I love this week’s prompt as I will get a chance to write about my favorite Aunt! Although my times with her were limited I learned so much from just observing her life. Margaret Ruth Hughes was born in Sweet Springs, Missouri on November 14, 1919. She was the tenth child born to Charlie and Virginia (Hayes) Hughes. Charlie and “Jennie” had a total of 11 children. The brothers born before and after Margaret both died by the age of two, leaving her the youngest child.
The Hughes family moved to Lexington, Lafayette Co, Missouri when Margaret was 10 years old. Her dad bought a farm there and began farming and continuing to raise his prize-winning horses. She loved the horses and was very good at training them. Her mother taught her how to sew and she began making her own clothes. She was like most young girls of those days learning to cook and do regular household chores. She was closest in age to my dad, Douglas. They were best friends and did everything together. She would follow him everywhere he went. This was also about the time that the Great Depression began. The family actually did very well during this time. They grew an abundance of crops and had plenty of livestock so that they had enough for their large family, and they were able to share with those who needed help.
I believe that this is where Margaret developed her giving spirit. People just automatically gravitated to her. If you needed help. she was there. It seemed that no matter where she lived, she knew everyone! In the 1940 Census, we find 21-year-old Margaret living in Lexington with my dad and her older widowed sister Nellie. She and Nellie worked in the laundry. A few years later she was living in the San Francisco area working as one of the Rosie the Riveters. There she made shirts and gave them to some of the sailors as they deployed. She baked cookies and pies for the men to help them with their homesickness. She met and married her first husband Kenneth Smith about 2 months before he shipped off at the end of 1944. Margaret discovered she was pregnant a couple of months later and she headed home to Missouri. Their son was born 18 days after the war ended but her husband never made it home. She moved into Independence and started working at the cafe on the square. President Harry Truman frequented this diner as it was only a few blocks from where he lived. He came at the same time every day and refused to be waited on by anyone besides Margaret!
In 1948 she met Paul Palmer and immediately fell in love. They got married about 6 months later and moved into Kansas City. They had a son who died at 7months old from pneumonia. They went on to have two more children, a son Darrell in 1955 and a surprise daughter named Madonna 7 years later when Margaret was 43 years old. She worked for a coat manufacturer in Kansas City designing and sewing jackets for over 30 years. She also designed a unique western shirt that was in big demand.
In 1987 my husband and I took a trip to visit her. She was 67 years old at the time and had more energy then we did. She took us sightseeing all over Missouri and everywhere we went someone knew her. She even took us to visit some of my mother’s family and all of them were thrilled to see her. She had always been popular, no matter where she lived because of her kindness. She treated everyone like they were the most important person in the world. In September 1988 my wonderful Aunt Margaret passed away from cancer.
I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.