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


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

WONDERFUL WEDNESDAY'S PHOTOS - Flemming Family Reunion, early 80's

Last week my 1st cousin (once removed) George Flemming sent me some great photos that he had taken over 30 years ago at a family reunion of the descendants of Harry Flemming (1878-1955) & Pearl Horst Flemming (1884-1961), my great-grandparents. [That's right, I said THIRTY years ago.] The event was held at the lakeside cabin of Jack and Georgia Flemming, near Birmingham, Alabama.

Click on each picture to enlarge it to see everybody's 80's hair styles and those long-haired male family members. If you right-click on the pictures you can download it to your computer. I hope you'll enjoy this little trip down memory lane....

 The children of Harry & Pearl Flemming with Aunt Dolly

 [BOTTOM L-R: Margaret Flemming Selman (b. 1920), Odalie "Dolly" Horst Wittges (1896-1990), Susie Flemming O'Donnell (1909-1999); MIDDLE L-R: Pearl Flemming Barriger (1907-1986), Odalie "O'D" Flemming Daly (1911-1994), Ann Flemming Pilkerton (1923-2012); BACK: Jack Flemming (1918-2008). Aunt Dolly, 86 years old, the youngest sister of their mother Pearl, had travelled from her home in Colorado. O'D's family - her children and grandchildren - traveled from their homes in Louisiana to attend the family reunion.]

The children and in-laws of Harry & Pearl Flemming

[BOTTOM L-R: Susie F. O'Donnell, Frank Selman (1920-2012), Margaret F. Selman; MIDDLE L-R: Pearl F. Barriger, O'D F. Daly, Jack's wife Georgia Rice Flemming (1918-2005), Ann F. Pilkerton; BACK L-R: Aubrey Pilkerton (1925-1999), Jack Flemming]

The grandchildren of Harry & Pearl and their spouses
Think you can name them all? If so, please tell me! I can identify 21 out of 37 (I think).

The great-grandchildren of Harry & Pearl (and a few spouses)
 Most of these great-grandchildren now have children of their own. One or two are even grandfathers! The youngest baby would be 30 years old now, and the oldest would be in his mid-50's (you know who you are!)  How many of these young people can you name? I can identify 13 out of 32. I'd love to get someone from each of the Flemming children's families to email me with a list and diagram of who's who. FYI - I'm on the back row,2nd from right (brown hair, lots of eye makeup).

Monday, February 11, 2013

MONDAY'S MILITARY - Henry A. Horst, USNA Class of 1882, Part II

[This past weekend I was contacted by a docent at the United States Naval Academy Museum in Annapolis, Maryland. He had read my post regarding Henry August Horst (1861-1922), the younger brother of my great-great-grandfather Charles Frederick Horst (1856-1912) - which had included pictures and information about Henry's education at the Naval Academy, from 1878-1882. He thanked me for post on Henry, and told me how he had used the biographical sketch on him to write his own sketch that he would be able to share with visitors at the museum. The man, Gregg Overbeck, was himself a graduate of the Academy in 1969 and enjoyed researching the many important, heroic, scandalous and infamous graduates throughout the school's history, which he could then share with visitors at the museum.

Class Ring of Henry A. Horst
on display at U.S.Naval Academy Museum
Annapolis, Maryland
He asked to send me his sketch of Henry, along with pictures of Henry's class ring that his son Martin Lyon Horst had donated to the museum in the 1960's while traveling through the area. The ring is on display, along with many others, at the museum but they had no story of the man whose ring it was. They now have his story.

A few of my facts were corrected in the biography, and the answer to the question of 'Why did Henry leave the Navy after graduation' was answered. I hope this will add to Henry's story. And isn't it nice that 90 years after his death he is still being talked about and his story is still being told?]

