Thursday, December 18, 2014

Do You Remember . . . "He Knows If You've Been Bad or Good"

I remember so clearly the fun and anticipation of Christmas morning.   I laid awake for what seemed like most of the night, waiting for my parents to come and tell us that Santa had come.  Although we almost always got up between 5 and 6 a.m. (yes, you read that right), it never came soon enough for me.  I can remember getting up and flushing the toilet more than a few times, just in case my parents were sleeping too deeply to remember to get up.

Me (left)  and my neighbor, Robin Bean,visiting Santa Claus
Bakersfield, California 
I don't remember ever feeling afraid of Santa. I just remember being excited to see him in parades, the department stores and at parties.

I do remember being startled one evening when we heard a knock on our living room window while my family was watching TV together. We lived way out in the country and didn't have neighbors, so we seldom had anyone knock on our door, much less on our window.  I remember someone cautiously pulling back the curtains and seeing SANTA standing right there just outside our big living room window!

Through the window Santa reminded us to be good and promised to bring us toys on Christmas morning if we were, then he waved and was gone.  After that, I found myself listening for him all of the time. Santa actually visited us that way 2 or 3 times during my childhood. Years later as adults, as my brothers and I were talking, we realized that, sadly, my dad had somehow managed to miss every one of Santa's surprise visits!

Talk about having a good incentive to behave! We knew for a fact then that Santa had been to our house and we never knew after that when he might be listening or what he might see. The simple fact that he had actually showed up at our house just underscored the words of the song:
"He knows when you are sleeping.  
He knows when you're awake
He knows if you've been bad or good
So be good for goodness sake!"
  
I would like to wish all of you a Merry Christmas and I hope that as we celebrate this Christmas season, we will remember that the Savior, Jesus Christ is the gift and the real reason we celebrate Christmas.  

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2014,  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


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

FGS 2015-Don't Forget the Family History Library!

Just in case fabulous classes, an enormous exhibit hall and great keynote speakers are not enough to entice you to attend the FGS 2015 Conference in Salt Lake City this February, let me remind you this conference will occur just down the street from the world famous Family History Library.

If you have never been to the library, it is hard to comprehend how enormous the library is.  With five floors of books, maps and microfilm for US, Canada, British Isles and International research,  it has something for everyone.

Elder Hanson
2nd Floor Greeter Desk
Recently they have made a few changes at the library. One very noticeable change is the reference area on several of the floors, which has made it a little more welcoming and comfortable.

The library has also changed the way we get help.  Trained volunteers are available to help with questions, but if you need additional help, a scheduler can set up a consultation with a specialist. The scheduler will then provide you with a restaurant style pager which allows you to continue researching until the specialist is available. I love this change! No more just standing in line waiting for help!
Pagers for Consultant help


At the Family History Library I love the freedom to pull and access both microfilm and books as I am ready. No waiting on reference people to pull the films for me or limiting the number of films I can view.


Tim Bingaman, AG, FHL, consultant stations
Tim Bingaman
AG at one of the new 2nd floor consultant stations
Although I do love the third floor which has an impressive collection of books for US research, I spend most of my time on the second floor which houses the US microfilm.

Court records, deeds, tax records, cemetery records, you name it, the library has it. Of course the available records vary depending on location and time period, but I love being able to research so many locations all under one roof.


While too numerous to mention in this post, the library has acquired collections not found everywhere, so don't stop with some of the more common sources. Take time to go through the FamilySearch Catalog and the Family Search Wiki ahead of time to learn about some of the less common resources available at the library.  One such example is the Leonardo Andrea manuscript collection. Leonardo Andrea was a professional genealogist who did research in the south.  This collection includes transcripts of Bible records, correspondence, genealogical sketches and many other types of materials on 125 rolls of film. Although he focused on South Carolina research, he did include other states such as North Carolina, Virginia and other southern states. Last time I viewed this microfilm, I was required to leave my driver's license with them until I was finished, so you may want to make sure you take your license along. To read about this collection, see here:


One of the many rows of microfilm
 at the FHL
You will want to make copies of the genealogy treasures that you find and there are some great options at the library. I know it is old fashioned, but I still like hard copies for much of what I find and copies at the library are a bargain at 5 cents a page. To make copies, it's necessary to purchase a copy card that can be used in the copy machines. The cards start at $2 each and can be purchased in a vending machine that takes cash or credit card. Another money saving option is to take a flash drive on which to save your documents.

The library houses a large
collection of books
You have likely read the section about preparing to research at the library on the FamilySearch site found here, but I want to add just a couple of things from my own experience. If you are bringing a laptop, be sure and bring a laptop lock. Although the library does feel very safe, it's always a good idea to protect your valuables.  If I don't have pockets in the clothing I am wearing,  I take a small purse that slips around my neck where I can stick things I want to keep with me like cash, credit/debit cards and my copy card.

