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, August 30, 2012

WONDERFUL WEDNESDAY'S PHOTO - Four Little Babies (1869)

Quadruplets born to George & Mary Frisz
Washington, Indiana - 1869
Let me warn you up front - this is not your not your typical "wonderful" family photograph. Not by our current standards anyway. But for a time in the 1800's, taking such a picture was done to keep the memory of loved ones. This is the only such picture anywhere in my extended family so it is unique for that reason. These are the only quads that I know of in my family. And this photograph was taken over 150 years ago, but can be shared with you through the internet, so that you might remember these little family members, too. First, let me tell you about the family behind the photograph.

George Frisz (1829-1909) is my great-great-great-uncle. He is the brother of my great-great-great-grandmother Barbara Frisse Brunett (1822-1893). [See below for where the Frisse/Brunett connection is in the tree.] Their parents, my 4x-great-grandparents, were Joseph Frise (1796-1864) and Marguerite Lang (1802-1868), Barbara, George, their 7 other siblings and their parents were all born in Seingbouse, Moselle, France and immigrated to America, arriving in the port of New Orleans, Louisiana, on July 20, 1846. They travelled up the Mississippi River to Indiana and settled in St. Anne's Village (now North Vernon) in Jennings County.

On October 9, 1858, George married Mary Brentner at St. Anne's Catholic Church. Mary, an immigrant from Bavaria, was born August 15, 1842,  At the time of their wedding he was 29, she was 16. It wasn't until ten years later that they started their family. Daughter Mary Ursula was born March 6, 1868. In the 1870 Census, the young family was living in Washington, Morgan County, Indiana. George is listed as an "Ale Merchant" with real estate valued at $14,000 and his personal estate valued at $8,000. In 1880, George listed himself in the Census as a "Saloonist".  At this time they were living in Martinsville, Indiana.
Framed and Labelled Photograph

In 1869, Mary gave birth to quadruplets - three girls and a boy. They were named Borgia, Johnnie, Lena, and Maggie. They didn't survive; if they had been born alive and survived for any time is unknown. But they were obviously loved. Because in 1869, with photography still in its infancy, they had a picture taken of their four babies. They were dressed in white gowns, laid down next to each other and photographed. It is known as post-mortem photography [see below]. The photo has since been passed down through the Frisz family. [NOTE: 'Frisz is pronounced "freese" and rhymes with grease.]

Quadruplet births are rare, even with the recent increase in the number of multiple births since IVF treatments began. Since 1989, there have been an average of 102 sets of quadruplets born in the United States each year. In the U.S., between 1915 and 1948, 114 sets of quads were born; just 27 sets were born between 1947 and 1958. In the 19th century, few babies born as quads survived the neonatal period. No higher order multiple sets survived in total past the neonatal period until 1847. The first recorded set of quadruplets surviving to adulthood was in Switzerland in 1880. So the birth of four babies, even though they didn't survive, must have been a real story in the city of Martinsville, Indiana.

George and Mary would have five more children: Elizabeth Agnes, born February 21, 1871; John Maurice, born January 21, 1873; twins Joseph Henry and  Katie, born March 26, 1875; and Antoinette Rose, born January 27, 1878. Mary Frisz died on April 9, 1882, at the age of 39. George soon married Mary Oftering, a 30-year-old German immigrant. It was common at the time for widowed fathers with young children to marry a young woman who would be helpful in raising his children.

George died on January 16, 1909, at the age of 80. The only further record I have on Mary is the 1920 U.S. Census. Here she was the housekeeper for the parish priest in Indianapolis, Indiana. On May 30, 1941, Mary died; she was 89 years old. She and George are buried side-by-side at the St. Francis Cemetery in Teutopolis, Illinois.

Post-Mortem Photography
[taken from Wikipedia]
"Post-mortem photography (also known as memorial portraiture or memento mori) is the practice of photographing the recently deceased. Memento mori is a Latin phrase translated as "Remember your mortality", "Remember you must die" or "Remember you will die. It refers to a genre of artworks that vary widely but which all share the same purpose: to remind people of their mortality, an artistic theme dating back to antiquity.
The invention of the daguerreotype in 1839 made portraiture much more commonplace, as many of those who were unable to afford the commission of a painted portrait could afford to sit for a photography session. This cheaper and quicker method also provided the middle class with a means for memorializing dead loved ones.
These photographs served less as a reminder of mortality than as a keepsake to remember the deceased. This was especially common with infants and young children; Victorian era childhood mortality rates were extremely high, and a post-mortem photograph might have been the only image of the child the family ever had. The later invention of the carte de visite, which allowed multiple prints to be made from a single negative, meant that copies of the image could be mailed to relatives.
The practice eventually peaked in popularity around the end of the 19th century and died out as "snapshot" photography became more commonplace, although a few examples of formal memorial portraits were still being produced well into the 20th century.
The earliest post-mortem photographs are usually close-ups of the face or shots of the full body and rarely include the coffin. The subject is usually depicted so as to seem in a deep sleep, or else arranged to appear more lifelike. Children were often shown in repose on a couch or in a crib, sometimes posed with a favorite toy or other plaything. It was not uncommon to photograph very young children with a family member, most frequently the mother. Adults were more commonly posed in chairs. Flowers were also a common prop in post-mortem photography of all types.
The effect of life was sometimes enhanced by either propping the subject's eyes open or painting pupils onto the photographic print, and many early images (especially tintypes and ambrotypes) have a rosy tint added to the cheeks of the corpse.
Later examples show less effort at a lifelike appearance, and often show the subject in a coffin. Some very late examples show the deceased in a coffin with a large group of funeral attendees; this type of photograph was especially popular in Europe and less common in the United States.
Post-mortem photography is still practiced in some areas of the world, such as Eastern Europe. Photographs, especially depicting persons who were considered to be very holy lying in their coffins are still circulated among faithful Eastern Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Christians.
A variation of the memorial portrait involves photographing the family with a shrine (usually including a living portrait) dedicated to the deceased.
As the common practice of post-mortem photography in North America and Western Europe has largely ceased, the portrayal of such images has become increasingly seen as vulgar, sensationalistic and taboo. This is in marked contrast to the beauty and sensitivity perceived in the older tradition, indicating a cultural shift that may reflect wider social discomfort with death."
What's the Relationship?  Barbara Frisse married John Michel Baptiste Brunett (1816-1863) from France soon after arriving in the country. They had 10 children, including my great-great-grandmother Barbara Brunett (1852-1896). Barbara married Phillip Huber (1847-1901), an immigrant from Germany, in 1871. Together they had 7 children, including my great-grandmother Mary Bertha Huber (1873-1913). Mayme, as she was called, married John Martin O'Donnell (1865-1937) in 1904. Together they had four children, including the oldest John Huber O'Donnell (1905-1965), my grandfather. In 1929, he married my grandmother Susan Elizabeth Flemming (1909-1999). They would have eight children, including my mother.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

