Favorite Photo ~ 102 years ago ~ 52 Ancestors 52 Weeks #4

This is my all-time favorite photo. Growing up my Dad did not talk about his past or his family and no childhood tales or even stories about how he meet my mother. All of the information I have discovered came from his younger sister, my Aunt Margaret or from cousins who knew him.

When my Dad died in 1974, my mother threw away everything that belonged to him. I had to sneak outside in the middle of the night and go through the trash that was at the curb. I was only able to dig out the photos that he had before the porch light came on and I had to pretend that I was taking trash out from my room. I hid the photos in a bush by the front door and I retrieved them the next morning.

I quickly glanced through them before placing them in my locked chest of treasures. I had no idea who most of the people were, but I figured that someday I may be able to ask someone. In 1987 I finally got the chance. My husband and I made the move from Arizona to Missouri, and I was able to ask my Aunt about the photos. She meticulously looked through them, and she even wrote names and dates on the back.

This photo was in really horrific shape. About 10 years ago I restored it and now it is truly my most prized photo.

This is my Dad, Douglas Hughes age 4 and his slightly older brother Leonard age 6 playing on an old swing in the yard of their farm located in Hughesville, Pettis County, Missouri circa 1919. This is the earliest photo that remains of my Dad. I feel so blessed to have it.

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.

Monday’s for Me #51 ~ Why I Hate Horror Movies

Growing up we had a small 12 by 12 inch black and white television set. It had a set of rabbit ears that sat on top and it all sat in a corner of our living room. We were only allowed to watch TV for about 2 hours per night. My Dad would watch the news at 6 o’clock every night and on occasion we would watch a movie. On Saturdays, we could watch the children’s programs in the morning as long as we did our “chores” afterward.

I think I saw my first “scary” show when I was about 9 years old. There were “The Munsters”, “The Addams Family”, “The Outer Limits”, and “Dark Shadows” allof which were pretty tame compared to what you can view today. However, they did there job and really had me freaked out.

I didn’t like the feelings I had when I watched any type of scary program. So I usually stayed away from anything that made me feel this way. Fast-forward to when I was 18 years old. My family had moved to Hollywood, California in 1973. My Dad had worked construction most of his life and had worked with a lot of asbestos. He also smoked about a pack of cigarettes a day. So it was really no surprise when in October of that year he was diagnosed with lung cancer.

He had radical surgery where they removed the right lung. and he had a scar that ran two-thirds the diameter of his chest and back. I drove him to Chemotherapy and radiation treatments 3 days a week. The doctor gave him 3 months to live. After about 6 months, my Dad was convinced that he was getting better. So, I started to go out more with my friends and spend more time away from home. It was now 1974 and the blockbuster movie of the year was “The Exorcist”. Everyone I knew was talking about it but I declined every invitation to go see it. Then my sister who was 4 years older than I and who had always been a bully towards me told me she wanted to see it and I had to go with her. Between my mother and her pushing me to go I finally gave in.

On June 23rd 1974 my sister and I went to see the 11:45 pm showing at a theater on Hollywood Boulevard. I absolutely hated the movie, and I was scared to death! Even my sister was scared, and she had cried during the show. We got home about 2:30 am and I had a hard time falling asleep, but I now I did at some point. I know this because I was abruptly shaken awake at 7:30 by my mother. She was standing over me with a big grin on her face, and she told me to come and see, my Dad was dead. I jumped out of bed and ran to their room, and he was indeed gone. I started to cry hysterically and I ran to my room, threw on my clothes and ran out of the house. I went straight to my boyfriends house 5 house down from ours. I stayed there, sitting on the porch swing with him until the coroners van left.

When I went in the house my mother was so excited, getting ready to go to the funeral home. This is a woman who had lived in the Los Angeles area for over 5 years and had never left the house except when we moved. She had a mental breakdown about 6 years earlier, and she had become a hermit. To say thing was unnerving is an understatement.

Now I know my Dad did not die on June 24th because I went to see that horrible movie the night before, but for many years after this event, that is what I believed. I decided that I would not watch any of these types of movies again and I never saw another horror movie after this.

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 either Facebook or Twitter @VHughesAuthor.

The Overall Gang #7 ~ Benjamin Douglas Hughes

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.

Monday’s for Me #45 ~ A Different Way To Get Groceries

Growing up I never realized how lazy my mother was. My sister and I did all of the house cleaning and most of the cooking. I remember using a stool to be able to reach the clothesline. When we were younger, we had one of those wringer washers and I remember having a problem with that one. I was probably about 9 before we got an electric one.

My Dad had to do all the grocery shopping. He and I would go on Friday evening to the Lucky Store, carefully picking up everything that was on the list. I used to look around and wonder why there weren’t more men shopping. My Dad stood out like a sore thumb, pushing the cart and filling it with our next weeks bounty. I didn’t really mind it because I was away from my mother and sister, and I got to spend time alone with my Dad. We would get home, cart in all the paper bags of food, then he and I would put it away.

