Category Archives: Story telling

The Importance of Family Interviews

We moved to our new house a little over 3 months ago. I have been slow to get some things unpacked so I thankfulmade the decision a month ago that I would get my stored Genealogy research out of the shed and put it away. Of course, you know how that went. Once I got it all in the house I HAD to take a look at it and I spent hours browsing. Lo and behold, I found something a cousin gave me almost 10 years ago when I visited her on a trip to Missouri.

Rosie and baby

Rosie Hayes

One of our cousins, John Duane Willard had the foresight to interview the last living child of my Great Grandparents Hamilton Hayes and Elvira Register, Rosa “Rosie” Lucille Hayes (1901-1988). The interview took place shortly before her death so she was about 87 years old. She gave information on the family and told some great stories. Because of her age, some of the facts were off a bit but it inspired me to take a closer look.

                                                                                                                         

Elisia Jane White Register pic

Eliza White

Since she provided information on both my Hayes and Register lines I have had fun with the research. Reading through the two paged typed transcript I noticed a few things I didn’t see the first time I read it. One discovery was that Elvira’s mother Eliza Jane White had lived to be 99 years and 9 months old! It also listed her two siblings which I never knew of. Eliza has been one of my brick walls, so because of this interview, I now have vital information to work with. I have found her Grandparents information and I am working on finding more. I was also able to add two more generations to the Hayes side.

Matthew Arvin Register pic THIS ONE

Mathew Register

The stories are insightful as well. From what she said Mathew Register, Elvira’s father was quite a character. He transported horses, cattle, and supplies from St. Joseph Missouri to the Cherokee Strip in eastern Kansas. After years of doing this, he established a career as a vocal music teacher. He was supposed to have had an exceptional singing voice. He grew tobacco and Hemp on his farm. As an old man, he owned an apple orchard near Hodge Missouri. He raised Golden Seal apples and ginseng root. Rosie helped him wash the root so they could be sold to the public.

All this (and the other information given) would have been lost to ours and future generations if John hadn’t taken the time to sit with Rosie and write down her stories. I believe so much of our history is gone forever because we didn’t listen to the stories or information told to us as we grew up or that we have neglected to ask someone what they remember about the family while there was still time. I interviewed my in law’s a few years ago while working on my husbands’ Genealogy. I taped it so I could hear it, again and again, to make sure I got it right. Almost 3years ago my father-in-law was killed in an auto accident and I am thankful that I have his stories recorded for future generations.

I have decided that I am going to be more diligent with my seeking out the older generation that is left in my family to see what they may have been told or what they remember about our Ancestors. As we all know, tomorrow is not guaranteed so we need to do it while there is still 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.

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Filed under Ancestry, Brick Walls, Cousins, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, Hayes Family, Hughes, Interviewing, Memories, Missouri, Register Family, Story telling, Uncategorized

Writing About Your Ancestors

listWhen I first began researching my family history, somewhere in the back of my mind I believed that one day I would finish my search. I know I thought that 20+ years ago. Planning that after I finished the research, I could start writing the stories of my ancestors. Today I know that I am nowhere near the end of my family history. I have always had the desire to put together a book with these stories to pass on to my Grandchildren. How should I start?

Waiting is a mistake. Looking through our trees we can see so many Ancestors we want to write about but thinking about that prospect is overwhelming. There may be lots of material to glean from but who should you start with? Should you do it in order, current to ancient? How much or how little information should you include?

So, how do we even begin? Here are some hints I have been using that may help.

straight line

1, Since there is not just one straight line stretching back to an original ancestor, you can actually start anywhere. There are many trees and branches to choose from. Where you begin and with whom you write about is up to you.

I started with my Maternal Great Grandparents. My Great Grandpa ends his line. I can find no information on his birth or death, only his marriage to my Great Grandma and the birth of my Grandpa. However, I have a few stories that I heard about him while growing up and I wrote about those. If I find anything in the future about him, I can always add it. My Great Grandma was a different case. Her lineage goes back to my 11th Great Grandfather born ABT 1606 in Uxenden, Middlesex, England.

2, Don’t stress over writing a perfect story. Just start writing down what you know about your ancestor. Basically, just get it on paper. You can always go back and fill in information, make corrections and add details.

As the author of 3 books, I know the struggle with trying to write something that is presentable. Over the last 5 years I discovered that if I just write what comes to me, I at least have something to work with. Editing, grammar, spelling, rewriting, etc. can be done when the writing is finished.

time3. Don’t get caught in the belief that you don’t have time to write a story. Everyone makes time for the things that are important to them. You can begin with setting aside 30 minutes during your day to sit down and write.

I know with the responsibilities of life it is sometimes hard to fit anything into our schedules. But like everything else, if you really want to do it then you will find the time.

4. It is okay to write a partial story. If you begin writing about one of your ancestors and you find you don’t feel like what you are writing isn’t interesting, then it is okay to stop writing. You can save what you do have and return to it at a later time, This allows you to approach it with a new perspective and perhaps some additional research.

