Catharine Ramsay Forbes (1853-1927)

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Catharine Ramsay Forbes
Sex: Female
Birth: December 29, 1853
Fall Hill Plantation,
Fredericksburg, Virginia
Death: April 9, 1927
in Birmingham, Jefferson County, Alabama
Burial: Carl Wittichen plot,
Elmwood Cemetery,
Birmingham, Jefferson County, Alabama
Father: John Murray Forbes
Mother: Mary Elizabeth Semmes
Spouse/Partner: Florian Otto Wittichen
Marriage: November 12, 1878
in Warrenton, Fauquier County, Virginia

         Kate Ramsay Forbes was born to John M. and Mary Elizabeth Semmes Forbes. Though I know little of her early days, her parents were well off, so she had no real troubles and probably enjoyed many things most people did not get to. In the American Historical Register of 1895, she records that, as a girl of 6, she was present at a dinner in 1860 at her parents' home of Innes Hill at which they entertained guests, including Sen. Bright and the Warrenton Bar. At this dinner, her father brought out a suit of clothes once owned by George Washington and allowed his guests to try them on. They were all very ridiculous looking but everyone had a great time with much laughter. This suit and a history written by Kate's father was located at Mount Vernon in 1895. This incident is all I have of her early life.

         As a young woman of 24, she married German immigrant Otto Wittichen, a supplier of fertilizer from the next county. Within a few years, they moved to Catonsville, near Baltimore, MD, where he continued his business. In 1890, she took in her mother after her father's death, but she only lived a few months. Otherwise, all seemed fine until 1896, when the fertilizer factory was shuttered. Three years later, her husband died and she moved to Birmingham, AL to live near her brother.

         In 1905, she and her children became charter members of the new St. Andrew's Episcopal Church. They still needed to take in boarders to help pay costs, but things were looking up. She took a trip abroad to her husband's native Germany in 1910. Her son Carl's business interests became successful and the family became more prominent. Kate even became the second president in the history of Birmingham's Children's Hospital. She lived out her days usefully and my grandfather described her as a "great lady".


Name Birth Death
Children of Florian Otto Wittichen and Catharine Ramsay Forbes

Paulina Forbes Wittichen September 1, 1879
Wayside, Prince William County, Virginia
June 5, 1943
Birmingham, Jefferson County, Alabama

Sophia Semmes Wittichen November 6, 1880
Wayside, Prince William County, Virginia
March 18, 1964
Mobile, Mobile County, Alabama

Carl Ferdinand Wittichen April 7, 1882
Catonsville, Baltimore County, Maryland
December 5, 1942
Baltimore, Baltimore County, Maryland

Florian Otto Wittichen October 7, 1884
Catonsville, Baltimore County, Maryland
June ??, 1971
Memphis, Shelby County, Tennessee

Kate Ramsay Wittichen March 11, 1886
Catonsville, Baltimore County, Maryland
July 31, 1887
Catonsville, Baltimore County, Maryland

Murray Forbes Wittichen July 25, 1887
Catonsville, Baltimore County, Maryland
January 22, 1971
Coral Gables, Miami-Dade County, Florida

George Moller Wittichen March 17, 1889
Catonsville, Baltimore County, Maryland
June 10, 1962
Calgary, Alberta, Canada



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