Showing posts with label Ganus Heber Monroe. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ganus Heber Monroe. Show all posts

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



Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Married to a Southerner


I lived in Texas for quite a few years and I remember so clearly the day an elderly gentleman pulled my friend and me aside at church and counseled us to be sure and marry someone from Texas. We were just in high school at the time and much more concerned about getting a date than the culture of the man we would someday marry, but we were intrigued and so we listened to what he had to say.

He told us that Texas had its own culture and that if we were to marry someone from outside the state, they would have a different upbringing and that they wouldn't understand some of our Texas ways and that would create difficulties in the marriage. He said if we married a fellow Texan, we would have so much more in common.While my friend was Texas born and raised, I had only lived there a couple of years and so it applied more to her than it did for me, but neither of us took his advice too seriously.

A few years later both she and I went off to a university several states away and as it turned out, neither of us married Texans. Funny enough, though, we both ended up returning with our non-Texas spouses to live in Texas for a time. Texas is, after all, a great place to live.

As I've studied my ancestors and their southern culture, I've often thought about the elderly man's counsel given to me so many years ago. On my father's side, generation after generation married other southerners, right down until my own grandparents who broke tradition.


Heber Monroe Ganus, Hazel Mickelsen, Southerner, Oklahoma, Georgia, Family History, FamilySearch, Genealogy, Ancestry
Hazel Mickelsen and Heber Monroe Ganus
Oklahoma

In all fairness, although my Grandpa was born to Georgia natives, he was not born in the south. When it came time to marry, he was living in Colorado, although it was Southern Colorado. 

Grandpa Heber Monroe Ganus was born in Oklahoma in 1900 to William Franklin Ganus and Sarah E. Faucett, both born and raised in Georgia. He married my Grandma, Hazel Mickelsen, whose parents were full blooded Danish.  Both sets of her grandparents had immigrated to the US directly from Denmark. Although obviously, they loved each other, I can't help but wonder what challenges they may have faced as they worked to mesh two very different cultures.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2016, All rights reserved

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Feeding the Bindlestiffs

I knew my Grandma Hazel Mickelsen Ganus well. She died in 1987, the day before our third child was born.  I was fortunate enough to know her during my childhood, throughout my teen years and into my adult life. Even though we lived several states away, every summer we made the trek across the country to visit our family in Colorado. We had family dinners at her house and I often spent the night there. Although she did not like to travel, I remember several visits that she made to our home.

I say I knew her well, but in reading her life history I realize that although our lives overlapped, there was so much that I didn't know about her at the time. Thankfully she did record some of  her experiences in a life history and from that I have a few glimpses into her world, but oh how I wish that I had heard the stories straight from mouth.

I've heard people talk about the Great Depression and what it was like but I think for those of us who have lived in a world with so many comforts, it is hard to imagine how bad things really were for so many. My grandparent's life was deeply impacted by those hard years. While many of my grandparent's siblings remained in Colorado and Oklahoma and continued to farm during the difficult Depression Era, Grandpa Heber Monroe Ganus and Grandma Hazel bundled up their kids and followed Heiselt Construction on various projects throughout Utah and California.


Lake Almanor
Public Domain 
One of the projects took Grandma and Grandpa Ganus to Northern California where Grandpa worked to help clear forest land for a railroad track that would run from Keddy, California to Klamath Falls, Oregon. During that time they lived in a small camp a short distance from Lake Almanor.  There, Grandpa gratefully worked when so many were without work. In her history, Grandma shared some of her observation of things they saw during those years.

By Unknown - Library of Congress
Public Domain,
Speaking of their time there in the camp near Almanor Lake, she said:
"This was during the depression and so many people were out of work, we could see men walking along the highway with packs on their backs, any time of the day looking for work. Mr. Heiselt was very good to feed them that came asking for food. 
"Some of the men got to coming to our house asking for food. I always gave them something to eat. We felt sorry for them. These people were called bindelstiffs. 
"The railroads allowed people to ride free. Many days we would see big long freight trains go by with people riding all over them, some on the flat cars, some on box cars, some in gondolas, and one time we even saw a woman with a baby riding on top of a boxcar. 

"One night three men came to our place asking for something to eat. I gave them some potatoes, a can of corn, bread and some coffee. They seemed real glad to get them. But they went just a little way from the house, where there was a place someone else had fixed to cook on. They built a fire and cooked their supper, then laid down in their sleeping bags around the fire to sleep. 
"I was so nervous and frightened I didn't sleep any all night. In fact, I sat by a window where I could see what was going on. Heber wanted me to go to bed, saying they wouldn't harm us, but I just couldn't. Goodness knows I don't know how we could have protected ourselves from them if they had, for we didn't even have any kind of a gun or even a dog. I was so glad when morning came and they were gone. The ground was covered with snow, too. 
"The majority of this kind of people were good, just out of work and looking for a job of some kind. There were eight or ten companies working on this job, and they probably hit all of them for work."

The thought of large groups of people riding on top of trains and men walking along the road looking for work is heartbreaking. Grandma indicated that they called the people bindlestiffs, a word I had never heard before, so I looked it up and learned that according to Merriam-Webster, bindlestiff refers to a "hobo: especially one who carries his clothes or bedding in a bundle."