MONDAY'S MOTHER - Odalie Felicite Fortier Horst (1857-1920)

Odalie Felicite Fortier Horst
taken in Cincinnati, Ohio
One hundred and fifty-five years ago this Friday  my great-grandmother Odalie Fortier Horst was born. The day was Monday, August 31, 1857, when Odalie Felicite Fortier was born to Jacques Omer Fortier (1813-1867) and Augustine Melanie Laperle Degruy (1822-1872) in the city of New Orleans, Louisiana. She was my great-great-grandparents' seventh child - they would go on to have twelve children in total. Her parents had three daughters who had died before Odalie was born, including their fourth child, named Odalie, too. [See "Friday's Forgotten - Odalie Fortier"] The first Odalie daughter had been born on August 31, 1846, and had died at the age of 2 on the same day that the next Fortier daughter was born - Adele Augustine Philomene, born January 2, 1849.  It was customary at that time for the same name to be given to a child if another earlier child with the name had died. In fact sister Adele was given the same name as Laperle and Omer's first child - Adele Augustine Philomene, born June 1841 and died August 17, 1841.

Laperle and her family lived in their home at 256 Bourbon Street. [NOTE: The house is still there but the numbering system within the city has changed. The house appears to be 1120 Bourbon Street.] According to the 1860 U.S. Census, Omer worked as a Clerk; his real estate holdings were worth $4000, and his personal worth was $1000. This was at the start of the war - no doubt by the time the war was over he and his family were facing much harder times. In December 1867, Omer died; he was 54. Laperle, just 45, was left with six children under the age of 18, and expecting their last. Less than five years later, Laperle, too, was dead. She was just 50 at the time of her death, having given birth to twelve children, buried four of them, as well as her husband, then raised 8 more alone in post-war New Orleans. She and her husband are buried in the family tomb at St. Louis Cemetery #1.

Odalie, along with her siblings Omer Auguste (1855-1897), Gaston James (1860-1917), twins Lucian (1861-1884) and Lucianna (1861-1942) and Jeanette (1866-1941) went to live with their mother's sister Julia Elodie Degruy Mendoza (1828-1914) in Mobile, Alabama. Odalie's only living older sister Adele had married before their mother's death and remained in New Orleans.

While living in Mobile, Odalie met Charles Frederick Horst (1856-1912), son of former Mobile Mayor and successful businessman Martin Horst (1830-1878) and Apollonia Weinschenk (1829-1908), both German immigrants.They were married on January 10, 1879, at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Mobile.

By the time they had married Charles' father had already died and he was helping to run his father's many businesses, along with his younger brothers. He and his new wife moved in with his mother and siblings at his parents' house on Conti Street that Martin had built after the Civil War. While they were living here Odalie gave birth to the couple's first child - Charles Frederick, born November 15, 1880. The couple's second child was also born in Mobile - Edward Martin, born May 5, 1882.It was at some point after this that the family packed up their bags and moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, for Charles' health, including breathing difficulties.
Horst Children
(standing) Charles, Edward; (seated) Omer, Pearl

Years earlier, Charles' father Martin had settled in Cincinnati along with his father and siblings, after arriving in America in 1846. Martin had left Ohio soon after his father and step-mother had died from cholera in 1852 and resettled in Mobile. Martin's older sister Anna Elizabeth Horst Ginter (1827-1877) had remained in Cincinnati with her husband and five children, running a grocery store. So when Charles and Odalie arrived with their two small sons, they moved in with Elizabeth's widowed husband John Ginter (1818-1906) and their children. Charles worked as a saloon keeper in the city - a job he had had much practice doing at his father's establishment growing up.

On November 19, 1884, Odalie gave birth to a daughter, Pearl Alphonsine, my great-grandmother. A third son, Omer Leo, soon joined the family, born May 5, 1887. Odalie must have really been resilient - first losing both her parents and having to leave her home and relocate to a new city to live with her aunt. Then after getting married, living with her German mother-in-law and a house full of her husband's younger siblings, and later adding two of her own to the mix. Then she followed him to Cincinnati, where his relatives lived, moving in with her German brother-in-law and his children, plus her two - and adding two more babies to the home. And when it was time for Charles to leave Cincinnati for their new home in Birmingham, Odalie and their four young children followed him again.

Charles & Odalie Horst, with daughter Dolly
Birmingham, Alabama
Here in Birmingham, Charles joined his younger brother Edward Horst (1858-1901), already relocated, at his establishment in the new city - The Palace Royale Saloon. Here, the two managed the successful bar, while Odalie settled in to her home across from Powell Elementary (the house no longer exists). On February 24, 1890, Odalie gave birth to the couple's youngest - Odalie Marie, called Dolly. Odalie was 43.

They had settled happily in Birmingham - Odalie raising their five children and Charles managing a successful bar. They were also active in their church, St. Paul Catholic Church (later Cathedral) in town. In 1901, Charles' brother and partner Edward had a stroke while at work and died the following day. Charles was now the sole proprietor of the Palace Royale Saloon. On August 30, 1912 [100 years ago this Thursday!], after being ill for a while with liver problems, Charles died. He was just 55 at the time of his death. By this time, two of their children - Charles and Pearl - had married and had children of their own.

