The Plan Was…….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on 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 ~ When A Lie Becomes A Truth

Howard Hughesfreaky-fridayWhen I was a young child, I sometimes wished my last name wasn’t Hughes. During this time Howard Hughes was a very popular guy. Not just for his being a well*respected business magnate, investor, record-setting pilot, engineer, film director, and philanthropist, known during his lifetime as one of the most financially successful individuals in the world, but also for his eccentric behavior and reclusive lifestyle.  The eccentric part always seemed to get the most attention.

I remember when I was about 8 years old my dad would drive my sister and me to the YMCA for Saturdays “kids only” swimming. He would drop us off and come back 2 hours later to take us home. We did this all year round because the winters were mild. We were one of the few kids that came every weekend, so there were always new kids there. My sister couldn’t tell the truth to save her life. No one, with the exception of my mother, believed her when she talked. Because my sister, at the age of 12 weighed 200 lbs and she was allowed to bully and abuse me, I found it was easier and safer to participate in her lies than to contradict her.

le & me
My Sister on the left, me on the right


One of her favorite ones was to tell people that we were related to Howard Hughes. We called him “Uncle Howie”. I usually didn’t talk much. My “job” was to just back up her lies. I have to tell you, some of the stories she told about us and Uncle Howie were so far out there I couldn’t see how anyone would believe them. Of course, she was talking to kids between the ages of 6 and 12. However, I could tell by the look on some of their faces that they knew what she said wasn’t true and I would be so embarrassed.

Fast forward to 2020. My husband and I watched a documentary about “Uncle Howie” and he asked me if I thought we could be related. I laughed and said, “Not very likely!” Well, that planted the little seed in my head so for the last 3 weeks, I have been doing research on him, seeing if any of the dots connected. A couple of days ago I ran that line through all the dots, and I found that we are related. Very, very distantly but close enough to consider him “kin”.

My sister passed away 8 years ago, but I think she would have been amazed that her lies had become truth. This was really a “Freaky” find.




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 ~ My “Hairless” Childhood


I remember when I had my daughter, I imagined all of the ways I would be able to fix her hair. Ponytails, curls or being long and beautiful. Unfortunately, she turned out to be my only bald baby. Her hair didn’t grow much until she was about 4 years old. I felt cheated! Why would I make such a big deal out of this? Well, growing up all I wanted was long hair. However, my mother had other ideas.

A lot of babies have short hair right after they are born and I was no exception. As the years progressed my hair never got much longer. Not because it wouldn’t grow, but because my mother insisted that me having long hair was too much of a bother for her. She had my sister and her hair to deal with. So growing up I usually had the shortest hair in my classes at school. I always wanted to be able to have my hair blow in the wind. Or to put it in a ponytail. Or to just look like a girl. I got teased a lot at school. Kids would say I was a boy wearing a dress. Some of the boys would stand next to me measuring their hair length against mine and most of the time mine was shorter. In the sixties the pixie cut was in style, but so was the long, luxurious hair. 90% of the girls I knew had long hair and that made things worse for me. The following is a snippet of my “hairless” childhood!



1 yo 2         bathing beauty 2               5 yrs old photo booth 2

1 year old.            3 years old Beauty queen LOL.        4 years old. 


rodeo 2         Sus campground 2       1st day of school 2

5 years old.                    My boy cousin & me!        First day of school.


xmas 2            Me as brownie                  5th grade 2

Christmas 6 years old      7 years old Brownie                5th Grade


me & bro older            16 yo 2            19 yo 2

12 years old.                         16 years old.                         18 years old


When we moved to Missouri I had just turned 12. I told my mother I would take care of my hair myself from then on. She didn’t take it too well, at first. Then she realized it was just one less thing she had to do for me. By the time I turned 14 my hair was finally past my shoulders for the first time. As you can see it just kept on growing. For many years it was past my waist. I loved it. As the years went by I would cut it shorter, then let it grow, but it was my choice, not someone else’s.


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.




















Mondays for Me ~ No, I Wasn’t a Hippy

My-Story-This-is-my-storyThe purpose of this blog is to document the stories of my life. When I am gone my children, grandchildren and great-grandchild will have the memories of my life written by me. I am excited to begin this journey.

