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

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


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Sticky Fingers




As they pulled away, the little hands waved wildly out the car windows while their sweet voices called out "Goodbye Nana, goodbye Papa!"

I felt the familiar lump rise in my throat.  Their visit was officially over and they were on their way to their home hundreds of miles away. The much anticipated visit was over and all that was left were the memories, sticky fingerprints and the many pieces of art work decorating the front of my fridge. Family. There's nothing better than time with those you love.

As I began the task of restoring order to my house, my tendency to relate everything to genealogy surfaced.  I began to think of my ancestors and contemplate their relationships with their children and grandchildren.

I thought of the ever important FAN club as taught by Elizabeth Shown Mills and the the vital role Families, Associates and Neighbors played in each others' lives.  Beside the natural tendency for people to want to live in close proximity to each other, family was a source of safety and protection in addition to a source of help and support in every aspect of life.  Aunts, uncles and grandparents played a significant role in their grandchildren's lives.  On my childhood visits to Colorado I learned all too quickly that aunts, uncles and grandparents all helped in correcting and instructing the children and that reports of public misbehavior made its way back to mom very quickly in those small familial communities.  Families worked together in raising their children.

Although, in many instances, I can see evidence of this tendency to live near each other in my ancestor's migrations,  I confess, there are those times when I scratch my head and wonder if some were just gypsies and moved willy nilly. But then I am reminded that even gypsies traveled together in a caravan. Sometimes no obvious clues are present but I know that likely within that "missing information" lies clues to yet unknown extended family.

One such situation is the move of my 2nd great grandparents John and Olivia (Rainwater) Ganus to Arkansas. The only evidence of that move which occurred between the 1860 and 1870 census is the indication on both later census records and church records that John and Olivia's son Newton was born in Pine Bluff Arkansas in 1867. The family lived in Alabama in 1860 near Olivia's sister's family, the Baileys, and by 1870 they had returned to Georgia, and were again living near family. So why the move in 1867 and did they go with family and if so, who and why?

Times have certainly changed and so have the roles that families fill.  Families no longer rely on each other for physical protection. Women go to the hospital to have babies and fewer people live on family farms. More and more people are turning to the convenience of HOAs, condos and apartment living. If people want the answer to a question, no need to ask parents or grandparents, Google knows it all, and Youtube has a video demonstrating it. As much as I enjoy modern conveniences, when the house is quiet and void of the voices of my children and grandchildren, I often wish we could go back to the days when grandparents and parents made a community.

William C. Brock and Martha Ganus and family
William Cohen Brock and Martha (Ganus) with their family
Martha was the sister of my 2nd great grandfather John Monroe Ganus



Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2015, All rights reserved


Sunday, March 22, 2015

Justified Fear

Without a doubt, the fear was justified.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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



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

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2015, All rights reserved

Monday, January 26, 2015

Searching for Perry

It has been over a month since my last post about the Perry family.  While I am not going to share all that I found on each family here, I am willing to share with anyone that has an interest. You can contact me using the "Email me"  link on the main page.  I will say that I feel a little disappointed with what I found, or should I say, what I did not find.

While I knew it was a long shot, I had hoped that as I researched down through the generations, I would eventually find Ganus and Perry families living near each other or some evidence of a close relationship.  In my family we have three generations of family members using the name Perry as a first or middle name and the story is that years ago there was family of significance with that name.

Therefore I was excited when I discovered that my second great grandmother's sister had a child who married into a Perry family. However, it does not appear that the descendants of my second great grandmother, Olivia (Rainwater) Ganus and her sister Frances (Rainwater) Bailey, ever lived close to each other even though Olivia and Frances chose to live close to one another during much of their married lives in both Alabama and Georgia.  One of Frances' daughters married a Perry and they eventually migrated to Oklahoma, as did Olivia's children, however the Ganus family was generally in the Oklmulgee County area of Oklahoma and the Perry family ended up in the Comanche County area, a distance of nearly 200 miles.
Map:  Federal Census Bureau Map 

