Tag Archives: Story telling

Monday’s for Me ~ Independence, Missouri ~ Bristol Elementary School 1968

mo_oak_grove mapMy family moved from the deserts of Arizona to Oak Grove Missouri in April of 1967. It was a small town east of Kansas City and I had relatives who lived there. Because we moved before I finished 6th grade I had to finish my grade here. The school was one long building that held all of the 1st through 12th grades. I had played clarinet since 3rd grade and I wanted desperately to continue here. They didn’t have a band for elementary school so I had to play in the High School Band. That was quite an adventure. Especially the end of the year concert in the park where they placed me in the middle of the front row and people were pointing at me and taking pictures because I looked like a midget compared to the rest of the band members! Things were definitely different here.

After school was out my parents bought a house in Independence, Missouri. I was soBristol excited to be starting Junior High because, after all, I was 12 years old now. Things were sure to be better in the bigger city. Imagine how crushed I was to discover that 7th grade was still held in the Elementary schools. Junior High was 8th and 9th grade. My old school was barely in the city limits and it was surrounded by desert. It was a single-story building that had 3 separate portable buildings for the 6th graders. Here in Independence, the school was huge! It was 3 stories high and the “playground” was almost all cement. There was a large gym on the bottom floor and that is where we got our exercise.

One thing I thought was odd was once a week a teacher would come to the class to teach Spanish. First, it was odd because there were no Hispanic children in the entire school of about 800+ children! I was raised in a neighborhood and attended a school that was 75% Hispanic. We never took Spanish classes there. Second, with the deep mid-west accent of the teacher, only a few words were pronounced correctly. There were many other things that I found different and one was they offered home economics for us. I had fun learning how to cook as my mother never taught me anything in the kitchen except to clean it.

1960s sewing machineDuring the 2nd half of the school year, I got to take a sewing class. I was so excited. Growing up my mother made about 60% of our clothes. I would watch her cut out the patterns, then cut the cloth and then sit at her machine and in the end there was a garment of some kind. My sister had no interest in learning to sew but I did. I asked several times if she would teach me but the answer was always no. My dad took me to the fabric store and we purchased some rose-colored material that would eventually be a pair of shorts. We picked out a corresponding zipper, buttons, thread, and the pattern and I couldn’t wait for class.

My best friend Kathy and I were in the same class so we teamed up to share the sewing machine. On the first day of class, we were told that all shorts had to be knee-length. Anything shorter would get you an automatic F. We were not happy because the new “style” was shorter shorts. It took about 4 weeks to finish the project. Not bad considering we only went to class 2 times per week and we had to share everything. When everyone was done we all marched downstairs to the girls’ bathroom and put on our shorts. They fit well even if they were longer than we wanted. After the teacher measured the length of each one we had to change back into our regular clothes.

In most schools in 1968, girls could not wear pants or shorts to school. Only dresses orme and bristol 2 skirts were allowed. We were told that for the last day of school we could wear our shorts as a reward for our hard work. Kathy and I went to her house and we “adjusted” the length of the legs. When we showed up to school everyone was staring at us. It was only a half-day but we still got called to the principals’ office. We were threatened with not being able to pass to 8th grade and having our parents come to pick us up but in the end, she just sent us back to class.

Several of us brought cameras and we ran around taking photos of our friends and getting our class picture signed. We had cake and punch around noon and then the class was dismissed. It turned out to be a great day.

Class photo 1968

I am 3rd from the left in the front row

I never really learned to sew well enough to make complicated items. I sewed maternity tops for me and baby nightgowns for each of my 3 children. I really do wish I had maybe tried harder to learn the skill. Then again maybe I wasn’t meant to be able to sew.

 

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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Filed under Ancestry, Arizona, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, Independence, Missouri, Memories, Missouri, Monday's For Me, Personal Stories, Photos, Uncategorized, Write Your Story

Nearly Forgotten ~ 52 Ancestors #12

treeMy husband George and I have been married for almost 34 years. I wasn’t used to such a large family since mine had consisted of only 4 people. George had 7 brothers and sisters and more cousins than I could count. When I first started researching my family I thought about maybe working on his would be fun. Unfortunately, none of the family was interested in their genealogy, so I gave up the idea.

Lorenza.

