Category Archives: Arizona

In Honor Of My Dad’s 101st Birthday!

me & dad

Me & Dad 

My Dad was the person who influenced my life the most while growing up. He showed me unconditional love, even through all the craziness of my teen years. I never really appreciated him until after he was gone. In honor of this remarkable man, this blog is to celebrate his life on what would be his 101st Birthday.


Benjamin Douglas “Doug” Hughes was born in Pettis County, Missouri, August 18, 1915. He

Douglas&Lenoard - Restored - Use

Douglas & Leonard 1918

was born the same day that his Uncle who, was blind, died. He was name after this uncle. He was the 8th of 11children born to Charley Hughes. They lived on a farm in rural Missouri, raising all their food, cows and award winning horses. During the Great Depression of the 1930’s they were fortunate enough to not suffer as others did because they were basically self-sustaining. They shared what they had with others in the community and I believe this is where my Dad developed his giving spirit!

Dad at 18At the age of 15 two events influenced his life. The first was he paid 25 cents and got his first drivers license. He said “In those days there was no driving or written test, as long as you had the quarter you got the license!”  He was always proud of the fact that in all his years of driving he had only received 1 ticket. The second event was when his family was living near Lexington Missouri. He along with his brother Leonard and two brother-in-laws Mitchell and Virgil where riding in a wagon going to town. A neighbor came out and an argument broke out between Virgil and the man. This man drew his gun and shot Virgil between the eyes, killing him instantly! This haunted my Dad his whole life.

In 1934-35 my Dad participated in the Civilian Conservation Corp implemented by CCC Camps DadPresident Roosevelt. He served in Lake Tahoe, California. Here he learned to work with wood and stone masonry. These skills helped him the rest of his life. During his lifetime he worked as a horse trainer, as a farmer, as a coal miner, he worked on the railroads, as a butcher and for the last 19 years of his life he worked in the construction field.


dad, mildred, lolaHe was married 3 times; the first time was when he was 22 years old in 1937. He married Mildred Shockley and they had a son Benjamin. Unfortunately Benjamin died at 2 months old from Typhoid and his mom died 3 weeks later from the same thing. My Dad was devastated. He married a second time in 1944 to Mildred McQuillen. She had a daughter name Loretta whom my Dad accepted as his own.Mom, Dad, Bro & Sis They never had children and I don’t know what happened but they divorced sometime before 1948. The third was my Mother, Emmajane Smith in 1948. My Mother had a son, Gordon and once again my Dad took him as his own. My sister Mary Leella was born in 1951 and I was born in 1955.

We left Missouri when I was 11 months old and moved to Southern Arizona. When I was 12 years old my Mother had a mental breakdown and the next 7 years were pure hell! My Dad refused to have her committed and he took care of her even through our moves back to Missouri for 2 years then out to California for 5 years. He showed me that you don’t give up on people because the situation is not ideal. He showed strength of character and resolve that I have always admired.

Dad and my oldest son.

In the Fall of 1973 my Dad went to the doctor for a cough that wouldn’t go away. After many tests and x-rays we were told he had lung cancer. He had surgery to remove his right lung then endured several rounds of chemo and radiation therapy. He lived for 9 months and he passed away at home on June 24, 1974. He was 58 years old. This was 42 years ago and I still think about him every day. I still strive to be the kind of woman, wife, mother and Grandmother that would make him proud. I know that I am proud to be his daughter!


I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on and You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.


Filed under Ancestry, Arizona, Charley Hughes, Death, Family History, Family Search, Farming, Genealogy, Hughes, Memories, Missouri, Story telling, Uncategorized

52 Ancestors Week #9 – Mary Leella Hughes – Close to Home

Mom, Dad, Bro & SisMary Leella “Le” Hughes was born on February 17, 1951 in Lexington, Missouri. She was the first child of Douglas and Emmajane (Smith) Hughes.  Le is my older and only sister and although our relationship was very rocky she was always the closest person to me. Because of this relationship it is very difficult to write about her. Try as I might, I cannot remember one good thing about her.

