“My Aunt, One of the Rosie the Riveters”

ImageOn a cold winter morning on the 14th of November, 1919, Margaret Ruth Hughes was born in Sweetwater Missouri. She was the youngest of 11 siblings. Being raised on a farm in rural Missouri she spent most of her childhood working on the family farm and tending to her Fathers prize-winning horses and mules. She learned how to cook and sew, which seemed to come naturally to her.

By 1930, soon after the start of the Great Depression, her family moved to a new farm outside of Lexington Missouri.  The Hughes’ were skilled farmers and they were able to grow enough vegetables not only to feed their own large family but also those of their neighbors. They also raised cows and pigs so there was always plenty of meat to eat.  Margaret learned how to be generous and giving from the examples of her parents.

In 1940 she was living in the town of Lexington sharing an apartment with her widowed brother (my Dad) and her widowed sister. She was working at a Laundry as an ironer. She used her skills as a seamstress and she soon began a sewing career, one that she worked at until her retirement in 1980. She was so talented that she developed her own unique type of Western Shirt that was well sought after in the Kansas City area.

Aunt Margaret and a friend, 1940 Lexington MO.

Then came World War II. At the age of 24, she moved by herself across the country to the San Francisco area to become one of the thousands of “Rosie the Riveters”. She worked at the Naval Shipyard on Mare Island. This shipyard built more than 400 vessels during the course of the War. As a matter of fact, Mare Island set a record for building a Navy Destroyer in just 17 ½ days. To this day this record has never been broken. She really enjoyed her job as a riveter and she learned a lot from the experience. She would sew shirts for the sailors as gifts and gave them to the men when they shipped out.  Margaret met and married a sailor in 1944 and he was soon sent overseas. It wasn’t long after he left that she discovered that she was pregnant. In the spring of 1945, Margaret returned home to Missouri to have her son there. Her husband never returned from the War so she raised him by herself for 4 years until she married my Uncle.

This experience made Margaret a very strong and determined woman. She loved her family deeply and worked very hard. She approached every obstacle in life with a zeal I have never found in anyone else. She passed away in 1988. A month Aunt Margaret for blog olderbefore she died Margaret was told she had cancer throughout her entire body. The doctor was shocked that she could even walk let alone continue to care for her family. No one knew that for years she had lived in terrible pain. This is the woman that I try to fashion my life after. I want to be as loving, giving, kind and strong as she was. At least that is my goal.



I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, andcropped-blog-pic1.jpg 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.

6 thoughts on ““My Aunt, One of the Rosie the Riveters”

  1. Your Aunt sounds like a wonderful woman. Pretty exciting being on the the riveters. I’m not familiar with the Western shirt. Good post.

    1. Thanks Bernita,

      The Western shirt was her own creation. When she retired she made a great living doing custom orders for them. I have never found another shirt even similar to the ones she made.


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