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

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The Generosity of Strangers -- -# 18 Becomming Acquainted with John

Colorado, Manassa, genealogy, Southern, Ganus, San Luis Valley, Mormon, Georgia, ancestry
We had been driving for hours but finally, we began to recognize familiar landmarks and the nervous anticipation began. We loved visiting our relatives in the San Luis Valley in Southern Colorado. While we lived in California, our trips had been limited to the summer months, but after our family moved to West Texas, we decided to make the trip for Thanksgiving one year.  

I looked out across the wide valley framed by majestic mountain ranges and was taken by how different everything looked in November. Fields that were filled with the green of alfalfa during the summer months now lay bare and covered by a thin layer of snow. Void of the tractors and baling wagons that dotted the fields during the summer, the empty fields had a certain peaceful silence about them, as if quietly resting for the season. 

Finally, we pulled up to Grandma's house and as we climbed out of the car, the brisk cold bit at our skin, indicating that our light jackets were woefully inadequate for the stinging cold of November in the San Luis Valley. 

As I recently realized that my ancestors moved to Colorado that same time of year, I couldn't help but reflect on my own experience and how unprepared we were for the cold there. Sadly most of the Southerners, including my ancestors, who arrived in the San Luis Valley in November of 1887 lacked clothing suitable for the cold they would experience.

As John and Olivia, along with their sons and their families, descended from the train in Colorado in November 1887, they truly began a new and very different chapter in their lives. Over fourteen hundred miles from their home in Georgia, they left behind those who opposed their beliefs and threatened their safety, but they also left behind beloved siblings, cousins, aunts, and uncles, as well as life-long friends. They left behind their culture, the land they had tended and farmed and of course their homes. They sacrificed it all for their religious beliefs.


Arriving in Colorado in November and on the brink of winter was a challenge on several levels. At an altitude of over 7,000 feet above sea level, San Luis Valley winters can be bitter cold and a very different winter from what the Southerners were accustomed to. In addition, the valley has a very short growing season and the Ganuses arrived well after the freeze and much too late to plant a garden or any crops for food. Although some who emigrated may have had funds to purchase food and supplies, many of the Southerners, including the Ganus family, had arrived in a state of poverty. The Ganus family had not even had enough money to purchase all of the train tickets needed for their entire family but had relied on the generosity of a friend, George Driver, who lent them $10.00 to buy the final ticket. It would be the generosity of strangers who would get them through the coming winter.
According to Emily Wells, a Manassa resident during that time, Manassa struggled as a community because of the number of Southerners who arrived in a state of poverty and ill-prepared for the cold climate. Nevertheless, the little farming community worked to help all those who were in need.(1) Undoubtedly the Ganuses were among those needing assistance. 

In a dissertation entitled "Mormon Colonization of the San Luis Valley, Colorado, 1878-1900, Judson Harold Flower, Jr. wrote:  
"Whatever the future prospects for Manassa, the prevailing poverty among the southern Saints arriving in the valley was a constant obstacle to the progress of the settlement, and one which could not be overcome solely by the injection of Mormon families from Utah into the community. Much credit for assisting the new arrivals through the first difficult months was due the Mexicans of the valley who rented homes, farms, seed and other materials and equipment to the newcomers arriving in their midst. (2)
Although I was unable to find a record of the weather for 1887, newspaper accounts for the following few winters often reported heavy snowfall and bitter cold. Train travel was frequently halted for days due to deep snow drifts, sometimes as deep as fourteen feet. 

There were other difficulties that cropped up as well. Judson H. Flower, who did considerable research on the early settlement of the San Luis Valley, indicated that as the residents of the small neighboring towns interacted, there were sometimes issues between those from Utah and those from the South due to the differences in their culture. Many of those from Utah were from Scandinavian countries and consequently, English was not their primary language, making it easier to socialize with those who shared their native language and culture. The Southerners likewise had more in common with the other Southerners who had settled there. In addition, many of the American born Southerners found it irritating to receive constant instruction on everything from church matters to farming issues from those of foreign birth.(3) 

As they worked through the various challenges, each new family in the community needed to find a way to work and contribute in order to make a living. Although the Ganus family had farmed in Georgia, John's oldest son, Frank, was recorded as one of the early carpenters in Manassa and John's other sons worked a lot for John Morgan, the Mission President they had previously known in Georgia.(4)

Despite the many adjustments and challenges for John's family, there were many good things that occurred in that small community. Manassa was primarily a Mormon community, so they shared religious beliefs with most who lived there and no longer feared persecution. In addition, because there were so many Southerners in Manassa they found themselves among many who understood their traditions and shared their mannerisms and way of thinking.  

In the Deseret News, November 5, 1887, referring to the San Luis Valley,
"There is in these towns a warm, delightful cordiality, a nearness of brother to brother, and a Gospel spirit of love and co-operation pervading the whole community, that is not met with in older towns. Every grasp of the hand sends a thrill to the heart, and is accompanied by a warm God bless you that speaks volumes of brotherly love. Two facts, we think, will explain this nearer approach to the Gospel ideal of society, the naturally warm-hearted, generous feeling of the southern people and all absence of caste caused by the mutual interdependence of all the settlers in their united battles against the difficulties of pioneer life."
As is often the case, some folks felt the challenges were too great or they were simply enticed by the hope of finding something better and moved. A few families returned to Georgia and a few others chose to move elsewhere, although many remained in Manassa and the surrounding communities.

