Sunday, January 17, 2016

Take Time

Time

family, family history, Ganus, genealogy, time, cancer

Time is a funny thing. Some days it seems like we don't have enough of it while other days feel like they will never end. Time can seemingly speed up or stand still. We share our time with those we love and other days we crave a little time to ourselves. One thing is for sure, our time is precious to us. 

In the picture above I have two of my favorite time pieces. The watch was my Grandpa Ganus's watch. If you follow this blog, you know I never really knew him because he lived in another state and died when I was little. Having something of his means the world to me. The small clock with the embroidered message was a Christmas gift from my sister-in-law after the death of her husband. She told us that she realized how precious time is and the value of always making time for the things that matter most. 

It is with that thought that I set this blog aside for a little while in order to give my time to a pressing family matter. I will miss you, but in time, hopefully I will be back. 

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2016, All rights reserved

Monday, January 4, 2016

To Save Lucille

Lucille Medlin Rainwater
Shared by Sue Conklin
As they helped prepare her for the trip to the sanatorium outside San Angelo, did Lucille's mother and husband fully realize just how sick Lucille really was? Did Lucille exhibit the typical tuberculosis symptoms?

Although often in the beginning stages the illness was difficult to detect, with time it progressed from what had initially been minor fatigue and an occasional cough to fits of coughing, low grade fevers, chills, loss of appetite, weight loss and coughing up mucus streaked with blood. It spread mercilessly through families and communities and was greatly feared.

Lucille Rainwater George, daughter of Alexander Forrest Rainwater and Ella Jones was born 31 July 1905 in Hamilton County, Texas. She was the eighth of their nine children and their fifth daughter.

Lucille's father, Forrest, passed away in 1912 when she was just six years old, leaving her mother, Ella, with eight children at home. Not only did Ella outlive her husband by forty-two years, but she outlived six of their children.

On the 30th of September, 1922 beautiful seventeen year old Lucille Medlin Rainwater married Thomas Jefferson George in Fort Worth, Texas. Their marriage was announced in the Society column of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on October 8th, 1922. T.J. and Lucille made their home in Fort Worth and it was there, at the age of eighteen, she gave birth to their daughter, Gloria Lucille. But joy was short lived because in the months that followed, Lucille contracted the dreaded tuberculosis.

tuberculosis, consumption, Lucille Medline Rainwater, Alexander Forrest Rainwater, Ella Jones Rainwater, San Angelo, Texas, ancestry, ancestors, family history, genealogy
From Library of Congress Prints
 and Photographs


At the time there was little known or understood about the cause of TB and they were still years away from knowing how to effectively treat it, but the one thing the medical community agreed on was that tuberculosis was very contagious, as evidenced by its rapid spread.Young mothers who contracted the disease were encouraged to let others take and care for their children to protect their children from also becoming ill.

So, as recommended, mother and daughter were separated.
Lucille moved in with her mother, Ella Rainwater in Witchita Falls, Texas and little Gloria went to live with her paternal grandparents William and Mahalia George, who were living a little over 100 miles away in Rhome, Texas.(1) The fact that Lucille was not only separated from her daughter, but needed help with her care suggests that the disease was progressing and likely no longer in its early stages. Sick and unable to be with her precious daughter, I can imagine how Lucille's heart must have ached for her baby and her husband. But rather than improving, Lucille continued to grow worse and eventually needed more help than her mother could give her.

It was a typical warm humid June day in San Angelo when Lucille Rainwater George arrived at the sanatorium that had been built to house and care for tuberculosis patients. With fresh air and sunshine being the prescribed treatment at the time, Texas was a perfect place for such sanatoriums and several were built in the state. For those fortunate enough to outlive the wait for an available bed and who could afford it, the sanatoriums provided rest, fresh dry air and simple meals. There the doctors evaluated the patient's condition and determined the level of rest needed. For some it meant complete bed rest, spending their days and nights lying flat on their backs while others were allowed a little more activity, including some time outdoors. The isolation from family and friends added yet one more difficult trial to those suffering from the awful disease.

I can't help but wonder what the doctor told Lucille when he saw her on June 10th, 1926? Did he give her hope that she might recover? Did he realize just how far the disease had already progressed? Did Lucille think she would soon return to her husband and daughter or did she sense that her time was short?

