Ear to Ear
"Jericho Station, 32 miles from this city, in Henry county, on the Short-line road, was startled yesterday morning by the news of a terrible suicide. Thomas O'Donnell, a man probably in the neighborhood of 50, was related to be the suicide. O'Donnell had been in the employ of the railroad as section boss, and, until lately, was stationed at Eminence, where he managed to save money, and became a proprietor of considerable property, it being estimated that he was worth about $20,000.
The railroad officers concluded to change his location, and a short time ago moved him to Dorset Station, twelve miles beyond Frankfort. O'Donnell brought his family with him and took up his residence there, but appeared discontented with the change. Monday he came to Louisville and yesterday morning, about 2 o'clock he appeared at the house of his brother Patrick O'Donnell, in Jericho, woke up the family and stated that he had missed the afternoon train from Louisville, and had come up on a freight train. He complained of sickness and went to bed.
About 6 o'clock yesterday morning, he arose with the family and asked for a razor with which he wanted to shave himself. His brother Patrick told him to wait until after breakfast, before undergoing that operation. Breakfast was taken, and between half-past 6 and 7 o'clock, Thomas proceeded to shave himself. Shortly before 7 o'clock his brother observed him going first to one portion of the fence then to another portion, and looking over as if to see whether there was anyone out in the neighboring farms. Patrick's supposition as to his action was far different from what it turned out to be. The farmer went to the barn to feed some hogs. He had been at his work but a few minutes when, chancing to glance up, he beheld Thomas lying flat on the ground about fifty yards from him.
Thinking that he had perhaps fallen into a fit, he went up to him, when, to his utter terror and dismay, he saw Thomas gasping for breath, and almost heard the sound of the death-rattle in his throat.  His throat had been cut in a most fearful manner from the top of the left to the top of the right ear, and the blood was streaming over him. The sight was sickening enough to nearly freeze him to the spot. The head was half dangling from the neck, such a gash had the suicide inflicted. Life was extinct in 5 minutes. An inquest was held by Squire R. W. Vance, at which Patrick O'Donnell testified as to what he had seen. The verdict of the jury was based upon the above facts.

Grave of Thomas O'Donnell
St. Louis Cemetery, Louisville, KY
The cause of the suicide is very unaccountable to the dead man's relatives and friends. He was moderately well off, was known, it is said, to be thoroughly temperate in his habits, was on good terms with all his relatives and had no financial or domestic troubles. The only cause that can be imagined was his discontent at being removed from Eminence to Dorset station. His family consists of a wife and seven children."  [Louisville's Courier-Journal newspaper; June 20, 1877; page 1]
Thomas was buried in the Catholic section of St. Louis Cemetery in Louisville, Kentucky. His wife Sophia, no doubt distraught, honored her husband with a special gravestone.  On the marble stone she had carved the place of his birth as well as the day of his death.
         "To My Husband
          THOMAS O'DONNELL
          BORN IN THE PARISH
          OF LISROUGHNA, CO
          TIPPERARY, IRELAND
          Died June 19, 1877,
          Aged 50 years"
[This information was used - 136 years later - to be able to confirm that the 'Thomas O'Donnell' in the newspaper article, who was the brother of my great-great-grandfather Patrick, was the same 'Thomas O'Donnell' from the parish of Lisronagh, in the county of Tipperary buried here.]

Notice of Death - Sophia Thompson O'Donnell
December 26, 1916
Sophia, a widow at 38, and her six children (or seven as the newspaper article stated), ages 2 to 18, soon moved to Midway, in nearby Woodford County, where she managed a boarding house full of railroad laborers, including Thomas' older brother John O'Donnell. Sophia eventually moved back to Eminence, where several of her siblings stilled lived. She died on December 23, 1916, in Lexington, where she was living with her daughter Sophia and her family. She is buried at Eminence Cemetery in Henry County.

Mrs. Sophie O'Donnell
     "Funeral services for Mrs. Sophie O'Donnell, 78 years old, who died at the home of her daughter, Mrs. John McCullough, 348 Jefferson Street, Saturday morning, will be held Wednesday morning at 7:30 o'clock at St. Paul's Catholic Church. Rev. Libert de Waegenaere officiating.
     The body will be taken on the 9 o'clock Louisville & Nashville train to Eminence, her former home, for burial. Pallbearers will be her grandsons, Richard, Robert, Harry and T.J. Granghan, Joseph, Jack and Charles McCullough and Edwin Doyle, Jr." [from Lexington Herald, page 3; December 26, 1916]

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

WEDNESDAY'S WEDDING - Obering - Flemming Wedding, 1942

Mr.. and Mrs. Tom Flemming
On their Wedding Day
On November 17, 1942, Thomas Anthony Flemming (1923-1999) married Rita Grace Obering (1923-1994) at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church, 1327 6th Ave. S., in Birmingham, Alabama. They were both just 19 years old on the day of their wedding. Their marriage lasted fifty-one years and produced four children, two daughters and two son (all living).








