Category Archives: Memories

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

“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

Explaining Why I Refused To Be Like Them

Over the last 50 years so much of our culture has changed that it is almost impossible to remember how things used to be. If this is so for us, how much more will things change in the next 50 years? I am not just a Genealogist, I am also a Historian of sorts. I believe that I have a responsibility to my descendants to tell them how things were when I was growing up and how it impacted my life and the decisions I have made.

wpaMO320I was born in Missouri but my parents moved our family to Arizona when I was 11 months old. They bought a house outside the Tucson City limits in a new sub-division just north of the Papago (Tohono O’odam) Indian Reservation. I attended the newly built Mary Lynn Elementary School that was about 3 blocks from our home. It was a very diverse school, as a matter of fact Anglo kids were the minority. I grew up with friends of Native American, Hispanic, African American, Chinese and Anglo ancestry. We all seemed to get along very well.

At least that was at school. At home I experienced a totally different atmosphere. Both of brownie troopmy parents were born and raised in Missouri. I do not know what may have happened in their lives to make them this way, but they both were the most racist people I ever knew! Every joke told at home was racist. Remarks were made about people in the grocery store or at the gas station who were “different” from us. I was so confused. According to my parents ¾ of my friends were sub-human, but according to my experiences 100% of them were MY friends! It was very frustrating.

When I was 12 years old our family moved back to Missouri. I was in shock! I had never seen a school with all white kids before. I felt so out of place. I listened to my older relatives talk and I realized they all felt like my parents! At that point I determined it must have just been the way they were raised. I can remember one incident where an Hispanic boy started school and he ended up in my class. I was so happy! I spent his whole first day talking to him. At the end of the day I was given a note to take home to my parents. It was a warning that if I continued to fraternize with this young man I would be suspended from school! My parents laid down the law and I begrudgingly submitted.

Over the course of the next 7 years we moved first to California, then after the death of my Dad we moved back to Tucson. During our time in California I guess you could say I became a “rebel”. I once again had friends of diverse races and to my parents horror I even dated some!

me & George 1987

Me & George 1987

The reason I want to share these experiences with the future generations is I believe I learned a valuable lesson in having to make a decision to not accept my parents racists views. I understand that try as we might, we can not legislate tolerance or acceptance. It has to be a change of the heart and a love for our fellow man, no matter what their ancestry is. This stance has not always gone over well, especially with my mother. 30 years ago, after I became a widow with 3 children, she disowned me because I married an Hispanic man. We are still married and I do not regret the decision I made. I now have 9 beautiful Grandchildren, 3 of them are white, 2 are half-black and 4 are half gypsy. We are one big, very happy, loving family!

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, Family History, Genealogy, History, Memories, Personal Stories

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.

1999

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

Missouri State Fair 1968

Sedalia Fair

Me 1968

Isn’t it funny how certain sounds, smells or music can bring back a memory? When I smell Old Spice cologne I think of my Dad, when I smell chewing tobacco I am reminded of my Grandpa, whenever I hear a morning dove cooing I remember having breakfast outside at age 4.

I don’t particularly like watching television first thing in the morning. I like to start my days off with peace and quiet. My husband likes to catch up on world events as soon as he arises. So it was today. During some news story they played a snippet of the Rolling Stone song “Jumping Jack Flash” and memories from 1968 came dancing in my head.

Our family was living in Independence Missouri having moved there from Arizona the year before. They were having the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia and we were going. I was so excited, I had never been to a State fair and I had no idea what to expect. It was an 80 mile drive and I sat enjoying the scenery and listening to my parents talk. After a couple of hours we pull into the parking lot and I was astounded! There were people walking around with their farm animals on leashes, there was music in the air and you could see the large Ferris wheel located in the middle of the fair grounds. As soon as the car stopped I jumped out of the car, ready for a long day of fun.

sheep

It is odd the way most of the day is a bit fuzzy for me. I remember watching the judging of the sheep and pigs. For a girl who was raised in the desert this was fascinating. I had always thought that a sheep was a sheep; I had no idea of the variety of breeds. I can still smell the smell of the livestock pens. I remember the man who Dog at fairwalked around with a tiny Chihuahua who had a hat on and a little pipe in his mouth. Of course I have a picture of this to help with that memory!  I remember riding the Ferris wheel and the Hammer, screaming and laughing. I remember my sister, who because of her weight had to ride the Hammer by herself and she got sick and vomited while in the air. How bad am I that after all these years I still find this extremely hilarious?

Missouri_State_Fair

After my sister got cleaned up it was time for lunch. We found a seat under a canopy as my Dad went to get us hamburgers. While we were eating a band took the stage to the right of us and they began singing “Jumping Jack Flash.”  The teenage kids around us got up and began to dance. My Dad was horrified. I wanted to dance but he said “NO!”  So I sat in my seat and moved with the music and sang along as loudly as I could. I loved it.

I don’t remember much else about the day except after the fair we visited some relatives who lived in Sedalia and my Dad repeatedly proclaiming “How can they play that jungle music in public?” and “How can anyone call that music?” for the next few weeks.

Now every time I hear that song I am transported back to that sunny day in Central Missouri dancing in my seat and having a great time.

When you suddenly have a memory because of a “trigger” of some kind try to write it down as soon as you can. These are the parts of our lives that our descendants will want to know about and they will appreciate the details and feelings and descriptions of sights, sounds and feeling that go with it. Don’t you wish our own Ancestor had been able to do that for us?

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, Genealogy, Memories, Missouri, Story telling