Category Archives: Research

Unusual Source ~ 52 Ancestors #7

10 years ago my husband and I took a Genealogy research trip to Missouri. My plan was to visit as many courthouses and cemeteries as we could. I also wanted to visit the Midwest Genealogy Center in Independence. I had contacted some cousins, and we made plans to get together with them. Our 10-day visit to the State was full.

We spent a full day at the Center, three days at some courthouses and a couple of days getting together with cousins. These were a lot of fun, however, as odd as it may seem, I enjoyed visiting the cemeteries the most. I grew up “visiting” people at the cemetery, and my mother always packed a lunch and we would eat lunch there. I have never had a fear of them.

On the next to our last day of being in Missouri, we visited the 2 cemeteries in the town I was born in. My Dad, several aunts and uncles, cousins, and my maternal Great Grandparents are buried there. I also got to meet a previously unknown cousin at one of them. When we left Lexington, we made our way to Buckner where my maternal Grandparents are. We attempted to find the Page Family Cemetery in Page City but the town no longer exists and the Cemetery was on private property.

Our last stop was the Dover Cemetery where my paternal Great Grandparents and 2x Great Grandparents are resting. I also found several other relatives graves there as well. We were heading back to our car when a much older gentleman in overalls approached us. He said he noticed our Arizona license plate, and he just wanted to know who we were visiting. I mentioned the names and his eyes lit up! He told us his Grandma was a Register. I asked what her name was, and he responded “Grandma”. I wasn’t sure if he was teasing me or what so I asked him what her first name was. It turned out that it was my Great Grandmother.

Robert, Elvira, Charles Register

We offered to buy him lunch, and we meet him at a small diner in town. We spent about 3 hours talking with him. He struggled at times to remember some details, but once he got started he told us so many stories and gave me verifiable facts that I didn’t already have. He even called his Granddaughter and had her bring a photo of his Grandma, and he gave it to me. So I now possess a photo that I never would have known existed if it hadn’t been for this encounter, and this unusual source.

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.


Filed under #52ancestors, 52 Ancestors 52 Weeks, Ancestry, Cemetery, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, Machpelah Cemetery, Memories, Missouri, Register Family, Research, Uncategorized

Shotgun Genealogy

It is amazing how life can change in an instant. I have been a Professional Genealogist for over 12 years now and I thoroughly enjoyed working with and for my various clients. Of course, this did not allow me much time to work on my own genealogy endeavors. Then, about a year and a half ago, a doctors’ negligent actions caused my husband to become disabled. For about the first 7 months I still had time to help clients, but then my husbands condition began to worsen every day, so I gave up working with others as I found myself becoming his full time caregiver.

I suddenly found that I had more time to work on my own trees on a more regular basis. I always had a disciplined method when I worked for others, but I found myself just diving in and following too many rabbit holes. It wasn’t long before I realized, it was more like a shotgun blast. I aimed my focus on one specific ancestor, then metaphorically I pulled the trigger. Next thing I knew, just like a shotgun shell, the pellets from the cartridge exploded and shot pellets everywhere.

So, here I would sit for hours, chasing each pellet, trying to place them back in the casing. I wasted so many hours using this method that I finally decided to just “hire” myself. I knew I had to stop this wasteful behavior quickly before it became ingrained in me. Yes, I should have been more disciplined from the beginning since I had already developed this form of research. It was just harder to maintain because of the times I would have to stop in the middle of something to go take care of my husband.

I finally sat down and wrote out a checklist to help me stay on tract. This method has helped me tremendously. Sometimes I fail to check off something I did, but it makes it so much easier to figure out where I left off. It has helped me be able to stay focused, and I am once again enjoying the search!

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, Blogging, Dilemma, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, Research, Uncategorized

“The Old Country” ~52 Ancestors 52 Weeks ~ Week 30

old photoI had always been told that my heritage was that of the English, Irish, and Native Americans. Growing up I was told to never mention the latter because it was a shameful thing to be. Our family was void of traditions or customs, so I really had no sense of being anything other than me.