Me, Gordon, Le

Me, Gordon, Le

For the first four years of her life she was spoiled by everyone. We have an older brother, Gordon, who was fourteen years older than Le. He overindulged her. When I came along she was jealous, she was no longer the center of everyone’s world.

truckMy very first memory was when I was three years old. My maternal Uncle and his family had come to Arizona from Missouri for a visit. Le, three of my cousins and I were playing in the back of my Dad’s 1953 Ford pickup truck. To be honest, no one liked her because she was extremely mean, so the cousins were avoiding her and were just chasing me around the bed of the truck. Le got mad, picked me up and threw me over the edge of the truck. I landed on a 2×4 board that lined the driveway. My right arm was broken in three places, including having my wrist bone come through my skin! My Dad and Uncle rushed me to the doctor and he set my arm and put on a cast. I was so small that I used a regular sized bandana as a sling. Le never got in trouble.


This was the first of many, many incidents that happened not only throughout our childhood but on into adulthood. Le never married or had children and she lived with our Mother until her death in 1999. Le had diabetes and had to have both of her legs amputated just below her knees. After Mother’s death she had to move into a nursing home. Le died on September 22, 2012 at the age of 61.

I struggle with writing about both my sister and my Mother, because of the broken relationships I had with them. Also, so many things happened during my childhood that sounds so unbelievable, I hesitate to write about them. So the question is how much should I write about them since there isn’t much nice to say. How much truth is too much truth? What does the future generations really need to know? So much about writing about my sister brings many things a little “to close to home”.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on and You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.


Filed under #52ancestors, Ancestry, Arizona, Family History, Genealogy, Home, Memories, Missouri

52 Ancestors- Week #3 – Ramona Salazar Acuna – A Woman of “Tough” Discipline

Tubac, AZ

Tubac, AZ

Ramona Salazar was born in the small village of Tubac Arizona on August 23rd 1898. Ramona’s parents were Yaqui Indians from Northern Mexico. Tubac is situated about 22 miles north of the Arizona-Mexico border but at this time Arizona was still a territory of the United States.

Juniper Tree

Juniper Tree

Ramona’s father Santiago worked in the silver mines that surrounded the village. Her mother Ramona Tadeo took care of the home and the raising of the children. When Ramona was just 4 years old her mother died so she went to live with her Grandmother. It is said that Ramona enjoyed living and growing up in this area as there were plenty of wide open places with rolling hills covered with desert shrubs and tall Junipers trees that grew by the banks of the Santa Cruz River that flowed past the village. The Coronado National Forest surrounds Tubac on 3 sides with magnificent views of the mountains.

In the summer of 1912 at the age of 20, Francisco Acuna came to Tubac to find work. There he met and fell in love with 14 year old Ramona. They decided to get married, but both families were against it. They said Ramona, who had just turned 14 three months earlier, was too young to get married. Not listening to their relatives Francisco and Ramona ran away to Mesa, Arizona and got married on November 13, 1912. When the family found out they all agreed that there was no way this marriage would last.

House in Randolph, AZ

House in Randolph, AZ

The young couple moved back to Tubac and began raising a family. They had 4 boys and 4 girls. One of the girls Ramona Jr, died when she was 1 month old. Francisco took work as a laborer on farms and he and their growing family began to move from farm to farm working and living in the labor camps. After many years Francisco saved enough money to buy a large piece of land with a house on it in Randolph Arizona. He paid a total of $600 for it all. The home never had running water but that did not stop Ramona from having a large garden, growing food for her family to eat. She also grew some of the most beautiful roses in the county. Their small house was always open to any visitor and every morning family and friends would stop by for coffee and breakfast.

After a few years Francisco built a larger home on the property. This one also did not have running water; it had dirt floors covered with rugs and a large outdoor stone oven. Ramona was happy and content with her life, regardless of the hardships. Those who knew her said she never lost that childlike wonder of the world and youthful fun.



In 1943, Ramona’s oldest son Francisco “Pancho” Acuna was drafted into the army. Ramona was so afraid that her son would not return home to her. Just before he left for Europe Ramona went to her church and made a deal with God. She told him that if He would watch over Pancho that she would cover her hair with a scarf and not take it off until her son returned home safely. Ramona’s hair was a source of pride for her, it was long and thick and it was the envy of others. She then took out a scarf, braided her long hair, pinning it up on top of her head and covered it with the scarf. She stayed true to her vow the entire time her son was gone. She said the scarf was a daily reminder to pray for her son and to believe that God would keep him safe. At the end of the war Pancho did indeed return home safely. By this time Ramona was so grateful that she continued to wear a scarf as a reminder of how God took care of her son, wearing a scarf every day until her death almost 30 years later.

