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


Sunday, December 22, 2013

SUNDAY'S OBITUARY - Thomas O'Donnell (1827-1877) & Sophia Thompson O'Donnell (1839-1916)

NOTE: This story is about Thomas O'Donnell, my great-great-great-uncle. I found it just yesterday, and have now confirmed the county and parish of my O'Donnell ancestors. More exploration will now be necessary to find out about their life in Ireland, and maybe one day I can visit the exact town where my grandfather's family lived. But the story today is about Thomas, and it's not a happy ending for him.

Headstone of Thomas O'Donnell
St. Louis Cemetery, Louisville, KY
Thomas O'Donnell is one of six brothers of my great-great-grandfather Patrick O'Donnell (1823-1911). Thomas was born about 1827 to Richard O'Donnell (1787-1857) and Margaret (UNK-UNK). He was born in the Parish of Lisronagh, in the County of Tipperary, in Ireland. Thomas and Patrick came with their brothers William O'Donnell (1818-1882), Richard O'Donnell (1820-1899), Edward O'Donnell (1821-1860), John O'Donnell (1822-UNK), and James O'Donnell (1830-1894) to America and originally all settled in Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky. On December 1, 1849, Thomas, along with his brothers Richard, Edward, John and Patrick, arrived in the Port of New Orleans on board the ship Fingall.

Thomas, along with Patrick and John, soon settled in Henry County, all working as laborers with the Louisville, Cincinnati & Lexington Railroad (later part of the L&N Railroad). On October 18, 1857, Thomas married Sophia Thompson (1839-1916). He was 30 years old, she was just 18. Sophie, as she was called, was one of five children born in Switzerland County, Indiana, to David Thompson (1804-1866), a Scottish immigrant, and Elizabeth Bennett (1803-1865), an immigrant from England. Thomas & Sophia in the early years of their marriage lived with her family in Eminence, Henry County, Kentucky.

Thomas rose to the position of Section Boss for the L. C & L Railroad in Eminence, and he and Sophia had six children (possibly seven): James Richard O'Donnell (b. March 23, 1858); Frances J. "Fanny" O'Donnell (b. Nov. 20, 1859); Mary T. O'Donnell (b. February 18, 1862); Sophia O'Donnell (b. February 13, 1868); Elizabeth T. "Eliza" O'Donnell (b. August 1870); and Margaret "Maggie" O'Donnell (b. April 1875).

from Courier-Journal, page 1
June 20, 1877
Thomas O'Donnell, a Section Boss on the Lexington Road, Cuts His Throat from Ear to Ear
"Jericho Station, 32 miles from this city, in Henry county, on the Short-line road, was startled yesterday morning by the news of a terrible suicide. Thomas O'Donnell, a man probably in the neighborhood of 50, was related to be the suicide. O'Donnell had been in the employ of the railroad as section boss, and, until lately, was stationed at Eminence, where he managed to save money, and became a proprietor of considerable property, it being estimated that he was worth about $20,000.
The railroad officers concluded to change his location, and a short time ago moved him to Dorset Station, twelve miles beyond Frankfort. O'Donnell brought his family with him and took up his residence there, but appeared discontented with the change. Monday he came to Louisville and yesterday morning, about 2 o'clock he appeared at the house of his brother Patrick O'Donnell, in Jericho, woke up the family and stated that he had missed the afternoon train from Louisville, and had come up on a freight train. He complained of sickness and went to bed.
About 6 o'clock yesterday morning, he arose with the family and asked for a razor with which he wanted to shave himself. His brother Patrick told him to wait until after breakfast, before undergoing that operation. Breakfast was taken, and between half-past 6 and 7 o'clock, Thomas proceeded to shave himself. Shortly before 7 o'clock his brother observed him going first to one portion of the fence then to another portion, and looking over as if to see whether there was anyone out in the neighboring farms. Patrick's supposition as to his action was far different from what it turned out to be. The farmer went to the barn to feed some hogs. He had been at his work but a few minutes when, chancing to glance up, he beheld Thomas lying flat on the ground about fifty yards from him.
Thinking that he had perhaps fallen into a fit, he went up to him, when, to his utter terror and dismay, he saw Thomas gasping for breath, and almost heard the sound of the death-rattle in his throat.  His throat had been cut in a most fearful manner from the top of the left to the top of the right ear, and the blood was streaming over him. The sight was sickening enough to nearly freeze him to the spot. The head was half dangling from the neck, such a gash had the suicide inflicted. Life was extinct in 5 minutes. An inquest was held by Squire R. W. Vance, at which Patrick O'Donnell testified as to what he had seen. The verdict of the jury was based upon the above facts.

Grave of Thomas O'Donnell
St. Louis Cemetery, Louisville, KY
The cause of the suicide is very unaccountable to the dead man's relatives and friends. He was moderately well off, was known, it is said, to be thoroughly temperate in his habits, was on good terms with all his relatives and had no financial or domestic troubles. The only cause that can be imagined was his discontent at being removed from Eminence to Dorset station. His family consists of a wife and seven children."  [Louisville's Courier-Journal newspaper; June 20, 1877; page 1]
Thomas was buried in the Catholic section of St. Louis Cemetery in Louisville, Kentucky. His wife Sophia, no doubt distraught, honored her husband with a special gravestone.  On the marble stone she had carved the place of his birth as well as the day of his death.
         "To My Husband
          Died June 19, 1877,
          Aged 50 years"
[This information was used - 136 years later - to be able to confirm that the 'Thomas O'Donnell' in the newspaper article, who was the brother of my great-great-grandfather Patrick, was the same 'Thomas O'Donnell' from the parish of Lisronagh, in the county of Tipperary buried here.]

Notice of Death - Sophia Thompson O'Donnell
December 26, 1916
Sophia, a widow at 38, and her six children (or seven as the newspaper article stated), ages 2 to 18, soon moved to Midway, in nearby Woodford County, where she managed a boarding house full of railroad laborers, including Thomas' older brother John O'Donnell. Sophia eventually moved back to Eminence, where several of her siblings stilled lived. She died on December 23, 1916, in Lexington, where she was living with her daughter Sophia and her family. She is buried at Eminence Cemetery in Henry County.

Mrs. Sophie O'Donnell
     "Funeral services for Mrs. Sophie O'Donnell, 78 years old, who died at the home of her daughter, Mrs. John McCullough, 348 Jefferson Street, Saturday morning, will be held Wednesday morning at 7:30 o'clock at St. Paul's Catholic Church. Rev. Libert de Waegenaere officiating.
     The body will be taken on the 9 o'clock Louisville & Nashville train to Eminence, her former home, for burial. Pallbearers will be her grandsons, Richard, Robert, Harry and T.J. Granghan, Joseph, Jack and Charles McCullough and Edwin Doyle, Jr." [from Lexington Herald, page 3; December 26, 1916]

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

WEDNESDAY'S WEDDING - Obering - Flemming Wedding, 1942

Mr.. and Mrs. Tom Flemming
On their Wedding Day
On November 17, 1942, Thomas Anthony Flemming (1923-1999) married Rita Grace Obering (1923-1994) at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church, 1327 6th Ave. S., in Birmingham, Alabama. They were both just 19 years old on the day of their wedding. Their marriage lasted fifty-one years and produced four children, two daughters and two son (all living).

