Monday, August 24, 2015

Life Altered in an Instant

How often have you wished you could do something over again, vowing that this time you would do it better?  Sometimes the consequences of snap decisions are just annoying, but other times they are tragic.

As I shared in last weeks post, (found here) running across a McCleskey among Utah Death certificates came as a surprise, especially since it was a McCleskey with a connection to my family in Oklahoma. It would take some digging to find the story, but things eventually fell into place.

muskogge oklahoma, okmulgee oklahoma, genealogy,  family history

Lillian Howell was born in 1883 in Collin County, Texas to Henry Harrison Howell and Amelia Louisa Turner.  Lillian grew up in a household of 11 children, two were half siblings from her father's prior marriage. By 1900 the family moved to Creek Nation, Indian Territory.

Two years later, on 28 December 1902, nineteen year old Lillian Howell married thirty-one year old Benjamin Green McCleskey in Muskogee County, Oklahoma.

A year later their first child Floyd Elmer was born in 1903, followed by Williard Roscoe in 1904. Raymond was born in 1906 and Green Russell McCleskey was born on the 31 of March in 1909, likely in Okmulgee where his family was living in 1910. The brothers were close in age with all four born within six years. I can only imagine the challenges their mother faced as she raised four boys so close in age. 

Russell and his brothers all learned to read and write and helped their father on the farm. Life was hard and there was a lot to do for those families struggling to farm in the early days in Oklahoma. 

I wonder how many times over the years Russell's father, Benjamin, shared the story of losing his father, George Walter McCleskey, in a shootout with Native Americans in Weatherford, Texas, a story I shared here.

At the age of 20, Russell proposed to Virginia Canes and they tied the knot on March 2, 1929 in Okfuskee, Oklahoma.  While most couples feel a certain sense of optimism and hope for the future, few anticipate the challenges and difficulties that come with life. Sadly Russell and Virginia's life would include a very tragic event within their first year of marriage. 

When Russell and Virginia married, Oklahoma was already struggling economically, but the big stock market crash would occur later that year making life even more difficult. Jobs were hard to come by and people were willing to look beyond their immediate communities. I am not sure how Russell learned of the job, but he was hired to work for a loan company in Utah, so he and Virginia packed up and made the nearly 1,300 mile move to Utah.

In Salt Lake City, Russell worked as a manager for The Commercial Discount Company while Virginia worked as a telephone operator. They lived in a small three-year old brick house located at 1453 Westminster Avenue in Salt Lake City, Utah. They were some of the lucky ones. 



rumble seat, accident, salt lake city utah, genealogy, family history


Over Labor Day weekend in 1930, Russell and Virginia went on a little trip to Ogden with friends, Alma U. Daniels and wife Bernice. Bernice also worked for the phone company and it is likely the wives met there. In addition, the couples were close in age and lived within five minutes of each other. 


fall colors, Utah, Ogden, family history, genealogy
9/28/2012 Ogden, Utah 
The 2012 Federal Duck Stamp Contest 
photo by Garry Tucker, USFWS
On Monday evening, September 1, 1930, the couples returned from Ogden, driving along the Ogden-Salt Lake highway, a distance of about 40 miles. Riding along the base of the Wasatch Mountain range, they would have had a clear view of mountains, ablaze with the colors of fall. 

With an altitude of a little over 4,000 feet, evenings in Salt Lake City tend to cool down considerably as the sun drops and such was the case that day. Although the high on September 1, 1930 was 81, the low was 55. [1] While Alma, Bernice and Virginia rode in the front seat of the car, Russell rode in the rumble seat in the back, which soon became too cool. Several articles reported simply that G. Russell tried to move from the rumble seat to inside the car while it was still moving. Thankfully the following article gave a more complete picture of the events that occurred.[2]




Green Russell McCleskey, Alma U. Daniels, Salt Lake City, Utah. Benjamin Green McCleskey, William McCleskey, Raymond McCleskey, Floyd McCleskey, Oklmulgee, Genealogy,  Family History,