A mere nine days later and miles from home, Lucille took her last breath. She died the 19th of June 1926 at 6:30 p.m., just a month shy of her 21st birthday. Her mother Ella Rainwater served as the informant for her death certificate. Her daughter, Gloria, had celebrated her 2nd birthday just a few months prior and would never know the love of her natural mother. Lucille was among the many who fought and lost their battle to tuberculosis that year. In Texas alone, 1,367 died in 1926 from tuberculosis. (1)

Although Lucille was buried in the Aurora Cemetery in Rhome, Texas, which was some distance from where her mother, siblings and husband were living, she was buried in the cemetery along with other Georges and near where her daughter continued to live with her grandparents for a time.

I have been surprised to learn how many in my family tree died of tuberculosis and equally shocked to learn that according to the CDC, it continues to be the biggest infectious killer in the world, with over 9,000 people infected in 2014 in the US, and an estimated 9.6 million worldwide. In all, 1.5 million TB related deaths occurred worldwide in 2014. While the numbers are diminishing, they remain staggering.(2)



While much of the information for Lucille's story was obtained through standard research, this story could not have been written without the help of Sue Conklin who generously shared information about her family members, Lucille, T.J. and Gloria. Thank you Sue!

(1)  http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/vsushistorical/mortstatsh_1926.pdf  page 84

(2)  http://www.cdc.gov/tb/statistics/default.htm

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2016, All rights reserved

Monday, December 21, 2015

Maybe This Year I Will Win

Christmas traditions, Christmas Gift, family history, genealogy, Ancestors, biscuits and gravy, sliced oranges, traditions
Me beneath our Christmas tree
It happens every year and most years I lose. Maybe this year will be different, but somehow I doubt it.

Each year seems to be about the same. We pull up to my parent's home, quickly jump out of the car and make our way up the walk. My heart is pounding and I am ready. Has my mother been watching out the window? Is she perched at the door, her hand on the knob, ready to jerk it open and beat me at the game? If it is anything like past years, she is waiting, but I always think maybe this year will be different and I will be able to yell it out first.

And then it happens, with one swift motion, my mother yanks open the door while yelling "Christmas Gift." Once again, she's won. That too seems to be tradition.

I had to smile when I did a Google search to see if I could find anything about the origins of this tradition. The point is to yell Christmas gift first and the idea is you then get a gift from the other person. My family has done it as long as I can remember and my mother told me hers did it when she was growing up. But Googling it, I discovered our family isn't alone, in fact I found a discussion about that exact tradition here:  Christmas Eve Gift  and an article about it here:  Dealing With a Peculiar Family Tradition (see article #8).  I learned we certainly aren't the only ones that have that tradition and I discovered that by far the majority had southern roots which made perfect sense since both of my parents have a set of southern grandparents. It makes me wonder about some of our other traditions.

Many traditions morph and evolve over the years as families join and times change, but thankfully many traditions are preserved and passed down, generation after generation.  Sometimes the reason for the tradition may change or is lost, but even still, those traditions can provide continuity and stability to the many generations who share it. So while my mom may seem to win "Christmas Gift" most every year, in reality, continuing and participating in that family tradition makes us all winners.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2015, All rights reserved

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

What's Under Your Christmas Tree?

It's that time of year and as I wander the toy aisles looking for that perfect gift for grandkids, I find myself feeling overwhelmed, not only by the sheer variety of toys, but also by the noise and flash of today's toys. Dolls call out to me as I pass by, furry stuffed animals bark and meow and toy trucks honk and flash their lights. Times have certainly changed, but I wonder, have kids?

marbles, games, Candyland, Life, childhood, genealogy, family history, ancestors, ancestry
Karl Witkowski-Game of Marbles
Wikimedia Commons 
While I am not sure if kids have changed, I can't help but notice that when the grandkids come over, they choose the old board games from our shelves to play even though we actually do own a few video games. Is it possible that maybe they too see the value in some of the slower, simpler games?

When I was young we played board games such as Checkers and Life, in addition to games such as marbles, jacks, pick-up-sticks and hopscotch. Evenings with cousins often consisted of games of kick-the-can and red rover. The games we played required very little expense and could be played whether or not there was electricity or an internet connection.

The generation previous to mine also played very simple games. Among my most prized possessions are my dad's marbles from his childhood. I can almost imagine Dad and his buddies bent over a circle drawn in the smooth dirt, shooting to win.

genealogy treasures, father, marbles, simple, office
Dad's marble collection
I too played marbles when I was little. I remember having favorite marbles and that often there was a fair amount of marble trading that went on. While boys liked marbles that were good shooters, for me it was all about the color.

We live in a fast paced, noisy world so maybe it makes sense that the toys have become the same. Maybe simpler games were best suited for simpler times, but I can't help but notice that there were certain advantages to playing the games from the "olden days."