Henry A. Horst, Part II
On June 21, 1878, Henry August Horst entered the United States Naval Academy, after receiving a nomination from Alabama. Henry was the son of German immigrants Martin Horst (1830-1878) and Apollonia Weinschenk Horst (1829-1908), my great-great-great grandparents. Cadet Midshipman Horst graduated 23 of 37 cadet midshipmen on June 9, 1882.
Henry A. Horst
Cadet Midshipman - U.S. Naval Academy
Class of 1882
" Following the Civil War the United States Navy was in slow decline due to limited funds and fewer ships.  The Naval Officer Corps was swollen with officers, promotions were based on seniority and passed midshipmen (those who had graduated, spent two years at sea as required and passed their finally examination by the Academic Board) had to wait as long as eight years to receive an Ensign’s commission.  In order to create an opening for a new Ensign’s commission, a senior officer had to die or go on the retired list. 

On August 5, 1882, two months after Horst’s graduation, Congress passed a law that stipulated that the Navy could only commission that number of officers for which there were actual vacancies on a ship but not less than ten a year. The act required that those allowed to continue should be appointed in the order of merit, as determined by the Academic Board after examination at the conclusion of their six-year course.  Those who didn’t make the cut where given a certificate of graduation, an honorable discharge, and one year’s sea pay of about $950.  For Passed Cadet Midshipmen Horst’s class of 1882 that meant only 12 graduates could be taken into the Navy in 1884. The law also eliminated the distinction between cadet midshipmen and cadet engineers calling them naval cadets.
In 1884, Passed Naval Cadet Horst resigned from the Navy. He returned to Mobile, Alabama and took up employment as a bookkeeper and started a very successful civilian career." [from biographical sketch written by Gregg Overbeck, 2013]

The United States Naval Academy Museum
"Located in Preble Hall on the Academy grounds, The U.S. Naval Academy Museum holds large collections of unique and rare naval memorabilia. The Rogers Ship Models Collection consists of 108 models of the sailing ship era dating from 1650 to 1850; seventeen are scale models built for the use of the British Admiralty. The more than 5,000 naval prints in the Beverley R. Robinson Collection depict major naval battles and ships from the 16th century to the present. Most pieces are contemporary to their subjects and represent three centuries in the art of printmaking. The Malcolm Storer Navy Medals Collection of 1,210 commemorative coin-medals, dating from as early as 254 B.C., was gathered from more than thirty countries. The U.S. Navy Trophy Flag Collection of 600 historic American and captured flags features the "Don't Give Up the Ship" flag flown at the Battle of Lake Erie and banners that have been to the moon." [from]

Check out their website at or visit the museum Mon-Sat. 9:00-5:00, Sun. 11:00-5:00. Admission is FREE.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

WEDDING WEDNESDAY - O'Donnell-Huber Wedding (1904)

St. Paul's Catholic Church
early postcard
One hundred-and-nine years ago this coming Monday, on February 11th, my great-grandparents were married at a small ceremony at St. Paul's Catholic Church (now Cathedral) in Birmingham, Alabama. They were married early on a Thursday morning with a few family and friends present. They would go on to make their home in Birmingham and have four children together - my grandfather John Huber (born May 6, 1905); Charles Patrick (born October 18, 1906); Edward Joseph Kennedy (born January 18, 1908); and Barbara Lena (born November 7, 1909).  But first came their wedding day.

John Martin O'Donnell was born November 7, 1865, in Jericho, Henry County, Kentucky to my great-great-grandparents Patrick O'Donnell (1823-1911) and Bridget Kennedy (1838-1883), both immigrants from Ireland. After earning an engineering degree at nearby Eminence College Johnny, as he was called, eventually began working for the Louisville & Nashville Railroad. His name appears in the 1893 Louisville (Ky.) City Directory, where he was boarding at '1134 8th'.  His occupation is listed as a 'Leveler' with the City Engineers Department. [A leveler is part of a civil engineering survey team necessary in the preliminary work of building a railroad, roads, etc.]  Within the next few years his job at L&N RR would transfer him to Alabama. It was here that he met his future wife.

Mary Bertha Huber was born August 8, 1883, in Bowling Green, Warren County, Kentucky. Her parents were my great-great-grandparents Phillip Huber (1847-1901), an immigrant from Germany, and Barbara F. Brunett (1852-1896). Mayme, as she was known, worked as a school teacher in her hometown of Bowling Green. Later she moved with her father, brother and two sisters, to Alabama. She taught school in Calera, Shelby County, outside of Birmingham. It was here in Calera, according to family lore, that the two met while living in the same boarding house.

