Showing posts with label Cook Burton W. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cook Burton W. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Playing Favorites: Burton W. Cook

I never felt that I had a favorite child among our four children. Each contributed to our family in their own unique way, had his/her own talents, abilities, and challenges and so each has a special place in my heart. 


Our four "kids" on a recent visit
I tend to say I don't have favorite ancestors, although I have to confess, there are some I feel a little more drawn to. Not surprisingly, they are often the ones I know the most about. Do I dare say, maybe I do actually have a few favorites? 

Burton W. Cook, b. 1831 in Georgia is one of those. However, he is not truly my ancestor but married Mary Ganus, sister to my 2nd great grandfather. I've written about him quite a bit, including the following: 





Having his marriage record, a multitude of deeds, tax digests, Civil War records and even his will, which is a rare find for my family, I really have done a lot of research on Burton and felt satisfied that I knew a lot about him. But recently while using the site, "Georgia Historic Newspapers," a free website found HERE, I was excited to find yet a few more things about Burton. 

Although I was actually researching someone else at the time, I can never resist the temptation to enter in a few other names into the search box while I am there. You never know what has been recently added.  First of all, I found in the Carroll Free Press, Feb. 2, 1894, page 2, the following: 

KANSAS
 "Mr. Burton Cook was struck with paralysis last Friday and hasn't been able to set up to (sic) since. He is not expected to live." 

Interestingly enough, in the same edition, just one page later, on page 3, was the following:
MR. BURTON COOK DEAD

"Mr. Burton Cook of Kansas district, died Tuesday evening from a stroke of paralysis. He was stricken on Friday. 

"Mr. Cook was in the 70th year of his age at the time of his death.

He was highly esteemed by all who knew him, and in his death the county has lost a good citizen." 
So now I knew the circumstances of his death, although none of my research supported the statement that he was in his 70th year. A final find was constant with what I had for his age and birth year but added additional rich details about his life. Published in the Carroll Free Press, February 9, 1894, page 3, this was written about Burton:  
IN MEMORY OF BURTON W. COOK

"The subject of this notice was born in Coweta county in April 1829 and departed this life at his home in Carroll county on the 30th day of January 1894, aged 64 years, 9 months and 14 days.  
"He was married to Mary Ganus in 1850, united with the Baptist church while in the army in 1862, and cast his lot with the church at Shadner afterwards, moved his membership to Sardus church Coweta county, moved to Carroll county and united with the church at Abilene on the 5th day of June 1880, where he remained a consistent member until called away. 
 "Bro. Cook was a good man and was loved by all who knew him. Always ready to give counsel to those who he thought needed it, always ready to assist those who were in distress, always tried to visit the sick and administer to their wants and do all that he could to console them. His seat was seldom vacant at church when he was able to go. He has said for many years that he was ready to quit the walks of men when it was the will of the Lord to call him away.
"Therefore be it resolved; That in the death of Bro Cook the county has lost one of her best citizens, the church one of its brightest jewels, his companion and children a loving and affectionate husband and father."
So with the aid of one of my favorite resources, newspapers, I was able to learn more about one of my favorite men, someone I thought I already knew so much about. I learned that at the age of 64, Burton died as a result of a stroke. I learned that he was a religious man, a man eager to serve others, and who was respected in the community. I have never been able to determine exactly who his parents were in the large sea of southern Cooks but hopefully the clue, "he was born in Coweta," was shared by someone who actually knew and I'm excited to pursue that possibility. This new information just further fueled my love for Burton and yes, I think his place as one of my favorites is pretty secure. 

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2017, All rights reserved

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

It Was Over--Or Was It?

It was 1871 and, although the Civil War had been over for many years, for many Southerners it was far from over.  Many struggled with substantial losses on a variety of levels.  Land stripped and void of vegetation, loss of farm animals and in many cases the complete loss of their homes and personal belongings all contributed to a sense of desperation.  It would take many years to establish a sense of normalcy in their lives and some would never fully recover.  Living just outside of Atlanta, Georgia, the Ganus families were among the many that struggled.

North Side of Atlanta
following the war
Library of Congress
Beginning in March of 1871, the federal government allowed citizens in some Southern states to file for compensation for the losses sustained during the Civil War.  Applicants were required to prove that property was taken or destroyed by the Union Army.  In addition, applicants were required to prove that they remained loyal to the federal government during the war. Thousands of Southern citizens sought relief from their impoverished condition by applying.  Burton W. Cook and wife Mary (Ganus) were among those who applied.

In Clayton County, Georgia on the 26th of June, 1871,  Burton filled out an application for losses he suffered at the hand of the Union Army.   His claim was rejected without justification.

The paperwork however still contributes information to what is known about Burton.  Filed among the Southern Claims Commission papers, Barred and Disallowed,  Burton claimed the loss of a mare valued at $100.00 and 35 bushels of corn valued at $35.00.   He indicated the property was taken in Fayette County, Georgia by General Sherman's army on its way to Jonesboro on 31st of August, 1864.  

