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

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

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 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, July 12, 2017

John's Adventure on the Coosa ----Part 7 Becoming Acquainted With John M. Ganus

Sternwheeler, Magnolia, Coosa, Gasden, Rome Georgia,
The Magnolia 

The beautiful sternwheeler, the Magnolia, slowed as it approached the wharf where anxious crowds of people waited for its arrival. There was always excitement in the air when the riverboats arrived and curious towns people always gathered to watch as the passengers descended from the boat, then lingered a little longer while the cargo was unloaded. Wednesday, April 14, 1875 would have been no different as John Ganus arrived on the Magnolia. According to newspaper, John would have paid $1.00 for the round trip from Rome, Georgia to Gadsden, Alabama which is about $22.00 in today's money.

That day the Magnolia's freight consisted of 45 tons of pig iron, 1 lot of cotton seed, 1 bale of cotton and a variety of other merchandise. Typically the Magnolia traveled back and forth from Gadsden to Rome, sometimes making little stops along the way. Had perhaps John taken some things to Gadsden to sell?


The Magnolia was a sternwheeler which is a paddleboat and according to "Haunted Etowah County, Alabama," by Mike Goodson, "The Magnolia was the largest and most elaborate riverboat to make the voyage from Rome to Gadsden."  

On the first of July, 1875, in a newspaper article entitled, "Down the Coosa" the author described a "run to Gadsden and back" and told about the beauty of the trip. The article began with 


"No one who has not taken a trip from Rome to Gadsden upon the swan-like Magnolia, has any conception of the beautiful woodland and farm scenery that meets the eye at every turn of the majestic Coosa."  (http://dlg.galileo.usg.edu/ngnewspapers/id:rtc1875-0255)

The author went on to say, 
"As the Magnolia moved around the curves of the tortuous Coosa, presenting at every turn beautiful scenes of waving fields of corn that stretched out from the banks of the river, so darkly green, and the deep foliage of woodland, trees and vines, interlaced by intense luxuriance, it was a refreshing sight . . . In the back ground of these, and for miles distant, can be seen along nearly the whole route majestic mountains and ridges, or spurs of the Lookout chain. "


The author went on to tell that the Magnolia was willing to make landings along the way to assist both the rich who traveled first class and the poor who had very little. 

Although the Magnolia had accommodations for the wealthy class, which included a wonderful dining room, entertainment, and rooms to sleep in, many of the travelers traveled on the lower level and brought their own food. I suspect John would have been found on the lower level. 


The question that remains, however, is just which John Ganus was on the Magnolia that day? Was it a fifty-five-year-old John Monroe Ganus or was it his single twenty-one-year-old son, John Thackason Ganus? 


In either case, I wonder which members of the Ganus family were waiting at the dock for John that day and I wonder if family gathered together that night to hear John's tales of the Magnolia and his adventure on the Coosa.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2017, All rights reserved

Rome Tri-Weekly Courier, April 13, 1875, page 2, http://dlg.galileo.usg.edu/ngnewspapers/id:rtc1875-0118

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Olivia's New Role--Part 6 Becoming Acquainted With John M. Ganus

one room school house, Little Creek School, Haralson County, Polk County, ancestry, genealogy, teaching certificate, common school, Arakans
Not long after John and Olivia returned to Haralson County, Georgia, following their short stint in Arkansas, Olivia obtained a teaching certificate. In the movies, a school teacher of that time period was often portrayed as either a man, a very young unmarried woman or an older spinster. Olivia certainly was not any of those.

In 1871, when she obtained her certificate, Olivia was a 40-year-old woman and had a houseful of children. Their youngest at that time was one-year-old Robert Lee, Newton was 3 years old, Roderick was 7, John Thackason was 16 and Frank was 18. Certainly, Olivia had her hands full with all of the duties that fell to the wife and mother of the home. 


Some time ago I stumbled onto an article that grabbed my attention. Written in 2008, it told about the restoration of an old one-room school in Haralson County. Unfortunately, the article is no longer accessible on the internet. The article told about the restoration of an old one-room school and said the following:

"The Little Creek School House was built between 1866 and 1871 after the Georgia state legislature established the common school system. . . . It was originally located on GA 100 near the border between Haralson and Polk Counties. . . . last year it was relocated to its current position on Van Wert Street next to the County Commission office."