On the maternal side of my family, my Grandma Hostetter provided a glimpse into the relationship between her family and her mother's sister's family in her journal. She documented a trip her family took from their home in Colorado to an aunt's home in Utah. Although the two families never lived in close proximity to each other, her journal entries helped establish the fact the two families remained in contact. Unfortunately, to my knowledge, no journal or any letters exchanged between family members exist for either the Ganus or Perry family and there seems to be nothing to suggest that the descendants of the two families were aware of each other, at least certainly nothing that warranted the naming of children after the other. If anyone has evidence to the contrary, I would love to hear from you.
Charles F. Perry, Hubert Perry, Huey Perry, Sam Crenshaw, Mary Ann Ayers Perry, Gerushia Laura Perry
Mary Ann Ayers Perry, along with her children
Courtesy of descendant, David
A descendant of Mollie's shared the above picture with me. He regretted that the photo is in such poor condition, but it is exactly as he received it.  It is always icing on the cake to have a picture.  I am thrilled that the photo exists and that he generously shared the photo with me and allowed me to in turn share it with you. Thank you David!

Back row, left to right:  Charles F. Perry b. 1886,  twins Hubert and Huey (source unsure of which twin is which), last man is likely Sam Crenshaw (Gerushia's husband).  Bottom row: First two women are likely in-laws, then Mary Ann (Ayers) Perry and Gerushia Laura Perry b. 1884.


Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2015, All rights reserved

Monday, December 15, 2014

Gone to Texas--The Perrys - Part 2

The Perrys were among many southern families who packed up their belongings and moved to Texas. By the year 1900,  James Perry and Mollie (Ayers)  and their nine children were living in Wood County, Texas, which is in the northeast portion of the state.  Initially predominantly an agricultural community, James continued to do what he knew best, which was farming.

Wanting to know what that part of Texas looked like, I did a quick google search for images. Having lived in Texas for a number of years, I am well aware that the snake population is alive and well in Texas, so it shouldn't have surprised me when numerous images of snakes popped up. Apparently Wood County, Texas has its share of snakes.

According to a "Soil Survey of Wood County, Texas" found here, Wood county is the home for a wide variety of venomous snakes such as rattlesnakes, copperheads, cottonmouths and coral snakes, along with a wide variety of non poisonous yet plenty cantankerous reptiles such as bull snakes, known for their bad attitude. Alligators are also found along the Sabine River of that county.

Although I know that southern folk are no strangers to such critters, I do cringe as I think of the Perry family trying to establish a home and farm where such critters resided in large numbers. In 1900 their oldest three, John Patterson Perry, 20 yrs old, James A., 19 years old and Laura, 15 years old were all of an age to be a significant help on the farm and around the house.  Although some of the younger boys likely helped around the farm as well, they were also of the age to be out running around exploring the countryside to see what they could find. Charles was 13, Robert 11, William 10 and Thomas was 5. The twins, Hugh and Hubert were only 3 years old at the time.

I know that as new ground is broken and disturbed when farmers plow in snake country, the dens or nests of snakes are often stirred up increasing the risk of snake bites. I also know all too well from my own upbringing how easily children can naively stumble onto unsuspecting reptiles. Poor Mollie had her work cut out for her.

In 1900, James and Mollie were living among many other southerners as well as other family members. One door down was Mollie's half brother John W. Perry and his wife, Mary Frances  (Hill) and their five children. Next to John's family was yet another brother, Robert Linfield Perry and his wife Jennie Lee (Howell).

I initially wondered if Mollie had a good relationship with her half siblings. Not only was Mollie the only child from her mother's first marriage to Reuben Ayers, but she was considerably older than her five half siblings.  She was eleven years old by the time her widowed mother Frances (Rainwater) Ayers married her step-father, Robert A. Bailey. In 1877,  the year that Mollie married James C. Perry, her mother delivered her last child, Frances Laura Bailey.  Two years later in 1879, Mollie delivered her first child, John Patterson, and therefore Mollie's youngest sibling and the oldest of her own children were only two years apart.

Although I am not sure if James and Mollie traveled to Texas with her brothers or if one followed the other, knowing that Mollie and her husband lived close to two of her half siblings when approximately 650 miles from "home" seems to suggest they had a good relationship.