How was the Ganus family affected by the issues? The many challenges surely took a toll on them just as it did with others, but to what extent, we don't know. What we do know is that they made Colorado their home for quite a few years, but by 1895, when William Franklin Ganus' son, Homer Paul Ganus was born, the family was living in Oklahoma.This would be their final move and the final chapter for John and Olivia. 


1. A Mormon "Widow" in Colorado: The Exile of Emily Wells Grant, page 180. Found online in PDF form.
2.  "Mormon Colonization of the San Luis Valley, Colorado, 1878-1900," a thesis presented by Judson Harold Flower, Jr.,  to Department of History at Brigham Young University, May 1966, p.  57
3. Ibid
4. A record included with information on the families living in Manassa in April of 1888. Digitized by J. Willard Marriot Library, University of Utah.


Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2017, All rights reserved

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

A Reason to Celebrate--17 Becoming Acquainted With John

I considered myself one of the lucky ones when my Grandma Ganus moved to a small house on Main street in Sanford, Colorado. What was so good about living on Main street? There were several good things, one being that we could sit out front and watch people come and go. In a small town like Sanford where life was slow and simple, knowing who was going where and with whom could be big news. Lucky for us, Grandma's crab apple trees provided the perfect perch for us and provided a little cover because we could watch without others realizing that we were watching. It could have also provided a snack at the same time, but every year,  I tried, I really tried, to like the sour crab apples in those trees, but even with a good salting, I just could not eat them. Even now, it makes my mouth pucker just to think about biting into one. 

But the truly best part of living on Main street was that it meant a prime seat to the big event of the year, the 24th of July parade!!!

I loved being in Colorado for the 24th of July. The 24th of July, 1847 was the day the Mormon pioneers arrived in the Salt Lake Valley and so it is a day of celebration for members of the LDS church, everywhere. Most of the early inhabitants of the cluster of small Southern Colorado towns were either descendants of pioneers who had first settled in Utah and then were sent on to the San Luis Valley or descendants of a Southerner who fled there after joining the LDS church.

My parents, brothers and myself outside an old pioneer
house in Sanford Colorado 2012
In Colorado, the 24th celebration actually lasts an entire week. The activities are spread among the small neighboring towns of LaJara, Sanford and Manassa due to the high density of Mormons in those small little farm towns.The celebration includes parades, a pageant, rodeos, activities such as three-legged races, pie eating contests, dances, ballgames, etc. A carnival always comes to Manassa and an afternoon spent there includes a mouth-watering hamburger. It is quite the celebration. You can read about the history of the celebration and see details about the most recent celebration HERE. We loved going as kids and it continues to be a wonderful tradition today. 

Southern Colorado was selected as a place for the Mormons to emigrate to in part because land was reasonable and there was access to water. (1) When the first group of Southerners arrived in 1879, there were only about 160 living there. (2)  That group of Southerners, like those who would follow them, arrived poor and fairly ill-prepared for the harsh winters and short growing seasons they would experience. Other Mormons were sent from Utah to settle there to help the Southerners with the transition. Latinos who were living there first helped both groups through the difficult adjustment.


Colorado, San Luis Valley, Mormons, LDS, emigration, Southerners, 24th of July, Celebration, Pioneer Days
Map showing the location of Conejos County Colorado
The following description of Manassa appeared in the Salt Lake Herald in 1879:
"The city of Manassa, so named, is situated in Conejos County, seven miles north by east of the county seat on ranges 9 and 10, township 34, north of New Mexico, principal meridian. A more beautiful location would be difficult to find, the site being selected with judicious foresight for agricultural and pastoral enterprises, and the settlers cannot fail ultimately to realize fully the most sanguine hopes of those now building the city. 
........The streets of the city are six rods wide, with streams running on either side, the immediate intention being to plant shade trees, according to the system established in Salt Lake City. Many of these streets are already occupied by the Mormon families, who at the present writing number 156 souls who are living in tents and temporary buildings. (3)
John and his family were among the sixth group to emigrate to Manassa from the South and by the time they arrived, 8 years after the first group, the town had grown considerably due to the large number of Mormon converts who had fled from the South.

By 1889, a  few years after John and his family arrived, almost a thousand people were living in Manassa, most of whom were Southerners. There was half a dozen stores, a log church and although initially most all of the homes were log, the log homes were slowly being replaced by small frame homes.(4)

Eventually, the Ganus families would have their own homes. As this early Manassa Map shows, "Frank"  (my Great-Grandfather William Franklin Ganus) had a home on Peterson Street (Lot 10) and "Father Ganus" and John Ganus were a couple of streets away on Smith Street (Lot 40).  (5)




Adjusting to a different climate can be physically hard. At 7,690 feet, Manassa is approximately 6,447 feet higher than John's home in Georgia. John's family likely experienced some of the effects of that altitude change which for some includes fatigue and headache at first. In addition, the humid climate of their Georgia home was replaced by a much drier climate. The Ganus family had to learn to grow and eat different crops from what they were accustomed to due in part to the high altitude and short growing season. All of these issues presented challenges for John, as well as the other Southerners.

