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, April 2, 2012

SUNDAY'S OBITUARY - James Benjamin Flemming (1889-1932), Birmingham, Alabama

James Benjamin Flemming

James Benjamin Flemming was born in Birmingham, Alabama, on September 27, 1889. He was the seventh of eleven children born to Charles Clinton Flemming (1854-1932) and Elizabeth Agnes McCaffrey (1858-1922), my great-great-great grandparents. He was named for his paternal grandfather James Benjamin Flemming (1827-1907). James had two older brothers, including my great-grandfather Harry Clinton Flemming (1878-1955), making James my great-great-uncle.

Statue of Mary Cahalan
Principal of Powell Elementary
Downtown Birmingham, Alabama

On June 15, 1910, James married Elizabeth Haney Cahalan (1891-1972) at St. Paul's Catholic Church. He was 20, she was just 18. Elizabeth was the daughter of William J Cahalan (1854-UNK), and the granddaughter of Michael Murray Cahalan (1830-1884), an immigrant of County Tipperary, Ireland, and Catherine Kenney (1837-1894), of County Limmerick. The first Catholic masses in Birmingham were said twice a month at his home, before St. Paul's Church was built. Elizabeth's aunt, Mary Ann Cahalan (1856-1906) was a school teacher in the new city, and became a highly respected principal at Powell Elementary School. She was so loved in the city that the children of Birmingham collected money to have a statue created of her by Guiseppi Moretti, the Italian scuptor who created the city's landmark - Vulcan. The statue of Mary Cahalan can be found in Linn Park, behind the Courthouse and the old library (now the Southern Research Library). After both her parents died, sometime before 1900, Elizabeth lived in the home of her uncle Redmond N. Wheeler (1863-1922), husband of her aunt Katherine Cahalan (1866-1930). Also living in the home were her late father's sister Mary, the school principal; his brother Michael Frank (1873-1928), a lawyer and future judge, and the 2nd boy born in the city of Birmingham; his sister Margaret (1867-1934) and her husband and children.

When James and Elizabeth married, their wedding was announced in the newspaper. After their honeymoon, according to the newspaper, the young couple moved in with her aunt and uncle Redmond and Katie Wheeler. According to the paper their wedding "in its simplicity simulated that of Mr. and Mrs. R.N. Wheeler, solemnized some years ago." They had the same singer and the same woman who played the music at the Wheeler's wedding to perform at their ceremony.

In 1911 the first of the couple's five children were born. Their children were Catherine Cahalan Flemming (b. July 4, 1911), Elizabeth Agnes Flemming (b. January 12, 1914), Charles Clinton Flemming (b. January 10, 1915), Redmond Wheeler Flemming (b. November 21, 1920), and Michael Francis "Frank" Flemming (b. May 4, 1924).

When James was first married he was working for his father Charlie at the family owned transfer business - a moving company known as "Charlie's Transfer". At the time of the 1910 Census James was "manager" at the transfer business and by the 1930 Census, he was "proprietor" of the business.
Family legend has it that Charlie had to close the business in the late 1920's and it was bought by James, changing its name to Flemming Transfer. This was a true family business. James' wife, daughter Catherine and all of his children would work at some time at the transfer company.

In February of 1932, James came down with pneumonia. He was sick with it for several dies, finally succumbing to it on March 3, 1932. He was just 42 years old. His wife Elizabeth had five young children to care for - Catherine, 21; Elizabeth, 18; Charles, 17; Wheeler, 12 and Frank, 7. He was buried at Elmwood Cemetery in Birmingham.

James' wife and children continued to run the transfer company, and it's still in operation today - owned and operated by James' descendants. Elizabeth lived forty additional years, to the age of eighty. She died on May 16, 1972. She is buried beside her husband of 21-years. She was survived by all five of her children and fourteen grandchildren.

Gravestone at Elmwood Cemetery

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