Researching my family history has really surprised me and has given me a new outlook into who I am. I can now count England, Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Germany, France, and Switzerland among my “Old Country” homelands. I have yet to discover any proof that I am Native American, but I am still searching!

Because most of my ancestors arrived in this country in the early to mid-1600s, I feel a tad disconnected from their place of origin. I have however found a few that arrived in the mid to late 1700s and I find myself gravitating to them.

The earliest arrival of those who did not come over in the 1600s was8900-dublin-locator-map my maternal 4th great-grandfather, Thomas Divine Sr. who immigrated to Delaware from Dublin, Ireland in 1765. He participated in the Revolutionary War and was injured in one of the many skirmishes with the British. He married Jemima Dill on April 12, 1782. They moved to South Carolina then to Tennessee. They had 6 children. He died in McMinn County, Tennessee on June 20, 1840.

22-9-map-of-scotland-showing-fifeThe next to arrive was my paternal 4th great-grandfather, John T. McClain who came to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania from Criech, Fife County, Scotland in 1777. He moved to Montgomery County, Kentucky in 1785 and married Rachel Jones in 1787. They had 9 children. He fought in the War of 1812 and his wife Rachel received the pension from his service after his death in 1829.

The last arrival was my maternal 2nd great-grandfather, Peter Walt, New Brunswick mapwho arrived in St. Claire Co, Illinois from New Germany, New Brunswick, Canada in 1857. He made his way to Grape Grove, Ray Co, Missouri in 1860 and married Elizabeth Marsh on June 2, 1861. They had 10 children. He participated in the Civil War. His occupation was a wheel-wright.

I sometimes wonder if it is too late to adopt some of the customs or traditions of the various countries that my ancestors came from.


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, Canada, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, Immigration, Ireland, Research, Scotland, Uncategorized

Freaky Fridays ~ The Royal Treatment

freaky-fridayI have been researching my family history for over 24 years with about 22 years of that using online genealogy sites. When I first began I had a handwritten tree that my paternal Aunt gave me that had 3 generations on it. It was not a complete list of names but it was a start. In the beginning, I took my time, finding information about each of my Dad’s 10 brothers and sisters and then their families and filling in the blanks. Once that was done I started my journey backward.

Before I knew it I became obsessed with all the trees that had my family included in theirs. Being naive I took everything they had in the tree at face value. No questions, no research, I just put it in my tree. Royal CrownOver several months I had traveled back in time to the 900s AD. I think I was related to every royal, conqueror, and historical figure in history. I bragged about my “connections” to all my friends and family, including my husband’s family. I made so many binders and printed out thousands of pages of fact sheets. The only thing I did not have was any documentation for any of these ancestors.

embarrassed1I began taking the courses to become a Certified Genealogist and I saw the grave error of my previous ways. I was embarrassed by all the bragging I had done. I realized how foolish I must have looked talking about my royal blood. So, I confessed to my family and friends and I scraped my tree and started again. This time I only moved forward or backward if I had the proper documentation. Yes, it has taken me 15 years to go back to the early 1600s but I am positive that each person in my trees belongs there. I had learned a valuable lesson. Don’t get me wrong, I do have quite a few “maybe” ancestors in my trees but they are labeled as “Needs further research and documentation” and I do not write about them.

Well, today a freaky thing happened. I decided to research a branch I had completely forgotten about. I gathered all my research for my 10th Great Grandfather Anthony Savage and I began to search for any documents. Everywhere I looked all I saw was the “Royal” lines of Anthony. The majority of them were undocumented, just like what happened before but to my surprise, I found a few that had documentation! They only went back 2 generations but there it was. Is it freaky that I am actually scared to look into the documentation? I don’t want to get caught up in spreading false information again. Yes, I am a professional Genealogist, but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t make a mistake. After all, we are all human and that makes us capable of doing just that.

My plan now is to take it slow, verify, verify, verify everything, and see where it leads.


