Showing posts with label Ganus Robert Lee. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ganus Robert Lee. Show all posts

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

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Making Sorghum Molasses the Old Way

I am always grateful for those willing to share memories with me that give a glimpse of the past. The following story takes us back to a time when even something as simple as molasses came by hard work. Thank you, Floyd Ganus, descendant of Robert Lee Ganus and Stella Montgomery for sharing the following memory of your Grandpa and Grandma Ganus and how you learned to make sorghum molasses the old way .

Robert Lee Ganus and Stella Montgomery
"We lived about a mile west of Grandpa (Robert Lee Ganus) and Grandma’s(Stella). Across the road and about an 1/8 mile up the hill lived Uncle Floyd & Aunt Jean. They had two girls Roberta, a year older and Olivia about 3 years older. There for a spell we didn’t have a car, electricity, or a radio so our entertainment was to walk up the hill and visit them. Also, we were dependent on them to take Mother or Dad to the grocery store. I was 3 or 4 and had an older sister, Virginia, 5 years older and a brother Robert D. 2 years older.



Robert Lee Ganus and Stella Montgomery with their six children
Robert Orvil b. 1910, Floyd Otto b. 1912, Andrew Monroe b. 1917, Robert Lee Ganus,
Stella Montgomery, Ida Mae b. 1907, Stella Jane b. 1904, Mary Olivia b. 1902
"This particular place was on a sandy creek bottom and Dad (Robert O.) Decided it would be a good place to grow sweet potatoes and sugar cane. They both did pretty well and my older years I have regained my taste for sweet potatoes. The sugar cane was a big summer treat to us kids. Mother (Edith P.) Would cut a stalk, clean off the leaves, and cut away the outside stalk and give us the sweet core to eat on. The core was mushy with sugar water and thus delicious to us kids. So for that summer we had the equivalent of a candy bar for several times , a real treat since store bought candy was unknown to us.

"When early fall came Dad gathered all of the sugar cane by cutting them off at ground and stripped off the leaves. When he finished with plot, less than an acre, we had a wagon load of sugar cane. Since our transportation was a wagon drawn by a team of horse, we got up early in morning and took the trip about 2 and one-half miles west to the old black mans place to squeeze the canes for the juice. The press was a metal contraption about the size of washing machine with a pole extending from the top to the side 15 or 20 feet. He had a donkey trained to walk the circle around the press giving it power. His was a very slow walk. The old man sat on the ground next to the press and fed the stalks into the press. My brother and I found out why we were invited on this trip. We were the carriers of the sugar cane stalks from the wagon to the old man feeding them in. You had to duck under the pole to hand him the canes. The process of extracting the nectar took about 2 hours or so. Time goes fast when you are having fun- I mean working. When we left the old man kept all of the sugar cane juice and kept it for the final tasks of cooking it down into molasses.
"By the time it was ready, we had moved about a mile or so on the other side of Grandpa and Grandma’s. Also, I guess Dad got good prices for those sweet potatoes since he now owned an old pickup truck. He came in one day with several jugs of dark molasses for us. Dad loved molasses and an evening supper would often be pancakes and molasses. Us kids would beg Mom into making home made the syrup by boiling some sugar in some water and adding maple favoring. This was much better than the strong tasting molasses. With so much molasses and reluctant eaters part of the molasses turned into sugar (looked like dark brown sugar). Thank goodness!"




Times certainly have changed and I for one am grateful that when I need molasses for a recipe, I can grab a bottle from the grocery shelf .Thank you Floyd, for sharing memories from your childhood years and teaching me about the process of making sorghum molasses the old way! 

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2016, All rights reserved

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Remembering Robert

How well do you really know your ancestors? Were they quiet or chatty? Did they drink something special before retiring at night? Were they honest? What were their beliefs on the issues of the day? 
Robert Lee Ganus, b May 19, 1870
Robert Lee Ganus

While so much can be gleaned from governmental records, nothing quite compares to the recollections of those who actually knew them. A journal, letters, or another's remembrances can provide a unique glimpse into an individual's life that no record can provide. 

