Showing posts with label Mickelsen Hazel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mickelsen Hazel. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Grandma at the Academy


Frank Soule, San Luis Stake Academy, ancestry, genealogy, family history, Sanford Colorado , Hazel Mickelsen Ganus, Manassa Colorado
San Luis Stake Academy abt 1900
Alamosa Public Library 
Initially, as I perused the meager contents of Grandma Hazel (Mickelsen) Ganus' little suitcase, I was somewhat disappointed that it had little to aid me in my efforts to take my Ganus family line back any further. Recently I revisited that little suitcase with an eye for what it does have instead of what it does not have and discovered that a few items give me a glimpse into my Grandma Hazel Mickelsen Ganus's life.

Among the items in the suitcase was a rather large certificate measuring 14" x 17" issued for completion of the high school course of study at the San Luis Stake Academy. I assumed that it was a school there in the San Luis Valley of Southern Colorado, but I didn't know much about it, so I did a little digging to see what I could learn about the high school that Grandma attended.

I learned from an article in the LDS Church News entitled "Academy era short-lived, but impact long lasting," written by Kevin Stoker in 1988, that from 1888 to 1909, the LDS church started 35 academies in Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Arizona, Mexico, and Canada. These schools provided spiritual education as well as secular. The San Luis Academy that my grandma attended began in 1909, but by 1922 the academies were closed and the education process was turned over to the local government.

Grandma did not write very much about her time at the academy but rather focused more on her education afterward. But here is what she did share about her experience:
"My eighth grade teacher, as well as my first two years of high school was Mr. Frank Soule, a very good teacher and a well liked person. In our graduating class there were (no number indicated). Our colors were purple and gold. Sanford only had a two year high school at that time. Students wanting to attend further had to go somewhere else. Of all that big graduating class very few went on to high school and less to college. I was the only girl that finished college of the group. While attending class high school in Sanford the school building caught on fire and burned down, we then attended class in the old church house.  
"After finishing my two years here I attended school in Manassa where there was a church school, called the San Luis Academy. The first year a bad epidemic of small pox broke out among the students as well as town people, so school was closed, consequently no credits were issued. I went back the next year and it was here that I finished my high school education. Luckily, while I was attending school in Sanford, I was able to carry sufficient credits, added to what I now had I was able to graduate in three years with the class of 1919.    
"How did we get to Manassa to school? Well, we rode in a bus, a lot like the ones we have now, but smaller."
Grandma pursued more education and eventually graduated from college and taught elementary school both in Colorado and Oklahoma where they moved in the later years of my grandfather's life. I have to appreciate her determination to learn and gain an education.
San Luis Stake Academy, Hazel Mickelsen Ganus, William O. Crowther, Wallace F.  Bennett, Sanford Colorado, Manassa Colorado, Genealogy LDS Church Academies

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2016, All rights reserved

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Gobble Gobble---Raising Turkeys

raising turkeys, Ganus, genealogy, ancestry, ancestors, family historyRecently I learned, much to my surprise, that Grandma Hazel (Mickelsen) Ganus raised turkeys at one point in her life. Although she never talked about it, she shared this fact in her life history. What started out as a relatively small project soon grew to become a large adventure and served to help my Grandpa and Grandma through a rough time.

 When Grandpa took a job working with Heiselt Construction on the Echo Canyon Dam in Utah, initially Grandma Ganus and their two children stayed in Colorado. Later, when the work took Grandpa to California, Grandma and their kids joined him and they lived near Lake Almanor. For a while, the work with Heiselt put food on the table and provided a roof overhead, but eventually the job was completed and Grandma and Grandpa, along with the Malmgren family, moved a short distance away just outside the small town of Taylorsville, California. There they lived on a ranch that Mr. Heiselt owned. The business had had financial difficulties and my grandparents were owed several thousand dollars, so they held out hope that they would eventually be paid all that was owed. Grandma recorded that while living on Heiselt's property, they lived in a small house on "the terrace." During that time,  Grandpa farmed and Grandma raised turkeys. According to her life history, she hatched the turkeys from eggs and she began with just three gobblers and twenty-five hens. Over time her little business grew and she raised 500 turkeys. Grandma indicated that she sold the turkeys to meat markets and that she got a good price for them.

