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, September 8, 2013

SUNDAY'S OBITUARY - Phillip Huber (1847-1901)

Death of Mr. Phil Huber
"Mr. Phil Huber died Thursday after a brief illness. Mr. Huber moved here about three months ago from Bowling Green, Ky.
He leaves three daughters and one son, Misses Minnie, Mayme, and Lena, and Charles.
The remains were taken to Bowling Green, Ky., for internment." [from Birmingham News]

"Philip Huber died this morning after a long illness with typhoid fever. Mr. Huber came here several months ago from Kentucky. He leaves a wife and several grown children." [from Birmingham Age-Herald; April 5, 1901]
Phillip Huber was my great-great-grandfather. Born in Flörsheim, Main-Taunus-Kreis, Hessen, Germany, on December 17, 1847, to Georg Huber (1809-1900) and Eva Katharina Fauth (1807-1875), Phil immigrated to America in June of 1867. Arriving in New York, he soon settled in Bowling Green, Warren County, Kentucky. He married Barbara Brunett (1852-1896), my great-great-grandmother, on April 25, 1871, and together they had seven children.

Phil worked for many years as a miller in Bowling Green, learning to read, write and speak English - something he could not do as was reported in the 1870 Census. By 1900 he was a Saloon Keeper. His wife Bridget had died in 1896. He had also buried three of his children: oldest child John William, known as"Willie," (1872-1898); Ida Catherine (1875-1879); and Clarence Joseph (1879-1900). Soon after the 1900 Census was taken, Phil moved to Bessemer, Jefferson County, Alabama, with his four grown children: Mary Bertha, called "Mayme", 27, a school teacher (and my great-grandmother); Philomena Barbara, called "Minnie", 24; Magdelena Hilbert, known as "Lena", 18; and Charles Thomas, 17.

Within just a few months of moving to Alabama, Phil contracted Typhoid Fever. He apparently had set up a Saloon in Bessemer, as the inventory of his possessions at the time of his death included: 5 bottles cherry and pineapple; 12 quarts whiskey; 24 pints champagne; 8 bottles Rhine wine; 20 quarts wine; 6 dozen bar glasses; 1/4 barrel corn whiskey; 1/5 barrel Apple brandy; 5 dozen empty bottles; 30 stone jugs.

According to the notices of his death (above) he had lived in Bessemer only 3 months. He became ill fairly quickly and suffered quite a while with this illness.  The disease was painful [click this link for a complete description: ILLNESSES-TYPHOID ] and which could be (but was not always) deadly. Unfortunately, in this case it  was. Phillip Huber died in the early morning hours of Thursday, April 4, 1901. He was just 53 years old. His body was transported back to Bowling Green on a train, where he was buried next to his wife and three children at St. Joseph's Catholic Church Cemetery. No headstone exists.

After their father's death daughter Mayme (my great-grandmother), still unmarried at this time, became legal guardian to her younger siblings - Lena, 18 and Charles, 17.

Typhoid Fever in Jefferson County, Alabama
A report by Dr. J.M. Mason, County Health Officer, to the Jefferson County Board of Health, stated that for the year 1901 there were 38 deaths from Typhoid Fever. The report also stated, "In order to prevent the spread of infectious diseases, the city has purchased the best obtainable Formaldehyde Generator, and each house in which an infectious disease occurs, is thoroughly disinfected by the city sanitary inspectors before the placard is removed. Each case of infectious disease is also reported to the school authorities as soon as reported to this office, and in this way school children from infected homes are excluded from school." [The Alabama Medical Journal, Vol. 14, No.5; Medical Association of the State of Alabama; April 1902.]

In 1906, the Sanitary Commission in Jefferson County recognized the need for a way for the county to enforce laws regarding its sewer system, in order to regulate the sanitation and health of the citizens of the county. Working with the Commercial Club of Birmingham, a "Greater Birmingham Commission" was nominated to push for legislation to annex surrounding municipalities and un-incorporated areas to create Greater Birmingham.