A few years later I was sharing with my mother-in-law some of the things I had found out about my ancestors. She got a strange look on her face then asked: “So genealogy is about your family?” I felt really bad because I hadn’t thought that she may not understand the word since English is her second language. Suddenly she wanted me to work on her family tree. She gave me what information she could remember and when I got home I got to work. Hispanic Genealogy is very different than what I was used to. First, I don’t speak or read Spanish and the naming practices can get very confusing. I stuck to it and I was able to get back about 5 generations.

Isidro

When I took what I had found to my in-laws they were both so excited. They both began telling me stories about their different ancestors. I also asked them about their own lives. My father-in-law grew up in Texas and my mother-in-law in Mexico. The stories were fascinating to me. I was so glad I recorded them. I even interviewed one of George’s Aunts and I was able to collect photos and documents from her. When I got home I started trying to put it all together. It took several months but I did it.

Ramona & Scarves

I presented my in-laws with the final product and they were thrilled. I had put two books together, one for the Martinez side and one for the Torres side. I included a family tree, individual pages with photos, and documents. The part they liked best was I had taken some of the family stories and put them with corresponding photos. When we had the next Martinez family get together they brought out the books for everyone to see. There were 21 grandkids there, some with their own families and everyone was so excited over the books. Most of the stories had never been told before, not even to George’s siblings. His Tia (Aunt) pulled me aside and told me their family never talked about the past but now the future family will know of their heritage. I felt good that this family and their stories were not going to be forgotten. However, they were “nearly forgotten”!

 

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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Mondays for Me ~ A Lesson Learned

When I was about 5 years old my brother, Gordon came home on leave and he brought his new wife Lily and her 2 children with him.  Lily was born and raised in France. She had met Gordon while he was stationed there, and it didn’t take long before they were married. When they showed up at the door, we were all so surprised and thrilled to learn that they were expecting a baby. It was odd for me to have a niece and a nephew that were only a couple of years younger than I but I was also excited about having a baby niece or nephew.

Lily was a fun person to be around. She had learned to speak English pretty well, Spideralthough she still had a little trouble making us understand some things she said. One day Lily and I were out in the yard walking around and she was looking very nervous. I asked her what was wrong, and she said, “I like spiders and I am looking for one.” I thought she was nuts! I hate spiders; they are probably the only creepy crawler that scares me.  The next day my brother took me with him to the store and he gave me some money to spend. I bought a rubber spider. When I got home. I put it in a box and wrapped it up really nice. I was so badly-wrapped-presentexcited; I ran to the dinner table and gave it to Lily. She was so touched that I thought of her she eagerly tore the wrapping off and opened the box. The next thing I knew chaos broke out. Lily threw the box into the air and was screaming hysterically! My brother was trying to calm her down, my Dad found the box which had bounced off the wall and had flown over the table and he tossed it outside, my sister was laughing so hard she had tears flowing down her face, the two kids were crying, and my mother fainted.

When everything calmed down my mother asked me “How could you do such a horrible thing to Lily?” I told her what she had told me the day before and then Lily started laughing. She realized she had said that she liked spiders instead of disliked them. Everyone was fine with it except my mother. I got in a lot of trouble for it and almost every day until my Nephew Earl was born I had to hear my mother tell me that the poor little baby was now going to have a spider-shaped birthmark on it and that it will be all my fault. After Earl was born Gordon called to tell us he was fine, no birthmarks of any kind. My mother never believed them; she thought they were just saying that to make me feel better.

 

cropped-blog-pic1.jpg

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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Filed under Ancestry, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, Gordon Smith Wilson, Home, Monday's For Me, Personal Stories, Uncategorized, Write Your Story

In Honor Of My Dad’s 101st Birthday!

me & dad

Me & Dad 

My Dad was the person who influenced my life the most while growing up. He showed me unconditional love, even through all the craziness of my teen years. I never really appreciated him until after he was gone. In honor of this remarkable man, this blog is to celebrate his life on what would be his 101st Birthday.

 

Benjamin Douglas “Doug” Hughes was born in Pettis County, Missouri, August 18, 1915. He

Douglas&Lenoard - Restored - Use

Douglas & Leonard 1918

was born the same day that his Uncle who, was blind, died. He was name after this uncle. He was the 8th of 11children born to Charley Hughes. They lived on a farm in rural Missouri, raising all their food, cows and award winning horses. During the Great Depression of the 1930’s they were fortunate enough to not suffer as others did because they were basically self-sustaining. They shared what they had with others in the community and I believe this is where my Dad developed his giving spirit!