The newspaper reported that Russell died of a skull fracture, but the death certificate indicated that he probably died from a broken neck. [3]



Green Russell McCleskey, Virginia McCleskey, Salt Lake City, Utah, Okmulgee, Oklahoma, genealogy, family history, research, death certificate

I can't comprehend the shock folks must have felt as the news reached Russell's friends and family in Oklahoma. Russell was a young man in the prime of life with so much ahead of him. He was working, renting a nice home and was newly married. As friends and family gathered to comfort his devastated parents, Benjamin Green McCleskey and Lillian Howell, I imagine his aunt and uncle, Henry Edgar Howell and Ollie (Ganus), were among them. There would be many hard days to follow.

Life can be altered forever in an instant. A seemingly simple action can lead to a tragic end. How often I have replayed an incident over and over in my mind, wishing I could go back and do it again but different. If only.....

Married just over a year, Virginia had her husband's body shipped back to Oklmulgee and buried in the Okmulgee Cemetery. 


[1] "The Weather" column Salt Lake Telegram, September 1, 1930, image 7, Utah Digital Newspapers;  http://digitalnewspapers.org/, accessed 14 August, 2015. 

[2] Salt Lake Man Killed In Fall off Auto, Salt Lake Telegram, September 2, 1930; Utah Digital Newspapers, http://digitalnewspapers.org/; accessed 11 August, 2015. 

[3]  Utah Death Certificate Index, Utah Department of Administrative Services,http://www.archives.utah.gov/research/indexes/20842.htm, Green Russell McCleskey Death Certificate, accessed 14 August 2015. 


Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2015, All rights reserved

Monday, August 17, 2015

Lost and Found

Sometimes you find people where you least expect to find them! 


Martha Olivia Ganus wife of  Henry Edgar Howell, daughter of William Franklin Ganus
Martha Olivia (Ganus) Howell
(Original photo in my possession) 
While helping a friend do some research, I spent some time searching the Utah Death Certificates. While I was at it, I couldn't resist putting in a few of my own family names into the search box just for fun. I really didn't expect to find anyone because the majority of my ancestors lived in the southern states. 

Imagine my surprise when I typed in McCleskey and up popped Green Russell McCleskey. Although not a direct ancestor, Green Russell McCleskey's family lived near my family in both Georgia and Oklahoma and with the name of McCleskey (my brick wall) I've kept my eye on this family for some time. 

Russell's mother, Lillian Howell, was a sister to Henry Edgar Howell, who married Martha Olivia Ganus, my grandpa's half sister. Martha Olivia, or "Ollie" was William Franklin Ganus's daughter with his first wife, Mary Matilda Roberts.

Just to make sure that this was the same Green Russell McCleskey, I double checked my database and confirmed that, yes, parents and his birth date were the same.  

Since my grandfather's half sister, Ollie (Ganus) Howell was Green Russell McCleskey's aunt and they lived in the same area of Oklahoma, I felt sure that the families interacted. Below are the Howell, McCleskey and Ganus families and the red helps to clarify the link. 

Henry Harrison Howell b. 1840 IL d. 1928 Ok
married Amelia Louisa Turner b. 1852 IL d. 1928 OK

Children of Henry and Louisa


   1. Katherine Anne Howell b. 1873
   2. Henry Edgar Howell b. 1875 Il d. 1951 Ok marr. Martha Olivia Ganus b. 1880 GA d. 1916 OK
   3. Elroy Howell b. 1878
   4. Lily Howell b. 1883 TX d. 1899 OK
   5. Lillian Howell b. 1883 TX d. 1974 Ok married Benjamin Green McCleskey b. 1871 Tx d. 1932 OK

       Children of Benjamin and Lillian
    
            * Floyd Elmer McCleskey b. 1903
            * Raymond C. McCleskey b. 1906
            * Green Russell McCleskey b. 1909
            * Willard McCleskey b. 1913

   6. Lela Howell b. 1886 Tx d 1905 Ok
   7. Pearl Howell b. 1889 Tx d. 1905 Ok
   8. Willis Jay Howell b. 1895 OK
   9. Minnie Mae Howell b. 1895 OK          
         

So what was Green Russell McCleskey, an Oklahoma boy, doing in Salt Lake City, Utah and what was his story?  Have your kleenex ready for next week's post when I share the story I uncovered. 


Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2015, All rights reserved

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Pass It On

As genealogists we would all like to think that what we do will matter to future generations. We hope that our efforts will mean something and that after we are gone, someone will pick up where we left off. What can we do to help instill an interest in the younger generation? 

Recently I've had grandkids express an interest in "doing what you do, Nana." Frankly it surprised me because they are still relatively young. But when we recently held a family reunion with our kids and grandkids, we decided to weave in a few family history experiences along with the other activities. 

genealogy, family history, FamilySearch Discovery Center, family reunion
Using the iPads to learn about their ancestors 


One thing we did was to take the grandkids down to Family History Discovery Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. They have varied activities to help families learn about their family history and many, if not most of the activities are very child-friendly. 

FamilySearch Discovery Center, teaching children genealogy, reunion
Seeing their ancestors' immigration 


Upon entering the center, we received an iPad to use during our visit. After logging into a FamilySearch account,* we placed the iPad on various displays and had a totally customized experience as we learned about our ancestors. 

Drawing on what is in the FamilySearch tree, we had a choice of a variety of activities. One activity allowed us to see our ancestors' immigration and life events displayed on a large map. In one of the rooms in the center, a display transformed the room to the ancestor's time period while we learned what life was like for them.



genealogy, family history, FamilySearch Discovery Center
Grandchild's face in a costume of his ancestry 



Another display showed the ethnic origins of our ancestors. The kids loved being able to have their picture taken in their ancestor's costume. 

Another booth allowed us to record some of our own life experiences. The kids thought it was a lot of fun to answer the questions. 

The next two days of our reunion were filled with fun activities such as riding go-karts, swimming, bowling, boating at the lake and roasting hot dogs over the fire in the mountains. We had a great time together. 

On the last day of our reunion, following a dinner of barbecue chicken, corn on the cob, pasta salad and watermelon, one of our daughters pulled the kids aside for an activity that helped the kids learn about a couple of their ancestors.

With a little help, the kids had fun painting the backdrop for the play they would put on. We had to giggle when we saw the 2 year old busily painting his legs instead. Thankfully it was a very washable paint.



genealogy, family history, FamilySearch Discovery Center, family reunion
Painting the backdrop for the play
Ancestry, Genealogy, reunion activities














After they finished painting the backdrop, our daughter gathered the children around her and told them two stories about their ancestors. One story was from their grandpa's side and one was from my side of the family.

Then the adults pulled up their lawn chairs and enjoyed the production. While our daughter and her husband narrated the stories, the kids acted out the scenes from their ancestors' lives, adding a little of their own creative interpretation. While I doubt my ancestor actually did the "happy dance," when the thief who stole his last morsel of bread for his family died or that my husband's ancestor turned into the headless horseman following his trek across the plains as portrayed by another grandchild, we surely enjoyed their dramatized versions and overall, I think our ancestors would have approved.
family reunion activity, genealogy play, ancestors, ancestry, pioneers
I don't remember a headless horseman as part of the story!


Following the play,  we enjoyed a dutch oven dessert and a firework show. The reunion was a success and a wonderful time to reflect on the past, enjoy the present and look forward to more time together in the
future.


After everyone went home and the clutter was picked up, the sticky floors were mopped and the mountains of laundry were done, I reflected on our reunion and felt that deep contentment that comes from having spent time with those you love . We had a great time and I wondered if just maybe in the process of having fun, we were also able to instill in our grandkids a desire to learn a little more about their heritage.



