Oops! ~ I Should Have Thought That Through ~ 52 Ancestors Week #49

This week’s prompt seems very fitting to me. I recently spoke with a cousin, “John”, I had connected with on Facebook. Although he had been on my friends list for several years the extent of our “relationship” had been responding to each other’s posts. I try not to overwhelm my family with information about our shared ancestry, but whenever asked about it I gladly share.

A few weeks ago I posted that if anyone had any stories about our mutual ancestors that I would love to hear them. John responded that he had a lot of stories and he wanted to call me so we could discuss them. I was elated! He was from a branch that I had not heard any stories from. We set up a time for the call and I awaited excitedly. We were on the phone for about and hour and I furiously too notes and asked questions. When the call ended, I got to work trying to verify some of the stories he told me about.

The first bit of information was one I had heard before. My Hughes line was related to Jessie James! I remembered doing a quick search about the possibility of Jessie being a relative, but I didn’t remember the outcome. I had already researched our connection to John Wesley Hardin and John Hardin Clements, the notorious Texas outlaws but I had never added Jessie to the tree. When I started researching I realized why. There was no way we were related, no matter how far back I went. So I put that possibility in the “no way” pile.

I moved on to the next story. It was about our ancestors, whom he named, that supposedly helped to dig up and rebury Civil War soldiers that had died and were buried on the grounds of The Anderson House in Lexington, Missouri. Again, I did some research and found nothing. I had been to this house and the museum that they had on the grounds, so I knew if I called the office, someone may be able to answer the question for me. The poor lady must have thought I was nuts! She was so nice though, and she told me they get calls all the time trying to prove some ancestors’ connection to the battle that was fought there or things happening on the grounds. She informed me that nothing like this ever happened here. My “no way” file just got bigger!

John spent about 15 minutes telling me all about his paternal heritage, how they were descendant from Irish Kings, and he told me outlandish stories about them. This line I wasn’t concerned with, nor did I even attempt to do any research of it because he and I aren’t connected through his fathers line.

Now John is bugging me about when I am going to write up the stories he told me and let the family know about Jessie James! I told him that we were not related to him, and he exclaimed “That’s what my Dad told me, and he’s not a liar!” I told him that maybe he was related to Jessie through his Dad’s line, and I told him I have never researched that line since I am not really connected to it. I tried to calm the situation down by telling him that when I have free time I may be able to look into it for him. I then told him the genealogy mantra: “Genealogy without documentation is mythology.” He understood and at least he didn’t unfriend me!

My oops moment was not thinking through the post about wanting stories. Maybe I should have just contacted a few cousins at a time and ask them if they had any information on the family. I could then, at least, give a few guidelines and explain about oral traditions. These stories can be wonderful and add a lot of character to your family history, as long as we state they are stories and are not proven facts. Lesson learned!

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, 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.

Proud ~ 52 Ancestors 52 Weeks ~ Week # 42

I have been giving this prompt a lot of thought. I wasn’t sure which way to go with it. Should I write about my ancestors that fought heroically in every war since the first English settlement was founded here? Maybe I should write about some of the wealthy ancestors I have? Or maybe those who served in the political arenas? What about those who founded towns or those who explored the wilderness, blazing trails for others to follow? Then there are those who were outlaws. And last but not least, those who tilled the soil and raised crops and provided for their families.

I wasn’t able to pick just one, so I started trying to determine what criteria I would use to measure the pride I had in individual ancestors. By now my head was spinning. How could I be proud of my more successful ones and ignore the those who struggled through life? With this in mind I made a decision!

I am extremely proud of all of my ancestors as they made me who I am today. The farmers who gave me a love of growing thing, the politicians who have spurred me on to make a stand for things I believe in, and those whose served and/or fought in the many wars as they gave me my fighting spirit! I got my curious nature from those who founded towns and roamed the countryside. Those who fought in the Civil War, on both sides, have strengthened my resolve to pursue justice. There are many pastors in my trees making me aware of the importance of knowing and serving God. Last but not least the outlaws have taught me about following the law as a way of life.

Each one of these have contributed something to my life and taught me many lessons. Because of this I can honestly state that “I am proud of all my ancestors”.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, 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.

The Plan Was…….

Gpa and Gma Hughes older fixedWhen we first start researching our Family History we usually begin with our parents or Grandparents and slowly work our way back as far as we can go. We spend a tremendous amount of time going over documents, gleaning any information we can from them. We add photos of our relatives, pictures of their headstone, and anything else we find interesting to our trees.

Then at some point, we realize that these people are not just names, birth dates, marriage dates, and death dates. They lived unique lives, had relationships and occupations, owned property, and in some cases did amazing deeds. So we begin to put together the story of their lives taken from all the information we have gathered.