It was not an easy time to support a family, nor was Grandpa's work easy to do, but for a time, he had work when many were unemployed. At first, Grandpa was paid and they had hope things would work out. But in the end, Heiselt began to have financial trouble, workers went unpaid and word spread that Heiselt's machinery was heavily mortgaged and that the company was in serious financial trouble. Sadly my grandparents realized that they would never see the $2,000 owed to them, so they packed up their kids and what little they had and returned to Colorado.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2016, All rights reserved

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

"Old Mag"

I remember loving to watch the cartoon "Heckle and Jeckle."  The two talking magpies were constantly creating trouble and their antics always made me laugh.

If you've forgotten the rascally duo or have never seen the cartoon, I found a compilation of some of their cartoon antics here.

I am not sure if there weren't any magpies where I grew up or if I was just oblivious to them, but I never remember having them around. But I do remember after a move to a new state that I was surprised to learn that the annoying birds who made a daily ritual of stealing our dog's food and then taunting him with it were the very birds who had made me laugh as a child.

Apparently magpies can be found in Colorado because in her autobiography, Olive E. Faucett Christensen shared an experience she and her cousins, Orson and Heber Ganus, had with a magpie. At the time the orphaned twins were living with their cousins.




According to Olive, the twins Orson and Heber robbed magpie nests and broke the eggs. I am not sure why they thought that was fun, but I've long since given up trying to figure out little boys. Apparently one day when the two boys were out looking for eggs to break, they found a baby magpie and decided to bring it back to the house. Orson, Heber and Olive put the little bird in a box and kept him in the house as a pet. The three kids would spend time gathering worms and feeding the little bird. As it grew, Olive said it began to make weird noises, but it was gentle and stayed in the house and the kids decided it was a great pet to have around. They called the bird "Old Mag."

Olive's mother must have been a very patient woman to have allowed a magpie to live in their home. Knowing what I do about magpies, I can imagine not only the mess the bird must have made, but the mischief it must have caused as they seem prone to take things and to torment. But apparently those weren't the only issues to be concerned about. Olive recorded that with time their little pet became a lot less gentle. In Olive's words:
"As it grew older, it sorta got mean, its tail never did grow out and when it started to talk it would ruffle up its feathers and if it could get to your bare hand it would sneak up when you weren't looking, sock its bill down in your flesh as hard as it could, then step back and laugh and just shake all over like it was tickled to death. It loved a bare foot or elbow."
I would think that might be a good time to send the bird on its way, but apparently even its meanness didn't persuade the kids to get rid of her. It would appear that Old Mag was just as attached to the kids as Olive indicated that the grouchy pet was in and out of doors, free to do as she chose and she chose to stay.

Olive shared that one day Old Mag messed with the wrong guy when she bit Orson really hard and he hit her with a stick. She said that they kept her for a long time after that, but one day she disappeared and they never knew what became of her. Maybe Old Mag had had enough or just maybe.....someone else had.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2015, All rights reserved

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Boxing and Crying

Those who have been following my blog are probably well aware that my grandpa, Heber Monroe Ganus, was orphaned at a young age.  Being a pivotal point not only for my grandpa but for his descendants as well, it is a point of reference for so many of my stories here.  If you haven't been following, you may want to read a little about the brothers and what happened here and here.

Because grandpa was orphaned and lived in several homes, we know little about his early life, so finding a few recollections of his childhood, no matter how brief, is a blessing. I found some stories about my grandpa and his brother Orson in a most unexpected place.

family history, genealogy, Sanford Colorado, Alamosa Colorado, Faucett, Ganus, orphan
Ernest and Heber 
On a recent visit to Brigham Young University (Go Cougars!) I visited their library and decided to take a look at an autobiography of Olive Elmina Faucett Christensen who lived in Alamosa, Colorado. I didn't know anything about Olive because I haven't worked much on my Faucett line, but knowing that my great grandmother was a Faucett and that she had lived in the Alamosa area for a time and knowing that her mother's name was Elmina, I was sure there was a link between her and Olive. I hoped that maybe there would be some mention of their ancestry, but was delighted to find instead a few stories that no governmental record can provide. This find underscores the value of learning all that you can about extended family. You never know what other treasures you might find in the process.

When Grandpa Heber's parents died, he and twin Orson and their older brother Ernest remained in Oklahoma for a time with their father's family but a year later went to Colorado to live with their mother's family. Orson went to their mother's brother, Thomas, Heber went to her brother Alfonzo, and Ernest went to Sally's oldest sister, Mary Haggard.  Both Thomas, Alonzo and Mary lived in Sanford so, although the brothers were split up, they lived relatively close to each other. Olive was Thomas' daughter and Orson became like a brother to her.

Olive's autobiography [1]  is a wonderful rambling of memories from her childhood as she recalls everything from how they made their beds, to milking cows and raising chickens as well as local events such as dances and ball games. While her book is difficult to find, if you would like a peek into life in rural Conejos County Colorado in the early part of the 20th century, locating a copy to read is worth the effort. I will be sharing several of her recollections of Orson and Heber over the next few blog posts.


In one account, Olive provided a brief look into what became a regular evening activity for Orson and Heber. Olive shared:
"One time Papa got Orson some boxing gloves for Christmas, things really got going then. Heber would come down from Uncle Fon's and everybody would get them to boxing.  Heber was a little tougher than Orson, but they would really box. Orson would hit and cry and hit and cry.  Then as the kids grew up they got a larger set of boxing gloves and boxing went right on down the line.  After supper men and boys would get out in the yard and box."

