Saturday, September 29, 2012

The crime of "escape"

Blacksmith, David Gurganus
A Blacksmith's Shop by Richard Earlom
Wikimedia Commons
It was him.  I just knew it.  After all, how many Blacksmiths named David Gurganus could there be?
"#695; David Gurganis; Crime: Escape; Term of years: 1 1/2 years; When received:  9 Sept. 1838:  Sentence expires:  9 Mar 1840; County where convicted: Cass County; Occupation:  Blacksmith; Birthplace:  North Carolina; No of sentences:  1; Age: 36 yrs; 5 ft. 9 1/4 in; Dark complexion, black eyes; black hair;  served out sentence and discharged."   
David was born about 1804, was the son of David Gurganus and Mary Swain and was brother to James Gurganus, my third great grandfather.  One thing that I noticed about him early on was that as a blacksmith, he stood out on the census among the sea of farmers. Being a blacksmith made him a little different and that along with some of his escapades, made him one of James's  "easier-to-find"  siblings and you will soon see why.

 This time, David's name was on a list of men in the penitentiary in Milledgeville.  According to the entry found on page 99 in "The Georgia Black Book," by Robert Scott Davis,  David had been arrested for "escape" in Cass County, Georgia (now Bartow County)  and served out his 1 1/2 years.  I wondered exactly what "escape" meant in that time period and so I turned to "Bouvier's Law Dictionary and Concise Encyclopedia," (see HERE)  which is particularly helpful for legal terms used in the mid 1800's.  Actually there was no surprise in the definition, "escape" is "The deliverance of a person who is lawfully imprisoned, out of prison, before such a person is entitled to such deliverance by law."  So the question becomes, just why was David arrested in the first place?  Where did he escape from?  Despite efforts to search court records, I have not been able to find any more related to David's initial imprisonment. I have taken note that 1838 was a very tumultuous time for North Georgia and it was during that spring and summer that the final events of the Trail of Tears occurred , much of which occurred in the Cass County area.   I wonder, in what way may that have impacted David?
Milledgeville Penitentiary Georgia
Milledgeville Penitentiary burning in 1864
More about Penitentiary Here

Prior to this time, David and his wife and children were living in Edgefield, South Carolina where David had lived most of his life until then.  On 6 May 1829, David had married a  Elizabeth (MNU),  the wealthy widow of Simon Hancock.   She had three children from her previous marriage and by the time of David's arrest, they had three children of their own.  I knew that the family had been in South Carolina in 1834 because some of David's business dealings had created legal troubles and I had found those documents among court records, but that's a story for another day.

I wanted to be sure that the David Gurganus in Cass County, Georgia was the same David that had lived in Edgefield, South Carolina. I was able to establish that fact when I turned to Edgefield, South Carolina court records and discovered annual returns for Elizabeth Gurganus during that same time period.  The first reads  "Mrs. Gurganus for part board for heirs while in GA by D. Gurganus per order as receipt,  29 Oct 1838."  Then on the 19 of February, 1838 Benjamin R. Tillman was made guardian for their children.  Also among her annual returns I found, "14 May 1838 R. Harden (half expense) of moving minors of Mrs. Gurganus back to Edgefield out from Cass County, GA. Total expense:  131.50 = 65.75."  Although Elizabeth's first husband, Simon Hancock had left her very comfortable, I can imagine how hard and difficult this time must have been for her, especially in an unfamiliar area, so it's not surprising that she and her six children returned to Edgefield, where she had lived for years and where she could receive help and support.  She remained there while she waited for David's release which came 9 March 1840.

It all fit.  David Gurganus, the blacksmith who was imprisoned in Milledgeville was my third great grandfather's brother, David, son of David and Mary (Swain) Gurganus.  Hopefully over time I will find more details for this chapter of David's life, but even without them, his story is far from over and in my next post, I will tell you more.






Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Did James really fly under the radar?

