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, April 28, 2013

SUNDAY'S OBITUARY - Edward Martin Horst (1882-1916)

Death Notice - Edward Martin Horst
from Birmingham Age-Herald, Nov. 5, 1916
       "The remains of Edward M. Horst, who died at Asheville, N.C., Thursday afternoon, were received Saturday morning by Lige Loy. Funeral services will be held Sunday afternoon at St. Paul's Catholic Church at 3 p.m. and internment will be in Elmwood Cemetery. The deceased is survived by his mother, Mrs. C. F. Horst, Sr., two brothers, C. F. Horst, Jr., and O. L. Horst, and two sisters, Mrs. H. C. Flemming, and Miss Odalie Horst.
     The following will act as pallbearers: W. W. Thomas, M. R. Mullane, P. H. Anderson, D. F. Achor, C. C. Flemming, Jr., and Stanley Atkins." [from Birmingham Age-Herald, November 5, 1916]

Pearl and Ed Horst
Birmingham, AL (ca. 1896)
Edward Martin Horst was born May 5, 1882, in Mobile, Alabama. His parents, my great-great-grandparents, were Charles Frederick Horst (1856-1912) and Odalie Felice Fortier (1857-1920). He was their second child of five - older brother Charles Frederick (1880-1964); Pearl Alphonsine (1884-1961), my great-grandmother; Omer Leo (1887-1945); and Odalie "Dolly" Marie (1896-1990). The family - he, his parents, and brother Charles - moved to Cincinnati soon after he was born, for his father's health. Here his sister Pearl and brother Omer were born. Soon the family moved back to Alabama, this time to the city of Birmingham, not yet 25 years old. Father Charles' younger brother Edward (1858-1901) had already relocated here and bought a local bar - the Palace Royale.  Charles came to Birmingham to help him run it.

When Ed was 18, the 1900 U.S. Census listed his occupation as "General Plumbing". The city directory listed him in 1905 as a "Steamfitter" at the Alabama Supply Company; in 1909 the directory listed him as a "Helper" at Monarch Plumbing, Steam Heating and Supply Company. As a steamfitter he would be responsible for installing, maintaining and/or repairing pipes and piping systems for ventilation or heating systems. He remained in this profession throughout his life. He never married.

Around 1914, when Ed was about thirty-two, he was diagnosed with Tuberculosis, a contagious pulmonary disease that was often fatal. It was one of the leading causes of death in the early twentieth century. An estimated 110,000 Americans died each year in the early 1900's from TB.

North Carolina Death Certificate
[click to enlarge]
Because tuberculosis was thought of as a death sentence, those infected were isolated from society and sent off to sanatoriums - hospitals designed to care specifically for tuberculosis sufferers. Before antibiotic treatments existed, a regiment of rest and good nutrition offered the best chances that a sufferer's immune system would "wall off" pockets of the TB infection and be cured.

Tuberculosis, known as consumption in the 19th century because it seemed to consume the patient's body, is evidenced by chronic cough, blood-tinged sputum, fever, night sweats and weight loss. In January 1915 Edward was sent to Asheville, North Carolina, to the St. Joseph Sanatorium run by the Sisters of Mercy. Asheville, the county seat of Buncombe County, is situated in western North Carolina.

Ed stayed at St. Joseph's for 1 year and 10 months, according to his North Carolina Death Certificate. He died on November 2nd of 1916 at 1:15 in the afternoon. The official cause of death was "Hemorrhage from lung"; the secondary cause was listed as "Tuberculosis of lungs".  The death certificate stated he had suffered from TB for "about 3 years".  He was just 34 and a half when he died.

The following day, Friday, Ed's body was put on the train and taken to Birmingham. It arrived the next morning, Saturday, and he was buried Sunday, November 5th after services were held at St. Paul's Catholic Church. He is buried at Elmwood Cemetery next to his mother and father.

Headstone - Elmwood Cemetery
Birmingham, Alabama

Asheville as a Health Retreat
[taken in part from the National Park Service 'National Register of Historic Places' website]
"As far back as 1795 records show that the Asheville area was regarded as a place to come heal oneself of ills. The climate was regarded to be optimal--the components (temperature, barometric pressure, etc.) were actually measured by physicians who wanted to determine the best place for patients to recuperate. A long line of physicians came to Asheville, some to convalesce themselves, and ended up staying, building practices and promoting Asheville as a health retreat. From the late 1880s to the 1930s Asheville rose in prominence as a curative place for tuberculosis. 

