Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Following in His Father's Footsteps---Part 9 Becoming Acquainted with John M. Ganus


Grandsons learning to plow at
a local living history farm
A few years ago while visiting our daughter and her family on their farm in Central Washington, I rode along with one of the neighboring farmers in his tractor.  I say "in" his tractor because it had an air conditioned cab, power steering and a satellite system that ensured the rows were perfectly straight. I was amazed at how farming has changed from the time I was a teenager and drove a tractor for my cousins as they baled hay. 

Farming has changed even more since my ancestors' day. Georgia farmers often used mules to pull their plows, or pushed them along themselves. For the small poor farmer, their help was often limited to what his family could provide. According to the agricultural digests, it doesn't appear that John ever hired help on his farm, but lucky for him, he had five sons. 

John was a typical Georgia farmer, planting most of his farm in cotton and corn. According to the 1880 Agricultural Census, John was the owner of a 40-acre farm, which included 18 acres of Indian corn, 2 acres of oats, 2 acres of wheat, and 18 acres of cotton. He also had 5 barnyard poultry, 8 swine and one milch cow in addition to one other cow. Cotton was considered one of the most profitable crops in the south and corn was the other commonly grown crop. Corn was needed for the farm animals and was a staple served at the southern table. It would be years before I realized that the corn pone and cornbread often served at my childhood dinner table in California was likely tied to my Southern roots.



cotton, Georgia, Agricultural Census, 1880, Elder Metcalf, farm, genealogy, family history
In 1880, John and Olivia's two oldest sons, William Franklin and John Thackason, were both married, had families and were farming just down the road. The three sons still at home who could help were Roderick Monroe who was 17, Newton Lafayette who was 13 and Robert Lee who was 10. I also know that for a period of time in 1882, John received some help from a Mormon missionary serving in the area. I am so thankful for the insight that the Elder John Metcalf’s journal provides.

According to Elder Metcalf's journal, when he visited John ‘s home on May 19, 1882, he learned that a frost had killed some of John’s cotton and corn. Farmers have always been vulnerable to the unpredictability of the weather, but that didn't softened the disappointment of such a loss. From what I know about John, he was never particularly well off, so I am sure that losing some of his crops came as a blow. The next morning, John got up and did the only thing that he could do and that was to get to work. Elder Metcalf recorded that the next day he helped John to plow, indicating that they plowed half a day and were so busy, he ended up staying the night in the Ganus home. A few days later, John had wheat to bind and Elder Metcalf returned to help. On July 28, Elder Metcalf helped John “plow cotton” and the men once again worked long and late into the evening.

As crops were harvested, a farmer was not yet “done," as the fields had to be cleared and cleaned so that they would be ready in the spring for the new crop to be planted. On September 9th of that same year, Elder Metcalf found John in the field doing exactly that and once again, stepped in to help him.

The following day, September 10, it rained all day and Elder Metcalf recorded that consequently they just “waited it out”. I can almost picture the men, anxious to complete the task, periodically peering out the window for any indication of a break in the storm. The following day, the rain stopped and they were able to return to the field to continue their work. In my mind, I can see the steam rising from the field as the hot Georgia sun warmed the drenched soil. I also can imagine John and Elder Metcalf returning to John’s house at the end of the day, sunburned, tired and muddy from a full day’s work. For three back-breaking days, John and Elder Metcalf worked to clear the field.


September 14, Elder Metcalf helped John pull fodder. After harvesting corn, farmers had to “pull fodder”, which involves pulling the blades off of the cornstalks and gathering them into bunches to dry in the sun. The fodder was then stored to be fed to the cows later. It was difficult work and the sharp edges of the corn blades often sliced their hands in the process.
  


image
Sugar Cane
According to the journal, John raised sugar cane that year and Elder Metcalf was there to help John cut the cane on September 28th, 29th and 30th  and again on October 2nd, and 3rd.  Cutting sugar cane was also difficult work, requiring that each stalk be cut individually from the ground and then at the top, after stripping off the foliage along the sides.3     

As they came to the end of the growing season, John Metcalf returned to John’s farm one final time on October 31 to help John "pull and haul corn."