Once following a genealogy conference, I had the opportunity to talk with a visiting archivist.  I shared with him my frustration that my 3rd great grandfather, James Ganus, has been so difficult to find, while I have so much on his parents and siblings.  I had to admit that some of  James' family seemed to have a nose for trouble, so they and their escapades are found with some ease in newspapers and court records.  It took me by surprise when the archivist suggested that perhaps James was difficult to find because he was the biggest, baddest one of them all and that just maybe he had managed to fly under the radar!  My James, I thought?!!  I've tried to be open minded and accepting as I've researched, recognizing that times in the 1800's were different and it is difficult for us today to fully understand the circumstances that led to certain behavior and choices back then, but as I consider the meager findings that I have on James, I still find it hard to believe that his name was synonymous with trouble.

It was an interesting discovery to find that James had shortened his name from Gurganus to simply "Ganus" about 1840, but that's about as bad as anything I have on him and that's not bad at all.  I couldn't help but think of the many many times that people mispronounced my last name of Ganus when I was growing up.  I actually even had someone correct me on the pronunciation once when I was about 15 years old.  I remember standing there dumbfounded and wondering what they were thinking when they corrected me and if they had thought about the fact that it was MY name. Is it possible that James shortened his name of Gurganus simply for convenience?   I've also wondered if James was trying to distance himself from family troubles given that he moved about the same time that he shortened his name.  There always seems to be so many questions.
Notice close proximity of Bibb and Monroe Counties
James next moved to Fayette county.

I first found James Gurganus listed among the unclaimed letters in "The Macon Messenger," on  April 1st, 1827.  Macon was in Bibb County and that placed him very close to where I had hoped to find him since his son, John Monroe Ganus, had always claimed to have been born in neighboring Monroe County in 1826.  While James can not be found on the 1830 census for either Monroe or Bibb County,  in 1832  James drew land in the Land Lottery from Justice, Bibb County, Georgia alongside his father David Gurganus.  In 1834, both James Gurganus and David Gurganus paid taxes on their lottery land, this time in Captain Ross's District of Monroe County.  In 1840 James was listed on the Fayette County, Georgia Federal Census and in 1841 he paid taxes on that same piece of lottery property while living in Fayette County. From 1840 on, I find James going by simply James Ganus in the census records and tax digests until the end of his life.  While apparently the way that he said "Ganus" remained consistent, certainly the spelling did not and I find him in the 1841 Fayette County Tax Digest as James Gaynos and on the DeKalb Agricultural Census in 1850 as James Gainus.  It was not unusual to have such variation in name spelling back then, nor was it bad.  

I have looked for James in court records hoping to find him on a road crew or a jury, both duties typically assumed by men in that place and time, but I have not found him listed once.  While I have stacks of deeds for his siblings and  for his children, I have never found him on a single deed.  I know that individuals kept their own deeds and that it was up to them to file them, but I find it hard to believe that he did not do that even once during his lifetime. I have checked every name variation and spelling imaginable and enlarged my search to neighboring counties, all to no avail.

It's also been difficult to determine who James's friends were as I have not been able to find him on other people's deeds or as a witness in wills.  From one census to another, he is living among completely different people each time, which has also made it hard to know just who he associated with over the course of his life.

James's son, John Monroe Ganus, did indicate on several different church membership records that his parents were James Ganus and Elizabeth McCluskey, so I do know that James married Elizabeth although no marriage records has been found.  I do know from census records that James and Elizabeth (Betsy)  had ten children that lived, but there are some significant gaps that make me think that there were children that did not survive.  Mary, John Monroe, Margaret, David, Rebecca, William Jackson, James W., Calloway, Martha Elizabeth and Addison R. all are found on census records with their parents, James and Elizabeth Ganus.

On the 1870 census James was shown living with his daughter and oldest known child, Mary and her husband Burton W. Cook in Fayette County, but by 1880, he is nowhere to be found. The last piece of evidence that I have for James is from 1871 when he served as a witness for his son-in-law, Burton W. Cook, when Burton claimed civil war damages in an effort to gain compensation from the Federal Government. On the document, it indicates that James was living in East Point, Fulton County, Georgia.  I have not been able to find a will, probate or even a headstone for James



As I have written this, I have realized that I probably do have more than I thought on James, but truthfully it pales in comparison to what I have been able to find on his parents and siblings.  I just lack the detail that would help me know something about who James really was and what he really did in his life.  I know approximately when James was born, which was  about 1798 in North Carolina, and I know about when he died, which would have been sometime after 1871 but before 1880.  So while I know a little (and very little at that) about his beginnings and even less about his end,  I know next to nothing about what he did  in-between.  However I've found nothing that would lead me to believe that he was the biggest or the baddest of his family.  If indeed he did purposely fly under the radar, he apparently was really really good at it.




