Category Archives: Arizona

Mondays for Me #56 ~ A Great Resource

For some of you this may be old news, but for some of us this is a new experience! I recently joined a few Facebook groups designed for reminiscing about the town I grew up in. I was very surprised at how many there were, and they seemed to cover every topic available. One was called “Retro Tucson”, another one was “Remembering Tucson” and one was “Our Sonoran Arizona Ancestors”. To be honest, I ended up joining 6 groups.

As I get older, I realize that my memory isn’t what it used to be. I did buy a book about 23 years ago that asked questions about your life. It was structured to prompt you to write as much as you could remember about such topics like “What was your house like?”, and “What is your favorite memory of grade school?”. There were over 200 questions that you could answer and then you could hand the book on to your children or grandchildren so they could read about your life. I found this book a few years ago and it has helped with my memories. This is one reason I joined these groups, they help bring back memories of places and events.


Francisco & Ramona Acuna

The bonus to these groups is one I just discovered a couple of weeks ago. In the “Our Sonoran Arizona Ancestors” group I saw a lot of people posting photos of their parents or Grandparents, and writing a short paragraph about them. Now, I personally do not have any ancestors from this region, but my husband does. I have researched his family as far back as I could. Once it got into Mexico, the language barrier and the naming practices hindered me. So I decided to post a photo of my husbands Great Grandfather and I included a link to the story I had written about him. The response was amazing!


Letter to Francisco Acuna asking for his daughters hand in marriage

Yesterday, I posted about his Great Grandmother, and I was excited to see the response and very surprised to find so many of the people asking if we could be related. In one day I had contact with and verified 6 new cousins for my husband. The best part is one of his new-found relatives have offered to help me with the research in Mexico and with my lack of Spanish. I am now anxious to join other Facebook groups pertaining to my side of the family!

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have written two books “Your Family History: Doing It 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.

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Monday’s for Me #54 ~ Bedrock City, Arizona

My husband and I have been married for over 34 years. I remember when we were dating, he told me when he was a little boy he loved watching The Flintstones. He had a crush on Wilma, and he decided right then that he was going to marry her when he grew up.

I was a widow with 3 children ages 8,10, and 15. The kids loved watching The Flintstones so there was a bonding that took place between them. After we got married we decided to take the kids to Northern Arizona to see all of the attractions that is there. One of the last stops was to be the Grand Canyon.

We gave ourselves a week to see all we could see. We had so much fun seeing Montezuma’s Castle, Meteor Crater, The Painted Desert, The Petrified Forest, Sunset Crater and all the charming little towns along the way. We finally made our way to the Grand Canyon and about 20 miles south of it we came upon “Bedrock”. Out front was the enormous sign shaped like Fred and there was a gift shop. The kids loved souvenirs!

To say we were excited is an understatement. I don’t know who was more excited, George or the kids. We pulled into the parking lot and tumbled out of car. We were so surprised to realize that it was an actual amusement park. We spent several hour visiting the Flintstones and the Rubble’s house and running through the town. George was even “arrested” and placed in Bedrock’s jail.

We drove the stone aged cars and slid down the Dino Slide which was about 2 stories high! The movie theater was playing The Flintstones show so we watched a few episodes. There was so much to do and see. George and I got our picture taken in cutouts of Fred and Wilma. The best part was the photos of me with a statue of Fred and George got one with Wilma. We ended our time there picking out souvenirs, and then we made our way to the Canyon. We had a great week.

This was not the only time we visited Bedrock. Over the next 25 years we made the trip about 5 times. Each time it was with one less kid and eventually it was just the two of us. Two years ago, Bedrock closed its doors and the property was sold. It is sad that my Grandkids and Great Grandkids will never get to experience this special place. However, at least we have our photo’s and our memories.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have written two books “Your Family History: Doing It 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.

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Elisha Reavis ~“The Old Hermit of the Superstition Mountains”~ Pinal County, Arizona

Elisha Marcus Reavis, my maternal 2nd cousin, was born in 1827 in Beardstown, Cass County, Illinois. He was the son of James A. and Mary (Harlan) Reavis. After the death of his parents when he was 6 years old, he and his siblings were raised by an aunt and uncle. Elisha attended college before going to California during the Gold Rush. He taught school briefly at El Monty and searched for gold along the San Gabriel River. He married Mary Y. Sexton in San Gabriel in 1862 and they had one daughter and her name was Louisa Maria Reavis.