Whenever groups of people converge from different areas of the country and world, they bring with them the illnesses of that region and such was true for Manassa. Measles, smallpox, diphtheria, and mumps were just a few of the illnesses that plagued the valley. The Ganus family knew the heartbreak of losing family members to illness in the years that they were there and it seems to have especially taken a toll on the little children of the Ganus family. John and Olivia experienced the heartbreak of burying four grandchildren during the time in Manassa.

The first Ganus child taken was John Thackason Ganus and Mary's son, Morgan L. Ganus who was born 20 Oct 1887 and died 1888. The following year John T. and Mary lost another child, John William, who was born in 1882 and died in 1889.  Then in 1890, William Franklin Ganus (Frank) and Sarah Faucett (Sally) buried their son, Parley L. Ganus who was born on 18 February 1889 and died 2 February 1890. One year later, Frank and Sally buried their only daughter, Blanche E. who was born 16 Feb. 1891 and died that same year.

Old Manassa Cemetery, Manassa, Colorado 
As I visited the Old Manassa Cemetery several years ago, I stood in that little abandoned cemetery and imagined the grief the Ganus family felt each time another child passed away. Four times they brought one of their little ones to be buried, four times they dug a small grave and four times they said goodbye.

The Ganus family had come to Colorado for safety, and although they were safer from physical and emotional harm, illness found them. 

When I stood in front of my Grandma Ganus' house as a child, all those many years ago, and waited for the floats and horses to pass by, I wish I had known more about my ancestry and the price they paid. I wish I would have understood the sacrifices that were made, the hardships they endured and all that was given so that I could have the life that I have. I am sure I still would have appreciated the front row seat at the parade and the juicy hamburger at the carnival, but just maybe I would have felt all the more reason to celebrate. 




(1) Mormon Colonization of the San Luis Valley, Colorado, 1878-1900.  page 50
(2) sic p. 49
(3) "Mormon Manassa, " Salt Lake Herald, May 22, 1879, page 3, accessed on Utah Digital Newspapers,  https://digitalnewspapers.org/
(4) "Manassa Matters," Salt Lake Herald, Dec. 8, 1889, page 14, accessed on Utah Digital Newspapers, https://digitalnewspapers.org/.
(5). Portion of map from the back pocket of "The Life and Ministry of John Morgan," Arthur Richardson, Historical Research Nicholas G. Morgan Sr.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2017, All rights reserved

Thursday, October 5, 2017

For The Sake of The Gospel--- 16 Becoming Acquainted with John M. Ganus


We've moved. After twenty years in the same home, we sold our home and moved to something smaller. We feel good about the decision and know this is the right step to take at this point in our life, but nonetheless, it is hard. We raised our family in that house and we have many fond memories there. 

As I said goodbye to our wonderful home, I kept thinking about John and Olivia (Rainwater) Ganus who moved across country when they were about our age. Their move in 1886, however, was a much more difficult and drastic move. Without the benefits of modern technology and modern travel, and with limited funds, they left never to return to Georgia or see their friends and extended family again. Unlike many others of their time, John and Olivia's move wasn't motivated by the desire for more land, or in order to join other family members who had moved ahead, but their move was more about finding a place to live where they could feel safe. 

The Ganus family joined the LDS church in the midst of immense opposition towards the LDS missionaries and the church members. In the years that followed their conversion, the persecution against the Mormons intensified and so many of the southern Mormon families began to emigrate west. John and Olivia remained in Georgia longer than many, but eventually, they decided that it would be best for their family if they too left Georgia. On Monday, October 11, 1886, Elder Murphy recorded that he helped John make arrangements to emigrate.  

On Thursday, Oct 21, 1886 on the road coming from town, LDS missionary, Elder Murphy ran into one of John and Olivia's younger sons, Newton L. Ganus. Newton assured Elder Pledger Murphy that they were going to Colorado for the "sake of the Gospel" and not to get rich. Although it had become increasingly difficult for Mormons to make a living in Georgia, there was no promise that they would prosper financially in Colorado either although Colorado was chosen in part because of the availability of land and the lower cost of living there. However, the members of the LDS church had been counseled not to expect to get rich there and clearly, Newton had gotten the message. 

The next day, on Oct 22nd, Olivia visited her sister Frances for the last time. It must have been a tearful occasion as sisters who had lived near each other for their entire lives said goodbye. Earlier, John and Elder Murphy had visited Olivia's sister and Brother-in-law, Robert and Frances Bailey in an effort to share their gospel message, but according to Elder Murphy, "they were not very much inclined to the gospel." Olivia must have been disappointed. 


On Friday, November 12th, Elder Murphy helped Franklin (John and Olivia's oldest son) pack up for Colorado. In his journal, Elder Murphy recorded that the Ganuses were short the cost of one train ticket, so G. W. Driver loaned them $10.00 so they could all go. Elder Murphy said, "Their hearts were made glad and they rejoiced in having the privilege of all going to Zion."  

A few days later, on November 16, 1886, Elder Murphy wrote that he went to G. W. Driver's house with John Ganus and together they did the hardest days' work that he had ever done in his life packing things up so they could get it all to the depot. 

The following morning, Elder Murphy saw the Drivers, the Ganuses and others to the train station. John and Olivia, their sons, daughters-in-law, and grandchildren all boarded the train bound for Colorado. 