I wish Grandma had written a little more. How in the world did she care for the turkeys? How did she know how to raise turkeys? Where did she go to get their food and how did she get there?  How did she transport them to the market? I would imagine there were some challenges in raising turkeys and that some of her experiences probably evoked a laugh or two. I wish so much that she had recorded some of the things that happened during that time.


Eventually, Grandma and Grandpa decided to leave their little place on the ranch and they returned to Sanford, Colorado where their families were living.

I will be thinking of her as we eat our Thanksgiving turkey this year. I am glad that Grandma took the time to write a little about her business and although I won't likely be raising turkeys anytime soon, I do hope I can be as determined as she was in coming up with creative solutions to the challenges I face in life.

Did your grandparents face hard times? How did they get through them?

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2016, All rights reserved



Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Married to a Southerner


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2016, All rights reserved

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Feeding the Bindlestiffs

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2016, All rights reserved

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The Day I got Paddled

School will be starting soon and as I see the kids shopping for school clothes and supplies, my mind always flashes back to the days when I was in school. School has certainly changed over the years. Our local Jr. High has gone totally paperless with everything, EVERYTHING being done on a tablet! I can't even comprehend that. I wonder what schools smell like without the smells of books, paper and lead pencils. 

Although schools have changed dramatically since I was a kid, they changed just as dramatically from the time my Grandma Hazel (Mickelsen) Ganus attended school and when I was in school. In her life story, she inserted the picture below of her school, a little log school in Sanford, Colorado. It is marked, although she ran out of room for some of the names and the picture covered portions of other names, so I did my best at transcribing what she wrote. (If you know these people, please help me out.) 

Sanford Colorado, Hazel Mickelsen, Glen Hostetter, school, one room, log cabin, paddle

Boys:
B.R. Riley Jones, Ed Canty, Glen Hostetter, Walter Cunningham
FR. Earl Jensen, Orson Lloyd, Lyle Jones, Weird Smith, Harry Thomas Bertie Mor (?rest of word covered)

Girls: 
B.R. Ada B. Morgan, Eva Hunt, Zelphia Holman, Amy Hutchins, Nina B. Johnson, Mae W. ?, Bessie ? 
 F.R. Nina Z. Johnson, Rozina Brot?, Hazel Mickelsen, Sarah Mayfield 
I am lucky that both sides of my family are represented in this picture. My Grandpa Glen Hostetter is with the boys and my Grandma Hazel Mickelsen Ganus with the girls. Grandpa Hostetter was four years older than my Grandma Ganus, so I am assuming this is the entire school in the picture, which isn't too hard to believe since Sanford currently has a population around 860. I hope this log school house had windows on at least one of the sides!

Grandma shared a variety of different memories about school, but one thing she said caught my attention. Speaking of a particular teacher she said,
"I remember her bringing a switch to school every day as some of the boys were so mean and ornery. That was the way she tried to keep them in tune." 
She talked about being in a one room log school but later went to a finishing school that was a red brick building and it had stairs. She said,
"I remember how we kids would love to slide down the banisters on the stairway. The teachers would get so disgusted with us. The boys, of course, were the ornery ones." 
Although paddles are no longer used in the classroom, I remember when teachers used them to keep order.  I also remember all too clearly the day I got paddled. 

I was always a very obedient student and tried very hard to do what was asked of me. But one day in sixth grade at Midway Elementary, in the small town of Fellows, California, our teacher Mr. Bozarth had had it with the entire class and told everyone to sit down and be quiet and not to say another word. Then he added, the next person to get up would get paddled. 

I heard him talking, but I guess I was in my own little world because he no more finished saying that than I realized my pencil needed to be sharpened, so I jumped up and headed towards the pencil sharpener. The class gasped and I froze, suddenly realizing with horror what I had just done. I turned and looked at Mr. Bozarth who was looking directly at me and had an expression mixed with shock and that I-can't-believe-YOU-just-did-that look. I was a good student and he knew it, but he had said he would paddle the next person who got up and so he was stuck.

Bozarth, Midway, Fellows California, Genealogy, Ancestry, family history


He motioned for the door, grabbed his paddle and I dutifully followed him out. He headed down the outside hallway and then took off across the school playground. My heart was pounding, I was fighting back tears and I wondered where in the world he was taking me? A few classes were out on the playground and they stopped and watched as I followed Mr. Bozarth to the gym.

