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(Hughes Family Correspondence)
Manuscript Archive of Correspondence of the Hughes Family, of Texas, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire, including Lucy Stephenson Hughes, and her daughter traveling department store professional Jeanie Hughes, and George Forbes Hughes and Gerard Hastings Hughes, students at Harvard University and early Aviators in world War One American Expeditionary Force, dating - 1900-1966.

Archive consisting of 374 letters, totaling 1888 pages, (207 retained mailing envelopes), plus over 100 pieces of printed and manuscript ephemera. Of the 374 letters in this collection, 270 are incoming correspondence to Lucy Stephenson Hughes, wife of Texas rancher William George Hughes, an English immigrant to Texas in 1878. Of the letters written to Lucy, 82 were written by her daughter Jeanie, 63 by her son George, and 47 by her son Gerard. George and Gerard were for the most part attending Harvard University at the time they were writing their mother. Lucy wrote 48 of the letters, mostly to her children. Other correspondents to Lucy are her aunts in England (8 letters), a niece Esther Stout in California (18 letters), as well as another family member, Sarah F. Hughes (15 letters). There are other correspondents with Lucy who appear to be friends or associates. 

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Biography of the Hughes Family


William "Willy" George Hughes, rancher, was born at Kensington, London, England, on May 29, 1859. He attended Marlborough College and immigrated to America; he arrived in New York on September 15, 1878, reached San Antonio on the twenty-ninth, and immediately entered apprentice training as a shepherd without pay. He soon bought 160 acres of land three miles west of Boerne in Kendall County, where, on March 22, 1879, he began what later became a very successful ranching operation. One of his early achievements was to import the superior Oxfordshire Downs sheep and start developing high-quality breeding stock that brought premium prices. Also, through diversification, outstanding management skills, and hard work, he amassed some 7,000 acres of ranchland of his own and leased several hundred additional acres of state school land.

Hughes quickly recognized the potential of Angora goats in his integrated ranching operation and was among the first ranchers to bring this breed to Kendall County. He purchased his seed stock from William M. Landrum of Laguna, Uvalde County, who moved to Texas from California in 1883. When President Grover Cleveland persuaded Congress to reduce import tariffs and Australian wool flooded the United States market in 1887, Hughes immediately switched from sheep to Angora goats and mohair production. Another innovative ranching practice he initiated was to buy cheap mustang mares and breed them to his registered Arabian stallion, thus producing a durable, high-quality riding horse that was popular with the United States Cavalry. During the Spanish-American War he trained and delivered hundreds of horses to cavalry units both in San Antonio and at the Mustang Island staging area near Corpus Christi.

Hughes married Lucy C. Stephenson on June 28, 1888. Lucy was born August 18, 1864, at Alston, Nenthead, Cumberland, England.  She died sometime after 1940. She was the daughter of John James Stephenson (1821-1895) and Ann Dover Clark (1827-1905).  Her parents immigrated to Kendall County, Texas, about 1872, where her father had a farm. The family is found in Kendall in the 1880 Census. After her marriage in 1888, Lucy's mother came to live with her and her husband and they are found together in Kendall County in the 1900 Census. Lucy's sister Ella was also living with them.

The couple had three children, Jane Elizabeth "Jeannie" Hughes (1889-1977), George Forbes Hughes (1892-1971), and Gerard "Jerry" Hastings Hughes (1895-1996).  In addition to attending her children and keeping house, Lucy, encouraged by her husband, began a productive dairy business with a herd of registered Jersey cows. The dairy sold up to 400 pounds of butter a month in San Antonio.

Hughes founded Hastings, Texas, and became its first postmaster on April 17, 1890. The post office was named for his father, William Hastings Hughes. Hughes helped organize the Hastings one-teacher school in the mid-1890s. He wrote numerous articles and scientific papers on raising and marketing Angora goats. He also collaborated with his famous uncle, Thomas Hughes, author of the classic Tom Brown's School Days and founder of Rugby, Tennessee, in writing letters about his early Texas ranching experiences that were later published in a book, GTT -Gone to Texas (1884). Hughes died in a train accident at Bellville, Illinois, on November 25, 1902, while on his way to show his prized Angoras at a northern livestock exhibition.