Hopefully, John and Olivia's had extended family members and friends at the train station to see them off. LDS Missionary, Elder Murphy recorded that he watched from the platform, waving as the train carrying the small group of converts passed out of sight. I can imagine the Ganus family waving back to a missionary who they had grown to love and who had done so much for them. Were there tears? There must have been mixed emotions for Elder Murphy; relieved that they were able to leave and yet knowing that with this group went much of the support for the remaining LDS church members and missionaries.

Although we don't have a written record of what they felt, truly it can be said that for John and Olivia, their actions spoke louder than their words. As difficult as it was on so many levels, rather than deny or turn away from what they believed, with courage and commitment, they packed up their belongings and left their home and extended family to move hundreds of miles away to start a new life where they could worship as they chose.

John was 60 years old and starting over wouldn't be easy. Was he worried about his ability to make a living? Was he emotional about leaving behind people that he loved? Was he relieved to be escaping the persecution aimed at members of the Mormon faith? Was he excited for the new life that lay ahead? 

In Kansas City, John and family changed trains and headed toward Pueblo, Colorado. In Pueblo, they boarded a narrow gauge line that would take them over the mountains and into the high mountain valley of San Luis.

Ancestry, genealogy, Colorado, Mormons, emigration,
The Pinnacles above the Conejos River
Photo was taken on family trip

The mountains of Colorado are very different from the hills of North Georgia. Steep and ruggedly beautiful, the tall mountains of the Rockies were very different from anything that the Ganus family had ever seen before.


Manassa Colorado, Ganus, Georgia, ancestry, ancestor, genealogy, family history, emigration, train
Looking across the San Luis Valley
Photo taken outside Sanford during a family trip
As they disembarked the train, did they pause to look out over the wide open fields of the San Luis Valley? The valley was so different from their densely treed Georgia home. What did they think? Did they feel butterflies of excited anticipation? Did their hearts sink just a little as they realized how different life would be there? Were they dressed appropriately for the weather or did they shiver with the chill in the air? The average temperature for Manassa in November is 30 to 40 degrees and sometimes there is 4 to 5 inches of snow. 

At the train station, they were greeted by members of the local LDS church who took them by wagon to their temporary accommodations in the homes of other members of the Mormon church. Many other Southerners who had preceded them in migration were already settled there and helped the newcomers with the transition. Although the Ganus family had moved before, this move was dramatically different from any other move they had ever made. 

Moves mean new beginnings and so often they can be good, but at the same time, they can be trying, both emotionally and physically. We just moved across town and yet as I look ahead to life in our new place, I anxiously wonder how well we will adjust. Without any question, for John and his family, the move was much more drastic and the adjustment would be much more extensive. 

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2017, All rights reserved






Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Playing Possum ----15 - Becoming Acquainted with John M. Ganus

Pledger Murphy, dinner, possum, squirrel, Georgia, guests

My mother was always a fabulous cook, and every night we sat down to a meal fit for a king. Our dinners were absolutely fabulous and gave us little reason to eat out. My mother also loved to set a beautiful table with her collection of beautiful dishes, table cloths and accenting cloth napkins. In addition, she always put together a beautiful floral arrangement and sometimes added candles! When my friends came for dinner, they always thought that Mom had done it all just for them and I could never bring myself to tell them we ate that way every night.  

Sadly, I didn't inherit that gene. I cook fairly simple meals, use placemats, and paper napkins and although we do have people over for dinner occasionally, feeding company is very stressful to me. 

Knowing that John and Olivia frequently fed the LDS missionaries in their area, I was tickled to learn about a few of the meals they fed the missionaries and I have to admit, I've never even considered serving my guests either squirrel or possum! 

In the John J. Pledger Murphy journal, I found the following entry for Saturday, October 23, 1886. 
"John Ganus and I go a squirrel hunting we kill one squirrel after two hours hunt. Returned to Johny and have squirrell long leg colards and swete potatoes for dinner. Nute and Boby Ganus and John Bailey goes to town withe cow and calf. They return and John Ganus goe withe them to Baileys a possum hunting. Catch one fine fat possum. Frank and Rod Ganus came home."
Then the next day,
"At 9 A.M. Johney and the boys come with the old big fat possom. we scald him and scrape him and sister Ganus cooked it for diner. I et one hind leg and soem cabage at 1/2 past 2 oclock."
I guess I really had no idea what was involved in hunting possum until I ran across the following article in a newspaper describing the process.
  
Macon Telegraph, Tuesday, Oct 30, 1827 Vol 1 
"The Opossum--The hunting of the Opossum is a favorite sport with the country people, who frequently go out with their dogs at night, after the autumnal frosts have begun and persimmon fruit is in its most delicious state. The Opossum, as soon as he discovers the approach of his enemies, lies perfectly close to the branch, or places himself snugly in the angle where two limbs separate from each other. The dogs, however, soon announce the fact of his presence by their baying and the hunter ascending the tree discovers the branch upon which the animal is seated and begins to shake it with great violence to alarm and cause him to relax his hold. This is soon effected, and the Opossum, attempting to escape to another limb is pursued immediately, and the shaking is renewed with greater violence, until at length the terrified quadruped allows himself to drop to the ground, where the hunters or dogs are prepared to dispatch him."

hunting, possum, genealogy, ancestry, ancestor, dogs, opossum

The article goes on to tell that after the opossum drops to the ground, he will roll up and play dead. He then waits until he thinks his "persecutor" is gone, but if he discovers he is still there, he will again appear to be dead and thus the saying "He is playing possum." 