Anxious for any opportunity to receive their "just dues" from the federal government, many Southerners filed erroneous claims.  The question is not whether Burton's family suffered losses, but whether Burton was always loyal to the US Government?  I suspect I know the answer.   While Burton's damages pale in comparison to many other claims, unfortunately, his claim also lacks the testimony that accompanies many claims.  As luck would have it, his file consists of four pages of the basic form, with no additional testimony.

The files can provide interesting reading.  Some include testimony in which the claimant describes in great detail the harsh circumstances personally endured.  Some include dramatic statements of their professed allegiance to the government.  Often such richly woven stories include the names of family, neighbors and friends.  I found myself smiling at one such lengthy claim that comprised many pages of testimony describing the claimant's love for the federal government in addition to his secret disdain for the rebel cause.  The claimant added that he had always supported the federal government.   Unfortunately his case was rejected with the conclusion that not only had the man supported numerous sons while they served as Confederate soldiers, but he himself had served for a time and had contributed substantial funds and supplies to the Confederate Army.

Burton too had served in the Confederate Army from the beginning of the war until the end when he was released as a prisoner of war, and yet he filed a claim.  Was his application simply an effort to receive compensation for losses?

The basic form that Burton filled out required that the applicant provide the names of individuals who could verify the truth of the claim.  I was interested to know who he listed and was pleased to see his witnesses were James Ganus of East Point, Fulton County, Georgia and Mary Cook, also of East Point.  Mary was Burton's wife and James was his father-in-law.  While the document does not contain James' actual signature, it does give me reason to believe that James lived at least until June of 1871 when the application was filled out. James was shown living with Burton and daughter Mary on the 1870 US Federal Census.  This is the latest document currently known on which James' name appears. James would have been approximately 72 years old, a ripe old age for that time.


While Burton's file is relatively small, I am grateful for the few details it provides.  Once again I am reminded of the benefits of finding all documents relating to our ancestors.

I am sure Burton felt at least some disappointment when his claim was rejected, although his situation was not uncommon.  The number of people claiming property loss greatly exceeded the number who received compensation.   Undoubtedly, for those who had been so vested in the Southern cause, proving their loyalty to the US Government was a difficult sell.

The war was over,  issues continued and yet slowly the South did rebuild.  While much had been destroyed, the unconquerable spirit for which Southerners were known survived.  And so, Burton and his family, along with countless others, began the tedious process of rebuilding.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2014,  All rights reserved

Thursday, July 31, 2014

To Sign or Not to Sign?


It was over.  General Robert E. Lee had signed the surrender and Confederate soldiers began returning home. While technically the war was over, for many southerners the emotional scars were deep and would be slow to heal.  There would be many issues to resolve in the turbulent years that followed.  Many resented the government they felt had betrayed them and the resulting friction was more than evident .

Surrender of General Lee
Library of Congress
Upon their release, each rebel prisoner of war faced the decision of whether or not he would sign a document declaring his allegiance to the United States Government. Would he maintain his allegiance to a Southern government that had failed, or align himself with the government he had fought against?

Initially, I was surprised to find an Oath of Allegiance in Burton W. Cook's Civil War file.  While it would be easy to assume  a change of heart,  as I have read about the Oath of Allegiance, I have learned that many, if not most Southern Confederates signed simply because they wanted to return home.

Included among Burton W. Cook's Civil War file is a paper which reads:
"Name appears as signature to an Oath of Allegiance to the United States, subscribed and sworn to at Elmira, N.Y., June 19, 1965."
It further indicates that he had enlisted in Georgia 53rd, Company C, that he resided in Atlanta, Georgia and includes a physical description and was signed upon his release from the prison, Elmira in New York.  From this paper, I learned that Burton had a florid complexion, dark hair, gray eyes and stood 6 foot tall.  Because Burton appeared successful in his acquisition of land and goods, I had previously assumed that he had at least some education, but this paper seems to suggest otherwise.  Burton signed "by mark," implying that he could not write his name.  Had it been difficult for him to sign a paper he could not read,  presented to him by people he did not trust?

Although there is relatively little information on the form, for me it is a gem because it provides information found no where else about Burton W. Cook, married to Mary Ganus, my second great grandfather's sister.  It underscores the value of finding every source pertaining to each ancestor. From this document, I learned what Burton W. Cook looked like, where he lived, that he was among the many that were not educated, and that after years of war and imprisonment,  he signed his allegiance to the United States Government.  For the details it provides for me and for Burton's descendants, I am so glad that he signed.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2014



Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Enemy Was Coming

The enemy was coming.  Confederate soldiers worked feverishly,  digging with whatever tools they had and throwing the heavy soil up, creating mounds along the ever deepening trenches.  Would the trenches be enough?  Would they have time to complete them before the arrival and attack by the massive Union Army?   It was the end of May in 1864 and James Blackmon and Burton Cook were at Gaines Mill,  preparing for what would be known as The Battle of Cold Harbor.  Weary from 3 years of war,  the soldiers pushed to build earthworks, gun pits and trenches.  Although they were often outnumbered in their battles, experience had taught them that the primitive barricades made a difference, often providing the edge they needed in their battle against their Yankee aggressors.