William "Willy" George Hughes was the son of William Hastings Hughes, an established wine importer, who invested in failed land deals with his brother Thomas Hughes, which forced the young Willy to head out on his own to Texas. William George Hughes' uncle Thomas Hughes was a scholar, known for his classic book "Tom Brown's School Days" (1880). Thomas visited America for the first time in 1870 to visit his friend James Russell Lowell. He later founded a Christian-Socialist oriented community at Rugby, Tennessee and edited the book "G.T.T. Gone to Texas" published in London by Macmillan & Co. in 1884. The book includes letters written by Thomas' three nephews (sons of his brother William: William George Hughes, Gerard "Chico" Hughes, and Henry "Harry" Hughes). The book is an excellent account of cattle and sheep ranching in Texas and it was intended by Thomas to be used to help prospective English immigrants to Texas. The book is considered one of the best accounts of Texas immigrants and ranch life.

William George Hughes' father William Hastings Hughes, later in life immigrated to New York. William Hastings Hughes' grandfather was John Hughes, an artist and author. His wife Margaret Elizabeth Wilkinson immigrated to Thomas Hughes community at Rugby, Tennessee. John Hughes was the only child of the Rev. Thomas Hughes, vicar of Uffington Church, one of three canons at St. Paul's Cathedral, London, England. The Rev. Hughes wife was Mary Ann Watts, friend of Sir Walter Scott. She wrote a biography of Scott.

After the death of her husband, Lucy gave up Texas and moved to Massachusetts, where she is found in the 1910 Census living at Milton, Norfolk County, Massachusetts.   Lucy's sons, George and Gerard, attended Milton Academy. After Milton Academy, George and Gerard attended Harvard together. The boys lived in the "yard" at 42 Matthews Hall, when in the fall of 1916 a notice was posted, which stated the Aviation Section of the Signal Corps (the Army Air Corps of those days) wanted a group of volunteers to enlist for the purpose of learning to fly and becoming Reserve Military Aviators (RMAs).  George and Jerry decided to apply together. They were among the vanguard of the early fliers. George had previously had some flying experience when he joined the flying club while attending Dartmouth (1911-1912). They applied and were asked to report to Governor's Island (NYC) for physical examinations in December of 1916. In late February 1917 they were told to travel to Mineola Field (Garden City, Long Island, New York) for one last series of tests, they arrived in April of 1917, just at the time that America entered World War One. The lack of trained military pilot instructors meant that the Hughes brothers were taught by civilians.

The Hughes brothers were among the first of the new American pilots and as such, instead of heading to the front and fighting in the war, as they had hoped, they were initially assigned as pilot instructors. After pilot training and even before his commission as lieutenant, George F. Hughes was sent to Dayton, Ohio in July of 1917, to be a flight instructor at the new Wilbur Wright Field. There were simply not enough military instructors so George was hurried into becoming an instructor. By October 1917, George was made squadron commander of the 12th Aero Squadron, moving it from Dayton, Ohio to New York, on to Amanty, France, then to the front. He went from being a flight instructor to being in charge of 10 officers and 150 men and their equipment which formed the 12th Aero Squadron and to make sure everyone and everything arrived in France safely by December 1917. The 12th Aero Squadron was designated an "observation" squadron and were combat ready by May 1918. George flew with the 12th Aero until the middle of July, than was put in command of a new outfit, the 258th Aero Squadron, which he helped to ready.  Just as the 258th became combat ready, the war ended.

