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


Sunday, November 27, 2011

SUNDAY'S OBITUARY - Charles Clinton Flemming Jr. (1884-1935)

Charles Clinton Flemming, Jr.,   Nov 1907
Charles Clinton Flemming, Jr., was born in Rome, Georgia, on September 30, 1884. He was the fifth child of ten born to Charles Clinton "Charlie" Flemming (1854-1932) and Elizabeth Agnes "Lizzie" McCaffrey (1858-1922). Charles, my great-great-uncle, changed his name from "Charles Augustus" to "Charles Clinton" as an adult - his older brother was Harry Clinton Flemming (1878-1955), my great-grandfather.

Charles followed his father into the railroad business which was flourishing  in Birmingham in the early 1900's. Charles was an Engineer with the Alabama Great Southern Railroad. The National Museum of American History's website describes the responsibilities of an engineer for a steam locomotive this way:
"Running a steam locomotive combined two responsibilities: managing a highly complex steam boiler and controlling the safe speed of a massive vehicle that could weigh thousands of tons, counting engines and cars. An engineer specialized in one "division" of railroad, 100-150 miles long. The engineer needed to know the location of every signal, every curve, and the slightest change in uphill or downhill grade throughout the route in order to safely control the train." (from
 On November 26, 1903, Thanksgiving Day, Charles married Marie Sophia Fidger - 108 years ago yesterday. They were both 19 years old when they wed. Marie was born in Kentucky in July 1884. Her parents were William Fidger (1848-1910) and Emma J. Buser (1856-1917). In 1904 Marie gave birth to their only child, Florence Elizabeth. Unfortunately, the young family's happiness was short lived. Marie died in childbirth on September 15, 1908; she was 24 years old. She was buried at Forest Hill Cemetery in Woodlawn, outside of Birmingham.

Charles and Florence, just 4 years old, moved in with his parents. On January 26, 1910, Charles remarried. His bride was Katherine Aurelia Lambert, born February 11, 1885 in Atlanta, Georgia. Her parents were Joseph Peter Lambert (1862-1924) and Margaret Mary Fox (1870-1935). The wedding took place in Atlanta's West End neighborhood. After their honeymoon Charles and Kate lived with her parents in Birmingham. Her father was Birmingham's City Park Commissioner. Charles' daughter Florence continued living with her Flemming grandparents until she was married.

Charles and Kate had seven children: Mary Agnes "Mike", born November 15, 1910; Dorothy May, born January 1914; Charles Clinton III, called "Hap", born May 15, 1916; James Benjamin and twin brother Joseph Lambert "Joe", born May 5, 1918; Thomas Anthony "Tom", born May 11, 1923; and Katherine Loretta "Kate", born August 9, 1925. Little Dorothy lived less than 18 months, dying on July 4, 1915 - her death certificate said she died from "colitis" after being ill for 3 weeks.

Charles soon began helping his father in his family business "Charlie's Transfer Company". He worked as the business manager by the 1920 Census, a role he continued for many years. His family attended St. Paul's Catholic Church downtown and he was active in the Knights of Columbus.

On Thursday, May 30, 1935, Charles who had been ill and was in a local hospital, died. According to his death certificate the cause of death was a burst appendix. He was 50 years old.

The announcement of his death appeared in the Age-Herald, one of the Birmingham newspapers on page 2.

C. C. Flemming Is Called By Death

Rites Will Be Held Saturday For K. of C. Official

"Charles Clinton Flemming, 50, financial secretary of Birmingham Council of the Knights of Columbus, died Thursday afternoon. Services will be held at the residence, 1422 Thirteenth Place South, at 9 a.m. Saturday, and at St. Paul's Catholic Church at 9:30 a.m. Burial will be in Forest Hill Cemetery, Dillon, of southside, directing.
     Mr. Flemming is survived by the widow, his four sons, Charles C. Jr., Joseph L., James B., and Thomas A.; his daughters Katherine, Mary Agnes, and Mrs. H. T. Kilpatrick; a brother Harry C. Flemming, and two sisters, Mrs. J.B. Thomas and Mrs. W. A. McMurray.
     Mr. Flemming became ill suddenly Monday, and his death followed an emergency operation. He was widely known in business circles, and especially in the transfer business, in which he had been engaged a number of years. In addition to his fraternal work, he was active in church work throughout the state. " (Age-Herald, page 2; 31 May 1935)

A similar article appeared in the following day's Age-Herald, that also included information about the pallbearers: "Active pallbearers will be C.J. Lambert, A.S. Lucas, C.W. Millican, T.A. McGough, F.M. Curtain, W.J. Sullivan, A.L. Stabler, and Vincent Shields. Honorary pallbearers will be members of the Holy Name Society and the Knights of Columbus." (Age-Herald, page 6, 1 Jun 1935)

