Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Worshipping as Family, Neighbors and Friends, Tallapoosa Primitive Church

Tallapoosa Primitive Church, Carroll County, Carrollton, Georgia, Lee, Ganus
Inside the Tallapoosa Primitive Church
Carrollton, Georgia 

I could imagine them sitting there. Grandparents, parents and children--side by side, gathered together to sing and to worship. 

Peering in the windows of the Tallapoosa Primitive Baptist Church in Carrollton, Georgia, I felt that all over warm feeling of knowing that the Lee, Brock and Ganus families had once been there. 


My people, the people I've worked so hard to get to know on paper had worshipped in that church, walked those grounds, wept at the graves of their departed family members. It truly was hallowed ground. 



genealogy, ancestry, research, Ganus, Lee, Brock Walking through the cemetery, reading the names on the headstones of great aunts and uncles, I felt a new kind of connection to them.  Samuel and Rebecca (Ganus) Lee, Rebecca's sister, Marta Elizabeth Brock, and many others were laid to rest there. Seeing the many graves of ancestors, all in such close proximity underscored what I have always been taught, that the southerners stayed close to their family. Unlike today, where children, parents and grandparents often live many miles apart, years ago, many families chose to stay close as a means of help and support to each other. Certainly, this tendency was evident here. 



Tallapoosa Primitive Church and Cemetery
Carrollton, Georgia


Rebecca (Ganus) Lee
daughter of James Ganus and Elizabeth McCluskey
wife of Samuel Solomon Lee 

Martha (Ganus) Brock
daughter of James Ganus and Elizabeth McCluskey
wife of William C. Brock 


And although I didn't grow up living close to them, and didn't personally know their descendants, the need to be close is still there. But that closeness has come about in a different way. It has come as I've researched my ancestors, discovered and written their stories, and finally as I have visited and paid my respects to their final resting places. 


Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2020, All rights reserved. 
  No use without permission 



Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Rain, Wind and Fear of Snakes, Blooming Grove Cemetery


Blooming Grove Cemetery, Polk County, Georgia, Genealogy, Frances Rainwater, Frances Ayers, Frances Bailey, Robert A. Bailey
Blooming Grove Cemetery 

As we pulled up to the property, I felt the hair rise on the back of my neck. 

I do admit to a rather overactive imagination at times, but the setting was perfect for a scary movie. The sky was dark and ominous, the rain was coming down in a steady stream and there we sat way out in the country at a very old cemetery, which appeared to be basically abandoned. We debated whether we
really wanted to get out of the car or not.....and for many reasons. 

We really weren't dressed for that kind of rain and the cemetery obviously hadn't had much attention for some time. And then there was the issue of ....snakes. If you've read my blog for a while, you know about me and snakes.   

Phobically afraid of snakes, I had done my snake research prior to our trip to Georgia to see if the things I had heard were true and I had learned from "Venomous Snakes of Georgia" written by the GA Dept. of Natural Resources that Copperheads are found in wooded areas, "both wet and dry." In addition to that, I was cautioned by those who knew I planned to visit cemeteries that it had been a bad year for copperheads. Super. 



Bailey, Georgia, genealogy, research, ancestry,
Graves into the trees in Blooming Grove Cemetery 



But my desire to find Frances Rainwater Ayers Bailey's marker was incentive enough to get me out of the car. Daughter of Joshua and Polly (Peterson) Rainwater, I knew from a journal that she and her sister, Olivia, my second great grandmother, had been close and I was so glad to be able to "visit" her in some way.

As I looked around, I was intrigued by the numerous headstones covered with overgrowth, many tucked deep in the trees. I so badly wanted to explore them all but didn't dare. The rain and the fear of snakes prevented me from going too deep into the brush and I so kept praying that I would find Frances' marker out in the open. The whole experience was a little tense.....

And then there was the knocking.

Yes....knocking. Several times while we were there, I heard a knock---three knocks in a row to be exact. Looking around, I couldn't figure out where it was coming from. It sounded fairly close and it clearly was not a woodpecker. I know what they sound like. I walked around the abandoned church a couple of times to see if possibly someone had managed to get inside the old church and was trying to scare me away. (Yes, I've seen too many movies.) But it was boarded up with no obvious way to enter. 


Blooming Grove Church
Blooming Grove Church 

But what I did finally find was Frances Rainwater Ayers Bailey's marker. 

Obviously, it was not an old marker, and there were flowers there, so apparently, someone else had visited within the week. I wished I knew who. 


Frances Rainwater Ayers Bailey


The Ayers Family fenced area 

Frances' marker was in-between the Ayers' family fenced area and the church. Her first husband, Reuben Ayers had died in the Civil War, which was many years before Frances' approximate 1913 death date. 