When we moved to Missouri, when I was 12-years-old. The tradition continued for about the first 2 months. The stores were different, the food was different, and the shopping experience was very different. We are talking about 1967, and Missouri was way more traditional than Arizona ever was. Women were actually rude to us when we would go to the grocery store. I could see my Dad’s face turn red from embarrassment when some woman would make a disparaging comment. Of course, it made me mad, even though I didn’t understand why they said the things they did. We moved from the small town (about 800 people) we originally moved to and my parents bought a house in Independence. I only remember going shopping there once.

Later that week, walking down the hill to the house, I saw a large delivery truck in the driveway of the house. I got there in time to see two men with a large dolly taking, what I thought was a very large refrigerator inside. I knew better than to ask my mother any questions, so I waited until my Dad got home from work. He explained that it was a large capacity freezer and that we were buying a half a cow and a pig to put in it. You can probably guess….I was so confused. What in the world was he talking about?

It was about this time when my mothers mental illness became very evident. We always knew things weren’t right, but now we couldn’t deny it anymore. She went crazy, tearing up the house, screaming to the top of her lungs. She stated that there was no way she would eat meat that was delivered, then she ran to the kitchen and tried to push the freezer over. Thankfully she wasn’t strong enough to move it. She then did what she always did and locked herself in the bedroom. I just ran to my room and hid.

The next day, which was Saturday, my mother never came out of her room. My Dad asked me to come out in the yard, and we started planting a vegetable garden. He told me it was easy to grow things here because it rained a lot, we were no longer in the desert. I was fascinated. I couldn’t wait to watch it all grow and to eventually eat it! That afternoon another large truck arrived and two men carted in package after package of wrapped meat. That’s when I finally asked, “Where is the half cow and pig?” I thought my Dad and the two delivery men were going to die from laughter. After they left my Dad explained that you can buy the meat from the farm, and they package it for you. So, all those butcher paper squares contained the cow and pig.

By the end of the summer we had raised all of the vegetables we needed and my Aunt came over and showed me how to can them for future use. We had 4 peach trees in the yard, and she and I picked as much fruit as we could, and we canned those also. It was amazing to me. The best part of this whole experience was, for the next two years, Dad and I didn’t have to make a weekly grocery run. We just had to go pick up a few items that we couldn’t raise or pull out of the freezer. I can still remember how good the food tasted and how much fun I had gardening and canning.

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.

Gratitude ~ Truly Thankful ~ 52 Ancestors #48

During this time of year that we pause to give thanks, I think it is very fitting that this weeks’ blog should be on Gratitude. We all have a lot to be grateful for, just sometimes we forget to stop and count our blessings and to express gratitude for what we do have.

I am grateful for Genealogy. I wasn’t raised around family since my parents moved us from Missouri to Arizona when I was 11 months old. I lived in Missouri from age 12-14 but because of my mothers mental illness we didn’t get to know many of the relatives. After my mother died in 1999, I had a great desire to know where I came from. And so my journey really began.

Over the last 21 years I have discovered so many amazing things about my ancestors. The most excited thing I have found is actual family! With the onset of social media I have been able to connect with hundreds of relatives. Most are more distant ones but I do have over 150 closer relatives, and only a handful were known to me before this. I have been able to meet a few in person, or talked with them by phone. I have had several who have mailed or emailed me photos and stories about our shared family.


Dad 1939

Mom 1941

Brother 1955


Sister 1986

As of two years ago I am the only living member of my family lines going to me. My Dad died in 1974, my mother who disowned me in 1986, died in 1999, my sister who did the same because of my mothers pressure, died in 2012 and my brother who my mother disowned in 1980, died in 2018. I have always felt disconnected from family because of my mother, however now I have a sense of family because of the blessing of finding so many wonderful cousins. I am full of Gratitude!

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.

Picture Perfect #15~ Douglas B. Hughes

I am currently working on my Family Genealogy Group page for Facebook. In doing so, I realized I have a tremendous amount of photos. I decided to feature one a week. No, not everyone is “perfect” however, they are to me!
Douglas Hughes is my Dad. He was born on August 18, 1915. I absolutely love this photo. Here he is 20 years old and this was taken at the Rubicon Civilian Conservation Corps camp in Lake Tahoe, California. He looks so happy sitting on that horse. He had been raised riding horses so he has a confident air about him.

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.

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.

Picture Perfect Saturday #5 ~ Hughes Family 1937

Picture Perfect logoI am currently working on my Family Genealogy Group page for Facebook. In doing so I realized I have a tremendous amount of photos. I decided to feature one a week. No, not everyone is “perfect” however, they are to me!

hughes family 1937

The fifth photo I am showcasing is of my Hughes Family taken in Lexington, Missouri in 1937. It includes my Grandparents, Charley and Jennie, and my Dad and his first wife. My Aunt Leola had died 5 years earlier but her husband is there. 2 of my Uncles died as toddlers so this photo has all 8 of my Grandparents’ 11 children that survived.