After reading about the process for preparing a possum to eat, I decided that what Elder Murphy shared was probably enough and I would leave the rest up to your imagination. 

What is your favorite meal to serve company? 


Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2017, All rights reserved

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

On the banks of Euharlee Creek -- 14 -Becoming Acquainted with John M. Ganus

Sitting on the banks the beautiful Euharlee Creek is Hightower's Mill. Located at the base of the Appalachian Mountains and a short distance from Cedartown, Georgia, the mill was built about 1843 by Elias Dorsey Hightower and was largely a grist and woolen mill. Apparently, John Monroe Ganus and his sons spent some time there because Elder Murphy and John M. Ganus visited John's oldest son and my great grandfather, William Franklin Ganus, there early in the fall of 1886.


Ancestry, Ancestors, genealogy, family history, Cedartown, Hightower Mill, Euharlee Creek, Appalachian Mountains, Ganus
Hightower Mills today
Used by permission from Hightower Falls Facility Owners

"Sept. Thursday 9, 1886  Bro. [John] Ganis and I went to Mr. Hightowers mill to see his son Franklin Ganus.  I had a good time with him.  While Bro. [John] Ganus and his 3 sons, John, Rody and Boby made shingles and hauled them to Mr. Hightowers mill.  I met with two of old John Waldrops sons. . . .  After knight Boby Ganus and myself walked home, 6 miles to Bro. J. Ganus.  TIRED 
Sept. Friday 10, 1886……..about noon Bro. [John] Ganus and the boys come from the mill.  They laughed at me about not stoping at the mill all knight.  I told them that I had got tired of living or lying on the soft side of a board during the war.  Stayed all knight at Bro. Ganus." 

According to Elder Murphy's journal entry written on July 17, 1886, John lived about five miles from Cedartown and about six miles from Hightower Mill. (Mill location is indicated by the Green marker with the Star. )



An additional entry in the Murphy journal indicates that Frank had some interest in working in a mill as the Ganus family prepared to leave and that Utah was initially a possibility for these Georgians' relocation.
"Sept. Sunday 11, 1886 Saturday I spent the day at Ganuses wrote a letter to Bro. D.H. Peery of Ogden concerning W.F. Ganus getting a job with him in the mill."
Hightower Mill
Used with permission from
The Georgia Department of Archives
and History
In reading about D.H. Peery of Ogden, I learned that he owned the Weber Grist Mill in Ogden, Utah, which leads me to believe that Frank likely was familiar with Grist mill work and possibly worked within the grist mill portion of the Hightower Mill. I had hoped to find a clue in census records, but of course, 1890 is non-existent and on the 1880 US Federal Census, Frank (William on that particular census) is listed as a farmer, so the census does not provide any additional clues to what Frank may have done within the mill. In addition, the above journal entry creates a new question. Why were John and his boys all coming from the mill on Friday? Did they all work there? All census records seem to indicate that John and his boys farmed. 

Hightower Mills today
Used by permission from Hightower Falls Facility Owners


Today the ruins of the mill still stand. The present day owners purchased the property back in 1996 and, realizing the importance of the historical site, they made the property available for special activities such as weddings and family reunions.  Standing on 100 acres, there are 12 camping cabins, pavilions and picnic areas and facilities. To see more pictures of the present day site and read about the history of the area, visit Hightower Falls.

The area has been beautifully preserved and although the purpose of the site has changed over the years, the ruins stand as a reminder of an earlier day when it was a bustling mill and served the surrounding communities. As I look at the pictures of the mill above, I can almost imagine John and his boys leaving through the arched stone door, laughing and talking to each other, but tired and eager to get home at the end of a long day. 

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2017, All rights reserved

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Worshiping Despite Fear - 13 Becoming Acquainted with John M. Ganus

LDS, Mormons, genealogy, missionaries, Ganus, Sunday, worship, persecution
My husband, my grandson and myself
ready for church!
Each Sunday we get up, dress in our Sunday-best and head to church where we join with neighbors and friends in worshipping God.

I've lived in four different states over the years and have been blessed to live among many good people belonging to a variety of different religions. We have benefitted and learned so much from all of them. I have never worried for my safety or for my children's safety because our beliefs differed and I've also never felt the need to persecute or threaten others when their beliefs were different than mine. 

Sadly, times were very different for John and Olivia. A study of the circumstances at that time reveals many complex issues, too complicated and detailed to be dealt with here. My purpose in sharing their story is not to be critical of either the place, time or people of the community in which they lived because I can not possibly imagine what life was like for any of them, or the fears or biases they experienced. My only desire is to share John and Olivia's story and to show that they truly demonstrated great faith and commitment to what they believed in the face of danger.

Following John and Olivia's baptism in the Mormon church in May of 1880, the threats and hostility towards the Mormons increased in many areas, making it difficult for many LDS church members to sell and trade in their communities and in some cases, making it dangerous for children to attend school or be out on their own. The missionaries were often threatened and those who allowed them to meet in their homes and who housed and fed them similarly became the target of threats. The following article appeared in the North Georgia Citizen:

Mormon missionaries, Georgia, Worship, ancestry, genealogy
North Georgia Citizen, Jul. 1, 1886 -- page 3

And another:
genealogy, ancestry, missionaries, LDS
North Georgia Citizen, Nov. 17, 1887 -- page 3
Rumors surrounding the beliefs and intents of the Mormons ran rampant, stirring up suspicions, fears and fueling acts of violence. 