George's brother Jerry, after flight school, was also assigned to a position as flight instructor. His station was at Chanute Field, Rantoul, Illinois. He arrived at the new air field in September of 1917. In December 1917, Jerry got orders to proceed to Rich Field, at Waco, Texas. He instructed at Waco until August of 1918, when he was sent to France. Foul weather slowed his training at Issoudun's American flying school. After Issoudun, he spent time at the American gunnery school at St. Jean de Monts, which he completed in a week. He was assigned to a combat unit, but arrived in Toul, France, just as the war ended.

The brothers thought they would be with the 258th Aero Squadron as part of the occupying forces in Germany, but George took sick (emotional breakdown) and the brothers came back to New York with most of the other soldiers, being released from service in February of 1919.

In 1920, Lucy was found living with her daughter Jeanie in Newburgh, Orange County, New York. Lucy was listed as not working, while Jeanie was a superintendent at a department store. After the war the Hughes brothers bought the Garden City Garage (Garden City, Long Island, New York). Here they ran an airplane and auto mechanic business until 1946. Jerry was active in founding the Garden City Chamber of Commerce and served as its 3rd President. He also helped in a plan to create 6,000 parking spaces in the Garden City area for customers of its businesses, a project that drew national attention for its scope and planning.

Lucy in 1925 is found in the New York State Census to be living at Hempstead, Nassau County, New York, with her daughter Jeanie who was now working in real estate and her son Gerard, who had the garage. The two brothers had married: George to Frona Brooks in 1927, and Jerry to Charlotte Christ (1904-1995) in 1928. George and his wife had two children, Octavia and Anita. Jerry and his wife had four children, Anne, Thomas, Jean, and Marian. In the 1930 Census, Lucy and her daughter are living together at Garden City, Long Island (Nassau County), New York. Jeanie is now listed as a "psychologist." The two women are living with Octavia, the daughter of George, who was divorced, living with his daughter Octavia and his sister Jeannie and his mother. Gerard Hughes appears to have outlived everyone in the family, dying in 1995 at 101 years old. His sister Jeannie died in 1977, with Lucy dying sometime after 1940.

Description of Archive:

1900 - 1903.  3 letters, 13 pages, 2 envelopes, all three of these letter are to Mrs. Lucy (Stephenson) Hughes, at Hastings, Texas. One is written by S. F. Hughes (Milton, MA) and two from W. Cameron Forbes (Sheridan, WY & Boston, MA).  W. Cameron Forbes is likely to be William Cameron Forbes, partner in J. M. Forbes & Co. (he writes to Lucy on the company letterhead). An investment banker, he later became Governor-General of the Philippines (1908-1913) and Ambassador of the United States to Japan (1930-1932). He was the son of William Hathaway Forbes (President of Bell Telephone Company) and Edith Emerson (daughter of Ralph Waldo Emerson).

1912 -1913.  43 letters, 245 pages, 37 envelopes, of these 43 letters, most are written in 1913. Of the 43 letters, 37 are written to Mrs. Lucy (Stephenson) Hughes, including letters from her children George (12), Gerard (8), and Jennie (6). Other letters to Lucy are written by her Aunts (5) from England (Robeston Wathen, Narberth). Sarah F. Hughes writes to Lucy 3 times and 3 times to George Forbes Hughes from Orchard Knoll (Milton, MA).  Other letters are written to Lucy from friends, or others. There are also 2 letters written by George, one each to his sister (Jennie) and brother (Gerard) and one letter written by Gerard to his brother George and one letter written by Gerard to his brother George. The letters to Lucy start out addressed to her at Ossipee, New Hampshire, but apparently George temporarily moved to Everett, Washington, There is talk in one letter of George not being able to enter Harvard, but instead going to Washington State, for work. George writes to his family on the letterhead of the "Everett Railway, Light and Water Company," where he apparently worked in its office. Some of the letters from 1913 from Gerard H. Hughes are written when he was attending Harvard University and he and his family are trying to convince George to give up Everett and go to Harvard. The letters offer a look at life at the university at this time. Gerard was living at 42 Gray's Hall in the "yard." One letter talks about unannounced guests, a student dropped by in the middle of the night to crash at his place:                                                                                                                                                     

"He had with him a futurist picture done by the illustrious Edward Forbes (curator of the Fogg Museum and instructor of art in Harvard - at least that's what grandma told Miss Wakefield. It was news to me). The picture was supposed to represent a nigger in a water-melon patch (Oh those witty Forbes! So Clever!). When Walter went, he said he didn't like carrying that picture because people might think he did it. They would have grounds all right; ‘cause he looks like a wandering artist without a cent."