Sometime in 1915-1916, second son Edward came down with Tuberculosis. There was no known cure, and many people - but not all - died. It was also highly contagious so those with the illness were kept away from everyone, often times sent far away to "better climate" where it was thought that the dry air was better for the sufferer's lungs. Edward was sent to St. Joseph's Sanatorium in Asheville, North Carolina, run by the Sisters of Mercy for TB patients. Unfortunately Edward did not recover. He died at the age of 34, on November 2, 1916. His brother Charles went to North Carolina to bring him home to be buried at Elmwood Cemetery in Birmingham, next to his father.

from Birmingham Age-Herald, p.2
November 15, 1920

Gravestone at Elmswood Cemetery
Birmingham, Alabama
On November 14, 1920, Odalie died at the age of 63. The cause of death was listed as Arteriosclerosis - "hardening of the arteries". She was buried next to her husband. Odalie was survived by her four children and fifteen (eventual) grandchildren. She and her husband would one day be able to count forty-six great-grandchildren, at least 76 great-great-grandchildren, and many more great-great-great-grandchildren.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

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

John Martin O'Donnell
John Martin O'Donnell was born in Jericho, Henry County, Kentucky, on November 7, 1865. He was the sixth of seven children born to Patrick O'Donnell (1823-1911) and Bridget Kennedy (1838-1883), both immigrants from Ireland. He was also their only son. Johnny, as he was called, is my great-grandfather.
After graduating from Eminence College (see "September 27, 2011" post) in 1885, he was hired by the Louisville & Nashville Railroad as a civil engineer. His father and uncles, after arriving in the United States around 1847, had all worked for the railroad, as laborers, building the actual track as it connected Louisville to Nashville. His father later opened a general store in Jericho.

At some point early in the early 1900's John was transferred with the railroad to the growing city of Birmingham, Alabama, first living in Calera, Shelby County, south of Birmingham. Here, as family lore tells it, he met his future wife, Mary Bertha Huber (1873-1913) while both were living in the same boarding house. She was a school teacher and, too, was a native of Kentucky - born and raised in Bowling Green. They were married on February 11, 1904 and they had four children: my grandfather John Huber (1905-1964), called Huber; Charles Patrick (1906-1987); Edward Joseph Kennedy (1908-1989); and Barbara Lena (1909-1996). Their family's happiness was short-lived. In late 1912, Mayme, as my great-grandmother was called, came down with Tuberculosis.

John took his wife to Albuquerque, New Mexico, a city known for its dry air and its rapidly growing health care facilities dedicated to serving TB patients. Mayme's younger sister Philomena Barbara (1876-1937), called Minnie, was a nurse; she travelled out from Kentucky to New Mexico to help care for her. Mayme did not recover. She returned to Birmingham, where she died at home on March 30, 1913. She left behind her four small children - Huber, 7 1/2; Charles, 6 1/2; Ed, 5; and Barbara, 3 1/2. She was buried at the old Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church Cemetery.
Prayer Card
[click to enlarge]

Picture on Prayer Card
Two days after he buried his wife, my great-grandfather placed his three boys in the nearby Athenaeum Orphanage, run by Catholic nuns. Little Barbara went to live with her aunt Minnie in Albuquerque. The boys stayed in the orphanage during the week while their father worked for the railroad, and on weekends he would bring them home. He wanted to keep all of his children together, but no relatives volunteered to take all four - some would keep one, but he didn't want to separate them. The orphanage seemed the best situation. Here they could grow up together, cared for and loved, and he would get to have them every weekend. The boys stayed in the orphanage until September 1920. At this point the boys were 15, 14 and 12, and would be able to care for themselves after school until their father came home after work. 

"Pop" with grandson Huber, Jr.
taken in front of home ca. 1922
Barbara, too, came back to Birmingham to live with her father and brothers. The story goes that Aunt Minnie brought young Barbara to the city to visit with her father and brothers. Huber and Charles begged their father to let their sister remain in the city with them, but their father said 'no' because he didn't want to hurt Minnie. So the boys went to the hotel where their aunt and sister were staying and together talked Barbara into telling her aunt she wanted to stay. When it was time for the two to leave, Barbara told her aunt that she wouldn't go. Aunt Minnie returned to Albuquerque alone.

John's children all married and began their families. Soon after his oldest son Huber married my grandmother Susan Elizabeth Flemming (1909-1999), they moved in with him at his home in Norwood, a suburb north of the city. [NOTE: The home is still standing @ Also living with him at this time was his sister Frances "Fannie" Delaney (1862-1939).

from The Birmingham News, p.10
December 7, 1937
On December 3, 1937, John's brother-in-law, Benjamin Ruffner Smith (1857-1937), the husband of his older sister Alice (1860-1934), died at his home in Louisville, Kentucky. John took the train to Louisville for the funeral. On December 6, the morning after the funeral, as family lore tells, John was at the Smith's home in Louisville eating breakfast. He had a massive heart attack and died, falling forward at the breakfast table.

from The Birmingham News, p. 23
December 8, 1937

 His body was brought back to Birmingham, where he was buried next to his wife. He was survived by his four children, and eight grandchildren.

When the Church and Cemetery were relocated, most of the graves were re-interred at Elmwood Cemetery in Birmingham. Many of the graves were not able to be identified and were re-buried together in mass graves behind Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church, near Elmwood.

One of four Headstone at Old Our Lady of Sorrows Cemetery

Sunday, August 19, 2012

SUNDAY'S OBITUARY - Gabriel Aime (1826-1854)

