Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Bum's Nest

I sat by a window overlooking the city and watched while, many stories below, people scurried about like ants intent on their business. Some were businessmen, others were shoppers and then there were others who didn't seem to fit in either category. My husband had business meetings in San Francisco and so I had gone along for a much-needed break. While my days were filled with shopping and exploring the city, in the evenings Rick and I enjoyed the food and entertainment as well as the other fun things that the city had to offer.

However, our fun trip came to a screaming halt when my husband came down with food poisoning in the middle of the night one night. Meetings and activities were canceled and the focus became getting him well before our flight home. While he slept, I sat by the window and watched with amazement the flutter of activity typical of a large city. We were staying in downtown San Francisco and our room partially faced the street, but through another window I could see a portion of a side alley.

The activities on the street seemed pretty commonplace, but those that took place in the alley nearby revealed a whole different world. Although my view did not allow me to see all that went on, I could see enough. One man spent hours setting up pieces of cardboard and arranging his meager belongings. Soon others approached him and a discussion ensued.What were they talking about? As it grew later and the sun began to set, others began to set up near the original cardboard dwelling and soon there was a handful of homeless all preparing for the oncoming dark of night.

Having lived much of my life in the country or in small towns, I had not seen people living this way before, but many do today and I guess they always have. In her life history, Grandma Hazel Mickelsen Ganus shared some of what she experienced in the hills near Lake Almanor, California where she and my Grandpa Heber Monroe Ganus and their children lived and worked during the depression. (I shared more about my grandparents' experiences during the depression in an earlier post that you can find here.)

Grandma wrote:
"The men on the job were paid every two weeks. If we went to Greenville on a Saturday night for groceries, we would see drunks lying in the alleys, or in the gutter. I was almost afraid to go to town then. 
"A big group of men had what they called, jungled up, in the woods. They had made little huts or lean-tos from scraps of boards, tin, cardboard or limbs from the trees or anything they could find and put together for protection from the cool nights. 
"They would pool what money they had for something to drink, having hit the camps and getting at least one good meal a day. They got so bad with their drinking that the liquor stores were asked by the police to stop selling whiskey to them. they then got to buying bottles of vanilla, then finally to canned heat. This they would melt then drink it. This stuff really got them to raising cane. They even got to fighting so bad that the police were called to settle the matter. 
"This kind of jungle mess was called a bum's nest. There was one woman among these men, and she had a baby one night out there. Some of the people in town got word of it and went there and brought her in to the hospital where she could be taken care of. The police broke up the nest and made them separate and move. There were many such places as this called bum's nest during this depression from 1930 to 1934 that we knew about."
Having grown up in a small rural farming community in Southern Colorado, I am sure much of this was very foreign to my grandparents. My grandmother was always a quiet woman and I can imagine that she felt concern for herself and for the safety of her children during those times, but she also had compassion for those who were without work or a place to live and she indicated that she would often share their food with them.

Our trip to San Francisco quickly came to an end and thankfully my husband recovered just in time to make the flight home As our plane took off, the sun was beginning to set and I was sure the busyness had begun once again in that alley in downtown San Francisco. Although the times have changed, many still live in sad and desperate situations. We may not refer to a "bum's nest" anymore, but those without jobs and a place to lay their head at night still take to the hills or to the inner workings of big cities when the sun begins to set.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2016, All rights reserved

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Isaiah Cook

When I was a kid I loved nothing more than our summer trips to southern Colorado to spend time with family. I always felt so envious of my cousins who lived there in the small farming communities of Sanford, La Jara and Alamosa because they all grew up in close proximity to each other. They were not only family, but also each other's neighbors and friends and I couldn't imagine anything better. 

As I've researched my ancestors, I've found that many of the families grew up that way as well. They remained in the same or neighboring communities and had the advantage of raising their children close to each other. John Monroe Ganus', my 2nd great grandfather lived in Haralson County for many years and his siblings Martha Ganus Brock, Addison Ganus and Mary Ganus Cook all lived close by in neighboring Carroll County, Georgia. 

John's sister, Mary, married Burton W. Cook April 7th, 1850 in Dekalb County, but she and Burton settled close to other family in Carroll County. Burton and Mary's oldest known child, Isaiah M. was born five years later on the 14 April 1855. I've often wondered if they lost a child before Isaiah's birth. When he was about 7 years old, Isaiah's father, Burton, enlisted in the Fayette Planters, 53rd Regiment. I would assume that as the oldest child of four children, Isaiah had to step up and help his mother. I wonder how much he knew and understood about the war. Was he aware of the time his father spent in the Union Army's prisoner of war camp, Elmira? Surely his early years were affected by the hardships and fear common among so many of those living in Georgia. ( I share a little about his father Burton's life here.) After Burton was released and returned home from the war, did he tell his children the tales of the war? 

Isaiah grew up and married Sarah Jane Adams on 28th of January 1877 in neighboring Campbell County, Georgia. Just months before, in October of 1876, Isaiah's sister, Elizabeth, married his wife's brother,  Henry J. Adams.

Isaiah and Sally (Sarah) moved to Alabama about 1898 and purchased land. In 1900, he and his family were living in Cullman County and Isaiah was farming. Isaiah and Sally had a large family, totaling ten children in all.

By 1900, two of Isaiah and Sally's children had married and they had become grandparents. Their home was still full with six of their own children, their youngest being 3 years old. Their oldest son John Franklin Cook lived just down the road and farmed as well. Their married daughter Dora Elizabeth and her husband Fernando Edwards were living in Blount County, Alabama with their small son.