Because my original question from my last post was "Is this Perry family responsible for the Perry name in my own family?, I need to know where both families were and if they had opportunity to interact.

In 1887 John Monroe Ganus and Olivia  (Rainwater), along with their five sons and their families moved to Colorado.  Then about 1897, the entire extended Ganus family moved from Colorado to Indian Territory, Oklahoma and were there in 1900.  With a distance of approximately 220 miles between the Perry family in Texas and the Ganus family in Oklahoma, clearly these families were not living anywhere close at this point.  However, the Perry name also would not be used in the Ganus family for thirty more years.  Would descendants of these families end up living close to each other? While I have no evidence of this at this point, I don't think it can be entirely dismissed...yet.

I do have some evidence that members of this extended Rainwater family from Georgia apparently managed to stay in touch with some of the other members over time and despite distance.

In 1900, Sanford Rainwater, born 1866 in Georgia is found living next door to John and Olivia (Rainwater) Ganus, his aunt and uncle.  I shared that story here. The Ganuses had moved from Georgia to Colorado where they remained for ten years before moving to Oklahoma. Georgia born Sanford Rainwater had been living with his parents, John Rainwater and Bargilla (Moore) in Upshur County, Texas, for roughly 30 years prior to his move to Oklahoma.  It had been over 30 years since the two families had lived in Haralson County, Georgia, and yet they became neighbors. Remember this is before the age of Google and cell phones.

Apparently these Rainwater families and their descendants did maintain some awareness of each other over time, despite moves to various states and great distance, but the question remains, did Frances' and Olivia's descendants establish and maintain enough of a relationship for this to be my Perry connection? There is yet more research to be done.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2014,  All rights reserved


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

On The Lookout For Perrys - Part 1

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

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


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

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


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

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2014,  All rights reserved

Sunday, December 22, 2013

I'll Be Home For Christmas


“I’ll be home for Christmas.” As the song played softly on the radio, stirring up memories of my childhood and of days when our own children were home,  I felt the familiar lump rise in my throat. That song has been responsible for many tears over the years.  It made me cry when I was away at college and longing for home.  It made me cry the first year after I was married when we lived too far from my parents and siblings to visit, and now I cry because I miss both my childhood Christmases as well as the days when my own sweet children were at home.

The words ring true for me, I will always be home for Christmas, even if it is in my dreams and I know I am not alone in feeling that way.  While I now create new memories with family,  life is perpetually changing and I will always cherish the memories of past Christmas. 

While Christmas traditions have varied greatly over the years, one theme seems to always be consistent and that is that Christmas has always been a time to gather with family and friends.  For that reason, the Christmas of 1886 must have been particularly difficult for my great great grandparents, John and Olivia (Rainwater) Ganus.  Having left their native Georgia on the 16th of November,  John and Olivia, along with their sons and their families, spent December 1886 on the cold wind swept plains of southern Colorado.  Nearly 1500 miles from “home,”  they were far from their extended family and lifelong friends.


Trena Ganus, Sanford, Colorado
View looking across San Luis Valley, Colorado,
 Taken August 2013
By Trena Ganus

They were totally new to the wide open spaces of the west and, while I personally love the valley where they settled,  not much about Southern Colorado would have reminded them of “home.”  The seemingly unending fields of grassland stand in stark contrast to the Haralson County area of Georgia with its hills and pine forests.  While Georgia’s low temperatures can dip as low as the mid 30’s during December,
temperatures in the 30’s are frequently the high for Southern Colorado with temperature sometimes dropping as low as 40 below zero. Were John and Olivia prepared for the harsh winters of their new home?  Did they have adequate clothing and bedding? 

Many of the foods of Southern Colorado reflect the heritage of the Mexican people who originally settled the area, in addition to foods typical of the Scandinavian and English people who settled the area prior to the arrival of the Southerners. These foods were vastly different from the foods most often enjoyed by the southern people.  I can only assume that the Christmas traditions also reflected the cultural heritage of the earlier settlers and were also somewhat foreign to John and Olivia.

