Mondays for Me #56 ~ A Great Resource

For some of you this may be old news, but for some of us this is a new experience! I recently joined a few Facebook groups designed for reminiscing about the town I grew up in. I was very surprised at how many there were, and they seemed to cover every topic available. One was called “Retro Tucson”, another one was “Remembering Tucson” and one was “Our Sonoran Arizona Ancestors”. To be honest, I ended up joining 6 groups.

As I get older, I realize that my memory isn’t what it used to be. I did buy a book about 23 years ago that asked questions about your life. It was structured to prompt you to write as much as you could remember about such topics like “What was your house like?”, and “What is your favorite memory of grade school?”. There were over 200 questions that you could answer and then you could hand the book on to your children or grandchildren so they could read about your life. I found this book a few years ago and it has helped with my memories. This is one reason I joined these groups, they help bring back memories of places and events.

Francisco & Ramona Acuna

The bonus to these groups is one I just discovered a couple of weeks ago. In the “Our Sonoran Arizona Ancestors” group I saw a lot of people posting photos of their parents or Grandparents, and writing a short paragraph about them. Now, I personally do not have any ancestors from this region, but my husband does. I have researched his family as far back as I could. Once it got into Mexico, the language barrier and the naming practices hindered me. So I decided to post a photo of my husbands Great Grandfather and I included a link to the story I had written about him. The response was amazing!

Letter to Francisco Acuna asking for his daughters hand in marriage

Yesterday, I posted about his Great Grandmother, and I was excited to see the response and very surprised to find so many of the people asking if we could be related. In one day I had contact with and verified 6 new cousins for my husband. The best part is one of his new-found relatives have offered to help me with the research in Mexico and with my lack of Spanish. I am now anxious to join other Facebook groups pertaining to my side of the family!

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have written two books “Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time” and “Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip”, both available on Amazon. You can also connect with me on Facebook and Twitter @VHughesAuthor.

Monday’s for Me #54 ~ Bedrock City, Arizona

My husband and I have been married for over 34 years. I remember when we were dating, he told me when he was a little boy he loved watching The Flintstones. He had a crush on Wilma, and he decided right then that he was going to marry her when he grew up.

I was a widow with 3 children ages 8,10, and 15. The kids loved watching The Flintstones so there was a bonding that took place between them. After we got married we decided to take the kids to Northern Arizona to see all of the attractions that is there. One of the last stops was to be the Grand Canyon.

We gave ourselves a week to see all we could see. We had so much fun seeing Montezuma’s Castle, Meteor Crater, The Painted Desert, The Petrified Forest, Sunset Crater and all the charming little towns along the way. We finally made our way to the Grand Canyon and about 20 miles south of it we came upon “Bedrock”. Out front was the enormous sign shaped like Fred and there was a gift shop. The kids loved souvenirs!

To say we were excited is an understatement. I don’t know who was more excited, George or the kids. We pulled into the parking lot and tumbled out of car. We were so surprised to realize that it was an actual amusement park. We spent several hour visiting the Flintstones and the Rubble’s house and running through the town. George was even “arrested” and placed in Bedrock’s jail.

We drove the stone aged cars and slid down the Dino Slide which was about 2 stories high! The movie theater was playing The Flintstones show so we watched a few episodes. There was so much to do and see. George and I got our picture taken in cutouts of Fred and Wilma. The best part was the photos of me with a statue of Fred and George got one with Wilma. We ended our time there picking out souvenirs, and then we made our way to the Canyon. We had a great week.

This was not the only time we visited Bedrock. Over the next 25 years we made the trip about 5 times. Each time it was with one less kid and eventually it was just the two of us. Two years ago, Bedrock closed its doors and the property was sold. It is sad that my Grandkids and Great Grandkids will never get to experience this special place. However, at least we have our photo’s and our memories.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have written two books “Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time” and “Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip”, both available on Amazon. You can also connect with me on Facebook and Twitter @VHughesAuthor.

