Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Lemon Pie and Carrie

I've been thinking a lot lately about the subtle ways in which our ancestors' lives influence our own. There are many small things that trickle down through the generations, influencing our traditions, family activities and foods, often without us even realizing it. Our lifestyle, religion, and career choices, as well as our foods and recreational activities can all be influenced by those that lived generations before and similarly our choices will influence the generations that follow. Sometimes by evaluating our traditions, we can find clues about our heritage.

When I met and married my husband, it was interesting to see the differences in our food preferences. While he and I liked a lot of the same foods, there were foods that I liked and considered practically a staple that he had not eaten much, if at all.  Although I grew up in the west, some of my family's favorites are actually more commonly found in other areas of the U.S.  My family liked nothing better than a meal of fried chicken, cole slaw, and biscuits.  While my mother-in-law was and is a good cook,  I don't know that she has ever fried a chicken or fixed biscuits. My family loved soft, flakey biscuits and had them frequently with meals.  Mom always fried up the chicken crisp and golden in a black cast iron skillet.  Consequently, when my husband and I married, a cast iron skillet seemed like an essential item for our gift registry.  My husband didn't quite see the need but went along with the idea anyway.  I had always loved a wonderful corn pone pie (casserole) that my mom made. My sweet husband wanted to know exactly what was a corn pone anyway?  How could he not know?  We really did not have a meeting of the minds when it came to what constituted a "special breakfast" either.  He had always been a waffles and syrup kind of guy.  I had always loved ham, biscuits and gravy for breakfast more than any other breakfast.  He could not imagine having biscuits and gravy for breakfast and I could not imagine why it seemed so strange to him. It was not until I began to do family history research that things began to fall into place and I began to understand.  You see, both of my parents have family lines with southern roots.  Between my parents, I have ancestors that lived in Tennessee, Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia, and the Carolinas.   Looking back, it is evident that without even realizing it,  our ancestry influenced the foods my family ate and loved.


Roderick Monroe Ganus 
Some things are handed down so subtly that no one seems to know their origins, while other things have been passed down with a story . My Grandma's lemon pie came with a bit of a story although I didn't know it as a kid.  But oh how I loved my Grandma Ganus's lemon pie. Her pie was the perfect balance of sweet and tart.  I've been told that Grandma's lemon pie recipe actually came from my Grandpa's Aunt Carrie and I just happen to know that his Aunt Carrie held a special place in his heart so it makes that pie recipe extra special. Carrie Melinda Davis married Roderick Monroe Ganus on 27 January 1905 in Oklmulgee, Oklahoma. They lived in Oklahoma for their entire married life and raised their family there.  I have very tender feelings for Roderick and Carrie because they were the ones that took in my Grandpa Heber Ganus when he was orphaned at the sweet young age of 8.  Grandpa Heber's father William "Frank" Ganus died in 1906 and  just three years later in 1909, his mother Sally Faucett Ganus died, leaving her three sons, Earnest, Orson and Heber all alone.  Court records indicate that the oldest brother, Ernest, who was only 16 at the time,  requested that his father's brother Uncle Roderick Ganus be appointed as Administrator of their mother's meager estate. In the court proceedings, Earnest appeared with his two younger brothers Orson and Heber.  In my mind, I can see the three young boys in court feeling so lost and alone, mourning the loss of their parents and wondering who would care for them. The thought breaks my heart.  In his life history, my Grandpa Heber indicated that Roderick took him in and that his Uncle Robert took in his twin brother, Orson . Grandpa didn't say where the oldest brother, Earnest went to live. The young twins, Orson and Heber lived in Oklahoma with their father's brothers  for a year before going to Colorado to live with their mother's brothers to fulfil their mother's (Sally Faucett Ganus)  death bed request.  In his history, Grandpa said of Roderick and Carrie, "These people didn't have much money, but they were good providers and made a good living for their families."  The reality was, times were hard for those Oklahoma Ganus families and so I know it was a huge sacrifice for them to have another mouth to feed.  I feel such gratitude for Roderick and Carrie because they took in my grandpa when he so needed their loving care. It's always amazing to me that I can feel such love for people I've never met.