Wedding Announcement - Nov. 1942
Birmingham News

Miss Rita Obering Wed
Pledges Vows With Thomas A. Flemming In Ceremony At Our Lady of Sorrows
"The marriage of Miss Rita Grace Obering, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Henry A. Obering, and Thomas Anthony Flemming, son of the late Mr. and Mrs. Charles C. Flemming, was solemnized at 11 a.m., Tuesday, at Our Lady of Sorrows Church, the Rev. T. J. Pathe officiating.
The nuptial music was presented by Mrs. E. E. Mulvaney, vocalist, and L. E. Hart, organist.
The alter was decorated with urns of white chrysanthemums and ferns.
White Roses & Stephanotis

The bride was given in marriage by her father. She wore a costume suit of Venetian blue trimmed in dark brown fur with brown accessories. She carried a white satin prayerbook  topped with white roses and showered with stephanotis. (as left)
Miss Frances Louise York, as maid of honor, wore a sun valley gold suit with brown accessories. Her flowers were talisman roses. (see right)
Talisman Roses

Miss Imelda Duncan Obering, sister of the bride, was junior bridesmaid. Her dress was of blue wool embroidered in contrasting shades. She carried a bouquet of sweetheart roses.
James B. Flemming served his brother as best man. The ushers were Henry A. Obering, Jr., and William Hisey, Jr.
Johanna Hill Rose
The bride's mother's dress was of aquamarine crepe. Her corsage was of Johanna Hill roses. (see left) Mrs. J. J. Duncan, grandmother of the bride, wore black crepe. Her corsage was talisman roses.
Immediately after the ceremony, the bridal couple left for a wedding trip to New Orleans. Upon their return they will be at home in the Ponce de Leon apartments.
Out-of-town guests were Mr. and Mrs. Donald Graden, of Gary, Ind., and Mrs. J. D. Arnold, of Albany, Georgia.
Mr. and Mrs. Henry A. Obering entertained members of the bridal party, relatives and immediate friends at an after-rehearsal party at their home.
A tiered cake embossed with white roses and topped with a miniature bride and bridegroom, which had been used on the wedding cake of the bride's mother, centered the table." [published in the Birmingham News, November 18, 1942]

Tom Flemming was the sixth of seven children born to Charles Clinton Flemming (1884-1935) and Katherine Aurelia Lambert (1885-1935). His father Charles was the third of eleven children born to my great-great-grandparents Charles Clinton Flemming (1854-1932) and Elizabeth Agnes McCaffrey (1858-1922). Charles Jr.'s older brother was Harry Clinton Flemming (1878-1955), my great-grandfather.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

SATURDAY'S STRUCTURE - The Flemming-Selman House, Birmingham, Alabama

Home For Sale (1906)
In 1906, my great-grandfather Harry C. Flemming (1878-1955) bought his first home in a brand new development on Birmingham's Southside. It was for him and his new bride, Pearl Horst (1884-1961), whom he had married on April 18th of the same year. It has been told that Pearl was too afraid to live in the house for the first year when Harry was away because it was "too far out" in the country. Pearl and Harry would soon settle down and live here for the remainder of their lives.

"Anderson Place" Neighborhood
In 1903, J. Cary Thompson acquired forty acres of unsurveyed wilderness just south of Elyton's holding and several blocks from the nearest car line. The land, on the northern slope of Red Mountain, had belonged to Frank Y. Anderson, who had acquired it while he was land commissioner for the Alabama Great Southern Railroad. They bought what would become the 1600 and 1700 blocks of 15th and 16th avenues south. By 1905 they had the newly christened Anderson Place officially platted.

The Journal of the Birmingham Historical Society published a special issue in 1982, telling the story of the area, Town Within a City: The Five Points South Neighborhood 1880-1930.
"Between 1906 and 1910 Cary Thompson sold several lots to individuals and other developers. Thompson also built several houses for resale in addition to his own home at 1631 15th Avenue South. The area, however was still rather remote. The daughters of Harry C. Flemming, who purchased one of Thompson's houses in 1906, said that at the time it was like moving to the country, recalling that one 'could hear the owls at night.'
The success of Anderson Place, described in 1910 as 'one of the most famous home places in the [Birmingham] district,' was in large part due to the new streetcar line that began running down 15th Street in 1907, coming within a block of the development. Its graceful aging probably reflects a combination of Thompson's careful oversight, architectural quality, and relatively little recent redevelopment." [page 33]
Flemming-Selman Home (2013)
Home Life
It was here, in the upstairs master bedroom [seen front left from the street] where my great-grandmother gave birth to all eight of her children: Pearl in 1907; Susie, my grandmother, in 1909; Odalie in 1911; Harry in 1913; Charles in 1916; Jack in 1918; Margaret in 1920; and Ann in 1923. It was here where the family ate every meal together for decades. It was here where they celebrated Thanksgivings and Christmases with their children and grandchildren year after year. It was here where Harry's father Charles Flemming (1854-1932), my great-great-grandfather, lived his last years, where he died at the age of 77, and where his funeral took place.

The Flemming family celebrated untold numbers of birthdays and special occasions here in the house. Oldest daughter Pearl was married inside the home in April 1926. Pearl and her husband Bill Barriger lived here at the start of their married life, along with their two daughters. Soon after seventh child Margaret married Frank Selman in January 1942, they moved back into the home of her parents. Frank and Margaret raised all five of their children in the house.

Harry died in his home after a long illness in May 1955, after celebrating their 49th Anniversary at a party in the house. Pearl remained living in the house with Margaret and her family until her death six years later (she died in September 1961, at St. Vincent's Hospital).

Frank and Margaret lived here, celebrating birthdays and holidays, anniversaries and graduations, with their children and grandchildren. Soon after celebrating their 70th wedding anniversary, Frank died here in his home at the age of 91 in February 2012. Margaret remained in the home she was born in, refusing to be moved into a nursing home even after she could no longer walk upstairs. As she had long wished, on September 16th of this year, Margaret died in the home she was born in, where she had raised her family, and where she had lived with her loving husband. She was 92 years old.

The home has been honored as a Historical Structure by the Jefferson County Historical Society. [right]

Thursday, December 5, 2013

THURSDAY'S TREASURES - Lee & Jackson Busts, Horst House - Mobile, AL

In a previous post, I told the story of the house built in Mobile, Alabama, by my great-great-great-grandfather Martin Horst (1830-1878). Read it here. The home still stands in Mobile, built in 1867, making the home 146 years old. In the previous post I describe the arrangement of the rooms in the home. But for this story only one area needs to be highlighted.

Bust of Robert E. Lee in Horst House
Mobile, Alabama
On the first floor of the house there is "a central hall, flanked by two rooms on the right, and a double parlor on the left. In the archway between the two parlors, Martin Horst had placed a bust in bas-relief of Robert E. Lee on one side, and Stonewall Jackson on the other."

In 1993, my father commissioned a reproduction of these two busts to be displayed in the new home my parents were building in Birmingham, Alabama. As my father always loved history - and was the keeper of the family history for both his family and my mother's family - he wanted to honor Martin Horst, my mother's great-great-grandfather.

He had two sets of plaques made. When the artist was creating the molds, he found that the plaques had originally been painted. The artist painted both sets, but my parents had the paint removed from one pair. The pair in Mobile are now painted white [see above picture].