Battle of Cold Harbor, throwing up breastworks
Forbes, Edwin, 1839-189
It had been a little over two years since David Ganus had died in Winder Hospital in Richmond, Virginia (see his story here).  Brothers-in-law James Blackmon and Burton Cook had managed to survive while fighting with the Georgia 53rd Regiment, Company C, known as "The Fayette Planters."   James, however,  had been wounded in the left arm and shoulder at Spotsylvania in 1862,  and would suffer the rest of his life as a result,  so his continued participation in the war could not have been easy.  Over the course of the war, the regiments, the supplies and the rations had become increasingly smaller,  and yet the battle raged on, each side determined to win and return home.

The remains of trenches dug by CW soldiers

James and Burton had seen and experienced much in the two years since David had died, things that they would never forget. Many of their friends and neighbors had lost limbs, their sight, or their lives in that time.  Were they aware that a younger brother-in-law, James Ganus, who fought with the Georgia 44th, Company G, had been discharged in July of 1863?  James Ganus was shot at Sharpsburg and additionally had contracted an illness which left him partially blind and consequently he was found unfit for service and sent home.

Did they know of the depredations and hardships faced by their families back home? James Blackmon and Burton Cook had married Ganus sisters, Mary and Margaret.  The women lived in close proximity to one another just outside of Atlanta during the long absence of their husbands.

The stories and details of my ancestors and their families raced through my mind as we visited the various Civil War sites on our recent trip to Virginia.  Understandably,  the day we visited the Cold Harbor Battlefield Park in the area of Gaines Mill,  my thoughts focused on James Blackmon and Burton Cook who had fought there.


Road driving into
Cold Harbor Battlefield Pa

We left the interstate and turned onto a winding rural road as we made our way to the park, and I wondered where the Fayette Planters had camped.  It was hard to comprehend that well over 100,000 Union soldiers and more than 60,000 Confederate soldiers had converged on this area for the battle.  Do you ever find yourself wishing you could travel back in time and take a peek into your ancestor's life for just a moment?  While I really didn't want to see all of the horrors associated with this battle, I did find myself wishing that I knew more about what James and Burton had actually experienced here.

We turned off the paved two lane road onto a dirt road leading to the main portion of the park. The road was lined with dense trees and I was once again in awe of the beauty of Virginia.  It was hard to believe that this had been the scene of the long and brutal Battle of Cold Harbor.




After following the dirt road for a few miles, we pulled into the parking lot.  It was a beautiful area with lush green fields surrounded by dense trees.   Historical markers provided basic details about the battle and reminded us that despite it's current beauty, many men had lost their lives here.

We decided to follow one of the marked trails that led into a wooded area.  Little streams of water trickled here and there and the trees filtered the sunlight,  creating dense shade.  Having read about copperheads and rattlesnakes in Virginia, I felt a little wary and wondered if they had posed a problem for the soldiers.

Walking the trail at
Cold Harbor Battlefield 

As we continued along the path,  I was taken by how still and peaceful it was there.  I stopped and looked around and tried to imagine what it must have been like in May and June of 1864 for both Confederate and Union soldiers.  I could easily imagine the scenes portrayed in movies about this battle with men running through the trees, gunfire coming at them from every side,  the smoke from the rifles and muskets thick in the air.  Did James and Burton crouch behind the mounds with hearts pounding as they fired upon oncoming troops in one of the bloodiest fights of the Civil War?

They had been there.  Along with thousands of other soldiers, James Blackmon and Burton Cook had been there on June 1, 1864, and it was there during the Battle of Cold Harbor that both men were captured by Union Troops. They were initially taken to Point Lookout in Maryland and then in July they were transferred to the prison camp called Elmira in New York.  (You can read Burton's Story here and James' story here)

 The enemy had come and while the trenches and earthworks had provided a measure of safety for many of the men, for others, such as James and Burton, they simply hadn't been enough.   


Battle of Cold Harbor
Kurz & Allison
Library of Congress

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2014


Thursday, June 5, 2014

No Place for the Sick

It was no place for the sick or injured.  Damp, cold, lacking in blankets and tents,  the Georgia 53rd Company C,  "Fayette Planters,"  camped in a wooded area just outside of Fredericksburg, Virginia.  It was December of 1862 and it had already proven to be a bitterly cold winter.


Surgeon at work during Civil War
Library of congress 
It had only been eight months since David Ganus had enlisted in the same regiment of the Confederate Army as his two brothers-in-law, James Blackmon and Burton Cook.  He left behind his young wife, Malinda, and three small children, in order to fight for the southern cause. Many had thought the war would be short  and expected to return home to their families soon.

David's regiment fought in many of the historic battles and he managed to come through each without injury, but in the month of December, while his regiment was in Fredericksburg,  David became extremely ill.

David's service records indicate that early in December he became ill with the all too common typhoid, while other records show that he suffered exposure and pneumonia.  Whether he suffered from all three or there was confusion due to the extent of his illness or possibly lack of knowledgeable medical personnel to properly diagnose his illness, we get the picture of a man that was extremely ill. David's best chance for survival was to be transferred out of camp to the nearest hospital, which presented yet more challenges.