Dad at 18At the age of 15 two events influenced his life. The first was he paid 25 cents and got his first drivers license. He said “In those days there was no driving or written test, as long as you had the quarter you got the license!”  He was always proud of the fact that in all his years of driving he had only received 1 ticket. The second event was when his family was living near Lexington Missouri. He along with his brother Leonard and two brother-in-laws Mitchell and Virgil where riding in a wagon going to town. A neighbor came out and an argument broke out between Virgil and the man. This man drew his gun and shot Virgil between the eyes, killing him instantly! This haunted my Dad his whole life.

In 1934-35 my Dad participated in the Civilian Conservation Corp implemented by CCC Camps DadPresident Roosevelt. He served in Lake Tahoe, California. Here he learned to work with wood and stone masonry. These skills helped him the rest of his life. During his lifetime he worked as a horse trainer, as a farmer, as a coal miner, he worked on the railroads, as a butcher and for the last 19 years of his life he worked in the construction field.

 

dad, mildred, lolaHe was married 3 times; the first time was when he was 22 years old in 1937. He married Mildred Shockley and they had a son Benjamin. Unfortunately Benjamin died at 2 months old from Typhoid and his mom died 3 weeks later from the same thing. My Dad was devastated. He married a second time in 1944 to Mildred McQuillen. She had a daughter name Loretta whom my Dad accepted as his own.Mom, Dad, Bro & Sis They never had children and I don’t know what happened but they divorced sometime before 1948. The third was my Mother, Emmajane Smith in 1948. My Mother had a son, Gordon and once again my Dad took him as his own. My sister Mary Leella was born in 1951 and I was born in 1955.

We left Missouri when I was 11 months old and moved to Southern Arizona. When I was 12 years old my Mother had a mental breakdown and the next 7 years were pure hell! My Dad refused to have her committed and he took care of her even through our moves back to Missouri for 2 years then out to California for 5 years. He showed me that you don’t give up on people because the situation is not ideal. He showed strength of character and resolve that I have always admired.

Dad and my oldest son.

In the Fall of 1973 my Dad went to the doctor for a cough that wouldn’t go away. After many tests and x-rays we were told he had lung cancer. He had surgery to remove his right lung then endured several rounds of chemo and radiation therapy. He lived for 9 months and he passed away at home on June 24, 1974. He was 58 years old. This was 42 years ago and I still think about him every day. I still strive to be the kind of woman, wife, mother and Grandmother that would make him proud. I know that I am proud to be his daughter!

 

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: http://tinyurl.com/Your-Family-History and http://tinyurl.com/Genealogy-Research-Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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Filed under Ancestry, Arizona, Charley Hughes, Death, Family History, Family Search, Farming, Genealogy, Hughes, Memories, Missouri, Story telling, Uncategorized

“Hot Topic” Genealogy

HottopicsIt is always amazing to see how much society has changed in the last few hundred years. What is the “norm” for today was taboo a century ago and what was accepted 200 years ago seems unimaginable today. Throughout history there has always been a “Hot Topic” in each generation. Topics such as the Suffrage Movement, Religious Freedoms, Slavery, Prohibition, Wars etc. Today we are hard pressed to find out how our ancestors felt about these issues or if any of them actively supported or opposed them. Unless our ancestor was “famous” for their stand we may never know.

We can make assumptions on some of their beliefs by how they lived. Take for instance civil war battlesthe Civil War. If your ancestor fought for the North, you can assume they were anti-slavery and if they fought for the South they were pro-slavery. Also if they owned slaves you can assume that they believed in it and if they didn’t they were opposed. Some of the “topics” were not so obvious.

If we are lucky we can find membership information, letters, affiliations or other documents that can provide a glimpse into our ancestors’ stance on the issues of their day. However, most of us will never find these gems. We are left wondering if they had any opinion at all. This brings us to our own time in the genealogical timeline.  We have so many “Hot Topics” today that in a hundred years our future generations will wonder where we stood and why.

New scans15I am of the belief that I want to leave as much information for our future generations as possible. Not only about our ancestral line but also of the times in which we live. I have started writing about some of my beliefs, my stands on social issues and any participation’s I have had for or against those issues. To be quite honest I have picketed for one issue and I have picketed against another. I have participated in rallies and marches. I have appeared on local and National television, radio programs, been a Conference Speaker and featured in magazines and newspapers as an expert on one issue. I want my Great Grand-kids to know their Great Grandma held strong opinions on certain subjects and she wasn’t afraid to let others know how she felt. I am trying to be fair and explain both sides of the issues and express why I chose the side I did.