Elisha Reavis ~“The Old Hermit of the Superstition Mountains”~ Pinal County, Arizona

Elisha Marcus Reavis, my maternal 2nd cousin, was born in 1827 in Beardstown, Cass County, Illinois. He was the son of James A. and Mary (Harlan) Reavis. After the death of his parents when he was 6 years old, he and his siblings were raised by an aunt and uncle. Elisha attended college before going to California during the Gold Rush. He taught school briefly at El Monty and searched for gold along the San Gabriel River. He married Mary Y. Sexton in San Gabriel in 1862 and they had one daughter and her name was Louisa Maria Reavis.

Elisha went with other gold seekers to the Bradshaw Mountains in Arizona in 1863 but had little success. He returned to California but his wife refused to move to the rugged country in Arizona and preferred to live near her parents. After her death, their daughter went to St. Louis to live with some Reavis relatives.

Elisha returned to Arizona with his uncle who was appointed a judge on the territorial state Supreme Court by President Grant. Elisha worked as a US Marshall before starting a small ranch near Ft. McDowell, There he broke horses and mules, packed for the army during Indian campaigns before moving to a remote valley in 1874. It was on Iron Mountain and was high enough to be cool and beautiful in what became known as the Superstition Mountains. He was known as the “Hermit of the Superstitions” to Anglos, and the “White Devil” to the Apaches.

Elisha cultivated and irrigated about fifteen acres of land on the mountain. He had chickens, turkeys, hogs, burros, two horses and several dogs to care for. His team of horses pulled his disc and shear plow for his large fields. In 1895, He was seventy years old and was still making trips from his mountain valley farm to the small towns in the central Arizona Territory to sell his vegetables. The chores on his farm were enough to keep a young man busy, let alone a seventy-year-old man.

He hunted to supplement his diet with wild game. Early visitors to his place talked about the many antlers he had hanging around His home. He even had several bear skin rugs. These items certainly pointed to the fact he was quite a skillful hunter and tracker. Old pioneers all said Reavis had lived in these mountains for more than twenty years. The two decades Reavis spent living alone in the Superstitions made him a legend in his own time. He had been an outdoors man since the 1850s when he first moved to California from Illinois.

His acquaintance, James Dalabaugh, often checked in on Elisha at his ranch. Dalabaugh knew he wasn’t doing too well in the spring of 1896. It was on April 9th of that year when Dalabaugh was at the ranch with Reavis as he was preparing to make a trip to Mesa to buy seed potatoes. Dalabaugh later stopped by the Fraser Ranch just a few miles south on the 6th of May, almost one month later and found that Reavis had not been there.

Alarmed, he backtracked and found Elisha’s remains four miles south of his ranch on the trail. His mules were tied nearby and half starved. Reavis’ remains were scattered by wild animals. On May 7th, 1896, he was buried at a nearby Indian ruins where the soil was softer under a cairn of rocks. His grave was marked with a stone marker. He had died at the age of 68.

Many stories have been told of him, such as how he was a crack shot with a Winchester causing the Apaches to give him a wide berth after a fight in which he killed three of them. Also, how he faced a bear with a rifle that misfired. Even for the mid-1800s Reavis was quite the sight. With long, unkempt and unwashed matted hair and beard Reavis was the proverbial mountain-man poster child. Beaming small, piercing eyes he maintained a savage and even feral appearance even for the old west. Nothing could be further from the truth. Reavis was quite educated and kept a personal library at his ranch as he was an avid reader.

I have lived in Arizona for over 50 years and I have never heard this story nor knew that I was related to this man. I have lived within 4 miles of the Superstition Mountains for over 28 years! It really is a small world.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have written two books “Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time” and “Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip”, both available on Amazon. You can also connect with me on Facebook and Twitter @VHughesAuthor.

Monday’s for Me ~ Early Saturday Mornings

When growing up in Tucson, Arizona I remember I always looked forward to October. I am sure most people will think it is because I was excited to go Trick or Treating at the end of the month, or because our 80 degree fall temperatures were finally arriving. Although I did look forward to these, I was most excited about the early Saturday mornings. With the “cooler” temperatures it was finally safe to venture out into the surrounding desert.