Biltmore House postcard
[click to enlarge]
One of Asheville's greatest promoters was Dr. S. Westray Battle who came to Asheville in 1885 and turned out to be, perhaps, the most influential doctor to come to the area. Through his connections and reputation, many wealthy individuals and families came and ended up staying in Asheville. Among them was George Vanderbilt, who accompanied his ailing mother. While in Asheville, Vanderbilt fell in love with the area and returned to build his now famed Biltmore Estates. Edwin W. Grove also came to Asheville as one of Battle's patients and stayed on to build Grove Park Inn.

Grove Park Inn postcard
[click to enlarge]
In 1900, there was only one sanitarium available, the Winyah, with 60 beds. The rest of the patients that came to Asheville stayed in boarding houses that had open air sleeping porches, thought to be necessary for recovery. Between 1900 and 1910, the number of sanitaria and boarding houses greatly increased. These sanitaria and boarding houses were usually on the outskirts of town, but as Asheville grew, they came to be within the city limits.

By 1930, Asheville bragged 20 tuberculosis specialists and 25 sanitaria with a total of 900 beds. But with the rise of state care and the depressed economy, the market for the private sanitaria had dwindled. During the 1930s and 1940s the sanitaria and boarding houses for tuberculosis patients closed with just a few remaining into the 1950s. As antibiotic treatment was introduced in the late 1950s, sanitariums were rarely needed.

Asheville is still a health center where people come for specialized treatment. Mission-St. Joseph's Hospital and the many specialists located nearby have made Asheville the prime medical center for Western North Carolina."

Sisters of Mercy and St. Joseph Sanatorium
St. Joseph Sanatorium
Asheville, North Carolina (ca. 1920s)
The Sisters of Mercy was founded in Dublin, Ireland, by Catherine McAuley in 1831. Unlike other orders of religious women, McAuley didn't want her community to be cloistered; she wanted her order to work among the poor. Members of her order came to America in 1841 to continue the mission. The Sisters of Mercy arrived in Asheville in the mid-1800s, at the request of the local Bishop, to establish a boarding school. With poor enrollment the school building became the site of a hospital to serve tuberculosis patients, at the urging of the Sisters. In November 1900 the Sisters of Mercy opened St. Joseph Sanatorium.
 Over the years the Sisters had to relocate the hospital to meet the needs of the growing number of patients coming into Asheville. From 1900-1905 the hospital was located at 40 French Broad Avenue. The facility had 18 beds. From 1906-1909 the hospital was moved to a larger home on Starnes Avenue, a building with many open porches - a characteristic common among facilities serving tuberculosis patients. In 1909 the hospital moved to a twenty-two acre parcel located on Biltmore Avenue. There were objections from neighbors who thought the sanatorium would lower property values and they obtained a court injunction to keep them from operating. The judge ruled in favor of the Sisters, stating that the benefit to the community far outweighed the fear of contagion.

St. Joseph Sanatorium postcard
[click to enlarge]
 The Biltmore Avenue location underwent changes. The building was able to house 20 patients in the main house and more in the two out-buildings which were used as patients prepared for discharge. The facility expanded twice more before 1938. These additions increased the size of the building to now accommodate 95 patients, and added an administrative wing.

In 2000 the Sisters of Mercy sold the hospital to Memorial Mission Hospital, forming Mission Hospital Systems. Both hospitals had been run by women during a time when that was very rare. Doctors had been hired to work at the hospital but the mission was always to service the sick, the poor, those in need. That mission continues today.


Sunday, April 21, 2013

SUNDAY'S OBITUARY - Jacob H. Fermier (1881-1932)

The Birmingham News; Feb. 5, 1932
Fall Proves Fatal
Jacob Fermier, Prominent in Mobile Carnival, Succumbs to Injuries
"Jacob H. Fermier, 45, engaged in the real estate business and prominent in the Infant Mystic, a Mardi gras carnival society, died at a hospital Thursday from injuries received in a fall down an elevator shaft Thursday night. Fermier was engaged in the work of sending out tickets to the annual ball of the society and went to the rear of the building and in the darkness stumbled into the elevator shaft which had been left open." [The Birmingham News; February 5, 1932]