 

What “Hot Topics” do you have an opinion or belief on? Have you gotten involved fighting for or against that Topic? Think about leaving your experiences behind for those coming after you.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: http://tinyurl.com/Your-Family-History and http://tinyurl.com/Genealogy-Research-Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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Filed under Ancestry, Civil War, Family History, Family Search, Famous, Genealogy, Hints, History, Hot Topic, How-to, Memories, Next Generation, Personal Stories, Story telling, Uncategorized, Write Your Story

What’s In A Name?

Whats in a nameHave you ever wondered why a parent would name their child a certain name? I do all the time. However I am guilty of giving my children “different” names myself and I am asked why all the time. Researching my family’s history, I have discovered that I am not alone in this. I have a first cousin 5x removed born in 1803 North Carolina who was named Wiseman Fisherman Loving. I have tried to no avail to figure out why he was named this. Were his parents hoping that he would grow up to be a wise man and a great fisherman? Was his father drunk the day he was born and just spouted out the name? We may never know.

PeregrineWhiteRock

My 9th Great Grandfather born in England in 1616 was named Resolved White. He came to America aboard the Mayflower with his Father William and pregnant Mother Susanna in    1620. I can only assume he was named this because his father was “Resolved” to make it to the New World. His younger brother was the first child born from those on the Mayflower and he was born on board the ship in Plymouth Harbor. His parents named him “Peregrine”!                                                           Do you suppose the first thing his mother saw after giving birth was a Peregrine Falcon?

William Brewster hsMy other Mayflower Ancestor, my 10th Great Grandfather William Brewster was also born in England in 1567 and traveled aboard the Mayflower with his wife Judith and 6 of his 9 children. My 9th Great Grandfather was named Jonathan, a very common name. However, the last 4 children born were named Love, Patience, Fear and Wrestling! William Brewster was a Protestant who along with others of his faith had to flee to Holland to escape persecution from the King of England. Perhaps he named his children after the struggles he was having before coming to America. He must have experienced Love, Fear, Patience and Wrestling while making the important decision to come to the New World.

There are some names I just can’t figure out. Like my Great Grandmother Asenath Walt born 1863 in Missouri. Was hers a family name? I haven’t found any evidence of that. Was it a popular name during that time? Who knows?  My 4th Great Grandfather Axel Heath Page was born 1785 in Virginia. Was he named for a wheel Axel?

As for my own children at least I can give an explanation for their names.   My oldest son is

Dad at 18

Douglas Age 18

named John Pleasant after my Grandfather. Pleasant was my Great Grandfathers name so we called him “Pleasant” until he reached 18 years old and he decided to go by his initials. John Pleasant Smith was the only Grandparent I ever met so I named him in honor of this wonderful man. My youngest son is named Starr Douglas. My beloved father Douglas died when I was 19 years old so I wanted to name him after my dad. I also wanted his name to be unusual like his brothers. I couldn’t think of anything. When I was about 8 months pregnant I was watching TV and a Senator came on whose first name was Starr. I thought “Starr Douglas” …it fits! He is proud of his name and has lots of fun telling people “Yeah my Mom was a hippy” My daughter’s name is Jerusha Jane. The tradition in my family is my middle name is Jane, my mother’s name is Jane and the name goes back to a great-great Grandmother named Jane. Knowing my entire life that I was expected to name any girl I had by this name I thought of every possible combination of names and nothing sounded right to me. When I was 12 years old I went to see the movie “Hawaii” where Julie Andrews played a missionary’s wife and her name was Jerusha. Jerusha Jane I loved it. I had that named picked out for 10 years before I got to use it.