Elisha went with other gold seekers to the Bradshaw Mountains in Arizona in 1863 but had little success. He returned to California but his wife refused to move to the rugged country in Arizona and preferred to live near her parents. After her death, their daughter went to St. Louis to live with some Reavis relatives.

Elisha returned to Arizona with his uncle who was appointed a judge on the territorial state Supreme Court by President Grant. Elisha worked as a US Marshall before starting a small ranch near Ft. McDowell, There he broke horses and mules, packed for the army during Indian campaigns before moving to a remote valley in 1874. It was on Iron Mountain and was high enough to be cool and beautiful in what became known as the Superstition Mountains. He was known as the “Hermit of the Superstitions” to Anglos, and the “White Devil” to the Apaches.

Elisha cultivated and irrigated about fifteen acres of land on the mountain. He had chickens, turkeys, hogs, burros, two horses and several dogs to care for. His team of horses pulled his disc and shear plow for his large fields. In 1895, He was seventy years old and was still making trips from his mountain valley farm to the small towns in the central Arizona Territory to sell his vegetables. The chores on his farm were enough to keep a young man busy, let alone a seventy-year-old man.

He hunted to supplement his diet with wild game. Early visitors to his place talked about the many antlers he had hanging around His home. He even had several bear skin rugs. These items certainly pointed to the fact he was quite a skillful hunter and tracker. Old pioneers all said Reavis had lived in these mountains for more than twenty years. The two decades Reavis spent living alone in the Superstitions made him a legend in his own time. He had been an outdoors man since the 1850s when he first moved to California from Illinois.

His acquaintance, James Dalabaugh, often checked in on Elisha at his ranch. Dalabaugh knew he wasn’t doing too well in the spring of 1896. It was on April 9th of that year when Dalabaugh was at the ranch with Reavis as he was preparing to make a trip to Mesa to buy seed potatoes. Dalabaugh later stopped by the Fraser Ranch just a few miles south on the 6th of May, almost one month later and found that Reavis had not been there.

Alarmed, he backtracked and found Elisha’s remains four miles south of his ranch on the trail. His mules were tied nearby and half starved. Reavis’ remains were scattered by wild animals. On May 7th, 1896, he was buried at a nearby Indian ruins where the soil was softer under a cairn of rocks. His grave was marked with a stone marker. He had died at the age of 68.

Many stories have been told of him, such as how he was a crack shot with a Winchester causing the Apaches to give him a wide berth after a fight in which he killed three of them. Also, how he faced a bear with a rifle that misfired. Even for the mid-1800s Reavis was quite the sight. With long, unkempt and unwashed matted hair and beard Reavis was the proverbial mountain-man poster child. Beaming small, piercing eyes he maintained a savage and even feral appearance even for the old west. Nothing could be further from the truth. Reavis was quite educated and kept a personal library at his ranch as he was an avid reader.

I have lived in Arizona for over 50 years and I have never heard this story nor knew that I was related to this man. I have lived within 4 miles of the Superstition Mountains for over 28 years! It really is a small world.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have written two books “Your Family History: Doing It 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.

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Winter ~A Time for Sweaters ~ 52 Ancestors Week #51


Overheating in a sweater on Christmas Eve

I think I was 12 years old before I got my first coat. We always wore sweaters during the winter time because Southern Arizona rarely got cold enough to warrant anything heavier. I would watch in awe at the movies or commercials that had a winter theme, and the children would have on heavy coats, gloves, scarves, and hats. I was a little envious of the coats that had fur around the hood and sleeves. To me this looked so sophisticated! I remember getting a bicycle and a swimsuit for Christmas when I was 11 and I put on the suit and went riding around the neighborhood on the bike. This was the type of winters we had, and at the time I thought everyone had the same kind.


Snow in Missouri

You can imagine the shock when we moved to Missouri and my Dad took my sister Mary and I to Sears to buy coats and gloves. I didn’t like the way they felt, they were too heavy and bulky. Once the temperatures began to drop, my attitude changed. I suddenly fell in love with these wonderful items that kept me warm! We only lived in this State for two years and I discovered that I really loved the snow. I would throw on my coat and gloves anytime it snowed and I would go outside to watch it fall. I had fun sledding, having snowball fights and building snowmen.