I recently connected with descendants of Robert Lee Ganus, my great grandfather's youngest brother. What a treat to find living people who knew him and were willing to share what they remember about their grandfather. Thank you Floyd Ganus, Mary Tedder and Dorothy Davis! My next few posts will be memories they have generously shared about their grandfather, Robert. 
"Robert Lee Ganus was born May 29,1870, to parents John Monroe Ganus and Olivia Rainwater in west central Georgia, Polk County. He was the youngest of six sons who lived to adult age. He lived and migrated with his parents to Colorado and then to the Creek Nation capital known as Okmulgee, a place the Creek Native Americans chose as their government resettlement since they believed no tornado would strike this town and it was adjacent to Deep Fork River.
"Robert worked for a period as a laborer, possibly as a farm hand, and saved the earnings to purchase 80 acres of farmland from Cecilia Berryhill, a relative of the Creek Native American Chief in the late 1890's. This farm was to be his livelihood and home for the remainder of his life. Initially the cash crop was cotton, but peanuts were grown later. Almost half was dedicated to a cow pasture and most of the crops were corn and head-feed for the chickens, pigs and cows. The majority of food came from a large garden. Pork was a staple since it could be saved via salt injections. A more detailed description is contained in a later description of the farm.
Robert Lee Ganus and Stella Mae Montgomery
Robert Lee Ganus and Stella Mae Montgomery
"At the age of 30 he courted Stella Mae Montgomery, age 21. She lived with her parents two miles west and one mile south from his farm. They were married July 8, 1900. They had 8 children, 2 died as infants and 6 who lived to raise their own families. Mary Olivia (Shepperd) b. July 30, 1902: Stella Jane (Mitchel) b. February 27, 1904; Ida Mae (Shaw) b. September 27, 1907; Robert Orvil b. September 12, 1910; Floyd Otto b. April 6, 1913; Andrew Monroe b. April 14, 1917. The first born, a girl Jessie, and fourth born, a girl Lola, died as infants. These six children had 22 grandchildren. All six of these children remained close even after they started their own families. Olivia Shepherd and Ida Mae Shaw continued to return each July 8th for a family reunion after their husbands work had moved them to Texas. The other four continued to live within five miles."

Robert Lee Ganus, Stella Mae Montgomery, Mary Olivia Ganus, Stella Jane Ganus, Ida Mae Ganus, Robert Orvil Ganus, Floyd Otto Ganus, Andrew Monroe Ganus
Robert, Stella and their grown children
Return next week for part 2 when Floyd, Dorothy and Mary share more memories about Robert's life.  

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2015, All rights reserved

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Day Grandpa Hijacked the Car

I have never known anyone who hijacked anything, so when Mary said she remembered the day her grandpa hijacked the car, she had my full attention.

A few months ago I decided to round up descendants of John Monroe Ganus in a Facebook group. I am a member of several Facebook family groups and have enjoyed the association. The results of such groups seems to vary, but I was hopeful that this one would prove successful.  

Over the years I have been in touch with a few distant Ganus cousins, but I didn't expect that there would be very many on Facebook. As I've shared many times on this blog, my grandfather was orphaned at 8 and sent from Oklahoma where the Ganus family was living to Colorado to live with his mother's family, so I didn't grow up near any of my Ganus cousins and have never met any of them in person. 


While initially the group was composed of just a small handful of cousins, and I do mean a small handful, word soon spread, and the cousins I contacted began to tell other Ganus cousins and soon our group began to grow and so did the online chatter. 


Mary Jo Shaw Tedder, the granddaughter of Robert Lee Ganus is one of my newly discovered cousins. 
Robert Lee Ganus was born 29 May 1870 in Polk County, Georgia to John Monroe Ganus and Olivia Rainwater. He married Stella May Montgomery 8 July 1900 in Indian Territory, Creek Nation, Oklahoma.  He was the youngest of John and Olivia's children and 17 years younger than their eldest child, my great grandfather William Franklin Ganus. 

Mary has a delightful talent for writing and sharing her memories. When she shares a story, I feel that I am right there with her. With permission I want to share a memory that she recently shared with our group.  