Other than the crying part, the story warms my heart.  It's good to know the boys got together in the evenings and "played," which in this case meant boxing each other's ears. Hopefully between the tears, there was also laughter and bonding. Because it became a repeated event and they later got larger gloves in order to continue the activity, I tend to think it was something they enjoyed doing together.


Orson Ganus, Heber Ganus, twins, orphans, Southern Colorado, boxing
The twins
Orson and Heber Ganus 

[1] Autobiography of Olive E. Faucett Christensen, written January through December 1957, Artcraft Printers, Alamosa, Colorado


Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2015, All rights reserved

Monday, August 17, 2015

Lost and Found

Sometimes you find people where you least expect to find them! 


Martha Olivia Ganus wife of  Henry Edgar Howell, daughter of William Franklin Ganus
Martha Olivia (Ganus) Howell
(Original photo in my possession) 
While helping a friend do some research, I spent some time searching the Utah Death Certificates. While I was at it, I couldn't resist putting in a few of my own family names into the search box just for fun. I really didn't expect to find anyone because the majority of my ancestors lived in the southern states. 

Imagine my surprise when I typed in McCleskey and up popped Green Russell McCleskey. Although not a direct ancestor, Green Russell McCleskey's family lived near my family in both Georgia and Oklahoma and with the name of McCleskey (my brick wall) I've kept my eye on this family for some time. 

Russell's mother, Lillian Howell, was a sister to Henry Edgar Howell, who married Martha Olivia Ganus, my grandpa's half sister. Martha Olivia, or "Ollie" was William Franklin Ganus's daughter with his first wife, Mary Matilda Roberts.

Just to make sure that this was the same Green Russell McCleskey, I double checked my database and confirmed that, yes, parents and his birth date were the same.  

Since my grandfather's half sister, Ollie (Ganus) Howell was Green Russell McCleskey's aunt and they lived in the same area of Oklahoma, I felt sure that the families interacted. Below are the Howell, McCleskey and Ganus families and the red helps to clarify the link. 

Henry Harrison Howell b. 1840 IL d. 1928 Ok
married Amelia Louisa Turner b. 1852 IL d. 1928 OK

Children of Henry and Louisa


   1. Katherine Anne Howell b. 1873
   2. Henry Edgar Howell b. 1875 Il d. 1951 Ok marr. Martha Olivia Ganus b. 1880 GA d. 1916 OK
   3. Elroy Howell b. 1878
   4. Lily Howell b. 1883 TX d. 1899 OK
   5. Lillian Howell b. 1883 TX d. 1974 Ok married Benjamin Green McCleskey b. 1871 Tx d. 1932 OK

       Children of Benjamin and Lillian
    
            * Floyd Elmer McCleskey b. 1903
            * Raymond C. McCleskey b. 1906
            * Green Russell McCleskey b. 1909
            * Willard McCleskey b. 1913

   6. Lela Howell b. 1886 Tx d 1905 Ok
   7. Pearl Howell b. 1889 Tx d. 1905 Ok
   8. Willis Jay Howell b. 1895 OK
   9. Minnie Mae Howell b. 1895 OK          
         

So what was Green Russell McCleskey, an Oklahoma boy, doing in Salt Lake City, Utah and what was his story?  Have your kleenex ready for next week's post when I share the story I uncovered. 


Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2015, All rights reserved

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Seeing Double

One of my favorite movies while growing up was "Parent Trap" starring Hayley Mills.  I loved the antics and mischief the twins drummed up as they manipulated their divorced parents into first seeing each other once again and then eventually remarrying.
Orson and Heber as babies.
Oklahoma 

Off the movie screen, twins always seem to draw attention....whether it be in the grocery store or the mall, people frequently do a double take and then whisper to the person next to them----"Are they twins?"

Identical or fraternal, there is a discernable connection between twins. Although frequently very different in personality, they often act almost in tandem with one another when they are younger.  

Orson and Heber, likely in Colorado
following their parents death















As  I look through my family tree, I see several sets of twins, although most of the twins are fraternal, which supposedly is not a genetic occurrence.

 My own Grandpa Heber Ganus was a twin.  I've heard that  Heber and Orson were so tiny when they were born they could fit in a shoe box.  They were fraternal twins.

There are other twins in my tree as well.  Heber's father, Frank had a brother Newton who was a twin, although once again, they were not identical twins.  Newton and his sister Frances were born in 1867.

Some believe that Heber's grandmother,  Olivia Rainwater may have been a twin with her brother Abner as some census records show their year of birth as the same.  There are a good number of twins throughout the Rainwater line.

While it is said that fraternal twins are not genetic,  I do find it interesting that there seems to be a fair number of them in our family tree and, while I do feel a sense of relief that my children came one at a time, I can't help but hope that just maybe there might be a set of twins among our grandchildren.


Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2015, All rights reserved

Monday, February 2, 2015

A Tractor, Grandpa and Me


A few years ago while visiting our daughter's family in Washington state, I stood out in their back yard one beautiful spring morning and watched the field behind their house being plowed. Seeing the tractor make its way back and forth across the field took me back to my childhood summers spent with my cousins in Colorado. I have fond memories of driving the tractor as my cousins baled hay. As I stood out in the back yard that day, watching and remembering "the good ole days," our daughter's neighbor noticed my interest and invited me to ride along for a bit.