All this is exciting and fulfilling to any Genealogist. We have brought confused-smileyour deceased loved ones back to life. Then we ask the question, “What about those who are still living? Shouldn’t we be recording their stories for the next generations?” Of course, we should. So most of the time we concentrate on our oldest living relative, trying to tell a well-rounded, well-documented story of their life. We feel the urgency to do this because we are not sure how long they will be with us.

Somewhere along the line, we recognize that we should begin writing our own story and that of our spouse as well so that there will be an accurate account of our lives. This way we can choose what we feel is the most important facts and events from our past and include them. We get excited that we are able to add photos and even videos to our legacy. The problem is, writing or recording our own stories usually takes a back seat to our Genealogy quest. We figure there is always time to do it, later.

listI have been actively researching my Ancestry for over 25 years. I have seriously thought of writing mine and my husband’s life stories off and on through all those years. I even began my own story about 15 years ago, but I put it away knowing I would finish it one day. I never started writing anything about my husband’s life because I figured I could always work on it after I research just a few more Ancestors. Besides, we have been married almost 34 years, and he has told me stories of growing up in a small, rural Arizona town so many times I felt I wouldn’t need to ask too many questions to adequately write his history.

Then it happened… a little over 1 ago he began to have problems remembering his childhood. The memory loss quickly spread to what he did a few years ago and then to what he did yesterday. We spent the last year having tests done to try to determine what was going on. About 6 months ago we received the devastating news that he had Vascular Dementia. He had suffered several mini-strokes, and we were told that eventually, he would not even remember my name. The worst part is, he will turn 58 years old in December! I thought I’d have more time to ask him for more details about his life, but now I can’t. I have been trying to remember all the stories he told me, I have asked his family to help fill in some blanks for me, but with 8 kids in the family, they don’t remember who did what. Only he knows the complete story of his life and now it is all buried somewhere in his mind that he can no longer reach.

The moral of all this is: You never know from day to day what may Moral of the storyhappen, so don’t assume that you have plenty of time to write your personal story or that of those whom you are blessed enough to still have with you. Don’t put it off so long that one day you too will say “I thought I would have more time!”


I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, 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.

Freaky Friday’s ~ A Lesson About Slavery On “The Walton’s”

Freaky Fridays imageYou may ask, “What does the 1972 television show “The Walton’s” have to do with Genealogy?” Yes, it featured a depression-era family that consisted of Grandparents, Parents, and 7 children. They all lived together in one house in the Blue Ridge Mountains where their family had lived for generations. This would be a Genealogists’ dream, having all of your ancestors living in one area for centuries and having your Grandparents live with you so you can learn directly from them about your family tree. But this isn’t why I am writing about the show. Today I was watching the 18th episode of the 6th season, and I was so touched by it, I knew this would have to be my blog for this installment of “Freaky Friday’s” The premise of the show is as follows:

Jason Walton and a reoccurring character named Verdi Foster are the verdimain focus of this show. Verdi is a black woman who is a dressmaker on Walton’s Mountain. She is good friends with the family. The oldest boy John-Boy even taught her to read in the first season of the show. In this episode, Verdi tells Jason about how she wished she knew more about her family. She explained that she was born in 1898 and her parents, Edward and Ethel Harris, died of TB when she was a young girl. Her older sister Alice raised her. The only thing she could remember about her family was her Grandparents’ names, Albert and Etta Harris. She had been told they had been buried in a cemetery farther up the mountain but didn’t know which one.

250px-The_Waltons_Title_ScreenJason and Verdi decide to search and see what they can find. The program went into a lot of details, but it is too much to write here. The two found the church cemetery in Scottsville and the headstone. On the stone, it gave their dates of birth and death and it stated that Albert and Etta had been slaves. Their owner had been a Mr. Unwin. Jason knew of a large home on the mountain that was owned by an Unwin family. They went to see the current owner who was unreceptive at first but eventually gave in. They were allowed to search through the attic and Verdi found a drawing done by one of the Unwin children back in 1832 of her Great Grandfather holding her Grandfather when he was a young boy. She discovered that her Great Grandfather had been brought over from Africa as a slave and it had his African name and also the name that was given to him by his owner.

The ending was about how she felt like she had found a piece of herself. She finally knew where she came from and the name of her ancestor. The ending really touched me. If you can, find the episode on the internet and watch it.

I, unfortunately, have several ancestors who were slave owners. I wrote a blog over 6 years ago about including the names of those slaves to your tree so those looking for their slave ancestors could maybe find them. I slacked off on doing that over the last few years, but this episode encouraged me to continue doing it. I just think it is “Freaky” that I would get re-inspired by an old TV program!


I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, 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.