Showing posts with label Rainwater Olivia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rainwater Olivia. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And when the ungodly are fearing and tremble,

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

When all that was promised the Saints will be given,

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

And earth will appear as the Garden of Eden,

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2017, All rights reserved

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

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

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

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


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

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

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

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



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

2. Ibid, p. 191 

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2017, All rights reserved

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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


Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2017, All rights reserved

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

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

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


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

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

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

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

The History of Marietta Camp Meetings

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

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

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



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

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

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

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2017, All rights reserved

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Following in His Father's Footsteps---Part 8 Becoming Acquainted with John M. Ganus


Grandsons learning to plow at
a local living history farm
A few years ago while visiting our daughter and her family on their farm in Central Washington, I rode along with one of the neighboring farmers in his tractor.  I say "in" his tractor because it had an air conditioned cab, power steering and a satellite system that ensured the rows were perfectly straight. I was amazed at how farming has changed from the time I was a teenager and drove a tractor for my cousins as they baled hay. 

Farming has changed even more since my ancestors' day. Georgia farmers often used mules to pull their plows, or pushed them along themselves. For the small poor farmer, their help was often limited to what his family could provide. According to the agricultural digests, it doesn't appear that John ever hired help on his farm, but lucky for him, he had five sons. 

John was a typical Georgia farmer, planting most of his farm in cotton and corn. According to the 1880 Agricultural Census, John was the owner of a 40-acre 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. Cotton was considered one of the most profitable crops in the south and corn was the other commonly grown crop. Corn was needed for the farm animals and was a staple served at the southern table. It would be years before I realized that the corn pone and cornbread often served at my childhood dinner table in California was likely tied to my Southern roots.



cotton, Georgia, Agricultural Census, 1880, Elder Metcalf, farm, genealogy, family history
In 1880, John and Olivia's two oldest sons, William Franklin and John Thackason, were both married, had families and were farming just down the road. The three sons still at home who could help 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 received some help from a Mormon missionary serving in the area. I am so thankful for the insight that the Elder John Metcalf’s journal provides.

According to Elder Metcalf's journal, when he 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 didn't softened the disappointment of such a loss. From what I know about John, he was never particularly well off, so I am sure that losing some of his crops came as a blow. The 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 in the Ganus home. 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, a farmer was not yet “done," as the fields had to be cleared and cleaned so that they would be ready in the spring for the new crop to be planted. On September 9th of that same year, Elder Metcalf found John in the field doing exactly that 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 had to “pull fodder”, which involves pulling the blades off of the cornstalks and gathering them into bunches to dry in the sun. The fodder was then stored to be fed to the cows later. It was difficult work and the sharp edges of the corn blades often sliced their hands in the process.
  


image
Sugar Cane
According to the journal, John raised sugar cane that year and Elder Metcalf was there to help John cut the cane on September 28th, 29th and 30th  and again on October 2nd, and 3rd.  Cutting sugar cane was also difficult work, requiring that each stalk be 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 to help 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. For the next few months, John would take a brief break from working the soil but would continue 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 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

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2017, All rights reserved


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Leaving on a Jet Plane -Part 1 Becoming Acquainted with John Monroe Ganus

John Monroe Ganus, move, Shell Oil Company, West Texas, Ancestry, Genealogy, Ancestors
The plane we took from LA Ex to Lubbock, Texas
June 19, 1974
As I stepped out of the airport I was hit by a blast of hot air. I did a quick 360 and immediately realized that things looked about the same at ground level as they had from the air. We had landed in Lubbock, Texas and although I hadn't been sure what to expect as we left California, I had not envisioned miles of flat sandy terrain, dotted with oil wells. With a rock in my gut, I climbed into the back seat of the rental car and my family, consisting my parents, two brothers and me, began the 109 mile trip to our motel. As I looked out the car window my stomach sank as I viewed what would soon become our home. 


genealogy, ancestry, family history, John Monroe Ganus, Olivia Rainwater, Denver City, Texas, Shell Oil Company
Outside of Denver City, Texas 

When our plane left LAX a few hours earlier, I knew my life was about to change dramatically, but at the time I really had no idea how different the climate and culture of West Texas was to my native California. I would soon learn they really had little in common.