Bringing wounded soldiers to the cars
Library of Congress 
Initially there was no organized way to transfer the sick and the injured to hospitals.  Recently when we visited the Chimborazo Medical Museum in Richmond, Virginia, we learned about some of the heart wrenching conditions endured by the soldiers.   There we saw some of the crude and primitive medical instruments used in the treatment of the soldiers and watched a short video about the civil war hospitals of the area.

Eventually the military came up with a system where soldiers were transported from their camps to the hospitals, but the trip was often very difficult for someone whose health was already compromised.

The sick or wounded soldier was first taken in the back of a wagon over rough and bumpy dirt roads to a location where he could be loaded onto a train and he would then travel the rest of the way by rail. Miserably hot in the summer and bitterly cold in the winter,  void of even the simple comforts,  the rough trip was often excruciating for a soldier already in pain and misery.  David had to make the nearly sixty mile trip to Winder Hospital in cold, frigid December temperatures while suffering symptoms common to his illness that could have included fever, nausea, diarrhea, coughing, aching and fatigue.  However long the trip took, I am sure that for those in such desperate circumstances, it felt like eternity.

Hospital Ward Alexandria
Library of Congress 

Had David's brothers-in-law, James and Burton helped to load him onto the wagon?  Had they worried and tried to help as they watched their wife's younger brother grow increasingly more ill?  Did they write home to tell of his condition?

After about a week at Winder Hospital and just two days before Christmas, on December 23, 1862, twenty-six year old David Ganus passed from this life.  He died as most soldiers died, without any family at his side and far from home.  His body was taken to nearby Hollywood Cemetery where he was buried alongside many other Southern soldiers.

While sadly Winder Hospital no longer stands,  I knew that our Virginia trip would not be complete without a visit to Hollywood Cemetery to see David's final resting spot.


Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2014


For more of David's story, see this earlier blog post .







Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Walking the Sunken Road

As we walked the "Sunken Road" beside the stone wall at Fredericksburg,  I surveyed the field below. I could envision in my mind's eye  the brutal battle scene often portrayed in Civil War documentaries and movies.  But the field, once war torn, showed few scars and instead stood peaceful and serene.  It felt surreal to actually be there and to stand on the very site where so many men had lost their lives.


Present day "sunken road" and the rock wall

My husband and I had traveled to Richmond, Virginia to attend the National Genealogy Society's 2014 Conference.  Afterwards, we visited a few of the many historical sites in the area, including the battlefield at Fredericksburg, Virginia.  While I loved knowing that at one time, my ancestors had been there, I hated knowing why.


Our visit was in May and as is typical for the season, the air was warm and humid.  A few songbirds sang in the trees surrounding the fields, but otherwise the air was still and quiet,  a sharp contrast to December of 1862.  That December, as troops converged on the battlefield, the bitter cold, snow and mud added to the misery of the war.  While cannon balls took out lines of men,  bullets riddled the smoke filled air,  killing many who courageously fought, and yet they were not the only enemy.  Lack of good food, few tents and a shortage of blankets, along with rampant disease and inadequate medical care,
took the lives of many.

Gallant Charge of Humphrey's Division
at the Battle of Fredericksburg
Library of Congress

David Ganus, Burton Cook and James Blackmon were all at Fredericksburg.  David Ganus was born in 1836 in Fayette County, Georgia to James (Gur)Ganus and Elizabeth McCluskey.  David was a younger brother to my 3rd great grandfather, John Monroe Ganus. Burton Cook was married to David and John's oldest sister, Mary, and James Blackmon was married to their sister, Margaret.  David, Burton and James were among the thousands of Confederate soldiers present for the historic battle at Fredericksburg.

Cobb's and Kershaw's Troops
behind the stone wall
Library of Congress



As I paused to read the historical markers, I felt a flood of emotion as I imagined David, Burton and James, standing shoulder to shoulder with each other, their neighbors and friends. Given the number of soldiers there,  it is doubtful that David was even aware of the presence of other more distant relatives, such as Florida cousins, Willis and Moses Gurganus.   As regiments from multiple counties and states joined together at the various battles, brothers, uncles, cousins, sons and fathers all fought, sometimes side by side and sometimes on opposing sides




Part of the original rock wall today,  built by Confederate Soldiers

I was grateful that we practically had the park to ourselves that day because I wanted to feel and to think, without the distractions of a noisy crowd.  I wanted to reflect on what I knew about the men that I have researched and grown to love and to pay honor to them as I walked along the road where they had once been. As we walked along the Sunken Road behind the rock wall and at the base of Marye's Heights,  I felt a solemn reverence for the significance of that site,  as it had offered significant protection from the oncoming Union troops.  According to "The Dorman-Marshbourne Letters" by John W. Lynch, the Georgia 53rd was posted on the road below Marye's Heights on December 14th and 15th of 1862.

