Category Archives: Family Search

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 Amazon.com: http://tinyurl.com/Your-Family-History and http://tinyurl.com/Genealogy-Research-Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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

Don’t Lose Your Treasure By Hesitating

gen groupOver the last several years I have been a part of many online Genealogy groups. They are a great place to meet likeminded people, learn helpful hints, receive encouragement and on occasion receive help. This is also a place for discussing topics concerning the right and wrong ways to research, document and share your family information.

 

Over the past two years I have read several such discussions on the topic of sharing your 2 people arguingfamily trees on line. I am amazed how “heated” they can become. On one side there are those who believe we should all freely share and post all of our family history online. The premise being by putting it all “out there” it would make it easier for those who may be related to find you. On the other side there are those who believe it is best to not have it available to everyone on line because there are those who will “steal” their hard work, photos, etc.

Leola & OrvilleWell I’d like to tell you what happened to me yesterday. I checked my email and I had received a message from a woman who had found me on WikiTrees. She told me that she had been shopping in an antique mall in San Jose, California and found a photo of two young children , a young girl and her younger brother. She said she bought the photo because the two were just too cute! On the back of it was written “Charlie and Jennie Hughes’ children, Leola and Leonard” and the picture was taken circa 1914 in Pettis County, Missouri. She did a search for those names and up came my tree. She was able to not only contact me but she sent me a copy of the photo. To say I was grateful, surprised and amazed is an understatement. My Aunt Leola died at age 32 and there aren’t many photos of her. Because of putting my tree online (I have it several places) I have been given an unbelievable treasure.

I hope this story helps those who hesitate to put your Family History online see there are some potential benefits to it.

 

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: http://tinyurl.com/Your-Family-History and http://tinyurl.com/Genealogy-Research-Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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Filed under Ancestry, Charley Hughes, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, Hints, Hughes, Personal Stories, Research, Uncategorized

“I Can’t Correct That!”

treeI recently reconnected with a cousin, “Alice” that I haven’t seen in about 28 years. She was so excited to hear about all of the Family History I written about and the Genealogy research I have done. During our conversation she told me that she really didn’t know much about her maternal Grandfathers side of the family. I told her I would see what I could find.

I started researching and within 3 days I received an email from a cousin of Alice’s. “Jessie” told me that her maternal Grandmother was Alice’s Grandfathers sister. We exchanged photos and information. I was able to get the two cousins in touch with each other. It was a great feeling.

That is until about 2 weeks later when I went to look at Jessie’s family tree. She had not Leola Belle Hugheschanged any of the erroneous information she had posted. You see, Alices Grandfather “Sam” was married to my Aunt Leola, my Dads sister. They were married in 1924 and they had two children, Charles in 1925 and Irene in 1930, Leola died in 1932 from Typhoid Fever. Sam then married Lea in about 1935 and they had two sons. In Jessies tree she only had Sam married to Lea and they had 4 children, those of Leola as well as Leas.

errorsWhen I contacted her about it I was told that “I can’t correct that! No one in the family knows that Uncle Sam had been married more than once. It would be a big scandal!” So she was leaving her tree as it was. I can only hope that she changes her mind about this in the future.

Pondering

I guess I have a hard time with anyone wanting to purposely keep wrong information in their tree. No matter what the reason. To me Truth is Truth whether you like it or not. I also don’t understand how this situation could be a scandal. I think it is a great dis-service to future generations to not know the whole truth.

I might be a little strange but I believe the unexpected in a Family Tree is what makes it more interesting. All the twists and turns, the surprises, the rebels and the saints give my tree character.

 

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: http://tinyurl.com/Your-Family-History and http://tinyurl.com/Genealogy-Research-Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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Filed under Ancestry, Corrections, Cousins, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, History, Memories, Personal Stories, Research, Uncategorized

“Hot Topic” Genealogy

HottopicsIt is always amazing to see how much society has changed in the last few hundred years. What is the “norm” for today was taboo a century ago and what was accepted 200 years ago seems unimaginable today. Throughout history there has always been a “Hot Topic” in each generation. Topics such as the Suffrage Movement, Religious Freedoms, Slavery, Prohibition, Wars etc. Today we are hard pressed to find out how our ancestors felt about these issues or if any of them actively supported or opposed them. Unless our ancestor was “famous” for their stand we may never know.