Stella May Montomery, Andrew Monroe Ganus, Robert Lee Ganus
Shared by Floyd Ganus 


The Day Grandpa Ganus (Robert Lee) Hijacked the Car
I will have to start by confessing that the title was a bit of a tease. He didn't really hijack the car. It was his car but the other adults in the family much preferred he didn't drive it. We're talking early 30's and no particular skills were required it seems - and no driver's licenses. I was about 5 years old which meant there weren't more than 5 other grandkids in the area - all of us outside of course. My Aunt Olivia was a pretty "together" person so I was rather startled when she came running out the back door yelling - yes she was yelling - "gather up the kids and get them in the house. Papa's gonna drive the car." Kids were quickly gathered up and moved to a safe place. Grandpa came marching (I always think of him as marching rather than walking or strolling) out of the house and headed for the car. He got it started, ground the gears and lurched toward the road. It's true all the kids were safely in the house or the fenced in yard but the chickens were on their own. There was much squawking and running and I swear some of them tried to fly to get out of the way of that car. Grandpa didn't seem to notice. He got to the road, turned left and lurched away. The end of the story is anti-climatic I guess. He did come back and I never knew where he went or why. I sometimes wonder if those chickens were traumatized and unable to lay eggs at least for a few days.
I have laughed and laughed at this story. Thank you Mary for sharing your fun recollection! From the description of Robert marching out to the car, to the kids scattering and the chickens squawking, I can envision it all.

Robert Lee Ganus and
Stella May Montgomery
It's only been a couple of months since the group was first formed, but what a joy it has been already! We have laughed together and felt touched by the many photos and memories that have been shared. I am amazed at how quickly things have come together and how much it has already blessed my life by helping me become acquainted with my Ganus cousins, both past and present. 

As each person in our group has shared what they have or know about our family, each has given us something that can not be found in any document. Say what you want about Facebook.....but it's been the setting for a wonderful reunion. Stay tuned for more stories in the coming months!


Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2015, All rights reserved


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Gift of Time

image
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 . . . “
image

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, May 23, 2013

Spring With Forty Acres and a Plow

imageI am always thrilled when I see the first crocus poke its head through the soil …..it brings with it anticipation and excitement for spring and warmer weather.  As I recently drove  to the nursery to select plants and seeds for my garden, I wondered what spring meant to my ancestors. Many of my ancestors were Georgia farmers and so I suspect that for them spring meant work, hope and anticipation for a bountiful harvest.

Here we plant most of our garden after Mother’s Day, so I was surprised to learn that in many areas of Georgia they plant some crops as early FEBRUARY!  So while I am still watching the snow drifts pile up, they are preparing soil and sowing seeds . When I am looking through the starts at our local nursery, in many parts of Georgia, they are beginning to harvest crops such as sweet corn, peaches and squash.

According to the 1880 Agricultural Census 1 John Monroe Ganus was the owner of his farm, which included 18 acres of Indian corn,  2 acres of oats, 2 acres of wheat, and 18 acres of cotton.  He also had 5 barnyard poultry, 8 swine and one milch cow in addition to one other cow.
image
While this was not a big farm, by any standards, as I recently surveyed my cluster of simple raised garden boxes and thought of the time required to care for them,  I could not help but wonder what farming was like for John and how he managed to care for all that he had.  Farming is demanding for the farmers of today, but I can not imagine how grueling it must have been for the farmers of the late 19th century, void of the benefits of modern day equipment.

In 1880, John and Olivia had sons living at home who may have been a source of help.  At that time, their two oldest sons, William Franklin and John Thackason, were both married, had families and were farming nearby. The three sons still at home, were Roderick Monroe who was 17, Newton Lafayette who was 13 and Robert Lee who was 10.  I also know that for a period of time in 1882, John had help from an Mormon missionary serving in the area at that time.  I am so thankful for the insight that the John Metcalf’s journal2  provides into John’s life as a farmer.

According to his journal, when Elder Metcalf visited John ‘s home on May 19, 1882, he learned that a frost had killed some of John’s cotton and corn.  Farmers have always been vulnerable to the unpredictability of the weather, but that wouldn't have softened the disappointment of such loss.  From what I know about John, he was never particularly well off, but had to work hard for most of his life in order to provide for his family, so I am sure that losing crop came as a blow.  The next next morning, John got up and did the only thing that he could do and that was to get to work.  Elder Metcalf recorded that the next day he helped John to plow, indicating that they plowed half a day and were so busy, he ended up staying the night with John and Olivia.  A few days later, John had wheat to bind and Elder Metcalf returned to help.  On July 28, Elder Metcalf helped John “plow cotton”  and the men once again worked long and late into the evening.
 
