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, May 10, 2012

WONDERFUL WEDNESDAY'S PHOTO - Sitting on Train Tracks, ca 1921-22

Sitting on Train Tracks
Birmingham, Alabama
ca. 1921-1922
I love this photograph - just a simple picture of four young girls, laughing and being silly and enjoying a long day together. One is smiling with such spirit her whole body smiles, throwing her head back with pure joy. Another sits quietly, taking it all in, enjoying the lollipop she brought with her on the girls' adventure on Birmingham's Southside neighborhood.

It could almost be set when I was a young girl, spending all day outside with my friends or my sisters. But I never set out through endless fields with no homes in sight, or crawled up an embankment to rest on railroad tracks. The lollipop looks familiar; playing outside wearing dresses does not.

What makes the photograph even more special is knowing that my grandmother, Susie Elizabeth Flemming O'Donnell (1909-1999) is the young girl laughing in the center of the picture. She looks to me to be about 12-13 years old, but I'm not sure. Next to her is one of her best friends, Adelaide Atkins, looking at Susie laughing, no doubt at something silly that one of the other girls just said.

Standing behind Susie is Agnes Marie O'Brien (1908-1979); to her left (our right) sits her youngest sister Helen (1911-1988). Marie, as the older sister was called, and Helen are the children of Edward Joseph O'Brien (1867-1922) and Agnes Gertrude McCaffrey (1879-1919). The sisters' mother Agnes was the youngest surviving child of thirteen children, and the youngest sister of my great-great-grandmother Charlotte Agnes "Lizzie" McCaffrey Flemming (1858-1922). This makes Susie a "first cousin-once removed" of Helen and Marie. [Susie's mother Pearl Alphonsine Horst (1864-1861) was Marie and Helen's first-cousin.]

The photograph seems to have been taken around 1921-22. Two short years prior to this picture being taken Helen and Marie had lost their mother to uterine cancer - she was just 40 years old. When she died her husband was left to care for their six children, ranging in age from eight to eighteen years old. Only three years later their father Edward also died; he was 55-years-old.

So it seems that Marie and Helen were probably visiting their mother's niece, Susie, who was the perfect age for them to play with. After the death of their father, around the time the photo was snapped, the girls and their older siblings moved to Elizabethton, Tennessee (for the exact reason I don't know). Susie, Marie and Adelaide would each marry within the next decade and have children; Helen would remain unmarried, living to be seventy-seven.

But leaving home, having husbands and children, was all for another day, another time. This day was for laughing and dreaming, sitting on train tracks until the sound of a whistle blew. It was for enjoying a lollipop and talking with good friends. It was a day to escape. And lucky for us, someone had a camera nearby to capture it all, so that we could enjoy the day, too.

[NOTE: This post has been corrected from its original form after it was pointed out to me that I had two of the girls incorrectly identified - Adelaide is on the far left and Susie is laughing in the middle. Thanks to Adelaide's granddaughter for letting me know!]

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

MONDAY'S MOTHERS - Marietta Elizabeth Lloyd Johnson Hartin (1838-1909)

Marietta Elizabeth Lloyd Johnson Hartin is not directly related to me, except by marriage, as the mother-in-law of my great-great-great-uncle. But she is a relative worth noting and this is her story.
Marietta Elizabeth Lloyd Johnson Hartin
In Mourning Attire - ca. 1890

Marietta Elizabeth Lloyd was born on November 4, 1838, in Georgia. Her parents are unknown. In 1860 she married Jack Johnson (UNK) and on January 1, 1862, she gave birth to the couple's only child, a daughter - Mary Elizabeth Johnson. Jack died at some point in the 1870's, leaving Marietta and her young daughter alone.