John Monroe Ganus and Olivia Rainwater
John Monroe Ganus
and Olivia Rainwater
The original location of this school was very close to where John and Olivia lived in Haralson County, Georgia. Is it possible that Olivia either attended or taught at that school? In my files is a treasured copy of Olivia's Teacher's Certificate.  This certificate was shared with me by Carlos Ganus, a dear cousin of mine and descendant of John and Olivia's son, Roderick. The certificate is a treasure but creates many questions. 

 Olivia was born on the 20th of February 1831 in Hall County, Georgia to Joshua Rainwater and Mary Peterson.  She was the 4th of six children, four of which were girls.  Her life seemed to follow the normal pattern for girls of that time period. She lived with her parents until the age of 21, she married and she and John began their family. Everything seems to point to a normal everyday life for a Georgia family during the mid 19th century until you factor in her Teacher's Certificate.


When I think of schools of that era, my mind immediately goes to old TV westerns and shows such as "Little House on the Prairie."  They always portray children of varying ages all attending school together in a small one-room school. I was excited to discover a Youtube video showing the inside of the recently restored Little Creek School.  You can visit it yourself here:  Visit to Little Creek School  Everything down to the pot-bellied stove fits with what I envisioned. 

Olivia Ganus Teacher's certificate, Haralson County, Georgia
Olivia's Teacher's Certificate 

I wrote to individuals in Haralson County and they attempted to help me locate records of those who taught during that time, but little could be found. We do not have any records indicating that Olivia actually taught school, but it seems unlikely that she obtained the certificate just for the sense of accomplishment. Her brother Abner Rainwater was a school teacher and family lore says that he helped her become a teacher. But why did she go through the testing to become a teacher at that time? How did she have the time to prepare and to test when she had two children under the age of 5? I wonder if her husband, John, had an injury or ailment that prevented him from providing for the family for a time. I wonder if their move to Arkansas and back created a financial crisis which made it necessary for Olivia to help provide?  If Olivia did, in fact, teach, who cared for her children? Olivia's sister, Frances Bailey and her family lived close by. Did perhaps Frances help care for Olivia's little ones?  

For whatever reason, Olivia went through the process of testing and obtained the certificate on the 5th of September 1871 in Haralson County, Georgia. Her Teacher's Certificate indicates that her general average was a 90, which is impressive by any standards. Whether she taught or not, she accomplished something not common for wife and mother of that day. Not only could she read and write at a time and place when many could not, but she qualified to teach others those skills. Whether she taught as a profession or not, she certainly taught her own children and 
I am quite certain this independent, strong nature helped her with the hard decisions she would soon face.


Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2017, All rights reserved

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Living the Life of a Gypsy- Part 5 Becoming Acquainted with John Monroe Ganus

moving, genealogy, ancestry, Arkansas, Haralson County, Georgia, Alabama
Sometimes I wonder if it is time to downsize to a smaller home. We raised our family here but now they all have married and have homes of their own. But as I look around our house, the task seems insurmountable. Moving is never easy. It requires a lot of hard work and always seems to involve a fair amount of expense. That is not only true now but applied to our ancestors as well. 

Some of our ancestors had land to sell and there were always possessions that either had to be sold, given away or taken with them. They had to find a place to live once they arrived and there were hungry mouths to feed, both as they traveled and when they arrived. Without the luxuries of freeways, the convenience of hotels and a McDonalds on every corner, travel was not only costly and a lot of work, but often included a variety of dangers along the way. A move was not something to be taken lightly.

I've often half wondered if John was part gypsy. For a man who never seemed to have very much in terms of material goods, he and Olivia moved an awful lot. The record of their children's births helped me trace the family's move over various counties and across various states.

Georgia State Flag
Their first child, William Franklin, was born in August of 1853 in Georgia followed by John Thackason a few years later. Still in Georgia, they lost the next two of their children in infancy. They were living in Alabama when Roderick Monroe was born in 1863. But 1867 would find John and his family in Pine Bluff, Arkansas when Newton Lafayette and his twin Frances Olivia were born.


