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


Monday, August 1, 2011

MONDAY'S MOTHERS - Apollonia Weinschenk Berg Horst (1829-1908)

Mondays have so far been "Military Monday", highlighting a family member and his service in the military. I've got lots more of these stories - and I'm hoping to get more information from living relatives to have a fuller story to tell. But now I will also be writing stories of some of the mothers in our many branches. It is alot harder to find information on the lives of female ancestors for obvious reasons. Few women had careers or even jobs, they were often second class citizens and even their obituaries were short and sweet. You can't easily find out what they enjoyed doing in their (little) spare time, many didn't attend higher education and most were married relatively young. What is known is the name of their husband, the names of their children, where their home was, and what church they belonged to - all the important parts of the life of a Southern mother. Here's my chance to honor these often underappreciated family members.

Horst Women ca. 1907
[pictured L-R Odalie "Dolly" Horst (granddaughter), her sister Pearl Horst Flemming (granddaughter) holding daughter Pearl Flemming (great-granddaughter), Apollonia Weinschenk Berg Horst, Apollonia "Appie" Horst Manson (youngest daughter), and her daughter Apollonia Manson (granddaughter)]

Apollonia Weinschenk Berg Horst is my 3rd great-grandmother. She was born in Forst, Bavaria, Germany on March 9, 1829, the youngest of at least eleven children born to Matthew Weinschenk (UNK-before 1842) and Barbara Biebel (1787-before 1842). After her parents' death, Apollonia left Germany, along with at least three sisters, and immigrated to America. She settled in Mobile, Alabama and soon married Tobias Berg on December 15, 1846. She was just 17 years old. Tobias, an immigrant from Zonsweir, Baden, Germany and ten years her senior, owned the City Exchange Saloon. They soon started a family.

Their first child, Ferdinand was born December 10, 1847. He lived only 8 days. Ten months later, Apollonia gave birth to Josephine, on October 17, 1848. [Josephine lived to be 74 and had seven children.] In May 1850, Apollonia gave birth to Samuel. He lived only 3 weeks, dying May 23rd; the official cause of his death was "croup". Ten months after burying their second son, Apollonia gave birth to Anna, on March 14, 1851. [Anna had two children, dying at the age of 56.] On October 25, 1853, Tobias died at the age of thirty-four, leaving Apollonia with two children, ages 5 and 2 1/2, and a business to run.

On December 18, 1854, Apollonia wed Martin Horst (1830-1878), an employee at the City Exchange and an immigrant from Germany. Martin is my 3rd great-grandfather. Martin took over the business and managed it with great success. He also opened Horst Liquors. His success afforded him the opportunity to build a beautiful home which still stands in Mobile. In 1871 Martin was elected Mayor of Mobile, the first mayor elected after Reconstruction. He served one term, only one year.

Apollonia and Martin had eight children together:
  • Charles Frederick born December 21, 1856, my great-great-grandfather, who married and had five children, dying at age 55;
  • Edward P., born November 3, 1858; he never married and died at the age of 42;
  • Henry August, born January 28, 1861; he married, was widowed and remarried, having six children, four living to adulthood; he died at the age of 61;
  • William, born February 25, 1863; he lived only sixteen months, dying in July 1864;
  • Emma Elizabeth, born May 23, 1865; she was married and widowed, then remarried, having five children, only three living to adulthood; she died at the age of 57;
  • Frederick "Freddy", born April 1, 1867; he lived only 4 1/2 months, dying August 27;
  • Martin, born September 6, 1868, just a year after Freddy's death; he married but they had no children; he died at age 60;
  • Apollonia "Appie", born October 7, 1870 when her mother was 41; she married, had two children (only one living to adulthood), was widowed then married again; she died at the age of seventy-one.
"Before the Civil War started, the Horsts sent Josephine Berg to the Notre Dame Convent in Reading, Ohio just outside Cincinnati for her education. At some point during the War, Apollonia travelled to Reading to bring Josephine home and to pay her school tuition. Because of the danger in crossing the "line", Apollonia removed the stays from her corset and filled the seams with gold coins to cover the cost of tuition. On their trip home, the two women tied bags of sugar under their hoop skirts to smuggle it into Mobile, since sugar was scarce there during the War." [The Horst Family, William A. Powell, Jr.]

Besides raising her children and caring for her home, along with the help of one or more servants, Apollonia raised a large garden and would supply flowers to the Cathedral-Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, a few short blocks from their home. She and Martin also hosted many Dutch dinners at their home.

Before her husband's death, "while out riding in her carriage, the pair of horses ran away and the groom could not stop them. Apollonia was forced to jump from the carriage and was badly injured. From that time on she walked with the help of a walking stick." [The Horst Family, William A. Powell, Jr.]

Martin Horst died at the age of 48, in 1878, leaving Apollonia with eight children at home - four children, ages 8-17, and four adult children - as well as a large home, the family liquor dealership and Frascati Park, a popular attraction on the Old Shell Road for concerts, plays and gatherings in the city. By 1900 Apollonia was taking in boarders to assist with the living expenses of her home and family.

Apollonia died on April 24, 1908 at 8:30 PM from a stroke. She was buried along side her husband Martin in Mobile's Catholic Cemetery. Her estate was valued at $80,000 in 1908.

Her obituary in The Mobile Register recognized her as "a most estimable woman (who) had many friends throughout this entire county and city." She had borne 12 children, buried six of them - four before their second birthday - as well as five of her grandchildren, been twice widowed and was highly respected in her community and her church. She was survived by three daughters, three sons and twenty-two grandchildren.

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