Sunday, September 23, 2012

Where are their shoes?

Cheatwood, Barnwell, Rainwater
Back row: Alma, Alice, Lizzie and Lela
Front row:  Mariah Rainwater Barnwell, James, Louvina Cheatwood Barnwell, Harvey, Lola,
William R., John Thomas

I love to study old pictures.  Although I realize that people always looked solemn in old photos, I nevertheless find myself always hoping that they were happier than they appeared.  This picture is no exception. William Robert Barnwell, along with his wife Louvinia Cheatwood, his eight children and his mother, Mariah Rainwater Barnwell, all posed for the camera and there's not one smile in the bunch.  I  find it interesting that even though it looks as though they put on their "Sunday best" for the picture, putting on their best didn't always necessarily  include shoes. Notice the two little boys all dressed up and yet they are shoe-less.

While the only known picture of Mariah's sister, Olivia, is very faded, I still feel that there is a resemblance between the two.  (A picture of John Monroe Ganus and Olivia Rainwater is on the main page.)  Mariah Rainwater b. 1826 in South Carolina was the second oldest as well as the second daughter of Joshua and Polly (Peterson)  Rainwater. She was five years older than her younger sister, Olivia, my 2nd great grandmother.  On December 21st, 1843, when Mariah was a young girl of seventeen, she and William Barnwell married in Carroll County, Georgia.  They soon ventured out on their own, settling in Benton County Alabama.  In 1845, William began buying land in Alabama and it was there that their first child, John T was born, also about 1845.  According to the 1900 census, seven children  blessed William and Mariah's home although only 4 were still living at that time.  In addition to John T., they had Francis Marion born about1847, Mary Elizabeth born about 1858, William Robert born about 1862 and Margaret Helen born about 1863. Their other children are unknown to me at the present. It is also unknown exactly when William died, but it is assumed to have been before 1900 because in that year, Mariah appears on the census as a widow and living with their son William R,  his wife Louvinia Cheatwood and their eight children  in Hampton, Polk County, Georgia.  It makes sense to me that the above picture was taken while Mariah lived with them.  I find it interesting that when she died just three years later in 1903, she was buried back in Alabama.  A rather new headstone for "Maria Rainwater Barnwell" (name misspelled)  exists in Oak Hill Cemetery in Talladega, Talladega County, Alabama.  You can view the headstone on findagrave  here.

Pictures add so much to our research and I am always so grateful to have a picture to go with a name. I find myself often looking at a picture and asking myself what it tells me about them. Can I see any family traits that have been handed down?  Do they look like their parents or siblings?  Do I look like them in any way? What does the picture tell me about their lifestyle, their economic status, their family life?  If they can afford a nice outfit, why not shoes? As always, many questions remain unanswered, but I am always grateful for the additional clues a picture can provide. While I am not sure how long Mariah lived in Georgia with her son, I am so glad that she was there the day they had their picture taken.



Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Extreme Old Age and Debility

Original Flag
 Smithsonian
See:Here

 On the 20th of January in 1814, as the War of 1812 continued to rage  on, 23 year old Joshua Rainwater joined the ranks of brave men willing to risk their lives in a battle for our country's freedom.  At the county courthouse in Pendleton, South Carolina, Joshua volunteered to serve in the South Carolina Militia.  As part of Captain Alexander Morehead's Company, Col Nash's Regiment, Joshua was enlisted from January 20th 1814 through July 28th of 1814.  In September of that year,  Francis Scott Key, inspired by the site of the American Flag raised at Baltimore's Fort McHenry wrote the poem "The Star-Spangled Banner." It was a time when many felt great patriotism and fierce loyalty to their country and Joshua was among those brave men willing to risk their life to prove it. 

