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

THURSDAY'S TREASURES - Aunt Fannie's Pocketwatch

It's my hope each Thursday to highlight one family keepsake that has been handed down two or more generations, and tell a little about its history and the person or people associated with it. I won't be including who has the treasure now, only "great-grandchild", "great-great-nephew", etc. So if you have a special treasure that you would love to share with the family PLEASE let me know - take a digital picture or two and write up the item's history and send it to me. It will be a wonderful way to share a special family heirloom with family members everywhere.

Frances "Fannie" O'Donnell was born about 1862 in Kentucky to Patrick O'Donnell (1823-1911) and Bridget Kennedy (1838-1883), my great, great grandparents. She was the fourth of seven children, all girls except one boy, John Martin O'Donnell (1865-1937), my great-grandfather.

Fannie married very young - the story is that she was just 16 when she married Jerry Delaney. Little is known about Jerry. The couple married and went to Yellowstone National Park for their honeymoon. This was the world's first national park, having been established in March 1872. They brought back among other things a souvenir glass from their trip. This was one of many adventures they no doubt thought they would share together throughout their life.

Unfortunately, that was not meant to be. Within 6 months of their marriage, Jerry had died and Fannie was a young widow. She never remarried. It's unclear what happened to her for many years; it's most likely she moved in with her parents or sisters. Fannie was living with one of her older sisters Mollie (1859-1936), her husband Patrick Kenealy (1861-1939) and their four children in Louisville at the time of the 1910 Census. She was still living with them 10 years later, according to the 1920 Census. But by the 1930 Census, Fannie had moved to Birmingham and was living with her brother John and his son Charles, age 23.

"Aunt Fannie"
Frances O'Donnell Delaney
My great-grandfather died on December 6, 1937, while in Louisville, Kentucky, attending the funeral of his brother-in-law. Fannie, who was by then 75, moved into her nephew and his wife's home (my grandparents) in a Birmingham suburb. John Huber O'Donnell, my grandfather and the oldest son of John Martin, and his wife Susie Flemming  were living in Homewood, south of the city, along with their three small children, including my mother. "Aunt Fannie" was given a room upstairs in the house, where she spent much of her time. She adored my Mom, who had just turned 3, always holding her and lavishing attention on her.

This no doubt was the reason that when she died, on June 1, 1939, in her bedroom upstairs, she left her wedding ring to my mother. My Mom cherished that ring, and throughout my life I always heard about "Aunt Fannie" and the special gift she gave to Mom. Unfortunately, sometime in the early '80's, while work was being done inside Mom's house, her ring ended up missing. It has never been recovered.
After my grandmother died, Mom chose another special keepsake of "Aunt Fannie's" from her estate. And this is how "Aunt Fannie's" pocketwatch was passed on to me. I don't know if this was a wedding gift or just a special watch but it is beautiful and I feel very honored to have this very special family treasure.

1 comment:

  1. hey i am an O'Donnell aunt fannie and that pocket watch my nan told me about it