Twice in October my Dad would pack up supplies in the car, and we would leave our house about half an hour before sunrise, and head out of town. We didn’t have to drive too far because we lived just outside the city limits. He would find a secluded spot and park. This time in the morning the desert air was always cool and very clean. As he and my mother would unload the trunk, my sister would find a place to sit and I would scour the area for wood for a fire. Usually by the time I would return with the wood in hand, my Dad was digging a shallow hole. He would then fill the hole with the wood and light it, and we would sit around it enjoying the warmth of it.

After about 20 or so minutes, he would begin to pull out the ingredients he brought to make breakfast. We always had the same thing, bacon, eggs, fried potatoes and toast. There was something about cooking it on an open fire in a cast iron skillet that made it the best breakfast in the world! After we ate, my sister and I would explore the area.

One of my favorite things to do was find an Arroyo and run up and down the slopes. They are usually dry at this time of year so the bottom is always packed with sand. During the monsoon season the excess rain water would rush through them, bringing debris and treasures. I would spend what seemed like hours digging in the sand and finding small toys, colorful rocks and on occasion I even found jewelry. At sometime during this “dig” I would conduct a safety drill. I would be digging and suddenly look up and yell “water!” and I would run as quickly as possible out of the Arroyo. This may sound strange but in the desert when water starts running through a wash it travels at a high rate of speed. Every year we heard about someone either barely escaping the flood of water, or someone being killed by it.

We would end our time there by gathering around the campfire and roasting marshmallows. I always liked mine a golden brown. We would then pack everything up and head home. I don’t have very many “good” memories of my childhood so this one is extra special to me.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, 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.

Monday’s for Me ~ Beware, I Warned You!

sagu06Back in 1960, we had some relatives come to visit us in Tucson, AZ. To be totally honest, I don’t remember who they were or whose side of the family they belonged to. I have only met them this one time, and what I do know is there was a husband, a wife, a son about my age, and a daughter who was in her early teens. So, you may ask why would you write about people you don’t remember. Well, I may not know their names but I sure remember the visit.

I know they had made their first trip “out west” from the mid-west. It20190530_114710_Film3~2 was wintertime in the desert, and they were amazed at how warm the weather was. For us, it was a little chilly at about 63 degrees. The incident I remember most was us packing up stuff to go and have a BBQ out at one of the campgrounds in the Saguaro National Forest. The campground had been made by the young men who participated in the Civilian Conservation Corps back in the early 1930s. Our plan was to cook hamburgers and hot dogs over the open fireplace and eat chips and potato salad, then spend the rest of the day hiking in the desert.

SaguaroI remember how excited these people were to see such tall mountains and the large variety of cacti that dotted the sides. They were in awe at the Saguaros that stood over 40 feet tall and had multiple arms that didn’t even begin to grow until the cactus was 75 years old! After we gave them specific instructions such as “don’t run in the desert”, “kick over any rock and look for scorpions before you pick it up” and “be sure to bring your canteen of water with you”, we headed out. All we heard was horrifying screams because his bare legs were covered with the cactus.

The only way to remove the pods is to use two sticks and grab them Cholla cactusand pull hard away from the person and yourself. If you’re not careful, they will “jump” onto you. After you remove the pods, then you have to use tweezers to pluck the needles out. It is both painful and time-consuming. Thankfully, my mother always carried tweezers in our first-aid kit.

This incident has stuck in my mind all these years and I can only assume this has also stuck in his mind also.


I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, 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.

Monday’s for Me ~ A Piece of My Heart

Broken heartI have lost many people over the course of my lifetime. My parents and siblings, a grandchild, and a husband, but none of this prepared me for the greatest loss I have ever experienced.