We can make assumptions on some of their beliefs by how they lived. Take for instance civil war battlesthe Civil War. If your ancestor fought for the North, you can assume they were anti-slavery and if they fought for the South they were pro-slavery. Also if they owned slaves you can assume that they believed in it and if they didn’t they were opposed. Some of the “topics” were not so obvious.

If we are lucky we can find membership information, letters, affiliations or other documents that can provide a glimpse into our ancestors’ stance on the issues of their day. However, most of us will never find these gems. We are left wondering if they had any opinion at all. This brings us to our own time in the genealogical timeline.  We have so many “Hot Topics” today that in a hundred years our future generations will wonder where we stood and why.

New scans15I am of the belief that I want to leave as much information for our future generations as possible. Not only about our ancestral line but also of the times in which we live. I have started writing about some of my beliefs, my stands on social issues and any participation’s I have had for or against those issues. To be quite honest I have picketed for one issue and I have picketed against another. I have participated in rallies and marches. I have appeared on local and National television, radio programs, been a Conference Speaker and featured in magazines and newspapers as an expert on one issue. I want my Great Grand-kids to know their Great Grandma held strong opinions on certain subjects and she wasn’t afraid to let others know how she felt. I am trying to be fair and explain both sides of the issues and express why I chose the side I did.

 

What “Hot Topics” do you have an opinion or belief on? Have you gotten involved fighting for or against that Topic? Think about leaving your experiences behind for those coming after you.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: http://tinyurl.com/Your-Family-History and http://tinyurl.com/Genealogy-Research-Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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Filed under Ancestry, Civil War, Family History, Family Search, Famous, Genealogy, Hints, History, Hot Topic, How-to, Memories, Next Generation, Personal Stories, Story telling, Uncategorized, Write Your Story

The “Jealous” Genealogist

jealousyI am very thankful for all of the Ancestors that I have been blessed to come to know because of Genealogy. 90% of them were unknown to me a mere 15 years ago. The other 10% were just distant acquaintances. I have spent untold hours researching their lives, writing their stories and bringing them back to life.

Now it is confession time. Hello, my name is Valerie and I am a “Jealous Genealogist”. I don’t want to be, I hate that I feel that way and I sometimes question why I am like this. I honestly am excited when others find that Ancestor they have been looking for over many years. I have even cried tears of joy when a friend broke through a solid brick wall and added dozens of Ancestors to her tree. But, in the back of my heart the jealousy creeps in.

Today I was absolutely shocked that not only did that old “Green eyed” monster present itself once again, but it did so in a ella barnett picvery inconvenient place. In Church! I know …I am ashamed; it just snuck up on me. Let me explain. During the service a woman named Ella sang a song. She and I had talked a few weeks before and I discovered that she was a Creek Indian. I was so thrilled to meet another Creek because the tradition in my family is that my maternal great Grandfather was a Creek Indian. Before she began Ella gave a little background about the song she was going to perform in her Native Creek language. It was one that her 5 times great Grandmother had sung while walking the Trail of Tears from Georgia to Oklahoma back in 1836. She explained that the dress she was wearing was one her 5x great Grandmother would have worn and she showed us her bare feet and told us that when the soldiers came to force them to begin the long walk her 5x great Grandmother had Trail of Tearsbeen without shoes and the soldiers would not let her go get them. Ella spoke with such love and respect for her Ancestors that when she started to sing I began to cry. Although I was trying to fight back the tears I lost that battle and soon my entire face was wet from wiping away the flood of water coming from my eyes. Although I did not understand one word she sang it was extremely moving.

Then it happened, the envy that Ella knew all of this about her Ancestors, not from countless hours of research but from her family passing down their stories, and it began to grip my heart. She had heard these accounts directly from her great Grandmother who had heard them directly from her own great Grandmother. I felt like the lowest of the low because I was so jealous.