Gone were lazy days at the beach, frequent visits to Disneyland and of course I would no longer see my large group of friends. Although I knew I would form new friendships and find new things to do, my life would be very different from the life I had known. 

I have reflected on that life-changing move many times over the years. The pull for my family was a great opportunity for my father to advance with the Shell Oil Company. As a 15-year-old teenager, I had begrudgingly accepted that fact, knowing it would severely cut into my fun. Little did I realize just how many life lessons I would learn in that little West Texas town or how much I would draw on those lessons throughout my life.

Many of my ancestors also made major moves during their lifetime. In some cases, I have been able to discover the "push" or "pull" that motivated them to move, but for others, those reasons are still to be discovered.

In November of 1886, John Monroe Ganus, his wife, Olivia (Rainwater) and their five sons, along with their spouses and grandchildren boarded a train and left their native state of Georgia and made the long 1,479 mile trip to Manassa, Colorado. John and Olivia were my second great grandparents and that move forever affected not only their lives but also the lives of all of the generations that followed, including mine. Unlike so many of the moves during that time, that move was not motivated by the quest for better land, for work or enticement by other family members. Please join me over the next little while as I focus on John Monroe Ganus, his life and the events that led up to this life-altering move.


Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2017, All rights reserved

Friday, May 13, 2016

Foto Friday--Finally Meeting Olivia Rainwater Ganus

As I opened the restored photo of my 2nd Great Grandparents, John Monroe Ganus and Olivia Rainwater, I almost felt like I was meeting them for the first time.

Ganus, genealogy, research, photos, 399Retouch, photo restoration
Restored version of John Monroe Ganus and
Olivia Rainwater
Although I had a copy of their photo for many years, it was badly faded and it was difficult to see their faces. Various individuals tried to fix the photo over the years, but there was so little to work with it and it was too difficult. So when Miles at 399Retouch contacted me and offered to restore a photo of my choosing, I couldn't resist and sent him this photo. He accepted the challenge. Miles was great to work with, determined to help me get a better idea of what Olivia looked like and I am happy with what he was able to do.  Thank you Miles! 

My only copy of John Monroe Ganus
and Olivia Rainwater
While I have one other photo of John, this is the only known photo of Olivia.  I am not sure exactly when or where the photo was taken, but Olivia died in 1906 in Oklahoma, so obviously it was prior to that time.

John was born in 1826 in Georgia and Olivia was born in 1831 in Georgia. They married in 1852 and over the next sixty-one years, they lived in Georgia, Arkansas, Alabama and Colorado before finally settling in Oklahoma in the late 1890's.  For more of their story, see Teaching and being taught, Olivia's lesson and On Their Way!

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2016, All rights reserved

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Seeing Double

One of my favorite movies while growing up was "Parent Trap" starring Hayley Mills.  I loved the antics and mischief the twins drummed up as they manipulated their divorced parents into first seeing each other once again and then eventually remarrying.
Orson and Heber as babies.
Oklahoma 

Off the movie screen, twins always seem to draw attention....whether it be in the grocery store or the mall, people frequently do a double take and then whisper to the person next to them----"Are they twins?"

Identical or fraternal, there is a discernable connection between twins. Although frequently very different in personality, they often act almost in tandem with one another when they are younger.  

Orson and Heber, likely in Colorado
following their parents death















As  I look through my family tree, I see several sets of twins, although most of the twins are fraternal, which supposedly is not a genetic occurrence.

 My own Grandpa Heber Ganus was a twin.  I've heard that  Heber and Orson were so tiny when they were born they could fit in a shoe box.  They were fraternal twins.

There are other twins in my tree as well.  Heber's father, Frank had a brother Newton who was a twin, although once again, they were not identical twins.  Newton and his sister Frances were born in 1867.

Some believe that Heber's grandmother,  Olivia Rainwater may have been a twin with her brother Abner as some census records show their year of birth as the same.  There are a good number of twins throughout the Rainwater line.

While it is said that fraternal twins are not genetic,  I do find it interesting that there seems to be a fair number of them in our family tree and, while I do feel a sense of relief that my children came one at a time, I can't help but hope that just maybe there might be a set of twins among our grandchildren.


Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2015, All rights reserved

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Day Grandpa Hijacked the Car

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

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

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


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


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

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


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


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

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

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


Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2015, All rights reserved