For several years after John and Olivia were baptized, Mormons in the Polk County area were counseled not to meet together in public for their own safety. So for several years, member of the LDS church remained relatively isolated and without support from other Mormons. Then on February 7, 1886, new missionaries came to the area and called a meeting of those few families who had been baptized members of the LDS church, which included John and Olivia Ganus. The meeting began with the small group singing "Now Let Us Rejoice" written by W. W. Phelps. The words to the second verse surely expressed some of what they must have felt and hoped for:

"We'll love one another and never dissemble
But cease to do evil and ever be one.

And when the ungodly are fearing and tremble,

We'll watch for the day when the Savior will come,

When all that was promised the Saints will be given,

And none will molest them from morn until ev'n,

And earth will appear as the Garden of Eden,

And Jesus will say to all Israel, "Come home."

Following the hymn, Elder Spry spoke to them about their responsibility to live in a way that enabled them to receive blessings from God. He then asked for a vote as to whether they wanted to organize a Sunday School and the vote was unanimous. The Sacrament was administered, they sang a few more hymns and the meeting was dismissed.

Over the next few years, John and Olivia continued to welcome the missionaries and allow meetings to be held in their home and it's apparent from Elder Murphy's record that it became an important part of their life. Like Elder Metcalf who was mentioned in the previous post, Elder Murphy mentions some of his frequent visits with the Ganus family. On Sunday, July 4, 1886, Elder Murphy recorded:

"After dinner we taken  up the line of march back to Bro. Gainous (sic). Arrived there at 4 p.m. At 7 p.m. we opened our meeting Bro. Spry presiding we administered the sacrament of the Lords supper after which I occupied 1 hour and 30 minutes and felt well." 
Thursday, August 26, 1886
"I rode with Ezra Barker to within a mile or 2 of Br. John Gainous. Got out of the buggy and went to his house spent the remainder of the day and stayed all night with them had a pleasant time with the family. They were glad to see me! You bet they were. " 
Wednesday, Sept 8, 1886
"I went to Bro Gainous and received the letters from R. M. Humphrey telling me of his trip to Ogden City to see my family. When I got to Mr. Gainusis he said he had almost got ready to say out loud that I had told him a lie. But as I had come he said he would take it all back. We sang songs and prayed and went to bed."
Then Friday, Sept. 10, 1886
"I spent the day at Bro. John Ganus reading and talking on the principals of the gospel......." 
Neither John nor Olivia kept a journal, so truthfully we don't know how they felt about things, but we can surmise from the journals of those who knew them and the sacrifices that they made, that they enjoyed the time spent with the missionaries, were willing to share what they believed and apparently were willing to stand firm in the face of adversity.

Beginning in 1877, many Southern Mormon converts began to emigrate out of the South to safer locations. That emigration continued for about 10 years as Southern Mormons sought a place where they could freely worship. Many moved to the San Luis Valley of Colorado. Would John and Olivia remain in Georgia and if so, for how long? 

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2017, All rights reserved

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Sleeping Over ---12 - Becoming Acquainted with John M. Ganus

Every summer our family loaded up the station wagon and made the drive from California to Colorado where all of our relatives lived. We loved the time with our extended family and couldn't wait to get there. 


My brothers and a cousin in Colorado

When we stayed at my Grandma Hostetter's house, I usually slept on the hide-a-bed sofa in the living room. I didn't mind that bed so much, but the location provided some challenges. In her small little house, the living room was adjacent to the dining room where a large cuckoo clock from Switzerland hung on the wall. It was great to watch the little Swiss people come out and dance to the music during the daytime hours, but much to my dismay, those same little people never slept and the clock played off and on throughout the night. In addition, Grandma was a very early riser and she would get up in the wee hours of the morning to go work in her garden. Accustomed to living alone, she probably didn't realize how loud the screen door slammed on her way out. 



Sleeping at other people's homes can sometimes be challenging.

In the nineteenth century, the LDS missionaries went out without purse or script, meaning they relied on others for a meal and a place to stay. The missionaries in Polk County, Georgia were welcome in the Ganus' house and they frequently stayed in their home. In his missionary journal, Elder John Joseph Pledger Murphy recorded some of the experiences he had staying with the Ganus family. 


Elder Murphy once told John M. Ganus that he hadn't stopped at the mill one evening where the Ganuses were working because he "got tired of lying on the soft side of a board during the war." The following night he stayed at John's home and it may have made sleeping on the soft side of a board look good. 

Elder John Joseph Pledger Murphy
As was common among the poorer class of people during that time, when staying at the Ganus's home, Elder Murphy didn't get a guest room or even his own bed, but shared the bed with John's son, Newton. Elder Murphy recorded on Sept 10, 1886:
"Stayed all knight at Bro. Ganus. Slept with Newt, he kicked and punched me all knight."
The next night wasn't much better, Elder Murphy recorded:
"Saturday , Sept 11, 1886 I spent the day at Bro. Ganus wrote a letter to Bro. D. H. Peery of Ogden concerning Brother W. F. Ganus getting a job with him in the mill also I showed Bro. Ganus about getting up his genealogy at night I went down and slept with his little boy and he tried to be on me all knight with his feet. I was almost sick with cold and nervous."
On Saturday, October 23, 1886, Elder Murphy went with Frank (William Franklin Ganus) to John's son's home, John Thackson Ganus. When Elder Murphy referred to John Monroe Ganus, he called him Brother John Ganus, but when he referred to John's son, John Thackason Ganus, he called him simply John Ganus as John T. had not yet been baptized. 