Alabama State Flag

A land deed selling John's land in Haralson County in March of 1867 coupled with both church records and census records indicating that their son, Newton, was born in Arkansas in June of 1867 help to narrow down the time frame in which John and Olivia made the move to Arkansas. 

But the question remains, why did John and Olivia load up their family and travel to Arkansas during the rough reconstruction period? The railroad did not reach Pine Bluff until 1873 (1) and so they did not travel the roughly 500-mile trip by rail. The remaining two possibilities are either they traveled by wagon or possibly by water. Pine Bluff is just south of Little Rock and sits on a bluff above the Arkansas River, which was sometimes used for boat travel. Whatever the mode of transportation, keep in mind, Olivia was at most, three months away from delivering Newton.

Pine Bluff, Arkansas, Marshall Law
Arkansas State Flag
When I think about the push and pull associated with a move, I can not imagine what either was for John and Olivia's move to Arkansas. Not only were most Georgians struggling just to survive in 1867, but most of John and Olivia's  siblings were in the Haralson and Carroll County area of Georgia, so what was the push? 

And just what was the pull to Pine Bluff? Pine Bluff had been a crowded gathering place for fleeing freed slaves following the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, was occupied by Union troops during the Civil War, and was under Marshall Law for three years during the reconstruction period following the Civil War. I can't see it as being a place of hope and promise at the time John moved there. 

Whatever the reason, their stay in Arkansas was short lived because by 1870, when Robert Lee was born, they were back in Georgia and the family appears on the 1870 census in Haralson County, Georgia. My first post in this series contained a spoiler and so you know the family did not remain in Georgia, but what you don't know is what occurred over the next few years that lead up to their next major move.


1. History of Pine Bluff,  http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h2224.html

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2017, All rights reserved

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

John's Curious Adventures During the Civil War---Part 4 Becoming Acquainted with John M. Ganus

Road Commission, Haralson County, farmingAfter marriage, John and Olivia settled in Haralson County, Georgia and John began farming. They
didn't live too far from Olivia's family but they did live some distance from John's parents, although John had siblings that eventually settled nearby. John and Olivia's first child, William Franklin, joined their family in August of the following year, followed by John Thackason in 1855. As a male member of the community, John shared the responsibility to help maintain the road on which he lived. In 1855 John took his turn and worked alongside Thomason Moore and Eli Howell as Road Commissioners for the Second District in Haralson County.

In 1857 John and Olivia welcomed James Roderick into their family and Mary Elizabeth in 1860 but sadly neither of those children survived. About that same time, John and Olivia decided to pull up stakes and move just over the state line to the rolling hills of Calhoun County, Alabama. Did they go to be near Olivia's sister, Frances, who was living there with her husband Reuben Ayers and daughter Mary Ann? Although Frances was six years younger than Olivia, the sisters lived in close proximity to each other much of their adult lives, so I suspect this played a significant part in the move. Calhoun Alabama was chiefly an agricultural area and the farmers grew cotton, corn, and wheat and so John was able to do what he knew best, he farmed.

Civil War, Calhoun Alabama, Haralson Georgia, Ancestry, genealogy, research
The next few years were rough for the south and men anxiously enlisted in the Confederate Army to protect their southern soil. Although many men fought from Calhoun, Alabama and from Haralson County, Georgia where John had previously lived, John did not enlist. John had brothers and brother-in-laws who fought and I've always thought it was curious that John did not enlist with them. Although I know there were quotas and that often men with families did not serve,  John had brothers and brothers-in-laws who left homes, wives, and children in order to fight. Some descendants today have questioned John's loyalty to the Southern cause and to them I point out that John named his youngest son, Robert Lee Ganus.

It was on 7 January 1865 that John did something even more curious. That is IF the clerk copied the deed into the deed book correctly. It reads:


land deed, Alabama, Georgia, J. J. Miller, John M. Ganus

"This indenture made and entered into this the seventh of January eighteen hundred and sixty five between J. J. Miller and John M. Ganes of the one part of the state of Alabama witnesseth that the said J. J. Miller and aforesaid for and in consideration of the sum of three thousand dollars to him in hand paid at and before the sealing and delivery of these presents the receipt whereof hath granted bargained sold and conveyed unto the said John M. Ganes his heirs and assigns on tract of land situated lying being in eighth district of original Carroll now Haralson County known and distinguished in the plan of the said district by being the west part of lot number one hundred and fifty six all of said lot lying west of the Tallapoosa River containing one hundred and fifty acres ore or less ............ (emphasis added)" 

