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


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]


  1. Hello, Susan! My name is Maddy, I am from a suburb outside of Birmingham. I am only 17 years old, but for years I have been obsessed with the house you mentioned in your post, 1631 15th st s. I am asking, really begging, that if you have any information on the house or the builder, public records anything, could you please share it with me? I am limited on what I can search. I know it may seem a little far fetched but I am trying to acquire the blue prints of the house, hopefully one day I can buy it and fix it, or maybe duplicate it! I love that house! Even though there are apartment complexes behind it, I still love it. If you have any pictures anything I would be so appreciative! Thank you so much, and your post was very interesting! Especially since I live in the area! Thank you again!

  2. Maddy - I'm glad you enjoyed the post! The Flemming/Selman family no longer own the house - I think it sold in 2013. Everything I know about it is in the post, including the builder J. Cary Anderson. I do know it has 3 bedrooms upstairs with one bathroom. The living room, dining room and kitchen are all on the main floor, along with a "sleeping porch" out back where the Flemming boys would sleep in the summertime when they were young in the 1920's and 30's. It certainly is a wonderful house where a lot of living has occurred. Did you notice the "Sale" sign out front in the first picture, before it was originally bought in 1906?

  3. What a great post. That's a house that was made a HOME. Where the anguish of both life entering and leaving this Earth were felt over generations. ❤️ Such a good story. Thank you for sharing it!