I love unusual names and finding a treasure trove of them among my Ancestors has been so much fun. How about you? Do you have unique names in your tree? Do you know why they were named that? Feel free to share those names and why they were named that with me! I would love to hear them.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: http://tinyurl.com/Your-Family-History and http://tinyurl.com/Genealogy-Research-Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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Filed under Ancestry, Family History, Genealogy, History, Mayflower, Names, Personal Stories, Pleasant Smith, Write Your Story

Part 2: My Mother was Superstitious –A Month of Tales from the Dark Side

superstitions moonGrowing up our lives revolved around superstitions. My Mother had one for every occasion or event, everything from the fear of Friday the 13th to dropping a knife on the floor.  I know that my Mother wasn’t the only person to hold to these superstitions but to this date I have never met another person who believed as many or as strongly as she did. I thought I would spend this month leading up to Halloween telling stories of things that happened in not only my childhood but in the lives of my Ancestors that helped form most of my Mothers superstition beliefs or were a result of her beliefs.  I will post a blog every Friday and Tuesday and I hope you will enjoy them and even get a laugh or two out of them.

Superstition #2:  A bird in the house is a sign of death

Me at 12 years old.

Me at 12 years old.

For my 12th birthday all I wanted was a parakeet. I had always loved birds and as a young girl I even cut out pictures of birdsand pasted them in a scrapbook. My favorite was the Mountain Bluebird. When I told my parents what I would like my Dad immediately agreed. He felt it would be a great experience for me as I would learn to be responsible for the care and feeding of the bird. My Mom had other ideas. She believed that having a bird in the house was bad luck. They were an omen of impending death to someone in the family. Why would we want to invite something like that into our home? Her reasons for not having a bird far outweighed my reasons for wanting one. I was devastated.

blue-parakeet

“Red” Bird

When I got home from school on my birthday, which by chance was January, Friday the 13th, I walked into my bedroom and there it was, a brand new shiny bird cage with a beautiful blue parakeet singing away inside.  I was so happy I cried. My Mom came to the bedroom door and with a very serious voice informed me that the care and feeding of the bird was all my responsibility and at no time was I to let it out of the cage. I had a hard time deciding what to name the bird so after much thought I named him “Red”.

Over the next 2 months I taught Red how to wolf whistle, say “pretty bird” and “hello”. I realized that since I got the bird my Mom no longer came into my bedroom. It was like suddenly I had some privacy and freedom. Knowing that she avoided my room I began to let Red out of his cage and let him fly around the room. I would practice my clarinet and Red would come and sit on the end of it and look up inside the instrument as I played.

Car pink & Gray 1955 Chevy Belaire

This was the type and color of our car!

About the same time that I got Red my parents made the decision to move our family to Missouri. They put the house up for sale and it sold faster than they anticipated. So at the end of March we packed all our belongings into a U-Haul trailer and hit the road. From Tucson AZ to Independence MO it was about a 1200 mile trip. My Mom didn’t want us to bring Red but my Dad over-ruled her. So with Red, sitting comfortably in his cage settled into the back seat between me and my sister we began our journey.

Tularosa-New-Mexico-Map-SWe were in New Mexico, somewhere between Tularosa and Carrizozo, traveling through some mountainous roads when we came over a mountain incline a little faster than we should. The next thing we knew the trailer began to weave from side to side. My Dad tried to correct it by jerking the steering wheel the opposite direction but this only made it worse. I don’t know how long the hill was but we weaved from side to side almost all the way to the bottom, at one point almost going over the edge of the mountain. When we got close to the bottom of the hill we were actually facing the wrong way. My Dad decided to drive back up the hill instead of turning around. When we reached the top he stopped. At this point the trailer fell off the hitch!

It was at this point that I thought to make sure that Red was alright. I saw the cage sitting between me and my sister, the top had popped off and one side had caved in and Red was nowhere to be found. I began to panic looking everywhere. I looked towards the front seat and I saw my Mom sitting there shaking and crying hysterically. Then I noticed, sitting on the top of her head was Red. My Mom was so upset she didn’t feel him there. I slowly reached up and grabbed him placing him back in the damaged cage and placing my pillow over it.

It took about 30 minutes before another vehicle came by and it just so happened to be a man in a truck with a heavy duty jack. He stopped and helped my Dad reconnect the trailer and we were on our way. My Mom was uncharacteristically quiet for the rest of the day. When we stopped for the night my Dad helped me put the birdcage back together and he suggested I leave Red in the car for the night. When I went into the room my Mom was sitting on the bed and she told me what had happened was entirely my fault because we had to bring that D@#n bird. She wanted me to release him before the next morning. Thankfully my Dad stepped in and convinced her to let me keep him although nothing could convince her that having the bird in the vehicle did not cause the accident.