Heber Monroe Ganus, San Luis Valley Colorado


As I climbed up into the enclosed cab, I was amazed at how things have changed. With air conditioning, cushioned seats and a GPS system which ensures perfectly aligned rows, that tractor was a far cry from the open air John Deere I bounced and bumped around on so many years ago.

The funny thing is, the Deere that I drove was a vast improvement over earlier farm equipment, a fact verified by a few pictures I have of my Grandpa Ganus with plows.

I love the photo of Grandpa and his two children taken in the fields of the San Luis Valley of Colorado and I also love the photo below of him with a team and the plow behind.

I am not sure what type of fields they were plowing in either picture, but alfalfa fields are common there. 

Grandpa did not attend college and only had a seventh grade education, so he did what he could to provide for his family. He farmed, worked on a reservoir and in his later years worked as a mechanic.

Born in Oklahoma in 1900, he lived most of his life in Colorado, but due to health problems he returned to the lower elevation of Oklahoma in the final years of his life.  Grandpa passed from this life in 1964.  My how things have changed since Grandpa was alive.

Although riding in the modern tractor made me feel a little more removed from the soil, there were elements of plowing the field that felt the same as when I was a kid on that John Deere. I was out doors, the sun was shining and I felt joy from being out in nature. And while I know that plowing was a lot more work back in Grandpa's day, I can't help but wonder if he too loved the feeling of being outdoors behind the plow.

Heber Monroe Ganus, San Luis Valley Colorado



Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2015, All rights reserved

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Snake Stories

When our kids were little, they used to love to ask me for what they affectionately called "snake stories."  Growing up in the hills of California, and having adventurous brothers, I did have more than my fair share of snake encounters.  Once I somewhat innocently shared a few of those stories with our kids, the stories became favorites, to be retold time and again.

There was the time a large section of a large, old pepper tree fell down in our yard and we begged Dad to just leave it for awhile.  My brother and I took some sheers and chopped and hacked the smaller branches to form little rooms for our "house."  We played all week in that thing and were so sad to discover on our return home from school one day that Dad had some men haul the large section of the tree off. The dismay quickly turned to relief and horror when he told us that as they were removing the tree, the men had discovered a large rattlesnake coiled in the tree.

Despite the fact that I just hate snakes, I have loads of snake stories.  But my real purpose today is to share my grandpa's snake story.

A couple of years ago on our visit to Sanford, Colorado, my Uncle Gaylon shared a story about my Grandpa Ganus and I am so glad that he did.  Grandpa Ganus died when I was little and the stories that I know about him are few and far between.


Sanford, Colorado
Sanford, Colorado
When this incident occurred, my Grandpa, Heber Ganus, was working as a mechanic at a garage in Sanford.  This particular day, Boyd Poulson was pulling weeds down by the river, a little ways out of town when he saw a snake. Water snakes and garden snakes are a common sight there in the San Luis Valley,  so he thought it was just another harmless little garden snake and was not too concerned.  But Boyd was mistaken and he realized his error when the snake struck him on his hand.  He had been struck by a rattlesnake! Boyd was out by himself and seeing no other option, he ran three miles to Sanford.  By the time he reached town, he was woozy and his hand had become very swollen. Frantic, he couldn't think at first what to do, so he ran to the garage where Grandpa Ganus was working.  Grandpa could see how bad the situation was and he hurriedly loaded Boyd up in the car and drove as fast as he could to the nearby town of Alamosa for medical help.  Grandpa's quick action was credited for saving Boyd's life.

Grandpa Heber Monroe Ganus and Grandma Hazel (nee Mickelsen)
Grandpa Heber Monroe Ganus
and Grandma Hazel Ganus (nee Mickelsen)
It's a simple story, but it warms my heart to think that Grandpa's quick action helped to save someone's life.

Occasionally I tell my husband that maybe we need to move to the south where I can do more research and get in touch with my southern roots, but at that point he always reminds me that there is no shortage of snakes in the south.  That always does the trick and for a time, I abandon that aching to return to my roots, although I suspect it would provide me with some great new material for my snake stories.




Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2014,  All rights reserved

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Three Brothers, Three Roads - Part 1

Ernest William Ganus, Heber Monroe Ganus
Ernest and Heber
Unknown date
They weren't little boys anymore and life had taken them in very different directions.   Two brothers, tossed and shaped by tragic circumstances, took opportunity to pose for a picture.  Ernest Ganus, the oldest of the sons of William Franklin Ganus and Sarah E. Faucett was born 23 May 1893 and was seven years older than his brother Heber.  It is unknown why Ernest and Heber posed together for the picture without Heber's twin, Orson.

I find myself feeling a little pang of sadness at the thought of one of the brothers missing and while I really won't go so far as to compromise the integrity of the photo by photoshopping Orson in, I confess part of me would like to. While the picture seems incomplete,  it is nevertheless a great picture of two brothers and the only picture I have of my grandfather at that age. Today however, I turn my attention to Ernest.

Although the Ganus family arrived in Oklahoma about 1897, well after the initial land rush, they witnessed a great deal of growth and change occur as Oklahoma went from sparsely populated Indian Territory to communities that boomed with the discovery of rich crude oil and the promise of work. Oklahoma officially became the 47th state in 1907.  Ernest was a young man of 14 at the time and I wonder if he and his brothers understood the significance of that historic day when Oklahoma became part of the United States?

