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Picture Perfect Saturday #35 ~ John Higgason Ogan

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!

This week I am showcasing my 1st cousin 3 times removed, John Higgason Ogan. Johns was born in 1844, in Linn County, Missouri. He moved with his family to California in 1856. He was a rancher. This photo is just perfect! He is looking at his cow like it is his best friend. I like the way he is dressed, especially his hat. If has the look of a very kind man. He died on November 11, 1930, in Santa Barbara, California at the age of 86.

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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My Ancestors Signature #42 ~ Morgan Blair

How many of you have searched for any kind of photo of an Ancestor and you weren’t able to find one? Especially for one who lived before photography was invented? Have you ever looked through documents like wills, or marriage licenses and you discover that your 3x Great Grandpa had signed it? This signature is a little piece of him that was left behind. By posting it online we can preserve it for future generations.

1st Cousin 6 times Removed

Morgan Blair
1812-1886
From Will Dated February 17, 1885

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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Thursday at the Cemetery #55 ~ Cedar Valley UMC Church Cemetery #3

This week I am honoring some of my paternal Hughes/Hayes family. There are several of my ancestors buried in this quaint cemetery located in Caldwell County, North Carolina.


I have spent the last couple of weeks writing a bio about each relative and posting it in a series of blogs. This is the final one.

Morgan Blair, my 1st cousin 6 times removed, was born on September 16, 1812, in Caldwell County, North Carolina. He was the son of John Colbert Blair (1764-1846) and Frances Hill (1768-1853). He was raised on his family’s farm near Cedar Valley. His family were pioneers in what was then Burke County, but is now Caldwell County. At a young age he learned the trade of a wagon maker. When he came of age he homesteaded his own farm, and he built a wagon shop on the property, and here he built and repaired wagons. He continued to acquire more land each year. In 1838, he married Elizabeth McLeod (1817-1877) the daughter of John McLeod and Elizabeth McRea. They had 10 children, 6 sons and 4 daughters. Morgan built his farm into a great plantation. In 1877, he became the postmaster in Cedar Valley where he served until his death on December 14, 1886, at the age of 74.

Elizabeth McLeod , wife of my 1st cousin 6 times removed, was born on May 26, 1817, in Caldwell County, North Carolina. She was the daughter of John McLeod and Elizabeth McRea. Her parents had immigrated to America in 1798 from Scotland. In 1838, she married Morgan Blair (1812-1886) the son of John Colbert Blair (1764-1846) and Frances Hill (1768-1853)). They had 10 children, 6 sons and 4 daughters. She died on September 29, 1877, at the age of 60.

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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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.

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Here’s Your Sign #28 ~ Dr. Joseph Warder

For many years I have been collecting photos of and information about the various signs that have been placed in honor of some of my ancestors. These signs are a glimpse into some event and/or place where they lived. Some of the signs are small like a placard with a few poignant words, some are large, and they go into great detail, and then there are those that are somewhere in between. Each one gives added life to those ancestors.

Dr. Joseph Warder is my maternal 5th Great Grandfather. He served as a field doctor in the Revolutionary War under Captain Hezekiah Garner in the 26th Battalion of Charles County, Maryland. This marker was placed on the Barren County Courthouse, in Kentucky, by the Edmund Rogers Charter of the DAR. Joseph’s name is the last one on the list.

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 #55 ~ Going to the Swimming Hole


Me age 5

I was always a tom-boy growing up, always the first one to take a dare and run with it. I remember so many times that the outcome of these daring feats ended in disaster. Once I ended up with stitches in my knee, another time I sprained my ankle so badly from roller skating off our wooden picnic table onto the concrete patio that I was on crutches for 2 weeks.

A perfect example of accepting a dare was when I was 5 years old. We lived on Circle A Drive and the street was shaped like a horseshoe. For the first 8 years that we lived there the street was unpaved. It was not uncommon for the county to dig large holes on the side of the streets to fix pipes or other issues. There was a boy named Terry who lived down the street from us, and he was about 6 years older than me. One day he came over and said they were putting in a swimming pool a few houses down, and he asked if we wanted to see it. My sister and I immediately said yes and off we went.


My sister aged 8 and me aged 4

Sure enough, right in the front of their yard was a large 6-foot deep hole half filled with murky water. My sister said that she had never seen a pool without cement in it and Terry told her that after they are sure the hole is deep enough and that it is the right shape, they drain it and put in the cement. He then challenged my sister to jump in. My sister wasn’t a good swimmer and although she was only 9 years old she already weighted close to 200 pounds, so she was afraid to try. Terry only just began the challenge directed to me when I ran and jumped in the hole!

I remember going under the water and when I came to the surface I couldn’t breathe. My skin had a light brown sludge on and I couldn’t “swim” to the edge. Totally frightened Terry jumped in close to the edge and reached his hand out for me to grab. It took a couple of tries, but we finally clasped hands. After pulling me to the edge he shoved me up onto the dirt. He then struggled to climb up but couldn’t get a good footing. My sister had run to Terry’s house and got his Dad to come help. Eventually we were both laying on the ground. Terry’s Dad was laughing so hard he could hardly speak.

