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


Thursday, June 13, 2013

THURSDAY'S TREASURE - Grandmom's Earbobs

One Pair of Grandmom's Earbobs
Treasures can come in all shapes and sizes. The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines a treasure as follows: "(1) wealth of any kind or in any form; (2) something of great worth or value; also : a person esteemed as rare or precious; (3) a collection of precious things." I know that throughout my large extended family there are treasures of great monetary value, treasures passed on through generations and treasurers with great stories behind them. The treasure that I want to share today doesn't fit any of these descriptions. But they are precious and of great worth to me - my grandmother's earbobs.

Susie Flemming O'Donnell
wearing a pair of earbobs - 1992
Susan Elizabeth Flemming O'Donnell (1909-1999) was hoot. She told me at one of my bridal showers in 1990 that she was always invited to parties throughout her life "because she was cheaper than hiring a clown." She was the mother of eight children and the grandmother of twenty. At the time of her death she also had nineteen great-grandchildren. She had been married to the love of her life, John Huber O'Donnell (1905-1964), and was widowed when she was just 54. Her faith and her family kept her going, and she lived 35 years longer as the matriarch of my mother's family.

She was a southern lady - born and bred in Birmingham, Alabama - a product of her times. But she was also a rare, one-of-a-kind treasure to her family, friends and all who had the unique pleasure to meet her. This post can't begin to do her the justice that her life and legacy deserve. So I won't attempt. But I can share these little treasurers that I was able to pick out - after all her other treasurers were chosen - from items that my mother got after her death. These treasures are Grandmom's "earbobs".

Grandmom, as we grandchildren call her, enjoyed dressing up to go out to lunch or dinner with family and friends. She always wore a necklace or a pin, maybe a bracelet or two, with her dress - pants or slacks were not a part of her public attire. Along with her various accoutrements she always wore "earbobs".  They were clip-on earrings, usually quite large and round, and mostly not of any great monetary value.
Earbobs with Matching Pin
She seemed to have dozens of pairs to choose from. I remember as a little girl going off to her bedroom while the adults talked in the living room, and looking in her jewelry box, full of all colors and styles of jewelry. I don't remember picking anything up or trying anything on, but I probably did. Her things were bigger and bolder than the styles my mother had at home in her jewelry case. My Mom seldom wore earrings - and never wore "earbobs". So Grandmom's treasures were unique unto her.

I tried to find the origin of the term "earbob". I couldn't find when or where the word originated, but I found numerous historical museums that had "earbobs" from native Americans in their collections. I found the term used in 19th century literature, as well as in more modern books. Many fans of the movie Gone with the Wind will remember Scarlett O'Hara offering her "earbobs" to Rhett Butler for collateral for a loan (he declined). The use of the word "earbobs" continued, mostly in the South, but the word is seldom heard anymore.

But I can't look at these inexpensive clip-on earrings that I chose as a keepsake from my grandmother without remembering the giggles from me and my sisters and cousins when Grandmom made any mention of her "earbobs". We thought it was so silly a word then. Now I see the word, and the earrings - and, of course, my grandmother - all as wonderful, precious treasures.

QUESTION - Do you remember Grandmom's earbobs? Or your own grandmother's earbobs? Add your memory (or comment) below to share.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

SUNDAY'S OBITUARY - Father John J. Malloy (1922-2013)

Father John J. Malloy
Father John J. Malloy
"Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB, 91, died Wednesday morning, March 27, 2013, at St. Mary's Hospital, San Francisco. He had been a Salesian religious for 72 years and a Catholic priest for almost 63 years.

John Malloy was born in Berkeley, California, March 17, 1922, the son of Charles and Agnes Malloy who had moved to California after their marriage in Lima, Ohio, in 1917. John was baptized on the 19th of March, 2013, at St. Ambrose Church, Berkeley. Fr. Malloy has four living sisters: Louise, Mary, Catherine and Margaret, his twin, and his brother Joseph. He was preceded in death by his parents, his brother Richard and his sister Rita. A host of family members mourn his death and celebrate his life.

The growing family moved to San Pablo, California, in 1929, where John Malloy met the Salesians at their House of Studies in Richmond, CA. In 1935 he joined the high school seminary of the Salesians in Richmond and graduated from high school in 1939.

