Tag Archives: Story Writing

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 Use A Little “Wisdom”

wisdomI have been doing Genealogy research for over 20 years. When I first discovered Ancestry.com about 10 years ago I knew that it was a Godsend. I knew it was going to make research so much easier. I transferred all of my written Family Tree to the website and I spent a lot of time finding my Ancestors.

 

Fast forward to present day. On July 1st it was the 153rd Anniversary of the start of the 3 day battle at Robert E. LeeGettysburg, Pennsylvania. The Confederate Army was lead by General Robert E. Lee. When I read this I remembered that I had some Lee’s in my Hughes line and I thought “wouldn’t that be weird if my line and General Lee’s line were related?” I went searching the tree and sure enough Lee was my 4th cousin 7x removed. My 10th Great Grandfather was Lee’s 4th Great Grandfather. I got excited and announced it via Facebook to all of my Hughes/Hayes family. I posted a photo of Lee with just a quick explanation and a promise to post the linage link later.

clickA couple of days ago I started to do just that. Imagine my surprise and great distress to find that when I first joined Ancestry I had entered this online Genealogy world as a “clickophile”! As I was becoming a professional Genealogist I had gone through most of my trees and corrected a tremendous amount mistakes that I had loaded that I had gotten from other peoples trees. So much of what I had originally linked to was undocumented and not researched. I spent a year and a half going through both my maternal and     paternal lines. I thought I had done a complete job…WRONG!

I started with the linage of Robert E. Lee and traced him back to Col. Richard Henry Lee, our common denominator ancestor. Then I started going back down the tree towards me. The problem is I got stuck about half way down to my 6th Great Grandfather John Wisdom. The only documentation I had on him was his marriage information. Everything else was garnered from someone elses’ tree! AND that isn’t the worst of it. John was born in 1738 and I had his daughter being born in 1746…he was only 8 years old. Now I am having to do some intense research trying to put the correct pieces together. Here I had announced to the family this new finding and now I can’t say positively that it is true. I am totally embarrassed that here I am, a professional, yet I had this glaring mistake in my own tree. I realize that as we go farther back we have multiplied the number of “Grandparents” and it can be easy to overlook one or two, but that doesn’t make this less disturbing to me.

The moral of this story is these few points: 1) If you are new to Ancestry.com or Genealogy do not justmistakes click on those little leaves, blindly trusting that what comes up belongs to your ancestor. 2) If at anytime you were a “clickophile” you should go back and make sure the information you added was not erroneous and if it is fix it and 3) I am ashamed to admit that I should have used better “Wisdom” when I was adding ancestors to my Wisdom line.

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, Corrections, Cousins, Family History, Genealogy, Hints, Hughes, John Wisdom, Research, Robert E. Lee, 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

What’s In A Name?

Whats in a nameHave you ever wondered why a parent would name their child a certain name? I do all the time. However I am guilty of giving my children “different” names myself and I am asked why all the time. Researching my family’s history, I have discovered that I am not alone in this. I have a first cousin 5x removed born in 1803 North Carolina who was named Wiseman Fisherman Loving. I have tried to no avail to figure out why he was named this. Were his parents hoping that he would grow up to be a wise man and a great fisherman? Was his father drunk the day he was born and just spouted out the name? We may never know.

PeregrineWhiteRock

My 9th Great Grandfather born in England in 1616 was named Resolved White. He came to America aboard the Mayflower with his Father William and pregnant Mother Susanna in    1620. I can only assume he was named this because his father was “Resolved” to make it to the New World. His younger brother was the first child born from those on the Mayflower and he was born on board the ship in Plymouth Harbor. His parents named him “Peregrine”!                                                           Do you suppose the first thing his mother saw after giving birth was a Peregrine Falcon?

William Brewster hsMy other Mayflower Ancestor, my 10th Great Grandfather William Brewster was also born in England in 1567 and traveled aboard the Mayflower with his wife Judith and 6 of his 9 children. My 9th Great Grandfather was named Jonathan, a very common name. However, the last 4 children born were named Love, Patience, Fear and Wrestling! William Brewster was a Protestant who along with others of his faith had to flee to Holland to escape persecution from the King of England. Perhaps he named his children after the struggles he was having before coming to America. He must have experienced Love, Fear, Patience and Wrestling while making the important decision to come to the New World.

There are some names I just can’t figure out. Like my Great Grandmother Asenath Walt born 1863 in Missouri. Was hers a family name? I haven’t found any evidence of that. Was it a popular name during that time? Who knows?  My 4th Great Grandfather Axel Heath Page was born 1785 in Virginia. Was he named for a wheel Axel?

As for my own children at least I can give an explanation for their names.   My oldest son is

Dad at 18

Douglas Age 18

named John Pleasant after my Grandfather. Pleasant was my Great Grandfathers name so we called him “Pleasant” until he reached 18 years old and he decided to go by his initials. John Pleasant Smith was the only Grandparent I ever met so I named him in honor of this wonderful man. My youngest son is named Starr Douglas. My beloved father Douglas died when I was 19 years old so I wanted to name him after my dad. I also wanted his name to be unusual like his brothers. I couldn’t think of anything. When I was about 8 months pregnant I was watching TV and a Senator came on whose first name was Starr. I thought “Starr Douglas” …it fits! He is proud of his name and has lots of fun telling people “Yeah my Mom was a hippy” My daughter’s name is Jerusha Jane. The tradition in my family is my middle name is Jane, my mother’s name is Jane and the name goes back to a great-great Grandmother named Jane. Knowing my entire life that I was expected to name any girl I had by this name I thought of every possible combination of names and nothing sounded right to me. When I was 12 years old I went to see the movie “Hawaii” where Julie Andrews played a missionary’s wife and her name was Jerusha. Jerusha Jane I loved it. I had that named picked out for 10 years before I got to use it.