Reproductions of the busts of Robert E. Lee (L) and Stonewall Jackson
Found in Horst House, Mobile, AL

He never did display either pair of busts but they, of course, are very special reminders of Martin Horst, his wife Apollonia Weinschenk (1829-1908), and the glorious life he made for his family after emigrating from Germany in 1846.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

WEDNESDAY'S WEDDING - McCaffrey-Morris Wedding, 1902

Wedding Invitation

Charlotte Teresa McCaffrey was the tenth of thirteen children born to my great-great-grandparents, Thomas J. McCaffrey (1832-1896) and Charlotte Elizabeth McCluskey (1838-1917). She was born April 5, 1875, in Rome, Floyd County, Georgia. My great-great-grandmother, Elizabeth Agnes McCaffrey Flemming (1858-1922), was her oldest sister, 17 years her senior.

On September 24, 1902, at the age of 27, Lottie, as she was called, married William Sidney Morris, a native of Knoxville, Tennessee. He was 34 at the time of their wedding. The ceremony took place at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Rome.

Their Wedding Certificate lists one of their witnesses, most likely Lottie's Maid-of-Honor, as "Susan Flemming" [see below]. Susan Elizabeth Flemming (1879-1909), Susie as she was called, was Lottie's niece, the 22-year-old oldest daughter of her sister Lizzie, and the sister of my great-grandfather Harry Clinton Flemming (1878-1955).

Wedding Picture of Mr. & Mrs. Morris
September 24, 1902
Wedding Announcement
Interesting Wedding at Catholic Church Yesterday Morning
"The marriage of Miss Lottie Theresa McCaffrey to Mr. Wm. S. Morris, of Anniston, was solemnized at St. Mary's Catholic church yesterday morning at 7 o'clock with a nuptial mass. Rev. Father Fahy, the pastor, performed the ceremony, assisted by Rev. Father Doyle, of Anniston, Ala.
Miss McCaffrey is a lovely young woman and greatly admired by her host of friends. She is the leading spirit in St. Mary's choir where her sweet voice will be greatly missed.
Mr. Morris is a prominent young business man in Anniston, and the very suitable match calls for mutual congratulations. After the ceremony the bridal couple left for Tennessee going to Knoxville the groom's former home." [from Rome News-Tribune, Sept. 25, 1902]

Close-up of Lottie & William
Lottie and William settled in Birmingham, Alabama, and had four children: William Fahy Morris (1903-1921); Joseph Morris (1904-1904); Charlotte Elizabeth Morris (1906-1996); and George Lawrence Morris (1908-1980).

In January 1925, Lottie was admitted into St. Vincent's Hospital. After five days she was operated on for appendicitis. Two days later she died, at the age of forty-nine. She is buried at Elmwood Cemetery in Birmingham. William who began working for the L&N Railroad about this same time, lived for thirty more years, dying in May 1955. He is buried next to his wife.

Certificate of Marriage

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

HOMETOWN TUESDAY - St. Anne's Village, Jennings County, Indiana

My great-great-grandmother Barbara Brunett Huber was born in St. Anne's Village, in the Sand Creek Township of Jennings County, Indiana, on April 16, 1852. She was the fourth child of ten born to John Michael Baptiste Brunett (1818-1863) and Barbara Frisse (1822-1893), my 3x-great-grandparents. Both John and Barbara had immigrated from Seingbouse, France, and had married at St. Anne's Catholic Church in August 1846, less than two months after arriving in America. It was here in St. Anne's Village that all of their children were born, and where John and Barbara are buried.

Also settling here from Seingbouse were Joseph Frise (1796-1864) and Marguerite Lang (1802-1868), Barbara's parents and my 4x-great-grandparents, as well as all nine of their children. Joseph and Marguerite are also buried at St. Anne's Church Cemetery. [NOTE: The spelling of Joseph's last name was 'Frise' or 'Frisse', pronounced FREEZE. It was also sometimes spelled 'Frisz'. It was at the funeral of their mother that the sons decided to adopt a common spelling - F-R-I-S-Z.]

Joseph Frise was a farmer, as most citizens of the county were. His son-in-law John Brunett also was a farmer, until his death in 1863. His wife Barbara then took over the responsibilities of farming, as well as being the mother of ten children, ages 0-16. [In fact Barbara gave birth to baby #10 one month after losing her husband.] Her land is highlighted in the Sand Creek Township map below.

Jennings County History
[from Biographical & Historical Souvenir for the counties of Clark, Crawford, Harrison, Floyd, Jefferson, Jennings, Scott and Washington, Indiana; 1889; published by John M. Gresham and Company; Chicago; pages 222-227 ]
"Jennings County lies in the southern part of Indiana. It was organized in 1816, and named for Jonathan Jennings, the first Governor of Indiana, after it was admitted into the Union as a State. ...It contains 375 square miles and by the census of the 1880 it had 16,453.
Heavy timber originally covered the county. As a general rule, the rolling lands bordering the numerous streams are more productive than the flat (lands). The principal productions are corn, wheat, oats, rye, buckwheat and hay. ...A considerable area is in pasture and large number of mules, horses and cattle are raised for the Cincinnati and other markets. Large numbers of hogs are fattened for the various markets....
Fruit culture is becoming more and more extensive every year and the soil proves that it is a good fruit region. The usual varieties of summer and winter apples do well; occasionally cherries and pears. ...Wild blackberries grow in profusion and are quite a source of income at some points, also wild grapes.
Jennings County was settled principally from the Southern  States - most of the early settlers coming from Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee, with a number of families from Kentucky. They were of that hardy class whose trials and hardships were as nothing compared to the longing desire to possess a home of their own. ...They did not come in great rushing crowds as emigrants now go West, on railroad trains, but they come on foot, in ox-wagons, on horseback and, in fact, any way they could get here.
Vernon, the county seat of Jennings County, is beautifully situated at the North and South forks of the Muscatatuck river, and on the Jeffersonville, Madison and Indianapolis railroad. It is a rather dull old town of 616 inhabitants by the last census (1880), but has a sound and solid foundation from a financial and business standpoint. The courthouse is a handsome brick structure, with white limestone trimmings, obtained from the neighboring quarries. ...There is, and has been, considerable manufacturing done in Vernon among which may be mentioned spoke and hub factory; foundry and plow shop; stave and heading factory; woolen and flouring mill; wagons and buggies; pumps and rakes; etc., etc., etc."
1889 Sand Creek Township Map
Barbara Brunett's land in purple
Sand Creek Township
"Sand Creek Township is believed to have been organized in 1841. One of Jennings County's smaller townships, it contains a little over twenty-six square miles. When Indiana became a state and Jennings a county, the northwest corner of this township belonged to the Indians. The Old Indiana Boundary line ccan be found on maps yet today.