We all have those brick walls that we are desperate to break through. Some of us have spent years and tremendous amounts of money on documents and research trips trying to find that one little nugget that will remove the first brick of the wall. I think, no I know that jealousy is a natural, normal human emotion that we all feel at one time or another. So I am going to stop being jealous over others success in finding their “nuggets”. Oh who am I kidding? I know I will probably continue to get jealous when someone acquires that old family diary, or when they discover the photo of their 3x great Grandparents.

I will however continue to be happy for them as well and I will be thankful for each and every discovery that I make on my hope 2own tree. Hearing about other people’s successes in their research gives me hope that one day, hopefully sooner than later, I will finally break through all of my unmovable walls. Until then just remember, when you share the great news of your fantastic discoveries there is at least one “Jealous Genealogist” out there who is turning green with envy!

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: 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, Creek Indian, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, History, Jealousy, Trail of Tears

Part 3: My Mother’s Father was Superstitious –A Month of Tales from the Dark Side

Grandpas Superstition picI 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 #3:  Watch what you eat!

My Mother’s Father was John Pleasant Smith Sr. born September 8,1882 in Hazel Hill Missouri. On John’s mothers side his roots grew deep into Ireland’s fertile soil. He had all the superstitions of your typical Irishman but he also had some that was passed down from his father’s side. Pleasant Smith was said to be a Creek Indian. I haven’t been able to prove or disprove this since he is my biggest brick wall. I do know that my beloved Grandfather had one Superstition that I have never forgotten.

John Pleasant Smith Sr and my Mother Emmajane, 1967

John Pleasant Smith Sr and my Mother Emmajane, 1967

When I was 12 years old and we had just moved back to Missouri we settled in the quaint little town of Oak Grove Missouri. It wasn’t a permanent situation but we were there long enough for me to finally get to know my Grandpa. The house we rented was only 6 blocks from his home. I would go visit him after school and on Saturdays. He taught me a lot about growing vegetables and taking care of fruit trees. I always thought some of his planting ideas were really just Superstitions. He taught me to plant anything that grows on top of the soil when the Moon is full and anything that grows beneath the soil should be planted in the dark of the Moon.  Over the years I have had bumper crops of veggies by following his instructions and I recently discovered that this is even written about in the Farmer’s Almanac. Oh well, so much for that Superstition.

rocking chairHe did other things because of his belief in Superstitions. One was if he left the house by the back door he would have to re-enter the house by that same door. To do otherwise brought bad luck. He believed that if the Moon had a ring around it then it was sure to rain within 3 days. I distinctly remember one day while I was visiting, my Grandma and I were sitting in the living room shelling peas. My Grandpa came in and asked me if I wanted to see a Yellow Headed Blackbird. I was so excited I jumped out of the rocking chair I was sitting in and ran towards the door. My Grandpa froze in place and told me to go back and stop the chair from rocking. He believed if you leave a rocking chair rocking when empty, it invites evil spirits to come into your house to sit in the rocking chair.

Although I remember these Superstitions, they are not the strangest one he had, the one that has stuck with me all these Food plateyears. It all started the first time we went to eat at my Grandparents home. We were all sitting around the kitchen table and after my Grandpa said “Grace” my Grandma and Mom served our plates. I sat in astonishment as my Grandma brought a plate with only 2 pieces of chicken on it and set it in front of my Grandpa. She went back into the kitchen and came back with 2 smaller plates, one with mashed potatoes and one with green beans and she placed these in front of him. By the time all the plates were placed on the table Grandpa had 5 separate plates with just one specific food on each one. I had never seen anything like it. I looked at my own plate. I had all the same things as he did but it was all on just one plate. I watched as Grandpa slowly ate each plate of food, one right after the other. After dinner I asked him why he ate his food like that. He told me that he was raised to believe that if you let your food touch each other on your plate that you will get sick and die. My Grandpa was 84 years old so it was easy for me to believe it too!

I decided to eat the same way; I mean why risk it, right? When I told my Mom about my decision she said if that is what I wanted then go ahead and do it, but I would have to wash my own dishes afterwards. Eating this way only lasted a couple of days. It just wasn’t worth adding all those extra dishes for me to wash!