THREE THOUSAND DOLLARS? Did John really pay $3,000 for land at the close of the Civil War? The amount was clearly written out longhand and yet, I can't help but wonder if perhaps the clerk read the original deed wrong. Using an inflation calculator, $3,000 dollars in 1865 would be equivalent to approximately $47,762.28 today. Even if an additional zero was inadvertently added when the clerk recorded the deed in the deed book and the amount should have been $300.00, that would equal $4,776.23 today. Either way, where did John get that much money at a time when most Southerners were just trying to survive? The land was lying directly next to his father-in-law's land on the Tallapoosa River and his father-in-law, Joshua Rainwater had a ford on his property, which was generally profitable, but what value did John's land have? By tracing the deeds for this property, nothing indicates that that land held any unique value.

I tend to think that the clerk recorded the deed incorrectly as just two years later,  on 12 March 1867, John sold the same piece of land for a mere $200.00. Even if the clerk had incorrectly recorded the deed by adding an extra zero, it still appears that John likely lost money on the land but I still wonder where at the very least, he got $300.00 to purchase it at the close of the war.

Soon after John sold the land, he made yet another move and so it is likely that he sold the land in preparation for that move. His next move was even further away and would be even harder to understand.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2017, All rights reserved


Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Intensity of His Gaze


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2013

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Gift of Time

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Time.  From the time we are born until the time we die, our life is broken up into increments of time.  While we are all given 24 hours a day, the total time that we spend on this earth and how we spend it, varies tremendously.  For each of us, the time to which we are born and live creates the stage for our life and determines much of what we experience. The way we spend our time creates who we are.

Recently, one of Roderick Monroe Ganus’ descendants shared with me pictures of Roderick's pocket watch that he had inherited.  As I looked at the pictures of the beautiful old timepiece, I wondered what filled the minutes of Roderick's life?  How did he spend his time?

Born on 23 June 1863 in Calhoun, Alabama to John Monroe Ganus and Olivia Rainwater, Roderick, was the fifth child of eight born to the union, although only five sons actually survived to adulthood.

For the first few years of his life, Roderick’s family lived in Calhoun County, Alabama before moving to Pine Bluff, Arkansas, where they lived for about three years.  By 1870, John and Olivia returned to their home state of Georgia, with their four sons, William Franklin, John Thackason, Roderick Monroe and Newton Lafayette.  Soon after their move back to Georgia, their last son, Robert Lee, was born. There in Haralson County, Georgia,  Roderick grew up with a house full of brothers, worked on the farm, learned to hunt and enjoyed the close proximity to aunts, uncles and cousins.  While they did the best they could with what they had, life following the Civil War was a difficult  time of  "Reconstruction"  for those in Georgia and  the Ganus family was no exception.

In November of 1886, at the age of 23, Roderick, along with his parents, siblings and their families, boarded a steam locomotive bound for Colorado where they would remain for the next ten years. Then in about 1896, Roderick accompanied his parents and siblings in a move to Oklahoma where they would all live for the remainder of the lives.

I wish that I knew the story behind Roderick's watch.  Did Roderick buy the watch for himself or was it a gift?  imageAs I studied the pictures and thought about what the watch might have meant to Roderick, I was glad that this precious possession had been preserved and had made its way into the hands of a beloved great grandson.  I am equally grateful that he generously shared pictures of the watch with me and others.

Curious about how old the watch might be,  I checked a database for pocket watches to see what information might be available. Based on the make and serial number, the estimated production year for the watch was 1909.  I knew that in 1909, Roderick was 46 years old and had been married to Carrie Melinda Davis for 4 years. (Carrie was the subject of posts here and here.)  By 1909, Roderick and Carrie were living in Okmulgee, Oklahoma and had  two children, John William and Bertha Mae. 

Wanting to know more about Roderick during that time period,  I looked for him on the 1910 census.  As I pulled up the image on Ancestry and saw  Roderick’s household, tears immediately filled my eyes and began to slide down my cheeks.  Along with Roderick and Carrie were their children John W. and Bertha, but in addition,  listed in their household was my grandpa, then nine year old Heber, his twin Orson and Roderick’s thirty-eight year old brother, Newton.  (I shared Newton’s sad story in this post.) 