In September, 1939, John Malloy was accepted into the Salesian Novitiate at Don Bosco College, Newton, NJ. On Sept. 8, 1940 he pronounced his first religious vows. In 1943, after studies in philosophy, he received his B.A. degree. From 1943 to 1946 he taught at St. John Bosco High School, Bellflower, and the Salesian House of Studies, Richmond. In the Fall of 1946 he was admitted to the Pontificio Ateneo Salesiano, in Turin, Italy, for theological studies. In 1950 he was awarded a S.T. L. in theology and was ordained a priest July 2, 1950 in Turin.

His first assignments as a young priest were in the Salesian schools of California. In 1952 he became principal of St. John Bosco High School, Bellflower, and later principal of Bishop Mora Salesian High School, Los Angeles.
Father John J. Malloy

In the 1960's he was assigned, also, to help with leadership in the Salesian province of San Francisco. In 1965 he was appointed Provincial of the western province and in 1967 transferred to Provincial of the larger Salesian province in eastern United States.

In 1973 he returned to California as President of Don Bosco Technical Institute, Rosemead, and in 1979 returned to Salesian High School, Richmond, converting the all-boys school to a co-educational Catholic high school.

In 1990, John Malloy became pastor of Our Lady of Good Counsel, Surrey, near Vancouver, Canada. His administrative skills and his pastoral zeal added new life to the parish including his building of a youth center which influenced the lives of young people in the area.

In 2001, he returned to San Francisco as Pastor of SS. Peter and Paul Parish, San Francisco. In this multi-cultural parish, he called the parishioners to a greater sense of unity and cooperation. He supported the Archdiocese in all its activities including the Right to Life annual appeal.

The last years of his life, from 2007, were spent at Salesian High School, Richmond, very close to the area of his childhood.

On Monday, April 1, 2013 at SS. Peter and Paul Church, there will be viewing at 9:30 a.m., a Rosary at 10:00 and his Funeral Mass at 10:30 am. His interment follows at the Salesian Cemetery, Richmond, Calif. Donations in memory of Fr. John Malloy may be made to the Salesian Province, 1100 Franklin St., San Francisco, CA 94109" [from San Francisco Chronicle, 30 Mar 2013]