When we got to the gym, he opened the door to the woman PE teacher's office and explained the situation and asked her to witness my paddling. I remember her looking at me with a look of surprise and pity. I had never needed to be punished in school before, let alone paddled. 

Mr. Bozarth had a handmade wooden shellacked paddle with a round hole towards the end of the paddle so that it really stung when he smacked your behind. I had heard about that paddle from the boys and I couldn't believe I was about to experience it. 

He directed me to bend over, which I obediently did. He raised the paddle back over his head and I held my breath as he swung the paddle down, but the paddle barely touched my back side, in fact for a minute, I wasn't sure it even had. I paused and wondered if that was all? Surely not!

I remember I looked up at him to see if that was really all he was going to do and he told me to be sure and pay attention the next time he told us not to get out of our seats. I felt a huge sense of relief. He headed to the door and opened it to find the kids who had been out on the playground gathered outside the door trying to listen. I was so embarrassed to walk out of that room, once again following Mr. Bozarth and his paddle, but this time, we headed back to the waiting class. 

I don't think I will ever forget that day. Just as Grandma Ganus had observed when she was in school, it was generally the boys who got the paddling in my school and after that, I made sure it stayed that way, even if I had to write with a very dull pencil.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2016, All rights reserved


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Spooky Mountain Stories

As we sat on the lawn chairs pulled up close to the fire pit, the fire mesmerized us. Swirling colors of orange and red swallowed the burning logs while the smoke constantly shifted directions, stinging our eyes and choking us. We always said smoke followed beauty, so while it burned our eyes like the dickens, we acted as if it was a compliment when it came our way.

It was the last night of our week long camping trip and the night Dad always told us a spooky story. It was tradition and I had a love/hate relationship with the story. Dad was a great story teller and could really draw us in, so for that reason, I loved the story. But when the fire was out and I was in bed in the pitch black of the night mountains, the story replayed in my head and my imagination conjured up all kinds of images. I heard every snapping twig or suggestion of a critter or something more sinister outside our little tent trailer and it was often a very long night.

camping, Colorado, California, tent trailer, spooky stories, campfire, night
My brother and I on a family camping trip


Every year our family went camping and we loved those trips. We would fish, hike and swim in the streams. Some of our best memories are of the camping trips our family took in the mountains of California and Colorado.

As I was reading in my Grandma Ganus' life story, I was surprised to discover that Grandma Ganus' family also camped. Reading about her life in the early 1900's,  I guess I thought everyday life was close enough to camping they didn't need the camping experience, but apparently nothing quite compares to the clear crisp air and beauty of the mountains.

Grandma shared the following story about a time her family went camping and I had to wonder if such stories had served as inspiration for the spooky stories my father spun for us. (spelling and punctuation original.)

Conejos River, Colorado, camping, fishing, hunting, ancestry, genealogy, family history
Conejos River
Taken on 2010 trip
"A fishing trip I recall with my parents was up on the Conejos River. Dad, Mother and all us children, Martin, Mable and their baby girl, Evelyn, only six weeks old. My baby sister Elsie was nine weeks old. Mother and Mable and the babies rode in a buggy, the rest of us in the wagon. I think Martin must of rode some of the way with the women. This trip also took three days on the road each way. We went by way of the Alamosa Reservoir, up the Alamosa Canyon, to the Conejos River. We camped below the Old Ghost Town of Platora. When we arrived there, it was almost night and raining. Dad and Martin got the tents put up as soon as they could so the beds could be fixed and a bit of supper prepared. The next day the sun came out nice and bright, it was a pretty day. 

"Dad and Martin had to go to meet the sheep herder at a given place, and take him some provisions. The herder had a big string of fish for them when they met. The herder had taken the sheep up to Blue Lake, where the feed was better, so he didn't tarry long with them. The next day the men decided to try their luck at fishing. They got their outfits and started down the river. Just after they had crossed the river on a bridge, one of them happened to look up the mountain. there setting on a big rock was a woman, half undressed, with the gun laying across her lap. The men didn't know who she was, or what she was doing there, so Martin came back to camp while dad tried fishing in the river while he was gone. Martin had a pistol in the trunk. He got it and loaded it and told Mable to use it if the woman came bothering us. 