Charles C. Flemming gravestone
Forest Lawn, Cemetery
 Charles' surviving widow, Kate, lived only three months longer. She died on September 2, 1935. She, too was only 50-years-old at the time of her death. She left behind her six children, ages 10 to 25, who had lost both parents in a short period of time. Charles and Kate are buried at Forest Hill Cemetery, in the lot owned by his former father-in-law, also the final resting place for his young wife Marie and other members of her family.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

WONDERFUL WEDNESDAY'S PHOTO - Thanksgiving at the Flemming Home 1942

Thanksgiving 1942
Every Thanksgiving the family of Harry Clinton Flemming (1878-1955) and Pearl Alphonsine Horst (1884-1961) would gather at their home on Birmingham's southside to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner together. Harry, my great-grandfather, would have had a turkey tied up to a stake in his backyard for a few days, and Pearl would cook the feast for all to enjoy. Along with the turkey the meal included oyster dressing, rice and gravy (for those non-dressing-eaters), ambrosia and mince pie for dessert.

The Women of the Family
Front (L-R) - "Grandmother", Susie, Frederica Flemming;
Back - Margaret, Pearl, ODee, Ann
Harry and Pearl had eight children, all born in their home in Birmingham. Their children were Pearl Alphonsine, born March 11, 1907; Susan Elizabeth "Susie", my grandmother, born August 23, 1909; Odalie Felice "ODee", born June 22 1911; Harry Clinton, Jr., born September 25, 1913; Charles Frederick, born January 6, 1916; John Edward "Jack", born April 8, 1918; Margaret Mary, born October 11, 1920; and Ann Marie, born December 23, 1923.

The Men of the Family
Front (L-R) Bill Barriger, Charles;
Back - Frank Selman, "Granddaddy, Jack, Huber O'Donnell,
Harry , George Daly

In 1926 oldest child Pearl got married, and by the following Thanksgiving Pearl and her new husband brought their baby, Pearl Elizabeth "Betty" Barriger (1927-2006), the first grandchild of Harry and Pearl, to the family's gathering. As the years passed the number of grandchildren grew and soon numbered thirty-two - 16 boys and 16 girls, born between 1927 and 1962. Two of Harry and Pearl's sons, Jack and Charles, enlisted and served overseas during World War II. All eight children married and almost all of the children and their families settled in Birmingham - all except daughter ODee. She moved with her husband to Metarie, Louisiana. She came home to visit, along with her children, as often as she could, especially during the holidays.

"Granddaddy" Harry would always be requested to show the grandchildren the turkey tied up in the backyard as Thanksgiving day approached, still alive and awaiting his fate. Of course this was something the grandchildren were intrigued with when they were young.  Eventually Pearl bought her turkey already dead and plucked clean from the grocery store, no doubt making dinner preparation easier once the number of family members continued to increase.
Grandchildren: (left to right) Front - Billy D., Harriet O'D.;
Second Row - Buddy D., Harry F. III, Barbara O'D., Dolly D., Jackie D.. (in arms);
Back Row - Mary Sue O'D., Huber O'D., Dot B., Betty B.
When it was time to eat all the adults present, as many as eighteen when everyone was home, ate at the big table in the family dining room. In the living room a table would be set up for the children to eat their meals. After dinner, the children played in the front yard while the grownups talked inside. Then they would often gather the entire family together and take a picture to remember the day.
Harry died in May of 1955, shortly after celebrating his and Pearl's 49th wedding anniversary. Pearl continued living in their home and celebrating the holidays with her family. Daughter Margaret, her husband and their five young children continued to live with Pearl until her death in September 1961, just a month before I was born. At the time, along with her eight children and thirty-two grandchildren, Pearl was survived by thirteen great-grandchildren, two more on the way (including me). Eventually the number of great-grandchildren of Harry and Pearl would total 64 in all. Thanksgiving continues to be celebrated at the home of Harry and Pearl by their descendants.

I hope Thanksgiving 2011 is a happy one for you and your family, as you enjoy dinner together and make new memories! And don't forget to take that family picture together, one that your descendants will be able to look back on 60 years later, and treasure, too!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

FRIDAY'S FORGOTTEN - Military Veterans, Military Heroes

In honor of Veteran's Day, I wanted to remember many of our family members who enlisted or were drafted when America was at war, those who stepped up when called to serve our country. They took time out of their lives, years out of their lives, not knowing if they would be called to put their very lives on the line. Many survived their service; a few did not.