Although I tend to get so involved I loose track of time, eventually my stomach will remind me to take a break to eat. I like to throw in a snack and a bottle of water in my bag to take to the main floor snack room when I need a break. There is also a wide variety of vending machines in the snack room. I enjoy the genealogy chatter and have met some fun people there. If I want to take time for a sit down meal, JB's is right next door. If I am in the mood for fresh air and a little exercise,  there are many eateries close by.

To top it all off, I am no longer surprised if while researching I look up and discover a fellow blogger or one of my favorite genealogist sitting across the table from me. Many if not most people attending the conference will try to sneak in at least a little time at the library and although we all want to take advantage of every minute we have for research, it's fun to see and meet others on a more personal level.  And that my friend, is just one more plus to the never ending list of reasons to attend FGS 2015.  I will be watching for you!

A special thanks to friend Linda Carver for taking and sharing the photos.  All photos used with permission.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2014,  All rights reserved

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Do You Remember Christmas Parades?

Do You Remember......Christmas Parades? 

Back in the "olden days," before stores began displaying their Christmas decorations in August and September, we took holidays one at a time.  Only after we had enjoyed Halloween and eaten the last bite of Thanksgiving dinner did we turn our focus to the Christmas season.  Because Christmas didn't really begin until we were well into November, we didn't have time to tire of all of the commercials or Christmas music and the excitement and anticipation had plenty of time to build.

Christmas parade, Coalinga California, Brownie troop

When we were living in Coalinga, California, I was in a Brownie Troop and was so excited to participate in our small town's Christmas Parade. In case you can't tell, we were a herd of red nose reindeer.  Did even you know there was such a thing?   

Costumes, like life in general, were simple and our cone-shaped-construction-paper reindeer heads are evidence of that.   


Not to be outdone and with the aid of our mother, one of my little brothers dressed up that year as Santa, decorated his bike and he too participated in the Christmas parade.  

The Christmas parade helped to officially kick off the Christmas season and we then looked forward to several weeks of family and church activities, music, parties, special treats and Christmas movies.

Pumped full of sugary goodies and wired on a steady stream of activities, we then faced the challenge of trying to ensure our place on Santa's list of good girls and boys.


Do you remember those days?  

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

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Do You Remember ....."Put on a Coat!"

Do you remember ..... "Put on a Coat!"

What is it about kids and coats?  Currently we are experiencing temperatures hovering right around freezing and so, as I leave the house, I bundle up.  Yet as I head out in my car with my nice warm coat on,  gloves on to keep my hands warm,  and the heater blasting, I see kids walking nonchalant, in shorts and no coat as if it was the middle of summer.

My brother and me
Bakersfield, California
I do remember being a kid and trying to get out the door without a coat on and hoping mom wouldn't see us.  Because moms have eyes in the back of their heads, she always knew what we were up to and reminded us to put on a coat. I also remember resisting. How could we play and do all we wanted to do when we were restricted by an extra layer of clothing?

This picture always makes me smile.  I look at it and wonder about the story behind it. Over the years the story and reasoning has been lost, so no one can explain to me why I am in shorts and a light sweater while my little brother is bundled up from head to toe in a nice toasty snowsuit.  The thing is, I don't look like I am miserable or cold.  So I wonder, did I fight Mom on the coat and she finally said fine, find out for yourself?  Was I just warm blooded?  Or was I just oblivious to it all because I was having fun with my little brother?

Whatever the reason, of this I am confident, at some point, my mom told me to put a on a coat.  It's a given.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2014,  All rights reserved

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Speaking of Friends- Are you Going to FGS 2015?


Louise St Denis, Director at National Institute
of Genealogical Studies
and friend Roylene
The Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference is coming to Salt Lake City on February 11-14, 2015,  and I can't wait! Although this will be my first FGS Conference, it is far from being my first genealogy conference.  I've attended several National Genealogical Conferences, Rootstech and a myriad of smaller conferences.

As I look through the list of classes, keynotes and activities, it appears that this conference promises to be one of the best yet.

Cheryl Goff, Jolene Passey and myself

 Cheryl, Jolene  and myself

There are so many classes to choose from but I am particularly excited about the classes that will help me write my ancestors' stories and classes about technology.  Sharing ancestors' stories is a passion of mine and I would like to learn how to do it better.  And  I really need to learn more about using the technology available.  The Compiling Singular Records into Lively Stories track has some great classes to help with sharing ancestors' stories and there are a variety of classes about technology in the Communications for Today track, Modern Access to Vintage Resources track and of course the Technology track as well as Technology for the Future track.   There are so many options,  it is going to be a challenge for me to narrow it down.