Wedding Announcement - Nov. 1942
Birmingham News

Miss Rita Obering Wed
Pledges Vows With Thomas A. Flemming In Ceremony At Our Lady of Sorrows
"The marriage of Miss Rita Grace Obering, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Henry A. Obering, and Thomas Anthony Flemming, son of the late Mr. and Mrs. Charles C. Flemming, was solemnized at 11 a.m., Tuesday, at Our Lady of Sorrows Church, the Rev. T. J. Pathe officiating.
The nuptial music was presented by Mrs. E. E. Mulvaney, vocalist, and L. E. Hart, organist.
The alter was decorated with urns of white chrysanthemums and ferns.
White Roses & Stephanotis


The bride was given in marriage by her father. She wore a costume suit of Venetian blue trimmed in dark brown fur with brown accessories. She carried a white satin prayerbook  topped with white roses and showered with stephanotis. (as left)
Miss Frances Louise York, as maid of honor, wore a sun valley gold suit with brown accessories. Her flowers were talisman roses. (see right)
Talisman Roses
 

Miss Imelda Duncan Obering, sister of the bride, was junior bridesmaid. Her dress was of blue wool embroidered in contrasting shades. She carried a bouquet of sweetheart roses.
James B. Flemming served his brother as best man. The ushers were Henry A. Obering, Jr., and William Hisey, Jr.
Johanna Hill Rose
The bride's mother's dress was of aquamarine crepe. Her corsage was of Johanna Hill roses. (see left) Mrs. J. J. Duncan, grandmother of the bride, wore black crepe. Her corsage was talisman roses.
Immediately after the ceremony, the bridal couple left for a wedding trip to New Orleans. Upon their return they will be at home in the Ponce de Leon apartments.
Out-of-town guests were Mr. and Mrs. Donald Graden, of Gary, Ind., and Mrs. J. D. Arnold, of Albany, Georgia.
Mr. and Mrs. Henry A. Obering entertained members of the bridal party, relatives and immediate friends at an after-rehearsal party at their home.
A tiered cake embossed with white roses and topped with a miniature bride and bridegroom, which had been used on the wedding cake of the bride's mother, centered the table." [published in the Birmingham News, November 18, 1942]

Tom Flemming was the sixth of seven children born to Charles Clinton Flemming (1884-1935) and Katherine Aurelia Lambert (1885-1935). His father Charles was the third of eleven children born to my great-great-grandparents Charles Clinton Flemming (1854-1932) and Elizabeth Agnes McCaffrey (1858-1922). Charles Jr.'s older brother was Harry Clinton Flemming (1878-1955), my great-grandfather.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

SATURDAY'S STRUCTURE - The Flemming-Selman House, Birmingham, Alabama

Home For Sale (1906)
In 1906, my great-grandfather Harry C. Flemming (1878-1955) bought his first home in a brand new development on Birmingham's Southside. It was for him and his new bride, Pearl Horst (1884-1961), whom he had married on April 18th of the same year. It has been told that Pearl was too afraid to live in the house for the first year when Harry was away because it was "too far out" in the country. Pearl and Harry would soon settle down and live here for the remainder of their lives.

"Anderson Place" Neighborhood
In 1903, J. Cary Thompson acquired forty acres of unsurveyed wilderness just south of Elyton's holding and several blocks from the nearest car line. The land, on the northern slope of Red Mountain, had belonged to Frank Y. Anderson, who had acquired it while he was land commissioner for the Alabama Great Southern Railroad. They bought what would become the 1600 and 1700 blocks of 15th and 16th avenues south. By 1905 they had the newly christened Anderson Place officially platted.

The Journal of the Birmingham Historical Society published a special issue in 1982, telling the story of the area, Town Within a City: The Five Points South Neighborhood 1880-1930.
"Between 1906 and 1910 Cary Thompson sold several lots to individuals and other developers. Thompson also built several houses for resale in addition to his own home at 1631 15th Avenue South. The area, however was still rather remote. The daughters of Harry C. Flemming, who purchased one of Thompson's houses in 1906, said that at the time it was like moving to the country, recalling that one 'could hear the owls at night.'
The success of Anderson Place, described in 1910 as 'one of the most famous home places in the [Birmingham] district,' was in large part due to the new streetcar line that began running down 15th Street in 1907, coming within a block of the development. Its graceful aging probably reflects a combination of Thompson's careful oversight, architectural quality, and relatively little recent redevelopment." [page 33]
Flemming-Selman Home (2013)
Home Life
It was here, in the upstairs master bedroom [seen front left from the street] where my great-grandmother gave birth to all eight of her children: Pearl in 1907; Susie, my grandmother, in 1909; Odalie in 1911; Harry in 1913; Charles in 1916; Jack in 1918; Margaret in 1920; and Ann in 1923. It was here where the family ate every meal together for decades. It was here where they celebrated Thanksgivings and Christmases with their children and grandchildren year after year. It was here where Harry's father Charles Flemming (1854-1932), my great-great-grandfather, lived his last years, where he died at the age of 77, and where his funeral took place.

The Flemming family celebrated untold numbers of birthdays and special occasions here in the house. Oldest daughter Pearl was married inside the home in April 1926. Pearl and her husband Bill Barriger lived here at the start of their married life, along with their two daughters. Soon after seventh child Margaret married Frank Selman in January 1942, they moved back into the home of her parents. Frank and Margaret raised all five of their children in the house.

Harry died in his home after a long illness in May 1955, after celebrating their 49th Anniversary at a party in the house. Pearl remained living in the house with Margaret and her family until her death six years later (she died in September 1961, at St. Vincent's Hospital).

Frank and Margaret lived here, celebrating birthdays and holidays, anniversaries and graduations, with their children and grandchildren. Soon after celebrating their 70th wedding anniversary, Frank died here in his home at the age of 91 in February 2012. Margaret remained in the home she was born in, refusing to be moved into a nursing home even after she could no longer walk upstairs. As she had long wished, on September 16th of this year, Margaret died in the home she was born in, where she had raised her family, and where she had lived with her loving husband. She was 92 years old.


The home has been honored as a Historical Structure by the Jefferson County Historical Society. [right]