Tag Archives: Story telling

Mondays for Me #58 ~ Number 400

Number 400. That is how many days in a row that I have written a blog. Last year before the end of January, things were going very bad in my life. My husband was very ill, and I was his sole caregiver. We had to prepare to move, my own heath was getting bad, and I was ready to give up on writing a blog that I had written for 6 years. Then I thought about the concept of New Year’s resolutions.

I then decided that for the next 365 days I would attempt to write a blog each day. I came up with a few weekly titles that I could write about. One’s like: “Thursday at the Cemetery”, “Sunday’s Salute” and “Hometown Tuesday”. To that I added the 52 Ancestors challenge by Amy Johnson Crow. I figured I could fill in the other three days with random blogs. It was difficult at first, but once I started I found I really enjoyed it. Soon I added other “titles” and I pressed forward.

Over the course of the year I had some people tell me that I should be more concerned about the quality of my blogs rather than the quantity. They were referring to my “Monday’s for Me” and the “Freaky Fridays” that I wrote. They also, reprimanded me for not citing sources. At first I was upset. I write solely about my family for myself and to connect with others who share my ancestors. All of my blogs will go into a book that I can give to my children, grandchildren and my great grandson. My daughter will have access to my trees so she will know where my information came from. So I ignored what had been said and pressed on.

At one point I did write more than one blog a day, so during the last 400 days I have written 427 blogs. It became a habit for me, something I really enjoy and actually look forward to every day. Since the first of the year I have thought about starting a new type of genealogy blog and I will need time to develop it. So, starting today I will be blogging only about 3 times per week. I am excited about this new adventure.

I have found so many wonderful friends, a ton of cousins and I have learned so much by writing these blogs. I look forward to sharing my “improved” blog with you in the near future.

OK, I know you many have discovered a couple of contradictory statements in the beginning of this blog. Yes, I did say I committed to writing blogs for 365 days in a row. I also called this blog number 400. That is because it is difficult to stop an addiction cold turkey, so when I got close to my goal I challenged myself to continue on till I hit the 400 mark. I hope I don’t get the shakes now and need a “write another blog” fix!

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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Resolution ~ A New Year ~ 52 Ancestors #52

I have really enjoyed this challenge this year. I tried to participate in it about 4 years ago, but I only completed about half the year. At the first of the year we got the news that my husband would never recover from the health problems that was caused by an arrogant nurse practitioner in July of 2019. I had been writing a Genealogy blog since January of 2012, but it was hit or miss at best, and as I found myself in the position of being a full time caregiver, I knew I needed something to help fill the hours. This was a perfect fit!

After a couple of weeks, I made the decision to try to write a blog a day. I was nervous as I didn’t think I could come up with enough to write about, but once I made the commitment and began to write, I found it wasn’t that difficult. Once I came up with a few themes of my own, it became easier.

Because of this challenge from Amy Johnson Crow, I have been able to balance out my love of Genealogy, writing and caring for my husband, which has helped me not to become overwhelmed, especially since the pandemic was thrown into the mix.

The bonus of this challenge was discovering so many interesting details about my ancestors. It pushed me to dig deeper, as well as casting out a wider net. I had gotten into the habit of just researching a few certain lines of my Dad’s side, ignoring the rest. Because of the specific prompts, I was forced to apply the same principles of research to my own ancestry that I apply to my clients. It has really opened up a new, more intense love for family history.

My resolution is to continue with my self-imposed challenge of writing at least one blog a day. I also want to begin organizing the blogs I have already written into a book that I can share with my extended family.

I want to thank Amy for the 52 Ancestors 52 Weeks Challenge. It has made a very difficult year a little easier. I look forward to participating in the challenge!

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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Oops! ~ I Should Have Thought That Through ~ 52 Ancestors Week #49

This week’s prompt seems very fitting to me. I recently spoke with a cousin, “John”, I had connected with on Facebook. Although he had been on my friends list for several years the extent of our “relationship” had been responding to each other’s posts. I try not to overwhelm my family with information about our shared ancestry, but whenever asked about it I gladly share.