The same letter describes a prank pulled on a new Jewish student:

"Speaking of kidding people I must tell you about our top floor. The occupants are: Kimball and Richardson (K & R. Co.), Sylvester Rothschild (commonly known as Uncle Roth or simply, Roth) (also "Unk"). Besides these are minor characters: Mr. Zunston Zee, Saffron, & Schoenfeld. Uncle Roth is always on his high horse, and one time bade me not speak to him "in such an authoritative manner." He is a Jew and a Freshman and as green as grass.

K & R. Co. have been trying to get his goat all year, and they have succeeded pretty well. The other day they were fooling with him and he bust a window pane. Then they saw their chance. They borrowed Zee's typewriter and wrote a letter for "Unk," in which they stated that they were sorry to inform him that because of disorderly conduct he was placed on probation. They signed the letter with "Henry A. Yeomans." [Yeomans was the dean of the undergraduates]


Roth got the letter yesterday and hasn't slept since. He asked the janitor if he had squealed on him, and the janitor said he hadn't. Unk then went and saw his faculty adviser. This august personage fell for it too and said that he couldn't tell how serious it might be, but that he didn't like the sound of "disorderly conduct." Natural the poor goat is wild. He left the letter lying on his desk and K & R Co. naturally pinched it and burnt it, destroying all evidence against themselves. In the meantime these rascals have been sympathizing with him and scaring him to death. They told him that if he cut he would be fired, and so he can't get to see the Dean for fear of cutting.

Anyhow he is going to try and see the Dean tomorrow and confess all his sins. When he tells Yeomans that he is on "pro" for busting a window pane the old boy will die laughing. I have never seen such a simple fool as Rothschild is." [Rothschild later became the Vice-Consul to Gothenburg (Sweden).

1914 - 51 letters, 280 pages, 40 envelopes, of these letters, 42 are written to Lucy C. (Stephenson) Hughes Her children Gerard (15), Jennie (10), and George (3) wrote most of them, but there are also 7 letters written to Lucy from her niece Esther Stout of California, 2 letters from her Aunt in England, 1 letter from Sarah F. Hughes, and 4 letters written by others, including her friends and Henry A. Yeomans, the Dean of undergraduates at Harvard University where her sons George and Gerard are studying. Also among these 51 letters is one letter written by Lucy to Dean Yeomans, a typed copy of the letter sent by Dean Yeomans to Gerard, 5 letters from Lucy to Gerard, and 1 letter from George to Gerard. It would appear that Gerard was having a tough Freshman year at Harvard and was risking not being welcomed back for Sophomore year. There is also a letter from George to his Uncle Ainslie expressing his thoughts of quitting his job in Everett, Washington, and returning East to go to school at Harvard. The letters written by George and Gerard are written from Harvard and discuss chool life, etc.