Luckily David, Burton and James all survived the battle at Fredericksburg, but David developed pneumonia and a few weeks later he was sent to Winder Hospital in Richmond.  With that,  I knew where our next stop would be.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2014

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Piecing Together Their Lives ---Part 3

It’s been eleven years since that first email that marked the beginning of  Karen's and my genealogical journey together.  Since that time, we have continued to share our research and so much more.  And while there still remains unanswered questions about Margaret, we have learned a lot about her and together we have pieced together the following story.

image
Margaret Ganus Blackmon
(Only known photo) Contributed by Karen
as shared with her by Darlene Emmert
Margaret Ganus was born about 1832 and married James Blackmon on the 16 December 1857 in Fayette County, Georgia.  For some time, James and Margaret remained in Fayette County where Margaret had grown up and where her parents and several siblings continued to live. There, James farmed and Margaret undoubtedly was busy caring for their house and their children .  They had been married for about five years when the events leading to the Civil War began to unfold.  Loyal to the Confederacy, James joined countless others in enlisting to fight for the southern cause.
 
On a spring day in 1862,  Margaret watched as her husband, James  Blackmon, her brother David Ganus, and her brother- in- law, Burton W. Cook, all  boarded the train bound for Richmond, VA.  Alongside their neighbors and friends, the men had enlisted on  May 1, 1862 with the Fayette Planters, Company C, 53rd Regiment, Georgia Volunteer Infantry.   I can imagine the two sisters and their sister-in-law standing with their arms around each other and their children gathered close as the train carrying their husbands, fathers and brothers chugged out of the station.   I am sure that they felt some anxiety as they said their goodbyes, but many southern families believed that it would be a short battle and that soon their loved ones would return home and life would resume.

The Civil War deeply impacted Margaret’s family in many ways, as it did most families on both sides of the conflict.  Margaret had both brothers and brothers-in-law enlist.  Her brother David, never returned home, but died of pneumonia while at Camp Fredericksburg, a story I shared in an earlier post.  Her brother, William, had many health problems incident to the war and died at the age of 33, leaving behind a widow and four young children.  Her brother James, also developed health problems as a result of his service and suffered for the remainder of his life.  In addition, James Blackmon's brother, Edmond, suffered with bilious fever and other ailments during his service, and his brother-in-law, William Speight, died of disease at Knoxville, leaving behind a young wife who delivered their baby girl a month after his death.  According to James Blackmon’s pension application, he was wounded in the left arm and shoulder in 1862 at Spotsylvania, injuries which continued to plaque him until the end of his life. Additionally, his service records indicate that he was frequently ill while enlisted.  I can't imagine the grief and worry that Margaret felt each time she received word of a loved ones' death, injury or illness, while she herself continued alone to bear the heavy weight of feeding and caring for herself and their children.  

image
James Blackmon was among those captured at “Gaines Farm,”  which was at the center of the battle of Gaines Mill, or First Battle of Cold Harbor.  He and brother-in-law, Burton Cook, were then taken as prisoners to Point Lookout, Maryland.  A month later Burton and James were transferred to Elmira, New York, which was nicknamed  “Helmira” by the prisoners, due to the deplorable conditions there.  As I shared in a previous post,  Elmira had the highest death rate per capita of northern prisons.  I know that mental attitude can make a difference for those that are imprisoned and forced to endure such horrible conditions and so I wonder whether Burton and James pulled together and helped each other to have the will and determination necessary to survive the months of deprivation.

At the same time, I wonder if  their wives, Mary and Margaret (who were sisters), were truly aware of the extent of their husbands suffering during their imprisonment.  I wonder if the sisters wept together, consoled each other, and prayed together for better days to come.  Did they help each other care for their children?  Did they work together to find ways to feed their families?   Both Margaret and Mary lived outside of Atlanta and undoubtedly endured a multitude of hardships in the years that followed.

James was released on 7 July, 1865, nearly a month after brother-in-law Burton Cook.  It was likely difficult for Margaret when Burton returned home to her sister, while her own husband remained at the prison camp.  Did Burton share what they had endured or did he spare Margaret of any additional worry?  When James Blackmon was finally released, he signed the required “Oath of Allegiance,” and thankfully from it we have an idea of what he looked like as his physical description indicates that he had a dark complexion, dark hair, grey eyes and was 5 feet 9 inches tall. 

While I know that life following the Civil War was never the same for the southern people, I am amazed at the resiliency these families showed as they picked up and moved on with life.  James and Margaret remained in Georgia for at least twenty more years, had  five known children and James somehow managed to provide for their family by farming, which was no small feat in post Civil War Georgia.

For some unknown reason, by 1888,  James and Margaret had moved to Blount County, Alabama.    They were living there on a 200 acre farm near “Joy” when James died 11 September 1903.  Karen shared his very short death notice that appeared in the September 17, 1903 edition of The Southern Democrat.  It simply stated “James Blackmon, 66, died last Friday, near Joy.” 

On 11 July 1905, Margaret’s Civil War Widow's Pension Application  indicated that she had absolutely nothing and had never remarried. Several of Margaret's children were living in the area and hopefully they were a source of help and support for her in the winding down scene of her life. While we are unsure of exactly when Margaret died, we believe that it was sometime after her filing in 1905 and before 1910. 

