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, August 17, 2013

SATURDAY'S STRUCTURE - The Church of Saint John Chrysostom, Henry County, Kentucky

My great-grandfather John Martin O'Donnell (1865-1937) was born in the town of Jericho, in Henry County, Kentucky. His parents, my great-great-grandparents, were Patrick O'Donnell (1823-1911) and Bridget Kennedy (1838-1893) Both parents were Irish immigrants who had married in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1856, before settling in Jericho. They had seven children - six girls and one son - whom they raised in Jericho.

Patrick owned a grocery store in the small town, and lived across the street from his store. As Catholics, Patrick and Bridget raised their family in the Catholic church. The only such church in Henry County at that time was the Church of Saint John Chrysostom in the town of Eminence, about 8 miles from the O'Donnell family home. It remains the only Catholic church in Henry County.

The church is located at 221 S. Penn Street in Eminence, Henry County, Kentucky. Mass is held each Sunday at 9:30 am.

The History of the Church of St. John Chrysostom
[taken from - the website of the Archdiocese of Louisville, KY]
"A mission church from its inception, St. John has never had a resident priest or school. The need for a Catholic spiritual home in Henry County was first documented in 1860, when Archbishop Martin John Spalding gave permission to erect a church building in Eminence. Construction began in the 1880s. Historical records are unclear as to an exact date this church was completed, but from earliest written records available, Mass was first celebrated in the church in 1890. It was dedicated under the patronage of Saint John Chrysostom.  
Until that time, Masses were celebrated in the homes of Catholic families. When the Catholic church at Bedford was sold, the organ and art-glass memorial windows were removed and brought to Eminence to grace the otherwise plain structure of St. John. The Stations of the Cross were erected in 1892. A new organ was used for the first time in December 1908.  
In the early years the church was heated by a pot-bellied stove that warmed worshippers on cold Sundays. There were no restroom facilities. In 1988, a new church hall was built behind the church, providing badly needed space for meetings and social gatherings. Until that time, a home hosted parish activities. The church interior underwent a total renovation during the summer of 1992. At that time there were approximately fifty families at St. John, grown from eight families in 1958.  
In October of 2005, St. John became handicap-accessible with the construction of a concrete ramp. Catholics of Henry County have been served by the priests from Shelbyville since the 1850s, and most recently by priests from LaGrange. St. John currently has almost 200 parishioners." - See more at:

It's such a beautiful little church. I have hopes to visit it and attend Mass her in the near future.  I have recently requested any possible records they may include the O'Donnell family, who must have attended Mass here.

To find out more about the church check out their website, .

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

WONDERFUL WEDNESDAY'S PHOTOS - The Alabama Great Southern Railroad "Old Timer's Club" Convention 1951

This photo was taken in the front yard of my great-grandfather's house on Southside in downtown Birmingham, Alabama, in May 1951. The men in the picture are 'members' of "The Old Timers Club", a group of retired railroad men who once worked together on the Alabama Great Southern Railroad. Standing at the far right is my great-grandfather, Harry C. Flemming (1878-1955).

Harry worked on the AGS railroad for his entire career, serving as trainmaster, master mechanic and assistant superintendent. For the majority of his career he was the Engineer on the steam engine #6690. Every morning he would take control of the train from the Birmingham depot to the depot at Meridian, Mississippi. He stayed here and the train continued on to New Orleans with a different engineer. The next day the train would come back from New Orleans, stop in Meridian where Harry would board and take control of the locomotive back to Birmingham. This was his routine six days a week, for 42 years, until he retired in 1941.

3rd Annual Convention of the Old Timers Club
This letter was mailed out to 14 of the 16 members of the Club, from the club's Secretary. It is dated April 14, 1951. A note below the secretary's name is meant for Harry - who they lovingly referred to as Monahan.

TO: Reid, Frazer, Madison, Sheets, Waldrop, Roberts, King, Riley, McCarty, Featherstone, Butler, Hussey, McAlister, Stowe.
NOTICE: The 3rd Annual Convention of the Old Timers Club will take place on Thursday, May 10, 1951.
PLACE: Monahan's Castle, 1402 South 17th Street, Birmingham, Alabama.
TIME: 11:30 A.M., to 2:00 P.M., or later.
SPONSOR: Mrs. H. C. Flemming (my great-grandmother)
You are expected; fine food and plenty of it; choice of drinks, good fellowship and lots of fun.
Kindly state on the enclosed postal card if we can depend on your presence and mail it promptly. Mrs. Flemming must know for how many to provide.
That is important!
CLICK TO ENLARGE and see the Luncheon served
Drop your worries and belly aches for one day and join together for an old time railroader's good fellowship.

J. C. de Holl, Secretary

to Monahan, who can't write (never could)