The cast 

One of my favorite comments came from a nine year old grandson. Because he was one who has expressed an interest in doing genealogy,  I asked him after visiting the Discovery Center what he would like to help with. He looked at me and said, "Did you notice that some of the people in our tree didn't have a death date? We don't even know when and where they died. That bothered me. I want to help find that information."

I am amazed how quickly he picked up on the missing information and thrilled to learn that someone from the younger generations is already ready and willing for me to pass it on. 






*To participate using an ipad at the Discover Center,  you must have a FamilySearch account. To sign up for an account,  you must be 8 years and up. Set up the account prior to visiting the center. Younger children will be outfitted with a backpack and hat to help them feel part of the adventure. 


Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2015, All rights reserved

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Time to Make Memories



San Luis Valley, genealogy, grandma, kick the can, Colorado

My summers as a child were spent with family. We fished, we camped and vacationed together. Most years included a trip to visit our cousins in Colorado. Oh how we loved our time with our grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.

In the evenings we would gather together either at grandma's house or at one of my aunt and uncle's homes. Other evenings we would head to the mountains where we would roast hot dogs and load our plates with all kinds of delicious salads and side dishes. No one ever went hungry.

Some summers we visited my uncles' saw mill in the mountains. Knowing full well that we would itch the rest of the night, we would nonetheless climb the mountain of saw dust, our feet burning as they sunk deep within the hot dust. We loved the mountains where the air was cool and crisp and the smell of pine was strong.

Whether in the mountains or at one of their homes the kids would run and play while the adults visited. Kick the can, capture the flag and games we created with our own imagination filled our time.

It was there in the summers that I tried without success to chew pine gum. Supposedly if you suck on the sap from a pine tree long enough, it softens and you can chew it like gum. Although I tried it every year, I never was patient enough and would always end up with the bitter stuff broken up in bits and stuck to my teeth.

It was there that I learned to ride a tote gote and later learned to drive a pickup over the back roads of the farm.  We hunted for worms to take fishing and walked the fence around my grandma's house.

It was there that I learned to love carrots and fresh peas. We would stand in my aunt's garden and pull up the sweet carrots, wash them with a hose and eat them right there. But as much as I loved the carrots, I really loved the garden peas and I still do.

It was there one summer that my cousin taught me how to make cat tail torches. We dipped cat tails (the plant) in gasoline and lit them on fire. Just as he had promised, they made the perfect torch. As the fire died out, we tossed the torch aside and dipped the next cat tail in the gas and lit it. Imagine our surprise when we turned around to discover one of their outbuildings on fire! We ran for the porch where we grabbed the milking buckets and the hose and managed to get the fire out. The charred black scar on the building served as a reminder of our foolishness for years to come.

We rode horses, floated down the canal on inner tubes, went swimming at Splash Land and ate snow cones. To this day blue raspberry snow cones are an essential part of my summer.

Summers were a magical time when we strengthened family relationships and made memories. I am so thankful for those special cherished memories.

Now I am the grandma and it is to my house that the kids and grandkids gather. I hope that someday they will look back at summers and remember how much fun we had together. With that in mind, I am going to take a break in blogging for a few weeks to spend time with family and make some memories (hopefully minus the torches!)

See you next month!

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2015, All rights reserved

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Love without Boundaries -Minnie Ganus, part 3

Minnie Diggs. She was born a Ganus, yet no one was quite sure why she was remembered as Minnie Diggs. Maybe it was her maternal grandmother's name they told me, or maybe just a nickname of some sorts. I could think of several possibilities, so I tucked the name Diggs in the back of my mind until I knew for certain. 

I wanted to believe that although she had a rough start, Minnie Ganus had ultimately had a good life. I wanted to believe that after her grandmother took her in at three years of age (a story shared HERE) she loved her and cared for her as her own, and I wanted to believe that, although her grandmother was certainly "older" when Minnie came to live with her, it had been good for them both. I wanted to know so much more than any governmental record could tell me. However, records did tell a great deal of her story. 