I love unusual names and finding a treasure trove of them among my Ancestors has been so much fun. How about you? Do you have unique names in your tree? Do you know why they were named that? Feel free to share those names and why they were named that with me! I would love to hear 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, Family History, Genealogy, History, Mayflower, Names, Personal Stories, Pleasant Smith, 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

The Ghosts of Christmas Past

Christmas morning

 

I am often envious of those who have wonderful Christmas memories from their childhood. I was raised in a dysfunctional home where my Mother had a serious mental illness and my mean older sister was allowed to rule. I do have some good memories although they are mixed in with some very bad ones. Our family did have some Christmas traditions that I continued to carry on into the lives of my own children. These are the things I like to remember.

 

We moved to Tucson Arizona just before my first Christmas. Living in a Aluminum Treedesert area you learn adapt some regular traditions to what is available.  Live Christmas trees, although available, were almost impossible to keep alive until Christmas morning. The air was too dry and it was still warm in December so after the first year my Dad went out and bought an aluminum Color WheelChristmas tree. Yes, I said aluminum!  It came with a color wheel which you aimed at the tree and when it was on it would cast the colors of green, red, yellow and blue onto the tree. The tree would then illuminate the room in the various colors.

Me at 5 years old

Me at 5 years old

My Mother found the Indian culture of the area fascinating and she especially loved the turquoise jewelry that was madehere. When it came time to paint the outside of our home it was white with a turquoise trim. So, she brought those colors into our Christmas decorations. The aluminum tree was decked with turquoise colored ornaments and garland. We had white tinsel on the tree. Even the lighted star at the top of the tree was turquoise. One year she made a large wreath to hang in our oversized front windows. It was an old hula hoop wrapped in white garland. She inserted a string of lights inside the hoop and covered each bulb with a silver aluminum pan that came from the pot pies we ate. Of course the lights were a turquoise color. My Dad would string white and blue lights along the edge of our flat roof and drape some inside the huge Century plant in the front yard.

me & dadInside the house we would remove all the pictures hanging on the walls and wrap them like presents, complete with bows. The large Nativity scene was place atop the Television and candles were placed everywhere.

Every year we would make sugar cookies and decorate them with M&M’s. We would then wrap them in saran wrap and hang them from the tree. Guests could remove one and eat it when they came to visit and on Christmas Eve my sister and I got to have one along with hot chocolate. We were also allowed to open one present on Christmas Eve; of course it was one that was specifically wrapped for that purpose!

 

I remember the last Christmas that we spent in Arizona when I was almost Saguaro Cactus12 years old. I got a new bicycle and a one piece swim suit. I put on the suit and jumped on my bike and road around for hours. When we moved to Missouri a few months later some of the kids in my class were asking me questions about AZ.  When I told them I was excited to actually have snow for the Holidays they asked about the Christmas in Tucson. When I told them about the swim suit and bike experience they called me a liar. They couldn’t fathom how it could possibly be 79 degrees on Christmas morning!

Passing along the traditions that we had while growing up is important to the cohesiveness of the generations. It connects us to the past and helps us to share our reasons for these traditions. Spend some time thinking about how you celebrated the Holidays and then write them down. Future generations will love them!

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, Arizona, Christmas, Family History, Genealogy, Personal Stories, Story telling

Please, Don’t Write My Obituary!

Raymond Eugene "Gene" Smith Obituary 1989

Raymond Eugene “Gene” Smith Obituary 1989

This really seems like an odd request doesn’t it? If one is not written how else will people know when I leave this world? In most newspapers and even online they list the names of those who recently passed away and maybe a line or two telling a persons age and which funeral home will be handling the service. For me, this would be all I would want. Now the question may arise “WHY?”

As I search through the information I have found concerning my Ancestors I have discovered quite a few obituaries. Although most of them speak highly of the dearly departed there usually isn’t much else written about them.  Yes, some list the names of children and grandchildren or possibly an occupation or a club membership but when you think about the person’s life was that all there was?

My Uncle Gene lived for 72 years. In his obituary it sums up his life this way…died in Oak Grove Missouri, born in Napoleon

Uncle Gene and his well trained dog "Tiny".

Uncle Gene and his well trained dog “Tiny”.

Missouri, married, 5 children, 23 grandchildren, 5 great grandchildren, one remaining sibling (my mother) and that he was a retired carpenter. That’s it, just one small paragraph to cover an entire lifetime!  Nowhere does it tell that he used to raise Chinchillas in his basement on the large farm that he owned just outside of Oak Grove MO. He grew many crops very successfully, raised cows, horses and chickens. He was an avid hunter and fisherman. He loved animals and he could train any dog.  He loved to read and tell jokes. He was very artistic, not only with his wood carvings but with painting on canvas. He was a friend to everyone and he was a well thought of man in his town. He was also someone you didn’t want to get mad at you! He developed diabetes and at the age of 68 had to have his right leg amputated just below the knee.  You would never know any of this or any of the other great things he did by looking at his obituary.

So, “Please Don’t Write My Obituary”. Instead, I will write my life story and include all the things I want future generations to know about me. The good, the bad and yes even some of the ugly. So this is my mission, to sit and contemplate all the events in my life and to decide what to include and what to leave out. I will dig through my picture box and find pictures to enhance my stories. I can share some of the hard lessons that I have learned. Most importantly, I will share it all from my heart.

Challenge

Will you join me by beginning your own mission to leave behind more than just an Obituary? If you haven’t started writing your own life story yet, today is a good day to start.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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Filed under Ancestry, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, Missouri, Personal Stories