Sand Creek derives its name from the stream that winds through it, creating areas that cannot be surpassed for beauty. The Indians had a name for this creek, Laquekaouenek (lak/ka/oo/e/nek), which means "water running through sand." [Jennings County, Indiana, 1816-1999; Jennings County Historical Society; 1999; page 91]

St. Anne's Village
"St. Anne is a German settlement situated in the southeastern part of Sand Creek township. Among the first settlers were families named Frisz, Gasper, Glatt, Eder, Specht, Daeger, Winters, Shulthies, Henry, Erlsland, Frederick, Gehl, Meyer and Tipps. Although no town was laid out, St. Anne had a post office... a grocery story... and several blacksmith shops."[Jennings County Indiana, 1816-1999; page 91]

The village was centered around St. Anne's Catholic Church, organized by February 1841. [Read more in an upcoming post.]

Jennings County Facts
Jennings County Courthouse
Vernon, Indiana
As of the 2000 Census, there were 27,554 people living in Jennings County. The racial makeup of the county is 97.45% white.  It is a rural county, with the majority of  the county made up of personal farms and woodlands.

There are only two incorporated towns in the county - Vernon, the county seat, and North Vernon. There are 11 townships in the county.[Townships are a product of Indiana's history. There are just over 1000 Townships in the state. Indiana is one of 20 states that currently has some form of township government.]

The county is conveniently located in the center of an imaginary triangle consisting of Indianapolis, IN, Louisville, KY, and Cincinnati, OH, and requires only a hour and 1/4 drive time to any of these urban centers.

In recent years, average temperatures in Vernon have ranged from a low of 22 F in January to a high of 86 F in July. President Richard Nixon's mother, Hannah Milhous Nixon, was born near Butlerville, Jennings County, Indiana, in 1885.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

WONDERFUL WEDNESDAY'S PHOTOS - 1993 Flemming Family Reunion

Descendants of Charles and Elizabeth Flemming
Oak Mountain State Park, Birmingham, Alabama - June 1993

On the last weekend of June in 1993, family from all over the country gathered together for the first reunion in over a decade of the descendants of Charles Clinton Flemming (1854-1932) and Elizabeth Agnes McCaffrey (1858-1922).  Over 200 family members, five generations, came to Birmingham, Alabama - from 4-month old twins (my niece and nephew) to my 97-year-old great-great-great-aunt. They came from at least 10 states, from all over the country - from as far away as Illinois, Colorado and California. One family even flew in from the Philippines.

Charlie and Lizzie Flemming, my great-great-grandparents, had eleven children. Of the eleven, only four children had children of their own. Their children, Charlie & Lizzie's grandchildren, totaled twenty-one. When the 1993 Flemming Family Reunion was held there were twelve grandchildren still living, ages 69 to 83 years old. Of those twelve grandchildren, 11 attended the reunion. Everyone else were great grandchildren & their spouses, great-great-grandchildren & their spouses, and great-great-great-grandchildren.

When the next Flemming Family Reunion is held - next Summer? - there will be a completely new generation of descendants of Charlie & Lizzie Flemming. Will you be there?

Sunday, September 8, 2013

SUNDAY'S OBITUARY - Phillip Huber (1847-1901)

Death of Mr. Phil Huber
"Mr. Phil Huber died Thursday after a brief illness. Mr. Huber moved here about three months ago from Bowling Green, Ky.
He leaves three daughters and one son, Misses Minnie, Mayme, and Lena, and Charles.
The remains were taken to Bowling Green, Ky., for internment." [from Birmingham News]

"Philip Huber died this morning after a long illness with typhoid fever. Mr. Huber came here several months ago from Kentucky. He leaves a wife and several grown children." [from Birmingham Age-Herald; April 5, 1901]
Phillip Huber was my great-great-grandfather. Born in Flörsheim, Main-Taunus-Kreis, Hessen, Germany, on December 17, 1847, to Georg Huber (1809-1900) and Eva Katharina Fauth (1807-1875), Phil immigrated to America in June of 1867. Arriving in New York, he soon settled in Bowling Green, Warren County, Kentucky. He married Barbara Brunett (1852-1896), my great-great-grandmother, on April 25, 1871, and together they had seven children.

Phil worked for many years as a miller in Bowling Green, learning to read, write and speak English - something he could not do as was reported in the 1870 Census. By 1900 he was a Saloon Keeper. His wife Bridget had died in 1896. He had also buried three of his children: oldest child John William, known as"Willie," (1872-1898); Ida Catherine (1875-1879); and Clarence Joseph (1879-1900). Soon after the 1900 Census was taken, Phil moved to Bessemer, Jefferson County, Alabama, with his four grown children: Mary Bertha, called "Mayme", 27, a school teacher (and my great-grandmother); Philomena Barbara, called "Minnie", 24; Magdelena Hilbert, known as "Lena", 18; and Charles Thomas, 17.

Within just a few months of moving to Alabama, Phil contracted Typhoid Fever. He apparently had set up a Saloon in Bessemer, as the inventory of his possessions at the time of his death included: 5 bottles cherry and pineapple; 12 quarts whiskey; 24 pints champagne; 8 bottles Rhine wine; 20 quarts wine; 6 dozen bar glasses; 1/4 barrel corn whiskey; 1/5 barrel Apple brandy; 5 dozen empty bottles; 30 stone jugs.

According to the notices of his death (above) he had lived in Bessemer only 3 months. He became ill fairly quickly and suffered quite a while with this illness.  The disease was painful [click this link for a complete description: ILLNESSES-TYPHOID ] and which could be (but was not always) deadly. Unfortunately, in this case it  was. Phillip Huber died in the early morning hours of Thursday, April 4, 1901. He was just 53 years old. His body was transported back to Bowling Green on a train, where he was buried next to his wife and three children at St. Joseph's Catholic Church Cemetery. No headstone exists.

After their father's death daughter Mayme (my great-grandmother), still unmarried at this time, became legal guardian to her younger siblings - Lena, 18 and Charles, 17.

Typhoid Fever in Jefferson County, Alabama
A report by Dr. J.M. Mason, County Health Officer, to the Jefferson County Board of Health, stated that for the year 1901 there were 38 deaths from Typhoid Fever. The report also stated, "In order to prevent the spread of infectious diseases, the city has purchased the best obtainable Formaldehyde Generator, and each house in which an infectious disease occurs, is thoroughly disinfected by the city sanitary inspectors before the placard is removed. Each case of infectious disease is also reported to the school authorities as soon as reported to this office, and in this way school children from infected homes are excluded from school." [The Alabama Medical Journal, Vol. 14, No.5; Medical Association of the State of Alabama; April 1902.]

In 1906, the Sanitary Commission in Jefferson County recognized the need for a way for the county to enforce laws regarding its sewer system, in order to regulate the sanitation and health of the citizens of the county. Working with the Commercial Club of Birmingham, a "Greater Birmingham Commission" was nominated to push for legislation to annex surrounding municipalities and un-incorporated areas to create Greater Birmingham.

