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
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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

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Remembering Robert, Part 2

Finding ancestors' and relatives' names in records is always fun for a genealogist, but nothing compares to finding living who actually knew them. My recent experience in corresponding with living individuals who knew Robert Lee Ganus has been a testament to the value of blogging and social media. 

Born May 29, 1870 to John Monroe Ganus and Olivia Rainwater, Robert Lee Ganus was their youngest child and the youngest brother to my great grandfather, William Franklin Ganus. I was thrilled when three of Robert's grandchildren, Floyd Ganus, Mary Tedder and Dorothy Davis introduced me to Robert through their memories of him. Today I share the second part of his story. (You can find part 1 here.)


"Robert , known to some as Bobby, was a well respected civic leader in the community near Grovania Church. He was in charge of the annual road building crews there. Each summer all adult men in the community had to work 3 weeks in building local roads. This occurred in late summer after the crops were laid back waiting for harvest. He was also the election judge for the local voting precinct. This meant he ran the local election and made sure all ballots were correctly counted. He would read aloud each ballot vote to at least 2 counters who would tally the votes. If both agreed on the count then the vote was final, and he sealed the ballot box with tally sheets to the county courthouse. Also as election judge he was responsible for collecting the local poll tax. He had to keep meticulous records as the poll tax determined who could vote in the election and he had to pay this to the county commissioners.  
"I believe he would be horrified to know the toll tax is now considered to be a discriminator to keep African Americans and poorer people from voting. I was always told he was a leader in encouraging non-discrimination against Native Americans and African Americans. I was told he believed that all cemeteries should allow all races to be buried there. Whenever he hired a black man to help, he would have them sit with the family at lunch. However as was the custom of the time, at harvest time with mixed crews the African Americans were set a table outside. My father also told of race troubles on the county road crews, which Robert averted by arming the white workers with pick handles (pick handles are easily separated from the pick and are similar to a bat in size). So although he was a forward thinker, he was also a man with beliefs of this time. He was not active in church activities although he always claimed his church was Mormon. Being over 5 miles from the church in times before automobiles and married to Stella who claimed to be a Methodist may have contributed to this.

"A family story often retold is about his friendship with Chief Berryhill, chief of the Creek Nation. When Oklahoma became a state in 1907, Indian rolls were created to identify the Creek Indians. Chief Berryhill offered to put Robert on the rolls so that he would be eligible for future Indian benefits. He refused to put his name on the rolls, because of his honesty.

"He was an accomplished farmer for his time. He and Stella always had a big bountiful garden. He had a blacksmith shop and was capable of metal working tasks. He had an orchard, including peaches, apricots, and black walnuts. The farm was well kept with well-built buildings and shade trees. In 1931 or 1932, he suffered health problems, which prevented him from doing the arduous tasks on the farm. From that point until his death, Floyd or Monroe farmed the property.

"To all of us grandchildren, he was a very quiet person who rarely spoke. He was that person in the background who was looking out for the safety of us grandchildren. Thus rarely would any of us get away with not abiding his unsaid rules for our safety without him yelling for us to quit, get out of there, etc. Also a good example would be where he rushed to shoot the rooster which attacked his grand daughter. He sat in his chair in the corner of the living room with his radio tuned to the 6 o'clock news. He would often drink a glass of Alka Seltzer before retiring.

"In March 1952 he suffered major health problems. All three daughters came to care for him and the front room was converted into a hospital for him. The three sons checked on him daily. For the final week he was in a comma with the doctor saying that he could not do anymore to help him. He died 25 March 1952 at the age of 81. He was buried in the Okmulgee City Cemetery."  

Thank you Floyd, Mary and Dorothy for helping me to get to know Robert.




Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2015, All rights reserved



Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Remembering Robert

How well do you really know your ancestors? Were they quiet or chatty? Did they drink something special before retiring at night? Were they honest? What were their beliefs on the issues of the day? 
Robert Lee Ganus, b May 19, 1870
Robert Lee Ganus

While so much can be gleaned from governmental records, nothing quite compares to the recollections of those who actually knew them. A journal, letters, or another's remembrances can provide a unique glimpse into an individual's life that no record can provide. 