Ernest attended school until his father's death in 1906, when he was just 13 years old and  I have wondered if he quit school to work and help with the support of the family.  Undoubtedly it was difficult to for his mother Sarah to support three growing boys in 1906,  but her struggle to provide was short lived.  In 1909, just three short years after husband Frank's death, Sarah died, leaving the three boys orphaned.

I suspect that initially the twins leaned on sixteen year old Ernest for assurance and emotional security. Harsh experiences such as these propel children into the adult world of survival and worries that are typically shouldered by their parents.

Sadly, none of the relatives were able to take in all three boys for any length of time and so the little security that they felt in being together was soon shattered.  The boys appear on the 1910 Census in both Okmulgee with Uncle Roderick Ganus, their father's brother, and a few months later with their mother's sister, Mary Haggard, in the small farming community of Sanford, Colorado.  Mary, herself a widow at the time, could only keep the boys for a little while and then they were each sent to different homes.

Still little boys, Heber and Orson were unable to provide for themselves and would remain in the care of others for quite a few more years.  But at 17 years of age, Ernest was nearly a man in the world's eyes and soon set out on his own. Although his brothers remained in Sanford, Colorado, Ernest soon returned to Oklahoma where his life would take him on a very different path.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2014,  All rights reserved

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A Little Bit of Heaven

My brothers and I 
I loved summers as a child.  Growing up in the country, my brothers and I often set out on foot or on mini bikes to explore the hills where we lived. We climbed trees, shot BB guns, played in the sprinklers and swam at the local pool.  Life was sweet and innocent and our biggest worry was getting back in time for dinner.

Somehow summer has changed.  As I frantically run around, planning, picking up and dropping off this and that,  I try to finish my never ending "to do" list and I can't help but reflect on how summers used to be. They used to be a time to catch my breath before school started up again in the fall.  Summers used to be a time to relax and recharge.  What happened?

As a child, our vacation every year included a trip to the San Luis Valley in Colorado to visit our relatives.  While there, our time was spent with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins galore and it seemed as if we were related to everyone who lived there because, for the most part, we were.  In the valley there was a sense of belonging and of being loved and I always felt that we experienced a little bit of heaven there.

A particularly fun memory is of riding around with Uncle Clyde as he checked on his hay fields. Riding beside him as we bounced along the dirt roads and across the hay fields was a treat I never passed up.  His fun sense of humor, his gentle way of teasing, the treats in his glove box and stops for an ice cold bottle of pop always seemed to be a standard part of his day.  He loved me and I knew it and he spoiled me rotten.

On our visits there,  I helped gather eggs, learned to outrun ornery sheep, watched cousins milk cows (I never quite mastered that one), drove a tractor and enjoyed farm fresh eggs and "fresh side" for breakfast. Oh how my Grandmas and Aunties could cook!  It not only felt like heaven there, but the food tasted like heaven as well.

Evenings and weekends were filled with family gatherings. The adults chatted about everything imaginable while the cousins ran and played night games in the fields and outbuildings. It never occurred to me that those wonderful carefree days would eventually come to an end and that some day I would look back and ache to relive those cherished childhood memories.

Heber and Orson Ganus in Sanford, Colorado
Heber and Orson
While on a trip to the valley a few years ago, we visited the Sanford Museum located in Sanford, Colorado.  They have a great collection of photos and memorabilia and were very helpful. There in an album full of old photos, I found a picture of my Grandpa Heber Ganus and his twin, Orson.  Thankfully,  although the picture was dark and a poor quality, it was clearly marked and my father assured me that it was indeed a picture of my grandfather and his brother.

From the stories I've heard, I know that childhood was rough for my orphaned grandfather, but this simple picture gives me hope that just maybe he too had some fun carefree days.  Seeing the twins, sticks in hand, dressed in their bib overalls and hats while carefully balanced on a small wooden raft in the middle of a pond, I am reminded of the stories and antics of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. Where did Heber and Orson's imagination take them that day?

I wonder if that day was like the days I spent in the valley as a child?  In that high mountain valley the warmth of the sun seems to permeate your whole being, the sky seems a little bluer and although I know I am biased, even the white cotton-candy clouds seem more fluffy.

I envision the two brothers talking and laughing and if I know anything at all about boys, I suspect there was a healthy amount of mischievous splashing.  Did horseplay send either one or both of the boys into the pond?

I hope that in their fun, they were able to forget their troubles and their loneliness for the family life they no longer had.  I hope that in the companionship of his brother, Grandpa Ganus felt that contented sense of belonging and of being loved.  Summers can be good that way and I would like to think that just maybe... on that day... Grandpa too felt a little bit of heaven.


San Luis Valley, Colorado


Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2014,  All rights reserved



Thursday, November 21, 2013

My Okie from Muskogee


I clearly remember singing with great enthusiasm  "I'm proud to be an Okie from Muskogee," to a new girl in school who had just moved to our little California town from Oklahoma.  Although I didn't know much about Oklahoma at the time, we had all heard the Merle Haggard song played on the radio and it seemed somehow appropriate to serenade our new classmate with the popular tune. Little did I know then that they might as well have sung it to me, as I have my own Muskogee, Oklahoma roots.

