|St. Paul's Catholic Church|
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.
"O'DONNELL-HUBERI 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.
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.
Immediately after the ceremony Mr. and Mrs. O'Donnell left for New Orleans."
from Birmingham Age-Herald, page 6
February 13, 1904
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.]
|Statue of Father Patrick O'Reilly|
by Guiseppe Morietti
In front of St. Vincent's Hospital
"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.
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)]
St. Vincent's Hospital about 1910
early postcard - Birmingham, Alabama
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