By Tom McGehee, Museum Director of the Bellingrath Home
Although Walter and Bessie Bellingrath had no children of their own, they were richly blessed to be an important part of the lives of their many nieces and nephews.
In 1976, Suzanne Bellingrath von Gal presented Bellingrath Gardens and Home with a large framed photograph of her wedding taken 35 years earlier in Montgomery, Ala. With the photograph came this note from Mrs. von Gal:
My memories of us together at Ann Street and “The Big House” are too great to explain. Plus the memories of Bell Camp. Uncle Walter and Daddy (William Bellingrath 1868-1937) were very close and “deviled” each other to no end. I wish Frank (Woodard) was alive to tell you all they did to each other — terrific — you’d never believe it!
It (the photograph) is the only one I have. But Uncle Walter was so much like a father to me as I grew up – our love was so great – I don’t want it tucked away. I know you can understand my feeling.
Fondly, “Me” (S.B.vG)
Mrs. von Gal included the following information about the participants, from left to right:
John Norman Albritton
Jean Bellingrath Albritton (his wife and sister of bride)
General Harold H. Vreeland (uncle of groom)
Donald R. von Gal (brother of groom)
Uncle Walter Bellingrath (who gave the bride away)
2nd Lt. Air Force George Edward von Gal Jr. (groom)
Suzanne Bellingrath von Gal (bride)
Dr. Robert H. McCaslin (minister, First Presbyterian Church, Montgomery, Ala.)
Dr. Haywood Bartlett
Elmore Bellingrath Bartlett (his wife and sister of bride)
John Crosby von Gal (brother of groom)
Haywood Bellingrath Bartlett
Elmore Bellingrath Bartlett
John Albritton was a casualty of the Cocoanut Grove fire in Boston, which took place on the night of November 28, 1942, in which 492 people were killed. The couple had two children: John Jr. and Jean. In 1945, Mrs. Albritton remarried McMillan Lane and had four children: Mary, Sarah, William and Dorothy.
Suzanne and George Edward von Gal had four children: Marjorie, George Edward, III, William Bellingrath, and Suzanne Bellingrath von Gal.
The children in the photograph are now Dr. Haywood Bartlett and Elmore Bartlett Inscoe, who currently serves as a trustee of the Bellingrath-Morse Foundation.
This photograph, which was given to Bellingrath Gardens and Home, is far from being “tucked away.” It is displayed in the Entrance Building for our guests.
Walter and Bessie Bellingrath had numerous siblings and enjoyed hosting many family gatherings at Belle Camp during their happy years there. The von Gal wedding is just one example of the childless couple’s love of family ties.