Sarah E. Faucett, Orson Ganus, Heber Ganus
Sally with twins Orson (L) and Heber (R)
It was there that  forty-five year old widowed Sally Faucett Ganus passed from this life on March 17, 1909, leaving behind  three young sons. Sally and husband, Frank, had moved to Oklahoma approximately ten years earlier from Manassa, Colorado.  Seven hundred and thirty miles from her nearest blood relative, Sally was, in many ways, quite alone.  Because Frank had preceded her in death three years earlier, their children, sixteen year old Ernest and eight year old twins, Orson and Heber, were now left orphaned.  I’ve always wondered who was at Sally’s side in her final moments?  Were her children there?  Were there others?  Was there someone there to embrace her children and dry their tears?

Although she was my great Grandmother,  I really know very little about Sally Faucett Ganus.  I don’t know any of the little details about her that could help me to envision her as a person.  I don’t know what she liked to eat,  what she liked to do with her time and I have never heard a single story about her.

I was glad to find a microfilmed record pertaining to her death at the Family History Library.  I learned that G. H. Bloom’s funeral home records from Muskogee, Oklahoma are among the few to survive from that time period, so I did feel fortunate that they were microfilmed and that there was an entry for her.  However, as is too often the case, the find left me with as many questions as answers.

image

It was disappointing to note that Sally’s record was the only record on that page that did not indicate the cause of death.  Was her death sudden and the cause unknown?  Her son, Heber, recorded in his life history that she had requested before her death that her sons be sent back to live with her brother in Colorado.  That suggests to me that she had some idea that her death was imminent.

I also noted from the record  that her body was shipped to Okmulgee for burial.  It troubles me that I have no idea where in Okmulgee she was buried, and no one else seems to know either. While there are a few early Ganus family members buried at Little Cussetah Cemetery in Okmulgee,  she is not listed among the dead there.

Sarah Faucett
Sally Faucett Ganus
“Cemetery Records of Okmulgee Oklahoma,” published by The Genealogical Society of Okmulgee, Oklahoma in 1974, included a survey of a small family cemetery located northwest of Okmulgee, called Berryhill Cemetery.  Among the six people buried there is “W. F. Ganus.”  His date of birth and death match the known dates for Sally’s husband “Frank” or William Franklin Ganus, my great grandfather.  Jessie Ganus, daughter of Robert Lee Ganus (Frank’s brother)  is also buried there along with four Berryhills, with whom we have no known connection.  Attempts by family members to visit that cemetery have been in vain.  The little burying ground lies on private land a short distance from the road and signs stating “No Trespassing” are clearly posted at the fence.  Efforts to contact the current land owner for permission to access the cemetery have failed.  So, many questions remain, including why was Frank buried there and just where is Sally? 

As genealogists, we all seem to feel driven to find our ancestor’s final resting place.  Standing at their headstone and reflecting on whatever small bit of information we may know about them somehow helps satisfy that inner need to be close to them, to connect to them, to honor them and to acknowledge that they lived and that they mattered.  And so, I continue to look for Sally, my Okie from Muskogee.


Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2013

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Twenty Mules, Grandpa and Me

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The timing could not have been worse.  As I answered the phone and learned that my Grandma Ganus had died, my heart dropped. The sadness of loosing her was compounded by the fact that I was expecting our third child any day and would not be able to travel the nearly 800 miles to attend her funeral and say goodbye.  Although for a second I was tempted to make the trip, I knew better, and in the end, it was a good thing because I delivered our baby the very next day.

Grandpa Ganus
Grandma & Grandpa Ganus at the hospital
I remember that achy, sad feeling that came over me as I realized that she was really gone.  I would never again visit her in her little house in Colorado.  We wouldn't ever have her fried chicken or lemon pie again.  My Grandpa Ganus had died 21 years earlier and so, while I was sure that Grandma was ready to go, I was equally sure that we were not quite ready to give her up just yet. 

A few months later, as my father and his sister cleaned out  Grandma’s house, they called me and asked me if there was anything that I wanted.  I did not hesitate for even a second.  I wanted the mule train.  The mule train had been in Grandma's house for long as I could remember and I had always loved it. 

While growing up we had  lived some distance from my grandparents and so we would generally visit yearly.  On those visits, I remember so clearly walking through her house and just looking.  I would look at her buffet in the dining room and her dishes.  I would look at her Nick-knacks that she had collected over the years and the family pictures, along with all of the other little familiar things that defined Grandma's home.  I was always so glad to be there.

imageWithout a doubt, my favorite of Grandma's treasures was the model mule train.  Although it was positioned high above a door way so that I could not inspect it closely, I had never seen anything like it and it had always intrigued me.  In addition, I knew at least some of the story and that story made me feel close to Grandpa who had died when I was just a little girl.  

While living in Colorado, Grandpa was diagnosed with emphysema.  As the illness progressed, it was difficult for him to breath in the high San Luis Valley, and so Grandpa went to stay with his brother, Ernest, in Oklahoma hoping that the lower elevation would help.  Grandma was teaching school and so remained for a time in Colorado. The lower altitude did help, so Grandma joined Grandpa in Oklahoma where they lived nearly ten years.  It was while Grandpa was ill and living  in Oklahoma that he built the mule train.