1915-1916,  186 letters, 894 pages, 120 envelopes, of these letters, 124 are written to Lucy, with 100 of these 124 written to her by her children, Jennie (60), George (19), and Gerard (21). Others were written to Lucy by her Aunt in England (1), Sarah F. Hughes (4), her niece Esther Stout of California (10), and the rest by friends or associates.  There are also four letters to Lucy from her stock broker (W. C. Buck of J. M. Forbes & Co.). The rest of the letters in this group are 9 letters from Lucy to her "boys" (George and Gerard combined), with 19 letters from Lucy to her son Gerard and 12 letters from Lucy to her son George, and one letter to her daughter Jeanie.  There are also 7 letters to Gerard from his sister Jeanie, and 6 from Jeanie to her brother George. There are 2 letters from Sarah F. Hughes to George, plus 1 letter from Esther Stout to her cousin Jeanie and 1 letter from "Edith" to George. One letter to Lucy is from the Dean's Office at Harvard concerning her son George. One letter is written by Gerard to his brother George. There is also a copy of a letter from Dean B. S. Hurlbut concerning the poor academic record of George at Harvard, which lands George on probation with the University, as well as other letters concerning life at Harvard. For several years Jeanie worked in the department store field (W. T. Grant Company, Deisel - English, Stauses) traveling throughout the Midwest, New England and New York. In one letter she talks of a company in Ohio wanting her to move there to be their buyer, and in another she writes to her mother about being in New York City and happy to get out:

"I am rather glad to be out of New York, just at present with so many strikes going on. The men on theFifth Avenue busses were striking when I left & now all of the Third Ave Street lines are striking. Don't worry dear about my becoming intimate with my business associates. There is a barrier which they cannot vault & which they seldom try to overcome."

She also seems to have addressed women's clubs on her work:

"Before leaving Lima (OH) today I went to the College Women's Club Luncheon as their only speaker and gave them a short talk on my work. They seemed very much interested. There were only 37 women I believe. I didn't mind talking the least bit."

In 1916 it was still quite unusual for women to be in the workplace, especially traveling on the road. Jeanie experiences what today would be termed sexual harassment. In one letter (22 Mar 1916) to her brother Gerard she writes:

"I am staying at a hotel - you can imagine what it is like - city about thirty to forty thousand salesmen - "drummers" - Moses! How I hate the breed - a victrola that nearly sets my teeth on edge."

Later in the same letter she writes:

"Oh these drummers! How I hate the breed. My I do wish I could lay some men dead with a glance! There would be a few ready for their coffins in this junk place! One glance is enough to give them my opinion of them and that is all that is really necessary."

Jeanie also reveals some tricks of the trade to keep men at bay when on the road:

"My little ring is a wonderful asset - it always puts people at ease. Men are such conceited things that if they don't think you are engaged they are sure you are after them."

Jeanie feels particularly harassed by Jewish men. In a letter dated April 1916, Jeanie is at Toledo, Ohio, and Anti-Semitic feelings are aroused: 

"Back to the Travelers tonight armed with a smile.I am glad that it is to be only two more weeks, for, although I am getting lots of fun out of it, I must say that I shall be glad to be back. I dislike drummers & traveling men and when they begin to think that mine is a traveling profession I hate them worse than ever. Marshall Fields men are usually real men - nice clean cut looking the sort you can talk to about the sale of certain things without putting them into their place every two seconds. But some of those little jews - liars! And vulgar - I feel as though a conversation with them contaminated me. However, my work brings me in contact with them abut seldom. The teaching & general efficiency work I enjoy to the fullest. If the Strauses want to pay me $5000.00 I'll see what I can do to elevate them - I wouldn't go for less. I would heaps rather stay with the Deisel people for $1,600 any day then go to that place and make thousands for the Strauses anyway. I declare I am getting to hate Jews - they deserve to be persecuted."


Overall the content of Jeanie's letters relating to her work on the road for department store companies is quite interesting for the time period.

1918 - 25 letters, 112 pages, 1 envelopes; of these 25 letters, 2 are written to Gerard, 1 to Jennie, and 23 to their Mother. Of the letters written to Mother, 22 are written by her son George and 1 by her son Gerard. These 1918 letters offer much interesting description and observation on the lives and experiences of military aviators during World War One. One letter, dated 26 August 1918 George makes the following comments to his brother Gerard:

"Paris is a hell of a place, take the advice of an older brother and stay away from it. I went there with about $400 and came away poverty stricken in less than a week and didn't have anything to show for it, except a pair of shoes that cost me the grand sum of 225 francs. One would have a duck fit back home if a dealer asked $40 for some foot wear but over here it's a case of "c'est la guerre" and one becomes quite immune to little chings like that."