While Elder Metcalf continued to visit John’s home, no further mention was made that year of helping him on the farm. For the next few months, John would take a brief break from working the soil but would continue to feed and care for his handful of livestock until the following spring, when he would once again begin the process of plowing, planting, and harvesting.



1. Selected U.S. Federal Census Non-Population Schedules, 1850-1880 database, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 20 May 2013, entry for John M. Ganus, District 1143 Haralson, Georgia; Archive Collection Number:  T1137; Page: 08; Line 10

2 Journal of John Edward Metcalf, Mission to the Southern States.  No longer available on the internet. (bulk of material for this post was taken from entries in this journal).

3   Cultivation of Sugar Cane;  William Carter Stubbs; Daniel Gugel Purse, Savannah, Morning News Print, 1900, page 144, found on www.books.google.com

Pictures from Wikipedia Commons, all in Public Domain.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2017, All rights reserved

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

John's Adventure on the Coosa ----Part 7 Becoming Acquainted With John M. Ganus

Sternwheeler, Magnolia, Coosa, Gasden, Rome Georgia,
The Magnolia 

The beautiful sternwheeler, the Magnolia, slowed as it approached the wharf where anxious crowds of people waited for its arrival. There was always excitement in the air when the riverboats arrived and curious towns people always gathered to watch as the passengers descended from the boat, then lingered a little longer while the cargo was unloaded. Wednesday, April 14, 1875 would have been no different as John Ganus arrived on the Magnolia. According to newspaper, John would have paid $1.00 for the round trip from Rome, Georgia to Gadsden, Alabama which is about $22.00 in today's money.

That day the Magnolia's freight consisted of 45 tons of pig iron, 1 lot of cotton seed, 1 bale of cotton and a variety of other merchandise. Typically the Magnolia traveled back and forth from Gadsden to Rome, sometimes making little stops along the way. Had perhaps John taken some things to Gadsden to sell?


The Magnolia was a sternwheeler which is a paddleboat and according to "Haunted Etowah County, Alabama," by Mike Goodson, "The Magnolia was the largest and most elaborate riverboat to make the voyage from Rome to Gadsden."  

On the first of July, 1875, in a newspaper article entitled, "Down the Coosa" the author described a "run to Gadsden and back" and told about the beauty of the trip. The article began with 


"No one who has not taken a trip from Rome to Gadsden upon the swan-like Magnolia, has any conception of the beautiful woodland and farm scenery that meets the eye at every turn of the majestic Coosa."  (http://dlg.galileo.usg.edu/ngnewspapers/id:rtc1875-0255)

The author went on to say, 
"As the Magnolia moved around the curves of the tortuous Coosa, presenting at every turn beautiful scenes of waving fields of corn that stretched out from the banks of the river, so darkly green, and the deep foliage of woodland, trees and vines, interlaced by intense luxuriance, it was a refreshing sight . . . In the back ground of these, and for miles distant, can be seen along nearly the whole route majestic mountains and ridges, or spurs of the Lookout chain. "


The author went on to tell that the Magnolia was willing to make landings along the way to assist both the rich who traveled first class and the poor who had very little. 

Although the Magnolia had accommodations for the wealthy class, which included a wonderful dining room, entertainment, and rooms to sleep in, many of the travelers traveled on the lower level and brought their own food. I suspect John would have been found on the lower level. 


The question that remains, however, is just which John Ganus was on the Magnolia that day? Was it a fifty-five-year-old John Monroe Ganus or was it his single twenty-one-year-old son, John Thackason Ganus? 