As  crops were harvested, the farmer was not yet “done," as the fields then had to be cleared and cleaned.  Elder Metcalf found John in the field doing exactly that on September 9, and once again, stepped in to help him.  The following day, September 10,  it rained all day and  Elder Metcalf recorded that consequently they just “waited it out”.  I can almost picture the men, anxious to complete the task, periodically peering out the window for any indication of a break in the storm.  The following day, the rain stopped and they were able to return to the field to continue their work.  In my mind, I can see the steam rising from the field as the  hot Georgia sun warmed the drenched soil.  I also can imagine John and Elder Metcalf returning to John’s house at the end of the day, sunburned, tired and muddy from a full day’s work.  For three back breaking days, John and Elder Metcalf worked to clear the field. 

September 14, Elder Metcalf helped John pull fodder. After harvesting corn, farmers use to “pull fodder”, which involves pulling the blades off of the cornstalks and gathering them into bunches to dry in the sun. The fodder was then stored to be fed to the cows later. It was difficult work and the sharp edges of the corn blades often sliced their hands in the process.
 
image
Sugar Cane
According to the  journal, John raised sugar cane that year and Elder Metcalf was there to help John cut the cane on September 28th, 29th and 30th  and again on October 2nd, and 3rd.  Cutting sugar cane was also difficult work, in which each stalk was cut individually from the ground and then at the top, after stripping off the foliage along the sides.3    

As they came to the end of the growing season, John Metcalf returned to John’s farm one final time on October 31 and helped John "pull and haul corn."

While Elder Metcalf continued to visit John’s home, no further mention was made that year of helping him on the farm and so for a few months at least, John continued to feed and care for his handful of livestock until the following spring, when he would once again begin the process of plowing, planting and harvesting.


1. Selected U.S. Federal Census Non-Population Schedules, 1850-1880 database, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 20 May 2013, entry for John M. Ganus, District 1143 Haralson, Georgia; Archive Collection Number:  T1137; Page: 08; Line 10

2 Journal of John Edward Metcalf, Mission to the Southern States.  No longer available on the internet. (bulk of material for this post was taken from entries in this journal).

3   Cultivation of Sugar Cane;  William Carter Stubbs; Daniel Gugel Purse, Savannah, Morning News Print, 1900, page 144, found on www.books.google.com

Pictures from Wikipedia Commons, all in Public Domain.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2013
.

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

Saturday, November 17, 2012

What Are You Crying Fer?

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

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


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

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


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


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

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2012


Friday, August 24, 2012

Treasured Find

John Monroe Ganus and his boys
L to R top row:  Robert, Roderick, Newton
bottom row: John Monroe, John T., Frank
At the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy held in January 2012, one of the instructors reminded our class of the value of checking online trees to determine what research may have been done by other individuals.  I admit that I was a little surprised because most recently I have used that resource less and less.  It is frustrating to discover so many online trees riddled with error, without sources and, in many cases, simply “cut and pasted” from someone else’s incorrectly done work.   But, during that class, I realized that I have essentially     thrown the baby out with the bathwater, as the saying goes.   


Truthfully, Rootsweb lists and message boards, Genforum,  Ancestry’s message boards and online trees had all been a great resource for me in the past, directing me to individuals that often privately held information that solved some of my toughest genealogy mysteries.  I say “in the past” because I realized that as I have progressed in knowledge, I have turned to those sources less frequently.   As I consider the scan of a family Bible record shared by one such contact, the two scanned journals from the late 1800’s which mentioned my ancestor, pictures and treasured first person accounts that I have received from contacts met through such sites, I realize that I have lost touch with a very precious resource, essentially the living descendants of siblings and associates of my ancestors.  Along with the increased availability of digitized online sources, there has been a steady decline in the once very thriving community that existed on forums and lists and many theorize that the two are related.  But the truth is, digitized material and sites that facilitate exchange do not have to exist mutually exclusive of each other.  None of us can truly be successful researching in a bubble.   We need each other. 

