Category Archives: Lafayette County Courthouse

Unforgettable ~ 52 Ancestors 52 Weeks ~ Week #35

Gpa and Gma Hughes older fixedCharles “Charley” Hughes was the first person I thought of when I saw the prompt for this week’s 52 Ancestors. I spent time trying to come up with another ancestor I could write about, but I always came back to my paternal Grandfather. This is why I feel he is unforgettable.

I never got to meet my Grandfather as he died 11 years before I was born. However, I have heard so many great things about him. Every person who ever met my Dad loved him. They only had good things to say about him. Over the last 23 years, I have discovered that he got that trait from his Dad. Every person I have talked to only had good things to say about Charley, and they say “Everyone loved him”.

Charley Hughes has left me with 2 unsolved mysteries. The first, is Charley Hughes Headstone“when was he born”? I have not found a birth certificate for him, even though I have spent years searching. I know he was born in Benton County, Missouri in the 1860s. His Headstone says he was born in 1868, his death certificate says 1865, my Aunt’s written genealogy says 1864, a page from the Hughes Family Bible says 1861 and my Baby Book family tree says he was born in 1867. The second mystery is, “was he married more than twice”? He first married Clara Hester Braden on March 25, 1900, at the age of 31. It seems odd to me that he would have Gpa & Gmawaited so long to get married and begin a family. When Clara died during childbirth in 1903, he married my Grandmother, Virginia Belle Hayes within months of her death. Granted, he had two young children under the age of 3 to take care of, but that was still fairly soon. I think the thought of him having another wife and possibly having other children out there is just too intriguing.

Charley loved farming and raising horses, and he excelled at both. He helped his mother with his much older brother, Benjamin Douglas, who became blind because of Scarlet Fever when he was 5 years old. He took over complete care of him after his mother died in 1913. Benjamin died on August 18, 1915, the same day that my Dad was born. Charley named my Dad after his brother.

Grandpa raised prize-winning horses. He also raised enough foodGpa & horses during the great depression to not only feed his family of 11 children, but he also made sure his neighbors had enough to eat. In 1930 when one of his daughters’ husband was murdered on his way into Lexington, Missouri, he stormed the courthouse to try to administer his own kind of justice to the man who killed his son-in-law. When he couldn’t get inside, he tried to break through the wall of the building to get in. He was so well thought of in the county that the sheriff just loaded him in the squad car and drove him home.

He did so much in his long life that there is no way I could write it all in one blog. I have been writing the stories I have heard about him, and I am putting them in a book I am writing. I want to make sure that those who come after me will discover how unforgettable their ancestor was.


I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on 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.


Filed under #52ancestors, 52 Ancestors 52 Weeks, Ancestry, Charley Hughes, Facebook Groups, Lafayette County Courthouse, Lexington MO, Life of Service, Missouri, My Stories, Personal Stories, Uncategorized, Virginia Belle Hayes

Monday’s for Me ~ My Mother Had A Job!

cccA few years ago I wrote a blog about my Dad who had participated in the Civilian Conservation Corp at Lake Tahoe, California back in 1935. I have a lot of photos of him there, as well as many photos he took of his time there. It was interesting to research the camp and learn more about my Dad in doing so.

What does the above statement have to do with my mother, Emmajane1940 cen Smith Hughes? Let me tell you this first. My mother was a mentally ill woman who wreaked havoc in my Dad’s and my lives. As a result, I have neglected doing the same type of research on my mother’s side of the family as I have done on my Dad’s. That is until the last 7 months. As I was taking a second look at the 1940s Census for her I discovered something I hadn’t seen before.

mom & avis

Mother & Avis

In this Census my mother was 21 years old and living in Lexington, Lafayette County, Missouri. She had a roommate named Avis, however, there is no mention of her 4 years old son. It stated that she worked for the WPA (Work Projects Administration) at the County Courthouse. I was surprised because my mother had never worked! My Uncle once told me that even as a child she would pretend to be sick to get out of work. Also, she never once mentioned that she had worked during this time frame. Here is what I discovered about the WPA.

The Works Project Administration was an American New Deal agency, employing millions of job-seekers to carry out public works projects. It was established on May 6, 1935, by Executive Order 7034.

The Historical Records Survey (HRS) was a project of the Works Projectusa_work_program Administration New Deal program in the United States. Originally part of the Federal Writers’ Project, it was devoted to surveying and indexing historically significant records in state, county, and local archives. The official mission statement was the “discovery, preservation, and listing of basic materials for research in the history of the United States.” It was organized on November 15, 1935, under the direction of Luther H. Evans with a budget of $1,195,800, the Survey began life under the Federal Writers’ Project. It became an independent division of Federal Project Number One in October 1936 within the Works Project Administration’s Women’s and Professional Division. In 1939, with more artistic federal programs under attack from Congress, partly because they employed suspected Communists, the less controversial HRS was moved to the Work Projects Administration Research and Records Program, Professional and Service Division. The program was shut down on February 1, 1943.

In 1939 the federal government handed off the program’s activities to willing state governments. Each state had its own supervisor coordinating the Survey’s activities. Other accomplishments included the Soundex indexes of the states for several of the late 19th-century U.S. Censuses (1880, 1900, 1910, 1920), indexes of vital statistics, book indexes, bibliographies, cemetery indexes, and newspaper indexes, the Atlas of Congressional Roll Calls Project, a historical index of American musicians, surveys of portraits in public buildings, maritime records, a history of grazing, a food history project called America Eats, and a necessary survey of the federal Archives—NARA itself had been established only in 1934. The Survey also innovated archival practice. For example, it made use of new microfilm technology, experimented with its use in archiving, and advanced on previously existing practices.

I am amazed that my mother participated in something that helps me today. Since a large number of my ancestors had lived in the State of Missouri with many of them migrating there before it was a state. Even my paternal grandparents ended up in Lexington in the early 1920s, so the indexing she helped with is vital to my research. Both the CCC and the WPA were vital to our country during the hard times of the great depression. It gives me a sense of pride that both of my parents took part in these programs.


I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on 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.


Filed under Ancestry, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, History, Lafayette County Courthouse, Lexington MO, Missouri, Monday's For Me, Uncategorized, Work Project Administration