Acunas oldOn November 13, 1973 Ramona and Francisco’s large family gave them a dinner for their 61st Wedding Anniversary. They attended a church service before the dinner and during the ceremony Francisco fainted. When he came to he saidFrancisco & Ramonas garves “This will be our last year together.” 3 months later on February 28, 1974 Francisco died. 10 months later on December 25, 1973 Ramona joined her beloved Francisco.  They were married for over 61 years, proving all the people who said these two young people would not last as being wrong.

Ramona Salazar Acuna is my husband’s maternal Great Grandmother.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.


Filed under #52ancestors, Acuna, Ancestry, Arizona, Family History, Genealogy, Salazar

The Ghosts of Christmas Past

Christmas morning


I am often envious of those who have wonderful Christmas memories from their childhood. I was raised in a dysfunctional home where my Mother had a serious mental illness and my mean older sister was allowed to rule. I do have some good memories although they are mixed in with some very bad ones. Our family did have some Christmas traditions that I continued to carry on into the lives of my own children. These are the things I like to remember.


We moved to Tucson Arizona just before my first Christmas. Living in a Aluminum Treedesert area you learn adapt some regular traditions to what is available.  Live Christmas trees, although available, were almost impossible to keep alive until Christmas morning. The air was too dry and it was still warm in December so after the first year my Dad went out and bought an aluminum Color WheelChristmas tree. Yes, I said aluminum!  It came with a color wheel which you aimed at the tree and when it was on it would cast the colors of green, red, yellow and blue onto the tree. The tree would then illuminate the room in the various colors.

Me at 5 years old

Me at 5 years old

My Mother found the Indian culture of the area fascinating and she especially loved the turquoise jewelry that was madehere. When it came time to paint the outside of our home it was white with a turquoise trim. So, she brought those colors into our Christmas decorations. The aluminum tree was decked with turquoise colored ornaments and garland. We had white tinsel on the tree. Even the lighted star at the top of the tree was turquoise. One year she made a large wreath to hang in our oversized front windows. It was an old hula hoop wrapped in white garland. She inserted a string of lights inside the hoop and covered each bulb with a silver aluminum pan that came from the pot pies we ate. Of course the lights were a turquoise color. My Dad would string white and blue lights along the edge of our flat roof and drape some inside the huge Century plant in the front yard.

me & dadInside the house we would remove all the pictures hanging on the walls and wrap them like presents, complete with bows. The large Nativity scene was place atop the Television and candles were placed everywhere.

Every year we would make sugar cookies and decorate them with M&M’s. We would then wrap them in saran wrap and hang them from the tree. Guests could remove one and eat it when they came to visit and on Christmas Eve my sister and I got to have one along with hot chocolate. We were also allowed to open one present on Christmas Eve; of course it was one that was specifically wrapped for that purpose!


I remember the last Christmas that we spent in Arizona when I was almost Saguaro Cactus12 years old. I got a new bicycle and a one piece swim suit. I put on the suit and jumped on my bike and road around for hours. When we moved to Missouri a few months later some of the kids in my class were asking me questions about AZ.  When I told them I was excited to actually have snow for the Holidays they asked about the Christmas in Tucson. When I told them about the swim suit and bike experience they called me a liar. They couldn’t fathom how it could possibly be 79 degrees on Christmas morning!

Passing along the traditions that we had while growing up is important to the cohesiveness of the generations. It connects us to the past and helps us to share our reasons for these traditions. Spend some time thinking about how you celebrated the Holidays and then write them down. Future generations will love them!

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.


Filed under Ancestry, Arizona, Christmas, Family History, Genealogy, Personal Stories, Story telling

Part 2: My Mother was Superstitious –A Month of Tales from the Dark Side

superstitions moonGrowing up our lives revolved around superstitions. My Mother had one for every occasion or event, everything from the fear of Friday the 13th to dropping a knife on the floor.  I know that my Mother wasn’t the only person to hold to these superstitions but to this date I have never met another person who believed as many or as strongly as she did. I thought I would spend this month leading up to Halloween telling stories of things that happened in not only my childhood but in the lives of my Ancestors that helped form most of my Mothers superstition beliefs or were a result of her beliefs.  I will post a blog every Friday and Tuesday and I hope you will enjoy them and even get a laugh or two out of them.

Superstition #2:  A bird in the house is a sign of death

Me at 12 years old.

Me at 12 years old.

For my 12th birthday all I wanted was a parakeet. I had always loved birds and as a young girl I even cut out pictures of birdsand pasted them in a scrapbook. My favorite was the Mountain Bluebird. When I told my parents what I would like my Dad immediately agreed. He felt it would be a great experience for me as I would learn to be responsible for the care and feeding of the bird. My Mom had other ideas. She believed that having a bird in the house was bad luck. They were an omen of impending death to someone in the family. Why would we want to invite something like that into our home? Her reasons for not having a bird far outweighed my reasons for wanting one. I was devastated.