When I was 14 years old, we moved to Santa Monica California. Within 2 weeks I met an older boy, he was 17, and he began to come around a lot. Because of the abuse and neglect I had encountered growing up, I was desperate for love. A few months after I turned 15, and I found out that I was pregnant. Our parents got together and decided we needed to get married. The year was 1970, and being pregnant out of wedlock was frowned upon. My young age didn’t help either. I was told by the principle that I couldn’t return to Junior High School because I would be a bad influence on the other girls. My entire life changed and I had no say in it.

My Dad and his parents drove us to Tijuana Mexico, and we got married. When we returned home, my new husband went to his home to get a truck to move my things to his parents’ home. While he was gone, my mother told me if I leave I would never see her, my sister nor my beloved Dad again. So, when he arrived I refused to go with him and I once again had no real say in it.

When my son was born, I went to the hospital alone. No one came to Christmas 1970see me and when I was released, I took a taxi home. I was treated badly at the hospital because I was so young. It was here that I found out my marriage wasn’t legal because his family never filed the paperwork with the state of California. I named my son John Pleasant after the only grandfather I ever met. We called him “Pleasant” and he lived up to the name,

IMG_0015It was hard to raise a child when I myself was still considered one. We basically grew up together. Somehow, I did it and I believe I did a good job under the IMG_0020circumstances. We moved back to Tucson AZ after my Dad died. Pleasant was almost 4 years old. I started going to church, and we got very involved in it. He loved IMG_0027singing in the kids’ choir, and he appeared in many of the plays they put on. After I got married again he welcomed a brother and a sister and the 3 of them remained close. After my husband died and I gotIMG_0028 remarried, he and my new husband grew to be great friends. He was a good student getting mostly A’s and B’s. In High School, he wrestled, ran track, and played football. After High School, he joined the army.

IMG_0030When he was 23, he got married to a woman who had 3 kids. They had a daughter, my first grandchild! About 8 years later it was discovered that he had colon cancer. After having a radical surgery, he recovered and 3 years later he 1995-2was cancer-free. He had always taken good care of himself, exercised, and ate well. The doctor said she believed this is why he recovered so quickly. He JP 3 2015began to lift weights and eventually he was able to power lift 405 pounds. He moved from Arizona to Idaho a little over 7 years ago. It was hard not to be able to see him as often as we liked, but he was happy there, and we stayed in touch.

In April of 2018, he began to feel sick. He went to the doctor who ran a JP 2 2016series of tests. They thought that he had liver cancer! After more tests, they thought he had cancer of the left kidney. Then it was decided that they didn’t know what was going on with him, so they were going to send him to the Mayo Clinic in Seattle. I reminded him that there was a great Mayo Clinic here in Scottsdale and to see if his insurance would pay for him to come here. They agreed and by the end of May, he arrived. We hadn’t seen him in almost 5 years so you can imagine the scene at the airport! We took him straight to the clinic and the doctor gave us the diagnosis. He had a very rare kind of cancer called Sarcomatoid Carcinoma and there was nothing they could do for him. So he was admitted to the hospital because of the drugs they had to give him to make him comfortable. I went to see him every day and my husband went at least 5 times a week as he worked full time. We had everyone we knew praying for him. Finally, they placed him in hospice, and we were told to prepare for him to die.

As a parent, this is the hardest news you can receive. We spent as much time with him as we were allowed. I remember thinking about his childhood and I cried over all the things I believed I had done wrong in raising him. On July 18, 2018, when we went to see him, he was on so much morphine that he slept through most of our visit. As we got ready to leave, he woke up and was the most coherent we had seen him in a while. We told him we loved him and I cradled his head in my hands and kissed his forehead over and over again. As we left the room he said “I love you guys too” and he went back to sleep. He was having a really bad day the next day, so we were told not to come to visit. At 8:20 am on July 20, 2018, we got the call that he had passed on. He was only 48 years old.

I never knew a person could feel that much pain in their heart and still live. That is how it was for my husband and I. Today marks the second anniversary of his death and it still hurts with the same intensity. We find comfort in talking about him and the things he used to do, but the hole that is left in our lives feels like it will never heal.

So today I say, if you have any children, call them and let them know what they mean to you. Tell them you love them as often as you can while you still can.