Carrie Melinda Davis Ganus
and Emmett
I can't help but think of the goodness of Roderick and Carrie when I fix Grandma's lemon pie. What foods do you eat that might have been influenced by your ancestry?  How will your choices influence future generations?


         Carrie's Lemon Pie Filling 

2 Tbsp Corn Starch
1 1/4 c. warm water
Juice of 1 lemon
1 c. sugar
1 Tbsp butter
small amount of shredded rind. 
3 eggs (save white for meringue)

Cook in double boiler until thick.  Pour into baked pie shell.  Top with meringue.  

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Hightower Mill


I find myself returning time and again to the journal of John Joseph Pledger Murphy, each time hoping to find one more tidbit that I may have overlooked on a previous reading. I love the way that he described everything from what they ate, to how they spent their time.  I am never disappointed as I always seem to notice something new. 

Sept. Thursday 9, 1886Bro. [John] Ganis and I went to Mr. Hightowers mill to see his son Franklin Ganus.  I had a good time with him.  While Bro. [John] Ganus and his 3 sons, John, Rody and Boby made shingles and hauled them home to  Mr. Hightowers mills.  I met with two of old John Waldrops sons. . . .  After knight Boby Ganus and myself walked home, 6 miles to Bro. J. Ganus.  TIRED 
Sept. Friday 10, 1886……..about noon Bro. [John] Ganus and the boys come from the mill.  They laughed at me about not stoping at the mill all knight.  I told them that I had got tired of living or lying on the soft side of a board during the war.  Stayed all knight at Bro. Ganus. 
Hightower Mill
Used with permission from
The Georgia Department of Archives
and History
I didn't know anything about the Hightower Mill, so I scouted around the internet and learned that it was built about 1843 by Elias Dorsey Hightower. Hightower Mill was largely a gristmill and woolen mill. I find it interesting to learn that it played a part in my family's history.  Nowhere else is there any indication that any of the Ganus men ever did anything other than farming.  I am also surprised to read of John, Rhody and Boby all making shingles.  I guess it just underscores the value of each resource that we find.  Each seems to have its place in helping us to learn about our ancestors.  
  

An additional entry in the Murphy journal provides a clue to the fact that Frank had some interest in continuing to work in a mill and that Utah was initially a possibility for these Georgian's relocation.   

Sept. Sunday 11, 1886Saturday I spent the day at Ganuses wrote a letter to Bro. D.H. Peery of Ogden concerning W.F. Ganus getting a job with him in the mill. 
In reading about D.H. Peery of Ogden, I learned that he owned the Weber Grist Mill in Ogden, Utah, which leads me to believe that Frank likely worked doing something within the Grist Mill portion of the Hightower Mill.  I had hoped to find a clue in the census, but of course the 1890 is non-existent and on the 1880 US Census, Frank (William on that particular census) is listed as a farmer, so the census does not provide any additional clues to what Frank may have done within the mill. In addition, the above journal entry creates a new question. Why were John and his boys all coming from the mill on Friday?  Did they work there too?   All census records seem to indicate that John and his boys farmed as well.



I wondered exactly where the mill was located. Everything that I read described it as sitting at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains and I knew from the Murphy journal that it was located rather near Cedartown. Being curious about the distance from Cedartown to the Hightower Mill, I turned to a map and learned that is about 12.77 miles.  According to an entry in the Murphy journal made on July 17, 1886,  John lived about five miles from Cedartown. My guess is that he lived somewhere just short of half way between Cedartown and Hightower Mill.  (Mill location is indicated by the Green marker with the Star. )


Used by permission from
Hightower FallsFacility owners
 Today the ruins of the mill still stand.  The present day owners purchased the property back in 1996 and, realizing the importance of the historical site, they have once again made the property available for special activities such as weddings and family reunions.  Standing on 100 acres, there are 12 camping cabins, pavillions and picnic areas and facilities. To see more pictures of the present day site and read about the history of the area, visit Hightower Fall Facility.  
Used by permission from
Hightower Falls Facility owners


While I haven't set an exact date yet, I look forward to the day that I go to Georgia and am able to see where my ancestors lived, worked and played.  I have been keeping a list of the places that I intend to visit and Hightower Mill is definitely on my list.  What a thrill it will be to walk where they walked.  








