This week, my brain has been on overdrive. As in, mind-exhausting working. Twisting, turning, stretching, crunching, typing, wondering, connecting, wondering, searching, finding, giving up kind of work.
Can you relate?
Here's my genealogical topic of choice for the week. You know, the one that's driving me crazy?!?
Here's where it all starting. Going to just blame this one on my dear ol' Dad (he's the Hughes, after all!). He blessed me with a surprise bundle of historical digital photos of our Parrish, McMath, and Mercer families. One such piece of info he shared was an obituary for his mother's late sister, Christine Parrish (1927-1941). In the article was a mention of a "Betty Hughes" (she and Christine both died in a tragic car accident) and "Otis Hughes", Betty's brother (a passenger in the car). This got me thinking about, well, one of my biggest brick walls at the moment - my HUGHES family line beyond my great-grandfather. Since my Hughes relatives lived in the same town as Betty and Otis Hughes...I wondered if they might be related.
Going merely off of the fact that it was highly ironic that a potential Hughes relative was listed in a Parrish obituary in 1941 (my grandparents, Parrish and Hughes descendants didn't marry until a few years later)...I thought I'd run with it. Check out the names for curiosity's sake. Little did I know this would turn into a full-blown research venture.
SO - I soon found that Betty and Otis' parents (Columbus and Myrtle Coker Hughes were buried in the same cemetery as my grandparents and HUGHES great-grandparents. Census forms show they lived within yards of my grandfather and great-grandparents between 1900-1940. After checking with my Dad, I discovered that several of the members of this other branch of the Hughes family also migrated to Auburndale, Florida - where Dad was raised and graduated from high school. He recollected several names of people he knew were cousins of his father, but he wasn't sure exactly how they were connected. I definitely took this as a challenge: find and investigate the connection.
Here's how all of THAT ended up...
My husband suggested I use sticky notes on a wall. I felt that it would reveal too much of my neuroses. Maybe just a really large white board with lines, names, photos, and connecting lines like my favorite TV investigator, Inspector Lewis?
Basically, what I decided to undertake this week was a detailed surname project. I worked through and mapped out the origins of most families with the last name HUGHES residing in Henry and Houston County, Alabama between 1960-1940. I feel like I'm on my way to finding the parents of William J. Hughes (1853-abt 1910).
Stumbling blocks? The missing 1890 US Federal Census (destroyed by fire in St. Louis in 1921). Missing death record for William J. Hughes. The absence of birth records pre-1900 in Alabama. The fact that for the life of me, I can't find his burial location (his wife Mary was buried at Friendship Primitive Baptist Cemetery in 1937, along with her daughter May, son-in-law, and son Seaborn). My only record of William on paper is in the 1900 US Federal Census; also, his name appears on death records for his children Dallas Jackson, Josiah, and wife Mary). Also, marriage record from 1881 confirms his name as William J. Hughes.
Curious clues of note? When trying to identify possible ties between my Hughes branch and other Hughes families in the area, I found several historical photos that are IDENTICAL to my father and brother. Scary identical. What's the term..."ancestral doppelganger"?
I'm ending the week a little despondent...because I'm still no further than I was on Monday morning. But, my sweet Dad (who rocks, by the way) sent the most encouraging note. "Keep digging." I will! But maybe after I let my brain untwist for a few days...