A few weeks ago I posted that if anyone had any stories about our mutual ancestors that I would love to hear them. John responded that he had a lot of stories and he wanted to call me so we could discuss them. I was elated! He was from a branch that I had not heard any stories from. We set up a time for the call and I awaited excitedly. We were on the phone for about and hour and I furiously too notes and asked questions. When the call ended, I got to work trying to verify some of the stories he told me about.

The first bit of information was one I had heard before. My Hughes line was related to Jessie James! I remembered doing a quick search about the possibility of Jessie being a relative, but I didn’t remember the outcome. I had already researched our connection to John Wesley Hardin and John Hardin Clements, the notorious Texas outlaws but I had never added Jessie to the tree. When I started researching I realized why. There was no way we were related, no matter how far back I went. So I put that possibility in the “no way” pile.

I moved on to the next story. It was about our ancestors, whom he named, that supposedly helped to dig up and rebury Civil War soldiers that had died and were buried on the grounds of The Anderson House in Lexington, Missouri. Again, I did some research and found nothing. I had been to this house and the museum that they had on the grounds, so I knew if I called the office, someone may be able to answer the question for me. The poor lady must have thought I was nuts! She was so nice though, and she told me they get calls all the time trying to prove some ancestors’ connection to the battle that was fought there or things happening on the grounds. She informed me that nothing like this ever happened here. My “no way” file just got bigger!

John spent about 15 minutes telling me all about his paternal heritage, how they were descendant from Irish Kings, and he told me outlandish stories about them. This line I wasn’t concerned with, nor did I even attempt to do any research of it because he and I aren’t connected through his fathers line.

Now John is bugging me about when I am going to write up the stories he told me and let the family know about Jessie James! I told him that we were not related to him, and he exclaimed “That’s what my Dad told me, and he’s not a liar!” I told him that maybe he was related to Jessie through his Dad’s line, and I told him I have never researched that line since I am not really connected to it. I tried to calm the situation down by telling him that when I have free time I may be able to look into it for him. I then told him the genealogy mantra: “Genealogy without documentation is mythology.” He understood and at least he didn’t unfriend me!

My oops moment was not thinking through the post about wanting stories. Maybe I should have just contacted a few cousins at a time and ask them if they had any information on the family. I could then, at least, give a few guidelines and explain about oral traditions. These stories can be wonderful and add a lot of character to your family history, as long as we state they are stories and are not proven facts. Lesson learned!

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 ~ Stop Clowning Around!

File65After the death of my Dad in 1974, we decided to move back to Tucson AZ. We moved into a new mobile home on the far west side of town. In the park where a lot of families with young children. I quickly made friends with several of the young mothers and I would help them with their young children. One of these women kept insisting on paying me for my help but I kept refusing. One day I was helping her clean out her storage shed and we came upon a large box of old Halloween costumes. On the very top was a clown outfit she had made several years before, complete with a detachable neck ruffle and gloves. I guess my face lit up because she asked me if I would like it and I said “Yes!” I had always wanted to be a clown and I had even thrown together a rather ugly clown outfit about a month before and I drove to the local K-Mart and had my picture taken at their photo studio.

Within a month I had sewn large blue pockets on the suit. I practiced File108putting on makeup, which was the hardest part. I went to the library and checked out books on magic tricks. I learned several that were fairly easy but they me as clownwere hard for the observer to figure out. I loved dressing up and going to the malls and just entertaining the kids there. It wasn’t long before I was booking parties and events. My first one was a birthday party. It was so much fun that I felt guilty accepting the money for it. I continued to stay pretty busy being a clown.

File64In October of this year, I was asked to put on a performance for all of the children who lived in the park. It was to be held in the large clubhouse. I thought, “no big deal” since it was just a few kids. Well, I was in for a surprise. Not only did every kid in the park show up but also their parents and lots of the older residents came with their grandchildren! There were almost 200 hundred people there. I was so scared! I guess my performance was good because everyone seemed to love it and I got more bookings for parties.

File151Over the next few years, I entertained at school functions, birthday parties, and carnivals. I had a blast. After I got married in 1977 my husband hated it so I stopped. I really missed it. In 1986 my husband committed suicide. A few years after that I began doing parties again. However, I seemed to have lost my excitement for it. So over the next 13 years, I occasionally put on my suit. Once when I was working at a paper company they had a contest for Halloween. We were all supposed to dress up for work and the employee who got the most votes from the customers got a $100 prize. IFile26 wore my suit and performed card tricks for the customers and I won the prize. My last time I wore my clown suit was in 1999. Our church was putting on a large event and had me and 2 other girls dress up and entertain the children. Not long after that, I donated the entire suit to Goodwill.