Having left all extended family behind,  there would have been no family near by that December to drop by John and Olivia’s home for a visit or to drop off even a simple gift or homemade goodie, nor would there have been invitations to extended family gatherings. On Christmas day, long before the days when home phones were common place,  there would not have been calls made to brothers and sisters back home to help ease the homesickness. I wonder, how did the Ganus family feel that Christmas season?  Did they reflect on past Christmases?  Did they long for family and friends left behind?   

Over the years, the Christmas Season has become exponentially bigger, louder and brighter.  Despite the aggressive sales campaigns, Christmas music blasting in the stores way before I want to hear it and the traditional colors of red and green now sharing the stage with hot pink, purple and lime, one thing seems to remain the same and that is the desire to be with family.  I suspect that at Christmas time I will always reflect over the memories of past years with parents, siblings and our children and that just as the song says, " I'll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams."  

May your Christmas be filled with the love of family and of our Savior, Jesus Christ, whose birthday we celebrate.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2013


 Top left:  "Farmyard in Winter" by George Henry Durrie, 1858 PD Art, courtesy of Wikimedia; in public domain.   http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Farmyard_in_Winter_by_George_Henry_Durrie,_1858.jpg

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Gift of Time

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As shared in his obituary:
[Roderick] was an upright and worthy citizen and loved and respected by those who knew him.  His being translated into the new life will leave a vacant place not only in the hearts of loved ones but in his wide circle of friends and neighbors . . . “
image

While I do not know the story behind Roderick's pocket watch, I am grateful that his great grandson shared pictures of it with me.  Doing so caused me to take the time to look at Roderick's life a little closer and in the process I was able to see evidence of his generosity and kindness and the way in which Roderick used his time to lift and bless others in their need.  It seems only fitting that a pocket watch has been passed down through generations as truly his use of his time ultimately defined him.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2013



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

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


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Spring With Forty Acres and a Plow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Pictures from Wikipedia Commons, all in Public Domain.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2013
.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Are You Missing Out?

What would he be like?  Would he look like his pictures?  How comfortable would it be to visit with him?  Would we have anything to say after the initial polite introductions?  I had butterflies in my stomach and many questions running through my  mind as I drove down to the Family History Library recently to do research and meet a distant cousin.

Back in 2000, Claude and I began emailing while searching for more information about Martin Ayers. I had shared some information about Martin on  Rootsweb  and Claude saw the information and contacted me to see what the connection was. We then began the typical exchange of sharing information and working together to try and fill in the blanks on our family trees. As is so often the case, he had things I did not have and visa versa, so we were able to help each other.  We have continued to stay in touch for 13 years now.
image
Claude and I with our spouses at
This is the Place Heritage Park

Martin Ayers was born in 1796 in Greenville, South Carolina and his wife, Sarah Simmons, was born 13 July 1800 in Greenville, South Carolina.  They married 31 August 1817 in Greenville, but eventually moved to Georgia, where they were living when they died.  They are both buried at the Bethlehem Baptist Church Cemetery in Haralson County, Georgia.  A picture of the cemetery and their headstone can be found here.

Claude was researching Martin and Sarah’s daughter, Mary Anne Ayers, who married William W. Johnson and I was interested in Martin Ayers for several reasons.  Martin and Sarah’s daughter Nancy E. Ayers was the first wife of James W. Ganus, who was brother to my 2nd great grandfather, John Monroe Ganus. In addition, Martin and Sarah’s son, Reuben Ayers,  married Frances L. Rainwater, who was sister to my 2nd great grandmother, Olivia Rainwater Ganus.  Claude generously shared pictures of descendants and pictures from his trip to Georgia and I shared information that I had been able to find at the Family History Library.

A few weeks ago Claude and his wife flew in with his local genealogy society for a week of research at the Family History Library and so, after all of these years, Claude and I were able to meet.  The initial nervousness left as soon as I met Claude and his wife.  Their kindness was immediately evident and their deep Texas drawl warmed this displaced southerner to her very core. 

image
View of Antelope Island
From the marina at the Great Salt Lake

We spent time researching at the library together while sharing more information and enjoyed going to lunch and getting to know each other better.  In addition, my husband and I were able to spend some time showing Claude and his wife some of the local sites. I had a great time and was so grateful to finally meet this distant cousin and his wife.