Friday, August 24, 2012

Treasured Find

John Monroe Ganus and his boys
L to R top row:  Robert, Roderick, Newton
bottom row: John Monroe, John T., Frank
At the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy held in January 2012, one of the instructors reminded our class of the value of checking online trees to determine what research may have been done by other individuals.  I admit that I was a little surprised because most recently I have used that resource less and less.  It is frustrating to discover so many online trees riddled with error, without sources and, in many cases, simply “cut and pasted” from someone else’s incorrectly done work.   But, during that class, I realized that I have essentially     thrown the baby out with the bathwater, as the saying goes.   


Truthfully, Rootsweb lists and message boards, Genforum,  Ancestry’s message boards and online trees had all been a great resource for me in the past, directing me to individuals that often privately held information that solved some of my toughest genealogy mysteries.  I say “in the past” because I realized that as I have progressed in knowledge, I have turned to those sources less frequently.   As I consider the scan of a family Bible record shared by one such contact, the two scanned journals from the late 1800’s which mentioned my ancestor, pictures and treasured first person accounts that I have received from contacts met through such sites, I realize that I have lost touch with a very precious resource, essentially the living descendants of siblings and associates of my ancestors.  Along with the increased availability of digitized online sources, there has been a steady decline in the once very thriving community that existed on forums and lists and many theorize that the two are related.  But the truth is, digitized material and sites that facilitate exchange do not have to exist mutually exclusive of each other.  None of us can truly be successful researching in a bubble.   We need each other. 

A good example of the value of resources obtained through online forums and lists is a journal that was shared with me by a woman who I met years ago on a Rootsweb list.  This journal was kept by John J. Pledger Murphy from 1886-1887 in Georgia.  In addition to giving me an idea of what life was like for many in the Cedartown, Georgia area in the late 1880’s, it also provides a glimpse into my ancestor’s life.  

Following are two excerpts from that journal:

Oct. Saturday 23, 1886
John Ganus and I go a squirrel hunting we kill one squirell after two hours hunt.  Return to Johnnys and have squirrel, long leg collard and sweet potatoes for dinner.  Nute and Boby Ganus and John Bailey goes to town with cow and calf.  They return and John Ganus goe with them to Baileys a possum hunting.  Catch one fine fat possum.  Frank and Rod Ganus come.  Frank and me sleep at John Ganus.  The bed fell down with us.
 
Oct. Sunday 24, 1886
At 9 a.m. Johney and the boys come with the old big fat possum.  We scald him and scrape him and Mrs Ganus cooked it for dinner.  I et one hind leg and some cabbage at ½ past 2:00 


As I read this passage, I almost feel like I am right there with them.   I love thinking of Olivia (John Monroe Ganus’s wife) cooking up squirrel, long leg collards and sweet potatoes for her family and guests one night and possum and cabbage the next.  I can imagine them enjoying their dinner together and then sons Frank (William F.) and Rod (Roderick) joining them.  I can just see the men all talking after dinner and deciding to take off  hunting together with their Bailey relatives and then returning home together with  “one fine fat possum” while the younger cousins, Nute (Newton), Boby (Robert) and John Bailey (Olivia’s sister’s son) , go together to take their cow and calf to town.   It makes me laugh to imagine the crash when the bed broke in the middle of the night with their guests in it.  I love knowing that Olivia’s family and her sister’s family were part of each other’s daily lives.  In many ways this journal allows me to see the Ganus family in a way nothing else could.