When the proposal was under consideration by the State Senate in 1907, eighty-one physicians sent the following letter to each State Senator:
"To the Alabama State Senate:
We the undersigned physicians of Birmingham, Alabama, most urgently request you, on behalf of the people of the entire citizenship of this city and the adjoining towns, to pass the King Greater Birmingham bill now pending before your body.
We are now afflicted with local epidemic of typhoid fever, and unless all this territory is put under our city government and the sanitation is urgently enforced we may suffer terrible consequences in the future from the ravages of said epidemic. We regard the passage of this bill as absolutely necessary for the public safety."
In August 1907 the Greater Birmingham Bill was enacted into law, incorporating eleven municipalities and a large amount of unincorporated areas into the city of Birmingham, effective 1909.

from Birmingham News, September 28, 1948 (p.2)
Continual need for improvements within the city's sanitation system grew as the population grew. In September 1947, under a proposal by the Jefferson County Commission, the State passed an Act which proposed an amendment to the State Constitution authorizing Jefferson County to issue bonds, with voter approval, to financially support the improvements of the sewer system, as well as to give full control to the county, without the need for approval from the State. There was broad support for the amendment. County Health Officer Dr. George A. Dennison was an outspoken proponent, reminding the public that in the early 20th century, Birmingham had been known as "the Typhoid Capital of the World" and that overhauling the sanitation system was key to keeping the city from being closely associated with "filth-borne diseases." [Click on article above right to read more] The Jefferson County Sewer Amendment passed by a substantial majority in the November 1948 general election, giving the county important financial powers that had been unavailable to the administration of the Sanitary Sewer System of the past. [The History of the Jefferson County Sanitary Sewer System; Public Affairs Research Council, November 2001]

Thursday, September 5, 2013

THURSDAY'S TREASURE - Our Family Name, Barbara

In my grandfather's Bible, my mother once found this small article from a long-forgotten newspaper (copyright 1920) that he had torn out and saved. It is her name - Barbara. A name that has been passed down one branch of my family tree - from one continent to another, across states, for over 200 years. The name was chosen each time by new parents for their brand new baby daughter, to honor a mother or grandmother or sister whom they loved. Here is how my mother, and my older sister, came to have their name.

In our family I have been able to trace the name Barbara back to 18th century France. I found the name first given to my 6th great-grandmother Barbe Breyer Bour, born June 20, 1750, in Seingbouse, Moselle, France. [Barbe is the French personal name for Barbara.] Her parents, my 7th great-grandparents, were Pierre Breyer (1714-1764) and Anna Marie Schwartz (1713-1761). In February 1770, Barbe married Jean Melchoir Bour, who was born January 1745, in Tenteling, Moselle, France. They had at least two children, including Christine Bour, my 5th great-grandmother.

Christine Bour was born January 1763, in Seingbouse. In 1801 she married Pierre Lang, my 5th great-grandfather. Pierre was born March 1760, also in Seingbouse, France. Together they had at least five children. Their oldest child was Marguerite Lang, my 4th great-grandmother. She was born in April 1802; fourth child and younger sister, Barbe Lang, was born March 1806.

In May 1821, Marguerite married Joseph Frise (1796-1863) in their hometown. They had seven sons and two daughters. Their oldest child was Barbara Frisse, born in May 1822. Barbara is my 3rd great-grandmother. Joseph, Marguerite and their children immigrated to the United States. They settled in St. Anne's Village (now North Vernon), Jennings County, Indiana.

Barbara Frisse married Jean Michael Baptiste Brunette (1818-1863) one month after arriving in America, in August 1846. They had ten children, 7 girls and 3 boys. The name is passed down again at the birth of their fourth child Barbara Brunett. Born in April 1852, Barbara married Philip Huber (1847-1901), an immigrant from Germany, in April 1871, in Bowling Green, Warren County, Kentucky. Barbara and Philip are my 3rd great-grandparents.

Barbara and Philip had seven children while living in Bowling Green, including (my great-great-grandmother) oldest daughter Mary Bertha "Mayme" Huber, born in August 1873, and her younger sister Philomena Barbara "Minnie" Huber, born September 1876. Minnie never married. Mayme married John Martin O'Donnell (1865-1937) in April 1904, after both had moved to Birmingham, Alabama.

Mayme and Johnny had three boys, including oldest son John Huber O'Donnell (my grandfather), born May 1906, and one daughter, Barbara Lena O'Donnell, born November 1909.
Barbara married Howard Alonzo Howard, (1908-1946), and together they had three children including daughter Barbara Beverly, born 1939.

Huber married my grandmother Susan Elizabeth Flemming, (1909-1999), and named their third child (my mother) Barbara Ann. My mother and father named their oldest daughter Barbara Ann, born 1958, almost exactly 208 years after Barbe Breyer was born. So I can trace our family name Barbara for over 200 years, from 1750 to 1958; from Seingbouse, France, to Birmingham, Alabama, for nine generations. Unfortunately, much like my own name which I traced back to Ireland, no Barbara's from this line have been born since 1958. Such a wonderful name....

Saturday, August 17, 2013

SATURDAY'S STRUCTURE - The Church of Saint John Chrysostom, Henry County, Kentucky

My great-grandfather John Martin O'Donnell (1865-1937) was born in the town of Jericho, in Henry County, Kentucky. His parents, my great-great-grandparents, were Patrick O'Donnell (1823-1911) and Bridget Kennedy (1838-1893) Both parents were Irish immigrants who had married in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1856, before settling in Jericho. They had seven children - six girls and one son - whom they raised in Jericho.

Patrick owned a grocery store in the small town, and lived across the street from his store. As Catholics, Patrick and Bridget raised their family in the Catholic church. The only such church in Henry County at that time was the Church of Saint John Chrysostom in the town of Eminence, about 8 miles from the O'Donnell family home. It remains the only Catholic church in Henry County.

The church is located at 221 S. Penn Street in Eminence, Henry County, Kentucky. Mass is held each Sunday at 9:30 am.

The History of the Church of St. John Chrysostom
[taken from - the website of the Archdiocese of Louisville, KY]
"A mission church from its inception, St. John has never had a resident priest or school. The need for a Catholic spiritual home in Henry County was first documented in 1860, when Archbishop Martin John Spalding gave permission to erect a church building in Eminence. Construction began in the 1880s. Historical records are unclear as to an exact date this church was completed, but from earliest written records available, Mass was first celebrated in the church in 1890. It was dedicated under the patronage of Saint John Chrysostom.  
Until that time, Masses were celebrated in the homes of Catholic families. When the Catholic church at Bedford was sold, the organ and art-glass memorial windows were removed and brought to Eminence to grace the otherwise plain structure of St. John. The Stations of the Cross were erected in 1892. A new organ was used for the first time in December 1908.  
In the early years the church was heated by a pot-bellied stove that warmed worshippers on cold Sundays. There were no restroom facilities. In 1988, a new church hall was built behind the church, providing badly needed space for meetings and social gatherings. Until that time, a home hosted parish activities. The church interior underwent a total renovation during the summer of 1992. At that time there were approximately fifty families at St. John, grown from eight families in 1958.  
In October of 2005, St. John became handicap-accessible with the construction of a concrete ramp. Catholics of Henry County have been served by the priests from Shelbyville since the 1850s, and most recently by priests from LaGrange. St. John currently has almost 200 parishioners." - See more at:

It's such a beautiful little church. I have hopes to visit it and attend Mass her in the near future.  I have recently requested any possible records they may include the O'Donnell family, who must have attended Mass here.

To find out more about the church check out their website, .

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

WONDERFUL WEDNESDAY'S PHOTOS - The Alabama Great Southern Railroad "Old Timer's Club" Convention 1951

This photo was taken in the front yard of my great-grandfather's house on Southside in downtown Birmingham, Alabama, in May 1951. The men in the picture are 'members' of "The Old Timers Club", a group of retired railroad men who once worked together on the Alabama Great Southern Railroad. Standing at the far right is my great-grandfather, Harry C. Flemming (1878-1955).