From family reunions to research field trips, there are many opportunities to step outside of court houses and libraries into the present and make connections with cousins---opportunities that I don't want to miss.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2013

Friday, December 28, 2012

The Whys of It All

When my husband and I were first married, we were in our final years of college and we lived in an apartment close to the university.  One of our neighbors had an adorable little boy who was about three years old at the time.  Whenever I sat out on our little patio, I could count on a visit from the cute little guy.  I will never forget his steady stream of questions, and how he asked “why” following almost everything that I said.  It quickly helped me to realize just how little I really knew about the world. I have thought about him a lot lately as I have frequently asked myself  “why?”  Why do some people seem to have more to deal with than others?  Why do some seem to get so much more done in a day ?  Why must it snow for three days nonstop?
      
Martha Olivia Ganus
Martha Olivia Ganus
Although asking “why” for many questions does not produce an answer and is not necessarily even productive, I have found the opposite to be true in genealogy.  It’s in asking “why” that I have been led to some of my greatest finds.

It was in asking “why” John Monroe Ganus and wife Olivia were living in Alabama in 1860 instead of their home state of Georgia, that I learned they were there living among Olivia’s family, and I shared that story in this post. Asking why they were there led me to learn more about my Great Great Grandmother, Olivia's family, the Rainwaters.  And it was because I wondered “why”  I could not find more about my Gurganus family in Macon that I searched faded, difficult to read, microfilmed court records for hours, which in turn led me to the sad finding of a murder trial involving my family, which I shared earlier.  And, it was in asking “why” Grandma had faintly written in the corner of a little piece of paper, “John M. had a brother Jim that went to Alabama,”  that I began to search for Jim Ganus and that ultimately led me to not only Jim, but Jim’s descendants and I shared what I found in this post.  In addition, a picture of an unknown woman in my Grandpa Ganus’  papers led me to ask "why" her picture was among his few possessions and  led me to information about my Great Grandfather William Franklin’s first wife and their daughter, Martha Olivia Ganus.  I am saving that story to share at a later time.  I have truly learned that with genealogical research, asking the questions helps me to stop and evaluate what I know and what I want  to know and that ultimately leads to new information. 

I have witnessed a fair amount of banter among individuals recently over various issues of genealogical importance and as a result, I have looked at my own research and asked another "why."  Just "why” am I doing genealogy in the first place and am I on the road that will lead me to my desired goal?  Have I lost site of my original purpose and if so, "why" and what do I need to do about it?   I plan to set some genealogical goals for this coming year and as I do, I certainly plan to evaluate what I do against  “why” I am doing it and hopefully that will help me remain focused, lead me to some great finds and keep me out of trouble.

That curious little neighbor boy from so many years ago has long since grown up to be a man and I am sure that he has his own little children that sometimes ask him "why."   I am just as sure that he has long forgotten me and has no idea that I often think of him as I ponder issues in my own life and ask  "why?"

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2012

Friday, December 7, 2012

Blood is Thicker than Water

On Wednesday, I attended the funeral for a cousin of mine.  He was still relatively young, had children at home and his passing was unexpected, so it was a hard day.  As I walked into the church, I was greeted by other cousins, some whom I had not seen for some time and it was a bittersweet experience.  While we were glad to see each other and grateful to be able to be together and provide support to each other, it was nonetheless a very solemn occasion as we said goodbye to a cousin, brother, uncle, husband and father.
Nephi Glen Hostetter, Maud
Hostetter Gathering in Colorado mountains

As I listened to the speakers share experiences from this remarkable cousin's life, I felt cheated that we had lived so many miles apart during our adult years and so I consequently knew very little about his more recent life.  I kept flashing back to childhood family gatherings.  My family lived out of state, so our association with cousins was limited to our yearly family vacations.  During those visits, we "helped" (or so we thought) cousins during the day as they gathered eggs, milked cows, baled hay and moved the sheep and cows.  Nights and weekends were filled with kick the can, riding tote gotes, softball games and sometimes a picnic in the mountains.  Grandmas and aunts on both sides of the family would fry up chicken, whip up tasty sandwiches or some delectable main dish, make salads and side dishes galore and top it off with the best desserts imaginable. Summers were heavenly and I remember wishing they would never end.