Gabriel Aime - age 9
Gabriel Aime was born on March 11, 1826, at his father's plantation, known as "Le Petit Versailles", in St. James Parish, outside New Orleans, Louisiana. His father was Francois Gabriel 'Valcour' Aime (1797-1867), the richest man in the South, and his mother was Josephine Roman (1797-1856), sister of Andre Roman (1795-1866), two-term Governor of Louisiana. Michel Fortier (1725-1785) Gabriel's 2x-great-grandfather and my 6x-great-grandfather - that makes Gabriel my 3rd-cousin, 4x removed.
Gabi, as he was affectionately called, was much loved by his parents, his older sisters and his friends. But he had a special place in his father's heart. As his only son, Gabriel would one day take over and run his home and his successful business, the St. James Sugar Refinery. Valcour had found the best tutors to live in their home and teach the children. He had further educated Gabriel by sending him to Europe where he lived for several years - to further his studies, to experience the various culture, and to learn all he could about the sugar refinery business.
Gabriel Aime
In the Louisiana State Museum there is a translation of a diary written by him in one of his travels abroad. He writes:
"In Rome, Apr. 1, 1847, My first visit, as you can imagine, was to the 'Apollo Belvedere' and to the 'Laocoon'. I admit, not without a certain shame and confusion, that this piece of marble which is praised so much by the artists ... has made no impression on me. There is assuredly no fault to find where everybody finds nothing but praise, but, for the beauty of form I prefer 'The Gladiators of Anova'.
Good Friday, Apr. 2, 1847, I spent three hours in the midst of the ruins of ancient Rome, which were spared from vandalism and the ravages of time... I shall name the objects which I have seen; the Forum Romanum where Brutus condemned his son ...; the Arc of Severus, erected by the Senate and the Roman people in honor of Septimus Severus and Antonius Caracolla and Cieta, his sons, to commemorate the victors won over Porthos, the Arabs and other peoples of the Orient....
Holy Saturday, Apr. 3, 1847, I hired a carriage and I went to the Cathedral of St. John Lateran, conceded to be, after St. Peter, the greatest church of Christianity. It was built by Constantine.
Easter Sunday, Apr. 4, 1847, at the Papal Blessing. It is impossible to describe the feelings and motions which each one felt, much as an electric current. These are unique moments in the life of a man, religious moments of this kind are only felt in this great house of Christian worship at a time when the Supreme Representative of God bestows his blessing Urbis et Orbis."
It was shortly after arriving back from one of these trips that Gabi was infected with Yellow Fever. He died a few days later, September 18, 1854. The following notice of his death was published in the Times-Picayune on September 24, 1854.
Times-Picayune, pg.2
September 24, 1854
'DEATH. - We regret to learn the death, after a short and sudden illness, of Gabriel Aime, in the parish of St. James, at the residence of his father, the well known, intelligent and universally esteemed planter, Mr. Valcour Aime. We knew this young man well, and sympathize deeply with his afflicted family and wide circle of friends. He was about thirty years of age, unmarried, and united b the ties of blood, like most of our Creoles, to many of our old and most respectable families. His amiable disposition, generous heart, and high sense of honor, endeared him to all who knew him, and many indeed and deep will be the signs for his untimely fate. It is but a few weeks once we saw him, his tall, well developed, manly form swelling with youthful health and vigor, and his easy, polished, courteous manner lending additional grace to his pleasant words and lively, smiling countenance. If any one bid fair to live a long and honored life, surely it was he. Inscrutable are the ways of Providence! Before its decrees we must bow the head in silent submission, for manhood in all its pride and strength is but as the grass before the mower's stroke.' [Times-Picayune; Sept. 24, 1854; page 2]
Grave Marker
St. Louis Cemetery #3
[click to enlarge]
The following day; Baton Rouge's newspaper had this to add:
"Louisiana has lost one of her most honorable and promising scions - Mr. Gabriel Aime - a gentleman but recently come to manhood, endeared to many friends by his noble virtues and accomplishments.
We have seen it stated elsewhere that Mr. Aime died of the yellow fever contracted in New Orleans a few days before his death; while passing through New Orleans from Biloxi on his way home." [The Advocate; Sept. 25, 1854; page 2]
Directly below the notice of Gabriel's death, the paper reported news of the yellow fever outbreak:
New Orleans - Health of the City
The Courier of Saturday says -
"Still does Yellow Fever reign in our midst, as fatally and unsparingly, as at any period of the summer. We cannot, unhappily, communicate to our readers the agreeable intelligence that there is the slightest appearance of diminution. In the Charity Hospital, by the last report, which we published in our edition of yesterday, it appears that the number of deaths from five o'clock Saturday evening till the same hour on Thursday evening amounted to one hundred and ten - making the average of twenty-two deaths, for each twenty-two hours at that establishment alone. This shows that the mortality is far from being on the decrease, and should be sufficient warning for those who may not as yet acclimated, to be on their guard. We understand, also, that in private practice the disease is still as prevalent and malignant as ever." [The Advocate, Sept. 25, 1854; page 2]
Gabriel's death had a profound affect on his father. An article in Baton Rouge's The Advocate described it like this:
Original Valcour Aime Family Tomb
St. James Cemetery, St. James Parish
[click to enlarge]
"A proud father, Aime built substantial mansions as wedding gifts for his daughters, but his one real pride was his son, Gabriel. With the youth's unexpected death from yellow fever in 1854, Aime suffered a crushing blow from which he would never recover. The daring man of intensity and strength sank tragically into a reclusive life of mourning. His days became a ritual of visiting the family tomb in nearby St. James Cemetery where his only son was laid to rest. There he and his wife would spend hours at the side of the lost Gabriel, sometimes leaving only at the urging of a servant as night approached. As Aime's life slowly decayed, so did his mansion and its grounds." [July 30, 1978, page 103]
Septime Fortier Family Tomb
Aime Family Markers on right
St. Louis Cemetery #3
Gabriel Aime was buried first in the family tomb in St. James Parish, where his parents and sister Felicie (1825-1859) would also be interred. In 1929, all Aime family graves were reinterred at St. Louis Cemetery #3, in the Septime Fortier (1816-1898) tomb. Septime was the son-in-law of Valcour Aime, and the brother-in-law of Gabriel.

Yellow Fever & Its History in New Orleans

Yellow Fever appeared for the first time in Louisiana in 1769. In the 100 years between 1800 and 1900, Yellow Fever assaulted New Orleans for 67 summers. Its main victims were immigrants and newcombers to the city, but its citizens were also at risk. The worst epidemics in the city coincided with some of the largest waves of Irish and German immigrants - 1847, 1853, 1854, 1855 and 1858.

Yellow Fever is a viral infection transmitted by the common mosquito. It's spread when a mosquito bites an infected person, then bites a new person who is not infected. Its name comes from the yellow-ish tint of the skin that some infected people, but not all, display- this happens as the virus attacks the liver. Yellow Fever is still prevalent in South America and Sub-Saharan Africa. Once the person is infected there is no known cure. Symptoms can be treated. According to the World Health Organization Yellow fever infects approximately 200,000 people worldwide each year, killing 30,000 of those infected.
Trenton State Gazette (N.J.). p. 2
Aug. 12, 1853

In the summer of 1853, considered the deadliest outbreak of the virus, 29,120 people contracted the disease - 8,647 died from it. In August of that year, an average of 1300 people died each week. By the end of the epidemic approximately 1out of every 12 people died from the virus in New Orleans alone. The figure was worse for Irish immigrants - 1out of every 5 died from the disease that summer.