I always love the Exhibit Halls and I am super excited about the one at FGS this year.  Having a joint hall with Rootstech means it will be one of the largest Exhibit Halls ever. The Exhibit halls are always bubbling in energy and excitement and packed to the brim with society representatives, genealogy companies, software, books and all kinds of fun genealogy products.  Knowing my love for books, I have installed an app on my phone that lists all of the books I already own so that any purchase I make will add to my collection and not duplicate it.


Michelle Goodrum and myself
Michelle Goodrum and myself
Classes, the Exhibit Hall, activities and meals all will provide opportunities to meet other genealogist from all over.  And while there are many aspects of conferences that I absolutely love,  I have to confess that meeting and making new friends is one of my favorite parts.

Speaking of friends----I hope to see YOU there!

For more information and to sign up, go to FGS Conference 2015





Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2014,  All rights reserved








Sunday, November 9, 2014

Do You Remember---Travelin in the Wagon

Do you remember  .....the station wagon?  We had a station wagon and it wasn't just any wagon either. This one had the awesome wood paneling on the sides--the paneling that we all thought was so cool at the time and which seems to be the brunt of so many jokes now.  But in the day, we thought we were stylin in that rig.

Brothers and a cousin in our wagon

As cool as the outside was, the interior was even better.  Some of our friends' wagons had the very back seat that faced backwards, but this one had two smaller seats, one on each side of the back that faced each other, making it easy to sit and talk.  It was in the back seat of that wagon that we learned who was prone to car sickness. Yep, there was plenty of gaggin in that wagon.

This gem was also our first car to have windows that went up and down with the push of a button. Not only did we not have to crank the handle to get the windows up and down, but the driver had the option of rolling the windows up or down with a push of the button as well.  All was good except for a few unfortunate incidences when a parent unknowingly rolled the window up with some of our appendages sticking out.  They were always quickly notified through our piercing screams however and thankfully, there were never any serious injuries.

We had many fun adventures in that wagon, from trips to town to picnics in the mountains and many fun family vacations.  And now when we get together and reminisce , there are plenty of stories to share from our days of traveling in the wagon.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2014,  All rights reserved

Thursday, November 6, 2014

What Came Next?

As Frances approached the end of her life, what life events did she reflect on?  What stood out
among her memories? 

Blooming Grove Church, Polk County, Georgia
Blooming Grove Church
Polk County, Georgia
Photo:  Regina Dawson Shuman
(used with permission)
Growing up in the evolving state of Georgia, and a daughter of a War of 1812 soldier, many of the historical events that we only read about had been part of her life and her heritage.  How did those things shape Frances?  Was she even aware of the impact they had on who she became, or like most of us,  in the process of accepting and dealing with each situation that presented itself, was she focused just on getting through the day, unaware of the impact those events had on who she became?

Her birth came during a very tumultuous time in Georgia history as tensions flared between the influx of new citizens and  Native Americans.  She was a little more than a year old as the Trail of Tears commenced not far from where she lived.  How much was her family aware of the event and how did it impact their lives?

Frances sent her husband off to fight in the Civil War and then alone faced the difficult dark days that followed.  Her husband never returned and she became a widow at the age of 26 with a small daughter to care for.

Following her marriage to Robert Bailey in 1866, her life appears to settle down and fall into a relatively predictable pattern.  I think it is safe to assume that she faced typical day-to-day challenges, but her life was also full of many good things.

I wish I had more insight into Frances herself.  I wish I knew what she enjoyed doing.  Was she a good cook?  Did she have a sense of humor? Was she thoughtful, sensitive, stubborn, light hearted? I have nothing that helps me to know Frances, the woman.  In addition, no photos have surfaced of Frances or either of her husbands.

I do know that Frances was a daughter, a wife and a mother.  She was a farmer's wife and she bore six children, raising five to adulthood.  Her children grew up, married and then Frances was blessed with a crew of at least 28 grandchildren.

Blooming Grove Cemetery, Polk County, Georgia
Blooming Grove Cemetery
Polk County, Georgia
Photo: Tim Hite
(used with permission)
As I consulted census records to learn more about Frances and Robert,  the 1900 Census (1)   shed a  slightly different light on Robert because rather than showing "farmer" for his occupation as both earlier and later census show, Robert is listed as a U.S. Deputy Marshall.  Surely there is a story in there, if only I knew it.

On the 1910 US  Census (2), when Robert was 65 and Francis was 74, they took in a boarder who is listed as a peddler and a traveling salesman. His name was William Henderson and he was from Georgia.  Did they know him or was he simply a source of income?

Frances Rainwater Bailey, Blooming Grove Cemetery, Polk County, Georgia
Frances Rainwater Bailey
Blooming Grove Cemetery
Photo:  Tim Hite
(used with permission)

In 1913,  at the age of 77, Frances passed from this life while living in Polk County, Georgia, where she and Robert had reared their family.  She was buried in Blooming Grove Cemetery.  Since Robert was ten years younger, it is not surprising that he survived her.