Santa Monica Beach and Pier

From here, we moved to Santa Monica, California. Once again, owning a coat wasn’t a necessity. We lived 7 blocks from the beach so we did experience cool air coming off the ocean, however, it wasn’t cold enough for my Missouri coat or gloves. I got a thin cloth jacket which worked great for me. I enjoyed walking on the beach during the winter because it wasn’t crowded. I was totally amazed at how different this time of years was in each place we lived. We spent 5 years in California, and we moved 4 times. Each time we moved further inland, and we eventually ended up in Hollywood. No matter where we moved the temperature was mild from November until April.


Our house in Nashville, TN

I have lived in seven States over the course of my life. Each one presented its own unique winter weather. Colorado and Missouri made driving difficult, and as an adult I discovered that I did not like snow! In Tennessee there was very light snow and in Mississippi and Louisiana it had very mild weather. I really liked living in each State and experiencing the seasons while there.

As I get older, I can no longer tolerate the cold so Arizona will be my home from here on out. My family that is scattered throughout the Midwest and on to the East Coast think I am crazy when I tell them, winter is my favorite time of year!

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.

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Monday’s for Me #42 ~ Winterhaven

When you live in the Sonoran Desert, you have to make adjustments to some of the “standard” Christmas traditions. Like snowball fights! Unless you want to make the trip up the 9000+feet tall Mount Lemon to play in the couple of feet of snow that peppers the mountain in December and January. Caroling is another tradition that had to change a bit. I wrote in a previous blog about the last Christmas we spent in Tucson when I was about 12 years old. I received both a bike and a swimsuit as gifts and I put on the suit and went outside to ride the bike. Because of the warm winters, we couldn’t wear coats, scarves or gloves to go caroling. Although I loved hot chocolate, it was always too hot to really enjoy it.


Me at age 5 with
“wreath” in window.

One of the main traditions that everyone had to adapt to our weather was decorating the outside of our houses My mother took one of my hula hoops and cut holes in it to string blue Christmas lights on it. She then wrapped silver tinsel between the lights. She hung it in our enormous front window, and we plugged it in a night. Regular live wreaths dried up within days. We also had an aluminum Christmas tree with the color wheel. When my parents first moved to Tucson when I was 11 months old it was December 3rd. They bought a real tree and only had it up for about a week before it was totally dead! Hench, the aluminum one. Granted my mother was a very lazy person, and she probably forgot to water it, but once was enough for my Dad.

My earliest memory of Christmas was a place called Winterhaven. It was a newer subdivision in the northwest part of town. They decided as part of the celebration of the last house being bought that they would encourage all of the homeowners to decorate their yards. There was newspaper article written about it and that year, every night in December, hundreds of cars drove through the neighborhood to look at the sights. The next year they encouraged people to park and walk through. Although our family really had no traditions to speak of, this was one thing my Dad insisted we do every year. I looked forward to it every year because most of the people changed their decorations each season, each time trying to out do their neighbors!

I normally don’t add a lot of photos to my blogs, but I found out today that they decided to not decorate Winterhaven this year and the board also decided to not do it again. It is so sad to see it disappear after over 60 years of tradition. So I hope you enjoy these photos from the late 50s to mid 60s.

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.

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Filed under Ancestry, Arizona, Childhood, Christmas, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, Memories, Monday's For Me, My Stories, Tucson Arizona, Uncategorized

My Great-Great Grandma was Superstitious ~ Tales from the Dark Side

I thought I would spend this month leading up to Halloween telling stories of things that happened in not only my childhood, but in the lives of my Ancestors that helped form most of my mothers superstition beliefs or were a result of her beliefs, the ones she tried to pass down to my sister and me. I hope you will enjoy them and even get a laugh or two out of them.

My 2 times Great Grandma, Elizabeth Marsh was born December 31, 1841, in Chillicothe Missouri. Elizabeth was a religious woman, attending Church every Sunday and reading her Bible daily. She loved reading all the accounts in the Old Testament, and she would tell not only her children but the other children in the surrounding areas the stories that she found there. Her favorite one was about Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. We all know the account of how God created man, then from Adams rib He created woman. He set the two of them in this perfect Garden and told them they could eat from any tree in the garden except from “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil”. This Garden was perfect and they wanted for nothing. One day Satan took the shape of a serpent (snake) and tempted Eve with the fruit from the one forbidden tree. Satan told her that she could eat from fruit, and she would not die but instead she would become like God and have great knowledge. She then ate from the fruit, and she did not die. She then took the fruit to Adam and told him to eat from it also, and he did. When God found out what they had done, he banished them from the Garden. Elizabeth came to believe that Satan inhabited ALL snakes, and she was afraid of them. She seldom ventured far from home on foot for fear of encountering one.