Margaret saw and endured a great deal of hardship during her lifetime.  She sent a husband to war, buried at least one child and managed to care for their other children while James was in a Civil War prison camp. Living in an area frequented by tornadoes and hail storms, she and James faced the elements, even though weather frequently threatened their farms, their homes and their very existence. While her life was full of many trials and hardships, I am sure that it included many joys as well.  James and Margaret remained by each other's side for 46 years and brought five children into the world.  They lived to see and enjoy grandchildren,  lived much of their life surrounded by extended family, and were able to somehow always provide for themselves.

Although families today don’t always remain in close proximity to each other as they did so many years ago, thanks to the internet the world has become a little smaller and we are able to feel a closeness to distant "kin" regardless of our distance.  Over the years, Karen and I have shared family history and so much more.  We have shared good times and hard times, prayed, laughed and cried together.  We've emailed, Facebooked, texted and talked on the phone.  Despite the odds and the distance, we found each other and have become an important part of each other's lives.

Karen wrote in a recent email:
I think Margaret, my ancestor, and her brother John, your ancestor, would be very pleased to see that their "children" love each other so much and have found each other across the years and miles. So many times since then, you and I, and our families, have leaned on each other through heartbreak and celebrated our joys together.
She went on to say:
Thank you, Michelle, for "keeping it real" for me--- because that is what genealogy is all about-- understanding that our ancestors were more than just dates on a census record, but real people who held on to each other for support and invested their hearts in each other--- just as I have with you.
I could not have said it better. Genealogy connects us to our dead whom we never knew and in the process, it can connect us to the living as well. It helps to provide us with a sense of belonging and family in a world that is increasingly disjointed. As we piece together dates and places, I know that we also piece together lives of both the living and the dead.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2013

PHOTO:  Wikipedia Commons.  Gaines Mill by John L. Parker, 1887

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Clouds That Forebode the Greatest Evil

image
Wikipedia Commons
Public Domain

As a child, I loved the movie The Wizard of Oz.  While the movie fueled our young, active imaginations, it also generated a whole new set of fears.

image
My brother and I 
In parts of California, springtime often brings large fields of beautiful orange poppies.   I  remember being horrified when my mom wanted to take pictures of us out in the poppy fields.  Did she remember what happened to Dorothy while in a field of poppies?

Additionally, the movie also taught me to fear tornadoes, witches, and of course the thing that all children of that era feared…..flying monkeys!!

While my Georgia kin had little to fear from poppies, witches or flying monkeys, they did, however, live with the very real fear of tornadoes, or cyclones as they were sometimes called.

The University of Oklahoma maintains a great online digital book collection that includes the book,  “Tornado” written by John Park Finley.  Finley was an American meteorologist who was among the first to study tornadoes in depth.  Finley's book, published in 1887, educated people about the dangers of tornadoes as well as how people could anticipate and protect themselves during a tornado.1


image
Illustration from Finley’s Tornadoes2

Describing the eerie cloud formations that often precede tornadoes, Finley stated that  “the dark clouds at times present a deep, greenish hue, which forebodes the greatest evil and leaves one to imagine quite freely of dire possibilities.” 3

image
Illustration from Finley’s Tornadoes5
Finley also indicated,  “Another and invariable sign of the tornado’s approach is a heavy, roaring noise, which augments in intensity as the tornado-cloud advances.  This roaring is compared to the passage of a heavily loaded freight train moving over a bridge or through a deep pass or tunnel.” 4  I enjoyed reading through this book to see what was believed and known about tornadoes at that time, as I had ancestors that lived in many of the states considered part of “tornado alley.” 

The Friday, June 10, 1887 edition of the Carroll Free Press,  which was published the same year as Finley's book, carried an article about which citizens of the Carroll County community had received the most damage during a tornado and hail storm that hit there. 6   The article also mentioned a “Citizens’ Meeting” held to discuss measures to provide aid to the victims.  A resolution was adopted to collect funds and distribute them to those who had received the most damage. Included in the list of citizens needing relief were P.H. Chandler, B.W. Cook and G. P. Chandler, all people in my family tree.

image
Picture of home following a tornado that
hit the Atlanta area
Late 1800’s or early 1900’s. 
7
B.W. Cook  was Burton W. Cook,  who married Mary Ganus, daughter of my third great grandparents, James and Elizabeth Ganus  and sister to John Monroe Ganus.   G.P. Chandler  was George P. Chandler, son of Philo H. Chandler and Nicie Jane Reid (the same P.H. Chandler named in the article).  George P. Chandler  married Mary Cook, daughter of Burton W. Cook and Mary Ganus, thereby making her a grand-daughter to James and Elizabeth Ganus.

The article also indicated who had donated money, how much they donated and who received the financial aid and how much they received.  A committee had distributed the donated funds to those that were in the most need and had not already received help from others of the community.
 