“Red” Bird

When I got home from school on my birthday, which by chance was January, Friday the 13th, I walked into my bedroom and there it was, a brand new shiny bird cage with a beautiful blue parakeet singing away inside.  I was so happy I cried. My Mom came to the bedroom door and with a very serious voice informed me that the care and feeding of the bird was all my responsibility and at no time was I to let it out of the cage. I had a hard time deciding what to name the bird so after much thought I named him “Red”.

Over the next 2 months I taught Red how to wolf whistle, say “pretty bird” and “hello”. I realized that since I got the bird my Mom no longer came into my bedroom. It was like suddenly I had some privacy and freedom. Knowing that she avoided my room I began to let Red out of his cage and let him fly around the room. I would practice my clarinet and Red would come and sit on the end of it and look up inside the instrument as I played.

Car pink & Gray 1955 Chevy Belaire

This was the type and color of our car!

About the same time that I got Red my parents made the decision to move our family to Missouri. They put the house up for sale and it sold faster than they anticipated. So at the end of March we packed all our belongings into a U-Haul trailer and hit the road. From Tucson AZ to Independence MO it was about a 1200 mile trip. My Mom didn’t want us to bring Red but my Dad over-ruled her. So with Red, sitting comfortably in his cage settled into the back seat between me and my sister we began our journey.

Tularosa-New-Mexico-Map-SWe were in New Mexico, somewhere between Tularosa and Carrizozo, traveling through some mountainous roads when we came over a mountain incline a little faster than we should. The next thing we knew the trailer began to weave from side to side. My Dad tried to correct it by jerking the steering wheel the opposite direction but this only made it worse. I don’t know how long the hill was but we weaved from side to side almost all the way to the bottom, at one point almost going over the edge of the mountain. When we got close to the bottom of the hill we were actually facing the wrong way. My Dad decided to drive back up the hill instead of turning around. When we reached the top he stopped. At this point the trailer fell off the hitch!

It was at this point that I thought to make sure that Red was alright. I saw the cage sitting between me and my sister, the top had popped off and one side had caved in and Red was nowhere to be found. I began to panic looking everywhere. I looked towards the front seat and I saw my Mom sitting there shaking and crying hysterically. Then I noticed, sitting on the top of her head was Red. My Mom was so upset she didn’t feel him there. I slowly reached up and grabbed him placing him back in the damaged cage and placing my pillow over it.

It took about 30 minutes before another vehicle came by and it just so happened to be a man in a truck with a heavy duty jack. He stopped and helped my Dad reconnect the trailer and we were on our way. My Mom was uncharacteristically quiet for the rest of the day. When we stopped for the night my Dad helped me put the birdcage back together and he suggested I leave Red in the car for the night. When I went into the room my Mom was sitting on the bed and she told me what had happened was entirely my fault because we had to bring that D@#n bird. She wanted me to release him before the next morning. Thankfully my Dad stepped in and convinced her to let me keep him although nothing could convince her that having the bird in the vehicle did not cause the accident.

So what did eventually happen to Red? About a year later I had let Red out of his cage in my room so he could get some Red's grave 2exercise. I was sitting on the couch in the living room practicing my clarinet and my Mom asked me to play a song from the Hymnal that she kept in the bookcase. She got up from the couch and instead of going straight to the bookcase she opened my bedroom door so she could take yell at my sister to get ready for school. She then closed the door, retrieved the Hymnal and sat down next to me. I played the song and when I was done my Mom took the book and got up to put it back. I looked down on where my Mom was sitting and there was Red, dead with a broken neck! Apparently he flew out when my Mom went in my room and we hadn’t noticed. He must have seen the clarinet and decided to sit next to me so he could enjoy the music. My Mom swears that she never saw him there. I buried him in the back yard.

Along with this Superstition my Mother had all the regular ones too. You know like:

your left ear itches, someone is speaking ill of you.If your left ear itches, someone is speaking ill of you.

white horse

You lick your right thumb push it into your left palm and hit it with your Right fist for good luck when you see a white horse.

Dead potted platNever say thank you to a person if they give you a plant as the plant will die.

Do you or anyone in your family have a Superstition? I would love to hear about them.

Come back on Friday for the next installment of “My Mothers Superstitions  – Tales from the Dark Side.”