On occasion I get the urge to try to “clown around” but it passes really quickly. I have had lots of fun doing my card tricks for the grandkids and watching their faces light up in excitement and amazement. To my dismay, none of them like clowns. They had watched all those scary clown movies and they are frightened of them. I guess I will have to just accept that I will be the only clown in the family!

 

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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Handed Down ~ 52 Ancestors 52 Weeks #24

Francisca and LorenzaWhen my Father-in-law first told me these two stories about his Grandmother Francisca Vega Martinez (sitting) and her sister Lorenza Vega Lozano (standing) I thought “that’s pretty interesting”. Maybe a little far-fetched but that is how oral histories can be. When told from generation to generation some details can be lost, and others can be added. This is verbatim (I recorded it).

Eutimio Martinez (1874-1947) lived in Southern Texas in the early texas map1890s. When he was a young man, he decided it was time for him to find a wife, so he went into town to find one. None of the girls there were what he was looking for, so he got on his horse and headed south towards Mexico. After a couple of days of riding, he found a wagon heading north with several people in it. He took special notice of a beautiful young girl named Francisca Vega (1876-1956) who was traveling alone. He hitched a ride with the wagon heading back north. After talking with the girl for a while he decided that she was the one. No one knows how or why this happened but Eutimio ended up killing all of the people in the wagon and kidnapping Francisca. He then took her back to town and married her.

I started thinking if the kidnapping of Francisca and the murders of those on the wagon were true, why would she stay with him all those years and have children with him? Why didn’t her parents come and rescue her and why would in later years her sister come and live with them? My Father-in-law also told me that Francisca’s sister Lorenza (1874-1958) rode with Pancho Villa. Could either of these stories be true? These are valid questions.  As I was transcribing the tapes from my interviews with my Father-in-law, I decided to do a little research.  First, I Googled their names…nothing.  Then I typed in kidnappings in the 1880s in Texas…nothing, then in Mexico, again nothing. After a few more inquiries I decided to take a different approach.

Pancho VillaI decided to start with Lorenza and see what I could find. I looked up Pancho Villa and The Mexican Revolution. I discovered that Pancho Villa did indeed have women who rode with him between 1910 and 1920. Some of them fought alongside the men and were called Soldaderas, others were “persuaded” to come along, and others followed their husbands who went to fight.  One of the practices of Pancho Villa was to ride into a town and ask the citizens to “donate” to the cause of the Revolution. He would then gather up all able-bodied men and “encouraged” them to join his army. He then would “invite” some of the young women to come along to help cook and care for the soldiers when they were injured. Most of the wives and children of the men who followed Pancho went along because they really didn’t have much choice. I believe this is the case with Lorenza.

 While looking into the Mexican Revolution I found that back in the 1800’s up until 1930 married women and single women living in Mexico had different rights under the law.  Single women had the same rights as a man. They could come and go as they pleased, work, attend church, and even own property. Married women were the property of their husbands. They could do nothing without the permission of their husband. This could explain why no one came to get Francisca after she and Eutimio got married. Regardless of how she became his wife, she was now his property and they accepted it.

I have still not found any evidence that the stories above are true, but they would be considered Oral Traditions and therefore I added them to my husbands’ Family Trees. They add “color” and excitement to the family history.    

 

 

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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Saturday’s Dilemma ~ Just Stating The Facts

dilemmaI wrote a blog a few weeks ago concerning how much detail should be included in a personal story for future generations. I know I would love to have more information like this, good or bad, on the personal lives of my ancestors. The consensus of the replies to the blog reinforced my belief that we should include some of the “hard” stories in our genealogy writings. Now I have a new dilemma kind of along the same line.

A few years ago, I asked some of my cousins if they knew any stories about anyone in our family. I specifically asked for those of my Grandparents or ancestors further back in the line. I did state that if the person were deceased I would also like stories of those in our generation. I got a few short stories about my paternal Grandfather, a couple of Aunts, one Great Uncle, and one of my deceased 1st cousins. They are all great stories, but I have reservations about writing the one about my cousin.