In 1917, just four years after Frances' death, Robert passed away in Jefferson County, Alabama at the age of 70.   His death certificate indicates that he had resided in Jefferson County for one year. With both his son Abner and his daughter Laura Frances living in Jefferson County, I assume that he was likely living with one of them at the time of his death. He is buried in the Shades Mountain Cemetery.


While Frances had some sad twists and turns in life, I like to think that overall she had a good life. And while she never lived a life of wealth or ease, she was blessed with a large posterity and for many, that is what matters most.  I hope that as she reached the end of her life, her thoughts were of the good things in her life.



Frances's husbands and children

Frances L. Rainwater (b. Jul 1837 Cedartown, Polk, GA  d. 1913 Polk County, GA)
Reuben Ayers b. 3 Mar 1838 GA  d. 5 Jul 1862 Richmond, VA, marr. 24 Jan 1856 Polk Co., GA
  •         Mary Ann b. 1857

Frances L Rainwater
Robert Anderson Bailey  b. Jan 1847, Alabama  d. 24 Mar 1917 Oxmoor, Jefferson Co., AL, marr. 1866, Georgia
  •        Elizabeth Baily b. abt 1866
  •        John W. Bailey b. 1869
  •        Abner Joshua Bailey b. 1871
  •         Robert Linfield Bailey b. 1876
  •         Frances Laura Bailey b. 1877
     

(1)  1900 US. Federal Census, Blooming Grove, Polk, Georgia,  Roll: 217 Page 13B; ED 0088; microfilm 1240217,  accessed on Ancestry.com 21 October 2014

(2) 1910 US Federal Census,  Blooming Grove, Polk, Georgia, Roll T624_208 Page 2A; ED 0134; microfilm 1374221, accessed on Ancestry.com 21 October 2014

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2014,  All rights reserved

Monday, November 3, 2014

Do You Remember? Clove Gum and Grandma's purse

Do You Remember?


Every time I smell cloves, I am transported back in time to days spent with my grandma.  She didn't drive much in her older years and her trips were essentially limited to church, the grocery store, the beauty parlor and her children's homes.  But everywhere Grandma went, she took her purse just as every lady did.  I never actually looked in her purse for it was her purse and was for her own treasures and perusing, but the second she opened it, the smell wafted out and it always made my mouth water.

Her purse always smelled of Clove gum and the best part about it was, Grandma always shared.  I remember not only the smell, but also the distinctive flavor which was a strong spicy taste of cloves combined with pure sugar.  What could be better?

As I pondered this post and knowing how smells can trigger strong memories, I recently made a trip out to Cracker Barrel to pick up a pack of Clove gum because I remembered seeing it there.  I was so disappointed when the clerk told me that the company had recently gone out of business. She also told me that as the word spread that the gum would no longer be available, many had come to buy the last few packs.  Sadly I wasn't one of them.

Do you remember Clove gum? 

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2014,  All rights reserved

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

He Never Came Home - Part 2

Reuben Ayers never came home.  As I shared in my previous post here, Reuben enlisted in August of 1861 in Haralson County, Georgia,  for what many thought would be a relatively short lived battle.   He fought alongside his neighbors and friends with the Georgia 35th Infantry while Frances waited for him to return home to her and their daughter, Molly.  But he never came home.

Instead, Frances, Reuben's wife of six years, learned in July of 1862 that he was among the many who had lost their life in Richmond, VA.  Frances was suddenly a twenty-six year old widow with a daughter to support.

In March of 1863, eight months after Reuben's death, Frances applied for the $73.83 due to Reuben which included bounty, pay and clothing.   Among his service records was the following application:

Widow in mourning exhibit, Museum of the Confederacy, Richmond, Virginia
Widow in mourning exhibit
Museum of the Confederacy
Richmond, Virginia
State of Georgia
Harralson(sic) County
 To wit on this Nineteenth day of February 1863.   
Personally appeared before the subscribing Justice of the Peace in and for said county Frances Ayers who after being duly sworn according to law deposeth and saith that she is the widow of Reuben Ayers deceased who was a Private in Capt. Heads Company 35th Regiment of Georgia Volunteers commanded by Capt Thomas in the service of the Confederate States. . .  the said Reuben Ayers entered the service at Buchanan Harralson County, Ga on or about the 12th of August 1861 and died at Richmond Va on or about the 5th of July 1862, leaving a widow that makes this deposition for the purpose of obtaining from the government of the Confederate States whatever may have been due the said Reuben Ayers at the time of his death for pay bounty or other allowances for his services as a private as afforesaid.  Sworn to and subscribed to before me.
J.G Newman JP      Frances Ayers (1)

For three years following Reuben's death,  Frances and daughter, Molly, remained in Haralson County, Georgia and did the best they could during a difficult time.  Several years later, Frances met Robert A. Bailey who was nearly ten years younger than she and in 1866 they married. Once again Frances settled into the role of a farmer's wife.