Although Elder Murphy's experience was slightly different at John Thackason Ganus' home, he still didn't get an uninterrupted night of sleep. Elder Murphy recorded:
"Frank and me slept at John Ganus the bed fell down with us. "
Despite the difficulty in getting a solid night's sleep at the Ganuses, Elder Murphy returned to the Ganus household time and again. I guess although sleeping at the Ganus' house sometimes had its challenges, it still beat sleeping on the soft side of a board. 

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2017, All rights reserved

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

He Dared Let Them Stay ---11 Becoming Acquainted with John M. Ganus

John and Olivia had been baptized just a little over a year when on April 12th, 1881, Elder John E. Metcalf boarded a train in Salt Lake City, bound for Georgia. He had been called to serve as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints and would serve in the Southern States. Sharing his beliefs with the people of the South would mean spending several years away from his family who were living in Sanpete County, Utah. 

The Mormon missionaries of that time traveled without purse or script, relying on the goodness of those whom they met to allow them to stay and offer them a meal. But with mounting violence aimed at members of the LDS faith and the Mormon missionaries, some were afraid to allow the missionaries to stay in their home. John and Olivia, however, opened their door to the missionaries, including Elder Metcalf, who soon became a frequent visitor in their home.  


John E. Metcalf, missionary, Mormons, genealogy, family history, faith, persecution
John E. Metcalf, Jr.  
There were very few members of the Mormon faith where John and Olivia lived, and there wasn't a church building for them to meet in. Mormon meetings often drew the attention of those who opposed them and so members were cautious about when and where they met and at times they were counseled not to gather at all. In neighboring communities, Mormons and Mormon missionaries were shot at and some were killed, their homes and barns burned to the ground. 

A story in the Deseret Evening News, on 22 July 1879, told about an incident that took place in Varnell, Whitfield County, Georgia:
"In May, Elder C H. Hulse and Thomas Lloyd, of Cache Valley, passed through Varnell's on the way to North Carolina, when the same mob came upon them, entered the house of one of the Saints, flourishing pistols, swearing to kill the inmates if they ever harbored the Elders again and drove the brethren out of the neighborhood." (1)
These incidents grew in number and intensity in the years that followed. Nevertheless, at great risk to themselves, John and Olivia provided a place for the missionaries to stay and allowed meetings to be held in their home. On Sunday, April 9th, 1882, Elder Metcalf recorded: 
"Held Meeting at Bro. Ganus's had a nice tournout, had a good flow of the Spirit of God this is the first Meeting held in this neighborhood hope to do some good, stayed all night at G's." [sic]
John and his extended family continued to help the missionaries and turned to them in their time of need. 

On the 13th of April of 1882, Elder Metcalf recorded that he was needed at John and Olivia's son, John Thackason and his wife, Mary Ganus's house. Elder Metcalf recorded:
"Called up to go to Sis Mary Ganus and Administered to her baby who was very sick the Lord releaved it from pain We also Blessed & Named it at the same time. But it gradually got worse till death which occured at 5 P.M.we also Blessed another of thier children stayed all night at Bro John Ganus."
When President John Morgan, the Mission President for the Southern States Mission visited the area, he too stayed with John and Olivia. Known for his service in the Union Army, President Morgan was considered an even greater problem to those opposed the Mormon religion and consequently, there was an even greater risk for those who housed him. During his time in the South, President Morgan received many threats from the Klu Klux Klan, which included both verbal threats and the posting of written signs on trees and in other locations. One particular sign, read "A Charitable hint to Mormons" and portrayed a man being hung.(2)  

John and Olivia's willingness to help the missionaries shows strength in the face of danger and implies a commitment to their beliefs. Would it become too much, or would they stay true to what they believed in the face of such danger? 



1.  "The Life and Ministry of John Morgan" by Arthur Richardson, Historical Research Nicholas G. Morgan Sr. pg. 234 

2. Ibid, p. 191 

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2017, All rights reserved

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Eerily Silent----10 Becoming Acquainted with John M. Ganus

For a moment, everything went eerily quiet as the smoke and thick dust swirled around them. As the air began to clear, Elder Rudger Clawson could see that it was just as he had feared, Elder Joseph Standing, his missionary companion, had been shot and lay on the ground with a large bullet hole in his forehead. 

Rudger Clawson, Joseph Standing, murder, Mormons, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Georgia
Rudger Clawson (L) and Joseph Standing (R)

Folding his arms, Elder Clawson looked up at the angry mob and said, "Shoot." When nothing happened, he stooped down to help his dying companion.  

It was July 21, 1879 and Elder Clawson and Elder Standing had been on their way to Rome, Georgia, which was about 20 miles from where John Monroe Ganus and his wife, Olivia lived. As they were walking along, they looked up and discovered a mob positioned a short distance away and looking right at them. Waving their hats over their heads, the mob whooped and headed straight for the two Elders. Well armed, the mob took the two missionaries as prisoners. Things soon escalated and ended with the murder of Elder Standing, one of many murders of Mormons that would take place in the South. 