While growing up my three children used to always respond to their friends when asked where they got their names from with, “My mom was a hippy”. Later in life, they became even more convinced that I had been one when they saw some photos of me in my teens. I tried to explain about the photographs, but they were never convinced.

Evidence #1:  I named my children unusual names. My oldest son I named Pleasant. He is named for my Grandfather and Great Grandfather, but that didn’t convince him otherwise. My youngest son I named Starr Douglas. Douglas was after my dad, but I named him Starr because I wanted to keep the tradition of unusual names. My daughter, I named Jerusha. I heard the name when I was 12 years old in the movie Hawaii and I loved it.


Conclusion: No proof of being a hippy. The act of naming your children with unconventional names doesn’t mean you’re a “hippy”.


Evidence #2: Some photographs they saw of me in “hippy” attire. Because of my Indianupbringing of being almost totally ignored by my parents and sister, I had a habit of doing things to get attention. When we moved from Arizona to painted shortsIndependence Missouri in 1967, I didn’t fit in with the kids at school. I talked “with a weird accent”, my style of clothes was different, and I didn’t like the strange foods they served in the cafeteria. So, instead of fitting in I deliberately tried to stand out. I loved the TV show “The Monkees” (Davy Jones!!!). They dressed different so I adopted this style. My one friend and I would paint our facesme and darrell in multicolored shapes with brightly colored cream eye shadow and go to the town square and walk around. We definitely got attention! I also used paint to decorate my jean shorts in flowers and peace symbols. My cousin and I talked my Aunt into making us Nehru jackets. She was a professional seamstress and could make anything! I was once sent home from school in Junior High for wearing the cloth belt from my dress as a headband!


Conclusion: No proof that I ever adopted the hippy lifestyle, all of the above was done to get attention and to have fun.


Santa Monica BeachEvidence #3: In 1969 my family moved to Santa Monica California. We lived 7 blocks from the beach, and I spent every moment there I could. I wore a lime green bikini that had purple polka dots on it. I grew my hair long; it was past my waist. I wore big floppy hats and bell bottoms. Again, my old photos and my stories convinced my children of my being a “hippy”! My oldest son told me he had read all about the “Summer of Love” that took place in ‘69 and that was proof enough for him! I was guilty of liking “hippy” music, I danced like one, and I had the lingo down…. Groovy.

me long hair

Conclusion: No proof because almost all 14-19 year-olds liked the music of the late ‘60’s back then. The clothes were fun and comfortable, and bikinis were the norm at the beach. The long hair was the style of the day and it was a big improvement over the pixie cuts my mother had me wear growing up. No proof that this made me a hippy.


My children have now passed on the idea of “hippy” Grandma to the Grandkids. However, they all think it is “Cool Man”.


View the photos and decide for yourselves!!!



cropped-blog-pic1.jpgI 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.

“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 and You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

Leaving Your Lessons Behind

TreeAs Genealogists we fully understand the importance of leaving behind as much information and documentation as possible for the next generations. Most of us have struggled to obtain what we have and may have already made a commitment to make it easier for our descendants. The problem is what SHOULD we leave for those coming behind us?

There are many Blogs out there that give us ideas of the some of the categories we may want to write about. Some are topics like writing about our own childhood, what was popular in our culture, writing about our religion and why we chose it, and much more. So I thought I would just throw one more idea into the mix.

Lessons Learned

As we grow older, hopefully we have learned a few lessons in life. We have had some good and bad experiences as a result of some decisions we have made. I believe that these are some of the things we should also write about. I mean most of us have told our own children about making right decisions and why, so why not share those with future generations? I would love to know why some of my Ancestors made the decision to move from one place to another, why they chose the occupation they had and so much more.

part 4If you have read my series about my Mom and her superstations back in October you would know why that when I got married and had children I decided then that I would NOT be anything like her.  There have been many times in my life when I have been faced with a decision and I have literally thought “What would Mom do?” and then I would do the exact opposite.  I becamequestion mark a widow at the age of 31, being left with 3 children; I learned a lot of lessons. My husband had committed suicide as a result of a pornography addiction so I had to learn how to deal with that. I started a ministry for women whose husbands, boyfriends or fathers had a porn addiction and as a result I have counseled thousands of women. My husband of 28 years, was diagnosed with vascular dementia seven years ago and believe me, I have learned a tremendous amount of lessons from that!