Mobile Register, Feb. 5, 1932
Jacob Fermier Dies from Fall in Building Here
Mobile Real Estate Firm Employee Fatally Injured in Plunge Down Shaft
"Jacob H. Fermier, about 45 years of age, an employe (sic) of Hermann & Hynde real estate firm, died at City hospital early this morning from head injuries received when he fell one floor down an elevator shaft of a building on Exchange alley, located off Water, between St. Michael and St. Francis streets, used as headquarters for the Infant Mystics. The accident occurred about 7 o'clock Thursday night.
     Mr. Fermier, with three other members of the ticket committee of the society, was preparing tickets for their Mardi Gras dance Monday night. He left his duties to retire to the rear part of the headquarters.
     Other members of the committee, alerted when Mr. Fermier did not return within a reasonable time, began an investigation. Their attention was attracted by groans, and further investigation revealed Mr. Fermier lying on the concrete floor below at the foot of the shaft.
     He was taken to the hospital, where he died within a few hours." [Mobile Register; February 5, 1932]

Mobile Register, Feb. 6, 1932
Rites for Mr. Fermier
Mobilian Killed in Fall Thursday Night to be Buried Today
     "Funeral services for Jacob H. Fermier, lifelong resident of Mobile who died early yesterday morning from injuries in a fall down an elevator shaft in the Infant Mystic headquarters on Exchange alley, will be held at 9 o'clock this morning at Roche mortuary and at 9:30 o'clock at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception with mass. Internment will be in Magnolia cemetery.
     Mr. Fermier is survived by a sister, Mrs. B.J. Echenrode, (sic) of Emmitsburg, Md, an aunt, Mrs. R.A. Sands, of Mobile, an uncle, Victor Fermier, of Texas, and other relatives." [Mobile Register, February 6, 1932]

Jacob Henry Fermier was born August 11, 1881, in Mobile, Alabama. His parents were Jacob Fermier (1852-1889), a plumber and gas-fitter, originally from Bavaria, and Anna Berg (1851-1907). Anna, my great-great-great aunt, was the daughter of Tobias Berg (1819-1853) and Apollonia Weinschenk (1829-1908), both immigrants from Germany. Apollonia is my 3x-great-grandmother. [Tobias was her first husband with whom she had four children, including Anna; her second husband was Martin Horst (1830-1878), my 3x-great-grandfather, with whom she had 8 children including my great-great-grandfather Charles F. Horst.]

J. Fermier (ca. 1905)
from Erik Overby collection
University of South Alabama Collection
Young Jacob, known as 'Jack', was the oldest of the two children of Jacob and Anna. His younger sister, Annie, was born October 13, 1887. Jack and Annie lost their father when they were very young - Jack was just 8 years old, Annie was not yet two. To help support the family their mother opened her home to boarders, housing men, as many as 7-8 at their home at 209 Conti Street. Anna died in 1907 after suffering a stroke. [Annie J. Fermier, Jack's younger sister, married Bernard Eckenrode, a professor at Spring Hill College, in 1914 and moved with him to Emmitsburg, Maryland. Here they had one daughter, Anna Eckenrode (1918-2002). In 1937 Annie died at her home in Maryland; she was just 49 at the time of her death.]

Jack never married. He was employed with Hermann & Hynde Real Estate in Mobile. He also was involved in the Infant Mystics. The Infant Mystics is the second oldest of the numerous mystic societies that celebrate Mardi Gras each year in Mobile (much like krewes in New Orleans). The Infant Mystics dates back to 1868, at which time they held their parade on Mardi Gras (fat Tuesday) night. They have since changed the date of their parade to Mundi Gras (fat Monday).

Original emblem of Infant Mystics
Membership in the mystic societies is secret. Each year during Carnival Season, the mystic societies parade in costumes on their individual floats through downtown Mobile, tossing small gifts to spectators along the parade route. Each society also holds its own masquerade ball each year. These balls are almost always by invitation only, and attendees must abide by the strict dress code - usually elegant evening gowns for ladies and white-tie and tails for men. The ball usually continues the theme of the year, which is also depicted on their floats.

Jack was buried with his mother and father at Magnolia Cemetery in Mobile. It's interesting to note that the newspaper gives his age as 45. He was actually 50 years old at the time of his death.
Grave of Fermier Family
Magnolia Cemetery, Mobile, Alabama