The finding confirmed what my grandfather had written in his life history.  After the death of his mother in 1909, which followed just three short years after his father's death, it was Roderick that had taken him into his home. Years ago, when I shared that story with one of Roderick’s descendants,  he indicated that Roderick had never had very much in material goods and had always struggled to make ends meet.  He didn’t know how Roderick could have fed another mouth, so I was shocked to learn that Roderick didn’t feed just one extra mouth, but he had fed three!  He had taken in two energetic young boys, who likely had bottomless pits for stomachs, and Roderick's adult brother.  The census was taken in April of 1910,  which was a little over a year after the death of Heber and Orson’s mother, meaning this had not been a short visit for them.

As I pondered Roderick’s life in terms of time, finding that he had taken in his two nephews, Orson and Heber, and his thirty eight year old, mentally ill brother, Newton, spoke volumes about Roderick's use of his time.  Fast forward to 1930 and from that census I learned that at the age of sixty-six, in addition to providing for his wife and four children, Roderick had taken in his daughter-in-law, Thelma, and grandson, Carl.  Truly Roderick made time and space in his life, in his heart and in his home for those in need at many stages of his life. 

I’ve always felt drawn to Roderick.  When I look at the only known picture of him, I see a tenderness and a kindness in his face.  Roderick’s life and experiences spanned from the raging brutality of the Civil War in the the South to the harshness shown by Mother Nature in the days of the Oklahoma Dust Bowl.  Yet from all indications,  rather than allowing the struggles of life to harden him, Roderick seemed to instead be more sensitive to the vulnerability and delicateness of the human condition, ever willing to give of  his time to alleviate the sufferings of others.

As shared in his obituary:
[Roderick] was an upright and worthy citizen and loved and respected by those who knew him.  His being translated into the new life will leave a vacant place not only in the hearts of loved ones but in his wide circle of friends and neighbors . . . “
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While I do not know the story behind Roderick's pocket watch, I am grateful that his great grandson shared pictures of it with me.  Doing so caused me to take the time to look at Roderick's life a little closer and in the process I was able to see evidence of his generosity and kindness and the way in which Roderick used his time to lift and bless others in their need.  It seems only fitting that a pocket watch has been passed down through generations as truly his use of his time ultimately defined him.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2013



Pictures of Roderick's watch and headstone generously shared by Great Grandson, Lloyd Ganus.

Obituary shared with me by descendants, but source not recorded.


Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Stories Their Faces Tell

Robert Lee Ganus, Roderick Ganus, Newton Ganus, John Monroe Ganus, John Thackason Ganus, William Franklin Ganus
Tow Row, L to R:  Robert Lee Ganus, Roderick  Monroe Ganus, Newton Lafayette Ganus
Bottom Row, L to R:  John Monroe Ganus, John Thackason Ganus, William Franklin Ganus
As much as I love the stories that I uncover, I think I almost love the pictures more. I find myself sitting and studying my ancestors' pictures and wondering what stories their faces tell? What do their eyes say? What caused that wrinkle in their brow?  What does the way they hold their mouth and their hands tell me about their life and what they were like?  It's all speculative, but it's a game I like to play.  

I particularly love it when someone shares a story to go with a picture. Such is the case of the picture of John and "his boys"  shown above.  I can't help but notice that Roderick (center back) obviously had his own ideas about how to dress for a picture. Story has it that while his father, John, and his brothers put on their “Sunday best”  for the picture, Roderick had been working in the field and said that he was not going to spend half the day dressing and undressing for a picture, so he came as he was.  The story makes me smile and reminds me that that ole Ganus spunk had trickled down through yet another generation.  

Newton L. Ganus
Newton L. Ganus
When my father first shared this picture with me, I noticed that while five of the men wore the typical solemn expressions, one son seemed not to care about how long he had to wait for the camera, nor whether the social norm dictated that a proper picture be taken in a somber manner and devoid of a smile. Newton's smile stretched from his lips to his eyes and seeing that solitary smile among the six men never fails to make me smile. When I show this picture to others, they are often quick to point to him and say things such as  “He looks like fun.”  The truth be known, Newton had experienced more than his share of heartache, but for some reason, he broke tradition, smiled for the camera and made us all want to know more about him.