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, Freaky, Freaky Friday's, Genealogy, Oddities, Research, Royalty, Uncategorized

Freaky Friday’s ~ When A Lie Becomes A Truth

Howard Hughesfreaky-fridayWhen I was a young child, I sometimes wished my last name wasn’t Hughes. During this time Howard Hughes was a very popular guy. Not just for his being a well*respected business magnate, investor, record-setting pilot, engineer, film director, and philanthropist, known during his lifetime as one of the most financially successful individuals in the world, but also for his eccentric behavior and reclusive lifestyle.  The eccentric part always seemed to get the most attention.

I remember when I was about 8 years old my dad would drive my sister and me to the YMCA for Saturdays “kids only” swimming. He would drop us off and come back 2 hours later to take us home. We did this all year round because the winters were mild. We were one of the few kids that came every weekend, so there were always new kids there. My sister couldn’t tell the truth to save her life. No one, with the exception of my mother, believed her when she talked. Because my sister, at the age of 12 weighed 200 lbs and she was allowed to bully and abuse me, I found it was easier and safer to participate in her lies than to contradict her.

le & me

My Sister on the left, me on the right


One of her favorite ones was to tell people that we were related to Howard Hughes. We called him “Uncle Howie”. I usually didn’t talk much. My “job” was to just back up her lies. I have to tell you, some of the stories she told about us and Uncle Howie were so far out there I couldn’t see how anyone would believe them. Of course, she was talking to kids between the ages of 6 and 12. However, I could tell by the look on some of their faces that they knew what she said wasn’t true and I would be so embarrassed.

Fast forward to 2020. My husband and I watched a documentary about “Uncle Howie” and he asked me if I thought we could be related. I laughed and said, “Not very likely!” Well, that planted the little seed in my head so for the last 3 weeks, I have been doing research on him, seeing if any of the dots connected. A couple of days ago I ran that line through all the dots, and I found that we are related. Very, very distantly but close enough to consider him “kin”.

My sister passed away 8 years ago, but I think she would have been amazed that her lies had become truth. This was really a “Freaky” find.




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, Famous, Freaky, Freaky Friday's, Genealogy, Howard Hughes, Hughes, Memories, My Stories, Personal Stories, Research, Uncategorized

Saturday’s Dilemma ~ Down The Rabbit Hole

dilemma pic

One thing I have realized is there is never a shortage of dilemmas when you are working on Genealogy. Sometimes a person doesn’t quite fit into your tree, but you are sure they do. Other times, no matter how hard you search you can’t find a birth or death certificate. I am amazed that I still have hair!


I believe part of my problem with finding the information I need is I am a shotgun researcher. I decide to work on one Ancestor, then I start searching for the documents I am missing. I do good for a while, going to as many different sites to find or verify documentation. My downfall is when a name comes up from one of my other Ancestors. “Oh look, there may be some information I can use on them too!” Down the rabbit hole, I plunge! The next thing I know is I have strayed far from my original goal and more often than not, I have forgotten what I started researching. It is like I shot the gun and the pellets go in all directions. It gets so frustrating.


Believe it or not, I am a very organized person. I can sit in my recliner and tell someone where anything is in the house. Not just the general area but the cupboard and shelf and which side it is on. My husband is always amazed because he is the disorganized one. So why, why, why, can’t I figure out a doable way of organizing my research approach? I have tried many methods but nothing clicks with me.

So, maybe one of you can help me? What works best for you when it comes to keeping track of your research? How do you organize it so you can go back to the original Ancestor you began with? I am open to all suggestions. Thanks in advance.



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, Dilemma, Documentation, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, Hints, Organization, Research, Saturday's Dilemma, Uncategorized

Saturday’s Dilemma ~ Sometimes All You Need Is A Little Advice

Mayflower-IIWith the upcoming 400-year anniversary of the Mayflower arriving in Plymouth, Massachusetts I thought it would be a good idea to start writing blogs about my Pilgrim ancestors. I want to publish them as a series later in the year and I am striving for absolute accuracy, if possible. I am excited about this endeavor.

Here is my dilemma, one of my female ancestors has some controversy over her correct maiden name. To be honest, I have had both of her “proven” names listed on my tree at different times. I have done my own research and I have found credible evidence for both names. I have scoured through all of the Mayflower websites that I can find, as well as numerous books and publications. These have also been divided on her name.