In either case, I wonder which members of the Ganus family were waiting at the dock for John that day and I wonder if family gathered together that night to hear John's tales of the Magnolia and his adventure on the Coosa.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2017, All rights reserved

Rome Tri-Weekly Courier, April 13, 1875, page 2, http://dlg.galileo.usg.edu/ngnewspapers/id:rtc1875-0118

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Olivia's New Role--Part 6 Becoming Acquainted With John M. Ganus

one room school house, Little Creek School, Haralson County, Polk County, ancestry, genealogy, teaching certificate, common school, Arakans
Not long after John and Olivia returned to Haralson County, Georgia, following their short stint in Arkansas, Olivia obtained a teaching certificate. In the movies, a school teacher of that time period was often portrayed as either a man, a very young unmarried woman or an older spinster. Olivia certainly was not any of those.

In 1871, when she obtained her certificate, Olivia was a 40-year-old woman and had a houseful of children. Their youngest at that time was one-year-old Robert Lee, Newton was 3 years old, Roderick was 7, John Thackason was 16 and Frank was 18. Certainly, Olivia had her hands full with all of the duties that fell to the wife and mother of the home. 


Some time ago I stumbled onto an article that grabbed my attention. Written in 2008, it told about the restoration of an old one-room school in Haralson County. Unfortunately, the article is no longer accessible on the internet. The article told about the restoration of an old one-room school and said the following:

"The Little Creek School House was built between 1866 and 1871 after the Georgia state legislature established the common school system. . . . It was originally located on GA 100 near the border between Haralson and Polk Counties. . . . last year it was relocated to its current position on Van Wert Street next to the County Commission office."

John Monroe Ganus and Olivia Rainwater
John Monroe Ganus
and Olivia Rainwater
The original location of this school was very close to where John and Olivia lived in Haralson County, Georgia. Is it possible that Olivia either attended or taught at that school? In my files is a treasured copy of Olivia's Teacher's Certificate.  This certificate was shared with me by Carlos Ganus, a dear cousin of mine and descendant of John and Olivia's son, Roderick. The certificate is a treasure but creates many questions. 

 Olivia was born on the 20th of February 1831 in Hall County, Georgia to Joshua Rainwater and Mary Peterson.  She was the 4th of six children, four of which were girls.  Her life seemed to follow the normal pattern for girls of that time period. She lived with her parents until the age of 21, she married and she and John began their family. Everything seems to point to a normal everyday life for a Georgia family during the mid 19th century until you factor in her Teacher's Certificate.


When I think of schools of that era, my mind immediately goes to old TV westerns and shows such as "Little House on the Prairie."  They always portray children of varying ages all attending school together in a small one-room school. I was excited to discover a Youtube video showing the inside of the recently restored Little Creek School.  You can visit it yourself here:  Visit to Little Creek School  Everything down to the pot-bellied stove fits with what I envisioned. 

Olivia Ganus Teacher's certificate, Haralson County, Georgia
Olivia's Teacher's Certificate 

I wrote to individuals in Haralson County and they attempted to help me locate records of those who taught during that time, but little could be found. We do not have any records indicating that Olivia actually taught school, but it seems unlikely that she obtained the certificate just for the sense of accomplishment. Her brother Abner Rainwater was a school teacher and family lore says that he helped her become a teacher. But why did she go through the testing to become a teacher at that time? How did she have the time to prepare and to test when she had two children under the age of 5? I wonder if her husband, John, had an injury or ailment that prevented him from providing for the family for a time. I wonder if their move to Arkansas and back created a financial crisis which made it necessary for Olivia to help provide?  If Olivia did, in fact, teach, who cared for her children? Olivia's sister, Frances Bailey and her family lived close by. Did perhaps Frances help care for Olivia's little ones?  

For whatever reason, Olivia went through the process of testing and obtained the certificate on the 5th of September 1871 in Haralson County, Georgia. Her Teacher's Certificate indicates that her general average was a 90, which is impressive by any standards. Whether she taught or not, she accomplished something not common for wife and mother of that day. Not only could she read and write at a time and place when many could not, but she qualified to teach others those skills. Whether she taught as a profession or not, she certainly taught her own children and 
I am quite certain this independent, strong nature helped her with the hard decisions she would soon face.


Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2017, All rights reserved