Molly, the only child from Frances and Reuben's marriage, was eleven years old by the time her mother and Robert had their first child.   At the tender age of eleven, Molly had seen the ugliness of war, felt the pain of loosing her father and undoubtedly experienced the hardship shared by most Georgians in the post Civil War period.  Hopefully her mother's marriage to Robert Bailey and the addition of siblings added a measure of normalcy and happiness to her life.

By the 1870 census, Frances' sister, Olivia, and her husband John Ganus had returned to Georgia and lived just down the road from the Baileys.  As I shared in an earlier story, the two sisters and their families enjoyed each other's company for the next 17 years.

By 1870,  Frances' mother, Polly, had died.  In addition, her father, Joshua Rainwater,  and her brothers Abner and John, along with their families, had joined many others in the migration to Texas. Frances' older sister, Mariah, and her husband, William Barnwell, were living in Alabama.

Then in 1887, Frances' sister, Olivia, and her husband,  John Ganus, and their sons packed up and moved across the country to Colorado.  By that time, only Frances' oldest sister, Matilda, who was sixteen years older and was the widow of Josiah Goggans, also lived in Georgia.

Although in ways it may have been hard for Frances to stay in Georgia when so many of her siblings had gone, she and Robert had a growing, thriving family of their own and with that, many reasons to remain.


(1) Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Georgia, digital images, database, Fold3.com (www.Fold3.com: accessed 26 October 2014), entry for Reuben Ayres, 35th Infantry, Carded Records Showing Military Service of Soldiers Who Fought in Confederate Organizations, compiled 1903-1927, documenting the period 1861-1861. NARA M266, Record Group 109, Roll 0414. 

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2014,  All rights reserved

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Do You Remember... Halloween ?

Do you remember........Halloween?

Do you remember Halloween as a child?  Did your town have a Halloween parade? Ours did and I remember the fun of parading down the center of town as we waved to our parents and friends. 

Of course on Halloween night, we went trick or treating and came home with a bag loaded with sugary goodies such as Sugar Babies, Tootsie rolls, Pixie Stix and Double Bubble. Costumes, candy and life were all much simpler then.  



Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2014,  All rights reserved

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Winter Rainwater Wedding - Part 1

It was a chilly winter day in Polk County, Georgia (1)   when nineteen year old Frances Rainwater, daughter of Joshua Rainwater and Polly Peterson, married eighteen year old Reuben Ayers, son of Martin Ayers and Sarah Simmons.
Mary (Polly) Peterson
Polly Peterson Rainwater
Frances' mother
Photo shared by: Trudy Capps

I wonder, who was there to witness their marriage?  Did Frances have a special dress?  Did family and friends gather afterwards to celebrate her special day?

Frances was the youngest of the three Rainwater daughters and the baby in a family of six children.  Her family lived along the beautiful winding Tallapoosa River in Haralson County, Georgia. Their father, Joshua, supported their family by farming. Their family was among the early members of the Bethany Baptist Church (2)  located on the outskirts of the current town of Tallapoosa.  If Frances was like other girls of her time, she grew up helping her mother, Polly, with cooking, sewing and caring for their small farm animals.

Bethany Baptist Church, Haralson County, GA
Bethany Baptist Church
Haralson County, GA
(original location but newer building)
Photo shared by: David Rawlings

By the time Frances married Reuben on January 24, 1856, her older siblings Mariah, Abner and Olivia, were married and living nearby with their spouses and children. Siblings Matilda and John were still at home and would not marry for several more years.


In October of 1857, Reuben and Frances welcomed a baby girl to their home. They named her Mary Ann,  but called her Molly.  By the1860 US Census (3), they were living just across the Georgia/Alabama border in the rolling hills of Calhoun County, Alabama and Reuben provided for the family by farming.  Frances' sister, Olivia, and her husband, John Ganus,  and their three sons Frank, John and James R. were living nearby. As a farmer's wife and the mother of a little girl,  Frances settled into life, with her older sister Olivia nearby for friendship and support.


Near Calhoun Alabama  Wikimpedia Public domain
Overlooking Calhoun, Alabama
Wikipedia Commons

By August of 1861, Reuben, Frances, and Molly returned to Haralson county, Georgia where Reuben enlisted with Company A,  35th Georgia Infantry. Although Frances' mother, Polly, had passed away, Frances's father,  Joshua, and several of her siblings lived close enough to be a help and support while Reuben was away at war. Typically soldiers' wives had to care for their farms and their families while they anxiously awaited for any news about their husbands and their regiments.  I am sure Frances was no exception.