Isaiah died on 15 February 1904 when he was 49 years old, leaving his wife Sallie with four small children at home to care for, the youngest only one-year-old.

In 1907, Isaiah's oldest son, John F. petitioned the court to be appointed as guardian for his younger siblings, Burton Monroe, Velma, George T., Willie and G. F. Cook,  who were all minors and still living at home. After presenting a bond of $2,000, he was appointed the guardian on the 3rd of December 1907. It was very short lived however, as on December 30, just 27 days later, he resigned as guardian, indicating that he had received one of the assets of the estate but nothing belonging to the estate of the minors and that he had not exercised any control over the estate or performed any of the duties of guardian. I have not been able to find any additional information to this date, but there obviously is a story behind this and I would really like to find more so I know the "rest of the story."

Shortly after, Sallie loaded up her kids and moved to the beautiful rolling hills of Stout's Mountain where she farmed and remained the rest of her life. In her final years, she lived with her son Joe and his wife. Sallie died May 8, 1947 and was buried next to Isaiah in Fairview West Missionary Baptist Church Cemetery in Hanceville, Cullman County, Alabama.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2016, All rights reserved

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Getting Recharged

Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy, Rootstech, Rootstech 2017, BCG, Board for Certification of Genealogist, Family History Library, FHL, Genealogy, Ancestry, Ancesetors
BCG Lectures 2016
Michelle Taggart and Michelle Goodrum
For months now I've been on hiatus from blogging due to some other things that needed my attention, but there is nothing like a genealogy conference, an institute or really any type of genealogy activity to refuel the fire! 

That's what I really needed and I got it this last Friday when I was able to attend the BCG* Lectures held in the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. Of course the big draw was the speakers. Any opportunity to hear genealogists such as Elizabeth Shown Mills, Judy Russell and Pamela Boyer Sayre is worth the effort in my book, but being able to hear them absolutely free of charge was an extra bonus!

Pamela Boyer Sayre's  topic was "Enough is Enough, or Is It?"  She really hit the nail on the head when she talked about how many love the hunt and gather game, collecting lots of names and documents without taking the time to carefully analyze what they have. It is so easy to fall into this trap, especially when researching someone with an unusual name or when we first begin to research. She took time to share the steps she goes through in preparing to research and shared how much a carefully thought out research plan can help. I realized I need to slow it down sometimes and spend a little more time in the preparation phase of research. 

Elizabeth Shown Mills blew our socks off as she shared a current genealogy roadblock she hit and the progress she has made using a combination of the FAN club (friends, associates and neighbors), GPS (Genealogical Proof Standard)  and DNA in her lecture entitled "FAN + GPS + DNA: The Problem-Solver's Great Trifecta." She carefully outlined the problem at hand, which centered on finding women in a totally burned county, a problem many of us would likely run from. I loved watching how she was able to take a complex problem and using the "trifecta" was able to resolve a seemingly impossible task. I understand she gives more detail in her article in the current issue of NGS and I absolutely kicked myself for recently letting that subscription lapse.  Yes, I've since repented and renewed my subscription. It's worth every penny. 

In her lecture, "Black Sheep Ancestors and Their Records,"  Ann Staley shared the many records created for those ancestors who fall into the category of "black sheep." I am not sure who was more surprised---the people sitting next to me who realized I had researched my ancestors in many if not most of the records mentioned, or me to realize that they hadn't. Surely others have colorful ancestors as well! Ann not only shared the type of records to consider, but told us about many websites that help document those ancestors.

Jeanne Bloom talked about "Bringing Life to Our Ancestors: Manuscript Collections." I have to confess that although I've been to similar lectures in the past, this is a weak spot for me. I KNOW I need to utilize these collections more, but to do so feels a little like trying to find a needle in a haystack to me. But Jeanne made it seem do-able and provided many useful suggestions and ways to access manuscript collections. 

Michael S. Ramage talked about "Adoption for the Forensic Genealogist." I found his lecture fascinating as he shared many ways to find information on adoptees. I was really surprised to learn about some of the lesser known records available and to realize how much information can be found by digging in the right places. Of course, depending on time and place, there are lots of records that can not be accessed, but there is more available than I realized. I really enjoyed his lecture. 

Of course Judy Russell was, well Judy, which means she is entertaining and funny while educating. I take advantage of any opportunity to listen to Judy because I always learn something and this time was no exception. Through her topic, "When Worlds Collide: Resolving Conflicts in Genealogical Records," she shared fascinating case studies demonstrating ways to resolve the conflicting evidence we come across.  I came away with new ideas for tackling my brick walls. 

If you were not able to attend the event, no worries because it is available to watch for free on Legacy Family Tree Webinars until October 17th and then after that, it will continue to be available to those with an annual or monthly webinar membership. The lectures were so good I intend to watch them again even though I was able to attend.

BCG Lectures 2016
Michelle Taggart and Linda Carver 
As my friend Linda Carver and I were leaving at the end of the day, we both commented that it was really a great day. Not only were we able to learn from some of the best in the industry, we were able to associate with other genies! Genealogy can be a bit isolating at times as I often find myself with my nose in the books, on the computer or sitting in the dark, viewing microfilm. But opportunities such as this provide the opportunity to get out and be among others who have the same interests and I look forward to them so much.

For these reasons, I attend anything I can relating to genealogy, knowing that I will come away not only with a deeper understanding of the principles I need to become a better researcher, but also happier for having spent time with my genea-friends. 

Coming up, I have the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy on my calendar for January 2017 and Rootstech 2017 on my calendar for February. Will you be there? 

* BCG is The Board for Certification of Genealogist 

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2016, All rights reserved