Elizabeth passed her fear of snakes down to her children and they in turn passed it down to their children and so on. My mom was raised in Missouri, and she knew about all the types of snakes that lived there and where they were most likely to live. She avoided any place where she thought a snake might be. When we moved to Arizona, my mom found herself with a new dilemma. She did not know any of the species of snakes that dwelt in the Desert, and she had no idea where they may hide. I remember once when we had relatives visiting us we took them on a cookout and hike in the Saguaro National Forest. Just so you know this is not a typical Forest with tall trees, it is filled with hundred-year-old Saguaro cacti. Some of these cacti grow to be 40-60 feet tall and can have up to 25 “arms” on it. While we were hiking up a hill, surrounded by beautiful cactus and Desert plants my mom decided to kick over a rock. Nestled beneath this rock was a very small snake, all coiled up trying to sleep. My mom took off running the opposite direction and didn’t stop until she got to our car. She then got inside and locked the doors. When we all finally reached the car it took a while before my Dad could convince her to come out. When she did she would only sit on the hood of the car! She tried to talk my Dad and my Uncle to go find the snake and kill it, but all they did was laugh.

We lived in a housing community just outside the Tucson City limits and the development was surrounded on 3 sides by Desert. A few years after this experience, early on a summer morning, I was taking a basket full of laundry out to hang on the clothes line. When I opened our back door and stepped outside I saw that there was a pretty large snake crawling along the wall of the house. I dropped the basket and jumped back inside, slamming the door. When my mom found out about the snake, she was hysterical. She started yelling that Satan was in that snake, and we had to kill it. I was 6 years old at the time and my sister was 10 so we were not going to be much help in the “snake killing” department. My Dad was at work, as was every other man in our neighborhood. So my mom devised a plan. I was to wait by the back door and wait for her to whistle. She was going to go out the front door, go into the shed and get a hoe and sneak up on the snake from behind.I was to open the back door and jump out and scream to get the snakes’ attention so that Satan would not see her coming at him. So it began…one…two…three…whistle…jump out…scream…my mom began hitting the snake with the hoe. She was crying and hitting and crying and hitting, and she didn’t stop until there was only a few recognizable pieces of the snake left. She then dropped the hoe, marched inside, crawled in bed and stayed there. When my Dad got home, and he saw what was left of the snake he just shook his head, told us to get in the car, and we went to Mc Donalds for dinner. My mom finally emerged from her bedroom two days later and by then the snake parts had been disposed of. She had another “episode” when she found out the snake had been a rattlesnake, but she got over it much quicker. From that day on until we sold the house and moved, which was 5 years, my mom never went out the back door again. Up until she died at the age of 80 years old she would remind us every chance she got that “Satan was in all snakes and it was our duty to kill them.”

BTW: I have never killed a snake in my life and in fact, I bought my Grandsons an Albino Corn snake for a pet!

Here are some more Superstitions that my mother had:

If you drop a fork you will be having company

Lift your feet up when driving over railroad tracks for good luck

If the bottom of your right foot itches, you are going to take a trip or walk in a new place

Do you or anyone in your family have a Superstition? I would love to hear about them.

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.

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Filed under Ancestry, Arizona, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, Halloween, Memories, Snakes, Superstitions, Tales from the Darkside, Tucson Arizona, Uncategorized

Mondays for Me #38 ~ Take it to the Bank!

I loved school as a child. I loved learning, I loved reading and writing, I loved recess, but mostly I loved just being away from home. My home life wasn’t the best and this was my escape. I was fortunate enough to have a great 5th grade teacher, who recognized my situation and showed me extra attention and kindness. When anything came up at school that required each classrooms’ participation, Mrs. Holman always picked me for it.

During the second week of school we were informed that one person from each grade would be chosen to be the “banker” for that grade. There were 3 classes per grade so it was a big deal to be chosen. I don’t know how it was determined who would represent a grade, but I was chosen for mine. I was so excited, even though I had no idea what I was going to be doing. Within a couple of days we had the first meeting of the “school bankers”. I learned that our responsibility was to go to all 3 of our grades’ classrooms and give a talk about why it was important to save money. Then we informed the kids that they could open their own savings account and on each Friday they could bring their money to school and “deposit” it in the bank. The perk for me was all 6 of the “bankers” got to go to the large Valley National Bank building in downtown Tucson, AZ. We were to take a tour of it and learn about money.