Johnny and Mayme were married on Thursday, February 11, 1904. He was 38 years old; she was 30. The story of their wedding appeared on page 6 of the Birmingham Age-Herald newspaper, on February 13th.
     At St. Paul's Church, on Thursday morning at 7:45, Miss Mayme B. Huber of this city, and Mr. J.M. O'Donnell were married. The Reverend Father O'Reilly officiating in his usual impressive manner.

     Miss Minnie Huber, sister of the bride, and Mr. Thomas Barret were the attendants. The bride was becomingly attired in a blue traveling suit with hat to match, and carried a white prayer book. The bridesmaid was also in blue. The wedding was a quiet one, only a few intimate friends being present. The bride is a sister of Mr. Charles T. Huber and is an attractive and brilliant young lady who has for several years been a successful teacher in the public schools of Alabama. The groom is a popular employe (sic) in the Louisville and Nashville civil engineering department.

from Birmingham Age-Herald, page 6
February 13, 1904
     Immediately after the ceremony Mr. and Mrs. O'Donnell left for New Orleans."
I wish there was a picture of the two on their wedding day - especially one of her. You can almost picture it, with the description in the newspaper article. Mayme, dressed in a "blue traveling suit", carrying a "white prayer book" standing next to her younger sister Philomena (1875-1937), better known as Minnie, who's also wearing blue. A few family and friends, who also got up early to be at the church by 7:45. And standing in front of the alter, the beloved parish priest in his vestments.

Johnny and Mayme O'Donnell were married only nine short years. Mayme died on March 30, 1913, in her home, after contracting tuberculosis. She was 39 years old. [Read more about John and Mayme in earlier blog posts for more information on their life.]

Happy Anniversary!

Statue of Father Patrick O'Reilly
by Guiseppe Morietti
In front of St. Vincent's Hospital
Birmingham, Alabama
[SIDEBAR - The following information on Father Patrick O'Reilly, the officiant at Johnny & Mayme's wedding, is worth noting. It is found in Rising Road: A True Tale of Love, Race and Religion in America, published in 2010, by Sharon Davies - the story of Father James Coyle and his murder. Father Coyle was Father O'Reilly's successor at St. Paul's Church.
"Confidence aside, some of the parishioners of St. Paul's probably thought Father Coyle, at age thirty-one, too young to handle the job Bishop Edward Allen of Mobile had sent him to do in Birmingham in 1904. The bishop had placed on the young priest's shoulders the inevitable task of replacing Father Patrick O'Reilly, the handsome and hugely popular former pastor of St. Paul's. Two months before, Father O'Reilly had suffered a grievous head injury while serving as Chaplain of the Alabama National Guard. During a routine review of the troops at the state fairgrounds, something had frightened his horse and it threw him. The summer-warmed ground was far from its hardest, but he landed badly, and the force of the impact cracked his skull. Horrified onlookers rushed the priest's broken body to St. Vincent's Hospital, which, ironically, O'Reilly had founded himself four years before. He had first proposed to build a hospital in Birmingham following one of the city's annual summer bouts with typhoid fever.... Following a particularly distressing episode of typhoid one summer, Father O'Reilly had sent a letter to the sisters of the Daughters of Charity at St. Vincent de Paul in Maryland asking that they come to Birmingham to run a hospital.... Shortly after the hospital opened its doors, Father O'Reilly announced he would build an orphanage as well, and his reputation in the city as a doer of good was cemented.
St. Vincent's Hospital about 1910
early postcard - Birmingham, Alabama
     A squadron of doctors and nuns at St. Vincent's Hospital ministered tirelessly over their beloved founder, doing all they could to save him, as word spread among the city's Catholics that Father O'Reilly was hurt and in need of their prayers. Perhaps the chorus of supplications that answered that call slowed his exit; for he hovered between life and death for nearly a week. But finally on July 28, 1904, he died, at the age of forty-nine." (pages 29-30)]