So what did eventually happen to Red? About a year later I had let Red out of his cage in my room so he could get some Red's grave 2exercise. I was sitting on the couch in the living room practicing my clarinet and my Mom asked me to play a song from the Hymnal that she kept in the bookcase. She got up from the couch and instead of going straight to the bookcase she opened my bedroom door so she could take yell at my sister to get ready for school. She then closed the door, retrieved the Hymnal and sat down next to me. I played the song and when I was done my Mom took the book and got up to put it back. I looked down on where my Mom was sitting and there was Red, dead with a broken neck! Apparently he flew out when my Mom went in my room and we hadn’t noticed. He must have seen the clarinet and decided to sit next to me so he could enjoy the music. My Mom swears that she never saw him there. I buried him in the back yard.

Along with this Superstition my Mother had all the regular ones too. You know like:

your left ear itches, someone is speaking ill of you.If your left ear itches, someone is speaking ill of you.

white horse

You lick your right thumb push it into your left palm and hit it with your Right fist for good luck when you see a white horse.

Dead potted platNever say thank you to a person if they give you a plant as the plant will die.

Do you or anyone in your family have a Superstition? I would love to hear about them.

Come back on Friday for the next installment of “My Mothers Superstitions  – Tales from the Dark Side.”

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, 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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Filed under Ancestry, Arizona, Family History, Genealogy, Halloween, Missouri, Superstitions

My Mother was Superstitious –A Month of Tales from the Dark Side

SUPERSTITION 1Growing up our lives revolved around superstitions. My Mother had one for every occasion or event, everything from the fear of Friday the 13th to dropping a knife on the floor.  I know that my Mother wasn’t the only person to hold to these superstitions but to this date I have never met another person who believed as many or as strongly as she did.

I thought I would spend this month leading up to Halloween telling stories of things that happened in not only my childhood but in the lives of my Ancestors that helped form most of my Mothers superstition beliefs or were a result of her beliefs.  I will post a blog every Friday and Tuesday and I hope you will enjoy them and even get a laugh or two out of them.

Superstition #1:  If you scare a pregnant woman they will have a child with a mark on it. 

Baby with a birthmark

Baby with a birthmark

 

When I was 5 years old my Brother Gordon came home on leave and he brought his wife and 2 children with him.  Lily was born and raised in France. She had met Gordon while he was stationed there and it didn’t take long before they were married. When they showed up at the door we were all so surprised and thrilled to learn that there would be another child added to their family. It was odd for me to have a niece and a nephew that were only a couple of years younger than I.

Lily

Lily

Lily was a fun person to be around. She had learned to speak English pretty well , although she still had a little trouble making us understand some things she said. One day Lily and I were out in the yard walking around and she was looking very nervous. I asked her what was wrong and she said “I like spiders and I am looking for one.” I thought she was nuts! I hate spiders; they are probably the only creepy crawler that scares me.  The next day my Brother took me with him to the store and he gave me some money to spend. I bought a rubber spider. When I got home I put it in a box and wrapped it up really nice. I was so excited; I ran to the dinner table and gave it to Lily. She was so touched that I thought of her she eagerly tore the wrapping off and opened the box. The next thing I knew chaos broke out. Lily threw the box against the wall and was screaming hysterically! My Brother was trying to calm her down, my Dad grabbed the box and tossed it outside, my Sister was laughing, the two kids were crying and my Mother fainted.

Michael and Baby Earl

Michael and Baby Earl

When everything calmed down my Mother asked me “How could you do such a horrible thing to Lily?” I told her what she had told me the day before and then Lily started laughing. She realized she had said that she liked spiders instead of disliked them. Everyone was fine with it except my Mother. I got in a lot of trouble for it and almost every day until my Nephew Earl was born I had to hear my Mother tell me that the poor little baby was now going to have a spider shaped birthmark on it and that it will be all my fault. After Earl was born Gordon called to tell us he was fine, no birthmarks of any kind. My Mother never believed them; she thought they were just saying that to make me feel better.

Soon after their last son was born, Gordon and Lily divorced. She and the children stayed in France and Gordon was transferred to the Philippines. I never got to see Lily or the kids again.

Along with this Superstition my Mother had all the regular ones too. You know like:

broken mirror 2Breaking a mirror brings 7 years of bad luck

A black cat crossing your path brings bad luckBlack cat crossing your path

knocking on woodKnocking on wood after you say something and you don’t want it to get jinxed.

spilled salt

Throwing salt over our shoulders was a common occurrence at the dinner table. To say the least things were never dull in the Hughes household!