As I scanned the list of citizens who had received financial help, I found that B.W. Cook, G.P. Chandler and P. H. Chandler were not included.  Did that indicate then that they were among those who had received help from others?   Living in Carroll county at that time were Mary’s siblings, Martha Ganus Brock, Rebecca Ganus Lee and Addison Ganus and their spouses and children.  Living in neighboring Haralson County were Mary’s other siblings, John M. Ganus, as well as Margaret Ganus Blackmon  and James W. Ganus and their spouses and children. True to typical southern culture, the siblings had remained in close proximity to each other.

Did the Ganus siblings help repair damage sustained to Mary and Burton’s home?  Did they help fix barns and outbuildings, locate scattered livestock, and replant crops if needed?  Did they bring in meals and share of what they had?   I would like to think that  Burton and Mary did not need aid from the community because they received help from their family. I would like to think they were living close to one another not only for the social advantage but also so that they could provide help and support through good times and bad.  

Given the history of tornadoes in the south, I am sure that this was not the only time that the Ganus family was impacted by the wrath of a storm.  I am confident that each member of that family faced many storms during their lifetime, both physical and emotional in nature and hopefully each time they found their greatest source of support and strength in their family.    



1.  Finley, John P., Tornadoes. New York:  The Insurance Monitor, 1887. Digital Images.  History of Science Collections, The University of Oklahoma Libraries. http://ouhos.org/2010/06/19/digitized-books/

2.  Ibid. at p. 40

3. Ibid at p. 29

4.  Ibid at p. 30

5. Ibid at p. 44

6.  USGenWeb Archives,  Carroll County Georgia, Newspapers, Carroll Free Press, Issue of Friday, June 10, 1887.  File was contributed by Judy Campbell.
http://files.usgwarchives.net/ga/carroll/newspapers/ju87.txt

7.  Photograph of home of Oct(via) Kite blown away by tornado, Fulton County, Georgia, ca. 1897-1903, Georgia Division of Archives and History, Vanishing Georgia. http://dlg.galileo.usg.edu/vanga/query:gk%3A+%28octa+kite+tornado%29


Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2013







Wednesday, November 28, 2012

I Can Do Hard Things

Each and every individual in my family tree holds a special place in my heart.  The tragic, the strong, the loving, the determined and the stubborn--each person belongs and as I learn about their lives and what they encountered and endured, I feel greater determination to similarly face my trials with courage and the same spirit of perseverance.

 Burton W. Cook has always been a favorite of mine.  Although I am actually related to his wife and children and not Burton himself,  I nonetheless feel a strong draw to Burton and it's in researching him that I have learned something about his wife and children.  Unlike some of the characters in stories previously shared in this blog, Burton didn't dip in and out of the newspapers and court rooms, but he just seemed to be in the right place at the right time, places where ancestors are supposed to be, but mine so seldom are. I find him in deeds, tax records, Agricultural Censuses, Federal Censuses, Civil War records including enlistment and Southern Claims Commission  and he even had a will AND there is record of his burial! Who knew such a person existed?  So many of my ancestors are so elusive.

Burton W. Cook was born about 1831, and while the records show conflicting data, I believe he was likely born in North Carolina.  I would love to know who his parents were, but my research, in addition to the information that I've received from some of his descendants has failed to produce any parents.  Interestingly enough, the first document that I have for him is his marriage license to Mary Ganus on 7 April 1850 in DeKalb County, Georgia.  Mary was my second great-grandaunt and the oldest child of James (Gur)Ganus and Elizabeth McCluskey, my second great grandparents. I am unsure exactly where Burton was and what he did prior to his marriage.

On the 1850 U.S. Federal Census, just a short six months after their marriage, Burton and wife, Mary, are shown residing in the household of Shadrack Ellis, 89 years old, and Mary Ellis who was 35 years old,  living  in the Stones District of DeKalb County, Georgia . I have wondered why they were living with Shadrack and what the connection was?  While I can think of a variety of possibilities for the relationship and have explored options, I have not yet been able to prove any of them.

The first twelve years of Burton and Mary's life together appeared to be fairly typical of the time.  Burton farmed and Mary cared for the house and children. I did note that their first known child was born five years after their marriage, which is a little unusual for their time period..

Soon came the event that brought drastic change to life in the United States: the Civil War. Joining the ranks with neighbors and friends, Burton volunteered in Fayetteville, Georgia on May 1, 1862 and was mustered into Captain Samuel W. Marshborn's Company, Co C 53rd Regiment, the Georgia Fayette Planters.  Burton indicated that his place of residence was Atlanta. I was thrilled to find that Burton's record included a physical description.  Burton had a florid complexion, dark hair, grey eyes and was six foot tall.

At the time of his enlistment, Burton and Mary had three children. Isaiah M. was 7 years old, Elizabeth was  4 years old and Burton Calloway, their youngest at the time, was about three months old.   I can only imagine Mary's mixed feelings as Burton went off to fight. While she likely felt a loyalty and commitment to "the cause," I am sure the uncertainty that always accompanies war made it difficult for her to see her husband leave, not knowing if he would ever return and knowing that she alone would have to care for their family for a time.