"We were all frightened, would hardly go out of the tent all day. She never came by, and the men said when they returned that the  woman was gone when they went back to fish. A couple mornings after this the horses were gone. Dad was sure they were headed for home. So Martin went to find them and bring them back, "on foot." Sure enough they were on their way home. Martin found them at the "World Ranch." How they could have gotten so far, hobbled as they were, was a mystery to everyone.

Colorado Mountains
Photo taken on trip in 2010
"It was about dark when Martin returned to camp. He told us this story. He had passed a certain house while looking for the horses, and on the way back as he drew near the same house, a man came out and talked awhile. He asked him in to rest a little while as he knew Martin must be tired and thirsty, after being gone so long. He had seen Martin go by in the morning. Martin said the man appeared to be real nice fellow, and when he went in the house, there sat the same woman he and dad had seen setting on the rock with the gun across her lap. Martin said he didn't know what to think at first. But the man told him that the woman was his wife, and that their only child, a boy, had been killed in a train wreck, and she had lost her mind. She wasn't harmful and had never hurt anyone. But she did like to hunt animals and she liked the mountains. So every summer they came and stayed in a cabin they had built themselves. He said she was very good with the gun, that she had killed a number of coyotes, and bear and a few lions. Well, we were all excited over the story and of course felt sorry for the poor woman and the man. But we were also kinda glad when we were again all in the wagon and buggy and on the way home."

Crazy people loose in the mountains along with the tales of Frenchman's Flat were often at the center of my father's stories and while we assumed they were fiction, I now wonder how many of those stories were based on stories that were true. Good thing I didn't know that as a kid.


Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2016, All rights reserved

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

A Poor Substitute for a Sandwich

When I married into my husband's family, I was taken back by their love of peanut butter. They incorporated peanut butter into their meals and snacks in ways I had never even considered. They loved the stuff!!



I have never been a big fan of peanut butter myself, although when I was young, my maternal grandma, Grandma Maud (McDaniel) Hostetter introduced me to the peanut butter and dill pickle sandwich and I do like to have one every so often. (Try it before you knock it!)

So I chuckled when I came across the following entry in my paternal grandma's life history. Speaking of her new school teacher, Grandma Hazel (Mickelsen) Ganus said:
"He was a tall slim man from Texas. His wife didn't know how to cook, that evidently was his job as he came to class with grease on the front of his trousers. This made more of an impression on me than his teaching did. 
He introduced me to the peanut butter sandwich. The class had gone on a picnic and he and his wife had brought some. I thought it was a poor substitute for a sandwich. But later liked it and have eaten many sandwiches made of it."
I found it interesting that Grandma apparently had not seen a peanut butter sandwich before her Texas teacher brought it to the picnic that day. Grandma was born in 1900 and he was her seventh-grade teacher, so it was probably about 1912-1913 at the time. It made me curious about the origins of the peanut butter sandwich.

I learned that originally peanut butter was patented in 1895 as a healthy protein substitute for those without teeth, but it would take years before the process would be improved, making it smoother and tastier. Turning to the Chronicling America website, I read through newspapers published in the early 1900's and found a variety of articles, many of which appeared to be an attempt to convince people of the merits of peanut butter. One article even went so far as to suggest it was a great substitute for regular butter in all kinds of recipes, including gravy!! Sacrilege!

Among the least appealing recipes I came across was a "Peanut Butter Loaf" made of bread crumbs, rice, stuffed olives, celery, onion juice, eggs, milk and 1/2 c. of peanut butter. It was then baked and served with tomato sauce! Various articles seemed to imply that eating peanut butter was slow to catch on and, given some of the recipes I came across, it isn't hard for me to imagine why.

Some articles touted peanut butter as a great solution for vegetarians or those concerned with their dairy intake and one article even went so far as to call it "Nature's Meat for Children" and claimed it to be nutritionally superior to steak.

peanut butter, sandwich, family history, ancestry, genealogy
Vernon Parish Democrat. (Leesville, La.), 15 Dec. 1921
Chronicling America 

And with the addition of chopped dates, figs, and raisins, it was deemed suitable for a dainty sandwich to serve at 5 o'clock tea.