Father John Malloy, R.I.P.
 The following was posted on Father John Malloy’s blog on Thurs., March 28 by Gibbons Cooney,  Father Malloy’s secretary at Saints Peter and Paul Church.
 "Our dear Father Malloy has fought his last fight. He went home to the Lord early on Wednesday morning (Ed note: March 27) . Readers of this blog know that he had been suffering from congestive heart failure as well as a number of other ailments natural to a man of 91. Father’s bearing of his condition was a marvelous thing to see. He was perfectly lucid right to the last, and more than once he said he was ready to go. He never complained and was amazingly cheerful. After a conversation with his doctor he agreed to go on a respirator for a few days to see if that would help his condition, after which they would take him off, and let his body take its course. He was taken off the respirator Tuesday morning, and almost immediately began to grow weaker.
Father John Malloy with Pope John Paul II
I saw him on Tuesday night, and he was quite weak physically, but not spiritually. The nurse had something nice to say to him about how easy he was to work with, and I said “Boy, Father, see what a great patient you are!” He smiled and replied with good natured sarcasm, which was his standard response to when anyone gave him a compliment: “Yeah, sure!” He passed away about 12 hours later.
Father Malloy came to us as pastor of Saints Peter and Paul in 2001. At that time he was 79 years old. It struck some of us as a little odd that a 79-year-old would be appointed to lead one of the busiest parishes in San Francisco. Well. Little did we know!
One of his first acts as pastor was to reinstitute a weekly Holy Hour. During his pastorate the entire interior of the church was refurbished top to bottom. It was cleaned and repainted. Beautiful new carpet was installed. The wood floors were refinished, and because all that beauty needed to be seen, new lights were installed. That revealed details that had not been seen for years, and even old timers were amazed. All this while celebrating weddings, baptisms, and masses beyond count.
I think it is fair to say that what Father Malloy became best known for to the wider world was his uncompromising stand against the horrific epidemic of legalized abortion and against the redefinition of marriage. Under his pastorate, Saints Peter and Paul became the pro-life and pro-family center of the Catholic Church in San Francisco, the birthplace of the Defense of Marriage movement, and the home parish of the Walk for Life West Coast. Father Malloy did not hesitate to call out Catholic politicians by name when their actions violated the most basic teachings of the Catholic faith.
Dolores Meehan tells the story of creating the March in Defense of Marriage. Back in 2004, when Gavin Newsom’s illegally started issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, Dolores and others wanted to create a rally to show that there were San Franciscans opposed to this. She sought the advice of Bill May, president of Catholics for the Common Good, asking “but where can I find a church that will support it?” Bill said “Well, there’s this one priest at Saints Peter and Paul…” The rest is history. When Dolores visited Father Malloy to ask him about holding a Mass and rally in defense of marriage, she didn’t get a “well, maybe…” or an “I don’t know…” or a “well, let me think about it…” As Dolo tells it, Father Malloy, with Mimi the cat on his desk, just started flipping through his desk calendar looking for a date, and said “I don’t care if I go to jail!” Father Malloy did not follow his flock. He led it.
The response to that April, 2004 rally gave Eva and Dolores and Kelly and Lisa and all the others the courage to create the Walk for Life West Coast in 2005. In that year, Father Malloy became the chaplain of the Walk for Life West Coast, a position he retained until his death. In that year he received the first annual St. Gianna Molla Award for pro-life heroism. Because no matter what, we knew Father Malloy had our back. And from those beginnings, the Walk for Life is now the second largest pro-life event in the country. Someone once told me that Deacon Jeff Burns, the historian of the archdiocese of San Francisco, was asked what was the most significant expression of Catholicism in San Francisco in recent times. He answered “It’s the Walk for Life West Coast.”
Father Malloy eventually became known all over the country for his sermons and writings in defense of the right to life and marriage, with praise and threats to prove it. But despite his powerful stands, almost everyone who met him, even those who disagreed, found in Father John a friend. With my own eyes I have seen people come into the rectory absolutely furious, and walk out a few minutes later with the words “Huh. He’s a nice guy.” When I think of Father Malloy I think of the Blessed John Paul II who was once addressing a group of young people about the evil of abortion. They told him “Why do say this to us? You know we don’t agree.” The Holy Father simply said “I love you too much to lie to you.” That was Father  John’s attitude as well.
Most of us will have heard of Sir Christopher Wren, the architect of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. Many of us will be familiar with his humble tombstone in that Cathedral, on which is written “If you seek his monument, look about you.” The whole cathedral was his monument. But while it is right and proper to see the buildings of a great architect as his monument, the monument of a Priest of God is different. The monument of a priest of God is the people he has inspired to follow Jesus Christ, to imitate Jesus Christ, and to bring others to Jesus Christ.
For as St. Peter himself tells us, the Church is made of living stones. The students he has taught and inspired, that is Father John’s monument. The people he brought into the faith, that is Fr. John’s monument. The young men and women whom he has inspired to the religious life, that is Father John’s monument. And the 50,000 people who in January peacefully, joyfully, yet firmly marched through downtown San Francisco for the littlest among us, that is Father John’s monument.
Father, may we be worthy of the sacrifices you made for us. May we continue to fight firmly and with charity, as you taught us, for life and the family. And above all, may we fulfill your dearest wish for us, to follow Jesus Christ and to live lives that will allow us to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. Father, we pray that you watch over us from heaven just as you always did on earth."
Funeral services for Father Malloy were held on April 1 at Saints Peter and Paul Church, San Francisco.
Saints Peter and Paul Church
San Francisco, California
Saints Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Church, San Francisco, California
[The following information is taken from Wikipedia]
     "Saints Peter and Paul Church is a Roman Catholic Church in San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood. Located (somewhat ironically) at 666 Filbert Street, it is directly across from Washington Square, San Francisco and is administered by the Salesians of Don Bosco. It is known as "La cattedrale d'Italia ovest," or "The Italian Cathedral of the West," and has served as the home church and cultural center for San Francisco's Italian-American community since its consecration.
     During 1926-1927, the church was the target of radical anti-catholic anarchists, who instituted five separate bomb attacks against the building in the space of one year.On March 6, 1927, police shot and killed one man and seriously wounded another, Celsten Eklund, a radical anarchist and local soapbox orator, as the two men attempted to light the fuse of a large dynamite bomb in front of the church. The dead man, known only as 'Ricca', was never fully identified; Eklund died of his wounds some time later without giving any information about his co-conspirators.
     In recent years, Saints Peter and Paul has also become the home church for the city's Chinese-American Roman Catholic population, offering weekly masses in Italian, Mandarin, and English. Mass in Latin is offered monthly as well.
     Saints Peter and Paul serves the Archdiocese of San Francisco.