Amazingly enough, in May of 1880, just slightly over nine months after the murder of Elder Standing, John and Olivia joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints, commonly referred to by many as the Mormon church. 

In 1878, the southern headquarters for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints, had moved from Chattanooga, Tennessee to Rome, Georgia. At that time, John and Olivia were working to feed and clothe three growing boys in a Georgia still struggling from the effects of the war. Although the strains of reconstruction had eased somewhat, poverty was still widespread and many felt a fear and uncertainty about the future. With a desire to preserve their way of life, many residents viewed outsiders and those with different views suspiciously and that included those of the Mormon church. Many of the Mormon missionaries were from other states and there were many rumors and suspicions about their reasons for going to the south to proselyte. 

In July of 1880, a missionary from Utah, Elder Solomon C. Stephens, organized a small congregation of 12 Mormon converts in Haralson County, Georgia. (1) Among them were John and Olivia Ganus, who had been baptized by Elder Stephens two months earlier on May 7, 1880, likely in a nearby pond called "Mormon Hole." Although many of their neighbors had avoided and rejected the Mormon missionaries, John and Olivia were among the few who listened to their message and joined the LDS church. 

I've often wondered why John and Olivia listened when so many did not. John and Olivia had lost several children, so the Mormon's teachings about eternal families may have brought comfort to them. Was it the way the Mormon church is organized or the doctrine regarding our purpose here on earth? We likely will never know, but something about the Mormon church felt right to them and they listened to the missionaries, believed what they were taught and then accepted the invitation to be baptized. 

That decision forever changed the course of John and Olivia's lives and the choices they made in the days and years that followed. Fortunately, some of the missionaries who served in their area recorded events and details of the Ganus' lives so stay tuned as there is much more to tell. 



For more information about Joseph Standing, see: http://www.ldschurchnewsarchive.com/articles/40866/In-memory-of-a-martyr.html

(1) Ancestor Files: http://theancestorfiles.blogspot.com/2009/04/history-of-southern-states-mission-part_09.html


Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2017, All rights reserved

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Filling His Time---Part 9 Becoming Acquainted with John M. Ganus

Masons, Buchanan Masonic Lodge #113, Haralson County, Georgia
Although without a doubt, most of John and Olivia's time was spent caring for their farm and their children, I knew they had to be involved in other things. So, I was thrilled to discover that John and Olivia were associated with one of the largest fraternal organizations at that time, an organization, that much like religion focuses on the spiritual side of the human experience.


In the book, "Haralson County, Georgia, A History," by Lois Owens Newman, John Ganus and his brother-in-law, Abner Rainwater, were listed on the membership rolls for the Buchanan Masonic Lodge  #113 in the year 1866, which was the last membership role found for that lodge. In addition, family records indicate that Olivia was an Eastern Star. While both men and women can be an Eastern Star, men must also be a Mason and women must have an affiliation with a Mason. 

Freemasonry has had a long history in Georgia. The first lodge was organized in 1734 in Savannah. As I've read about Masons, I've learned that they have spiritual convictions and are open to people of all faiths. They emphasize among other things, brotherhood, self-improvement and charitable service.

So John and Olivia had found time to participate in a group that focused on service and in making a difference in their community.   

Marietta Camp Meetings, Bethany Baptist Church, Methodist, Baptist, religion in the south
Bethany Baptist Church
Haralson County, GA
Some remodeling has occurred,
but has remained in the same location
(used by permission)
Although no specific religion was recorded for John Monroe Ganus' parents or grandparents, it can be noted that a Methodist Preacher was a witness for John's grandfather, David Gurganus's  Revolutionary War Pension application and that many of the Gurganus/Ganus families participated in the Methodist religion. In addition, in 1850, John was living with his parents, James and Elizabeth among a large group of Methodist families who established the Marietta Camp Ground. The names of the Marrietta tenting families and the history of this campground can be found here:

The History of Marietta Camp Meetings

Religion played an important role in most Georgian's lives. The church provided a place of refuge, a sense of community and provided a kinship that went beyond blood lines.

While it appears that at least some of the early Ganus family had Methodist affiliations, Olivia's family, the Rainwaters, were members of the Baptist church. Although the mention was not always a positive one, Olivia's parent's names can be found in the minutes of the Yellow Creek Baptist Church in Hall County, Georgia. According to Kay Ohana, who was able to view the church minutes on microfilm at the Georgia State Archives in Atlanta, Joshua was received by letter December 15th, 1827, most likely indicating that he had transferred from another church. About six months later, on July 19th, 1828, Polly was received by experience, suggesting that she joined by conversion. A later entry dated the 14th of February 1831, indicated that Joshua "gave satisfaction for drinking too much spirits," and a few days later both Joshua and Polly were granted letters of dismission for drinking. Oh dear!  

You can find Kay's post with the partial minutes of  Yellow Creek Baptist Church here:



Joshua Rainwater and his family later moved to Haralson County and soon listed among the Early Members of Bethany Baptist Church, was Joshua's wife Mary and his children Louisa, John, Abner, Mariah and Olivia. 

With John having at least some association with those of the Methodist faith and Olivia from a Baptist background and their association with the Masons, I initially wondered if religion would play a role in John and Olivia's married life? Time and research told me it would take a significant place in their life, but their chosen religion would come as a surprise to many. 

*Masonic Clip Art was freely shared on http://www.msana.com/clipart.asp

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2017, All rights reserved