Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Grandma at the Academy


Frank Soule, San Luis Stake Academy, ancestry, genealogy, family history, Sanford Colorado , Hazel Mickelsen Ganus, Manassa Colorado
San Luis Stake Academy abt 1900
Alamosa Public Library 
Initially, as I perused the meager contents of Grandma Hazel (Mickelsen) Ganus' little suitcase, I was somewhat disappointed that it had little to aid me in my efforts to take my Ganus family line back any further. Recently I revisited that little suitcase with an eye for what it does have instead of what it does not have and discovered that a few items give me a glimpse into my Grandma Hazel Mickelsen Ganus's life.

Among the items in the suitcase was a rather large certificate measuring 14" x 17" issued for completion of the high school course of study at the San Luis Stake Academy. I assumed that it was a school there in the San Luis Valley of Southern Colorado, but I didn't know much about it, so I did a little digging to see what I could learn about the high school that Grandma attended.

I learned from an article in the LDS Church News entitled "Academy era short-lived, but impact long lasting," written by Kevin Stoker in 1988, that from 1888 to 1909, the LDS church started 35 academies in Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Arizona, Mexico, and Canada. These schools provided spiritual education as well as secular. The San Luis Academy that my grandma attended began in 1909, but by 1922 the academies were closed and the education process was turned over to the local government.

Grandma did not write very much about her time at the academy but rather focused more on her education afterward. But here is what she did share about her experience:
"My eighth grade teacher, as well as my first two years of high school was Mr. Frank Soule, a very good teacher and a well liked person. In our graduating class there were (no number indicated). Our colors were purple and gold. Sanford only had a two year high school at that time. Students wanting to attend further had to go somewhere else. Of all that big graduating class very few went on to high school and less to college. I was the only girl that finished college of the group. While attending class high school in Sanford the school building caught on fire and burned down, we then attended class in the old church house.  
"After finishing my two years here I attended school in Manassa where there was a church school, called the San Luis Academy. The first year a bad epidemic of small pox broke out among the students as well as town people, so school was closed, consequently no credits were issued. I went back the next year and it was here that I finished my high school education. Luckily, while I was attending school in Sanford, I was able to carry sufficient credits, added to what I now had I was able to graduate in three years with the class of 1919.    
"How did we get to Manassa to school? Well, we rode in a bus, a lot like the ones we have now, but smaller."
Grandma pursued more education and eventually graduated from college and taught elementary school both in Colorado and Oklahoma where they moved in the later years of my grandfather's life. I have to appreciate her determination to learn and gain an education.
San Luis Stake Academy, Hazel Mickelsen Ganus, William O. Crowther, Wallace F.  Bennett, Sanford Colorado, Manassa Colorado, Genealogy LDS Church Academies

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2016, All rights reserved

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Gobble Gobble---Raising Turkeys

raising turkeys, Ganus, genealogy, ancestry, ancestors, family historyRecently I learned, much to my surprise, that Grandma Hazel (Mickelsen) Ganus raised turkeys at one point in her life. Although she never talked about it, she shared this fact in her life history. What started out as a relatively small project soon grew to become a large adventure and served to help my Grandpa and Grandma through a rough time.

 When Grandpa took a job working with Heiselt Construction on the Echo Canyon Dam in Utah, initially Grandma Ganus and their two children stayed in Colorado. Later, when the work took Grandpa to California, Grandma and their kids joined him and they lived near Lake Almanor. For a while, the work with Heiselt put food on the table and provided a roof overhead, but eventually the job was completed and Grandma and Grandpa, along with the Malmgren family, moved a short distance away just outside the small town of Taylorsville, California. There they lived on a ranch that Mr. Heiselt owned. The business had had financial difficulties and my grandparents were owed several thousand dollars, so they held out hope that they would eventually be paid all that was owed. Grandma recorded that while living on Heiselt's property, they lived in a small house on "the terrace." During that time,  Grandpa farmed and Grandma raised turkeys. According to her life history, she hatched the turkeys from eggs and she began with just three gobblers and twenty-five hens. Over time her little business grew and she raised 500 turkeys. Grandma indicated that she sold the turkeys to meat markets and that she got a good price for them.

I wish Grandma had written a little more. How in the world did she care for the turkeys? How did she know how to raise turkeys? Where did she go to get their food and how did she get there?  How did she transport them to the market? I would imagine there were some challenges in raising turkeys and that some of her experiences probably evoked a laugh or two. I wish so much that she had recorded some of the things that happened during that time.


Eventually, Grandma and Grandpa decided to leave their little place on the ranch and they returned to Sanford, Colorado where their families were living.

I will be thinking of her as we eat our Thanksgiving turkey this year. I am glad that Grandma took the time to write a little about her business and although I won't likely be raising turkeys anytime soon, I do hope I can be as determined as she was in coming up with creative solutions to the challenges I face in life.

Did your grandparents face hard times? How did they get through them?

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2016, All rights reserved



Saturday, November 5, 2016

My visit to the Layton FamilySearch Center


I was excited recently to attend the Open House of the Layton FamilySearch Center. Located on 915 West Gordon Avenue in Layton, Utah, it replaced several smaller centers in the area. I had been watching the building undergo quite a transformation over the past months and was eager to see if the inside was as impressive as the outside.