In Popular Culture - The church is prominently featured in the Clint Eastwood movies Dirty Harry (the Church, and nearby Dante Building, are the scene of sniper attacks by the "Scorpio Killer") and The Dead Pool. Scenes from Cecil B. DeMille's The Ten Commandments were filmed at the church while it was under construction. Parts of Sister Act 2 were also filmed here.
Interior of Saints Peter and Paul Church
     After their civil ceremony in 1954, Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio returned for photographs on the steps of this church. DiMaggio was married to Dorothy Arnold in the church on November 19, 1939, but later civilly divorced. Still married as far as the Church was concerned (having not obtained an annulment), he could not be married in the Catholic Church. In a side entrance, Sts. Peter and Paul Church still showcases a photo in a book displaying proudly DiMaggio's marriage day photo-but with Arnold, not Monroe. DiMaggio's funeral was held here on March 11, 1999."
Father John Malloy is my 2nd cousin, twice removed. That sounds so distant, made up, a stretch as far as relationships go. But it's not. We are related, sharing the same set of grandparents, immigrated from France in the mid-1800's. I didn't know he existed until last night, while doing family history research. He never knew I existed. I wish I had known - he seems like quite an amazing person. So we are cousins and I wanted to share him with you. Here's how we're related:
     Father John is the grandson of Peter Brunett (1857-1908) and Clara Schmitt (1859-1903). Peter is a younger brother of Barbara Brunett (1952-1896), my great-great-grandmother.
     Father John's great-grandparents are John Michel Baptiste Brunett (1818-1863) and Barbara Frisse (1822-1893), who are my great-great-great-grandparents. John and Barbara were both born in Seingbouse, Lorraine, France. Barbara, traveling with her parents and siblings, arrived in America in July 1846. John traveled on the same ship. The Frisse family (later spelling their name Frisz) and John Brunett settled in St. Anne's Village, Jennings County, Indiana. John and Barbara married here, just 22 days after arriving in America.
     Barbara Brunett [Father John's great-aunt and my great-great-grandmother] married Phillip Huber (1847-1901) in Bowling Green, Kentucky in 1871, and had 7 children including my great-grandmother Mayme Huber (1873-1913). Mayme married my great-grandfather John Martin O'Donnell (1865-1937) in 1904 in Birmingham, Alabama. John and Mayme had 4 children, including my grandfather John Huber O'Donnell (1905-1964).

IMAGINE. . . Your child and your sibling's child are first cousins; they share the same grandparents. [Father John's mother Agnes Brunett Malloy (1898-1980) and Mayme Huber O'Donnell were first cousins.]
     These 2 first cousins each have children, who are 2nd cousins to each other; they also share the same great-grandparents. [Father John and my grandfather Huber O'Donnell are 2nd cousins.]
     Children of 2nd cousins would be 3rd cousins to each other OR a child of one 2nd cousin would be "once removed" from the other 2nd cousin relationship. [Since I am a grandchild of one of the 2nd cousins, I am Father John's 2nd cousins, twice removed.]

Saturday, June 1, 2013

SATURDAY'S STRUCTURE - Club Rex, Homewood, Alabama

During the mid-1930's, my grandfather John Huber O'Donnell (1905-1964) went into partnership with Bob Smith when they leased Club Rex in Homewood, a suburb of Birmingham, Alabama. Huber was a stenographer at TCI, the Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad Company, a major American steel manufacturer located in Birmingham. Bob Smith was a co-worker of my "Pop" and together they had briefly owned a nightclub in downtown before taking over the lease when the country club went bankrupt.

Historic Marker in Homewood, Alabama
A popular recreational and entertainment facility, Club Rex began as Hollywood Country Club, built in the mid-1920's. It was then part of the newest subdivision being built south of Birmingham - Hollywood. The town of Hollywood was incorporated as a city in 1927. The brainchild of Clyde Nelson, Hollywood was advertised to meet a variety of needs, including health - "Out of the Smoke Zone and Into the Ozone" - and exclusivity - "one of Birmingham's most beautiful, highly restricted residential subdivisions". 
Club Rex Postcard ca. 1940
In Homewood: The Life of a City, Sheryl Spradling Summe describes the club's beginnings:
"Nelson built Hollywood Country Club on Shades Valley Highway, now Lakeshore Drive, overlooking Shades Creek where the Marriott Courtyard Hotel stands today. The large Spanish Mission-style clubhouse, with a swimming pool in the front that was a favorite place for children and teens, 'offered the finest in meals and entertainment six or seven days a week.' Although plans to add a golf course on the property were never completed. Hollywood Country Club provided members and guests 'an elite dining and dancing spot' for years....It changed ownership several times after 1930, but the building remained in existence until a fire damaged it in 1984 and subsequently it was torn down." [p. 86-87]