Harry worked on the AGS railroad for his entire career, serving as trainmaster, master mechanic and assistant superintendent. For the majority of his career he was the Engineer on the steam engine #6690. Every morning he would take control of the train from the Birmingham depot to the depot at Meridian, Mississippi. He stayed here and the train continued on to New Orleans with a different engineer. The next day the train would come back from New Orleans, stop in Meridian where Harry would board and take control of the locomotive back to Birmingham. This was his routine six days a week, for 42 years, until he retired in 1941.

3rd Annual Convention of the Old Timers Club
This letter was mailed out to 14 of the 16 members of the Club, from the club's Secretary. It is dated April 14, 1951. A note below the secretary's name is meant for Harry - who they lovingly referred to as Monahan.

TO: Reid, Frazer, Madison, Sheets, Waldrop, Roberts, King, Riley, McCarty, Featherstone, Butler, Hussey, McAlister, Stowe.
NOTICE: The 3rd Annual Convention of the Old Timers Club will take place on Thursday, May 10, 1951.
PLACE: Monahan's Castle, 1402 South 17th Street, Birmingham, Alabama.
TIME: 11:30 A.M., to 2:00 P.M., or later.
SPONSOR: Mrs. H. C. Flemming (my great-grandmother)
You are expected; fine food and plenty of it; choice of drinks, good fellowship and lots of fun.
Kindly state on the enclosed postal card if we can depend on your presence and mail it promptly. Mrs. Flemming must know for how many to provide.
That is important!
CLICK TO ENLARGE and see the Luncheon served
Drop your worries and belly aches for one day and join together for an old time railroader's good fellowship.

J. C. de Holl, Secretary

to Monahan, who can't write (never could)

Sunday, July 21, 2013

SATURDAY'S STRUCTURE - St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The original St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church
site of the wedding of Thomas and Charlotte McCaffrey - 1853
On Monday, August 15, 1853, Thomas Joseph McCaffrey (1832-1896) and Charlotte Elizabeth McCluskey (1838-1917), my 3x-great-grandparents, were married. Next month marks the 160th anniversary of their wedding.

They were married at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in her hometown of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Thomas was 21 years old; Charlotte was just 15. They were married by Reverend Patrick Rafferty (1791-1863). Their witnesses for the ceremony were Henry Donahue (1830-1890) and Isabel Maddon.

The McCluskey family lived less than four blocks from the church, in the Fairmount area of the city, on Hamilton Street.

History of St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church
[taken from]

Interior of Old Church
NOTE: Joseph & Charlotte took their wedding vows here
"Saint Francis Xavier Parish in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was founded in the year of Our Lord One Thousand Eight Hundred Thirty Nine. At the time of its establishment the diocese of Philadelphia was only a little more than three decades old and included all of Pennsylvania, western New Jersey and the state of Delaware.

The new Saint Francis Xavier Church was only the seventh Catholic Church to exist within the city. The site purchased for the new church was at the southwest corner of 25th and Biddle streets -- not far from the grand front steps of today's Philadelphia Museum of Art. The erection of the new church was directed by (the first Pastor of the parish) Father Michael O'Connor. At least part of the money used to build the church was raised by a city-wide collection. The cornerstone of the new church was laid on June 10, 1839. Mass was celebrated there for the first time on Sunday, December 1, 1839.

Portrait of Rev. Patrick Rafferty
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
In 1842, Father Patrick Rafferty was appointed pastor of Saint Francis Xavier Parish. Father Rafferty took up residence in a small house at 402 North 25th Street, very near to the church. In 1844, during the anti-Catholic unrest which afflicted the United States, two Catholic churches and the homes of thirty Catholics were destroyed by fire in Philadelphia. Because of the unrest, by order of Bishop Kenrick, on Sunday, May 12, 1844, Catholic churches in the city were closed. Various accounts of the parish history indicate, however, that in spite of that situation, Mass was celebrated by Father Rafferty in our church on that day. During the month which followed, the church was guarded day and night by militia sent by the civil authorities, and by a number of parishioners who volunteered their services.

In 1845, Father Rafferty opened Saint Francis Xavier School in the basement of the church. Father Rafferty died in March of 1863.

Father James Maginn was appointed pastor of Saint Francis Xavier Parish in 1863. Prior to being appointed Pastor he had served for eight years as an assistant to Father Rafferty, and for a brief period after Father Rafferty's death he served as Administrator of the parish. Almost immediately upon his appointment as pastor, Father Maginn began to make improvements to the parish property. He had erected a new rectory just south of the church; he added transepts, stained glass windows and a dome to the church. He also enlarged the galleries of the building. In spite of all the improvements, it soon became obvious that the rapidly expanding parish was outgrowing its church, and especially, its school. In the late 1860's Father Maginn had constructed a three story brick school building at the southeast corner of 24th and Green streets. He also purchased two adjoining houses which would eventually become the first Saint Francis Xavier Parish convent for the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM).
Map of second church location

The idea of a new church became imperative when the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad decided to change the grade of its track which ran near the church at Biddle Street. Because tunneling was involved in the project, the blasting of rock was necessary. That process resulted in significant damage to both the church and the adjacent rectory. Father Maginn then purchased the land at 2321 Green Street, where he constructed a rectory (this building is now the residence of our Oratory of Saint Phillip Neri community). As soon as the rectory was completed, Father Maginn began to negotiate the purchase of property to the west of the new building. That site would be the site of our present church. Father Maginn had secured three of the four properties needed when he suddenly became ill. On July 25, 1890, Father Maginn died at the new rectory.

Immediately after the death of Father Maginn, Reverend Michael Gleeson was appointed pastor of Saint Francis Xavier Parish. Father Gleeson wasted no time in taking up the work of constructing a new church. The purchase of the final ground needed was completed by 1894; the ground was cleared and the digging of the new church's foundations began that same year. On October 6, 1894, the corner-stone of the new church was laid by Archbishop Ryan. On December 18, 1898, the now completed church was dedicated by Archbishop Ryan and a Pontifical Mass was celebrated by Bishop Prendergast. At just about the time of the church's dedication, Father Gleeson was afflicted with a form of paralysis that was finally to cause his death on January 25, 1904, after a long, painful illness. In March of 1904, Father Thomas F. Shannon was appointed the sixth pastor of Saint Francis Xavier Parish.

St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church
(current church - built 1898)

It would be Father Shannon's task to rally the parish in one of its most difficult moments. On March 31, 1906, a building then located at 24th and Wallace streets caught fire and was completely destroyed. During that event the fire managed to leap to the newly opened church at Green Street and it too was severely damaged. The roof of the church was completely destroyed, and a great deal of damage was done to the interior when the roof fell. [See newspaper story of church fire below.]

Almost immediately after the fire, reconstruction of the church began. A temporary alter was erected in the school on Green Street and Mass was celebrated there until the Church reopened on April 5, 1908. The cost of the reconstruction had been one-hundred thousand dollars."