I don't ever remember anyone having to go to counseling to deal with a marble or hopscotch addiction. There were no concerns that playing our simple games would result in antisocial tendencies, anxiety or an inability to function in day-to-day life. Families weren't broken up because of anyone's obsession with non-stop rounds of pick-up-sticks and no one feared that we would play endless hours of hide and seek. High tech they were not, but in many ways, I wonder if some of the simple games of yesterday were better. But then again, isn't it typical of the older generation to think that the old ways were best?

While I seriously doubt Santa will get many requests for marbles or pick-up-sticks this year,  I am glad they were part of my childhood and equally glad they were part of my dad's. I keep the treasured jar of my dad's marbles sitting on a shelf in my office. There alongside some of my other genealogy treasures, they warm my heart and serve as a quiet reminder that in many ways, simple is good.


Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2015, All rights reserved

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Rain, Rain and More Rainwater

Rainwater, newspaper, genealogy, family history, Cloudy Night Rainwater, Wood Rainwater, Night Rainwater, Lloyd Rainwater, Pearl RainwaterNames that are also common words add an extra degree of challenge to genealogical research. Among my ancestors I have names such as Cook, Bell, and Kite. You probably have similarly challenging names in your trees. 

My second great grandmother was a Rainwater, and as you can imagine, researching that name can be challenging. Whether researching in general databases, newspapers or a general Google Search, I frequently find myself wading through results such as rainwater baths, rainwater harvesting, and ads for artesian bath houses with water as-soft-as-rainwater. 

Thanks to classes taken from Lisa Louise Cooke and tips in her book "The Genealogist's Google Toolbox," I've learned tricks to help me narrow down those searches, but with a name like Rainwater, there still seems to be a variety of results sure to bring a smile. 

The two newspaper articles below are just a few examples:


A SERIOUS FALL 
Yesterday morning Mr. Rainwater, engaged at the store of March & Price, while standing on a tall step ladder arranging the price of an immense pile of seersuckers and ginghams they suddenly fell with a dull, sickening thud--we mean the prices.  The proprietors advised Mr. Rainwater to let them B flat.
Fort Worth Daily Gazette (Fort Worth, Texas)  1 May 1887 Sun page 5
accessed on Newspapers.com September 30, 2015


and yet another:

A WELL WATERED BANK 
     There can be water in banks the same as in wells and securities.  
     For instance:  The Rainwater Bank & Trust Co of Morriton, Ark. 
     Wood Rainwater is president of the bank; Cloudy Night Rainwater, vice president and Night Rainwater treasurer. Loid Rainwater and Pearl Rainwater are directors.  But somehow or other Pure Rainwater was left out. Ditto "Rain-in-the-face." 
The Pittsburg Press, October 20, 1913, accessed on Google Newspapers


Yes, Cloudy Night was a man's real name and no, they weren't Native American, but possibly they believed they were.  Cloudy Night Rainwater is in fact in my ancestry and since he is the only child I have listed for that family, I can see that I have some work to do on his family, among other Rainwater families. 

Recent contacts with Rainwater cousins have helped me focus a little more on my Rainwater side of the family and with that has come the realization that I have neglected them for long enough. Maybe it's time I wring out the records in search of my Rainwaters. 

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2015, All rights reserved

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Site Sleuthing- On Demand Court Records for Oklahoma

Oklahoma, court records, genealogy, family history, research, marriage license

When we lived in Dallas, Texas, shopping was both wonderful and hard. It was wonderful because there were so many options and it seemed that whatever I wanted or needed could be found if I just persisted in looking long enough. The bad part was for someone who is a little compulsive in nature, if I couldn't find something it was hard to just give up because I knew if one place didn't have it, another place might. So with so many options, the search could go on forever and sometimes it felt like it did.

In ways I feel like that is how it is with genealogy research today.  It's good because there is always one more place to look, but bad because the never ending options are responsible for both anxiety and sleep deprivation for many a genealogist.

While some stay within the confines of the sites created specifically with genealogy in mind,  the bottom really opens up once we realize that, in addition to the massive number of records on those sites, there are many options beyond the typical genealogy sites.

A couple of years ago I stumbled onto a website for Oklahoma court records called  "On Demand Court Records." This site has Oklahoma public records searchable for free. In addition, there are subscription options for advanced tools, but so far I have only used the free version which allows me to search by individual, by court, by county, by party type, and date range.

What have I found on the website? The records I've found vary from marriages, imported marriages, divorces, estates,  and lawsuits etc., so in other words, the stuff genealogist love to find!