These are the lessons I want to leave for my grandchildren, great-grandchildren and all those who come after me. If I, by leaving behind a written documentation of what I have been through in life can write about the lessons I have learned while going through it all and those lessons can help future generations, then I will feel that it has all been worth it.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on and You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

Writing About The Historical Events That Occurred During Your Lifetime

Mary Lynn Elementary School
Mary Lynn Elementary School

When I was 8 years old we lived in a house that was located on a dirt road just outside the Tucson city limits. We used to get the neighborhood kids together and play kickball in the street. One time when it was my turn at the plate, I kicked the ball and it went to the left and I ran to first base which was to the right. The ball hit a rock and bounced to the right directly under my feet. I fell over the ball and ended up with a large rock embedded in my knee. I had to have several stitches and the Doctor instructed me not to run. At school they made me sit in the office during recess and lunch because I had a hard time not running when I was outside.

I vividly remember the day I was sitting on the couch in the office when the principle, Mrs. Reineke came running into the room. She said something in a whisper to the receptionist who immediately turned pale and began to cry. The office door opened and in came several of the teachers and aides. They wheeled in a television on a large rolling stand and plugged it in. One of the aides pulled the shade down over the window of the door that lead from the hallway into the office. Everyone gathered around the set.

I heard the gasps of the adults as the News Anchorman announced that President John Fitzgerald Kennedy had been shot

President John F. Kennedy
President John F. Kennedy

while riding in a motorcade through the streets of Dallas Texas.  I could hear some of the teachers crying softly, tears rolling down their cheeks. After what seemed like an eternity to me the Anchorman then announced that President Kennedy had died from his wounds at Parkland Memorial Hospital. The room erupted in sobs and outrage. All I could do was cower back as far as I could on the couch and cover my ears. I had never known anyone who had died before so I wasn’t sure what it meant, all I did know was it was a horrible thing that just happened.

Several minutes later the room quieted down and Mrs. Reineke began instructing the teacher on how to tell their pupils about the death of our President. She suddenly stopped mid-sentence and got a surprised look on her face. All the teachers turned to follow her gaze which had fallen upon me. In all the uproar no one had noticed that I was there. She immediately came over and lifted me in her arms. This made me begin to cry, more from confusion than anything else. She sat down and held me on her lap and explained to me what had just happened. Sadness like I had never known fell over me.

JFK Newspaper clippingAfter all the teachers had left Mrs. Reineke asked the receptionist to go and get me an ice cream from the cafeteria. She then told me that none of the other children knew about what happened and that when we all return to our classes the teachers were going to give us the news. She told me not tell anyone. When the bell rang I left the office and went to meet up with my class at the water fountain outside our classroom. Remember, I am an 8 year old girl with a heavy secret. One that was too heavy to keep. After taking a drink from the fountain I turned around and informed the student behind me that the President had been shot and he had died. She was not the only one who heard me and the next thing I knew there were several kids crying. Yes, I did get in trouble from my teacher.

This was a terrible time for our Country. President Kennedy was very well liked and he had done a lot of good while he was in office. On the day of the Presidents funeral the entire school went into the Auditorium and watched it on television. Most of us were too young to realize that we were having a firsthand look at an historic moment.

I will ever forget where I was when Kennedy got shot; do you remember where you were? We experience so many Historical Moments in our lives and this gives us an opportunity to write what we see, feel or believe concerning these events. Spend some time and think of all the changes that have happened in your lifetime, think about some Major event that took place that impacted you in some way. Now write about it. Let’s all leave our own accounts of History for our future generations.


I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, 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.


Zane Grey:  Baseball Player, Dentist, Writer…..Genealogist?


Superstition Mount ianMesa Arizona is only 1,126 feet above sea level. As a result our summers can sometimes be unbearable. It has been known to reach temperatures of up to 122 degrees with it reaching 115+ for weeks at a time. Although we are having a “mild” summer this year, heat is heat and the urge to escape can be overwhelming.

My husband and I decided to make the hour trip north to Payson, elevation 5000 feet. Here their daytime highs are our night time lows. We just wanted to get away and explore a city that we didn’t know much about. We did know that the famous author of Western Novels, Zane Grey (1872-1939), had a cabin just outside the city where he would spend 3 months a year hunting and writing. His original cabin burned down in a forest fire in 1990, but the Rim Country Museum raised the money to build an exact replica on their property. So the decision was made to make a quick stop to see the cabin.