I’m glad to be reminded of the valuable resource that we can be to each other as we share what we have. It also looks like it’s time I returned to some of those online lists and forums to see what connections I can make with the living. 





Wednesday, August 22, 2012

On Their Way!

 From the “Journals of John Joseph Pledger Murphy” Georgia

 Friday November 12, 1886 “We arose early & at my sujestion Franklin Ganus packed up all of his things preparatory to going to Colorado. Also we made a start on his Fathers packing. …. John Ganus & John Ganus [son John Thackason]returned from Cedar Town. I went home with Johny Ganus and stoped all night. Slept well.

 Monday November 15, 1886 …. I went to John Ganuses  & had a good talk with him and family. G.W. Driver [George W. Driver] loaned him $10.00 so that he could take his son Baby Ganus with him to Colorado. Their hearts were made glad and they rejoiced in having the priviledge of all going.

 Tuesday, November 16, 1886 We et early breakfeast went to Bro. G.W.D. with Johny Ganus & did the hardest days work I almost ever did in my life packing up his household & kitchen furniture & got it to the depot by 5 p.m

Wednesday November 17, 1886 ……I stayed with them until I seen the last of them at 8:30 am. [after having taken them to the train depot]

They were on their way! On Wednesday, November 17, 1886, John and Olivia Rainwater, along with their son William Franklin and his daughter “Ollie”, John and Olivia's son John Thackason, and his wife Mary Chisenhall along with their children, John W., and Minnie Delania , plus John and Olivia’s sons Roderick, Robert and Newton, all boarded the train headed for the San Luis Valley in Colorado. It’s hard to imagine the emotion that they must have felt as they contemplated the new life that lay ahead as well as the life that they were leaving behind. John Monroe was 60 years old. Would they be able to make a living? They were all farmers, but would they be able to adjust to the very short growing season there in Colorado? Did they know that winter temperatures often plunged to below zero? There were many things that would change with this move. On top of it all, John and Olivia had left siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins and would never again return to Georgia to see them. While we have no idea exactly what they knew or felt, we do know that they were willing to take that courageous step to begin a new life.

Photo of train is from the L.D. McClure collection 1890-1935, album III, 137, from Denver Public Library Digital Collections.

Monday, August 20, 2012

They lived in Manassa, Colorado?

It was a surprise to learn a few years ago that the John Monroe Ganus family had lived in Manassa, Colorado for almost 13 years.  I knew that they had lived in Georgia and that they had eventually moved to and settled in Oklahoma.  I also knew that my grandfather, Heber, along with his two brothers,  Orson and Earnest,  had been sent to Colorado from Oklahoma  to live with his mother’s brother when they were orphaned . But  my first clue that the John M. Ganus family had lived in Manassa came when I was researching at a local archive and had a chance meeting with a woman whose ancestors had also lived in  Manassa.  This woman shared a map with me entitled “Pioneer Map of the First Survey of the Town of Manassa in Conejos Co.,  Colorado , Showing the lot location of the original owners and residents of this settlement.”  

 Below is a copy of a portion of the map of original lot owners for Manassa.  Notice that John Monroe (shown as “Old Father Ganus”) and Olivia lived on lot # 40, as did their married son, John T. and his wife Mary (Chisenhall) .   Frank Ganus  and wife Sally (Faucett) lived on lot# 10. John and Olivia’s younger sons, Roderick, Newton and  Robert were not married at the time and would have been living with their parents, John or “Old Father Ganus” and Olivia .

 Portion of map from in the back pocket of
"The Life and Ministry of John Morgan"
Arthur Richardson, Historical Research
Nicholas G. Morgan Sr. 