For example, I found a reference to an imported marriage license for Edgar Howell and Ollie Ganus for 1896. Now granted, I was not successful as long as I searched only for Ollie or Olivia Ganus, but when I searched for Edgar Howell, I was able to find the couple. Unfortunately she is listed as Allie Gomes instead of Ollie Ganus and with that experience, I was reminded to be very creative with spellings and to search for all who may have been involved.

 


One downside is, it is really more of an index, but it is still useful in narrowing down dates and places and in providing clues leading to other existing records.

Some counties have records going further back than others and it's also worth noting that I've found instances where there are records on the site that actually go further back than indicated for that particular county. For instance on the marriage record below,  the marriage license was filed in Lincoln, Oklahoma in 1899 and yet looking at the website's court upload status, it indicates that records for Lincoln County go back to March 22nd, 1904.




Another downside (for your cousins) is that having recent court information online means you get to see references to recent driving violations, arrests or scuffles that friends and family may have been implicated in, which can make for some interesting discoveries and possibly even provide material for some entertaining conversations for the next family reunion.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2015, All rights reserved

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Two Sisters, Two Stories

As I looked at the pictures of Bertha and Gussie Fricks, I was taken by how much the sisters looked alike, in fact at first I wondered if they were twins. But research would show that they were born two years apart. Bertha was born about 1885 and Gussie was born about 1883. Daughters of Ramsey Fricks and Emma Faucett, the girls grew up in Walker County, Georgia and were sisters to Carl Fricks, whose story I shared here.  

In the picture, the girls wore very similar dresses and both wore their hair pulled up on top of their heads in the Gibson Girl style. Did their dress just reflect the current style for young girls, or did they have the same taste? Perhaps we see the common tendency of a younger sister to imitate the dress and style of an older sister.  

family history, genealogy research, ancestors, research, sisters, Oklahoma
Gussie (Fricks) Brummitt
genealogy, family history, Walker County, Georgia, Bertha Fricks, Gussie Fricks, Faucett, Ramsey Fricks
Bertha (Fricks) Lamb

















I wonder if they were close. Not having any sisters of my own, I used to think about how wonderful life would be if only I had a sister. I imagined that we would play together, share each other's clothes and at night, when we were supposed to be asleep, we would giggle and whisper secrets in the room that we shared. As much as I loved my brothers, I knew that having brothers was not the same deal. I would like to think that Bertha and Gussie had a close loving relationship, although I don't really know. 

In my research, I could see other similarities between the two girls.  They married within two years of each other and both married in Walker County, Georgia. Interestingly enough, both girls married men quite a bit older. Gussie married a man 10 years her senior and Bertha's husband was nearly 7 years older than she was. Each had only one child, a son. (I shared Gussie's story here.)

Whatever similarities existed between the two girls, there were also some striking differences. At the young age of 16, Bertha married Sam Lamb on the 22nd of July 1900. Although several years older, Gussie actually married two years after Bertha. Bertha and Sam's son, Jesse Wallace Fricks, was born about 1902. Gussie and her husband John Brummitt would have a son three years later. 

The most striking difference though was the length of Bertha's life which sadly was considerably shorter than Gussie's. 

Bertha didn't live long enough to appear on a single census with her husband and son.  Dying before her son Jesse was two years old, she missed out on so much. She didn't experience growing old with her husband, nor seeing her son Jesse marry and have children. She never knew the joy that grandchildren bring.

Sadly no death certificate exists for her and not even a Find-A-Grave entry helps identify where she was laid to rest. Thankfully, a short article appeared in the Walker County Messenger, a newspaper for LaFayette, Georgia.  The following entry was published on Thursday February 26, 1903:
"On the 14th inst. while the shades of night hung over our sleeping valley the angel of death entered the home of Mr. Sam Lamb and snatched from his bosom his dear wife. Two short summers ago she stood by his side a beautiful blushing bride full of life and vigor; but soon the much-dreaded monster, consumption, with its cold hands laid hold of her body and finished its deadly work. The deceased was the daughter of Mrs. Ramsey Fricks. In this, the saddest hour of their lives, we offer sympathy and trust that the Good Master will at last lead the bereaved to a sweet home where no sad farewells are heard."   (1)              J.B. Cagle                                                                                                                                                                         
Only 18 years old and with so much ahead of her, Bertha succumbed to the awful disease, consumption, known today as tuberculosis. She left behind her husband of two years and her young son. Two sisters and two stories, but one story was much too short. 


(1)  LaFayette Georgia Walker County Messenger 1902-1905, image 218, February 23, 1903. Accessed on Old Fulton New York Post Cards, October 24th, 2015.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2015, All rights reserved