Left to right: Grandpa Charley Hughes, Winford Winningham (Aunt Leola’s husband) holding their son Charles, Aunt Margaret, behind her is Uncle Orville holding his son James and next to him is Aunt Meadie his wife, In front of Meadie is Jackie, Aunt Hazels daughter and in front of her is Irene, Aunt Leola’s daughter. Next is my Dad Douglas, and in front of him is his first wife, Mildred, behind my dad is Uncle James Raymond, then Aunt Hazel and in front of Hazel is her son Charles. Behind Hazel is Uncle Leonard, then Aunt Nellie, behind her is Aunt Cornelia (Uncle Leonard’s wife) holding their daughter Lucille. Next is Uncle Mitchell Willard (Aunt Ellie’s husband), then Aunt Ellie, and on the end is Grandma Jennie Hughes holding Jerry Lee, Aunt Nellie’s son. The two young boys on the right front row are Mitchell Lee, Aunt Ellie’s son and the other one is Carl, Aunt Hazels’ son.

I know the above is a bit confusing but I feel the need to acknowledge each one of these people. They have all passed away and I can honor their lives in this way.

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.

Mondays For Me ~ My Dad’s Secret Life

shhh-its-a-secretOk, the title may be a little misleading. My Dad never led a secret life but he never spoke about the one he did have. I don’t remember him ever telling me about his life before I was born. So, to me, it was a secret.

By doing Genealogy and speaking with cousins I had lost track of 50 dad, mildred, lolayears ago, I was able to learn a lot about my Dad’s upbringing, previous marriages, and the things he had done. I discovered that he had married the first time when he was 22 years old. His wife was 17. They had a son who only lived for 2 months and his wife died 2 months after that. I never knew until about 7 years ago that I had a ½ brother by my Dad. I also found out that he never had 2 daughters that died of scarlet fever with a second wife. He never had any other children with her.

dad, margaret

I found out from a cousin that my Dad had always been a “ladies’ man”. I thought that was odd. My Dad always seemed shy and insecure around women. I decided to look through the stack of old photos that my Aunt gave me years ago! Sure enough, over the course of about 12 years, there were pictures of him with about 10 different women. My Aunt had marked on the back of each photo “Dougie and his girlfriend “the girls’ name”. Wow, I had no idea.

The most interesting thing I learned was about some of the occupations dad cccthat he had. He had been a farmer, a horse trainer, a coal miner, a railroad worker, and a butcher. However, for most of his life, he had been a carpenter and a bricklayer. These jobs I knew about. I just didn’t know where he had acquired the skills to do them. When the 1940 Census came CCC Camps12out, I saw that he had listed his place of residence in 1935 as the CCC Camp in Lake Tahoe, California. I began to research the Civilian Conservation Corps in that area. I found that that is where my Dad learned those skills and many more. He never spoke of being there nor the fact he had participated in such a wonderful program.

I know it is too late to find much more information about his life as it has been 46 years ago that he died. I know I am going to keep searching and asking questions of my relatives in hopes that they will remember something.

 

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.

Monday’s for Me ~ An Unexpected Event

Screen shot hollywoodIn 1974 we lived in Hollywood, California. We had moved to California in 1969, first landing in Santa Monica then we moved to Culver City, next came Palms and we finally ended up here. We moved each time because my mother was convinced that the “mafia” that had “followed” us all the way from Missouri had found us. A few months after our last move my dad became ill. Being a strong, healthy man all of his life he denied that he wasn’t up to par. That facade didn’t last long. He had worked construction most of his life and while at work one day in August of 1973 he collapsed. They sent him to the doctor but instead, he came home. My mother and sister didn’t care but I begged him to go see a doctor. After a couple of days of not getting any better, he finally gave in. I went with him and the doctor ordered tests and x-rays. A few days later we got the news, he had lung cancer.

He ended up having surgery to remove his right lung and I took him for chemo and radiation treatments 3 times a week for 2 weeks. The doctor told me he had about 3 months to live. I was devastated. He made it past the 3-month mark and was seeming toChair get better. One day he heard me talking on the phone making an excuse why I couldn’t go with some friends to Universal Studios. I had wanted to go there for quite a while but now wasn’t the time. The next day he handed me the money and told me I had to go. I began to argue but he told me it would make him happy. So I called my friends and the next day we made the short trip up I-5 to Universal.

It was so much fun. Of course, it was a lot different then it is now. They had the village Bill Balance & mewith the rushing water that flooded the streets, King Kong made his appearance and we took the tram ride around the studio lots. We saw TV shows being filmed and actors walking around on the lots. One of the best things that happened was sitting in the audience of a live radio show. The host, Bill Balance, was a controversial figure. Conservatives tried to have his program banned. I was thrilled to get my photo taken with him.

There were a lot of movie props from the “Land of the Giants” TV program that youPhone could get pictures with and everything there made you feel as though you were in a movie. We had such a good time that I felt guilty on my stocksway home because I felt I had neglected my dad. He was waiting for me when I got home and wanted to hear all about my day. Back in those days, you had to wait a week for your film to be developed so we had something to look forward to. I remember his face lighting up when we relived the day through the photos.

My beloved dad passed away about 4 months later, on June 24, 1974. He had lived 6 months longer than what the doctor gave him and for that I am thankful. I will cherish the memory of that trip to Universal Studios until the day I join him again!

 

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.