To get a complete 360 degree view - top to bottom - of the present church please go to,-10.07,69.6 at 360cities website. It is simply awesome. The church is described here: "St. Francis Xavier is a striking asymmetric Romanesque church at 24th and Green Streets near the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in the Fairmount section of Philadelphia.  It was originally built in 1893-1898 to designs by architect Edward Durang, extended to its present size in 1906, and rebuilt in 1908 after being damaged by a fire that started in a nearby hat factory.  Unlike many Catholic churches, it did not modify its old High Altar following the liturgical reforms of Vatican II in 1962."

St. Francis Xavier - The Oratory
Fire Ruins Beautiful St. Francis' Church
[from The Philadelphia Inquirer; April 1, 1908; page 1-2]
Priests Risked Lives Saving Valuable Contents of Roman Catholic edifice That Ignited From Hat Factory Blaze

    "The beautiful interior of the Roman Catholic Church of St. Francis Xavier, at Twenty-fourth and Green streets was swept by a spectacular fire yesterday afternoon that originated in the hat factory of Henry Roelofs & Co. adjoining the rear of the edifice.
     When the firemen, after a hard battle of nearly three hours, finally had the flames under control, only the walls and the steeple of the church remained standing, the hat factory had been destroyed, and several residences nearby had been badly damaged. The total loss was estimated at $150,000. 

    The fire was replete with sensational incidents. Again and again the firemen bravely risked their lives in their efforts to subdue the flames, scaling the burning and treacherous roof of the church with lines of hose, dodging falling masses of debris and narrowly escaping being buried beneath toppling walls. Three of them were badly bruised and cut as one of the walls of the hat factory fell. They were taken to the German Hospital. They were Asst. Fire Chief Waters, Charles H. Porter, Jr., assistant foreman, and Robert McClellan, both of Engine Company No. 4, Seventh and Sansom streets. Other firemen received various minor injuries, but all refused to leave their posts while there was danger of the flames spreading eastward to the residences on Green street.
     Remarkable courage was shown by Rev. John J. Fleming, acting rector of the church aided in carrying many objects ices, vestments and other articles of value that were in the sacristy or on the altar when the church caught fire. Rev. Mr. Fleming risked his life by running into the smoke-filled edifice and bearing away from the altar the Blessed Sacrament. Many of the men parishioners of the church aided in carrying many objects of value from the burning structure until the quickly spreading flames made further efforts of that sort too hazardous.
     The fire started at the storehouse of the factory of Henry Roelofs & Company, 609-19 North Twenty-fourth street. There were fifty men at work in the factory at the time, all of whom got safely out.
     The flames spread throughout the factory with remarkable swiftness. The south wall of the two-story brick structure was but three feet from the rear of the church in which were five large stain glass windows overlooking the sacristy. These glass in these windows were shattered by heat of the flames that rose from the burning factory. The wind was blowing toward the windows and through them the flames swept into the church. In vain did the firemen try to save the church, an immense granite pile upon a high terrace.
     The wind fanned the flames and they swept along the walls of the church and up through the slate roof. From the top of nearby house the firemen poured streams of water upon the burning structure, but the wind was so strong that at one time grave fears were entertained for the safety of the immediate neighborhood....

Page 2
    As great tongues of flames shot through the roof of the church , above which rolled great clouds of smoke, the rays of the setting sun seemed to intensify the glare. Now and then the bells of the church steeple, probably as a result of the vibration of the walls or of water descending upon them, would peel forth melancholy notes with weird effect.
     Although the interior of the church was wrecked a large crucifix over the altar and one or two effigies of saints remained unbroken. The $6000 organ was ruined while several pains were broken in the circular stain glass window in the front of the church, which was a gift of Archbishop Ryan...."

Monday, July 15, 2013

MONDAY'S MOTHER - Louisa Elizabeth Waetcher Horst (1838-1933)

Louisa Waetcher Horst
ca. 1900
Louisa Elizabeth Waetcher was born September 14, 1838, in Schildesche, Bielefeld, Westfalan, Prussia, a town that was formed in the year 939. [Schildesche is now a part of North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany]. Her parents were Johann Frederich Waetcher (1807-1883) and Anna Catherina Illsibien Horenberg (1813-UNK). Louisa had a twin sister, Hanne Friederieke. They are two of the ten siblings that immigrated with their father and step-mother, Hanne Friederiecke Luise Hartman, to the United States, arriving on November 9, 1852, in the Port of New Orleans. Louisa was just 14 years old. [NOTE: Louisa's step-mother gave birth while on the ship.]

The Waetcher family settled in Massac County, Illinois. On October 19, 1856, Louisa married Charles Horst (1836-1900), an immigrant from Hesse-Darmstadt, Germany. She just turned 18; Charles was 21. Charles was the youngest brother of Martin Horst (1830-1878), my 3x-great-grandfather. Charles, who changed his name from Carl after arriving in America, had arrived with his father and siblings and step-mother in August 1846 when he was just 11.

Charles and Louisa Horst are my 4x-great-aunt and uncle.

Charles and Louisa set up their home in Metropolis in Massac County. Charles was working in 1860 as a Cabinet Maker. After the Civil War was over he wrote his brother Martin, now living in Mobile, Alabama, to ask for a loan to help him purchase a mill in Metropolis. Martin wasn't able to help him at this time but by 1870 Charles listed his occupation as a "Flour Miller" according to the U.S. Census. He remained a miller throughout his lifetime.

Charles and Louisa had their first of twelve children in early 1856. [NOTE: This date is before the known date of their marriage but this may be an error in the transcription of the old records.] Over the next 26 years Louisa would give birth to eight more daughters and two sons; the name and sex of their twelfth child is not known. Their children were:
  • Kunigunde Elizabeth Horst (female), called Gundy, was born in March 1856. She married Frederick William Rieke (1854-1922) in 1880. Together they had five children: Gertrude Augusta (1881-1970); twins Bertha Wilhelmina (1883-1953) and Maude L. (1883-1963); Charles Grover (1885-1969); and Romona (1890-1986).
  • Bell Horst (female) was born in 1858. She died before 1880.
  • Tell Horst (male) was born January 28, 1861. He died before 1880.
  • Eleanora Horst was born 1866. She died before 1880.
  • Fannie Caroline Horst, born March 1869. She married George Mehaffey (1864-1957) in 1901. Fannie died during childbirth, giving birth to twins Francis Carl Mehaffey (1908-2003) and George James Mehaffey (1908-1994). [NOTE: older sister Gundy helped care for the infants boys for a time immediately after their birth.]
  • Twin Nellie Horst was born in 1871. She died before 1880.
  • Twin Nettie Horst was born in 1871. She died before 1895.
  • Lillie Dale Horst was born January 1, 1875. She married Morton Burnette Card (1878-1950) in 1914. They had one daughter, Flora Louise Card (1914-1996). Lillie died January 20, 1972.
    Cassie Horst
    ca. 1900
  • Twin Callie Emma Horst was born August 16, 1877. Callie never married; she died March 11, 1964.
  • Twin Cassie Anna Horst married Elwin Arba Magill (1874-1947) in 1902. They had two children Calina Magill (1903-1989) and Elwin Arba Magill, Jr. (1914-2001). Cassie died June 10, 1956. 
  • Walter Earnest Horst was born July 12, 1882. In 1910 he married Anna J. Murray (1880-1953). Walter died November 1, 1959. They had no children.
Callie Horst
ca. 1900

Louisa's twin sister, Rieke, as she was called, also had twelve children with her husband William Frederick Rixie (1836-1888).

