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|Carl Ferdinand Wittichen|
|Birth:|| April 7, 1882|
in Catonsville, Baltimore County, Maryland
|Death:|| December 5, 1942|
in Baltimore, Baltimore County, Maryland
|Burial:|| Carl Wittichen plot,|
Birmingham, Jefferson County, Alabama
|Father:||Florian Otto Wittichen|
|Mother:||Catharine Ramsay Forbes|
|Spouse/Partner:||Julia Edmonia Parker|
|Marriage:|| April 29, 1912|
in Memphis, Shelby County, Tennessee
Carl Ferdinand Wittichen was the third child of Otto Wittichen and Kate Ramsay Forbes. He was born in Catonsville, MD, in 1882. His father was a fairly successful manufacturer and distributor of fertilizer. He also maintained a farm, which young Carl is supposed to have been somewhat in charge of. However, by 1896, the family fortunes soured. The fertilizer factory was closed that year. Then, in August 1899, Otto died, leaving his widow with 6 children. She turned to her younger brother, Thomas S. Forbes, a resident of the young city of Birmingham, AL, since 1887. She packed up her family, most likely sold the farm (if they had not already done so) and removed themselves to Birmingham, arriving in January 1900. Here, family fortunes would again turn upwards.
By 1905, Kate Wittichen and her family became charter members of the new St. Andrew's Episcopal Church probably due to her brother's influence. In 1905, Carl's older sister Sophia was selected to present a Confederate badge to President Theodore Roosevelt during his tour of the South. This was done because President Roosevelt had Confederate naval men as uncles and Sophia was named for her Semmes ancestors, who also produced Adm. Raphael Semmes, noted for captaining the CSS Alabama, an infamous commerce raider in the Civil War.
During this period, Carl began a rapid ascent among the business establishment of Birmingham. By 1910, he was co-owner of a manufacturing enterprise, the Alabama Sand Co. In 1911, the social elite invited him to be a guest at a flag raising at the Country Club of Birmingham. It may be here that he first encountered Julia Parker, daughter of a well-to-do Memphis family, whose sister had recently married into the long established Henley family of Birmingham. His marriage the next year probably helped to catapult him into further business success.
Two years after marrying, Julia, Carl sold out of his partnership and, with his uncle Thomas Forbes (and probably some money that came with young Julia), he founded the Wittichen Transport and Warehouse Company. This enterprise assisted Birmingham residents with moving and provided warehouse space for storage of their belongings. As the couple raised their young son, Carl saw business take off. By the end of the decade, his uncle sold out to become an Episcopal minister. The business was all his.
Business continued to do well, even as the Depression arrived. However, Carl saw an opportunity in the midst of the economic disaster. DuPont was looking to move out of distributing its new refrigerant product, freon, in the South. When Carl got wind of this, he proposed using his trucks to distribute the freon and even went so far as to send his son to study chemical engineering to better understand how to manufacture the refrigerant. The business's success continued. As the 1940's approached, the transport business was winding down and the Wittichen Chemical Company was on the upswing. Though Carl would not live to see its continued success, he had set it and his family on the road to even better things.
Carl was also involved in civic organizations. He was on the board of the Boys Club of Central Alabama and was highly involved in the development of Birmingham's Vulcan Park in the late 1930's. It was, in fact, his trucks that carried sections of the world's largest cast iron statue to the statue's new perch overlooking the city. His name is among those memorialized on a plaque at the monument.
As his business life soared, his personal life was suffering. He and his wife drifted apart through the years and Carl began drinking ("corn whiskey" mostly, by my grandfather's account). By 1942, he had traveled to Baltimore to seek treatment for ailments brought on by this drinking. Unfortunately, while there, he died suddenly from a cerebral hemmorhage. He was only 60.
Though my grandfather is the only remaining family member to have known Carl Wittichen, each member of our family has been affected by his civic and business successes. Even some of our furniture was acquired when, during the Depression, customers of the old transport company would give pieces of furniture to the Wittichens in lieu of payments they could not make. Overall, each of us owes Carl Wittichen a great debt that we can never repay.
|Children of Carl Ferdinand Wittichen and Julia Edmonia Parker
- Anderson, Charles Wittichen. Visit to Elmwood Cemetery.
- Anderson, Charles Wittichen. Visit to Vulcan Park.
- Collection of Miscellaneous Editions of Confederate Veteran. Confederate Veteran, Vol. XIII, No. 9 Nashville, Tenn., November, 1905.
- History of Wittichen Supply Company
- St. Andrew's Episcopal Church. Membership records.
- Wittichen, Carl Ferdinand. Death certificate.
- Wittichen, Carl Ferdinand, Jr. Personal memories.
- Wittichen, Julia Parker. Genealogy notes. [probably need to flesh this out]
- [need to look up publisher]. "Family History of Carl F. Wittichen." c. 1936 (in Family Files at Birmingham Public Library)