The Fairmont West Virginian., May 11, 1915
Chronicling America
Although today many people use peanut butter in sauces, cookies and cakes, the every day "PB & J" likely remains the most common use of peanut butter. While I am confident peanut butter sandwiches have many fans and even Grandma Ganus eventually ate many of them over the course of her life, it still isn't in my top ten sandwiches and I have to agree with her initial opinion when she called it a poor substitute for a sandwich.

What do you think of peanut butter sandwiches?


Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2016, All rights reserved

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Mothers and Grandmothers

ancestry familysearch Mickelsen Ganus Sanford Colorado genealogy
Hazel Mickelsen Ganus
Mother's Day is the perfect day to recognize some of the mothers in my ancestry. Each made a difference to those who knew them during their lifetime, as well as those who followed. Each left a legacy of love, strength and perseverance.

My Grandma Hazel Mickelsen Ganus was in born in1900 to  Rasmus Mickelsen and Elsie Marie Cornum. We loved her fried chicken and lemon pie and knew we could always count on having it at least once when we went to visit. Grandma taught school before marriage and continued until their children were born. When my Grandpa Ganus began to have health problems, she returned to teaching school. I remember being confused by her stubborn determination to not get an electric washing machine and how fearful I was when I helped her do laundry using an old wringer washing machine. I just knew my hand was going to get caught in that wringer! One of my favorite memories of her is a time when she came to visit and she and I sat on the bed and talked long after others had gone to bed. She was a widow for 31 years.

ancestors generations McDaniel Hostetter Colorado genealogy
Mary Leone McDaniel
Hostetter 

Grandma Maud McDaniel Hostetter was born in 1902 to William J. McDaniel and Mary Maralda Shawcroft. She married Nephi Glen Hostetter in 1921 and they had nine children.  She raised a large family and always had a large garden. She was passionate about genealogy and instilled in me (and other family members)  a love for those who have gone before. She loved to write and left many stories of her life which have served to inspire and lift her many descendants. Grandma was a wonderful cook and had a gift for making those around her feel loved. She was a master story teller and loved to tell the stories of her ancestors, but she also loved to tell fairy tales and could really make the stories live. She became a widow when she was 57 and never remarried. She died at the age of 89.

genealogy family history Faucett Ganusl family legacy
Sarah E. Faucett Ganus
Great Grandma Sarah E. Faucett Ganus was born in 1864 to James Merritt Faucett and Elmina Bowers in Cassandra, Georgia. She lost her mother when she was 14 years old. A few years later her family left their home in Georgia and migrated to the vastly different climate of Manassa, Colorado. There she met and married widower William Franklin Ganus. No stranger to heartache, she buried two of their children in their first few years of marriage, including their only daughter. In 1897 she and husband Frank packed up their children and belongings and moved to Oklahoma. She was widowed at the age of 42 and was left with three small children to raise. She died just a few short years later at the age of 45.

genealogy family history Shawcroft McDaniel families stories
Mary Maralda Shawcroft
McDaniel 

My Great Grandma Mary Maralda Shawcroft McDaniel was born to John Shawcroft and Anne Marie Jensen in 1876 in Fountain Green, Utah.  Her family moved to southern Colorado where she met the love of her life, Will McDaniel whose family had moved there from Tennessee. The community celebrated the marriage of the popular and well loved young couple. When she was 29 years old, their five year old son Elbert became ill and died. Five months later, while still grieving the loss of her son, she lost her husband Will in a work accident. She never remarried but moved in with her parents and cared for her two small children.  She took in laundry, cleaned the church or did whatever work she could find in order to earn a little money. Refusing to give into discouragement about her situation, it is said that no matter how difficult, she never had a negative thing to say about life or others. She took every opportunity to serve and help alleviate the suffering of those around her.

My own mother is thankfully still living and has always been a great example of a woman who loved being a wife and mother. She has always loved a challenge and has never quit learning. She is an incredible seamstress, an excellent cook and has literally made hundreds of quilts for those who needed to know someone cared.

As I look at these women and the challenges they each faced, each has been an example to me. Each played an integral role in who I am and what I believe. Each did their part in teaching the generation that followed about finding joy, living in faith, serving others and working hard.

In addition, I have learned from my these sweet women that life for them, just as it is for me, was full of up and downs. Sadly many of the downs, which include loss, are readily apparent, while the ups are only known if they were recorded by either them or others in their life.