 Early in my research, my husband sent off for Joshua's War of 1812 file from the National Archives as a surprise for me (it was on my "to-do" list and he knew it).  It was so fun to receive the thick manila envelope with the National Archives stamp for the return address.  I was excited to read through each faded page and learn a little more about my third great grandfather.  I knew it was definitely MY ancestor when the cover letter  indicated that "The date and place of soldier's birth and names of his parents are not shown."  Of course they weren't. So often the details typically recorded in various documents are missing from my ancestor's documents and so I've almost come to expect it.

Included in Joshua's file is the following paper filed by his attorney.  Although apparently not humorous to J.W.D. Miller at the time, it does make me smile. This paper underscores the fact that fraudulent land claims were rampant during that period of time.

J.W.D. Miller, Iuka, Miss

Iuka, Miss
Feb 4, 1874 
Please say if he is entitled to the other 80 acres---I have no heart to buy blanks, fill, buy postage and find that every one in 30 cases perhaps has either drawn it, or some lying, thieving forger has.      J.W.D. Miller 
Joshua  filed for and received his pension when he was 82 and living in Upshur County, Texas.  I was thrilled to see his own signature on some of the documents, which is a bit unusual for one of my ancestors.  I loved seeing Joshua's signature and handling documents, albeit copies, knowing that he once held the originals in his hands.

Joshua Rainwater





Rock House Cemetery
Hamilton County, Texas
Used by permission
Findagrave entry here
                               
Joshua died the 15th of August 1878 and Abner, his son, applied for reimbursement of his father's burial expenses on 20th January 1879  According to the file, the expenses for his burial were as follows:

Coffin 7.75
Shrouding 23.85
Clothes in which dec'd was buried 3.45
For a total of 35.05

Papers filed following his death indicated that "decedent was not  affected with any particular malady but died of extreme old age & debility."  On another document it indicated that "dec'd had no particular affliction, but died from general exhaustion, and aging away of the system."  Joshua Rainwater was 87, had lived a long full life and had every reason to be tired.




Saturday, September 15, 2012

It's all in a name-Joshua Rainwater

Joshua Rainwater.  I've always loved his name.

I wish that we had named some of our children after our ancestors, but I wasn't doing family history then and at that time my ancestors were just names on a  pedigree chart kept by my grandmother.  Now they are real and I feel that I almost know many of them.  I have learned about them, thought about them and eagerly searched to find out more about them and in the process they truly feel like family .  Recently a grand-daughter was given the middle name of Olivia and I cried when our daughter told me that they had chosen that name.  To me it almost says, "Olivia made a difference, so emulate her strengths, honor her as you use her name."  I think that naming a child after an ancestor is just one more way to create a link with the past and to help children to feel connected to those that lived before.

Joshua's parents, Solomon Rainwater and Ruth (Felton), apparently gave some thought to the names they gave their children. In addition to naming their son Joshua, the names for their other children were also from the Bible and include Job, John, Delilah, Rebecca, Laodicea, Solomon, Rhoda, Abner, Rachel and Elisha.  Simply said, names mattered.  At that period of time, children were often named after family members, ancestors, political leaders, spiritual leaders or, as was the case for my Rainwaters, people in the Bible. I've read that the trend for 2012 is for children to once again be named "old fashioned" names after grandparents and other ancestors and I'm glad that that tradition is returning

While naming their children from the Bible implies that Solomon and Ruth had a certain familiarity with the Bible, to me it also implies that the Bible held value for them. But the names of Joshua's siblings are not the only indication that religion played a part in the Rainwater's life. The Rainwaters are often found among the rolls and lists kept by church congregations, a fact that appears to have continued down through the generations. Unfortunately, not everything recorded on the subject is of a completely positive nature.  In September 1999 on the Rainwater Rootsweb list, Kay Ohana shared a few entries from the minutes of The Yellow Creek Baptist Church in Hall County, Georgia.
December 15 1827  Rec'd by letter Joshua Rainwater
February 14 1831 Joshua Rainwaters gave satisfaction for drinking two much spirits
November 19 1831 granted Letters of Dismissions to Joshua and Polly Rainwaters.
  (To see her complete post, go here:  Partial Minutes from Yellow Creek Baptist Church)

On a positive note, this does show that they were members of a local congregation, although apparently they enjoyed their "spirits" a little too much.