He sent my sister to tell my mother that he was carrying me home and to meet us in the yard with some towels. Terry was instructed to go home. When we got to my house my mother and sister were standing in the yard with the towels and my mother looked angry. That was until she saw me. She started screaming from fear and rushed to get the water hose. She turned it on and began spraying me head to toe trying to wash the sludge off of me. I was still struggling to catch my breath and coughing.

After I got cleaned up enough to go inside, my mother told me to go take a hot shower and wash my hair and body really good. By the time I got out, Terry’s parents were in the living room, along with a freshly scrubbed Terry. They were explaining what had happened, and they told her they would take me with them because we needed to go see our doctor. That is when I found out that the “swimming pool” was actually a hole that was dug to fix a sewer line. Apparently the leak got bigger overnight and sewage had filled the hole. The county workers had been by early in the morning and had dumped some chemicals in it to keep the smell down. This was in 1960 before all of our current regulations. You can image my reaction when I realized I had jumped in a hole of poop!

Thankfully, I had no adverse reactions to the chemicals or from being submerged in the mess. I wish that this event had taught me not to take a dare in the future, but it didn’t. I must say, if nothing else, my childhood was colorful!

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Happy Valentines Birthday, Pleasant Smith!

I am the youngest of my over 50 first cousins born on my paternal side. I am also the youngest of my 9 first cousins born on my maternal side. As a result, I am also 1 of only 3 of these cousins that are still alive. I have one older cousin on each side of my parents families, both are males. I say this because I had always thought it was odd that I was usually the same age as my 2nd and third cousins. It wasn’t until I began researching my family history that I the answer to this situation.


My mother and my Grandpa Smith aged 86

My mother was the youngest of 6 children and my Dad was the second youngest of 11 children. I was the youngest child born from this union, my mother being 36 and my Dad being 40. I only met my maternal Grandfather as the other 3 Grandparents died long before I was born. My Grandpa Smith was 67 years old when I was born. When I finally met him when I was about 8 years old I thought he had to be 100 years old!

At the beginning of my research this was basically the only information I had. I soon found out that all 4 of my Grandparents had been born between 1868 and 1888. All of them had been born between 67 to 87 years before me. Imagine my surprise when I realized that my mothers Grandfather had been born in 1853. Pleasant Smith, my maternal Great Grandfather, was born on February 14, 1853, in Hazel Hill. Johnson County, Missouri. He was born 102 years before me! I have friends who still have at least one Grandparent and one Great Grandparent that are alive.

Except for the fact that he married my Great Grandmother in 1882, and they had my Grandfather, that same year, I now nothing about him. I don’t have the slightest idea about his parents. I also have no idea when he died. It was like he just appeared on Valentine’s Day and then decided to keep his life to himself. My mother told us some wild tales about him while we were growing up. First that he was a Creek Indian Chief. Then his tribe killed him, cut him up and placed him on the railroad tracks for leaving the tribe and marrying a none Native. I have found no evidence of either him being a Native or any incidents in Missouri that matched this story.

He is my most frustrating brick wall because I haven’t even been able to take a tiny chunk out of it. Maybe one day I will crash through it, but until then…… Happy 168th Birthday Pleasant Smith!

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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Spotlight on Female Ancestors #3 ~ Mercy Otis ~ Playwright, Author, Political Activist

Mercy Otis my 1st cousin 8 times removed was born on September 14, 1728, in Barnstable, Massachusetts, the third of thirteen children born to the Honorable James Otis Sr (1702-1778) and Mary Allyne (1702-1774). Although Mercy had no formal education, she studied with the Reverend Jonathan Russell while he tutored her brothers Joseph and James in preparation for College. Unlike most girls of the time who were simply literate, Mercy wanted to learn as much as she possibly could. She devoured book after book, learning about history and language. This set her apart from the other girls and most likely paved the way for her to break the traditional gender roles of her time. Her father also had unconventional views of his daughter’s education, as he fully supported her endeavors, which was unheard of for the 18th century. All of the Otis children were “raised in the midst of revolutionary ideals”


Statue of Mercy Otis Warren by David Lewis at the Barnstable County Courthouse

Mercy married General James Warren, a lineal descendant of Mayflower passenger Richard Warren on November 14, 1754. They had 5 sons. She was noted for her active and powerful mind, and took a part in the politics of the day, another unusual role for a woman in those times. During the years before the American Revolution, Mercy published poems and plays that attacked royal authority in Massachusetts and urged colonists to resist British infringements on colonial rights and liberties. Her brother, James Otis Jr, was an ardent supporter of the American Revolution, and he coined the phrase “Taxation without Representation is Tyranny.” Both Mercy and her husband ardently supported the American Revolution. Between 1775 and 1778, Mercy wrote several patriotic satirical plays, including “The Sack of Rome” and “The Ladies of Castile”, which stirred patriotism in the colony.