I was able to learn that Minnie remained with her grandmother until the 19th of November, 1890 when in Campbell County, Georgia 20 year old Minnie Ganus married John Hewell Diggs.  I now knew why she was called Minnie Diggs. Apparently someone at some point in time had been aware of Minnie's marriage although time had blurred that fact. By the time Minnie married, her grandmother Nancy Foster was 73 years old and had cared for Minnie for about 17 years.

Grandma Nancy Foster lived another 15 years after Minnie married John. While she lived the remainder of her life with her son Willis and daughter, Mary, Minnie and her husband John and their children lived nearby. Nancy would live long enough to know four of Minnie's children before she died on 13 March 1905. Nancy was buried in the Fairburn City Cemetery in Fulton County, Georgia.



Nancy Elizabeth Foster, Campbell County Georgia, Family History, Genealogy, Ancestry, Find A Grave
Nancy E. Foster's Headstone
Photo taken by Rhonda Brady Rampy, Used by permission
Find A Grave
John and Minnie [Ganus] Diggs lived their entire married lives in East Point, on the outskirts of Atlanta. There John farmed and together he and Minnie reared seven children; four boys and three girls. Their children were John C., Joseph E., Mary Jewell, Jamie, Herbert O., Velma Elizabeth and Alice Louise . Minnie was able to see their oldest children marry and have their own children, but her three youngest would have time with their mother cut short. 

On the 21 March 1921, at the age of 50, Minnie passed from this life leaving 9 year old Alice, 14 year old Velma, and 16 year old Herbert without their mother. According to the death certificate, her cause of death was consumption, which we now call tuberculosis. 

Her death certificate helped to fill in a few details of her life and death.


Minnie Ganus Diggs, FamilySearch, genealogy, family history, Georgia, Fulton County
Minnie Digg's Death Certificate [2]

Seeing her father listed as "Bud" Gainous made me wonder if either she and her husband had known him well enough to know his nickname or if perhaps they hadn't really known him at all and Bud was just a guess. I've never seen him referred to as Bud, but always as James. Minnie was buried in the Bethel Church Cemetery in Fulton County, Georgia.

Minnie received a brief mention in the newspaper, The Atlanta Constitution, on 22 March 1921. It simply stated:
"Mrs. J. H. Diggs, 50 years old, died Sunday at the residence in East Point.  She is survived by four sons, J.C., J.E., J.F. and H.O. Diggs and three daughters, Mrs. H.D. Eidson and Misses Elizabeth and Lucile Diggs." [2]

Initially this was Minnie's story. The story of a little girl who lost her mother when she was only three years old and was raised by her grandmother Nancy Elizabeth Foster. Minnie married, had children and then, like her mother, she died much too young. Minnie left three children to be reared by another woman, a step-mother. 

But as I learned about Minnie, I realized that in the shadows of her story was another story, the story of her widowed grandmother, Nancy Foster. The grandmother who undoubtedly lived a very different life than she had planned. Long after her own children were grown, Nancy returned to the role of a young mother, changing diapers, bandaging skinned knees and raising her granddaughter through marriage. 

Truthfully, there are many such women in my line; women who helped raise grandchildren as well as nieces, nephews or even seemingly unrelated children. My great grandfather's brother, Roderick Monroe Ganus and his wife, Carrie, took several children into their home over the years, including my own grandfather. Two Chance boys were taken in and reared by John Monroe Ganus' brother, Addison Ganus and his wife Sally.

While thankfully there are records of these stories, I am sure there are just as many similar unrecorded stories in my line and possibly yours. Mothers and grandmothers who dutifully took in other's laundry, prepared extra meals, and helped with each other's children. Mothers whose love and duties extended beyond the boundaries of their immediate families to bless and help those around them. Mothers whose love knew no boundaries; mothers helping mothers.


Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2015, All rights reserved
________________________________________________________________

SOURCES

1. Georgia Deaths, 1914-1927; Death Certificate dated 21 March 1921; digital images, Image 1016 of 1525 (https://familysearch.org:  accessed 24 June 2015.)

2.  Atlanta Constitution, 22 March 1921, page 12, Fold3, www.fold3.com . Accessed on 24 June 2015.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Grandma Foster and her Apprentice

As I fill in the names on my family tree, some ancestors seemingly call to me, bidding me to learn about them and then to share their story. Such was the case of Minnie Ganus, daughter of James Ganus and Frances. James was the brother to my second great grandfather, John Monroe Ganus, so although she isn't in my direct line, I've felt drawn to her since I first heard about her years ago. 

As so often is the case, some of the story passed down proved to be somewhat different from the actual story that emerged, although portions of it were correct.  As I shared here in an earlier post, Minnie didn't appear on the 1870 census with her family, yet according to the story shared with me, Minnie's mother died when she was little and her father James Ganus left her with extended family as he went off to fight in the Civil War. The story also indicated that he had gone back for his son after the war, but left his daughter Minnie with others to raise. While there were several versions of the story, everyone seemed to be in agreement that James had not kept and reared his daughter, although there were discrepancies as to why and what ultimately happened to her. 

George Hardy (1822-1909)
Next I looked for Minnie on the 1880 census. The only Minnie Ganus in the area was in the household of Nancy Foster, a 60 year old widow living in Campbell County, Georgia. The household consisted of Nancy Foster 60 years old, Mary, a 25 year old daughter, Willie J., a 24 year old son and Minnie Ganus, listed as Nancy's 9 year old grand daughter. If this was "my" Minnie, she was born about 1871, which would explain why she wasn't with her family on the 1870 census, and it also clearly meant that Minnie was born well after the Civil War. 

As I looked for more information, I discovered an interesting document pertaining to Minnie.  In the Campbell County Administration and Guardian bonds 1868-1890 found on FamilySearch, Nancy E. Foster applied to have grand daughter Minnie Elizabeth Gainous apprenticed to her in 1875. The court document read: 
"Now five years old on the 20th day of October 1875 bound as apprentice unto the said Nancy E. Foster until said girl arrives at the age of eighteen years; now the said Minnie Elizabeth Gainous shall well and faithfully demean herself as such apprentice during her respective term obeying and fully observing the commands of the said Nancy E. Foster and in all things deposing and behaving herself as faithful apprentice should do and is not to leave or absent herself from the service or employ of the said Nancy E. Foster without her consent, during her respective term of apprenticeship . . ." 
Visions of grandma unselfishly taking in her grand daughter seemed to be vanishing into thin air. Why did Nancy apprentice her granddaughter and what were the circumstances? Reading on, additional information was provided in the documents.
"It being made known to the ordinary of said county, by satisfactory proof that Minnie Elizabeth Gainous a minor child five years old October the 20th 1875 is now living with her Grand Mother Nancy E. Foster and ever since her mother's death, which happened some three years ago and it further appearing that said minor's Mother gave and requested that her mother said Nancy E. Foster should Raise and train her Daughter Minnie Elizabeth Gainous, and further appearing that the Father James Gainous have since the death of his wife (the mother of said Minnie Elizabeth) have intermarried with another woman and now living in the county of Carroll in this state, and Mrs. Nancy E. Foster the Grand Mother as aforesaid of Minnie Elizabeth Gainous, now wishing to have her bound to her under laws of said state: [1]

I will be honest, this left me scratching my head and wondering why five year old Minnie was bound out to her grandmother as an apprentice! Why didn't Grandma Foster just take her in? 

Although I didn't know, I knew who would. Judy Russell addressed a similar issue on her blog The Legal Genealogist. The post, dated October 7, 2013 was entitled  "The apprentices" and can be found here and is well worth the read (as are all of her blog posts.)  