Joshua Rainwater Family

Joshua RAINWATER  (b. 13 Nov 1791 SC d. 15 August 1878 Upshur TX) & Mary PETERSON  (b. abt 1794 SC  d. bef 1860 GA
  • Matilda RAINWATER b. 10 Aug 1821 Pendleton Dist, SC - 16 Sep 1904 Haralson Co, GA 
  • Mariah RAINWATER  b. 1826  d 1903 SC - 1903 Talledega, AL
  • Abner RAINWATER b. 1827 d. 1908  b. 16 Apr 1827 SC - 23 Sep 1908 Hamilton, TX
  • Olivia RAINWATER b. 20 Feb 1831 Hall Co., GA  - 12 Sep 1902 Okmulgee, OK 
  • John RAINWATER b. 19 Jun 1832  GA - 14 Jun 1890 Upshur, TX
  • Frances RAINWATER b. Jul 1837 GA  - 1913 Polk Co., GA
1.  Marriage  Reuben Ayers to Frances Rainwater 24 January 1856, "Georgia, County Marriages, 1785-1950," index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1951-25515-21526-85?cc=1927197 : accessed 16 Oct 2014), 0419307 (005191034) > image 94 of 415.
2. Lois Owens Newman and Carroll County Genealogical Society, Haralson County A History (Carrollton, GA: Carroll County Genealogical Society, 1994), 93.
3. 1860 U.S. census, Calhoun, Alabama, population schedule, Oaklevel PO, p. 42 (penned), dwelling 302, family 302, Ruben Ayres; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 23 October 2014); from Family History Library Film: 803004. 

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2014,  All rights reserved

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

FGS 2015-- Time to Connect, Explore, Refresh


When I first started genealogy about twenty years ago,  I spent most of my time in the quiet recesses of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.  Granted, the library has a lot to offer and so I was quite content to spend hours spinning through reels of microfilm, examining fiche and studying the vast collection of books.

Initially success came fast and somewhat easily, but as is often the case, the quick, relatively easy results slowly screeched to a halt and I was left wondering what I needed to do in order to take my research to the next level.

It was then that I discovered and attended my first local genealogy conference and a whole new world opened up to me!  Not only did I learn new ways to think and research that helped to propel my research forward, but I had a lot of fun connecting with other genealogist. I was hooked!

Since that first conference many years ago, I have attended many conferences at both the local and national level.  This year I am an Ambassador for the 2015 FGS Conference and am excited to be able to attend.

With the wide variety of classes offered, there will be many opportunities to EXPLORE a vast array of topics pertaining to genealogy.  Whether someone is just beginning their genealogy adventure or is a skilled researcher, there are classes to meet their needs and interests.  I am committed to stepping outside my comfort zone to explore some new topics and hope to leave the conference with new skills in my genealogy tool belt to help me tackle those stubborn brick walls.

In addition,  I am looking forward to the opportunity to CONNECT with others.  It is a lot of fun to visit with other bloggers and genealogist while waiting for a class to start, in the halls and across the lunch table.  Because the conference attendees come from a wide variety of backgrounds, locations and with varied experiences,  I find I learn a great deal from them as well.

And finally, I know I will leave the FGS Conference feeling REFRESHed.  It is easy to fall into the same old routine of doing things the same way and sometimes, do I dare say, my interest in genealogy even begins to wane somewhat.  There is nothing like a conference to help recharge me and get me back on track.


For information and to register, go to Federation of Genealogical Societies


Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2014,  All rights reserved





Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Snake Stories

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

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

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

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


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

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

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




Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2014,  All rights reserved

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Fall, The Best Three Days of the Year

Fall never seems to be long enough in Utah and some even joke that it is the best three days of the year.  So when I learned that The Board for Certification of Genealogist would be holding a lecture series at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City this past Saturday, for just a moment I wrestled with the idea of giving up the promise of good weather for a day spent indoors.  It wasn't really much of a wrestle though because with Judy Russell and Elizabeth Shown Mills teaching, I knew my time would be well spent.

Judy G. Russell, BCG Seminar, used by permission
Judy G. Russell
BCG Lecture Series
(Used by permission)
Both Judy and Elizabeth are masters at teaching us how to see and think as genealogists, all while weaving the stories of their subjects' lives through the use of records.  Listening to them is not only educational, but a lot of fun.

And so I got up bright and early on Saturday morning and drove down to the  Family History Library and I am so glad that I did.  As I listened to all of the speakers, I enjoyed the day immensely and am excited to once again pull out some of my difficult-to-solve genealogical problems to see if just maybe I will see and understand things that I have missed in the past.   Thank you ladies for time well spent.    