She became a correspondent and advisor to many political leaders, including Samuel Adams, John Hancock, Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and especially John Adams, who became her literary mentor in the years leading up to the Revolution. In a letter to James Warren, Adams wrote, “Tell your wife that God Almighty has entrusted her with the Powers for the good of the World, which, in the cause of his Providence, he bestows on few of the human race. That instead of being a fault to use them, it would be criminal to neglect them.”

During the debate over the United States Constitution in 1788, she issued a pamphlet, Observations on the new Constitution, and on the Federal and State Conventions written under the pseudonym “A Columbian Patriot”, that opposed ratification of the document and advocated the inclusion of a Bill of Rights. Observations were long thought to be the work of other writers, most notably Elbridge Gerry. It was not until her descendant, Charles Warren, found a reference to it in a 1787 letter to British historian, Catherine Macaulay, that she was accredited authorship. After the war, she and her husband supported the effort to adopt a Federal Constitution, and she wrote several political speeches for members of the Constitutional Convention. In 1790, she published a collection of poems and plays under her own name, once more a highly unusual occurrence for a woman at the time. In 1805, she published one of the earliest histories of the American Revolution, a three-volume History of the Rise, Progress, and Termination of the American Revolution, the first history of the American Revolution authored by a woman. In an age when women were not expected to have good intellect, especially in matters of history or politics, she was an early leader of women’s rights by her example.

Mercy remained vital even in her final years, continuing to write and correspond with political friends. She died on October 19, 1814, at the age of 86, six years after her husband died in 1808. She is buried beside her husband at Burial Hill, Plymouth, Massachusetts.

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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Valentine ~ 52 Ancestors 52 Weeks #6

Peter Walt and Elizabeth Marsh are my maternal Great Grandparents. Peter was born in New Germany, New Brunswick, Canada in November 1839. He immigrated to Grape Grove, Ray County, Missouri in 1857. Elizabeth was born in Chillicothe, Livingston County, Missouri on December 31, 1841.

On June 2, 1861, Peter and Elizabeth got married in Grape Grove. They went on to have 10 children. Shortly after they got married Peter enlisted in the Confederate Army and went off to war. He mustered out in January 1863, just a month before their first child, my Great Grandmother, was born on February 14th. Peter had always wanted to have a daughter so after she was born he went out and picked Elizabeth a large bouquet of violets, her favorite flower.

From then on, until he died in 1910, each year on the anniversary of their daughters birth, he would either bring her a bouquet of violets or some other gift that had to do with the flower. Sometimes he would spend the weeks before the 14th painting a picture that included violets and it is said that he was a very talented painter. I am not sure when they started calling these little gifts Valentines gifts, but the tradition continued on long past the time that Asenath became an adult.

One of the last one of these gifts that he gave Elizabeth was a bronze bow pin complimented with an image of a posy of violets which is under a clear glass cabochon dome. This was one of her favorite presents she had ever received. When she died in 1913, she left the beloved pin to her oldest daughter. Asenath cherished it and when her oldest daughter, my Grandmother Ella, got married she lent it to her as her something “borrowed”. After the wedding she gave the pin to her. Ella loved the pin and wore it every Sunday when they attended church and on special occasions. Unfortunately Ella died of heart disease when she was 32 years old. My Grandpa kept it in hopes of passing it along to one of his daughters, but neither my Aunt Mary nor my mother wanted it.


This is not the actual pin, it is the closest example I could find.

When we moved to Missouri when I was 12 years old my Grandpa gave me the pin. My mother was a little upset as she thought it should have gone to my older sister. He informed her that he wanted the youngest Grandchild to have it and that happened to be me. I was ecstatic over owning such a beautiful piece of jewelry and also a part of a Grandma that I never got the chance to meet. When I was 14, we moved to California. My mother was in the worse part of her mental illness. The decision to move came quickly and my parents either sold all of our belongings or gave them away to family. It wasn’t until we arrived in Santa Monica that I realized the pin was missing. I had packed it in my bag myself, but it was nowhere to be found. I don’t know when or where, but somewhere along the way it disappeared. However, the one thing that didn’t disappear was the memory of that beautiful pin and the feeling that I had because it was given to me!

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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Here’s Your Sign #27 ~ Henry Leonidas Stevens Jr.

For many years I have been collecting photos of and information about the various signs that have been placed in honor of some of my ancestors. These signs are a glimpse into some event and/or place where they lived. Some of the signs are small like a placard with a few poignant words, some are large, and they go into great detail, and then there are those that are somewhere in between. Each one gives added life to those ancestors.

Henry L. Stevens Jr. 1896-1971 Veterans Leader. National Commander of American Legion, 1931-32; Superior Court Judge, 1939-62. He lived 2 blocks North.

Henry is my paternal 3rd cousin 2 times removed. He lived his entire life in  Clinton, Sampson County, North Carolina. He was very involved in his community, winning many awards for his extraordinary service.

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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