5. If you are so inclined, include some historical context to your stories. You can write about what life may have been like during their lifetime, a short history of the area they lived in or some event that happened in the world at that time.

6. In writing stories of your family history, it is important not to forget about yourself! Byabout-me the time your children or grandchildren read what you have written, you will have become one of those “ancestors”. It would be such a great gift to have an accurate, first-hand account of your life to pass on. You may include anything you feel you would like your descendants to know about you and your life. In other words, the good, the bad and the ugly.

About 10 years ago I read a book about writing your own story, In it was ideas of what to write. Things like “tell me about your elementary school days”, “what did you like to do in your spare time or “what hobbies did you have” and “what type of pets did you have growing up”. These were great to get the mind thinking and you only had to write about one aspect of your like at a time. You didn’t have to put it in chronological order or stress over little details.

The reason for this blog is to encourage you to write those stories about your ancestors. Not all of us have been blessed by someone else taking the time to do it. It would be a great legacy to pass on to future generations. I know I would have loved for some ancestor of mine to have preserved some stories that I could read.

 

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, Family Search, Genealogy, Hints, How-to, Memories, Story telling, Uncategorized, Write Your Story

The Truths You Find While Researching Genealogy

The family 1966

Growing up my parents didn’t talk much about our family history. I heard a few stories from my Mother but none whatsoever from my Dad. I didn’t get curious about my family until after my Mother died and by then it was too late to ask the questions I had.

I had always been told that my Mother and Dad had each been married before they themselves had gotten married. My Mother said she had been married twice before. She told me her first husband had died from typhoid fever and her second husband has killed in a house fire while she had gone out shopping.

Truth #1: My Mother married to Earl Joseph Wilson on September 4, 1936. My half-brother was born in April 1937. This is where the information stopped. However, after much research I discovered that Earl Joseph Wilson had served in WWII in the army, he also moved to Dayton Ohio after the war and he passed away there on December 23. 1993. So much for Typhoid Fever.                                                                                                  George C Liermans' Death

Truth #2: She married George C. Lierman on July 19, 1940. On May 14, 1948 George did indeed die in a house fire along with 1 of his step-sons. The newspaper article stated his wife Grace had gone to the store and the kerosene stove exploded shortly afterwards. No mention of my Mother. George and Grace were married in 1946 so apparently he and my Mother had been a divorce prior to that.

Truth #3: My maternal Grandfather’s second wife died February 4, 1948. In her obituary it lists her step-children, John P Smith; Raymond Smith; Mrs. Otto Claxton and Mrs. Ike Cook. My Aunt Mary was married to Otto so who was Mrs. Cook. Of course, it had to be my Mother. There was never a mention of her 3rd marriage the entire time I was growing up!

I had been told that my Dad had been married once before and he and his wife Mildred had 2 daughters. Mildred and the two young girls died of Scarlet Fever.

Dad Mildred 1 MLTruth #1: My Dad married Mildred Shockley November 20, 1937. He was 22 and Mildred was just 17. On February 28, 1938, 3 months after getting married my half-brother Benjamin was born. I never knew I had another brother as I only discovered this about 8 years ago! Benjamin died on May 12, 1938 from Pneumonia. Mildred died on June 12, 1938, also of Pneumonia.

 

Dad Mildred Loretta

Truth #2: In March 1944 he married Mildred McQuillen Young who had a 2-year-old daughter. They never had any children. They had to have gotten divorced because both were remarried in 1948. Mildred died on December 5, 1981 not of Scarlet Fever. The young girl died in 2008.

 

I will never know the reason behind my Mother not telling me the truth about their lives. Maybe it was just during that era it was frowned upon to be divorced or married more than once. I also wonder why I was never told about my baby brother who died so young. All I know is I am more determined than ever to leave behind an accurate account of my life, yes even the unflattering things, for my descendants.

Have you uncovered any “untruths” in your linage? I would love to hear about them.

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, Documentation, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, History, Hughes, Marriage, Memories, Mistakes, Personal Stories, Research, Smith, Story telling, Truth, Uncategorized

This Is So Frustrating!

FrustratedHave you ever been frustrated trying to find information on a critical ancestor? I have. I am also surprised that I can find 10+ documents/sources on an ancestor who came to America in the early 1600’s but I can only find 3 on my Great Grandfather who was born February 14, 1853 in Hazel Hill, Missouri. Oh, but his wife, my Great Grandmother, has over 20 documents/sources!

I have been searching for information on Pleasant (Plesent) Smith for over 20 years. pleasant ml 2Here is what I have found thus far. He married Sarah Jane Page (McDowell, Farris/Parris) on April 13, 1882. She had been married twice before Pleasant and once after. My Grandfather, John Pleasant Smith was born September 8th, 1882 so apparently, she was pregnant before they got married. I have John’s Social Security Application and he states that Plesent and Sarah were his parents and it has their dates of birth. I also have a Census Record which I will explain about later.

I can find no birth or death records. In John’s 1920 Census he states his Father was born in Texas. I know this information can vary depending on who answered the door and gave the it. So, there is no proof of where he was born. In my baby book the date and place of birth was given as stated above but again no solid proof.