What will our descendants, several generations removed, know about us? Will they have to rely on a few sparse documents or will they have the stories of our lives, told in our own words?

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2016, All rights reserved

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Something in the House to Eat

I remember the small town grocery stores from my childhood. A fraction of the size of today's stores, they nonetheless seemed to have everything we needed. Shopping also use to take a fraction of the time it takes today and I often find myself grumbling over the complexities of the task. Shouldn't things be simpler now that society is more advanced?

Obviously the big difference is the options today. Today we have an enormous frozen foods section, and shelves lined with the options that are salt free, gluten free, non GMO or organic----and that doesn't include all the variation of herbs, spices and ethnic variations for even the simplest of products. The meat department is equally complex with varieties of meat touting grain fed, free range and cage free and we can't forget the signs for things such as "natural chicken." Such signs always make me want to ask where is the unnatural chicken?

family history, genealogy, ancestry, feeding a family, farms, milch cows


Those days when I feel tired by it all,  it's good to be reminded that as complicated as shopping is today, providing food for a family use to be even more time intensive during my grandparents' era. My Grandma Hazel Ganus shared a little about what it was like for her parents to feed their family. She said that growing up they never had much money to spend on treats, but they always had something in the house to eat. In her life history Grandma recorded:


Dad had milch cows so we had plenty of milk to drink and cook with. We also had our own butter, and sometimes we made cheese. He also had pigs, we would kill for meat and to make our lard for cooking. Also a calf or two or an old cow that couldn't have calves any longer. We always had enough meat to last through the winters or cold months. For summer meat he would cure the meat in salt brine which had to be strong enough to hold a egg on top of it, or smoke it with apple tree limbs, or by rubbing enough salt in it to keep. And sometimes in the winter he would hang it in the grainery and let it freeze. We always had our supply of flour, corn meal or graham flour for a year too. Dad would take enough meat to the mill either in Los Cerritos or Conejos. It seemed to keep very well then. Mother raised chickens, so we had our eggs and fryers and stewers. From the eggs and butter mother would buy what staple things we needed. Sometimes she and dad would drive to LaJara or Alamosa for these things. If they went to Alamosa it would take all day to go. They always took the back road then as it was well traveled. My dad and older brother liked to hunt and fish. I remember Martin coming home from a hunting trip with wild ducks and rabbits hanging from both sides of his saddle. These were always a welcome sight. We all liked baked duck and mother would sometimes keep the jack rabbits, grind the meat and mix it with other meat and make sausage. It was real good
too. 



It's a good reminder that now really is simpler, although the options are more complex. While standing and gazing into the stuffed refrigerator and claiming there is nothing to eat, in reality, most of us have to admit, there is always something in the house to eat and thankfully unless we choose to, in today's world we don't have to be the ones to raise it, hunt for it or grow it.


Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2016, All rights reserved

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

In Your Easter Bonnet

Easter, Easter bonnet, Bakersfield, California, rhubarb, hats, grandma, family history, genealogy
Me in Bakersfield, California 
I know am a sap for old movies and old songs, but every Easter, Irving Berlin's song "Easter Parade" runs though my head.

In your easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it,
 You'll be the grandest lady in the Easter parade.
When I was little, I always wanted an Easter "bonnet" and many of my childhood Easter pictures show that it was often part of my outfit. Kids like hats anytime of the year, but at Easter, the stores seem to have a large variety of pretty ones to tempt the little ones.

As a little girl, my Grandma Hazel Mickelsen Ganus liked hats as well, but she, her sister and her cousin were creative enough to make their own.

In her personal history Grandma said she could hardly wait for the rhubarb to come up in the spring. When it did, she and her sister Lena and cousin Edith loved to pull off a stalk or two and sprinkle it with sugar. I love rhubarb, but I confess it takes more than a sprinkle of sugar for me. In fact, douse it in sugar, put it in a crust and top it with ice cream and it is one of my favorite pies.