2 people arguing

Because of my uncertainty of the correct one, I have been verbally attacked and harassed about the name I have associated with this ancestor. No matter which last name I have on the tree, someone who believes the other name is correct gives me a hard time about it. I always try to respond nicely, explaining why I have this particular last name listed and confessing that I have gone back and forth with the 2 names. I know you can’t please everyone, but until I find definitive proof, I will not take a side in this issue.

Question markSo, I was thinking yesterday, after my latest confrontation, that I may add a “second” wife to my ancestor. In other words, add the same wife with the other last name. I had thought about just putting both names on the existing one, kind of like Smith/Jones but I know in doing this it will wreak havoc with any hints I may receive. I would add the documentation for the “second” wife so when it is viewed a person can understand why I have it this way.

Has any of you done this with an ancestor before? If so, how did it work out? Any other suggestions?



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, Corrections, Documentation, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, History, Mayflower, Pilgrims, Plymouth Massachusetts, Research, Uncategorized

Saturday Dilemma ~ One Less Brick in this Brick Wall

Brick wallA week ago Wednesday I wrote a blog for the 52 Ancestors 52 Weeks about my favorite discovery. I wrote how, after over 20 years of searching I finally found information on my Great Grandmother Sarah Jane Page. I also express my frustration with the fact that I still had no leads on my Great Grandfather Pleasant Smith. It is amazing what a difference a week can make.

I am still missing a huge amount of documentation and facts about Pleasant but last Pleasant Smith burgalar 22 March1890 Lex Intelligencerweekend when they offered the free searches on, I took advantage of it. Let me tell you a little background before I move forward. I have Pleasant’s date of birth because it was written in my baby book. I know this is not evidence nor proof however all of the other names and dates have proven correct, so I believe this one is also. I do have my Great Grandparents’ marriage records and his name on my Grandfathers death certificate. I also have the wild tale my mother had told us when we were growing up. It was that Pleasant had been a Creek Indian and he was murdered, dismembered and placed on the railroad tracks because he had left the tribe. His remains were found before the train came. No time frame was given so from Sarah’s marriage to her third husband in 1894 I assumed he must have died prior to that.

Pleasant Smith burgalar 25 Jam 1890 Lex Intelligencer CaughtNow to my latest discovery. I knew that my Great Grandparents had lived in the Dover Missouri area. So, I looked in the Lexington Intelligencer newspaper for his name and gave it a 10-year window from his death date estimation for searching. Imagine my surprise when a Pleasant Smith popped up. I read the short article and thought this can’t be him. This person had been arrested in 1890 for burglary and larceny of a store in Waverly, Missouri. He was being sentenced to 3 years at the Missouri State Penitentiary. I started to “turn the page” when I noticed one of the men who were also named in the article. The name was John Page. I realize this isn’t solid proof, but Sarah had a brother named John! I kept searching and found 2 more articles about the burglary and sentencing. I then went to the website for the State Penitentiary and found his intake information. Again, not proof but it described Pleasant as fair-skinned with blue eyes.  My Grandfather and my mother had fair skin and blue eyes. At least I have a lead I can try to follow.

I contacted the Missouri Historical Society which holds the Penitentiary files and theyPleasant Smith Prision Record discharge date told me they will send me all the information they have on him. I am excited to see where this may lead. Now I am thinking that the “story” my mother told us was either part of her mental illness or it may be that the family was so embarrassed by Pleasant’s actions that they made up the story. I also am thinking maybe Pleasant and Sarah got a divorce before she got remarried and he wasn’t dead.

I anxiously await the information from the Historical Society and now I believe I have been able to knock one more brick off Pleasant’s wall.

My dilemma is: where to go next in finding his death information. Any Suggestions?



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, Brick Walls, Dilemma, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, Missouri, Page Family, Penitentiary, Pleasant Smith, Research, Uncategorized

Saturday’s Dilemma ~ Should a Christian do Genealogy?