Society has changed a lot in the last 50 years. What was accepted or tolerated then, is stop-racism-1taboo today. People are easily offended, and, in most cases, they have every right to be. However, we can’t change history nor whitewash things that happened back in the 60’s that we would find abhorrent today. The story about my cousin would be considered racist, and it is! However, it did happen, the world was in a different place than it is today, and it is a fact that it happened.

My dilemma is do I just write it as a fact, or should I include some historical detail and explanation of the times in which the event happened? Perhaps I could go into a little detail of how my cousin grew up and his family’s outlook on the situation that was happening?

 

Any input or suggestions would be appreciated.

 

 

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 ~ Twice In One Day

CartwheelI remember when I was 10 years old that I was jealous of my next-door neighbor who got to be in a gymnastic class. I loved watching the Summer Olympics and I was enthralled with the floor exercises. I wanted to jump and tumble and do somersaults and handsprings. I can’t begin to tell you how excited I was when Beverly said she would show me some moves. She suggested I start with something easy like cartwheels and headstands. It wasn’t long before I doing cartwheels all over the yard. Headstands were a little harder for me.

One Saturday morning I got up early to practice my headstands against the side of the house outside. I did Headstandit over and over again and I was feeling pretty good about myself. Saturdays were my favorite days. I would get up just before the sun came up, fix myself a bowl of Rice Krispies and 2 pieces of toast. Then I would take my little red step stool outside and sit in the grass, making a table of the stool and eating my breakfast without being bothered by my sister. I loved listening to the turtle doves, the sound of them cooing still today takes me back to my Saturday breakfast ritual. About the time I finished, my dad was beginning his weekend yard cleaning. So, I went to the other side of the house to continue practicing. As usual, my mother was standing looking out the window, watching every move I made. As long as I could remember she did this anytime my sister or I went out in the yard. I decided to do a headstand but this time not against the wall. I got the momentum going and up I went. My legs actually went straight up and I was doing it with no help. Then I lost my balance and my body fell backward but my head stayed straight. I had the worse pain in my neck as I stood up and that was the last thing I remembered. When I finally opened my eyes, my dad was holding a wet towel against my head. This was the first time I had ever fainted.

My mother had seen the whole thing from the window and had rushed outside yelling for my dad to help me. Once I got my bearings I was able to walk into the house. My dad had to make a trip to the hardware store so my mother insisted that it would be good for me to go with him. I have to admit it felt good to ride with the windows down and feel the air on my face. My dad wasn’t much of a talker so we rode in silence. I don’t recall what I was looking at but all of a sudden I heard tires squealing and brakes locking and I felt my dad’s arm fly out in front of me pushing me back into my seat. When I looked up I saw a crashed carvehicle directly in front of us, facing us and another one with a large dent in its side sitting on my dad’s side of the car. My dad got out and rushed around and got me out of the car and told me not to move. He ran to the car in front of us. The man inside had his head resting face down on the steering wheel. My dad lifted his head up and his forehead was cut badly from one side to the other. Blood was gushing out everywhere. I saw my dad take his shirt off and place it on the man’s head. The next thing I knew I opened my eyes and a man and women I didn’t know were holding a cup of water over my head, slowly dripping it on my head. I had fainted again! The couple didn’t let me look in the direction of the accident, they just kept telling me everything was alright. After a while my dad came and got me, thanking these kind people for caring for me. As he carried me to the car I remember a few very vivid sights, The first was we had not been involved in the accident. Apparently, my dad was able to brake quickly enough that we were not hit. Second, I saw that you could maybe place an adult size hand between our car and the one facing us. It stopped that short of us. Third, all the people who were in the accident were gone but their cars were there. And fourth, there was a head size hole in the window of the car in front of us. It is strange how those things have stuck with me all these years.

We never made it to the hardware store. My dad turned around and we went straight home. My mother and sister freaked when we got out of the car. My dad only had on a white A-shirt and it was stained red from the blood. He had left his overshirt at the scene of the accident. After everything calmed down I spent the rest of the day sitting quietly, reading a book. and being thankful that we were alive. I have fainted maybe 6 times total in my life. But I have never fainted twice in one day 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.