A good example of the value of resources obtained through online forums and lists is a journal that was shared with me by a woman who I met years ago on a Rootsweb list.  This journal was kept by John J. Pledger Murphy from 1886-1887 in Georgia.  In addition to giving me an idea of what life was like for many in the Cedartown, Georgia area in the late 1880’s, it also provides a glimpse into my ancestor’s life.  

Following are two excerpts from that journal:

Oct. Saturday 23, 1886
John Ganus and I go a squirrel hunting we kill one squirell after two hours hunt.  Return to Johnnys and have squirrel, long leg collard and sweet potatoes for dinner.  Nute and Boby Ganus and John Bailey goes to town with cow and calf.  They return and John Ganus goe with them to Baileys a possum hunting.  Catch one fine fat possum.  Frank and Rod Ganus come.  Frank and me sleep at John Ganus.  The bed fell down with us.
 
Oct. Sunday 24, 1886
At 9 a.m. Johney and the boys come with the old big fat possum.  We scald him and scrape him and Mrs Ganus cooked it for dinner.  I et one hind leg and some cabbage at ½ past 2:00 


As I read this passage, I almost feel like I am right there with them.   I love thinking of Olivia (John Monroe Ganus’s wife) cooking up squirrel, long leg collards and sweet potatoes for her family and guests one night and possum and cabbage the next.  I can imagine them enjoying their dinner together and then sons Frank (William F.) and Rod (Roderick) joining them.  I can just see the men all talking after dinner and deciding to take off  hunting together with their Bailey relatives and then returning home together with  “one fine fat possum” while the younger cousins, Nute (Newton), Boby (Robert) and John Bailey (Olivia’s sister’s son) , go together to take their cow and calf to town.   It makes me laugh to imagine the crash when the bed broke in the middle of the night with their guests in it.  I love knowing that Olivia’s family and her sister’s family were part of each other’s daily lives.  In many ways this journal allows me to see the Ganus family in a way nothing else could.

I’m glad to be reminded of the valuable resource that we can be to each other as we share what we have. It also looks like it’s time I returned to some of those online lists and forums to see what connections I can make with the living. 





Wednesday, August 22, 2012

On Their Way!

 From the “Journals of John Joseph Pledger Murphy” Georgia

 Friday November 12, 1886 “We arose early & at my sujestion Franklin Ganus packed up all of his things preparatory to going to Colorado. Also we made a start on his Fathers packing. …. John Ganus & John Ganus [son John Thackason]returned from Cedar Town. I went home with Johny Ganus and stoped all night. Slept well.

 Monday November 15, 1886 …. I went to John Ganuses  & had a good talk with him and family. G.W. Driver [George W. Driver] loaned him $10.00 so that he could take his son Baby Ganus with him to Colorado. Their hearts were made glad and they rejoiced in having the priviledge of all going.

 Tuesday, November 16, 1886 We et early breakfeast went to Bro. G.W.D. with Johny Ganus & did the hardest days work I almost ever did in my life packing up his household & kitchen furniture & got it to the depot by 5 p.m

Wednesday November 17, 1886 ……I stayed with them until I seen the last of them at 8:30 am. [after having taken them to the train depot]

They were on their way! On Wednesday, November 17, 1886, John and Olivia Rainwater, along with their son William Franklin and his daughter “Ollie”, John and Olivia's son John Thackason, and his wife Mary Chisenhall along with their children, John W., and Minnie Delania , plus John and Olivia’s sons Roderick, Robert and Newton, all boarded the train headed for the San Luis Valley in Colorado. It’s hard to imagine the emotion that they must have felt as they contemplated the new life that lay ahead as well as the life that they were leaving behind. John Monroe was 60 years old. Would they be able to make a living? They were all farmers, but would they be able to adjust to the very short growing season there in Colorado? Did they know that winter temperatures often plunged to below zero? There were many things that would change with this move. On top of it all, John and Olivia had left siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins and would never again return to Georgia to see them. While we have no idea exactly what they knew or felt, we do know that they were willing to take that courageous step to begin a new life.

Photo of train is from the L.D. McClure collection 1890-1935, album III, 137, from Denver Public Library Digital Collections.