On October 2, 1879, Marietta married John Sulden Hartin (1844-1904) in Butler County, Alabama. John Hartin was a veteran of the Civil War, having survived being shot twice in battle. He had been married in 1865 to Amanda Elizabeth Hayes (1846-1874) and they had two children: Wiley Suldon Hartin (1867-1911) and Martha Susan Hartin (1873-1954). He was widowed less than ten years after he was first married, left to raise an 8-year-old son and a one-year-old daughter. So when he married Marietta their family now included her daughter Mary, 17, his son Wiley, 12, and his daughter Martha "Mattie", 6.

Young Mary was soon also married. On July 1, 1885, in Rome, Georgia, she married Charles Andrew McCaffrey. Davis, as he was often called (in honor of Jefferson Davis, former President of the Confederacy), was born on May 2, 1865, in Selma, Alabama, the 6th of thirteen children. His father, Thomas Joseph McCaffrey (1832-1896), had moved south at the start of the Civil War to work at Tannehill and Brierfield Ironworks. His mother, Charlotte Elizabeth McCluskey (1838-1917) had moved from their home in Baltimore during the war to join her husband. Charles was born in Selma, one month after Union troops had attacked Confederate defenders at Selma; completely outnumbered, Selma fell to the over 12,000 Union troops, and the Ironworks that supplied cannon and ammunition to the south was destroyed. Thomas and Charlotte McCaffrey are my great-great-great-grandparents; Davis is the younger brother of my great-great-grandmother Elizabeth "Lizzie" McCaffrey Flemming (1858-1922).

Charles and Mary had the first of three sons (six months after they were wed). On January 18, 1886, John Thomas was born. Fifteen months later, on April 28, 1887, the family welcomed Charles Louis, called "Carl". Their last child, Karl Albert, was born two years later, on July 22, 1889. Their family was now complete. But their happiness was short lived.

Early in 1890, Mary contracted Typhoid Fever. Typhoid fever is acquired after eating or drinking something that has been contaminated with the feces of an infected person. Obviously where there is poor hygene or poor sanitation the bacteria will thrive. Typhoid fever was very common across America at this time (there are currently 21.5 million people affected worldwide each year  - 400 people in the U.S. acquire it each year, 75% after visiting a foreign country). Symptoms of the illness include a high fever of 103-104 degrees, diarrhea, headache, stomach pain and sometimes delirium.
Antibiotics can be used today to treat the illness but in 1890 no such drug existed.

Mary died on January 14, 1890, at the age of 28. She was buried in Myrtle Hill Cemetery in Rome, Georgia where the family lived. Charles was widowed at 34 years old, left to raise his three little boys - John, four days short of his 4th birthday; Charles, 2-and-a-half; and Karl, 6-months-old. Her only child having died, Mary's mother went into mourning, as was the custom of the time.

Mourning Clothes
Mourning attire was an outward sign of the loss and grief over the death of a loved one - usually a spouse or a child. The mourning period was usually a year and one day from the death, and what you were allowed to wear was quite specific.. Mourning dress for women was always black, plain, with black buttons and was made of a dull cloth, usually crape. A simple veil would also be worn that covered the face. After the first year was completed "half-mourning" would take place. At this time the person could alter her clothes to be less simple - often adding black lace or dark jewelry. The veil could now be worn off the face or a black hat or headpiece would be worn. Half-mourning was usually 9 months. At the end of this time dresses would slowly begin to add colors. Some women may have chosen to wear their mourning clothes for the remainder of their lives, to honor their dead loved one.

Marietta and her husband took her three grandsons into be raised. She was fifty-two years old, her husband was fifty-six. They set up their home in Birmingham, close to where many of the boys' father's sisters lived with their families. In early January 1904, Marietta lost her second husband. Five short years later, on Christmas day 1909, Marietta died at the age of seventy-one. By this time her grandsons were grown - John was 24, Charles was 22, and Karl was 20.

Charles McCaffrey had moved to Mobile, Alabama, and in February 1895, Charles was married to Minnie Lee Miller (1867-1927), and together they had two more children: Clifford (1899-1900) and Charlotte Teresa "Lottie" (1901-1955). Charles died in January 1917, at the age of fifty-one.