Family_TreeA few years ago, a Pastor friend of ours told me I shouldn’t be working on my genealogy because the Bible speaks against it. He quoted a few scriptures that “proved” his statement. At this point in my life, I had been a Christian for 42 years and I had been a Genealogist for over 20 years. I never felt the two were in conflict with each other. Even so, his words bothered me.

I went home and got out my Bible and sure enough, that is basically what those scriptures stated. They inferred that taking on Genealogy endeavors were “unprofitable and vain”. Being a researcher at heart and having been misguided by others in the past because they pulled one verse out of an entire book in the Bible to prove their point, I did my own research on what those scriptures meant.

Here is what I discovered. Throughout the Old Testament being able to “prove” your lineage is what gave you a position in society and/or in the Temple. If you were from, let’s say, the line of Aaron who was the high priest of the wilderness tabernacle, then each high priest that came after him had to be from his line. This line assured their importance and position. Fast forward to the New Testament. Things had not changed. Each group of people fits into society according to their lineage. When Jesus began His ministry, He did not follow the “rules”.  He called some fishermen, a tax collector, a doctor, a zealot, and several tradesmen to be His disciples.


When the 2 verses (see verse references below) that had been quoted to me made the statement about “vain genealogies” it was referring to those who use their ancestors to put themself above others or who believes this makes them better than others. The bottom line is…..God created us all and we are equally valuable. I can comfortably reconcile my love of genealogy with my faith in Jesus!

SIDE NOTE: I have found through my research that there is a rich Religious Heritage that has been passed down through the generations to me. This comes from many different faiths and beliefs and I am thankful for this foundation.


Scriptures: 1 Timothy 1:4; Titus 3:9


cropped-blog-pic.jpgI 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, Christianity, Church, Dilemma, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, Personal Stories, Religion, Research, Saturday's Dilemma, Uncategorized

Saturday’s Dilemma ~ Lewisa Bean

question markThis is the ancestor that I have the least amount of information about. There has been a lot of debates on concerning her name, year of birth, and marriage. Let’s take a look at what I do know about her.


My 3 x Great Grandmother, Lewisa Bean as born in 1860 in Shenandoah County, Virginia. She married John Parrott, the founder of Parrotsville, Cocke Co, Tennessee, on June 27, 1881. Reverend Jacob Snyder performed the ceremony. She was John’s second wife.

Over the next 17 years, the had 5 children. The 3 sons were Joseph, Larue, and Jacob. The 2 daughters were Rachel and Catherine. Catherine is my 2x Great Grandmother.

She apparently died in Parrotsville, TN. Date unknown.

There is great controversy as to her name. First the spelling. In most of the Ancestry John Parrott Lewisa Bean MLtrees, I find it listed as Louise or Louisa.  Some of them have the name, Louisa Lucy. I understand that there are different ways to spell names and Louise or Louisa could be another way of writing Lewisa. However, as of this writing, I only have one document pertaining to her and her name is Lewisa on it. I have never found anything with either of the other 2 spellings or with the middle name of Lucy. That brings us to the year of birth and the year she got married.

Lewisa Bean John Parrott ML.I found one “record” of their marriage in the publication “A History of Shenandoah County, Virginia”. It states that they got married at the date listed above. It has her name spelled as “Lewisa”. However, there is a “U.S. and International Marriage Record” that has a Louise Bean marrying a John Parrett in 1861. If this was Lewisa she would have gotten married when she was 1 year old!  Also, her last child was born in 1899 so calculating this she would have been anywhere between 55 to 60 years old when Catherine was born. One thing that people keep pointing out to me is the marriage month and day are the same on both “records”, just the year is different.

So, as you can see, until I find more concrete documentation I am at a standstill. I have turned off the comments on Lewisa’s page so I don’t continue to get harassed because of these discrepancies.

Does anyone have any suggestions of where I may look for more information on her?


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.







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Filed under Ancestry, Brick Walls, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, History, John Parrott, Names, Parrottsville TN, Research, Saturday's Dilemma, Tennessee, Uncategorized