In 1854, the year of Gabriel Aime's death, the number of deaths from Yellow Fever was 2,425.

It wasn't until 1900, when Army physician Major Walter Reed and his colleagues, using a theory first put forth by Cuban Carlos Finlay (1833-1915) in 1881, that it was proven that mosquitoes are the only way to contract and spread Yellow Fever. Until then, it was assumed that the virus was transmitted from person to person or through the air. The findings of Walter Reed, in contact with Finlay, along with his team, helped stem the mortality rate during the building of the Panama Canal.

You Know You've Contracted Yellow Fever if . . .
1. Three to six days after you were bitten by a run-of-the-mill, harmless little mosquito, you start to show symptoms.
2. Your symptoms include high fever, backache and other muscle aches, headache, chills, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting.
3. Your heartbeat slows down with your fever instead of speeding up
4. In most cases you will suffer from these symptoms for 3 or 4 days and then you should recover completely.
5. If you're unlucky enough to be in the 15% of those that don't get better, the fever will return.
6. Along with the high fever, you'll start to have stomach pains and vomiting.
7. Blood can start running from your mouth, your eyes and/or your nose.
8. Your kidneys may begin to fail, shutting down your body's ability to produce urine.
9. You start to notice a yellowish tint to your skin as the virus begins attacking your liver.
10. If your luck is still no good, you may be among the 50% of infected people who reach this stage. . . and you die.
11. You travel to a country where the virus is active and you didn't get the Yellow Fever Vaccination . . . and you start to feel sick.

SATURDAY'S STRUCTURE - 'Le Petit Versailles', St. James Parish, Louisiana (Part I)

Francois Gabriel Valcour Aime
Francois Gabriel Aime (1797-1867) is my 2nd cousin, 5x-removed. His mother was Marie Felicite Julie Fortier (1778-1806), 1st cousin to my 4x-great-grandfather Jacques Omer Fortier (1792-1823). Born into wealth, orphaned by age of 9, Valcour, as he was called, married Josephine Roman (1797-1856) in 1819. They were both born into wealth from distinguished Louisiana families. Together they raised five children: daughters Edwige (1819-1867), Josephine (1821-1894), Felicite Emma (1823-1905), Felicie (1825-1859), and only son Gabriel (1828-1854). Valcour built the most magnificent home on his over 2,030 acre plantation. Le Petit Versailles, named for France's Versailles Palace, had its own zoo, man made lake and river, its own train and even its own cannon. Read Part I of this excerpt from Lost Plantations of the South, by Marc R. Matrana, 2009.

"Le Petit Versailles was the home of one of Louisiana's most famous planters, Valcour Aime, whose legendary success and excesses are still widely recounted to this day. His unusual mansion at Le Petit Versailles Plantation was the crown of his plantation empire, which included many properties. And the flagship estate's gardens were among the most elaborate ever conceived in the South. The plantation mansion burned in the twentieth century, leaving but a memory of a man and a plantation that truly defined Louisiana's "Golden Age.""

In St. James Parish "Aime owned the plantation that would come to be known as Oak Alley, perhaps the most recognizable and photographed plantation in the South today. He transferred this estate to his brother-in-law, Jacques Telesphore Roman, and took possession of the old Roman family estate. This Roman plantation measured thirty arpents along the Mississippi River and extended eighty arpents back. Aime filled its fields with sugarcane and began turning an annual profit between twelve thousand and twenty-three thousand dollars."

[NOTE: When Louisiana was under Spanish rule a ruling of 1770 allowed land grants 6-8 arpents wide and 40 arpents deep.  1 arpent = 192 feet. The Roman plantation (soon to be Aime's) was 30 arpents wide by 80 wide. This means his land measured 5,760 feet wide by 15,360 feet deep.]

"By the 1830s, Aime's family had grown, consisting of five children: four daughters and one son named Gabriel. By this time, the family needed more space. The Romans' old French Colonial house where the Aime family lived was integrated into the new mansion. The new house was built in the shape of a U with a large central courtyard facing the rear. Massive columns surrounded the plantation house and also lined the courtyard, creating a very remarkable rear facade. Twin staircases on either side of the courtyard framed the rows of columns within.

In its finished version, the mansion boasted sixteen rooms, including a grand banquet hall and private children's dining room on the first floor, as well as private parlors, bedrooms, and a library on the second floor. The large central hall contained a solid marble staircase and marble floors. Also, marble of various colors was found throughout the house in mantels, wainscotting, and in the rear courtyard floor.

Louisiana Historical Marker
Hwy 18 - St. James Parish
N 30° 00.400 W 090° 45.333
Outside the structure, Aime created what was arguably one of the finest flower gardens in the nation. The gardens were designed on a twenty-acre plot as an English park, although the landscapers were actually Parisians. It has been suggested that Aime was inspired by Josephine Bonaparte's English gardens at Malmaison, and it is said that over 120 slaves were employed in the creation of the botanical wonder at Petit Versailles. A large artificial lake filled with exotic fish was built and a stream known as La Riviere was supplied with pumped water from the nearby Mississippi River. Roman bridges spanned the rivulet at various intervals. A large hill was constructed with a grotto below, and on top a crowning Chinese pagoda contained stained-glass windows and chiming bells. A small fort, complete with a cannon, was constructed and came to be known as St. Helene, in honor the island where Napoleon was exiled. And artificial ruins, some detailed with oyster shells and marble statuary, added a decorative flair to the gardens. Large hothouses were filled with much tropical vegetation, while outside, the landscape artists planted fruit trees, shrubbery, and other plants from as far away as India, China, Korea, Madagascar, Siam, and other distinct locations. A small zoo was installed, complete with exotic animals, including many species of songbirds, peacocks, and even kangaroos. In addition, the plantation's internal railroad ran through the gardens to ferry guests around the estate.

by Eliza Ripley
pub. 1912

When the gardens were finished, one of the landscapers, Joseph Muller, who studied at the famed Jardin des Plantes, remained on the plantation to oversee the landscaping. It is said that he had a crew of thirty slaves who worked exclusively in the park. Eliza Ripley visited Petit Versailles and was escorted on a tour by one of Aime's daughters. Ripley wrote of this experience in her book, Social Life in Old New Orleans:

 ' Felicie and I, with a whole escort of followers, explored the spacious grounds, considered the finest in Louisiana. There was a miniature river, meandering in and out and around the beautifully kept parterres, the tiny banks of which were an unbroken mass of blooming violets. A long-legged man might have been able to step across this tiny stream, but it was spanned at intervals by bridges of various designs, some rustic, some stone, but all furnished with parpets, so one would not tumble in and drown, as a little Roman remarked . . . . There were summer houses draped with strange, foreign-looking vines; a pagoda on a mound, the entrance of which was reached by a flight of steps. It was an octagonal building, with stained-glass windows, and it struck my inexperienced eye as a very wonderful and surprising bit of architecture. Further on was --a mountain! covered from base to top with beds of blooming violets. A narrow, winding path led to the summit, from which a comprehensive view was obtained of the extensive grounds, bounded by a series of conservatories. It was enchanting. There I saw for the first time the magnolia frascati, at that date a real rarity.'" (pages 180-182)
END OF PART 1 - Le Petit Versailles 
[Read more about this unbelievable plantation next Saturday]

Friday, August 17, 2012

FRIDAY'S FAMOUS - Francois Gabriel "Valcour" Aime (1797-1867) PART I

Francois Gabriel Aime - ca. 1822
Said to have been the richest man in in the South during the first half of the nineteenth century, Francois Gabriel Aime is my second cousin 5x removed. His plantation home was known as 'Le Petit Versailles' due in part to its grand opulence. He was generous to his family - giving plantations to each of his daughters as wedding gifts.  He enjoyed lavish entertaining. He was also deeply religious, and generous in his gifts to the Church. He was wealthy, generous, intelligent, and a loving family man. The stories of his life and his death are quite amazing. In order to give a true picture of this extraordinary individual it will require more than one post. I think you'll agree with me that it's worth the effort.

Francoise Gabriel Aime was born about 1797 in St. Charles Parish, Louisiana to parents Francois Gabriel Aime II (1768-1799) and Marie Felicite Julia Fortier (1778-1806). His maternal grandfather, Michel Fortier II (1750-1819) was the older brother of my 5x-great-grandfather Jacques Omer Fortier (1759-1820). Jacques and Michel's parents are my 6x-great-grandparents Michel Fortier (1725-1785) and Perinne Langlois (1734-1804). He was called Valcour by his nurse when he was a baby and he was known by that name the rest of his life

He was a pioneer in growing cane on his sugar plantation in the early 1800's, and operated an experimental station on his property developing new and better sugar production capabilities. From 1821 until 1856 he kept a diary of his experiments and a record of his plantation activities. He shared his findings with his friends and family.

The following is taken from The Fortier Family and Allied Families, by Estelle M. Fortier Cochran (1963).
"Valcour Aime lived with his parents and brother, Michel, on the Aime Plantation in St. Charles Parish. His father died when Valcour was only two years of age. His mother married secondly Fermin Adelard Fortier. She became blind and ill, and died when Valcour was only eight."
[NOTE: Fermin Adelard Fortier (1775-UNK) was Valcour's mother's uncle. On October 3, 1803,  his grandfather Michel Fortier filed a "Request for Dispensation" with the Catholic Church: "Fortier, Captain of the Artillery states that with his consent his daughter Julie (Porter), widow of Francisco Ayme, and Adelard Fortier, her uncle, petition for dispensation to marry. Haste is necessary to avoid scandal in a large and distinguished family and he asks that his marriage be performed in strictest secrecy."]
"The two brothers had been put into the care of their grandfather Fortier when their mother became ill. They went to live in New Orleans with Michel Fortier II. He alone took care of them; both their Aime grandmother (Jeanne Deslandes), and their Fortier grandmother (Marie Rose Durel) had died earlier. They became a part of the active, useful life of their grandfather. They understood his influence in the civic problems of the community; they learned of his military activities in the American Revolution and in the War of 1812. According to the Records of the War of 1812, we learn, that in spite of their youth, both brothers were enlisted in the militia, and took some part in this conflict. They served under Captain Rene Trudeau, Troop of Horse, St. Charles, Dec. 14, 1814 to March 16, 1815.
Josephine Roman Aime ca. 1838
The Aime plantations which Valcour and Michel Aime had inherited were in St. Charles Parish, and the brothers often visited the relatives who lived there. Not far away, in St. James Parish, lived the Jacques Etienne Romans. The young people of the Roman family were friends of the Aimes, and very early Valcour fell in love with Josephine Roman. In July of 1819, when they were both twenty, they were married. The marriage was not only a union of members of two prominent families, but it was a marriage of wealth.
Five children were born to Valcour Aime and Josephine Roman Aime, four daughters and one son. Their son, Gabriel, was their youngest child and their hope for the survival of their name. The four daughters all married from the lovely plantation home, all marrying members of prominent Louisiana families." (p. 55-58)

Edwige Aime Fortier
Their oldest daughter, Edwige, born 1819, married Florent Louis Fortier (1811-1886) her second cousin, in 1836. He was the son of Louis Edmond Fortier (1784-1849), her grandmother's brother. They lived with her parents at 'Le Petit Versailles'. Florent served as the Manager of Valcour's St. James Sugar Refinery. They would have five children.

Daughter Josephine, born 1821, married Alexis Ferry II (1815-1884) in 1839; together they had twelve children. Her father bought St. Joseph Plantation as a wedding present, completely furnished with a full staff of slaves, where they lived. This plantation is still standing. [There is no known portrait of Josephine. Some relatives believe that, although a favorite of the younger family members, "Tante Zo", as she was called, was somewhat headstrong and refused to sit to have her portrait painted.]

Felicite Emma Aime Fortier
Their middle child Felicite Emma was born February 26, 1823. In June 1841, she married another second cousin Alexander Septime Fortier (1816-1898). Septime was a younger brother of Edwige's husband Florent Fortier. Valcour gave Felicity Plantation to the newly married couple. They would raise thirteen children together in their home. [See post "Saturday's Structures: Felicity Plantation", July 16, 2011]

Felicie Aime
Youngest daughter Felicie was born in 1825. She married her first cousin, this one on her mother's side of the family, Alfred Roman (1826-1892) and they had two children. She died while visiting Paris, France with her husband. She was just 34 years old. She was brought back home and buried in her family's tomb. [Later they would all be reinterred at St. Louis Cemetery #3]

Gabriel Aime
Son Gabriel was born March 11, 1828. He never married. His father put great care in educating him, even sending him across the Atlantic Ocean to learn more about sugar production in Europe. 