Grandma went beyond eating the stalks of rhubarb, she found a creative use for the leaves. She said:
We always enjoyed making "make-believe" hats from the large rippled leaves. The shapely leaves were very adaptable for hats. We would trim the hats with sprigs of lilacs, pansies and little yellow sneezers from the garden. We fastened the flowers to the leaves with toothpicks. Sometimes we were very creative with our jaunty bonnets. Each would try to out do the others. We admired and often laughed at our creations. When we finished we placed the hats on top our heads at just the right angle. We found there was quite an art to balancing them. Of course we always had to have a fashion show, so we would parade to our Mothers and our neighbors to show them off. In the fall of the year, we would do the same thing, but this time we would use cabbage leaves. We found they also made very attractive hats when decorated with flowers of various kinds, and they would set upon our heads a little better than rhubarb leaves. 
I cringed a little as I read this because I was always cautioned as a child to leave the rhubarb leaves alone as they are quite toxic, but I guess grandma was old enough and smart enough to know not to put them in her mouth. I also wonder what yellow sneezers were. When I googled it, it brought up a variety of yellow flowers that cause sneezing, so I am not sure what Grandma meant exactly, although yellow dandelions are certainly "yellow sneezers" in my book. In any case, I can't believe they would put such a thing on their hats, although ladies will put up with most anything if it looks good enough.

I love that Grandma took the time to record this memory. The Grandma I knew was an older woman who was quiet and so I love that Grandma introduced me to Hazel Mickelsen, the little girl who dolled up in her "jaunty" rhubarb leaf hat and put on a parade for her mother and neighbors.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2016, All rights reserved

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Snake Stories

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

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

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

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


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

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

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




Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2014,  All rights reserved

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Twenty Mules, Grandpa and Me

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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

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

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2013 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

What Are You Crying Fer?

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

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


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

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


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


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

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2012


Sunday, September 9, 2012

It's Grandparent's Day!

It's Grandparents Day!   I know that my life has been deeply influenced by my grandparents , their choices and their beliefs in ways that they would never have imagined.  They were just simple folk that  lived their lives doing common every day things and yet their lives deeply impacted mine and others.

Recently on a trip to Colorado, we visited a small museum in Sanford, Colorado, where I was able to find pictures that I had not previously seen before of each of my grandfathers . If you ever take a trip to Southern Colorado, I highly recommend that you take time to visit this wonderful museum. Information about the museum can be found here:  Sanford, Colorado Museum.  I truly had not expected very much, knowing that it was housed in a very small location, but I was pleasantly surprised.  Not only were their displays wonderful, but they had volumes of pictures, books full of obituaries and newspaper articles and the lady that helped us was great.  I could have spent days in there and in fact my family began to worry that just maybe I would try.  I finally gave in though and we moved on, but I came away with some priceless pictures.
Heber Monroe Ganus
Unknown on left, Heber Monroe Ganus on right


Nephi Glen Hostetter
Nephi Glen Hostetter
My Grandpa Hostetter died when I was just two and so I have no memories of time with him. But my Grandma Hostetter and my mom made sure that I was able to "know" him by sharing stories about him.  Among many other things, I know that he had a sawmill much of his life and that he loved the song "You are my Sunshine."  My Grandpa Ganus died when I was six.  Because we lived in California and they lived in either Colorado or Oklahoma, I really don't have many memories of him either, but I do have one choice one.  Grandma and Grandpa Ganus had moved from Colorado to  Supulpa, Oklahoma  due to my grandpa's poor health and his need to live at a lower altitude.  I remember a trip that my family took to visit them when I was about 5. My parents decided to go out one evening and left me with Grandpa and Grandma Ganus.  That night was absolutely magical as Grandpa took me out in the back yard to catch fireflies in a jar.  I had never seen fireflies before and I remember feeling like they were magical little fairies.  I will never forget that night of fun with him.

Maud Leone McDaniel Hostetter
Maud Leone McDaniel Hostetter
Both of my grandmothers lived to see at least some of my children.  My Grandma Ganus died the day before  my third child was born, but my Grandma Hostetter lived to see them all.  Grandma Ganus had a good sense of humor and I remember that sometimes when I would visit her she would take me to a little hamburger stand outside of LaJara, Colorado and we would get hot dogs and have a good ole time.  My Grandma Hostetter loved to tell stories and I remember literally sitting at her knee and listening to her tell stories in a way that made them live.

Hazel Mickelsen Ganus
Hazel Mickelsen Ganus










I could go on and on about what I remember and what I've been told about my grandparents, but I will spare you that.  The longer I do genealogy, the more I am aware of the part that each generation plays in the next generation's life.