If you scroll down to the comments section of that post, you will find I posted a question asking Judy about Nancy and Minnie's situation. I felt troubled and wondered why Nancy would have her grand daughter apprenticed to her. Judy responded to my question:
"Remember that a guardianship in that time frame was only for property. To assign legal responsibility for the child, the binding out was needed. So it still could be a kindness by the grandmother to take her, and the legal responsibility for her."
I felt relieved to know that apprenticing Minnie to her grandmother did not necessarily indicate a lack of love or maternal concern for little Minnie but was a legal issue and how the law handled such situations at the time. 

I now knew a little more about Minnie and her situation as well. Information in this document provided Minnie's date of birth, as well as her grandmother's claim that Frances had died when Minnie was about 2 and that Frances' desire had been that her daughter be reared by Nancy, her mother and Minnie's grandmother. 

In 1875, Minnie's father, James, married Nancy Ayers in Carroll County, Georgia and by 1880 he was living in nearby Haralson County, with his new wife, Nancy and his son from his first marriage, 13 year old James. James, Nancy and son James remained in the area until at least 1883 when James Ganus last appeared on the Tax Rolls for Haralson County.  By 1899 James was living with his wife and son in Cullman, Alabama, where they remained the rest of their lives.

So Minnie was raised by her grandmother and much of the time lived only a short distance from her father and brother. Did she have much contact with them? Did her grandmother rely on her to help with much of the household work or did she spoil her? Did her grandmother tell Minnie stories about her deceased mother and help her to feel a connection to her? I likely will never know the answers to these questions, but there is more to Minnie's story and I will share the remainder in my next post. 

1. Campbell County, Georgia Estate Bond Book C: Pages 1-4, ,indenture dated 4 December 1875; digital images 7-12, "Georgia Probate Records, 1742-1900," FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org: accessed 5 June 2015).


Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2015, All rights reserved

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Mothers Helping Mothers

A health crisis in our family has made it necessary for me to help with grandkids frequently over the past few years. As much as I love these sweet little gifts from heaven, I must confess that days of chasing little ones, cleaning up messes, and settling disputes between siblings has left me feeling every year of my age.

George Hardy (1822-1909)
Throughout time women have helped each other with children. I see women in my family tree who helped others with their children, and I suspect you likely have such women in your family as well. Some took the children into their home and completely assumed the role of mother while others were available here and there as the need arose.

I would like to share what I know about one such woman, although I know there are others.

Early on as I researched my Ganus family, a story was shared with me about James W. Ganus, my second great grandfather's brother and it went something like this. James W. Ganus, born 1841, married and had two children.  One was a little boy named James C. and the other was a little girl, named Minnie.  I was told the little girl was always referred to as "Minnie Diggs," although the person sharing the story wasn't exactly sure why. One person I talked to surmised that perhaps Minnie's maternal grandmother had been a Diggs.

As the story went, James' wife died and, feeling that it would be too difficult to rear the children, he took them to their grandmother's home (they didn't know her name) and off he went to fight in the Civil War. Family lore indicates that when James returned from the war, he picked up his son, James C., and went to Alabama, but left Minnie behind in Georgia with her grandmother. No one knew exactly what had become of Minnie. Every bit the genealogist, I had to see what I could find.

The records reveal a slightly different twist to the story.

Living outside of Atlanta, John and Nancy Foster, reared seven children,  Sarah, James Robert, Frances, John L., Mary, Edward W., and William J. Foster. In about 1864, when daughter Frances was about 19, she married James W. Ganus in Carroll County, Georgia. James was a farmer and the son of James Ganus and Elizabeth McCluskey. He was a younger brother to my 2nd great grandfather, John Monroe Ganus.

In 1870 James and Frances are shown on the census living with their 3 year old son in Carroll County, Georgia. James was a farmer and living in relatively close proximity to several of his siblings.

But as you may have figured out, this is where fact and family lore parted ways. I will share how in my next post. 

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2015, All rights reserved