This is by no means a full list of our relatives who served our country, and I won't be listing those living veterans in this post. This is a just a chance to remember, and be proud.

Veterans of the Vietnam War
Harry Clinton Flemming III (1937-2003), born in Birmingham, Alabama; settled in Oceanside, California. Son of Harry Clinton Flemming, Jr. (1913-1972) and Catherine Frederica Perry (1913-1967). Retired as Staff Sergeant for the U.S. Marine Corps. Served three tours during the Vietnam War. Survived by wife, two sons, four grandchildren. [1st cousin, once removed]

Veterans of the Korean War
Austin Murray Cahill (1930-1989) of Birmingham, Alabama. Son-in-law of Elbert William "Bill" Barriger (1904-1979) and Pearl Alphonsine Flemming (1907-1986). Served as Private 1st Class in U.S. Marine Corps during Korean War, January 1951 to September 1952. Wounded in action on October 5, 1951. Survived by his wife. [husband of my 1st cousin, once removed]

George Benedict "Buddy" Daly, Jr. (1936-2002) of Harahan, Louisiana. Son of George Benedict Daly (1908-1967) and Odalie Felice Flemming (1911-1994). Served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. Survived by his wife, daughter and three grandchildren. [1st cousin, once removed]

William Arnold Powell, Jr. (1929-2009) of Birmingham, Alabama. Son-in-law of John Huber O'Donnell (1905-1964) and Susan Elizabeth "Susie" Flemming (1909-1999) and my father. Served as 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. Survived by his wife, son and three daughters, ten grandchildren and one great-grandchild. [my father]

John Joseph "Jack" Smith (1933-2001) of Metarie, Louisiana. Son-in-law of George Daly and Odalie Flemming. Served in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War. Survived by two sons, two daughters and eight grandchildren. [husband of 1st cousin, once removed]

World War II Veterans
Charles Frederick Flemming (1916-2003), born in Birmingham; resided in Denver, Colorado. Son of Harry Clinton Flemming (1878-1955) and Pearl Alphonsine Horst (1884-1961). Served in the U.S. Army during WWII in Europe, from January 1943 to February 1946. Survived by his stepson. [my great uncle]

John Edward "Jack" Flemming (1918-2008) of Birmingham, Alabama. Son of Harry Flemming and Pearl Horst. Served during World War II in the Army Air Corps. Survived by his two sons and three grandchildren. [my great uncle]

Thomas Anthony "Tom" Flemming (1923-1999), born in Birmingham; resided in Pell City, Alabama. Son of Charles Clinton Flemming (1884-1935) and Katherine Aurelia "Kate" Lambert (1885-1935). Served with U.S. Army during World War II. Survived by two sons and two daughters, eight grandchildren and one great-grandson. [my 1st cousin, twice removed]

Omer Leo Horst, Jr. (1916-1985), resident of Birmingham. Son of Omer Leo Horst (1887-1945) and Annie L. Boggan (1887-1987). Served with U.S. Army during World War II from August 1941 to July 11, 1945. Participated in the D-Day Invasion in France. Survived by his wife and two children. [my 1st cousin, twice removed]

Robert Joseph Horst (1918-1987), born in Birmingham, resided in Chelsea, Alabama. Son of Omer and Annie Boggan Horst; brother of Omer Horst, Jr. Served in the U.S. Army as Captain, in the Pacific. He was unmarried. [my 1st cousin, twice removed]

Edward Eugene Walters (1918-2001), of Birmingham, Alabama. Son-in-law of Charles and Katherine Lambert Flemming. Served in the U.S. Army during World War II. Survived by his wife, eight children, and numerous grandchildren. [husband of my 1st cousin, twice removed]

Civil War Veterans
James Benjamin Flemming (1827-1907), born in South Carolina, resided in Rome, Georgia. Father of Charles Clinton Flemming (1854-1932), my great-great-grandfather. Served with Confederate Army.[my 3x-great-grandfather]

Thomas Joseph McCaffrey (1832-1896), born in Boston, Massachussetts, resided in Rome, Georgia. Father of Elizabeth Agnes "Lizzie" McCaffrey Flemming (1858-1922), my great-great-grandmother. Worked at Confederate ironworks in Selma and Tannehill. Captured at Battle of Selma 1865. [my 3x-great-grandfather]

Revolutionary War Veterans
Michel Fortier (1725-1785), of New Orleans, Louisiana. Father of my 5x-great-grandfather Jacques Omer Fortier (1759-1820). Served with New Orleans Militia. Captain in the campaigns of Bernardo de Galvez. [my 6x-great-grandfather]

To my uncles and great uncles, my cousins, my brother-in-law and my husband, and all the Veterans I'm proud to call my family - Thank You! God Bless You, and God Bless America!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

SUNDAY'S OBITUARY - John Martin O'Donnell (1865-1937)

John Martin O'Donnell, my great-grandfather, was born in Jericho, Kentucky, on November 7, 1865,  to Irish immigrants Patrick O'Donnell (1823-1911) and Bridget Kennedy (1838-1883). He was the sixth of seven children in the family and the only son.