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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 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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Saturday’s Dilemma ~ What about My Own Story?

My-Story-This-is-my-storyObviously from the title, my dilemma is concerning how much I should disclose about my own life. I have been writing stories about my life to leave for my Grandchildren and my new Great Grandson, but they have mostly been funny stories. However, I like many others of my generation, have endured a lot of hardships in my life. Some of the things I have gone through I think #1, may teach a lesson and #2, be like one of those stories we get excited about finding when researching an ancestor! I would like them to know everyone goes through problems, it is a part of life.

I have two main stories I would like to write about, but I am unsure how much to disclose. I would really like some opinions concerning them. I will keep the stories short. Just consider how much you would want to know about something an ancestor went through and how they handled it.

Story #1. My mother had a severe mental illness. It got worse the older she got. She onlyMom 1966 loved two people in her life, my sister and my oldest son. Everyone else was treated badly. Everyone except my dad and I, we received the worst of it. When we lived in Missouri when I was 12-14 years old, she assaulted my dad and me on numerous occasions. She believed he was in the mafia, that our house was bugged, and someone lived under our house (we didn’t have a basement), spying on us through our TV. One time we spent a week going from motel to motel hiding from my dad and his “cronies”. I could tell you things that she did that you probably wouldn’t believe. When we moved to California, she literally rode in the back seat on her knees facing backward to make sure we weren’t followed. When we made it to CA her knees were bruised and bleeding. We lived there for 5 years and she only left the house 4 times, each time we moved. She disowned all of our relatives, my brother and eventually me.

me 1988Story #2.  My previous husband committed suicide, leaving me with 3 kids to raise. I had just turned 31. He had an unshakeable addiction to pornography, and this was his way out. My children knew about the addiction and why he did what he did so it isn’t a secret. Two years after the suicide I started a ministry for women who have been affected by pornography. I have been on national talk shows, radio, newspapers, magazines, a conference speaker and I wrote a book about my life with my husband. I have counseled thousands of women on this issue. I have even spoken to junior and senior high kids about the hazard of porn.  I have always used tact, wisdom, and I don’t go into graphic details. So, how should I approach this story?

Just to make it clear, these would be for my family. I appreciate any and all input. Thanks in advance.

 

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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Thomas Coffey ~ They Called Him “HellFIRE” ~ #52Ancestors ~ Week 15

Thomas Coffey picThomas Coffey my 2nd cousin 2x removed, was born in Grainger County, Tennessee on December 7, 1852. He married Martha Jane Shockley in 1872. They bought some land in the county and began to farm and raise their 13 children. Life was not easy for the Coffey’s, not because they were farmers, or because they had so many children or the fact that they didn’t have much money. Life was hard because Thomas was a difficult man. There was a saying in Grainger county about the Coffey family: it was said, the reason so many Coffey’s intermarried was that only a Coffey could tolerate a Coffey.  I have found the intermarriage part to be very true.

grainger co tn map

It didn’t help that Thomas has redheaded and a lot of people just assumed he had a bad temper because of that. However, in this case, they were correct! He was always ready for an argument or a fight. As a matter of fact, Thomas was known as the “Meanest Man in Grainger County”. He also earned the nickname “HellFIRE” because of his out of control temper.

Apparently, this temper problem ran in the family. One of his cousins beat her husband to death with a bridal because he forgot to pick up flour at the mercantile. No one wanted to walk past their farm because Thomas would throw stones at them. When he went into town he would sit in front of the stores and he would try to hit any child of any age that walked by with his walking stick.  If they got close enough, he would spit snuff at them, and he had a very good aim.

Thomas Coffey hs 2

At his funeral, his children asked the funeral home to tie a large strap around the casket to make sure that he stayed inside.  They also said that neither God nor the Devil wanted him and that’s why he lived to be 73 years old.  He died on January 3, 1925, and is buried in the Emma Jarnagin Cemetery in Morristown, Hamblen County, Tennessee. The birth date is wrong on his headstone. It is said that his oldest son Caleb wanted to have “HellFIRE” as his dad’s first name on the stone and the stone maker refused. So he gave the wrong month and day of his birth.

 

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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