On the day of the trip to the bank, we all wore our best clothes. To be honest, when we pulled up to this 11-story building I had big butterflies in my stomach. However, once we went inside, they disappeared! There was so much to look at, especially all the people. We got to go behind the counter and watch the tellers give and receive money. We toured the safe deposit box room and along the way, the guide explained what everything was and its purpose. Then we were herded into the elevator, and we rode it to the 11th floor. All of these floors were just offices, but we did get to look out the windows. What a treat for a bunch of kids who had never been in a tall building before!

Then came the best part. We returned to the main floor and met the bank manager. He escorted us to the elevator once again, only this time we went to the basement. There was an enormous, round, metal door with a large lever on it. The manager opened it and we got to go inside. We were in the bank vault where all the money was kept. We viewed how they banded and stacked the different denominations of bills and coins. The manager reached into a drawer and pulled out a bill. He told us we were getting a special treat because very few people got to see what we were about to see. He then pulled out a 100,000 dollar bill! It was passed around, and we all got to hold it and look at it. It was a great day and experience.

That Friday after lunch, we were set up in the cafeteria with each grade having our own table. The children filed in and came to their grades table with their money in hand. My job was to “open” an account for them by putting their name on a saving book. I then took the money and wrote the amount on the first line, and then gave the book to the student. I counted all of the money from that day and place it in an envelope with the amount written on the outside. When we all were done, we took them to the Principals office. We did this each week, adding the new amount to the individual books until the end of school, when we refunded the children’s money. The average payout was $9, which was a lot of cash in 1966. I learned a lot during this process, the most important one was how and why to save money. Oh, I have had a great story to tell about handling a 100,000 dollar bill for all these years.

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.

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Filed under Ancestry, Arizona, Childhood, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, Memories, Monday's For Me, My Stories, Tucson Arizona, Uncategorized

Monday’s for Me ~ Early Saturday Mornings

When growing up in Tucson, Arizona I remember I always looked forward to October. I am sure most people will think it is because I was excited to go Trick or Treating at the end of the month, or because our 80 degree fall temperatures were finally arriving. Although I did look forward to these, I was most excited about the early Saturday mornings. With the “cooler” temperatures it was finally safe to venture out into the surrounding desert.

Twice in October my Dad would pack up supplies in the car, and we would leave our house about half an hour before sunrise, and head out of town. We didn’t have to drive too far because we lived just outside the city limits. He would find a secluded spot and park. This time in the morning the desert air was always cool and very clean. As he and my mother would unload the trunk, my sister would find a place to sit and I would scour the area for wood for a fire. Usually by the time I would return with the wood in hand, my Dad was digging a shallow hole. He would then fill the hole with the wood and light it, and we would sit around it enjoying the warmth of it.

After about 20 or so minutes, he would begin to pull out the ingredients he brought to make breakfast. We always had the same thing, bacon, eggs, fried potatoes and toast. There was something about cooking it on an open fire in a cast iron skillet that made it the best breakfast in the world! After we ate, my sister and I would explore the area.

One of my favorite things to do was find an Arroyo and run up and down the slopes. They are usually dry at this time of year so the bottom is always packed with sand. During the monsoon season the excess rain water would rush through them, bringing debris and treasures. I would spend what seemed like hours digging in the sand and finding small toys, colorful rocks and on occasion I even found jewelry. At sometime during this “dig” I would conduct a safety drill. I would be digging and suddenly look up and yell “water!” and I would run as quickly as possible out of the Arroyo. This may sound strange but in the desert when water starts running through a wash it travels at a high rate of speed. Every year we heard about someone either barely escaping the flood of water, or someone being killed by it.

We would end our time there by gathering around the campfire and roasting marshmallows. I always liked mine a golden brown. We would then pack everything up and head home. I don’t have very many “good” memories of my childhood so this one is extra special to me.

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.

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Labor ~ 52 Ancestors 52 Weeks ~ Week #36

When I saw the word “Labor” I immediately thought of Labor Day, at least the one I grew up celebrating. As with all things, society changes and so does our holidays. Although my family never had any real traditions while I was growing up, we did always do something for the Labor Day weekend. Maybe that was because my Dad actually had a day off of work!

The first Labor Day was held celebrated in New York City on September 5, 1882, and was started by the Central Labor Union in New York City. In 1884, it was moved to the first Monday in September where it is celebrated today. Labor Day quickly became popular and one state after another voted it as a holiday. On June 28, 1894, the U.S. congress voted it a national holiday. How this holiday is celebrated has changed dramatically over the years, but the ones that have endured are picnics, barbecues, swimming, and shopping!