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.


Filed under Ancestry, Arizona, Family History, Genealogy, Halloween, Missouri, Superstitions

Writing About The Historical Events That Occurred During Your Lifetime

Mary Lynn Elementary School

Mary Lynn Elementary School

When I was 8 years old we lived in a house that was located on a dirt road just outside the Tucson city limits. We used to get the neighborhood kids together and play kickball in the street. One time when it was my turn at the plate, I kicked the ball and it went to the left and I ran to first base which was to the right. The ball hit a rock and bounced to the right directly under my feet. I fell over the ball and ended up with a large rock embedded in my knee. I had to have several stitches and the Doctor instructed me not to run. At school they made me sit in the office during recess and lunch because I had a hard time not running when I was outside.

I vividly remember the day I was sitting on the couch in the office when the principle, Mrs. Reineke came running into the room. She said something in a whisper to the receptionist who immediately turned pale and began to cry. The office door opened and in came several of the teachers and aides. They wheeled in a television on a large rolling stand and plugged it in. One of the aides pulled the shade down over the window of the door that lead from the hallway into the office. Everyone gathered around the set.

I heard the gasps of the adults as the News Anchorman announced that President John Fitzgerald Kennedy had been shot

President John F. Kennedy

President John F. Kennedy

while riding in a motorcade through the streets of Dallas Texas.  I could hear some of the teachers crying softly, tears rolling down their cheeks. After what seemed like an eternity to me the Anchorman then announced that President Kennedy had died from his wounds at Parkland Memorial Hospital. The room erupted in sobs and outrage. All I could do was cower back as far as I could on the couch and cover my ears. I had never known anyone who had died before so I wasn’t sure what it meant, all I did know was it was a horrible thing that just happened.

Several minutes later the room quieted down and Mrs. Reineke began instructing the teacher on how to tell their pupils about the death of our President. She suddenly stopped mid-sentence and got a surprised look on her face. All the teachers turned to follow her gaze which had fallen upon me. In all the uproar no one had noticed that I was there. She immediately came over and lifted me in her arms. This made me begin to cry, more from confusion than anything else. She sat down and held me on her lap and explained to me what had just happened. Sadness like I had never known fell over me.

JFK Newspaper clippingAfter all the teachers had left Mrs. Reineke asked the receptionist to go and get me an ice cream from the cafeteria. She then told me that none of the other children knew about what happened and that when we all return to our classes the teachers were going to give us the news. She told me not tell anyone. When the bell rang I left the office and went to meet up with my class at the water fountain outside our classroom. Remember, I am an 8 year old girl with a heavy secret. One that was too heavy to keep. After taking a drink from the fountain I turned around and informed the student behind me that the President had been shot and he had died. She was not the only one who heard me and the next thing I knew there were several kids crying. Yes, I did get in trouble from my teacher.

This was a terrible time for our Country. President Kennedy was very well liked and he had done a lot of good while he was in office. On the day of the Presidents funeral the entire school went into the Auditorium and watched it on television. Most of us were too young to realize that we were having a firsthand look at an historic moment.

I will ever forget where I was when Kennedy got shot; do you remember where you were? We experience so many Historical Moments in our lives and this gives us an opportunity to write what we see, feel or believe concerning these events. Spend some time and think of all the changes that have happened in your lifetime, think about some Major event that took place that impacted you in some way. Now write about it. Let’s all leave our own accounts of History for our future generations.


I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.



Filed under Ancestry, Arizona, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, History, How-to

9 Ways to Discover Your Religious Heritage and Passing Yours on to the Next Generation.

Park Ave Chirstian Church - Drive in Church

Park Ave Christian Church – Drive-in Church

Growing up I went to Church every Sunday morning. My family attended Park Avenue Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Tucson AZ, the one my parents joined shortly after moving to Arizona when I was 11 months old. It wasn’t until I started school that I learned that there were other churches and religions in the world and that there were even some people who didn’t believe in God at all. It was also the time I discovered that our Church was a little unique. We had one of the two Drive-in Churches in the entire United States. In 1956 our pastor made a trip to Florida and saw a Church that had built one the previous year and he decided that he wanted one. So my Dad, along with a couple of other members built the small enclosed red brick building where the pastor would deliver his sermons each Sunday. They installed the poles and speakers and it was “open for business”. My parents loved going to the Drive-in Church because they didn’t have to get dressed up and they could smoke in the car during the service. My sister and I liked it because we could wear our pajamas and read or play in the back seat. I thought this was normal.

