Showing posts with label Ganus William Franklin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ganus William Franklin. 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 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

Friday, July 8, 2016

Photo Friday--Blanche Elmina Faucett

William F. Ganus
Sarah E. Faucett
Elmina Ganus
This photo is of my great grandparents, William Franklin Ganus b. 1853 Georgia and Sarah E. Faucett b. 1864 Georgia and their daughter Blanche Elmina Ganus. I assume she was named after her grandmother who was Elmina (Bowers )Faucett.  

Blanche was born 18 February 1891 in Manassa, Conejos, Colorado and died September of that same year. She was buried in the Old Manassa Cemetery outside of Manassa, Colorado. She was their only daughter. 
Old Manassa Cemetery
Outside of Manassa Colorado 
















Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2016, All rights reserved

Monday, August 17, 2015

Lost and Found

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Children of Henry and Louisa


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

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

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

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


Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2015, All rights reserved

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Justified Fear

Without a doubt, the fear was justified.

What initially began like the flu soon became much more. Within days of the beginning symptoms of fatigue, fever, headache and general discomfort, spots began to appear.  The red spots were followed by the formation of deep, painful blisters which often covered much of the body. Although not all who contracted smallpox died, all suffered greatly and the resulting deep pitted scars left their unmistakable mark on its victims for a lifetime.

The John Monroe Ganus family moved about considerably over the years. In the early years they lived in Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas and Colorado. In about 1897 the family moved to Indian Territory, which would later become Oklahoma.

Smallpox comes up with some frequency in the history of the early days of Indian Territory. Although smallpox certainly was not unique to Indian Territory (Oklahoma), the risk appears to have been greater than it had been in Colorado where the Ganus family previously lived.  For example, according to the "Annual Report" by the United States Public Health for the year 1909, Oklahoma had 1,328 cases of smallpox with 6 deaths as compared to Colorado's 345 cases and no deaths. (see page 188)

A microfilm at the Family History Library entitled "Creek Nation: Outbreaks" for the years 1882-1909 * covers the period my ancestors lived in Okmulgee, in Creek Nation. It was while living in Indian Territory that my Great Grandfather William Franklin Ganus died in 1906 at the age of 53, and my Great Grandmother, Sally died in 1909 at the age of 45. In addition, my Gr Gr Grandmother Olivia Ganus died there in 1902, followed by my Gr Gr Grandfather John Monroe Ganus  in 1906, Although it's obvious that my great great grandparents were considerably older,  I've always thought it was curious that the four died in a relatively short span of time and particularly that my great grandparents died fairly young while many of the older Ganus generations lived until quite old. Because no death records exist for Indian Territory for that period of time, the cause of death is not known. I wondered if there was a chance that any of my Ganus ancestors died of smallpox.


As I scrolled through the microfilm, it became very apparent that smallpox was a major concern during those years.  There were a variety of records related to the efforts taken to control and reduce the spread of smallpox, such as setting aside funds to deal with outbreaks, plans for immunization and determining where to treat the victims. From the film I learned that on February 18,1899, Okmulgee, where my Ganus family was living at the time, was quarantined for smallpox. How had this impacted the Ganus family?  What changes did they make to the way they conducted their day to day life? Were neighbors and friends ill?

In January of the following year, houses and furniture of some of the ill in the area were burned, leaving the owners of the dwellings homeless. The act was justified as being for the "benefit of all people, white, black and indian residing in Indian Territory and adjoining states and territories."  In addition, a detention camp was prescribed by the board of health. Nurses and doctors were employed to assist in treating the smallpox victims in the camps and hospitals.

As I turned to Oklahoma newspapers, I found a variety of articles pertaining to smallpox.

From the Muskogee Times-Democrat 31 Mar 1909, I learned that the detention hospitals were more than just a place to receive medical attention, but as the name implies, they were literally a place of detention, with serious consequences for those who chose not to be confined. On page 1 I found the following:
 "Sheriff Ramsey today offered a reward of $25 for the apprehension of C. O. Zinn, who escaped from the smallpox detention hospital south of the city night before last."
Some Oklahoma community newspapers carried a monthly bulletin stating which illnesses were most prevalent along with the number of resulting deaths. Some communities listed the individuals suffering from smallpox as well as the specific towns under quarantine. Such was the case in 1909 of Fort Towson, Oklahoma which is located down near the Texas border. According to page 1 of the Dailey Armoreite on May 13th of that year,  the entire town was quarantined due to smallpox and no one was allowed to get on or off the train there without a physician's certificate.

Additionally sometimes courts were cancelled due to outbreaks of smallpox.  On page 2 of The Indian Chieftain (Vinita, Oklahoma) a headline read "DANGER OF SMALLPOX" No Court Should be Held in Vinita at This time." Schools and other pubic gatherings were often cancelled as well.

As a sideline, The Muskogee Cimeter 25 January1907  included the following humorous story.
An Illinois farmer, ...one day received a note from a Chicago friend which read as follows: "My dear John, the small pox is epidemic in this part of the city and for safety, I have taken advantage of one of your many kind invitations and sent my two sons down to you. In two weeks the farmer sent a note to the city friens (sic) which read:  "I herewith return your boys: please send me the small pox."  Oklahoma State Capital, Jan 19, 1907.  (page 1) 
Did any of the early Ganus family members contract smallpox?  I still don't know for sure, but I feel fairly confident that they likely had friends and neighbors who did. While I did not find any of the Ganus family on a list of smallpox victims, I can see that smallpox touched every member of a community in some way and that the fear it generated was justified.



*Creek Nation: Outbreaks, documents 22 July 1882 - 7 Apr. 1909- FHL US/CAN Film 1666283, Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah 

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2015, All rights reserved

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

On The Lookout For Perrys - Part 1

Was this my Perry connection?    The name Perry has been used as a first name in my own immediate family and I was told that it was because of the importance of a family named Perry, but no one knew exactly who that family was.  

But as a result, I have long kept my eye out for a Perry connection somewhere.  As I worked on my Rainwater family, I was intrigued as I came upon a Perry family and couldn't help but wonder if this was the family.  
Photo generously shared by David, a descendant


Mary Ann Ayers,  or Mollie as many called her, was the only daughter of Reuben Ayers and Frances Rainwater.  Frances was a sister to my second great grandmother Olivia Rainwater.  

In 1877, when Mary Ann was 20 years old, she married James Crain Perry in Haralson County, Georgia.  So the question in my mind is, were the two families ever close enough that my Grandfather would have known and named his only son after this Perry family? The question led me on an adventure to get to know Mary Ann.


Mary Ann was born in October of 1857 in Carroll County, Georgia, but by the 1860 census, she moved with her parents Reuben and Frances Ayers to the hills of Calhoun County, Alabama. John and wife Olivia (nee Rainwater) Ganus and their children had also moved from Georgia to Calhoun County and were living just a few households away.  By 1870 Reuben, Frances and Mary Ann were back in Georgia and once again were living in close proximity to the John and Olivia Ganus family.  John and Olivia had three children by the time Mary Ann was born.  Mary Ann and William Franklin Ganus, my great grandfather were about three years apart. There is no doubt that the two families enjoyed each other’s company, as shared in this post. But both families would move multiple times to multiple states in the years that followed and I wondered, did the children several generations later have opportunity to know each other?  It will take some digging to see if they did and if indeed this family was responsible for the Perry name in my own family. 

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2014,  All rights reserved

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, 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.
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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.
 
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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
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