Do you or anyone in your family have a Superstition? I would love to hear about them.

Come back on Tuesday for the next round of My Mothers Superstitions  – Tales from the Dark Side.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, 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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9 Ways to Discover Your Religious Heritage and Passing Yours on to the Next Generation.

Park Ave Chirstian Church - Drive in Church

Park Ave Christian Church – Drive-in Church

Growing up I went to Church every Sunday morning. My family attended Park Avenue Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Tucson AZ, the one my parents joined shortly after moving to Arizona when I was 11 months old. It wasn’t until I started school that I learned that there were other churches and religions in the world and that there were even some people who didn’t believe in God at all. It was also the time I discovered that our Church was a little unique. We had one of the two Drive-in Churches in the entire United States. In 1956 our pastor made a trip to Florida and saw a Church that had built one the previous year and he decided that he wanted one. So my Dad, along with a couple of other members built the small enclosed red brick building where the pastor would deliver his sermons each Sunday. They installed the poles and speakers and it was “open for business”. My parents loved going to the Drive-in Church because they didn’t have to get dressed up and they could smoke in the car during the service. My sister and I liked it because we could wear our pajamas and read or play in the back seat. I thought this was normal.

Now as an adult I attend a totally different denominational Church. I began to wonder how our family became the religion that we were. What religion or denomination did my Ancestors choose and why? I wondered if any of them had been Atheists. Did any of them flee to America so they could practice their faith, free from persecution?  I wanted to search for this information but I wasn’t certain of where to begin. I started looking through the documents I had acquired for my Ancestors and as a result I was able to piece together a pretty good description of what religions my family had practiced.

Here are 9 of the places and document types where I found my “Religious Heritage”.

 

  1. Church records. This is one of those “duh” moments. Where else would you look? A lot of the older churches kept very precise records. Not of just who attended their church but of many different events. These records can have a person’s date of birth, the date they were baptized, their marriage and death date and place of burial. They also can list family names, their participation in church activities, and a confession of their “sins” and in some cases their testimony as to why they became Christians. If an Ancestor was a minister it would also include a list of the previous churches he had pastored and the places where he had preached. These records can be a treasure trove of information.

 

  1. Wills. You may find which religion a person was by reading through their Will. In some cases an Ancestor will leave a possession, money or land to a church. You can then conclude that this church was associated with their religion. Most Will’s begin with a Statement of Faith and by reading this you could possibly determine what they believed.

 

 

  1. Marriage Records. Listed on the marriage certificate is the name of the person who conducted the ceremony. If it was
    Marriage Record stating name of Church and the Ministers name.

    Marriage Record stating name of Church and the Ministers name.

    a priest or pastor you can do a search of that name to find out which religion they were associated with. In some cases, especially in the 1800’s they even listed the name of the church on the certificate. You can also check your Ancestors childrens marriage certificates as they may have this information on them, especially if you can’t find a marriage certificate for the parents.

 

  1. Death Certificates. In newer Death Certificates there is a place where you can state which religion a person is. This information is given by an informant and may not be correct but it is at least a place to start your search.

 

 

Obituary stating name of Church Rosa attended.

Obituary stating name of Church Rosa attended.

  1. Obituaries. Obituaries are an excellent place to look. Sometimes they even list the name of the church they were a member of or the name of the minister and I have found a few that give a short testimony of when a person decided to attend this church or convert to this religion.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

65th Wedding Anniversary clipping states Church.

  1. Newspapers. Newspaper clippings celebrating special events in a persons’ life can give you additional information. In an article covering one of my cousins 65th Wedding Anniversary it states the name of the Church they attended. I was able to contact the Church and found records of other Ancestors who also attended this Church

 

 

  1. Cemetery. This one sounds strange but you can sometimes determine religion by their place of burial. A non-Catholic would not be buried in a Catholic Cemetery. The same goes for the Jewish faith. Also a lot of cemeteries are attached to Churches and you can assume that if your Ancestor was buried there then they may have been members. At least it would be a place to start further research.

 

John Page Church Plaque

John Page Church Plaque

  1. Histories. If your Ancestor was a pioneer in an area they could be included in the History of that place. I have found several relatives who were founders of town or counties so a lot is written about them, including which church they attended. You can also find the names of Churches in the area that your Ancestor lived and then do a search of Church Records in those specific Churches for their names. You never know what you may find!