I wonder if Mary was notified two years later, in June of 1864, when Burton was captured at Gaines Mill, which was sometimes called the Battle of Cold Harbor and took place in Hanover County, Virginia .
 PD-Art  Battle of Gaines's Mill
Elmira Prison Camp
Courtesy of Library of Congress
A month later, Burton was transferred by rail as a prisoner of war from Point Lookout, Maryland  to the camp at Elmira, New York.  Elmira had the highest death rate per capita of northern prisons with 24 percent mortality. The first group of prisoners entered Elmira on July 6th, and Burton arrived soon after on July 12th.  The camp quickly became overcrowded, and nearby Foster's Pond  filled with sewage creating a very unhealthy environment as the stench filled the air, bacteria spread and rats were drawn to the location in droves.  Disease was rampant throughout the camp.  The winter of 1864/65 proved to be one of the harshest that Elmira had seen with temperatures dipping well below zero and an extremely heavy snowfall. Blankets and clothing were very inadequate and many died from disease, malnutrition and exposure. In the spring, the thaw brought flooding to the nearby Chemung River which flooded the camp.  Conditions were so bad, prisoners referred to it as "Helmira."  .

I wonder if Mary was aware at the time of the deplorable conditions that her husband endured there.  Or, with the Civil War in its final months and Mary living just outside of Atlanta, was she totally consumed with  the challenge of trying to keep herself and her three small children safe and alive?  I wish I knew what she did, where she went and how she managed to care for her small family.  She could  not have known how history would eventually play out, nor how soon the war would grind to a stop.  Living in a time when "breaking news" is the norm, when a text or an email can be sent across the United States or across the world, it's hard for me to imagine a time when people were relatively unaware of the condition of love ones only a few states away.

The scene as citizens of Atlanta scramble to leave in
accordance to the mandatory evacuation order in 1864.
Wikipedia
 Both Burton and Mary endured incredible deprivation and hardship.  Burton survived his experience in a prison camp known for it's inhumane conditions while Mary, living just outside of Atlanta,  faced fear and uncertainty as she worked hard to keep her young family alive.  I can only imagine the joyful reunion as Mary and Burton, along with their three children, were reunited upon Burton's released from Elmira on June 19, 1865.  



In the years that followed,  Burton was able to return to farming and he and Mary added one more child to their family.  Mary C. Cook was born in 1868.

Burton died 3 January 1894 at the age of 63.  He was buried in the Abilene Missionary Baptist Church Cemetery in Carroll County, Georgia.  The final record that I have for Mary is that of  the June 1900 U.S. Federal Census which shows Mary, 76 years old and living alone in Carroll County, Georgia.  Living just one door away is her son Burton and his family. Mary's final resting place is unknown at this time.

I wonder about Mary.  Did she too possess that Ganus "spunk"?  Perhaps it was that spunk that in part kept her going on those incredibly difficult days when she had to wonder if she and Burton would ever see each other again and if they would ever have a "normal" life again.  In any case, I feel an awe and gratitude for those such as Burton and Mary, that lived before, accepted life's challenges and kept going. I have learned about being strong and the capacity of the human spirit.  They faced adversity and kept going and showed me that I can too. It's a good reminder that I also "can do hard things."

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2012

.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Those Calloways-What's in a Name?

Do you remember the  1965 Disney movie called  "Those Calloways," starring Brian Keith?  I remember it and I think of it often because the name Calloway was favored in my Ganus family.
Burton Calloway Cook
Burton Calloway Cook
Son of Burton Cook and Mary Ganus
b. Feb 1863 d. 28 March 1938

Often there was significance in the names that our ancestors gave their children and I talked about that in an earlier post.  People often named their children after those that they were close to or relatives, but sometimes, even though we can see that a name had value for our ancestors, their reasoning has been lost over time.  Such is the case with the name Calloway in our family.  I can see that it was used with some frequency, but I have not been able to determine why that name was significant to James and Betsy as well as to several of their children.

Is Calloway possibly Elizabeth Ganus' maternal grandparent's name or the married name of a sister or possibly just a close friend for James and Elizabeth?  I hope to someday know the answer to that question, but in the meantime I continue to look at Georgia Calloway families and wonder.


Below are some of the Calloways found in our family:

Calloway Ganus b. 1842 (Son of James and Elizabeth (Gur)Ganus)


Three of James and Betsy's children named their children Calloway:

Edgar Calaway Brock (son of Martha Ganus and William Cohen Brock)

Burton Calloway Cook b. 1863 (son of Mary Ganus and Burton Cook)

James Calloway Ganus (son of James W. Ganus and Frances Foster)


There was also a grandson and a great grandson of James and Betsy's with the Calloway name:

Calaway Brock b. 1911 (Grandson of Martha Ganus  and William Cohen )

Joe Caloway Cook (son of Isaiah M. Cook and Sarah Adams---Grandson to Burton Cook and Mary Ganus)


In addition, there is a long list of  James and Elizabeth's descendants with the letter "C" for their middle initial and while I realize that it could stand for any number of names beginning with C,  it does make me wonder if a certain percentage are Calloways.

What's in a name?  When it comes to genealogy, I think there is plenty.


Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2012




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.