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


Friday, July 22, 2011

FRIDAY'S FORGOTTEN - Horst Family Slaves

Lizzie and Jimmie
"Well done of God to halve the lot,
And give them all the sweetness,
To us, the empty room and cot,
To them, the Heaven's completeness."

Albert and Willie
"While none shall tell them of our tears,
These human tears now falling,
Till after a few patient years
One home shall take us all in."
In my Dad's research and writings on the family of Martin Horst (1830-1878), my 3rd-great-grandfather, he wrote about the slaves that Martin owned as a Liquor Dealer and owner of the City Exchange Saloon in Mobile. At the time of the 1860 U.S. Census - Slave Schedule, Martin owned one slave, a 32-year-old black female. He also held ownership of four others as the Administrator of the estate of Tobias Berg, his wife's first husband: a 20-year-old black male, a 21-year-old mulatto female, a 12-year-old mulatto male, and a 9-year-old mulatto female. The Schedule also noted that they lived together in one slave house.The government didn't ask for their names on the census, as they were were only listing "property". It was said that Martin may have owned as many as ten or eleven slaves at one time.

"At the end of the war, most of the family's slaves had left. The first to go was one male slave that Horst had bought for $1,000, the most that he had paid for any of them. Two of the older females stayed with the family until they died and are buried in graves in the Horst family lot in Magnolia Cemetery in Mobile. One of the former male slaves, a trained barber, continued to share and cut the hair of prominent Mobilians and, it was said, brought the money back to Mrs. Horst." [from the as-yet-unpublished Horst Family, by William A. Powell, Jr.]

The graves of these four people - Albert and Willie, Lizzie and Jimmie - are in the family plot of Martin Horst (1868-1928), the youngest son of Martin and Apollonia Weinschenk Horst. Their graves don't include last names, so it is possible they were still slaves at the time of their deaths. Neither headstone includes a birth date or date of death.

But these were not simple headstones, or unmarked graves. In fact, of all the headstones for our family members throughout this cemetery or the Catholic Cemetery, these were actually the most ornate, and two of the few that had more than just a name and date on it. They were buried along side the family. Obviously these four individuals were cared about, and in a way considered "family".

But nothing personal is known about them. Were they married to each other? Were they parent and child? Siblings? If any of them were parents, and have descendants tracing their family tree, would they have any way to know where to find their ancestors? Did anyone ever lay flowers, or come to visit in the years since they died?

They meant something to someone once, a long time ago, in a world far, far away. They weren't born into freedom like our Horst ancestors were, or like we were. Maybe they never knew what freedom was. But for a time, in some way we may never know, they were "family".

The verses engraved on their headstones come from a poem written by Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)- "A Child's Grave at Florence," published in 1856.

1 comment:

  1. Looking for information on slaves owned by Oscar Horst for geneology purposes. please send to Would very much appreciate your help.