I recently connected with descendants of Robert Lee Ganus, my great grandfather's youngest brother. What a treat to find living people who knew him and were willing to share what they remember about their grandfather. Thank you Floyd Ganus, Mary Tedder and Dorothy Davis! My next few posts will be memories they have generously shared about their grandfather, Robert. 
"Robert Lee Ganus was born May 29,1870, to parents John Monroe Ganus and Olivia Rainwater in west central Georgia, Polk County. He was the youngest of six sons who lived to adult age. He lived and migrated with his parents to Colorado and then to the Creek Nation capital known as Okmulgee, a place the Creek Native Americans chose as their government resettlement since they believed no tornado would strike this town and it was adjacent to Deep Fork River.
"Robert worked for a period as a laborer, possibly as a farm hand, and saved the earnings to purchase 80 acres of farmland from Cecilia Berryhill, a relative of the Creek Native American Chief in the late 1890's. This farm was to be his livelihood and home for the remainder of his life. Initially the cash crop was cotton, but peanuts were grown later. Almost half was dedicated to a cow pasture and most of the crops were corn and head-feed for the chickens, pigs and cows. The majority of food came from a large garden. Pork was a staple since it could be saved via salt injections. A more detailed description is contained in a later description of the farm.
Robert Lee Ganus and Stella Mae Montgomery
Robert Lee Ganus and Stella Mae Montgomery
"At the age of 30 he courted Stella Mae Montgomery, age 21. She lived with her parents two miles west and one mile south from his farm. They were married July 8, 1900. They had 8 children, 2 died as infants and 6 who lived to raise their own families. Mary Olivia (Shepperd) b. July 30, 1902: Stella Jane (Mitchel) b. February 27, 1904; Ida Mae (Shaw) b. September 27, 1907; Robert Orvil b. September 12, 1910; Floyd Otto b. April 6, 1913; Andrew Monroe b. April 14, 1917. The first born, a girl Jessie, and fourth born, a girl Lola, died as infants. These six children had 22 grandchildren. All six of these children remained close even after they started their own families. Olivia Shepherd and Ida Mae Shaw continued to return each July 8th for a family reunion after their husbands work had moved them to Texas. The other four continued to live within five miles."

Robert Lee Ganus, Stella Mae Montgomery, Mary Olivia Ganus, Stella Jane Ganus, Ida Mae Ganus, Robert Orvil Ganus, Floyd Otto Ganus, Andrew Monroe Ganus
Robert, Stella and their grown children
Return next week for part 2 when Floyd, Dorothy and Mary share more memories about Robert's life.  

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2015, All rights reserved

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Seeing Double

One of my favorite movies while growing up was "Parent Trap" starring Hayley Mills.  I loved the antics and mischief the twins drummed up as they manipulated their divorced parents into first seeing each other once again and then eventually remarrying.
Orson and Heber as babies.
Oklahoma 

Off the movie screen, twins always seem to draw attention....whether it be in the grocery store or the mall, people frequently do a double take and then whisper to the person next to them----"Are they twins?"

Identical or fraternal, there is a discernable connection between twins. Although frequently very different in personality, they often act almost in tandem with one another when they are younger.  

Orson and Heber, likely in Colorado
following their parents death















As  I look through my family tree, I see several sets of twins, although most of the twins are fraternal, which supposedly is not a genetic occurrence.

 My own Grandpa Heber Ganus was a twin.  I've heard that  Heber and Orson were so tiny when they were born they could fit in a shoe box.  They were fraternal twins.

There are other twins in my tree as well.  Heber's father, Frank had a brother Newton who was a twin, although once again, they were not identical twins.  Newton and his sister Frances were born in 1867.