"Hollywood Country Club" sign added for postcard only
"Homewood added a swimming pool to its list of community recreation facilities when it began leasing the Hollywood Country Club pool in the summer of 1934. (By then the club was privately owned by G.C. Lockhart and would change hands many times in the years to come.) The popular Municipal Swimming Pool took in more than $500 during the first half of July 1934 alone. Men could rent swimsuits, and all swimmers were provided with towels. The city hired two lifeguards, Bob Purdy and Wallace Ward, at sixty-five dollars per month each and a cashier, Miss Lottie Lee Patterson, for twenty-five dollars per month...The city council allowed underprivileged children to use the municipal pool at no charge....The Summer Bus Line, which operated the Hollywood bus service originally established by Clyde Nelson, ran a shuttle to the pool from Dunn's drugstore and from Broadway at Roseland Drive, stopping at many points along the way." [p. 125]
backside of postcard
These articles appeared in Billboard magazine in 1945 [Billboard magazine, originally a trade paper for the bill-posting industry, carried news for live entertainment including vaudeville, minstrel shows, circuses, amusement parks, and fairs. Later it included news for nightclubs, and other music venues. It now carries news for music and the music industry worldwide.]

January 20, 1945 cover
"Rex, Alabama Club, Bought   Birmingham, Jan. 13 - Joe Robino, restaurant owner, has purchased for $59,500, the old Hollywood Country Club building, with five acres, a swimming pool, and new streamlined nitery equipment, including a $2,750 rotary cooker that broils 90 steaks at once. Clubhouse originally built as private country club for exclusive Hollywood residential section, has been operated on lease from foreclosures as Club Rex nitery for nine years. Club plans use of nitery entertainment and occasional guest ork." [Billboard magazine, January 20, 1945, p. 23]
July 21, 1945 cover
"Birming'm To Get 25G Club With All-Glass Blg. & Floor  Birmingham, Ala., July 16 - Birmingham steps into the big-town nitery class next month with the construction of a new $75,000 all glass club with glass dance floor and penthouse atop a circular club building. Name bands and floorshows are to be imported, according to Bob Smith, widely known nitery op promoting the project on the club membership plan with guest memberships for visitors, with 60-G already in hand. Smith operated Club Rex in Hollywood for 10 years." [Billboard, July 21, 1945, p. 27]
Poolside at Club Rex
My mother has wonderful memories of summer days spent swimming at the pool at Club Rex. When she was about three-and-a-half-years-old, while swimming at the pool one day, a man came up to her and asked if he could photograph her. He picked her up and set her on a concrete bench. Later he sent her parents copies of the photographs (at right). She also had several birthday parties in the club room when she was very young. Her birthday was in December so a family member would dress as Santa Claus and visit her party each time.

The swimming pool, of course, was always a favorite place to go during the hot Birmingham summers. My mom remembers their maid would go with them and was responsible for watching she and her older brother and sister swim. A maid at that time was fairly common for families, but since she was black she would only have been able to watch the children swim from a seat - the pool itself was whites-only.

Backside of Club Rex postcard
There was an area on the lowest floor of the club, known as "The Cave Room". Here swimmers could enter in their wet bathing suits and buy burgers and eat lunch. My mother's older brother, who was five years older, worked in the Cave Room around 1944. Mom remembers giving out pool passes to friends at school during these years. She also remembers New Years Eves - her father would be out late at the club and would always bring each of the kids souvenirs from the party. When they woke up on New Years Day they would have party hats, horns and noisemakers from the night's revelry. Each year the new year would be part of the hats' decoration - "1939", "1940" etc.

My grandfather continued to work at his job with TCI while helping to run Club Rex, going over to the club after a full day at work, as did Bob Smith. For a time Bob and his wife and daughter lived on the property, in bedrooms that were part of the property, as did another partner who managed the property during the day. The property was bought by Joe Robino in 1945.

How fun it was to have a swimming pool and a night club, located less than a mile from their home, as part of your childhood memories.