Showing posts with label Chisenhall Mary M. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chisenhall Mary M. Show all posts

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Intensity of His Gaze


John Thackason Ganus
John Thackason Ganus
From Original in possession
of Michelle Ganus Taggart
I'll never forget the first time I saw the picture of John Monroe Ganus with his five sons as seen at the top of this page.  Each man with his coarse wavy hair, each sporting a mustache and each with other shared family characteristics and yet, as with each family, each person had something uniquely theirs.  While all but Newton maintained the typical solemn countenance, John Thackason's  expression struck me as a bit more intense than the rest.   I've often wondered if the intensity of his gaze was indicative of his state of mind or just a product of the times.  As I've gotten to know him a little better and of the heartache that he endured during his life, I suspect it is a little of both.

Born 22 April 1855 in Haralson County, Georgia, John Thackason Ganus was the second child born to John Monroe Ganus and Elizabeth McCluskey.  He grew up in a household of boys on a small farm in rural Georgia.   While Georgia was home for much of his childhood, over the course of his life the family lived in Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado and Oklahoma.

By the time John T. was  five years old, his family had moved to Alabama, but they would remain there only a few years before picking up and moving to Arkansas, where they once again remained for only a few short years.  By the time John T. was 15, his family was back in Georgia and was among the many southerners trying to make a life on the heels of the devastating Civil War.  About 1876, John and Mary M. Chisenhall, daughter of William Chisenhall and Sally Reed, married in Haralson County and within a few years they had begun their family.

John followed in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps and farmed, but farming in postwar Georgia was not an easy undertaking. Providing for one's family was nearly impossible for someone without means to obtain his own land or a way of obtaining goods to sell or trade.  The 1880 Non Population Census for Haralson County indicates that John T. “rents for shares,” implying  that he fell into that group of folks, both black and white alike, that in desperation turned to sharecropping as a way of providing for their family, albeit a very difficult way of life.  (For more information about sharecroppers and their plight in post war Georgia, see this article.)  

In 1887, John and Mary, along with John’s parents and siblings and their families boarded a train bound for Colorado, where they remained until about 1897 at which point they moved to Okmulgee, Oklahoma. 

I have been told that John T. and Mary had a dozen children but according to both the 1900 and the 1910 censuses, John and Mary actually had 13 children, with only five surviving to that point.  (I wrote about Mary and the death of one of their children in this blog post: http://www.asouthernsleuth.com/2012/09/revisiting-sources-case-for-mary-m.html.)   I have known people who have suffered the loss of a child and know that the grief that accompanies that loss compares to none other.  I can not even begin to comprehend the heartache that John and Mary experienced with losing eight children.

Old Manassa Cemetery
Old Manassa Cemetery
Manassa, Colorado
Their first son, John William, lived to be 11 years old and was buried in the Old Manassa Cemetery. I visited the cemetery a year ago August and was touched by the desolation and loneliness of the old cemetery which sits just outside the small town of Manassa, Colorado.  While there are still a few who choose to be buried there, it is essentially an old neglected cemetery as seen in the picture.  As I walked the rows and viewed the aged and varied headstones of some of the early pioneers of the San Luis Valley, I ached to know more about their lives, knowing that the stories would be about hope, sacrifice, joy and hardship.
John William Ganus

John William and his brother Morgan Lafayette Ganus were among those listed on the stone plaque at the entrance to this cemetery.  On that plaque is a rather extensive list of some of the known un-marked graves of that cemetery.  It saddens me to know that there is nothing marking the exact final resting place for so many individuals, including several of John and Mary’s children.

John and Mary’s known children are the following:
John William Ganus b. 1878 Cherokee, AL  d. 1889 Manassa, Conejos, CO
Marthy Ganus b. 1880 Haralson Co., GA     d. 1880, Haralson Co., GA
Walter Scott Ganus b. 24 Mar 1882 Polk Co., GA   d. bef. 1900
Minnie Delanie Ganus b. 2 Jul 1883 Haralson Co., GA  d 12 June 1977 Okmulgee Co., OK
Roderick Elvin Ganus  b. 18 Apr 1885 Polk Co., GA  d.  bef. 1900
Morgan Lafayette Ganus  b. 20 Oct 1887 Manassa, Conejos, CO  d. 1888 Manassa, CO
Lola Bell Ganus  b. 1 Oct 1889 Manassa, CO  d. 18 Jan 1970 Okmulgee, OK
Sterling Robert Ganus  b. 23 Feb 1891 CO,   d. 5 Dec 1971 Sacrament, CA
Elvyn Monroe Ganus b. 5 Feb 1898 Indian Territory, Creek Nation, OK d. 5 Dec 1971 Sacramento, CA
Claud Mitchner Ganus  b. Apr 1900 Indian Territory, Creek Nation, OK d. bef. 1910
Elmer Russell Ganus  b. 17 Sep 1905 OK  d. 29 Oct 1941 Kern Co., CA
If anyone is aware of John and Mary’s other two children, I would love to hear from them and to be able to add their names to the family. 

The final record that I have for John Thackason Ganus is an Okmulgee Cemetery Record Card.  It indicates that John died 23 November 1926 at the age of 70 and was buried two days later in the Okmulgee Cemetery.  The cause of death is listed as “Paralysis.”

While we see evidence of joyful events in John T's life such as his marriage and the birth of children who lived into adulthood, we also see evidence of great poverty, loss and suffering.  Could these be the things we see reflected in John's gaze?  As always, I never feel like I know quite enough and  would love to hear from anyone that could share more about John Thackason Ganus and his life.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2013

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, 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.