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 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.
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.