I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, 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

Freaky Friday’s ~ I Feel Kind of “Left In The Dark”

freakyfridayHave you ever discovered something while doing Genealogy that made you think, “How could I have not known about this?” Well, about a month ago I had one of those moments.

I have lived in Arizona for most of my life, all except about 8 years. I 170px-James_Addison_Reavis_in_prison_clothesattended school here and learned all about the history of the state, even the history before it became a state in 1912. While I was doing a search on the maternal side of my family, I came across an entry that surprised me. I found a reference to my 3rd cousin 3x removed, James Addison Reavis. Apparently, he was a terrible person. He was a swindler, a forger, and a possible murderer. Now, I will be the first to exclaim that people who cause controversy add “flavor” to a tree. However, this person went way beyond the norm.

So, what does this have to do with where I live? He was known as the Baron of Arizona! I had never, in all my years heard about this guy, let alone know that we were related! He pulled off the largest land deed forgery in the history of the state. He “owned” all of the areas that I have lived in for 27 years. It was quite a shock. Some of the things he did were so despicable I couldn’t write about it however, I did write about him and some of what he did for this week’s “52 Ancestors 52 Weeks” challenge from Amy Johnson Crow.

If you would like to read it, here is the link:

I just find it to be Freaky that I can live here so long and not hear about this part of Arizona history and then to top it off find he is related to me!

Has this ever happened to you?


I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, 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

Newsworthy ~ 52 Ancestors 52 Weeks ~ The Baron of Arizona

Map_of_Peralta_land_grantExtra, extra, I’ve got some news!!! This week’s prompt is Newsworthy, and I was waiting for the right time to write about my newest find. Let me preface the blog with this statement…..I have lived in the State of Arizona for 50+ years and I had never heard about this story. That is until a few weeks ago.

James Addison Reavis, my 3rd cousin 3x removed, was born in Henry 800px-James_Addison_Peralta-ReavisCounty, Missouri on May 10, 1848. He was the second child of Fenton G. and Mary (Dixon) Reavis. The family lived on a small farm and owned a tannery. James had very little education, however, his mother who was of Scottish and Spanish descent read Spanish romantic literature to him. Because of this, he developed a grandiose writing style.

His family moved to a new farm located in Montevallo, Missouri about 1857. Here they opened a country store. At the beginning of the Civil War, he enlisted in the Confederate Army under Hunter’s Regiment, 8th Division of the Missouri State Guard. The war was not romanticized like he had envisioned so at 18 years old he accidentally discovered that he could reproduce his commanding officer’s signature. He used the skill to begin forging passes so he could spend time visiting his mother. It wasn’t long before the other soldiers noticed his frequent absences and his ability “make his own leave pass” and he began selling the forged passes to them. When his commanding officers became suspicious, he got one last pass, supposedly to get married. He immediately went and surrendered to the Union forces, joined the Union Army, and served in an artillery unit.

170px-Peralta_grant_document_1After the war, James began to travel, ending up in Brazil. Here he learned to speak Portuguese. When he returned to the St. Louis area near the end of 1866, he worked many jobs, including a traveling salesman, a clerk in a variety of retail stores, and a streetcar conductor. Finally, he became a successful real estate agent and after a few small deals, he saved enough money to open his own office. He soon realized that the same skills he had learned in the army worked very well in this business. In 1871, he met a man named George Willing who had purchased a large Spanish land grant in the Arizona Territory but did not have any paperwork for it. The two hatched a plan to obtain control of the land, and they made their way to the Territory. They soon learned they could make a lot of money by buying a stake in mine deeds then selling them back to the original owner.