In 1895, Charles and Louisa left Illinois with their surviving children and moved to Pomona, in Los Angeles County, California. Charles died in 1900. Louisa lived with her unmarried children in Pomona, supported by their various incomes. One by one they married and moved away. All but daughter Callie. Callie worked as a Bookkeeper at a Laundry in town. Their last residence was at 678 Gordon Street in Pomona, which Louisa owned.

from Los Angeles Times
May 6, 1933; page A-6
On May 5, 1933, Louisa died in her home. She was 94 years old. She is buried at Pomona Cemetery.

In her 94 years Louisa had lived quite a lifetime.  Born in Prussia, she lost her mother as a young girl. She traveled to America at the age of 14, in steerage class. Speaking only German she settled with her family in the town of Metropolis, Illinois. She married at the age of eighteen and bore twelve children over twenty-six years. She was the wife of a flour mill owner. She buried four young children while living in Illinois. At the age of 56 she packed up her home and her family and traveled across country by train to California before the turn of the century. She left behind her home of forty-three years, her friends, and her family - including her twin sister.

In California she lost her husband of forty-four years and saw at least four of her children marry, leave home and have children of their own. She buried four more of her children before she herself died. She was survived by four children, ten grandchildren and at least thirteen great-grandchildren. What kind of mother was she? I don't know for sure, but there's no doubt that she was a hardworking mother, a supportive wife and a woman devoted to the well-being of her family.

TWINS MUST RUN IN THE FAMILY: Louisa was born a twin (1838). She gave birth to two sets of twins, in 1871 and 1877. Her oldest daughter gave birth to one set of twins in 1883, and another daughter died giving birth to her own set of twins in 1908. In a time when there were no fertility specialists, this is quite a legacy.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

THURSDAY'S TREASURES - Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

On this, the 237th birthday of the United States of America, it seems the perfect time to celebrate not only our country's birth but also the gifts that were passed down to us from our ancestors who made it possible for us to celebrate as Americans.

Irish Immigrants Leaving Queenstown Harbour
The Illustrated London News, September 1874

For each of us there were great-grandfathers and great-grandmothers who left their homeland, their neighbors, the culture and very often their own families to take a chance in this new country of which they knew very little. They gathered up all they could carry with them, said good-bye to their friends and families, and left the only home they had ever known and most likely one they would never return to. They travelled by cart or by foot to a sea port where they would board a small packet ship. Once aboard they would climb down into the hull of the vessel with one hundred, two hundred, or more strangers to travel for several weeks across the Atlantic Ocean. With all of the multitude of people stuffed into the ship's steerage area [see post "Packet Ship Gladiator", January 1, 2012,  for more information about steerage] they all shared one common dream - a better life in America.

Many left behind poverty, with little chance to ever change their circumstances. Most left countries with governments that held a tight rein on their individual rights and freedoms. Towns where they weren't allowed to speak, or protest, or gather freely. Where they couldn't vote to choose their own leaders. Where their children faced forced conscription into the military. Where the right to practice the religion of their own choosing didn't exist.

"Irish Immigrants Leaving Home"
Harper's Bazaar, December 1870
They each knew that a better life existed - for themselves and for their children. And for their children's children. They wanted more for their life and for their family. They wanted to be free to choose their own path in life, and be treated as human beings with God-given rights. They wanted to work hard and be rewarded with just compensation. They wanted to have a say in their government and in the laws they lived under. They wanted to freely practice their faith. They wanted the freedom to have a dissenting opinion about their leaders, share it openly, without the fear of reprisals. They wanted this for themselves. But most of all they wanted this for their children.

"From the Old to the New World"
German Emigration
Harper's Weekly, November 1874
They left everything behind for a promise of a better life. They sailed on a ship across a wide ocean, not knowing if they or their family members would survive, or if the ship itself would make it safely. They landed in a port where they couldn't speak the language, maybe had no one waiting for them, had little direction on where to go or what to do next. But they paved the way for each one of their children, each one of their grandchildren - each one of us - to enjoy those unalienable rights we each possess, endowed for us by our Creator.

Among these - Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

America wasn't perfect then and it isn't perfect now. But it's the best there is. And we have our ancestors to thank for giving us the opportunity for a better future. So it's nice today to remember those that made it possible:

Patrick McCloskey (1810-1855) who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1838, at the age of 28, from his home in Ireland. His wife Mary Ann (1805-1871) also immigrated from Ireland, date unknown. They are my 4x great-grandparents.

Thomas McCaffrey (1799-1890), arrived in New York Harbor in June 1825 from his home in County Tyrone, Ireland. His wife Susan (1793-1869) also immigrated from County Tyrone, date unknown. They, too, are my 4x-great-grandparents.

Johann Eckard Horst (1802-1852), my 4x-great-grandfather, arrived in August 1846 in New York City Harbor at the age of 43 with his second wife and five children. This included my 3x-great-grandfather Martin Horst (1830-1878), who was just 16 years old when he arrived. Later my 5x-great-grandfather Johan Conrad Horst (1780-UNK), Martin's grandfather, also arrived here, in May 1860. He was 80 years old when he arrived. They were from Hesse-Darmstadt, Germany.

"Irish Emigrants Leaving Home - The Priest's Blessing"
The Illustrated London News, May 1851

Apollonia Weinschenk (1829-1908), my 3x-great-grandmother and wife of Martin Horst, arrived in the port of New Orleans around 1843, at the age of 14, from her home in Forst, Bavaria, Germany.

 My great-great-grandfather Patrick O'Donnell (1823-1911) arrived in this country in December 1849 from Ireland, along with five of his 7 brothers. He was 26 years old. His wife Bridget Kennedy (1838-1893) immigrated from her home in  County Tipperary, Ireland, sometime in the early 1850's.

Phillip Huber (1847-1901), also my great-great-grandfather, arrived in New York in June 1867, at the age of 19, from Florsheim, Hessen, Germany.

My 3x-great-grandparents, John Michael Baptiste Brunett (1818-1863), and Barbara Frisse (1822-1893) traveled onboard the same ship, from their homes in Seingbouse, Moselle, France, arriving in the port of New Orleans in July 1846. Traveling with Barbara were her parents (my 4x-great-grandparents) Joseph Frise (1796-1864) and Marguerite Lang (1802-1868), as well as several siblings. Marguerite was 44 years old; Joseph was 50.

[NOTE: My Fortier and DeGruey ancestors arrived from France to Canada and then settled in Louisiana before the United States was formed. I have no information yet as to when my Flemming or Jackson family ancestors arrived in America.]

"Immigrants Behold the Statue of Liberty"
Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, July 1887
None of these ancestors arrived as we might imagine - coming into New York Harbor and seeing the Statue of Liberty, stepping off their steamship onto Ellis Island to be officially inspected in long lines. [The Statue of Liberty wasn't dedicated until 1886.] None of these ancestors settled on the east coast - most made their new homes in southern cities. And somehow, through happenstance or through fate, their offspring met other offspring of these immigrants and eventually, over time and over years, my mother and her siblings were created from a combination of all of these immigrants. And that made it possible for me to sit down, in my home in Birmingham, Alabama, and celebrate Independence Day and my great-grandparents' dreams for a better life.