As a follow up to my last post, I have corresponded with the woman who submitted the Old Manassa Cemetery information to the website, "Findagrave," and she indicated that she had a copy of the sexton records for that cemetery and that the following information was recorded for the Ganus babies buried there:

 Ganus, Blanche E.  16 Feb 1891   1891
Parents:  W. Frank Ganus & S. E. Faucett

Ganus, Parley L.   18 Feb 1889  2 Feb 1890
Parents:  W. Frank Ganus & S.E. Faucett

Ganus, Morgan L.   20 Oct 1887   1888
Parents:  John T. Ganus  &  Mary M. Chisenhall

Ganus, John William   1882   1889
Parents:  John T. Ganus   Mary M. Chisenhall


As always, the  more answers I find, the more questions I have.



Saturday, August 18, 2012

Walking where my ancestors walked

It seems only fitting that my first blog entry should follow a trip to southern Colorado where several generations of my family lived at one time and many relatives currently live.  It was a wonderful trip taken with my husband, my parents and my brothers to see the sites from my parent’s childhood as well as the places that my ancestors lived, worked and worshipped.  While growing up, we would travel every summer from our home in California to the beautiful San Luis Valley, where we would play with cousins and do what country kids do and we loved it.  We played in Uncle Lou’s barn, we gathered eggs, we milked cows, I drove a tractor for my cousins as they baled hay, and I learned to outrun a cantankerous sheep.  In the evenings, the families often gathered to eat together and then the kids played kick the can and hide and seek and other childhood games while the adults sat and visited.  It was a wonderful place filled with loving family and it was heaven to me.
Old Richfield Church

This trip was very different from those childhood visits.  While we did visit family, we mainly visited sites from my parent’s childhood.  We were able to see the old abandoned church where my mom attended as a child.  Both of the homes where my parents were born still stand.  We saw what is left of my grandfather’s sawmill and the filling station where my other grandfather workedFor many of the sites, only a portion of the building remained, serving as a place mark for those ancestors’ lives, reminding us that they had really been there.   

I loved the trip and I was reminded of why we as genealogists need to step away from the books and microfilm readers occasionally and walk where our ancestors walked and imagine what it was like when they were living.  It’s there that we feel the very closest to them and learn something that books can’t provide. 

We visited the museum located in Sanford, Colorado and I was so glad that we did.  It is a small museum, but packed with pictures, newspaper clippings, books and all kinds of memorabilia.  I saw pictures that I had never seen before of grandfathers and others who had lived and died before I was even born.   The volunteer that was there was so kind and helpful.

One of my favorite stops, and the last thing that I will mention in this post, was our visit to the Old Manassa Cemetery.  I love old cemeteries and this one is definitely that.  Most of the burials are from the late 1800’s and early 1900’s and it is located outside the small town of Manassa, Colorado whose population hovers around 1,000 people.  We knew that we had family buried there and were anxious to locate them.  Inside the gate is a lengthy list of unmarked graves located within the cemetery, but there was no listing for the headstones that still exist, so we walked the cemetery.  Among those listed on the plaque for unmarked graves were three Ganus babies, one belonging to my great grandparents, Sarah E. Faucett  and William Franklin Ganus , and two belonging to my great grandfather’s brother,  John Thackason Ganus and his wife Mary M. Chisenhall,.  Only Parley L. Ganus, son of Frank and Sarah, had an actual headstone there.  As I stood before his little grave, I couldn’t help but think of his parents who had also stood on that very spot.  I could imagine their grief as they buried their little boy just a few weeks shy of his first birthday.
Parley's headstone

I wish that I knew more.  Why did Parley die?  In fact, why did all four of those Ganus babies die? They all died within four years of each other, most during the cold winter months, which can be unbearably cold in the valley.  Did the deaths of those four babies contribute to my great great grandparents, John and Olivia Ganus and their five sons, Frank, John, Roderick, Robert and Newton and their families all moving soon after to Oklahoma?   I know that even if I find the answer to those questions, I will still be left wanting to know more.  It seems that no matter how many questions are answered, there are always more and so I keep searching.  In this blog, I plan to share the things that I learn about my ancestors and about research and I know that in the process, I will learn more about myself.