Knowing that by 1840 Joshua and his family had moved to the Haralson/Carroll County area, I once again turned to "Haralson County, Georgia, A History," by Lois Owens Newman and found a church sketch and list of members for Bethany Baptist Church before 1851.  The list on pages 92 and 93 includes Abner Rainwater, John Rainwater, Mary Rainwater, Frances Rainwater, and Louisa Rainwater (Abner's wife),  Mariah  (Rainwater) Barnwell, Olivia Gaines (I believe this to be a transcription error and to actually be Olivia Ganus nee Rainwater).  Matilda Rainwater married Josiah Goggans and listed is a Josiah Goggans  along with a Mary Goggans, so I wonder if perhaps Matilda's name was incorrectly listed.  If so, this list would include all of Joshua's children.  Joshua is absent from the list, although wife, Mary (Polly) is included.  Because I  don't have access to the original list to view it myself, I do consider the possibility that Joshua was omitted in the transcribing process. The author indicated that the list is a compilation, with some actually joining after 1851 and some well into the 1860's.

Bethany Baptist Church, Haralson County, Georgia
Bethany Baptist Church
Haralson County, GA
Some remodeling has occurred,
but has remained in the same location
(used by permission)








 Religion played an important role in people's lives back then and the people that they associated with and interacted with were often members of the same congregation.  Further research shows that religion continued to play an important role for some of Joshua and Polly's children as well as grandchildren and that has continued down through the generations for many of their families.  I wonder if just maybe that was what Solomon and Ruth had hoped for when they chose their children's names?





Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Rainwater Ford? --I wanna go there!


 Joshua Rainwater was my third great grandfather. Born the 13th of November 1791 in South Carolina, Joshua was the seventh child of eleven born to Solomon Rainwater and Ruth Felton. I have enjoyed learning about Joshua and have appreciated the fact that he has been a little easier to research than some ancestors. He apparently had some money and appears to have been at least a little more educated than some and that has made all the difference. I am going to take a couple of posts to share some of what I have learned about him.  While technically I should probably start at the beginning,  I've decided instead to share something fun about him, just because.

On page 222 in  "Haralson County, A History" by Lois Owens Newman I found an interesting write up about Joshua. Included in the article about him is the following information :
 "The Rainwater property, lot 157 lies along the Tallapoosa River and it is on this lot that the well known Rainwater Ford is located.  The Ford is still in use. (1990.)" 

I was able to locate a deed that confirmed that Land Lot 157 did indeed belong to Joshua. In 1832, he purchased Land Lot #157 in the 8th District from Abner Carter for $100.00.  Joshua's property consisted of 202 1/2 acres and was then located in Carroll County, but due to county line changes, that property is now in Haralson County.

What a fun discovery!  I was able to locate the Rainwater Ford on the following map on the University of Texas Libraries website, "Perry-Casteneda Library Map Collection"   found under "Georgia Historical Topographic Maps." (map in public domain)

Rainwater Ford
Rainwater Ford
Published by the U.S. Geological Survey 

This landmark still bears the Rainwater name today and I was able to find a satellite view of the ford on the following website:   Rainwater Ford (The location of the ford is marked by the pin.)

Sometimes my ancestors almost seem mythical, like they existed only as a story, so I love it when I can find something absolute that truly says, " I really lived and I was here."  It's so fun to have physical evidence of their existence.  In addition, I now have another place to add to my "What to see when I go to Georgia" list.



Sunday, September 9, 2012

It's Grandparent's Day!

It's Grandparents Day!   I know that my life has been deeply influenced by my grandparents , their choices and their beliefs in ways that they would never have imagined.  They were just simple folk that  lived their lives doing common every day things and yet their lives deeply impacted mine and others.