John's father and uncles had "helped to grade the L&N Railroad from Louisville to Lexington and had laid the first steel rails on this line" according to his father Patrick's obituary. So it was natural for John to follow his father's career path into railroading. But instead of the hands-on labor building the railroad, John earned two higher degrees from Eminence College in Kentucky and became a Civil Engineer with the Louisville & Nashville Railroad.

This career choice took him to Alabama, leaving his father and sisters in Kentucky, by the end of the 1890's. And it was in the town of Calera in Shelby County, just south of Birmingham, that he met his future wife Mary Huber (1873-1913). Mayme, as she was called, was also from Kentucky. She was working as a school teacher when they met, living in the same boarding house as John in Calera. They were married on Thursday morning, February 11, 1904, at St. Paul's Catholic Church (now Cathedral) in Birmingham.

O'Donnell Home in Norwood
(taken 2009)
John and Mayme settled in Birmingham and had four children: John Huber, born May 6, 1905 (my grandfather); Charles Patrick, born October 18, 1906; Edward Joseph Kennedy, born January 18, 1908; and Barbara Lena, born November 7, 1909. Soon after the birth of Barbara, Mayme became sick with Tuberculosis, a common and often deadly disease from which there was no cure. Even after receiving treatment at a sanatorium in Albuquerque, New Mexico, that treated patients with the illness, Mayme succumbed to the disease on March 30, 1913, in her home in Birmingham. Left behind was her husband of less than 10 years and their four small children - Huber (7), Charles (6), Ed (4) and Barbara (3).

In order to continue to work and keep his children, since, of course, there were no daycare centers and his family was all in Kentucky, John placed the three boys in the local orphanage run by Catholic nuns. The boys stayed here at the Atheneaum Orphanage during the week and John would bring them home on the weekends. They were enrolled here from April 2, 1913 (two days after their mother's death) until September 20, 1920. At this time they were 15, 13 and 12 years old, and old enough to stay home while their father was at work.
"Pop" and grandson J.H. O'Donnell, Jr.
ca. 1933

John's youngest child Barbara was sent out west after her mother's death to live with her mother's sister, Philomena Huber (1876-1937). Minnie, as she was called, was a nurse and had moved to Albuquerque to help care for her sister. The siblings stayed close by writing letters, and eventually Barbara, too, moved back in with her father and brothers in Birmingham.

On December 3, 1937, John's brother-in-law Benjamin Ruffner Smith died in Louisville, Kentucky. Benjamin (1857-1937) had been married to John's older sister Alice O'Donnell (1860-1934). John travelled to Louisville for the funeral. It was here, on December 6, that John died. One story says that he was eating breakfast at the family's table when he had a sudden heart attack and died. His body was brought back by train and was buried on December 9th at the old Our Lady of Sorrows' Cemetery next to his wife. He was survived by his four children, their spouses, and eight grandchildren.

                                                    J. M. O'DONNELL DIES
Birmingham Man Succumbs In Louisville; Burial To Be Here
"John M. O'Donnell, 72, of 2909 Norwood Boulevard, died suddenly in Louisville yesterday, relatives here have been advised. The body will be brought here for funeral and burial, services to be at 9 a.m. Thursday at the residence and at 9:30 at St. Paul's Catholic Church, by the Rt. Rev. Eugene L. Sands, Johns-Service directing.
     Mr. O'Donnell had gone to Louisville to attend the funeral of his brother-in-law B.R. Smith, who died Saturday.
     Until his retirement a short time ago, Mr. O'Donnell was connected to the Louisville & Nashville Railroad engineering office.
     Surviving are three sons, Hubert (sic) and Edward K. O'Donnell, Birmingham; Charles P. O'Donnell, Atlanta, and a daughter, Mrs. H. A. Nelson, Birmingham." (Birmingham News, December 7, 1937; page 10)

Prayer Card from Burial Mass
Years after his burial the site of the Our Lady of Sorrows Cemetery was being relocated. Many of those buried were re-interred elsewhere but several of the actual graves could not be accurately identified so they were buried at a small cemetery behind Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church, marked by four large headstones with the names of the eighty unidentified dead. John and Mayme are buried here.

Headstone at Old Our Lady of Sorrows Cemetery
behind Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church
708 1st Street South
Birmingham, Alabama