Here are some other Superetitions held by my Mom.

find a penny

Finding a penny brings good luck. When you pick it up you MUST say “Find a penny, pick it up all the day you’ll have good luck!”

Crossing your fingers for luck or to ward off evil or to not have to tell the truthcrossed fingers

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

Come back on Tuesday 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 Amazon.com: 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, Family History, Family Search, Food, Genealogy, Halloween, Missouri, Superstitions

Charles “Boy” Combs Jr – Died of his wounds 4 years after the Civil War

Charles "Boy" Combs

Charles “Boy” Combs

The youngest of 8 boys born to Charles and Abigail (Reavis Brassfield), Charles “Boy” Combs Jr. came into this world on the 28th of August in 1843. His family lived in Indian Creek, Monroe County, Indiana. Since he was the last child and because he was named for his father he was given the nickname “Boy” and he was called that his entire life. His family was what could be considered well to do for that time period. In the 1850 Census the farm the family owned was worth 3000 dollars. Most of the land Charles Sr. had received was for his service in the War of 1812.

“Boy” grew up on the farm along with his older brothers and they learned all there was to know about planting, harvesting and taking care of all the animals. His parents were both educated and could read and write and they made sure their sons received the same kind of education.

In May 1858, Abigail passed away leaving Charles Sr. alone to raise his 8 boys. By October of that same year Charles Sr. married Anna McLaughlin who herself was a widow. Within a year there was one more son born to this family.

The Civil War started on the 12th of April 1861 and most of “Boys” older brothers enlisted quickly. “Boy” had always admired his father for his service during the War of 1812 and he too wanted to serve his country. On the 12th of March 1862 at the age of 19, “Boy” enlisted in Company B, Indiana 27th Infantry Regiment and marched off to War proudly wearing the blue uniform of the Union Army. Shortly after enlisting, “Boy” and his Regiment saw action in 3 battles. One was in the Shenandoah Valley (Virginia) Campaign, and then they fought in the engagements of Front Royal and Winchester. The 27th saw action at Cedar Mountain in Virginia in August 1862.

Colonel Silas Colgrove

Colonel Silas Colgrove

On September 16, 1862, the Regiment Commander Colonel Silas Colgrove joined forces with General George B. McClellanand his “Union Army of the Potomac” and confronted General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia at Sharpsburg, Virginia. The next day the Regiment joined forces with Major General Joseph Hookers Union Corps and mounted a powerful assault on Lee’s left flank that began the Battle of Antietam, and the single bloodiest day in American military history. “Boy” was injured during this battle along with 9539 other soldiers. Over 2000 Union soldiers were killed.

“Boy” was taken to the Fredericks Hospital to recuperate. There were so many injured soldiers from both sides of this battle that nearly the entire town was turned into Hospital Wards. After a few weeks “Boy” was able to return to his Regiment and thankfully they did not see any more action for the remainder of the War. On the 4th of November 1864 after the fall of Atlanta, reorganization took place and the veterans of the 27th were transferred to the 70th Indiana under Colonel Benjamin Harrison. On the 9th of September 1865 the War ended and “Boy” returned home to his family.

On the 8th of March 1864, while still serving in the Infantry, “Boy” married his childhood sweetheart Mary Carmichael. “Boy” never completely recovered from his wounds that he received in the Battle of Antietam. He spent the next 4 years fighting a reoccurring infection. He and Mary went on to have 3 boys of their own. William Thomas “Billy” Combs was born 17th of August 1866. Twin boys were born on 19th of December 1867. One was never named and he died on the 22nd of December 1867. The second boy was named Robert and he died on the 21st of January 1868.

Charles Boy Combs hs

“Boys” father Charles Sr. died on the 28th of February in 1866 and “Boy” was willed 40 acres of land. He began to do his own farming and raised his own animals. Finally at the age of 25 “Boys” infection got so bad he could no longer work. On the 2nd of January 1869 Charles “Boy” Combs Jr died of his wounds. He is buried along with his parents and two sons at the Combs Family Cemetery in Buena Vista, Monroe County, Indiana.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: 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, Civil War, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, History, Union Soldiers