Recently on a trip to Colorado, we visited a small museum in Sanford, Colorado, where I was able to find pictures that I had not previously seen before of each of my grandfathers . If you ever take a trip to Southern Colorado, I highly recommend that you take time to visit this wonderful museum. Information about the museum can be found here:  Sanford, Colorado Museum.  I truly had not expected very much, knowing that it was housed in a very small location, but I was pleasantly surprised.  Not only were their displays wonderful, but they had volumes of pictures, books full of obituaries and newspaper articles and the lady that helped us was great.  I could have spent days in there and in fact my family began to worry that just maybe I would try.  I finally gave in though and we moved on, but I came away with some priceless pictures.
Heber Monroe Ganus
Unknown on left, Heber Monroe Ganus on right


Nephi Glen Hostetter
Nephi Glen Hostetter
My Grandpa Hostetter died when I was just two and so I have no memories of time with him. But my Grandma Hostetter and my mom made sure that I was able to "know" him by sharing stories about him.  Among many other things, I know that he had a sawmill much of his life and that he loved the song "You are my Sunshine."  My Grandpa Ganus died when I was six.  Because we lived in California and they lived in either Colorado or Oklahoma, I really don't have many memories of him either, but I do have one choice one.  Grandma and Grandpa Ganus had moved from Colorado to  Supulpa, Oklahoma  due to my grandpa's poor health and his need to live at a lower altitude.  I remember a trip that my family took to visit them when I was about 5. My parents decided to go out one evening and left me with Grandpa and Grandma Ganus.  That night was absolutely magical as Grandpa took me out in the back yard to catch fireflies in a jar.  I had never seen fireflies before and I remember feeling like they were magical little fairies.  I will never forget that night of fun with him.

Maud Leone McDaniel Hostetter
Maud Leone McDaniel Hostetter
Both of my grandmothers lived to see at least some of my children.  My Grandma Ganus died the day before  my third child was born, but my Grandma Hostetter lived to see them all.  Grandma Ganus had a good sense of humor and I remember that sometimes when I would visit her she would take me to a little hamburger stand outside of LaJara, Colorado and we would get hot dogs and have a good ole time.  My Grandma Hostetter loved to tell stories and I remember literally sitting at her knee and listening to her tell stories in a way that made them live.

Hazel Mickelsen Ganus
Hazel Mickelsen Ganus










I could go on and on about what I remember and what I've been told about my grandparents, but I will spare you that.  The longer I do genealogy, the more I am aware of the part that each generation plays in the next generation's life.  


Friday, September 7, 2012

Revisiting sources--the case for Mary M. Chisenhall

There is definitely wisdom in revisiting the documents and notes that we have in our files and I know that,  but I find myself often procrastinating that task for another day.  The hunt for new clues in new resources is exciting and with it I feel renewed hope that this time I will find something that will ultimately break down that solid brick wall of mine. But the reality is, each time I reread the material in my files, I am doing it from a slightly different perspective, having grown in my knowledge and understanding about my ancestors and their families and so, in a way, the material is new or at least seen in a new way.  

Recently I  pulled out the Journal of John Edward Metcalf who served a mission for the LDS church to Georgia in the 1880's.  One of my cousins, Darlene, located this journal online early in our research as we initially scoured the internet to see what we could find about John Monroe Ganus and his life.  John M. Ganus and several members of his immediate family are mentioned numerous times in John Metcalf's account.  It has been years since I read through this journal and I realized that I have forgotten  many of the details. John Metcalf's descendants have graciously shared a transcribed typed copy of his journal online which can be found here: http://www.metcalfwaslin.org/album/history/jejr_jnl.htm

This journal does not contain as much day to day information about individuals' lives, as does the John Joseph Pledger Murphy journal that I have mentioned in earlier posts, but it does provide some information that cannot be found anywhere else.  The following is an entry from this journal:

April 1882
Thursday 13th-Called up to go to Sis Mary Gamus and Administered to her baby who was very sick the Lord releaved it from pain We also Blessed & Named it at the same time But it gradually got worse til death which occured at 5 PM.  We also Blessed another of thier chidren stayed all night at Bro John Ganus.