[NOTE: Click on any portrait to enlarge for better viewing]

"Valcour kept a daily journal from 1820 to 1854 documenting temperature, farming techniques, as well as experiments with new varieties of cane and equipment. In 1795, Etienne de Bore’ introduced sugar cane to Louisiana, but it was the genius of Valcour Aime that perfected the refining process. He learned to harness steam power and designed and made this equipment by 1829. He traveled to Cuba and other countries to study the latest developments. Some of his experiments cost over $40,000 per year and their success earned him the title of “The father of white sugar.” VaIcour’s sugar was judged best in the world at the New York Exposition in 1853.
By the 1830’s Valcour’s plantation had grown to 10,000 acres and he was reputed to be the world’s leading sugar producer and the richest man in Louisiana. He named his plantation, the St. James Refinery Plantation, and in 1833 he added a railroad to his estate. This railroad stretched from his steamboat dock through the fields and to the remote cypress swamp. He disliked waiting for steamboats since they never were on time, so he bought his own, and named it for his son Gabriel.
Valcour built two huge green-houses which contained rare plants, trees and shrubs from all over the world. Valcour’s plantation was so self-sufficient that he wagered $10,000 ($1 million by today’s standards) that he could produce from his plantation alone, a meal complete with wine, coffee and cigars that would surpass any. He won the bet.
He read all the industry related literature available and he employed only the most competent personnel to oversee each segment of his operation. However, the keys to Valcour’s success were his abilities to delegate responsibility, to document all orders and experiments and to follow-up on each." [From an article published in 1995, by Andrew Capone]
Valcour's diary, Plantation diary of the late Mr. Valcour Aime, formerly proprietor of the plantation known as the St. James sugar refinery, situated in the parish of St. James, and now owned by Mr. John Burnside was published in 1883 and can be read online or is available for purchase.

[End of Part I]
Find out more about Valcour Aime's extraordinary plantation home in tomorrow's post 
"Saturday's Structures - 'Le Petit Versailles".

Sunday, August 12, 2012

SUNDAY'S OBITUARY - Patrick Henry Dawes (1860-1889)

This portrait was being sold by the
Mobile Museum - from an article in the
Mobile Press-Register, 3 Nov 1985
Patrick Henry Dawes was born in Mobile, Alabama, on December 14, 1860. His parents were Patrick Henry Dawes (1830-1880) and Mary Ann (1835-1889), both immigrants from Ireland. He worked as a cashier/bookkeeper for Tonsmiere & Craft, local grocers on Dauphin Street. He also was a volunteer firefighter with Merchants Steam Fire Company No. 4, whose house was located on Conti Street, west of Jackson.

On February 14, 1885, Patrick married Emma Elizabeth Horst (1865-1923), fifth child and oldest daughter of Martin Horst (1830-1878) and Apollonia Weinschenk (1829-1908), both immigrants from Germany and my 3x-great-grandparents. Emma was the younger sister of my great-great-grandfather Charles Frederick Horst (1856-1912).

Together Patrick and Emma had two children, one who died at birth, and one daughter - Zoe  Josephine Dawes (b. December 23, 1887). The couple lived in a house on the east side of St. Emmanuel Street with their little daughter but their life together would be a short one. On November 9, 1889, at 6 in the evening Patrick died. He was just 28 years old. He left behind his wife of 4 1/2 years and daughter Zoe, not quite two.

Mobile Register
10 Nov 1889
   "Mr. Patrick H. Dawes died at six o'clock yesterday evening at the residence of his sister, Mrs. Addie Betrix. He had been in delicate health for some time past, and about a week ago was forced to leave his post of duty. He arrived in the city yesterday afternoon about three o'clock from Montgomery.
   The deceased was born in Mobile December 14, 1860, and the greater portion of his life was spent in this city. He was educated at Richardson's Academy, and about twelve years ago entered the employ of the late firm of Tonsmiere & Craft as a clerk, being shortly afterward promoted to the position of bookkeeper. He remained with this firm until its dissolution, when he became a partner in the firm of Craft & Co. About two years ago he withdrew from this firm and became bookkeeper for F. E. Tutwiler & Co., where he remained a few months, and then accepted a similar position with James O'Brien in Montgomery.
  He was for a number of years a member of the Mobile Rifle Company, and took part in the competitive drills of that company at Nashville, Houston, Dubuque, Mobile and New Orleans.
   He married Miss Emma Horst, who with one daughter survives him. He also leaves a mother, two sisters, Mrs. Addie Betrix, of this city, and Miss Ellie Simpson, of Montgomery, three brothers, E.J. and R.B. Dawes of this city, and W.W. Dawes, of Meridian, and a large circle of friends to mourn his death.
   The deceased was of a quiet and unassuming disposition, and possessed of those qualities of head and heart which endeared him to all with whom he came in contact. The time and place of the funeral are announced elsewhere." (Mobile Register, 10 Nov 1889)

Emma married again, on November 7, 1892 to Charles Monroe Altice (1864-1943), a 29-year-old grocer. They would have three children of their own. Zoe married Thomas Parker Cumberland (1883-1973) on October 7, 1908, in Mobile. They had no children.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

WEDDING WEDNESDAY - Thompson-Flemming Wedding 1912

Imo Flemming Thompson
Imo Flemming is my great-great-aunt. I never knew her but just to see this picture that she posed for in the early 1900's makes me think she must have been quite a woman. She was born Elizabeth Imogene Flemming on September 28, 1886 in Rome, Georgia. Her parents were my 3x-great-grandparents Charles Clinton Flemming (1854-1932) and Elizabeth Agnes McCaffrey (1858-1922), and a younger sister to my great-great-grandfather Harry Clinton Flemming (1878-1955). 
She was much loved among her family - she served as maid-of-honor in the wedding of both her sister Susie (1879-1908) and Charles (1884-1935), and possibly more. She was also best friends with her sister-in-law Pearl Horst (1884-1961), wife of Harry and my great-grandmother.