Newton Lafayette Ganus and his twin, Frances Olivia Ganus, were born the 17th of July, 1867 in Pine Bluff, Jefferson, Arkansas to John Monroe Ganus and Olivia Rainwater. I am not sure how long Frances lived, but I do know that she had died by 1870 when the family returned to Haralson County, Georgia.  The Ganus family would remain there until November of 1886, at which time they migrated by train to Colorado. Later, in about 1897, the Ganus family moved on to Oklahoma where John, Olivia and all of the sons lived until they died.

Not much is known about Newton’s childhood although most of his siblings' descendants were told the story that when Newton was a child, he was kicked in the head by a mule.  In addition, all seemed to have been told that he was very smart when it came to math.  We do know that Newton never married and that he lived with his parents until their death, at which time, his married brothers took him in.  But life with Newton was not easy and it became more trying with time.  Among other issues, Newton had bouts with terrible headaches and when he did, he became angry and was difficult to deal with.

On August 30, 1921, at the age of 54,  Newton was taken to the Eastern Oklahoma State Hospital for the mentally ill at Vinita and examined by Dr. Hayes along with two other doctors.  Prior to that time, Newton had spent a year in Fort Supply, which was the first mental hospital in Oklahoma.  His brother, Robert, felt concerned enough about Newton's mental state that he had traveled a little over 100 miles from his home in Okmulgee to take him to the hospital in Vinita, which was no small distance at that time.

When examined by the doctors there, Newton was asked if his mind was as good as any body else’s and he responded that he did not know.  According to records,  Newton said, “Seems like my head hurts me right smart.  I don’t know what causes it.”  Newton also indicated that he did not believe that his "mind would be as good and stout as one not in any misery."  When asked why he had been sent there, he said, “For bad behavior I reckon.”  The doctor then asked Newton  if he had been bad and Newton indicated, “Not bad, I don’t think, just this misery and anger like I cursed a little but I don’t think I done bad.”

Newton L. Ganus
Newton L. Ganus
The doctors asked Newton a variety of other questions, including a series of mathematical questions.  Newton responded correctly to questions such as "if he received .125 cents an hour and worked 8 hours, how much would he have?" It is interesting that he was able to answer correctly every mathematical question  asked, yet his history indicated that he only had a 1st grade education.  By his responses to other questions, some of which were quite basic, Newton seemed to sometimes be a little confused and forgetful and yet his responses did not appear to be very far out of the ordinary.  I wonder what additional information may have been supplied by Newton’s brothers? With all three doctors in agreement, Newton was admitted and for the next 32 years, the hospital was his home.

Eastern Oklahoma State Hospital Cemetery
Thanks to John Schehrer for sharing the photo
On December 19, 1953, at the age of 86, Newton died of chronic myocarditis in Eastern Oklahoma State Hospital.  He was buried among countless other hospital patients on the hospital ground cemetery.  Confined for much of his adult life in the hospital, Newton had managed to outlive all of his brothers and died without any descendants of his own.  I find myself wondering just how he spent his final days? Did he have any visitors?   Did he have friends?  Did anyone weep when he was gone? 

I have one additional picture of Newton and this time he is alone.  While I can't be sure, I suspect from his clothing and his age that it was likely taken in the hospital.  This picture is a stark contrast to his picture from earlier days where he is seen smiling alongside his father and brothers. In fact, the first time I came across this picture, I was surprised to flip it over and read that it was in fact Newton. As with most of us, he had changed a lot over the years. This picture shows an older, thinner Newton, a Newton that no longer felt compelled to smile for the camera.  This time his face tells a different story, a story that I wish had had a happier ending.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2013

Friday, September 7, 2012

Revisiting sources--the case for Mary M. Chisenhall

There is definitely wisdom in revisiting the documents and notes that we have in our files and I know that,  but I find myself often procrastinating that task for another day.  The hunt for new clues in new resources is exciting and with it I feel renewed hope that this time I will find something that will ultimately break down that solid brick wall of mine. But the reality is, each time I reread the material in my files, I am doing it from a slightly different perspective, having grown in my knowledge and understanding about my ancestors and their families and so, in a way, the material is new or at least seen in a new way.  