The legend or oral history passed down from my Mother was that Pleasant was a Creek Indian. He had deserted his tribe and married Sarah. Sometime after the marriage some of the tribesmen found him, killed him and dismembered his body. They then placed the parts on the railroad tracks, so it would appear the train ran over him. A gentleman found the body before the train came. This occurred sometime between 1882 and before 1894. My Mother also told me that some after Sarah married her last husband James Newhouse in 1894 that Sarah got a letter from the Creek Tribe addressed to Chief (she couldn’t remember the name). She said Sarah sent the letter back unopened. Does this prove that he was Creek Indian? I don’t think so.

census 2On Sarah’s marriage license to James it lists her last name Parris/Farres. So where is the name Smith? This brings me to the Census record I mentioned above. In the 1870 Census it has a Pleasant Parris working on the farm of Norman Wyckoff in Lincoln, Putnam, Missouri. He was 17 years old same as my Pleasant. The last name matches the marriage license. So, could it be that this is my Pleasant?

Does anyone have any wisdom, ideas or good advice of where I can go from here? No wonder my hair is turning white and I am getting black rings under my eyes.

 

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, Creek Indian, Death, Documentation, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, History, Marriage, Missouri, Native American, Page Family, Personal Stories, Pleasant Smith, Research, Sarah Jane Page, Story telling, Uncategorized

Another Internet Surprise

computer-image-ort-hiOnce again, the internet, specifically Facebook has helped me to fill in some holes in my Family History. I wrote a blog ( tinyurl.com/y8c99wur  ) 3 years ago about my Aunt Nellie whose husband was murdered in Lexington Missouri in 1930. I had tried to do research before I wrote it but there wasn’t much information available. My sources were a newspaper article and the story told me by a cousin. Yesterday, I received a message on my Authors Facebook page and I was astounded!

The Great Grandson of the man, Irvan Menaugh who murdered my Uncle Virgil, sent meLexington MO Courthouse information about it and the trial. He told me stories he had heard from his Dad and from a Grandson of Irvan. He even took the time to give me the dates and the outcomes of the proceeding trails associated with the murder. There are still a lot of questions about the entire case, ones like “Why wasn’t Irvan convicted of this murder?”, “Where are the missing court records?” and “Was the presiding judge bribed with a land deal to find Irvan not guilty?” I plan on writing a new blog on this new information and maybe more facts can be found.

I have read a lot of arguments between Genealogists about whether to allow our Family Trees to be seen by the public and to limit the information we use in our Blogs or to make it all public. I understand both sides, the pros, and cons etc. All I know is several times, because of a Blog I have received vital pieces of information I needed to fill in the gaps. 20 years ago, when I first started researching my Family History this could never happen. I would have never known this kind gentleman even existed. My advice is to use the internet to its fullest extent, reaching out to others with any information you may have or to ask others if they have additional information that could help in your research. All I know is I am so thankful to the generous Genealogy Community.

Have you had someone contact you with much need information about an Ancestor because of the internet?

 

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, Death, Facebook, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, History, Hughes, Lexington MO, Memories, Missouri, Personal Stories, Research, Story telling, Uncategorized

Including Family Traditions

In Genealogy circles the term “traditions” means oral accounts of usually unsubstantiated stories of our family history. An example of this is my Great Grandfather Pleasant Smith. According to the information written in my baby book he was born on February 14, 1853 in Hazel Hill, Johnson County, Missouri. I have not been able to find any documentation to prove this other than this entry. He married Sarah Jane Page on April 13, 1882 in Lafayette County, Missouri. I have found this record. My Grandfather, John Pleasant Smith was born September 8, 1882. I have records for this.  My Great Grandmother Sarah married James Newhouse on February 27, 1894. I have this record. What happened to Pleasant Smith? There is no record of him after the birth of his son. Sometime between this and Sarah’s new marriage he disappeared.

The Tradition in our family is that he was a Creek Indian in a high position in the tribe. He deserted the tribe and lived in hiding from them. Sometime after my Grandfather was born members of that tribe found him, murdered him, cut him into pieces and placed his remains on the railroad track. They did this shortly before the train was to come by. Someone found his body before the train came. Supposedly a few years after this occurred Sarah received a letter addressed to Pleasant which included the name of the position he held among the tribe. She never opened the letter and sent it back to the sender.

I have no proof that this Tradition ever happened. So, the question is, do I include this in my Family History or just pass it on orally like it was given to me? I have decided that, although I love genealogy and enjoy the research it entails, I need to be honest with myself that no one else in my immediate family has any interest (yet) in it. I often wonder if this tradition may pass away with me.

As a result, I am now including all the family traditions I have heard of. I write out the story as completely as I can and then include all documentation I have on this particular person. I make sure that anyone reading it will understand that further research needs to be done to make it a “fact”. Who knows, many years from now one of my Grandchildren may discover proof of this and my recording the story helped them find 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, Brick Walls, Creek Indian, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, Hints, Memories, Missouri, Personal Stories, Pleasant Smith, Research, Sarah Jane Page, Story telling, Uncategorized

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