In early December 1912 the engagement of Charlie and Lizzie's sixth child was announced in the local Birmingham newspaper:

Darrell Robert Thompson, her husband-to-be, was born in Anniston, Alabama, on January 25, 1890, the oldest son of Robert Durrell Thompson (1863-1944) and Mary Eldon Rose (1868-1934). At the time of their engagement Darrell was a Clerk with Southern Railway.

In the Social Section of The Birmingham Age, the Rehearsal Dinner the evening before the wedding was described in some detail:

Mr. and Mrs. C.C. Fleming Buffet Supper Hosts
"The members of the party who are to attend Miss Imo Flemming and Mr. Thompson this morning at their wedding enjoyed the hospitality of Mr. and Mrs. C. C. Fleming last evening after the rehearsal, at a buffet supper. Ferns, poinsettia and other decorations appropriate to the Christmas and New Year season were employed to brighten the surroundings and a tempting supper was served from the dining room." (December 31, 1912)
[click to enlarge]
Thompson-Flemming Wedding This Morning
   "Tuesday morning at 8:30 o'clock at the home of Mr. and Mrs. C. C. Flemming, on St. Charles street, the marriage of their daughter, Miss Imo Elizabeth Flemming to Mr. D. I. Thompson of Anniston was solemnized impressively, but with quiet simplicity. Father J. E. Coyle of St. Paul's church administered the solemn nuptial vow.
   Christmas greens with an interlude of red in holly berries and poinsettas made the home a very attractive setting for the wedding. The improvised alter of palms, ferns and smilax which was built in the living room had poinsetta flowers woven into the green bank. Numerous candles on the altar furnished the only illumination for the room.
   The music for the wedding was played by Miss Abbie Murphy, and just before the ceremony she rendered a beautiful nuptial song. The bridal party entered to the notes of the Lohengrin wedding march.
   Mrs. James Bennet Thomas, a bride of the late summer, served her sister as matron of honor. She wore a handsome coat suit of tan cloth with hat, shoes and gloves of the same shade. Her flowers were Richmand roses.
   Miss Flemming descended the stairway with her father, Mr. C. C. Flemming, Sr. She was gowned in her traveling suit of dark blue serge and a small velvet hat of a similar color which was trimmed with one graceful plume, curling over the side brim. She held a shower bouquet of lillies of the valley and brides roses.
     Mr. Thompson, attended by his best man, Mr. James Bennet Thomas, joined his bride at the altar. The beautiful marriage ceremony of the Catholic church was performed by the Rev. Father Coyle.
     Mr. and Mrs. Thompson left on an early train for Washington, New York and other points in the North. At the end of two weeks they will go to Anniston, where they are to make their home."  (December 31, 1912)

Possibly the Wedding Picture of
Imo and Darrell Thompson
(Note the small hat with a plume
that she has set on his head)
After their wedding, the couple was transferred at least twice from their home in Anniston, first to Charlotte, North Carolina - where he registered for the WWI Draft in 1917. At this time he was the Chief Clerk with Southern Railroad. Sometime after this  Darrell and Imo moved to Baltimore, Maryland. It was here, on January 26, 1919, that Imo died. They had just celebrated their 7th wedding anniversary.

Why she died at the young age of 32 isn't known. Family stories say she died in childbirth. But this was also the end of the worldwide Flu Pandemic that started in the fall of 1918. This flu strain killed mostly young adults, with healthy immune systems. Only two months earlier, Imo's youngest brother Tom (1896-1918) had died from complications from this same flu. What is know is that her body was taken back by train to Birmingham, where she was buried at Elmwood Cemetery.

Her husband remarried in 1921. He and his wife Margauritte had a daughter Marion in 1924 in Georgia. By 1930 they had moved once again to Indianapolis, Indiana. Nothing further is known of Darrell and his new family.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

SUNDAY'S OBITUARY - Frederick Horst (Apr 1867-Aug 1867)

Frederick Horst, called Freddy by his family, was born on April 1, 1867 in Mobile, Alabama. He was the sixth child of my great-great-great grandparents Martin Horst (1830-1878) and Apollonia Weinschenk (1829-1908). - he was the tenth child of Apollonia, who had been widowed before marrying Martin. Their first child together, and Freddy's older brother, was Charles Frederick (1856-1912), my great-great-grandfather.

Before Freddy was born Apollonia had given birth to three daughters and six sons. Three of those sons had died very young: Ferdinand Berg, her first child with husband Tobias Berg (1819-1853), was born December 10, 1847 and lived just 8 days; Samuel Berg was born in May 1850 and died on the 23rd of the same month; and William Horst, her fourth son and child with Martin, was born February 23, 1863 but lived only sixteen months, dying on July 5, 1864.

Freddy was born three years after the death of little William and two years after the end of the Civil War. The Horsts were still in the liquor dealership business but were having difficulty getting their customers to pay their bills. Times were very hard all over the South as the entire economy struggled to recover from the war. They were also in the middle of building their new home - the same one which stands today at 407 Conti Street.

On January 12th, 1868, Martin wrote a letter to his younger brother Charles (1835-1900), living in Metropolis, Illinois, to catch him up with his family's happenings, and complained of the difficulties he was facing:
"I am just now finishing up my new dwelling I have been building wich (sic) cost me twenty-six Thousand dolls. Seven Thousand more than I calculated on; and when I began last spring I only had twelve Thousand cash hoping at that time to collect by Jan. 1st at least 6 or 7 thousand dolls. that I could draw out of my Business but so far I have not been able to collect one doll. of this money and probable (sic) never will; as most people who owe any money are taking the benifit (sic) of the Bankrupt Law and then (sic) there is a very poor showing."
On August 27, 1867, five-month-old little Fredy died. A notice was placed in the local Mobile newspaper the following day:

In the same letter written in January of the following year Martin concludes by filling his brother in on his family:
"My family are all well. Last Aug. I lost my little Boy Fredy five months old and have but four Children now three Boyse (sic) and the youngest a little Girl 2 1/2 years old. All in good health and spirit."
Two more children were born after little Freddy's death - one son and one daughter. Both lived long and full lives. Freddy Horst is my 3x-great-uncle.