When the proposal was under consideration by the State Senate in 1907, eighty-one physicians sent the following letter to each State Senator:
"To the Alabama State Senate:
We the undersigned physicians of Birmingham, Alabama, most urgently request you, on behalf of the people of the entire citizenship of this city and the adjoining towns, to pass the King Greater Birmingham bill now pending before your body.
We are now afflicted with local epidemic of typhoid fever, and unless all this territory is put under our city government and the sanitation is urgently enforced we may suffer terrible consequences in the future from the ravages of said epidemic. We regard the passage of this bill as absolutely necessary for the public safety."
In August 1907 the Greater Birmingham Bill was enacted into law, incorporating eleven municipalities and a large amount of unincorporated areas into the city of Birmingham, effective 1909.

from Birmingham News, September 28, 1948 (p.2)
Continual need for improvements within the city's sanitation system grew as the population grew. In September 1947, under a proposal by the Jefferson County Commission, the State passed an Act which proposed an amendment to the State Constitution authorizing Jefferson County to issue bonds, with voter approval, to financially support the improvements of the sewer system, as well as to give full control to the county, without the need for approval from the State. There was broad support for the amendment. County Health Officer Dr. George A. Dennison was an outspoken proponent, reminding the public that in the early 20th century, Birmingham had been known as "the Typhoid Capital of the World" and that overhauling the sanitation system was key to keeping the city from being closely associated with "filth-borne diseases." [Click on article above right to read more] The Jefferson County Sewer Amendment passed by a substantial majority in the November 1948 general election, giving the county important financial powers that had been unavailable to the administration of the Sanitary Sewer System of the past. [The History of the Jefferson County Sanitary Sewer System; Public Affairs Research Council, November 2001]

Thursday, September 5, 2013

THURSDAY'S TREASURE - Our Family Name, Barbara

In my grandfather's Bible, my mother once found this small article from a long-forgotten newspaper (copyright 1920) that he had torn out and saved. It is her name - Barbara. A name that has been passed down one branch of my family tree - from one continent to another, across states, for over 200 years. The name was chosen each time by new parents for their brand new baby daughter, to honor a mother or grandmother or sister whom they loved. Here is how my mother, and my older sister, came to have their name.

In our family I have been able to trace the name Barbara back to 18th century France. I found the name first given to my 6th great-grandmother Barbe Breyer Bour, born June 20, 1750, in Seingbouse, Moselle, France. [Barbe is the French personal name for Barbara.] Her parents, my 7th great-grandparents, were Pierre Breyer (1714-1764) and Anna Marie Schwartz (1713-1761). In February 1770, Barbe married Jean Melchoir Bour, who was born January 1745, in Tenteling, Moselle, France. They had at least two children, including Christine Bour, my 5th great-grandmother.

Christine Bour was born January 1763, in Seingbouse. In 1801 she married Pierre Lang, my 5th great-grandfather. Pierre was born March 1760, also in Seingbouse, France. Together they had at least five children. Their oldest child was Marguerite Lang, my 4th great-grandmother. She was born in April 1802; fourth child and younger sister, Barbe Lang, was born March 1806.

In May 1821, Marguerite married Joseph Frise (1796-1863) in their hometown. They had seven sons and two daughters. Their oldest child was Barbara Frisse, born in May 1822. Barbara is my 3rd great-grandmother. Joseph, Marguerite and their children immigrated to the United States. They settled in St. Anne's Village (now North Vernon), Jennings County, Indiana.

Barbara Frisse married Jean Michael Baptiste Brunette (1818-1863) one month after arriving in America, in August 1846. They had ten children, 7 girls and 3 boys. The name is passed down again at the birth of their fourth child Barbara Brunett. Born in April 1852, Barbara married Philip Huber (1847-1901), an immigrant from Germany, in April 1871, in Bowling Green, Warren County, Kentucky. Barbara and Philip are my 3rd great-grandparents.

Barbara and Philip had seven children while living in Bowling Green, including (my great-great-grandmother) oldest daughter Mary Bertha "Mayme" Huber, born in August 1873, and her younger sister Philomena Barbara "Minnie" Huber, born September 1876. Minnie never married. Mayme married John Martin O'Donnell (1865-1937) in April 1904, after both had moved to Birmingham, Alabama.

Mayme and Johnny had three boys, including oldest son John Huber O'Donnell (my grandfather), born May 1906, and one daughter, Barbara Lena O'Donnell, born November 1909.
Barbara married Howard Alonzo Howard, (1908-1946), and together they had three children including daughter Barbara Beverly, born 1939.

Huber married my grandmother Susan Elizabeth Flemming, (1909-1999), and named their third child (my mother) Barbara Ann. My mother and father named their oldest daughter Barbara Ann, born 1958, almost exactly 208 years after Barbe Breyer was born. So I can trace our family name Barbara for over 200 years, from 1750 to 1958; from Seingbouse, France, to Birmingham, Alabama, for nine generations. Unfortunately, much like my own name which I traced back to Ireland, no Barbara's from this line have been born since 1958. Such a wonderful name....