 

 

  1. Family Bibles. If you are lucky enough to have in your possession an old family Bible then it may shed some light on what your Ancestor believed and what religion they were. Hopefully it also includes a list of family members, births, marriages, deaths, baptisms etc. This indeed would be a treasure.

 

This is not an exhaustive list of places to look but it is a start. Unfortunately, unless your Ancestor was famous you may never know why they chose the Religion or beliefs that they held.  It has been interesting to see the progression of my “Religious Heritage” beginning with my Ancestors being Catholic, to becoming Quakers, to converting to Presbyterian, then to Methodists, Baptist and ending with my parents being Disciples of Christ.

This is actually a 2 part endeavor. The first part is finding what religion if any, that your Ancestors practiced. The second part would be passing on your beliefs to the next generations. We have an opportunity to explain to our Great-Great Grandchildren what religion we are and why we chose this certain path. If you do not believe in God, this is the chance you have to let them know your reasoning for that. You can include your traditions, activities, favorite scripture or quote, give a testimony, or whatever you feel is the most important things you would want them to know.

How I wish my Ancestors would have left something in writing explaining to me the how’s and why’s of their choices when it came to religion.  So I will write the story of how I came to believe as I believe so my future family will not have to guess at it.

 

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, 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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Personal Stories Belong In Family Trees by guest blogger Laura Hedgecock

Personal Stories Belong In Family Trees

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“Why not add your personal stories and memories to your family tree?”

What does writing about your personal stories have to do with genealogy? Family history, at its core, is about connecting with loved ones. Of course, there’s the thrill of the hunt and the joy of discovery. There’s also the unmitigated delight of pouring over dusty tomes of nearly illegible script. But, beyond that, it’s about connecting.

I’m passionate about this topic because my grandmother left us such a legacy. You can do it too! Here’s why you should include writing about your personal stories in your family history pursuits:

Personal Stories Make Your Roots Accessible

Family roots don’t have to be delicate and hidden. Your family tree starts with you. By writing about your memories, you’re exposing and nourishing the roots of your tree.

For example, my great-great grandmother isn’t just a name on a chart. She was the grandmother my own grandmother adored. I know that from my grandmother’s written words, “She was woman, girl, a friend, an adviser, and a lot of things rolled into a laughing woman of medium height…”

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“Writing down your stories can help you connect with grandkids—even future ones.”

Sharing Personal Stories Make YOU More Accessible

Family members feel a stronger connection to you through your memories and personal stories.

We often think of loved ones in a specific context. Kids, for instance, are often surprised to see their teachers outside of school. Similarly, kids think of their parents and grandparents in limited circumstances. They think of Grandma making cookies and pies or Grandpa coming to their ball games. Writing about your personal stories will help them connect to you, now and later. Your writing will give loved ones a more well-rounded view of you.

Though my grandmother died when I was a teen, through her writing I have a woman-to-woman relationship with her. Through your memories of other family members, your children and grandchildren (future or present) can also bond with ancestors.

Writing about Memories is Therapeutic

Paying it forward is great, but there are also times to be selfish. Writing about memories can be therapeutic for anyone, at any stage of life. It can help you process your memories. Plus, remembering one thing can spark recall about another, and so on. (See Write about Memories: It’s Therapeutic! for reasons why writing is healing.)

Technology Now Makes It Easy to Share Personal Stories

It’s great to write about the stories of your past in any format. However, sharing your memories—or even connecting your stories to your family tree—is easier than ever before. Ancestry.com has become the poster child for show and share. Just as you can attach scanned documents and photos to your family tree, you can also upload your stories. Family tree software is following suit.

Time is the Enemy

Okay, perhaps that’s overstated. Time is linear and technically doesn’t go any faster when you’re having fun.

Perception, especially my perception, tells another story. We think we’ll get around to writing our stories. We think we’ll remember all the details of a wonderful experience. Yet, years fly by in the blink of an eye.

Your Turn:

Get started! There’s no time like the present.

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BIO

LAURA HEDGECOCK is passionate about telling stories and connecting with others. Her book Memories of Me: A Complete Guide to Telling and Sharing the Stories of Your Life will be released May 13, 2014 (Cedar Fort Publishing). She also blogs and provides memory sharing resources at TreasureChestofMemories.com You can connect with Laura via Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or Google+.

 

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