It took a few years for Willing and James to be able to obtain or forge deeds and paperwork for the Peralta lands. James had discovered a letter some years before that had been signed by the President of Mexico, Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, that was dated 1853 and he was going to forge the deed to these lands using his signature. Willing finally arrived in Prescott in March of 1874 and filed a claim for the land in the Yavapai County Courthouse. The very next morning he was found dead under suspicious circumstances. When James finally arrived he posed as a subscription agent for the San Francisco Examiner. After he discovered that the land grant was a floating grant and touring the land, he chose the boundaries for his land. Altogether, the land was 78 miles north to south and 236 miles east to west. The grant contained the towns of Phoenix, Tempe, Mesa, Casa Grande, Florence, and Globe and stretched to the outskirts of Silver City, New Mexico.

Now he had to convince the Territory that he had a legal claim to the170px-Don_Miguel_Nemecio_Silva_de_Peralta_de_la_Cordoba land. He went to Mexico and learned of a man named Baron Don Miguel Nemecio Silva de Peralta de la Cordoba who was born in 1708. He spent his time in Mexico forging paperwork that claimed that he was a direct descendant of Miguel. He added the name Peralta to his last name and so the scheme began. However, this plan died quickly so he devised another one. James began spreading the news about a Peralta heiress. In 1877, he met a young girl named Dona who bore a striking resemblance to a800px-Doña_Sofia_Loreto_Micaela_de_Peralta-Reavis2 baroness. She was only 15 years old at the time, so in December of 1882, they were married. He then enrolled Dona in a convent school to train her in the skills that were expected of a well-born lady. He went to Tucson to file a new claim on behalf of his wife, Doña Sophia Micaela Maso Reavis y Peralta de la Córdoba, third Baroness of Arizona, thus becoming the Baron of Arizona.

170px-James_Addison_Reavis_in_prison_clothesAfter the inauguration of Benjamin Harrison in March 1889, Royal Johnson, with whom James had encountered on numerous occasions, was appointed Surveyor-General for Arizona Territory. The first thing Royal did was send a letter to the outgoing Surveyor-General and inquired about James’ claim. When the responding letter reached Royal in October 1889, it was a release of an adverse report upon the Peralta Grant. It concluded that it was a complete fraud. Royal then denied the claim. Outraged, James filed a lawsuit against the government for 11 million dollars in damages. This was a mistake because the force of the Government began an investigation. After several years of investigations, James was found guilty of forgery on June 30, 1896, and he was sentenced to two years in prison and a $5000 fine. While in prison, his wife gave birth to twin220px-Peralta-Reavis_twin_boys carlos and miguel boys, Carlos and Miguel. Upon his release, James began traveling the country trying to raise support and revenue to refile the Peralta claim. In June of 1902, Dona filed for divorce on the grounds of desertion. After this, little was heard from him and by 1913 he was living in a poor house in Los Angeles. James died penniless and alone in Denver, Colorado on November 20, 1914, and was buried in a paupers grave. Dona died on April 5, 1934, still believing that she was the Baroness of Arizona. It is said that the marriage certificate had also been forged!



I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, 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

Monday’s for Me ~ Stop Clowning Around!

File65After the death of my Dad in 1974, we decided to move back to Tucson AZ. We moved into a new mobile home on the far west side of town. In the park where a lot of families with young children. I quickly made friends with several of the young mothers and I would help them with their young children. One of these women kept insisting on paying me for my help but I kept refusing. One day I was helping her clean out her storage shed and we came upon a large box of old Halloween costumes. On the very top was a clown outfit she had made several years before, complete with a detachable neck ruffle and gloves. I guess my face lit up because she asked me if I would like it and I said “Yes!” I had always wanted to be a clown and I had even thrown together a rather ugly clown outfit about a month before and I drove to the local K-Mart and had my picture taken at their photo studio.

Within a month I had sewn large blue pockets on the suit. I practiced File108putting on makeup, which was the hardest part. I went to the library and checked out books on magic tricks. I learned several that were fairly easy but they me as clownwere hard for the observer to figure out. I loved dressing up and going to the malls and just entertaining the kids there. It wasn’t long before I was booking parties and events. My first one was a birthday party. It was so much fun that I felt guilty accepting the money for it. I continued to stay pretty busy being a clown.