Payson is a small, quaint town. It is situated in the Tonto National Forest and has everything an Payson Arizonaoutdoors person would love. I fell in love with the beauty of the place. Pine trees, willow trees, green grass and flowers were everywhere. Remember, I live in the Desert with cactus, mesquite trees, and dirt so this was a treat. We easily found the Rim Country Museum and the cabin. We paid our admission and were lead by a very nice woman up to the cabin door. Once inside she told us the history of how Zane had come to Arizona back in 1905 and what happened during the years that he continued to come back. She spoke about the books he had written of the old west and the Rim Country. During his lifetime he had written over 90 books! Then she showed us a copy of the very first book he ever wrote. It was titled “Betty Zane” and it wasn’t about the Wild West or his adventures or about fishing. It was a historical account of his family, lead by Colonel Ebenezer Zane, his Great Grandfather and them being the first to pioneer a town in 1769 high above the Ohio River at a point near Wheeling Creek. I was immediately hooked.

Payson 034Growing up, only boys read Zane Grey books. I never really liked reading Westerns and I suppose it was because I was raised in the area most of these types of books are written about. I was surprised to find that Zane’s first attempt at writing was of his own family’s history. In it he gives detailed accounts of their travels, their struggles, their loves, and their triumphs. He draws you into their involvement in the Revolutionary War and enthralls you with the story of his Great Grand Aunt Betty Zane who, as a young girl, witnessed the death of her father during a Revolutionary War battle against the Indians who sided with the British at Fort Henry. In spite of her grief and fears she made her way through the enemies forces and retrieved some much needed black gunpowder and brought it safely back to the Fort.

Although it is said that most of what he wrote concerning his family was taken from oral traditions Elizabeth_Zanepassed down through the family, it has since been proven that almost ever account is indeed true.  What I want to take from this book and his style of writing is how he doesn’t just “tell the story”. He describes the scenery and the smells to such an extent that you feel you are there. It is so much more than dates and facts; it is the incredible story of their lives.

I am now more determined than ever to not just remember my Ancestors, but to find their stories and write them in a way that will transport future generations back to the time of those who have gone before.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, 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.

Airing Your Dirty Laundry!!

For some of us writing about our Family History can be a challenge. Not only because of the fact that some information is not easy to come by, but because some pretty horrible or shocking things have happened. How much, if any, of these stories do we share?


Growing up I cannot tell you how many time I heard the phrase “You don’t go around airing your dirty laundry”. People were discouraged from telling anyone, even those they were related to, anything that would make their family look “bad”. Secrets were meant to be kept, the closet doors with the skeletons in them were to be kept closed and there were certain subjects you just NEVER discussed.

Unfortunately this type of thinking is extremely bad for a Genealogist. We spend a tremendous amount of time trying to dig up these well kept secrets. We want to know about our families, even if some of it may be unsavory. I hear this term a lot lately “It is what it is” and that fits so well. We can’t change what has happened in the past or what others may have done, so we should be do our best to pass these stories on to future generations.

I really wish that my parents had been more open about their lives instead of shrouding them in mystery. When my Dad was 15, he witnessed the murder of his brother-in-law. He never spoke of it. 39 years after he passed away I found a newspaper clipping telling the story. I was shocked! I also discovered that my mom had been married 3 times before she and my dad got hitched, I only knew of 2 previous ones. Talk about a revelation!  One of the most shocking pieces of history that I discovered was that I had a half brother that died of Scarlet Fever when he was 4 months old.  This made me cry! I actually felt cheated that I was never told of these things. I started thinking, “How would my Grandchildren feel if they had to learn about my life this way?”

So I made the decision that no matter what went on in either my life or those of my Ancestors, I am going to write about it in detail. I will tell my Grandchildren about their Grandfather who committed suicide when he was just 28 years old, leaving me a widow with 3 children to raise. I will even tell them the reason he did this.  I will tell them about how my Maternal Grandfather was murdered by this 3rd wife and how it happened.

My point in this is, life is not all rainbows and hugs. Telling the truth about the past will show them the strength of those who survived, and will let them know that they too have inherited that same strength from their Ancestors. So sit down and write, telling all the stories of your life.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, 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.