William Franklin Ganus
William Franklin Ganus
The question is, just which Mary Ganus was he referring to?  Initially I was unsure, but over time, I have learned more about the two Mary Ganuses that are candidates and their children.  Although I continue to look for additional information to back up my assumption, I feel fairly confident.

William Franklin Ganus married Mary Matilda Roberts about 1879 in Haralson County and they had a daughter in 1880 named Martha Olivia and a daughter born in 1881 named Mary E.  By the time Frank moved to Colorado in 1886, his wife, Mary Matilda, had died and although he had  their daughter, Martha Olivia, with him, there is no further mention of  daughter Mary E. Could the baby have been Frank Ganus and Mary Matilda Robert's daughter, Mary E.? 

John Thackason Ganus also married a Mary. John T. and Mary M. Chisenhall married about 1878.  Church records indicate that they had a child named Walter Scott who was born 24 March 1882 and this child was not with them when they arrived in Colorado either. Could the baby that died been Walter, son of John T. and Mary M Chisenhall ?


John Thackason Ganus
John Thackason Ganus
While both Marys are possibilities as they both lost young children that were born in the same time period and appear to have died in approximately the same time period, I believe that it is more likely that the Mary mentioned in the journal was Mary M. Chisenhall.   I have found that Mary Matilda most often was known as "Tilda" and in the 1880 census, she is recorded as Matilda.  John Metcalf then mentioned in the journal that he stayed the night with John Ganus,  and it seems more likely that he stayed with the younger John, husband to Mary M Chisenhall.   Unfortunately, I have not been able to find a grave for either of these Ganus babies.  This journal records the only reference found to this date of this baby's death. 

Whenever I look at pictures of John Thackason Ganus, I think of all that he and Mary endured.  I've heard that he had 12 children, and so far I have found records for 11.  Of the 11 that I am aware of, six died as children.  John and Mary buried children in Georgia, Colorado and Oklahoma.  While conditions for childbirth and after care for mothers and babies are not ideal throughout the world today, they certainly have improved and I wonder if their children would have survived with today's knowledge and care?

William Franklin Ganus had his share of troubles as well.  He and his first wife, Mary Matilda,  lost one of their two children.  Then, following Tilda's death, Frank married  Sarah E. Faucett and they lost 3 of their 6 children. Frank buried children in Georgia and Colorado. 

I am amazed at the challenges that people faced back "in those days."  It was difficult just to survive.  But I guess the reality is, people continue to face hard things today, although the details of those challenges have changed.  I remember hearing a man say once that our life is full of challenges and that every day we face a series of problems. Our life story is made up of the details of how we face and solve those problems.  Being able to see and understand our ancestor's problems is essential in writing their story.  

As I recently reread the Metcalf Journal for the first time in several years,  I was reminded of the importance of continually revisiting what I know, or at least what I think that I know. Because I've continued to research my Ganus family over the years and have learned more about them and their families, when I reread the things that I have filed away,  I seem to see more and understand more, which in turn helps me in my search for more.  I have known that for some time really, but it's always good to be reminded. 


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Teaching and being taught, Olivia's lesson

Recently, I  stumbled on an article that grabbed my attention .  The article was written back in 2008 and can be found here:  HC Historical Society dedicates Little Creek School House.  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 my second great grandparents, John Monroe Ganus and Olivia Rainwater, 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, at which time she married John Monroe Ganus on the 7th of October 1862 in Cedartown, Polk County, Georgia.  As was common then, John farmed and they soon began their family, with their first son being born a little over a year later.  John and Olivia would have a total of 8 children, with five sons surviving through adulthood.  Everything seems to point to a normal every day 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 Youtube 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 

In the movies, the teacher is always portrayed as either a man or as a very young unmarried woman or an older spinster.  If there is any authenticity at all to that portrayal, Olivia certainly did not fit the mold.  In 1871, when she obtained her certificate, she was a 40 year old woman and she 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. 