File64In October of this year, I was asked to put on a performance for all of the children who lived in the park. It was to be held in the large clubhouse. I thought, “no big deal” since it was just a few kids. Well, I was in for a surprise. Not only did every kid in the park show up but also their parents and lots of the older residents came with their grandchildren! There were almost 200 hundred people there. I was so scared! I guess my performance was good because everyone seemed to love it and I got more bookings for parties.

File151Over the next few years, I entertained at school functions, birthday parties, and carnivals. I had a blast. After I got married in 1977 my husband hated it so I stopped. I really missed it. In 1986 my husband committed suicide. A few years after that I began doing parties again. However, I seemed to have lost my excitement for it. So over the next 13 years, I occasionally put on my suit. Once when I was working at a paper company they had a contest for Halloween. We were all supposed to dress up for work and the employee who got the most votes from the customers got a $100 prize. IFile26 wore my suit and performed card tricks for the customers and I won the prize. My last time I wore my clown suit was in 1999. Our church was putting on a large event and had me and 2 other girls dress up and entertain the children. Not long after that, I donated the entire suit to Goodwill.

On occasion I get the urge to try to “clown around” but it passes really quickly. I have had lots of fun doing my card tricks for the grandkids and watching their faces light up in excitement and amazement. To my dismay, none of them like clowns. They had watched all those scary clown movies and they are frightened of them. I guess I will have to just accept that I will be the only clown in the family!


I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, 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.

Thursday at the Cemetery ~ City of Mesa Cemetery ~ Mesa, Maricopa Co, Arizona

pic TATCI wanted to showcase a cemetery that I believe is incredibly open to Genealogists. It has made it exceptionally easy to find graves and information about those who are buried here. One of my Grandsons is buried here. He was born and passed away in 1997. Once I discovered Find-A-Grave in about 2004 I have been photographing headstones and trying to help the family requesting the photo to fill in some blanks.

Mesa’s first small cemetery was established in 1883, following a smallpox epidemic thatmesa cemetery entry claimed the lives of 44 residents. As the community grew, more space was needed, and in 1891, the land was purchased along Center Street north of Brown Road for this purpose. To the north of the Cemetery office is a section dedicated to “those persons unknown buried during the Great Depression”. The area reflects on a bleak period of American history when even permanent memorials were a luxury. There are a few famous people buried here. Here are three of them.

Waylon Jennings – popular country/western singer and songwriter. Waylon Jennings grave is located on 9th Street. Park by the 1st garbage can south of B Street. Walk east 4 rows of graves to find his black granite monument.

John Lee – as Wild West entertainer “Powder River Jack”, he popularized the American folk song “Red River Valley”.

Ernesto Miranda – whose 1966 Supreme Court case resulted in the “Miranda Rule”, which requires that law enforcement officials inform individuals of their rights upon arrest.

Page list of mesa cemetery 1On their website, you can access a complete list of those who are buried here. Granted the list was last updated about 3 years ago but the staff is ready to help you. Online there are 1159 pages of names! Here you will find last name, first name, date of death, the location of the grave, if there is a headstone, name of the mortuary that handled the funeral or arrangements, and the age at the time of death.

There is also a map of the cemetery that shows each section by numbered blocks. If you notice on the list of names under the location it gives a number like the following example from the last name on the list:

Alford     Beatrice A     08/14/1949     0404-1-8     Yes     Hausner

The number 0404-1-8 means the grave is located in Section #404 Box #1 Grave #8

The grave locale is highlighted on the following map and legendInkedMesa Cemetery map_LI

The yellow highlighted square is section 404 which is located on 7th Street. There are round cement markers with the section number on it that is placed in the middle of it. Once you find this section you look at the block legend below and you can easily find the grave.



InkedLarge block_LI

I am sure this isn’t the only cemetery that does this but in all my years of cemetery hunting, I have never found another one that provides this much information and location online!

Also in the State of Arizona, they have a wonderful website where you can find both birth and death certificates at Births are from 1855-1944 and deaths are from 1870-1969.


Do you know of a cemetery that has information online? If so, please share it with me!



I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, 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.