Now as an adult I attend a totally different denominational Church. I began to wonder how our family became the religion that we were. What religion or denomination did my Ancestors choose and why? I wondered if any of them had been Atheists. Did any of them flee to America so they could practice their faith, free from persecution?  I wanted to search for this information but I wasn’t certain of where to begin. I started looking through the documents I had acquired for my Ancestors and as a result I was able to piece together a pretty good description of what religions my family had practiced.

Here are 9 of the places and document types where I found my “Religious Heritage”.


  1. Church records. This is one of those “duh” moments. Where else would you look? A lot of the older churches kept very precise records. Not of just who attended their church but of many different events. These records can have a person’s date of birth, the date they were baptized, their marriage and death date and place of burial. They also can list family names, their participation in church activities, and a confession of their “sins” and in some cases their testimony as to why they became Christians. If an Ancestor was a minister it would also include a list of the previous churches he had pastored and the places where he had preached. These records can be a treasure trove of information.


  1. Wills. You may find which religion a person was by reading through their Will. In some cases an Ancestor will leave a possession, money or land to a church. You can then conclude that this church was associated with their religion. Most Will’s begin with a Statement of Faith and by reading this you could possibly determine what they believed.



  1. Marriage Records. Listed on the marriage certificate is the name of the person who conducted the ceremony. If it was
    Marriage Record stating name of Church and the Ministers name.

    Marriage Record stating name of Church and the Ministers name.

    a priest or pastor you can do a search of that name to find out which religion they were associated with. In some cases, especially in the 1800’s they even listed the name of the church on the certificate. You can also check your Ancestors childrens marriage certificates as they may have this information on them, especially if you can’t find a marriage certificate for the parents.


  1. Death Certificates. In newer Death Certificates there is a place where you can state which religion a person is. This information is given by an informant and may not be correct but it is at least a place to start your search.



Obituary stating name of Church Rosa attended.

Obituary stating name of Church Rosa attended.

  1. Obituaries. Obituaries are an excellent place to look. Sometimes they even list the name of the church they were a member of or the name of the minister and I have found a few that give a short testimony of when a person decided to attend this church or convert to this religion.


65th Wedding Anniversary clipping states Church.

  1. Newspapers. Newspaper clippings celebrating special events in a persons’ life can give you additional information. In an article covering one of my cousins 65th Wedding Anniversary it states the name of the Church they attended. I was able to contact the Church and found records of other Ancestors who also attended this Church



  1. Cemetery. This one sounds strange but you can sometimes determine religion by their place of burial. A non-Catholic would not be buried in a Catholic Cemetery. The same goes for the Jewish faith. Also a lot of cemeteries are attached to Churches and you can assume that if your Ancestor was buried there then they may have been members. At least it would be a place to start further research.


John Page Church Plaque

John Page Church Plaque

  1. Histories. If your Ancestor was a pioneer in an area they could be included in the History of that place. I have found several relatives who were founders of town or counties so a lot is written about them, including which church they attended. You can also find the names of Churches in the area that your Ancestor lived and then do a search of Church Records in those specific Churches for their names. You never know what you may find!



  1. Family Bibles. If you are lucky enough to have in your possession an old family Bible then it may shed some light on what your Ancestor believed and what religion they were. Hopefully it also includes a list of family members, births, marriages, deaths, baptisms etc. This indeed would be a treasure.


This is not an exhaustive list of places to look but it is a start. Unfortunately, unless your Ancestor was famous you may never know why they chose the Religion or beliefs that they held.  It has been interesting to see the progression of my “Religious Heritage” beginning with my Ancestors being Catholic, to becoming Quakers, to converting to Presbyterian, then to Methodists, Baptist and ending with my parents being Disciples of Christ.

This is actually a 2 part endeavor. The first part is finding what religion if any, that your Ancestors practiced. The second part would be passing on your beliefs to the next generations. We have an opportunity to explain to our Great-Great Grandchildren what religion we are and why we chose this certain path. If you do not believe in God, this is the chance you have to let them know your reasoning for that. You can include your traditions, activities, favorite scripture or quote, give a testimony, or whatever you feel is the most important things you would want them to know.

How I wish my Ancestors would have left something in writing explaining to me the how’s and why’s of their choices when it came to religion.  So I will write the story of how I came to believe as I believe so my future family will not have to guess at it.


I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.




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Filed under Ancestry, Arizona, Church, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, History, How-to, Missouri, Religion