For you locals, the Layton FamilySearch Center is just a hop skip and a jump from Hobby Lobby and just down the street from Krispie Kreme.  




Over the past few years, there has been a big focus on family photos and it's easy to see why. Photos of our ancestors tug at the heart and help us feel connected in a unique way. For those of us who are not the keeper of the family photos, we cross our fingers that someone will share the photos that they have and we are thrilled when photos of our ancestors pop up on websites such as FamilySearch or Ancestry.

So it's no surprise that the new center has several high-tech photo scanners to help with the preservation and sharing of photos. The scanners have the ability to scan many photos quickly and save them to a flash drive, which they have there for a small purchase price. Do you have photos that are yellowed with age? No problem, their scanners have an autocorrect ability that will take that yellow out!  The scanners make it as easy and painless as possible to copy and share photos.




Next up was their children's area. This is an area for grandparents and parents to take their children for fun family history oriented activities. Note: This is not an area to drop the kids off while you do research or shop, but an area where you can do activities with the kids. There are blocks to build homes with,  family history style coloring pages and fun games to play together. In addition, they will have storytellers come to the center periodically and tell stories to the children. Check the website for the schedule if you would like to make sure you are there for the story time.



There is also a Family Area in a private room that can be scheduled in two-hour blocks. This area includes a machine that converts family VHS movies to DVD, a sofa where family members can sit and view family photos or movies on the large screen and a long table where family can gather and visit about their family history projects.

In another room, which was called "Studio A" (yes there is additional one called Studio B), there are comfy chairs, a camera for recording video and a microphone where people can gather and share family stories, interview family members or even show family photos and record the discussion about the folks in the photos. The recording, either video or audio can then be sent to you. These rooms can be scheduled online for an hour at a time.








Another area features three large screens that are actually touch screen computers. Each has several different apps that allow visitors to explore things such as how family migrated to the US and famous people to whom they are related. This area does not require a reservation.








Fifty-two computers, complete with a variety of family history type databases are available for people to come in and work on their family history.




To make sure we keep our strength up while we are there, there is a lunch and snack area where we can take a break and have a bite to eat.  (You must bring your own snacks as no food is available there for purchase.)  Microwaves are available, but they have a no popcorn rule and anyone who has been in a break room when someone burned the popcorn knows exactly why. They requested that any water brought into the center be in bottles with screw on lids to prevent possible damage to the electronics from spills. 
There are also three classrooms where classes will be taught. Subjects vary, so check the schedule for time and class specifics. In addition, they indicated that if there is a particular subject we would like taught and we have a group interested, we can put in a request. 


With classrooms, a room for viewing and converting family photos, a children's area, photo scanners and more, it clearly will be a great place for individuals and families to gather to share and learn about their family history. The center will open for all services beginning November 8th. I look forward to returning and taking grandchildren there---maybe I will see you! 

To learn more about the center and to book a time for some of the special activities, go to:


Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2016, All rights reserved


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Book review: Planning a Future for Your Family's Past

Marian Burk Wood, Planning a Future for Your Family's Past, family history books, organizing, genealogy, ancestryI have the best of intentions, I really do. I have two four--drawer file cabinets brimming full of my files, and shelves full of books and notebooks of notes, but I also have stacks of charts, documents and pedigrees on shelves in my closet. In the beginning, I did better, but almost like an avalanche, things began to quickly accumulate and intent on the case at hand, I set things in the "stack" to be dealt with later. Now the task of organizing the large piles is daunting and I keep postponing it. I know, it's shameful.

I've been looking for a way to tame the beast without cutting too much into my research time, even though I know that by not taking the time to do it now, I am missing important hints and possibly (okay, more than just a little likely) duplicating some of my efforts.  It's been on my mind a lot lately and so the timing could not have been better when Marian Burk Wood  contacted me and offered to send me a copy of her new book Planning a Future for Your Family's Past to read and review. I was excited to to get the book and see what insight she had for organizing and planning for the future of my genealogy materials.

Marian's book is well organized and she literally starts from the very beginning by starting with the stacks so many of us have.  From there, she breaks the project down into bite-sized pieces by dividing tasks in short little assignments that allows us to take it one step at a time. Every chapter ends with bullet point summation that makes it easy to review the steps needed for that portion of our project. I think my tendency is to make the project so enormous, it's hard to even want to begin because who has that amount of time? However, her no stress approach allows for the project to be done in small little increments of time and that appeals to me and left me feeling that I could do this.

Marian mentions products I wasn't aware of, provides links for further reading and tackles some issues I had not really considered. For instance, what about those things you don't really want and yet have held onto because they were passed down? Have you considered they might possibly provide a way to strengthen family ties with distant family? Marian shares some ways to do that.

And what will happen to our years of hard work after we're gone? It's easy to assume family will want our research, but will they really? What is the best way to arrange for the transfer of our research after we are gone? How can we make it easier for others to even want to inherit our priceless years of research? These things and many more were addressed in Marian's book.

For those looking for help organizing their genealogy materials and for direction in planning for the future of their collections, this book is well worth the read.

Disclosure: I was given this book to review but I was not financially compensated in any way. The opinions expressed are entirely my own.  

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2016, All rights reserved