A lot of time while writing about our ancestors, we focus on those who would be considered successful by current standards. After all, there is usually far more documentation and sources that we can draw from that makes developing the story of their lives much easier. Looking through photos I made a discovery! I have quite a few pictures of my ancestors wearing farmers overalls. The majority of my ancestors spent their whole lives making a home and raising a family on a farm. To them, wearing overalls was a sign of honor, and they were proud of what they did. So to honor these hard-working men I will highlight the life of one of the “overall gang” each week, including the photo and a brief biography of the legacy they left behind.
This week I am featuring my beloved Dad. He only used the name Benjamin for “legal” things. He was always called Doug or Dougie. He was born in Hughesville, Pettis County, Missouri, on August 18, 1915. He was raised on farms until he was 20 years old, first in Hughesville then outside of Lexington, Lafayette County, Missouri. Not only did he work in all aspects of farming, he was also a horse trainer. He proudly wore overalls every day until he joined the Civil Conservation Corps in 1935. He was in the CCC for about a year, returning to farming in Missouri and his overalls.
He worked many other jobs while helping out at his parents farm. He was a coal miner, and a laborer on the railroad. He continued to wear his overalls in both of these jobs. He eventually moved into construction, using the skills he had learned in the CCC and in Missouri there was no problem with him wearing overalls to work. After he married my mother and my sister and I were born, we moved to Arizona. Here the temperatures were too hot to work outside in the heavy overalls, so he was forced to switch to jeans. However, he still wore his overalls when he worked in the yard on the weekends, even if that meant getting outside by 5am.
At his funeral, my Aunt made sure he had on a pair of overalls instead of the clothes my mother had sent along when she shipped him back to Missouri for burial. I was able to talk to several family members, and they told me that they couldn’t remember a time when he wore anything else.
I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have written two books “Your Family History: Doing I 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.