You can find Judy G. Russell on her website,  The Legal Genealogist and Elizabeth Shown Mills on her websites, Historic Pathways and Evidence Explained

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2014,  All rights reserved

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Oh the places you'll go

Recently lines from the popular Dr. Seuss poem, "Oh The Places You'll Go!" have rattled through my brain:
"You're off to Great Places! Today is Your day!
Your mountain is waiting, So .....get on your way!”
Over the past month and a half, my "mountain" has been discovering Ernest and his life and in the process, Oh the places I have been!

Ernest William Ganus and Heber Ganus
Ernest William Ganus (L)
Heber Monroe Ganus 
Initially knowing very little about my grandfather's older brother, Ernest, who died before I was born,  I expected to write a single blog post.  But one record led to another and little by little, I soon realized that it would take multiple posts to share all that was in my mind and heart.

At times I was perplexed by Ernest’s personal choices,  but seeking to understand led me to yet more discoveries. In addition to his personal trials, I followed Ernest into the newly emerging oil industry, through his service in WWI, and finally through the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl.  With each discovery I hoped that just maybe his life would turn a corner and that he would have a happy ending, but by all appearances, life was never easy for Ernest.  I can only hope that the bleak facts that emerged through the documents were at least occasionally balanced out by some of the simple daily joys of life.  

I read and then I read some more. I visited personal and governmental websites containing information about the era. I looked at pictures, I listened to songs written during that time period, I watched film strips, documentaries and a movie.  

Because of my desire to know more about him, I stepped into his world, a world that I had previously known little about and in the process, I received quite an education.  While the journey enlightened my mind, it also broke my heart.  In many ways,  Ernest represents many of the men and women of that era that were born into hard circumstances and fought every step of the way just to survive. 

Had I been satisfied to simply spit out the most basic facts of Ernest's life, I would have missed so much and in all reality, I would have missed Ernest.
 "The more that you read, the more things you will know.  The more that you learn, the more places you'll go."  Dr. Seuss, Oh The Places You'll Go!
Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2014,  All rights reserved

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Do You Remember? Fall Leaves

Do You Remember?

The older I get, the more I love to reflect on the people and events of my past.  I wonder if you have some of the same memories I have? 

I've always loved fall.  I love the colors and the smells and the cool nights.  Do you remember how fun it was to play in the fall leaves? 

Me as a little girl raking the leaves at our home in Bakersfield, California
Growing up, we didn't have the sophisticated toys that kids have today and so we spent a lot of time playing with simple things.  I remember how much I loved it when the leaves began to fall. We would spend hours raking the leaves into huge piles and jumping into the piles. 

I also remember loving the sound of the leaves as they crunched under my shoes.  But even more than that, I loved the way the leaves crunched as my mom walked on them in her high heels and I could hardly wait until for the day I too would wear high heels. 

Do you have childhood memories of playing in the fall leaves? 

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2014,  All rights reserved

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Ernest's Final Return to Oklahoma - Part 5

The winds howled as dark clouds of dust and dirt churned and boiled across the wide open plains.  A layer of grit seemed to cover everything in site, both indoors and out. It was the "Dust Bowl" and Ernest Ganus and his family were smack in the middle of it.

Dust Bowl from Wikimedia Commons, Public DomainCrippling drought combined with over-farmed and over-grazed land resulted in dust storms throughout Oklahoma, as well as other neighboring states.  At times the dust and dirt were so thick, the sky was completely black.

In 1930, Ernest, Goldie and daughter, Louise, were living in Okmulgee, Oklahoma and according to the census, Ernest was working as a laborer on the highways.  Between the dust storms and the crippling effects of the Great Depression, I suspect his work dwindled away to little if anything at all.

Whether the mounting financial and emotional stresses played a part in their marital discord, or there were simply differences that could not be resolved, some time during the next few years, Ernest and Goldie divorced and for a time, Ernest was alone again.

Several years later, Ernest met and married Laura Etta Henson, daughter of Jeff Henson and Lucy Ann Sharp.  Then, much like the characters of John Steinbeck's novel,  The Grapes of Wrath, which depicted the plight of those fleeing the dust bowl,  Ernest and Laura joined the hundreds of thousands of dust bowl refugees and headed for California.

In 1940, forty-two year old Ernest and forty year old Laura appear on the US Federal Census living in Los Angeles, California.  Employers successfully lured desperate job seekers to come to work in the fields of California while Hollywood portrayed a land where everyone prospered and thrived in a near tropical climate.  Consequently, the impoverished headed to California with great hope for a better life.

As if he had not already endured his share of heartache, once again Ernest would be hit hard by loss. On the eighth of December, 1942,  Laura died of cancer, leaving Ernest once again, all alone.

By April of that year, Ernest had followed the migrant trail to Tehachapi as is evidence by his registration form for the "Old Man Draft."  On the form he indicated that his place of residence was "Kirschenmaan Camp- Tehachapi, California."