Recently I  pulled out the Journal of John Edward Metcalf who served a mission for the LDS church to Georgia in the 1880's.  One of my cousins, Darlene, located this journal online early in our research as we initially scoured the internet to see what we could find about John Monroe Ganus and his life.  John M. Ganus and several members of his immediate family are mentioned numerous times in John Metcalf's account.  It has been years since I read through this journal and I realized that I have forgotten  many of the details. John Metcalf's descendants have graciously shared a transcribed typed copy of his journal online which can be found here: http://www.metcalfwaslin.org/album/history/jejr_jnl.htm

This journal does not contain as much day to day information about individuals' lives, as does the John Joseph Pledger Murphy journal that I have mentioned in earlier posts, but it does provide some information that cannot be found anywhere else.  The following is an entry from this journal:

April 1882
Thursday 13th-Called up to go to Sis Mary Gamus and Administered to her baby who was very sick the Lord releaved it from pain We also Blessed & Named it at the same time But it gradually got worse til death which occured at 5 PM.  We also Blessed another of thier chidren stayed all night at Bro John Ganus.

William Franklin Ganus
William Franklin Ganus
The question is, just which Mary Ganus was he referring to?  Initially I was unsure, but over time, I have learned more about the two Mary Ganuses that are candidates and their children.  Although I continue to look for additional information to back up my assumption, I feel fairly confident.

William Franklin Ganus married Mary Matilda Roberts about 1879 in Haralson County and they had a daughter in 1880 named Martha Olivia and a daughter born in 1881 named Mary E.  By the time Frank moved to Colorado in 1886, his wife, Mary Matilda, had died and although he had  their daughter, Martha Olivia, with him, there is no further mention of  daughter Mary E. Could the baby have been Frank Ganus and Mary Matilda Robert's daughter, Mary E.? 

John Thackason Ganus also married a Mary. John T. and Mary M. Chisenhall married about 1878.  Church records indicate that they had a child named Walter Scott who was born 24 March 1882 and this child was not with them when they arrived in Colorado either. Could the baby that died been Walter, son of John T. and Mary M Chisenhall ?


John Thackason Ganus
John Thackason Ganus
While both Marys are possibilities as they both lost young children that were born in the same time period and appear to have died in approximately the same time period, I believe that it is more likely that the Mary mentioned in the journal was Mary M. Chisenhall.   I have found that Mary Matilda most often was known as "Tilda" and in the 1880 census, she is recorded as Matilda.  John Metcalf then mentioned in the journal that he stayed the night with John Ganus,  and it seems more likely that he stayed with the younger John, husband to Mary M Chisenhall.   Unfortunately, I have not been able to find a grave for either of these Ganus babies.  This journal records the only reference found to this date of this baby's death. 

Whenever I look at pictures of John Thackason Ganus, I think of all that he and Mary endured.  I've heard that he had 12 children, and so far I have found records for 11.  Of the 11 that I am aware of, six died as children.  John and Mary buried children in Georgia, Colorado and Oklahoma.  While conditions for childbirth and after care for mothers and babies are not ideal throughout the world today, they certainly have improved and I wonder if their children would have survived with today's knowledge and care?

William Franklin Ganus had his share of troubles as well.  He and his first wife, Mary Matilda,  lost one of their two children.  Then, following Tilda's death, Frank married  Sarah E. Faucett and they lost 3 of their 6 children. Frank buried children in Georgia and Colorado. 

I am amazed at the challenges that people faced back "in those days."  It was difficult just to survive.  But I guess the reality is, people continue to face hard things today, although the details of those challenges have changed.  I remember hearing a man say once that our life is full of challenges and that every day we face a series of problems. Our life story is made up of the details of how we face and solve those problems.  Being able to see and understand our ancestor's problems is essential in writing their story.  

As I recently reread the Metcalf Journal for the first time in several years,  I was reminded of the importance of continually revisiting what I know, or at least what I think that I know. Because I've continued to research my Ganus family over the years and have learned more about them and their families, when I reread the things that I have filed away,  I seem to see more and understand more, which in turn helps me in my search for more.  I have known that for some time really, but it's always good to be reminded.