My Dad belonged to the Carpenters Union. He was very proud of that, and he took it very seriously. Every year we would go to the Union Hall for a barbecue and there were always games and music. After the festivities we would go to Randolph Park (now Reid Park) and my sister and I would run around the small lake and play at the playground. One of my favorite activities was to visit the Prairie Dog village. It was just a fenced in area with a lot of hills in which the prairie dogs dug their holes and tunnels. I would get excited when they would peek out from one of the holes. Their faces were so cute. This area eventually became the Reid Park Zoo with lots of exotic animals.
I remember one year we made a trip to San Diego, and we spent the day at the beach. I believe that is when I first fell in love with the ocean. My sisters attempt to drown me didn’t deter that love. Another year we attended a political picnic at Hi Corbett Baseball Field. It was for Barry Goldwater when he was running for President in 1964. We saw lots of balloons, several music groups, and the longest, most boring speech I ever heard. What would you expect from a 9 year-old girl? It really didn’t matter what we did for Labor Day, I always had fun. By the end of the day I would go to bed excited because the next day was always the first day of school!

Regardless of what we did over the 3-day weekend my Dad would remind us of why we celebrated Labor Day. It was a day to recognize the hard work of the common men and women who toiled to feed their families.

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.

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Mondays for Me ~ Geronimo III

TucsonMy husband and I had been married about 7 years when he was offered a job in Phoenix working for a magazine. After a lot of thought, we decided it would be a good move for us. I had lived in Tucson, AZ most of my life, and I was excited about living in a bigger city. However, I knew I would miss a lot of things about home. The week before we were to move we decided to visit all of our favorite places in town. We had a busy week, but we also had a lot of fun.

On the day before the move, we decided to take a drive out to one of aguaro_National_Park_East_Entryour favorite places, the Saguaro National Park that was just west of Tucson. It isn’t your typical type of Park, instead of trees, it has thousands of 95-foot tall Saguaro cacti sprawled out over the mountains. Old Tucson Studios is located right in the center of it. Many famous movies and old television shows have been filmed there. My two favorite ones are “The 3 Amigos” and “The High Chaparral”. At the entrance to the park is a stone wall on each side of the two-lane road with a large sign stating all the rules. As we approached the entrance we noticed there was a new addition. There was a large tepee on the side of the road. The sign in front said ‘‘Stop and visit Geronimo III in his tepee. Grandson of historical Apache chief Geronimo I.’’. Out of curiosity we pulled off the road and went up to the door. Next to the chair by the front door were 2 signs that said ‘‘No smokin, no drinkin’’ and ‘‘Introducing the grandson of Chief Geronimo. This man is full of history, wisdom, and love for all mankind. Photographs $2 a pose.’’

3 generations of GeronimosBefore we knocked a voice boomed, “Come in”. When we entered the tepee it was like walking into the past. Apache rugs were everywhere. On the wall, as you enter his tepee, he had hung the things he valued most in life. A framed letter congratulating him on his centennial birthday, signed by Nancy and Ronald Reagan, and a picture of the presidential pair, also signed. And bigger than the mementos from the president and the first lady, much bigger, an ancient photograph of this man as a baby, riding beside his grandfather–Geronimo. The tall Apache entered the room wearing the traditional dress of the tribe. Before we could say anything to him, Geronimo III looked at George and asked “Why do you have a mustache?” All George could say was “What?” Geronimo then explained that he knew George had Apache blood in him and that it is a disgrace for an Apache to have facial hair. He then introduced himself as Geronimo the third, grandson of Geronimo, the great chief. He invited us to sit on some old chairs, and he told us a few stories about his Grandfather and tales of a few years spent learning at Geronimo’s side. We bought a few items from him and we left.

We can’t say for sure that this man was really the Great Grandson of USGeronimo, but it was an interesting experience. The next day we moved to the Phoenix area. About 2 weeks later my husband came up to me while I was doing dishes and said, “I’m going to shave my mustache.” I laughed and told him to go ahead. He had said the same thing to me almost every day since we met Geronimo III. Before I had finished with the dishes he came out of the bathroom, and he had shaved it off! I started screaming because he looked so different. He said he really thought about what the Apache had told him and he decided to do it. My husband George is Hispanic and both Yaqui and Apache Indian! He never mentioned that to the man. It has been 27 years since this happened and he still keeps clean-shaven.

Geronimo III died on February 2, 1995, at the age of 115.

 

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.

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