Housing for Oklahoma Refugees, California, Dorothea Lange, Library of Congress
Housing for Oklahoma Refugees, California
Dorothea Lange, Library of Congress 

Approximately 122 miles from his last known residence in Los Angeles and almost 1,500 miles from Okmulgee, Ernest "fit the mold" of the "Okie" on a quest to find employment.

Some  Oklahomans flocked to the areas near Tehachapi to look for work. The sheer number of migrant workers living in makeshift camps created growing concern among many locals. Crowding, inadequate supplies and lack of sanitation often made the camps a dangerous and unhealthy place to live and many communities took steps to close the camps.  In addition, many that had come for work became disillusioned as it became evident that those seeking work greatly exceeded the number of available jobs and that in many cases the pay could not cover even their most basic needs.  For whatever reason, Ernest did not remain in California for long, but once again, returned home to Oklahoma.

At this point the trail goes cold and I know little about the years that follow. I do know that in the early 1950's, when my grandfather, Heber Ganus,  Ernest's younger brother, was suffering from poor health and was advised to go to a lower climate,  he too returned to Oklahoma.  Although Ernest did not have much, he shared what he had and Grandpa lived with him for a short time until Grandma finished the school year as a teacher in Colorado and could join him in Oklahoma.

Ernest lived alone for the remainder of his life.  At the age of 62, suffering from emphysema and pulmonary fibrosis, he was admitted to the VA Hospital in Bonham, Texas.  According to his death certificate he died on March 3, 1956, at 5:40 in the morning of an acute heart attack.  Ernest's body was returned to Oklahoma and he was buried in the Okmulgee County Cemetery near Laura.

Ernest's final resting place was Oklahoma, the place where he had last been with his parents, the place where he had married Goldie and had been with his children, the place where he had met and married Laura, the place where brother Orson had lived for a time and a place where brother Heber had returned as his health failed.....Oklahoma was "home" and Ernest too had returned one last time.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2014,  All rights reserved

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Tragedy in the Roaring Twenties - Part 4

It was the roaring twenties and life was changing rapidly in the United States. Women had gained the right to vote, dance clubs were the vogue and "talkies" became wildly popular.  Ernest was home from the war and he and Goldie, who had only been married six monthes when he left for basic training, were together again.  If he was like many WWI veterans, it took a little time for him to adjust and settle back into life.
17 April 1920 Cartoon by American cartoonist Dick Kennedy,

The year 1921 appeared to be the beginning of better things for Ernest as he and Goldie welcomed their first baby into their home. Goldie gave birth to Charles Franklin Ganus who was likely named for Goldie's father, Charles, and Ernest's father, (William) Franklin. Things were looking up for Ernest.

Ernest, now a family man, returned to the oil fields, but this time he took a job in a refinery working as a still man's helper. In a refinery a still is a large column where oil is heated to a high temperature in order to distill the oil to different grades.

October 28, 1922 likely began like most any other day for the Ganus family, but in the oil fields, any day has the potential for danger.  That afternoon,  as Ernest worked at the Indiahoma refinery, an agitator exploded, setting fire to three oil tanks, killing one man, burning two horses to death and according to newspaper reports, it was feared that two other men, including "E. Ganus," who had been engulfed in flames, would possibly die from their burns.  (1) The article further stated that both men were hospitalized.

Gusher Okemah Ok 1922
While the accident is reported in numerous newspapers, there is no further information about the injured men.  I find myself wondering and hoping that just maybe the initial report was slightly exaggerated.  That could have been the case  . . . but if not,  I would assume that as is typical with burns, the recovery was slow and difficult.  Ernest would certainly require recovery time and he and Goldie likely felt the strain both emotionally and physically as he healed while the medical bills mounted. Sadly, this would not be the only trial this little family would face that week.

On the 29th of October 1922, the very day following the explosion,  Ernest's and Goldie's only child, Charles,  died.  I can't imagine the grief they must have felt. Was Ernest even able to help Goldie make arrangements for Charles' burial or was that a burden she carried alone? How did they afford both the cost of burial as well as Ernest's medical expenses?  How did they manage as they faced one of the most difficult tragedies any parent could face?  Surely there were many dark and difficult days in the weeks and months that followed.

The following year, while still in Okmulgee, Ernest and Goldie again welcomed a baby into their home.  This time their baby was a girl and they named her Louise.  Once again I felt hope that maybe now life would even out for Ernest, and then I remembered what the 1930's held for Oklahoma.

(1) "Explosion Kills Oil Worker and Injures Others,: (Miami),  Miama District News, 29 Oct 1922, p. 1; digital images, GenealogyBank.com, (http://www.genealogybank.com:  accessed 28 August 2014). 

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2014, All rights reserved