Because I loved those summer visits,  I started to count down the days to our next trip almost as soon as we waved goodbye to Grandma each year. I can remember that the tears began almost the second we pulled out from her house and would continue off and on during the thousand mile road trip home.

Me with mother, my brothers and Grandma Ganus,
my aunt and a cousin
Blood truly is thicker than water and that has always been the case.  I see evidence of families remaining close to each other as I research my various family lines.  Families used to be an "all in one" deal, living close to each other and providing everything from safety to friendship.  I was reminded of this as I searched for my second great grandfather in the 1860 census. John Monroe Ganus was born in Georgia in 1826 and could be found in Georgia Census records prior to 1860,and then again in 1870 and 1880.  But initially I couldn't find him in 1860.  When I finally did find him, he was living in Calhoun County, Alabama, across the border from his previous home in Georgia.  At first I couldn't imagine what he was doing there and then I realized that John and Olivia were living among Olivia's family.  The census entries surrounding the Ganus family are full of Browns, Baileys and Ayers, all who tie into the Rainwaters.  Living a few doors down is Olivia's sister, Frances, and her husband Ruben Ayers.  It was this sister, Frances, that Olivia visited a few days before she and John left Georgia to move to Colorado.  It's more than a little apparent that these sisters enjoyed each other's company and consequently their children had the advantage of being able to interact with each other, which was demonstrated in the story that I shared in a previous post.  So family at least played a part in John and Olivia's move to Alabama and that realization helped to solve that mystery.

But there is one other mystery associated with that 1860 census record.  Listed as living in the Ganus household is John Ganus 32, Olivia who was 27, William F. who was 6 and was my great grandfather, John T. who was 5 years old, another brother, James R. who was 2 and then lastly, Henry who was 19.  Each name following John's has ditto marks in place of their last name, suggesting that each member had the same last name as the first entry, which was "Ganus."  Each person is familiar and seems to belong until I come to Henry, and I have to say, finding a Henry listed with this family has actually kept me awake at nights.  I do not have a Henry listed anywhere in my database under any surname!  Who in the world is Henry?  Is he really a Ganus, or are those ditto marks following his first name just evidence of a lazy census taker? I know that families stuck together and often took in other family members and so I have searched the 1850 census many times to find other Ganus families, as well as other known relatives with a "Henry,"  who would have been approximately 9 years old in that earlier census, but have not been successful.  If anyone is aware of a missing Henry, please let me know.  

While that may sound like a silly thing to ask, it actually was a previously unknown cousin who provided the solution to another similar mystery.  Early in my research, she contacted me as a result of my post on a forum and told me that she believed that she descended from James and Elizabeth's "missing" daughter, Margaret. I, as well as several other researchers, had begun to assume that Margaret had died as a child, but thanks to the email from this distant cousin, I learned that Margaret was actually living next door to her parents with her husband and two children in 1860!! While the census taker had elected to use only initials for those he enumerated, making it a little trickier to piece together, with help of  this cousin's information, along with other records, we were able to confirm that this was "our" Margaret living next to her parents.  This was my introduction to the fact that families, particularly in the South, had a tendency to live close to each other and it helped me to understand the importance of carefully analyzing neighbors for potential relationships.

1860 U.S. Federal Census
Fayetteville, Fayette, Georgia 

Knowing that families used to live in such close proximity and knowing how dearly I love my own cousins,  I can't help but feel a little envious of earlier times. In many instances, cousins were able to provide a lifetime of strength and support to each other.  It's so different from today's world where many,  if not most people, live some distance from family and where gatherings are often limited to holidays, summer vacations and the occasional reunions.  I do have to say that social media has provided an outlet for staying in touch and that some of my cousins and I  have enjoyed interacting and sharing pictures through Facebook, texts, email and other means never imagined by our 19th century cousins. While these means hardly take the place of living close to each other, I am grateful that we have found some way to stay in touch across the miles, because I believe that while times have changed,  we truly do still need each other and that even in today's world, blood is thicker than water.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2012