While Grandma and Grandpa had initially moved to Okmulgee, Grandma later got a job teaching in Supulpa, so they loaded up their car and moved there.  For the move, the wagon train was placed in the back window of their car in the sweltering hot days before air conditioning.  It was there that the wagons were melted by the hot Oklahoma sun.  I wonder if Grandpa felt a pang of disappointment when he discovered how the sun had warped the side of the wagons?

imageI was thrilled when my dad delivered the mule train to me.  I could not believe that I was lucky enough to actually become its new owner.  I remember inspecting it carefully and crying as I thought of Grandpa building the wagon train and of Grandma keeping it all those many years.  And then I saw it.  Rolled up and laying in the back of the last wagon was a little piece of paper.  As I carefully unrolled the paper, I discovered the names of the mules written in Grandpa’s own hand !




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Mule’s names 
Jack & Jill
Pat & Mike
Chick & Chuck
Tom & Jerry
Mat & Kitty
Dock & Chester
Mack & Jim
Dick & Nell
Dan & Mable
Liz & Lew
Skinner,  Borax Bill

We have moved several times since that day, but I have always carefully chosen a special place in my home for my cherished treasure.   I am sure that when Grandpa built that wagon train more than fifty years ago, he had no idea that someday it would be a source of great joy and serve as a link between him and  his only grand daughter. 

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2013 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Write Soon Please

Martha Olivia Ganus Howell
Martha Olivia Ganus Howell


Mr. Earnest Ganus 
Dear brother, I wright you a few lines to let you know we are well . hope it will find you the same . . . .  Say why did you never wright to me.  I waited to here from you. but you did not wright.  So wright soon.  Please wright to me.  I have still got feelings for you.  From Ollie Howell to Earnest. 
Ollie Howell letter

Ernest and Heber Ganus
Earnest W. Ganus (L)
Heber M. Ganus (R)

The sweet pleading of a sister longing to hear from her brother are both tender and sad.  I found this postcard among a few papers in a small fabric suitcase that I received from my Grandma Ganus and that I mentioned in an earlier post. Perplexed and intrigued by the postcard,  I found myself reading the message over and over, hoping to see some sort of clue, all the while wondering who in the world was Ollie Howell?  Ollie had referred to Earnest as Dear Brother!   If Ollie was a sister to Earnest, then she certainly was a sister to Earnest's brother, my Grandpa Heber Ganus as well!!  I was not aware that my grandfather had had a sister by the name of Ollie.  So who was she?   As I looked over the list of my Grandpa Ganus’ siblings, I  saw only one sister, and that was Blanche who had died  in 1891 when she was about seven months old. So I called my father but he echoed my confusion—he had no idea who Ollie was either!

Apparently there were a few details missing from what we knew about my grandfather and his family, and so I launched into a search to find out who the mystery sister was. It amazed me that my grandfather had never mentioned a sister.

As is always the case, it took time and effort to search through a variety of records and piece together Ollie's story, but eventually I was able to find her place in my family tree.

I learned that my Great Grandfather, William Franklin Ganus (Frank)  had been married twice and I descend from his second wife.  My family really knew nothing about the first marriage and so nothing about that family had been shared.  Frank had first married Mary Matilda Roberts (Tilda)  in about 1879 in Georgia.  To this union were born two girls,  Martha Oliva Ganus (Ollie) who was born September 23, 1880  and Mary E. Ganus who was born  December 5, 1881, both in Polk County, Georgia.  While I found mention of Mary E. Ganus on church blessing records, I could find nothing further about her, leading me to believe that she must have died as a child.  It is so inconvenient when people are born and die between census records!  Neither Tilda nor Mary E. were included on the list of those that migrated along with the Ganus family  in 1886 to Southern Colorado. ( I shared the story of their migration in an earlier post. )  I was able to find Frank and daughter, Ollie,  in Manassa, Colorado church records confirming that they had both made the trip along with other members of the Ganus family. Wanting to find out more about Tilda, I returned to the church membership records for Polk County, Georgia and examined them carefully once again .  It was then that I discovered very faint writing in the far right hand edge of the margin beside Tilda’s name indicating that she had died, although no year was included.
Old Manassa Colorado cemetery
Old Manassa Colorado cemetery


So at the tender young age of 6, and without her mother, Ollie had traveled to Colorado with her father, Frank, and her grandparents and uncles. I wonder what she felt as she boarded the train bound for Colorado.  A year later in 1887, Ollie gained a stepmother when her father, Frank married Sarah E.Faucett (Sallie), who was my great grandmother .  Soon Frank and Sallie began to have children and Ollie was no longer an only child.  Ollie's  life continued to have many challenges.  Sally and Frank's first child, Parley, died when he was a year old, the second child, Blanche, died at seven months and Homer died when he was around five.  Last August, I was able to visit the cemetery in Manassa Colorado where two of their three children were buried and I wrote about that experience here.  Of Sally and Frank’s first four children, only Earnest survived to adulthood and while he and half sibling, Ollie, were 13 years apart in age and had different mothers, they apparently felt a closeness that would continue into adulthood. Surely they needed each other as their little family dealt with the heartbreak of death.  I can envision Ollie and Earnest in that small country cemetery, standing beside their parents and mourning the loss of each sibling. 


