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


Thursday, January 26, 2012

THURSDAY'S TREASURES - Horst Family Bible, 1892

Stored in one of my mother's many closets in an upstairs bedroom is this family treasure - The Holy Bible given by Charles Frederick Horst (1856-1912) and his wife Odalie Felice Fortier (1857-1920) to their children on Christmas Day, December 25, 1892. The Bible will have been in the family for 120 years this coming Christmas!

Charles and Odalie Horst are my great-great-grandparents. Charles was the oldest son of Martin Horst (1830-1878) and Apollonia Weinschenk (1829-1908), both immigrants from Germany. The two had married in Mobile, Alabama, and raised their large family. Odalie was the daughter of Jacques Omer Fortier (1813-1867) and Augustine Melanie Laperle Degruy (1822-1872) of New Orleans. Charles and Odalie were married January 10, 1879 at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Mobile.

The two soon started their own family - Charles Frederick, born November 15, 1880, and Edward Martin, born May 5, 1882. It was not long after the birth of their second son that the family moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, due to Charles' health problems (lung problems, according to family stories).  Charles' father Martin and his family had settled in Cincinnati soon after arriving in America in 1846. Martin's older sister Anna Elizabeth (1827-1877) had remained in Cincinnati after marrying John Ginter (1818-1906), and had raised their five children here. So when Charles, Odalie and their two small sons arrived they moved into the Ginter's home at "30 Rittenhouse".
Charles worked in his previous field in a bar as a bartender. Odalie had two more children here - my great-grandmother Pearl Alphonsine, on November 19, 1884, and Omer Leo, born May 5, 1887. It was while living in Ohio that Charles and Odalie purchased this Holy Bible as a Christmas gift for their children. This Bible, well over a thousand pages, was published in Newport, Kentucky. Newport is on the border of Kentucky and Ohio, at the confluence of the Ohio and Licking Rivers, directly across from Cincinnati. It is now considered part of the Greater Cincinnati Metropolitan area. It was soon after 1892 that the Horst family relocated to Birmingham, Alabama where their descendants now reside. [Charles and Odalie had their fifth child, Odalie Felice on January 20, 1896 in Birmingham.]

The book measures 9.25" x 11.5". It is leather bound with exquisite detail embossed on the cover. The binding is very worn and has deteriorated over time. The back cover is the same as the front but is not as worn. There are no family births or deaths listed, as was common to do in those times. Since it was a gift to the children it's possible that another Horst Family Bible existed (or exists) where these important dates were listed.

The pages themselves are in great condition for the most part; the edges have become well worn and some are more frayed than others. But the book is full of beautiful engraved prints throughout, and in what is labeled "Gallery of Scripture Illustrations". Here are a few examples.

            The Stations of the Cross are printed in color.

There are also several beautifully detailed prayers printed in color, using gold and red.

While looking through the book for pictures I came across a few personal items. Pressed in the pages I found a carnation on one page and what looks like an old corsage on another. The second item didn't have any discernible flowers but did have several stems and leaves wrapped together at the base with wire.

There was also an insert of a photographic print of Bishop Toolen of Mobile, with a handwritten note and his signature: "In remembrance of my twentieth anniversary. T. J. Toolen, Bishop of Mobile." Bishop Thomas Joseph Toolen (1886-1976) was Bishop of Mobile from 1927-1969.
On one of the last blank pages of the Bible was drawings, or scribbles, done by a young child with a pencil. It could have been Charles and Odalie's grandchildren or great-grandchildren scribbling in it dozens of years later. But I like to think that maybe their own children, born in the 19th century, did the same thing that my kids, and me and my siblings did, when we were little and trying to act big and opened that big book, sat down with a pencil and made their own little make on family history.


  1. That certainly IS a treasure!! 120 years.... that's incredible. You wonder if they even imagined how long this Bible would remain in the family....Great post. :)

  2. A good bookbinder could fix the binding for you. It's well worth the expensive since it's obviously a family treasure, and the rest of the book is in such good condition. They could make a nice acid free box to store it in on your bookshelf, too, to keep out the dust and light.

  3. It's a beautiful Bible. Thank you for sharing it.