Some believe that Heber's grandmother,  Olivia Rainwater may have been a twin with her brother Abner as some census records show their year of birth as the same.  There are a good number of twins throughout the Rainwater line.

While it is said that fraternal twins are not genetic,  I do find it interesting that there seems to be a fair number of them in our family tree and, while I do feel a sense of relief that my children came one at a time, I can't help but hope that just maybe there might be a set of twins among our grandchildren.


Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2015, All rights reserved

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Day Grandpa Hijacked the Car

I have never known anyone who hijacked anything, so when Mary said she remembered the day her grandpa hijacked the car, she had my full attention.

A few months ago I decided to round up descendants of John Monroe Ganus in a Facebook group. I am a member of several Facebook family groups and have enjoyed the association. The results of such groups seems to vary, but I was hopeful that this one would prove successful.  

Over the years I have been in touch with a few distant Ganus cousins, but I didn't expect that there would be very many on Facebook. As I've shared many times on this blog, my grandfather was orphaned at 8 and sent from Oklahoma where the Ganus family was living to Colorado to live with his mother's family, so I didn't grow up near any of my Ganus cousins and have never met any of them in person. 


While initially the group was composed of just a small handful of cousins, and I do mean a small handful, word soon spread, and the cousins I contacted began to tell other Ganus cousins and soon our group began to grow and so did the online chatter. 


Mary Jo Shaw Tedder, the granddaughter of Robert Lee Ganus is one of my newly discovered cousins. 
Robert Lee Ganus was born 29 May 1870 in Polk County, Georgia to John Monroe Ganus and Olivia Rainwater. He married Stella May Montgomery 8 July 1900 in Indian Territory, Creek Nation, Oklahoma.  He was the youngest of John and Olivia's children and 17 years younger than their eldest child, my great grandfather William Franklin Ganus. 

Mary has a delightful talent for writing and sharing her memories. When she shares a story, I feel that I am right there with her. With permission I want to share a memory that she recently shared with our group.  


Stella May Montomery, Andrew Monroe Ganus, Robert Lee Ganus
Shared by Floyd Ganus 


The Day Grandpa Ganus (Robert Lee) Hijacked the Car
I will have to start by confessing that the title was a bit of a tease. He didn't really hijack the car. It was his car but the other adults in the family much preferred he didn't drive it. We're talking early 30's and no particular skills were required it seems - and no driver's licenses. I was about 5 years old which meant there weren't more than 5 other grandkids in the area - all of us outside of course. My Aunt Olivia was a pretty "together" person so I was rather startled when she came running out the back door yelling - yes she was yelling - "gather up the kids and get them in the house. Papa's gonna drive the car." Kids were quickly gathered up and moved to a safe place. Grandpa came marching (I always think of him as marching rather than walking or strolling) out of the house and headed for the car. He got it started, ground the gears and lurched toward the road. It's true all the kids were safely in the house or the fenced in yard but the chickens were on their own. There was much squawking and running and I swear some of them tried to fly to get out of the way of that car. Grandpa didn't seem to notice. He got to the road, turned left and lurched away. The end of the story is anti-climatic I guess. He did come back and I never knew where he went or why. I sometimes wonder if those chickens were traumatized and unable to lay eggs at least for a few days.
I have laughed and laughed at this story. Thank you Mary for sharing your fun recollection! From the description of Robert marching out to the car, to the kids scattering and the chickens squawking, I can envision it all.

Robert Lee Ganus and
Stella May Montgomery
It's only been a couple of months since the group was first formed, but what a joy it has been already! We have laughed together and felt touched by the many photos and memories that have been shared. I am amazed at how quickly things have come together and how much it has already blessed my life by helping me become acquainted with my Ganus cousins, both past and present. 

As each person in our group has shared what they have or know about our family, each has given us something that can not be found in any document. Say what you want about Facebook.....but it's been the setting for a wonderful reunion. Stay tuned for more stories in the coming months!


Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2015, All rights reserved