Later in the same letter, he writes:


"I think I'll try and get into bombing in the near future and from there to chasse. I'm beginning to get "fed up" on this observation game. I hear that back in the States they are giving men advance training in the various branches and you cast your lot for better or worse with no chance of transfer from bombing to chasse or vice versa or anything else. If that's so stick at the game of instructing and leave this war business alone. Chasse is too swift a game to go into with out some previous experience on the front and yet, I'll be damned if I want to keep on warping these old hay racks for the rest of my days. Of course if one is lucky enough to get into a bunch using a two-seater fighter like the "Bristol" that's all right but ------! All the evidence, personal and otherwise, that I can get hold of still tends to show that flat skidding turns are the best maneuvers to pull to escape archies and hostile airplane, and as a last resort go down in a fast spiral. But the main thing is to keep your eyes peeled, in my opinion about 7/10 of all two-seaters shot down were caught napping or the observers' guns jammed; 3/10 may be shot down in a regular fight but I doubt it. A single chasse plane won't go near a two-seater that shows signs of having spotted him - surprise is their winning card and the one they try to play at all times."

In a letter of 23 Oct 1918 George writes to his mother about the plane he was flying and the difficulty of it:

"I have always had good luck in drawing ships, most generally get eh best one in the market; my luck held good that trip and I drew an exceptionally good bus for a Sop. I was the last to take off and strange to say I arrived at the end of our journey about two hours ahead of the next there. It was quite a trip , almost up to Calais; its quite a trick to run one of those rotary motors and the gang at the Paris field didn't think I could get away with it as I had never driven anything but a stationary motor; in the rotary type the cylinders are arranged in a circle and the whole think revolves like a big grindstone; naturally when it gets turning over at a clip of 1200 -1350 revolutions a minute there's quite a torque which tends to pull the nose of your ship to one side or the other. I took off down the field lie this → the first think I knew I was in the air like this →↑ and before I could stop the damn thing I was going back down the field over the hangars "commuca" ­ Strange to say I reached my destination without mishap but the next time I tried to fly the fool think - I could keep the motor running long enough to get off the ground."

Almost all of the 1918 letters offer this sort of insight into the World War One aviator.

1949 -1966 - 11 letters, 32 pages, 3 envelopes; 3 letters dated 1949; 7 letters dated 1950, 1 letter dated 1966; 3 letters are written by George to his daughter Octavia; 3 letters are written to Octavia from her Aunt Jeanie Hughes; 1 letter written to Octavia from her grandmother Lucy C. Hughes; 1 letter to Octavia from her sister Ann Hughes; 1 letter written to Octavia and Jeanie from a friend; and 1 letter to Jeanie from a friend in England.

Undated - 55 letters, 308 pages, 4 envelopes. Of these 55 letters, 41 of them are written to Lucy C. Hughes, with 39 of them written to her by her children, Jeanie, George and Gerard. There is one letter written to Lucy by Sarah F. Hughes and 1 letter to Lucy by her niece Esther Stout of California. There are 7 letters written to George (3 from his sister Jeanie, 1 from his brother Gerard, 1 from Sarah F. Hughes, and 2 others); 5 letters written to Gerard H. Hughes from his sister and mother and 2 letters are written to Octavia Hughes by her father George F. Hughes. Several letters appear to be incomplete.

Miscellaneous Ephemeral Items

Checking Account register of Lucy Stephenson Hughes, 13 pages,1903-1906.

3 telegrams, Jeanie to her mother, circa 1913-1915.

12 postcards/cards, 1914-1916.

1 mss page, hours worked for Mrs. Hughes, 1914.

54 letterhead receipts, 1913-1915, mostly 1914.

1 paystub for Octavia Hughes, 1949.

58 mss pages, no date, appears to be notes, some in French, for perhaps classwork, some verse, etc.

20 various printed items: invitations, notices, advertisements, school items, etc., 1913-1965.

9 envelopes.