I've written to individuals in Haralson County and they attempted  to help me locate records of those that taught during that time, but little could be found.  We do not have any records that indicate 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.  If Olivia did in fact teach, who cared for her children?  In a previous post entitled "Treasured Find" I indicated that a sister, Frances, 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 women of that day.   Not only could she read and write at a time and place when few could,  but she qualified to teach others those skills.  Whether she taught as a profession or not, she certainly taught her own children and  through her example she continues to teach her descendants today that we too can do hard things.   





Saturday, September 1, 2012

A True Love Story?

Some of my ancestor's stories seem to reach out and draw me in as if inviting me to learn more. I've never quite figured out why some ancestor's stories are so much more compelling than others, but some are. Such is the case with David Ganus.

It was the 14th day of March 1857 when young David Ganus and Malinda M. Davis married in Fayette, Georgia.  He was 21 and she was about 15, although it's difficult to know her exact age as it is different on every census and document on which she appears.  Son of James Ganus and Elizabeth McCluskey, David was born in 1836, probably in Fayette County, and was the fourth of ten children.  His oldest brother was John Monroe Ganus, my third great grandfather.

David provided for his family by farming, just as his father and brothers did.  Soon David and Melinda had two little girls,  Mary Jane born March of 1858 and Nancy born about 1860. 

Life in Fayetteville during those first few years of their marriage appears to be typical for a small farming community in Georgia, but that would soon change.  A regiment made of men from several neighboring counties, including the county of Fayette, was formed in the spring of 1862.  May 1, 1862 David enlisted in the confederate army, along with two brothers and 3 brothers-in-law.  David became a Private with the Fayette Planters, Co C 53rd Regiment. 

David Ganus
Co C 53rd Infantry
 Among other battles, David participated in the Battle Of Sharpsburg, but by October of 1862 David was shown as "absent" due to sickness.  In December, his service records show that he had febris typhoid, which is a bacteria caused by salmonella.   By the 15th of December, records indicate that he had pneumonia and then on December 24, 1962,  David Ganus, lying in a hospital near Fredrickburg, Virginia, died.  He is listed among those buried in a mass grave at Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond, Virginia.

As I slowly cranked the wheel of the microfilm reader, looking for David’s civil war service records,  I wept when I came to the card that indicated that he had died. Really, the war had just begun, and he was so young,  I had been excited to learn more about him and had not expected for his life to end quite so soon.  Next my thoughts  turned to his young wife.  I cannot fathom the obstacles that Malinda faced at that point in history.  It was 1862 and suddenly Malinda was a 20 year old widow with two children and a third baby on its way.  Living  just outside of Atlanta, she would soon have three children to feed, clothe and protect  and she had no idea what the war would yet bring to citizens of that community.



Malinda M Davis Ganus CW widow of David Ganus
Malinda Ganus's
Claim Commission


 During the Civil War, many of those living in the Fayetteville area were victim to losses and much violence.  On the 27th of September 1871,  along with many of her neighbors, Malinda filed a claim for damages claiming 475 lbs beef,  25 bushels of corn and house furniture had been taken by General Wm. T. Sherman’s Army on August 30, 1864 . 



 Malinda consistently filed for her Widow’s Pension until the end of her life.  Most of her later years , she lived in Whitfield, Georgia, close to her children.  She appears on the 1900 census living with their  son, Burton, and his family.  Living a couple of doors away is daughter, Mary Jane (Ganus) Alexander.  Burton was the child born after his father's death. 

   
Burton's application
for mother's burial
expense
The final record that I have for Malinda is a document in David's Civil War service file, filed by Burton.  He indicated that his mother died on the 7th of December 1908 and that her burial expenses amounted to $20.00.   Malinda was approximately 65 at the time and there is no evidence that she ever remarried.  She always appeared on census records and other documents as Malinda Ganus.

There are several possible reasons why Malinda never remarried, although many other Civil War widows that I have traced did.  I  recognize the possibility that she may have remarried but concealed it in order to obtain her pension, but I just have not found anything to substantiate that.  I choose instead to believe that this is one of those true love stories and that no one could ever replace her David.  It really makes me wish I knew more about them both.