Edgar Howell and Ollie's children
Edgar and Ollie Ganus
Howell's children
About 1895,  Frank, Sally, Ollie and brother Earnest along with Frank’s parents John M. Ganus and Olivia, as well as Frank’s brothers,  all moved to Oklahoma.  Family lore says it was just too darn cold in the high San Luis Valley for the Ganus family and so they moved to a warmer climate. The following year on March 16, 1896, at the age of 16, Ollie Ganus married Henry Edgar Howell in Muskogee, Oklahoma. Four years later in 1900, my grandfather Heber Monroe and his twin, Orson Merrit  were born and so Ollie gained two more half brothers, however they never lived in the same household because she was married by then. That, along with the fact that there was twenty years difference in their ages may explain why my grandpa had never mentioned Ollie.

In 1902, Ollie’s grandmother, Olivia Rainwater Ganus passed away in Okmulgee, Oklahoma at the age of 71.  Ollie’s grandfather, John Monroe Ganus lived another four years and died in April of 1906 at the age of 80.  Ollie’s father, Frank followed, dying in November of that same year at the age of 53.  Then, less than three years later, in 1909, Ollie’s stepmother, Sally died, leaving her three young sons, Earnest, Orson and Heber, orphaned.  After a short period of time, all three boys were sent from Muskogee, Oklahoma  to Sanford, Colorado to live with Sally’s brother. Ollie was then separated from her half brothers by 760 miles, no small distance in 1909.  Having been married for nearly 13 years by that time, Ollie had six children of her own to care for and undoubtedly her hands were full.  Ollie would have one more child before she passed away in 1916.

Martha Olivia Ganus Howell, or Ollie as she was called,  died at 36 years of age.  She experienced more grief in her relatively short life than some ever experience. She had lost her mother, her father, her stepmother, a sister, a half sister, two half brothers, and both sets of grandparents. Is it any wonder that she reached out across the miles to a remaining brother, wanting him to know that she still thought of him and that she still had feelings for him?  Is it any wonder that she longed to hear from him and to feel the reassurance that she was still remembered and loved by him as well?

As I looked at the date stamped on the postcard, I realized that Ollie penned her message to her brother in 1914, just two years before she too passed away. I sincerely hope that his heart felt the same need to in turn reach out to her and that he responded to her plea to "write soon please."  

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2013

Saturday, November 17, 2012

What Are You Crying Fer?

It was a blessed time back in the day when extended families lived in close proximity to each other.  Families were able to be part of each other's daily lives--- casually dropping in and out during the day, supporting and helping as needed.   Not only were children able to learn some of life's most valuable lessons from their parents, but also from those that loved them most, specifically aunts, uncles and grandparents. Over time people have become more mobile and so for many, gone are the days when grandparents lived just down the road.

Carrie Melinda Davis Ganus, Emmett Ganus
Carrie Melinda Davis Ganus and
son Emmett Ganus
Sometimes the "older folks" provided a very direct lesson in the form of  "a talking to"---but other times, children learned a great deal from observing their nonsensical approach to life.  Either way, those lessons often influenced many aspects of their lives by teaching morals, shaping attitudes and teaching skills to help them cope and deal with the day to day events.  If shared with others, those lessons can continue to bless and shape future generations today .


Phoebe Johnson was among those blessed to have lived near some of her extended Ganus family.  While she never knew her grandfather, Roderick Monroe Ganus who had passed away in 1932, she did know his wife, her Grandma Carrie Melinda Davis.  Carrie was born 19 August 1886 in Hanceville, Alabama and was the daughter of Rolen Lee Davis and Mary Ann Watson.  Roderick's brother, Bobby had married Stella May Montgomery, who was born 21 Jul 1879 in Missouri and  was the daughter of Joshua Montgomery and Nancy Jane Woods. After the deaths of their husbands, Grandma Carrie and  "Aunt" Stella  lived in a duplex next door to each other.

I am grateful for the following story that Phoebe recently shared with me. Not only has it greatly impacted her life and her children's lives, but I believe that sharing it will impact all who read it.  Thank you Phoebe!


Hazel Mickelsen Ganus, Stella May Montgomery Ganus, Heber Monroe Ganus
Hazel Mickelsen Ganus, Stella May Montgomery Ganus
and Heber Monroe Ganus 
"I remember the first lesson that I learned about death I learned from the death of Bobby's wife, Stella (whom I LOVED).  Aunt Stella lived in a duplex along side Carrie. Aunt Stella was everything I wanted my Grandmother to be... patient, caring, touching and hugging.  She was very loving. Then she died. 


Robert Lee Ganus, Stella May Montgomery
Robert L. Ganus &
Stella M. Montgomery
I was visiting my Grandma, Carrie and I asked to go next door to say hello to Aunt Stella and she told me that she had died.  It was probably the first time that I had realized loss through death and I was devastated. So I went out on the common back porch that they had shared and peeked in the windows of Stella's old house. Then I sat down on the porch and cried. Grandmother Carrie came outside and sat down by me and said in an exasperated manner "what are you crying fer?" I told her I missed Aunt Stella. She sat there for a moment and then replied "Well. Is that gonna bring her back?" I answered no and she said "then get up and find something to do". As a youngster, the logic of that appealed to me and has stood me in good stead for a good amount of time. The "Get up and find something to do and stop feeling sorry for yourself" theme is one I carry on today and my family knows that particular phrase well. Carrie was a no-nonsense gal and a little girl that had drama queen tendencies was no match for her. I am sure that being practical had its place in the days and times when my Grandparents were growing up and I cannot imagine the hardships they endured just to survive."

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2012


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.