Several years after Reuben's death, Frances married Robert Bailey. Although they lived next to Matilda in Haralson County right after Matilda lost her husband, the Baileys later moved to the Blooming Grove area and lived there for many years. It was a beautiful community known for its abundance of mineral springs. A newspaper article described it this way:
"Blooming Grove, about eight miles south of Cedartown, it is stated, is capable of being made a valuable resort for people in summer, several nice springs affording different varieties of water, fine scenery and pleasant surroundings generally being characteristics." (1)
As always, just standing there at Frances' humble little marker, I felt a warmth at seeing some physical evidence that she was real and I was so glad that I had braved the rain, wind and yes, even the fear of snakes that day to find Frances. 


Earlier I wrote a three-part series about Frances and those posts can be found here:

1. Cedartown Advertiser, 1878-1889, July 12, 1883, Image 3. Accessed on Georgia Historic Newspapers, Digital Library of Georgia. 


Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2020, All rights reserved. 
  No use without permission 



Wednesday, May 13, 2020

In Search of Matilda Rainwater Goggans

Photo by form PxHere
Piece by piece, the things that only months earlier had been belonged to her and her husband were sold. Trunks, tables, chests, secretary, clocks, nine lots of books, and much more were removed from their home and her life. (1)

Matilda's husband Josiah Goggans had done well in his 74 years of life and so they had lived comfortably. But at the age of 54, Matilda (Rainwater) Goggans found herself a widow and facing a new chapter in her life.  

Josiah Joseph Goggans passed on the 8th of August 1875 and was laid to rest in the Goggans family cemetery not far from where they lived. Was it Matilda's idea to bury him next to his first wife or did it come at the insistence of his children? Years later when Matilda passed, she would be buried in the Bethany Baptist Cemetery some distance away. 
Josiah Goggans, Bethany Baptist Church, Matilda Rainwater, Joshua Rainwater, Haralson County, Georgia
The road leading to Bethany Baptist Church where
the Rainwaters and Goggans attended 

Only fifteen years earlier, on June 14, 1860, 38-year-old Matilda Rainwater married Josiah Goggans. Josiah was a widower 20 years her senior, so it was safe to assume that she would outlive him. However, for a woman who did not marry until later in life, and who had never had children, spending the last 29 years of her life alone was an additional sorrow for her.  

When Matilda married Josiah, she instantly became a part of a well-established family because Josiah and his first wife had nine children together. Josiah was a well-known member of the community and made his living as a farmer and owner of a local store. 

I can't help but wonder what challenges Matilda faced as all tried to adjust to her new role as Josiah's wife and as the step-mother to his children. Some of his oldest children were only a couple of years younger than Matilda and were raising their own families. However, his youngest three children were still at home when Josiah and Matilda married. When a couple of years later,  the Civil War broke out, Josiah's youngest sons, Jasper and Carey marched off to war and neither ever returned home. There was little opportunity to develop a motherly type relationship with his adult children and it appears from the probate records, they felt little obligation to help support her at Josiah's death. 

Despite the fact that Josiah "departed this life possessed of a large estate of both real and personal property," the year following his death presented many challenges for Matilda. 

According to court documents, Josiah left a will naming Matilda as the executrix, and that will was presented to the court, but unfortunately, there were problems as stated by his children. (3) 

The court documents show that Josiah's children claimed that he didn't have title to the property he willed, and prior to his death, that he had stated that he was opposed to his will and wanted to change it. In addition, they indicated that he had not signed the will in the presence of witnesses and that Josiah didn't see the witnesses sign. Finally, the documents stated:
"That said Will is illegal and unatural in- That it - prohibith the wife and widow of any dower in said estate." (2) 
And what was the outcome? 
That the will was "set aside and made void on the grounds that it is impossible to carry said will into effect on the grounds that the property had been set apart as a homestead and there being no other property only that set apart as a homestead out of which to pay the legatees  named in the will."
Matilda then petitioned the court for a suitable allowance to be set apart from the estate for a 12 months' support for her. 

At the sale of Josiah's property, the majority of the furniture and farm implements were purchased by immediate and extended family members. Matilda's only purchases, however, were 1 sow, 1 pigg (sic), and 3 shoats, which are baby pigs. 

Although it had been an estate of considerable size, there were debts to be paid, and two years later, the land on which she and Josiah had lived was sold.



Bethany Baptist Church, Haralson County, Georgia 

At this point in her life, Matilda was more alone than she had ever been before. She lived at home with her parents for most of her life until after her mother's death and then she and her aging father, Joshua, lived with her brother John and his wife up until her marriage. But her father, along with both brothers had gone to Texas years prior to Josiah's passing.


Despite the desperate appearance of her situation, records show that Matilda lived in a home that she owned free of a mortgage. In terms of emotional support, for a time George Goggans, a 61-year-old widower and relative of Josiah's lived with her as a border, her sister Frances Bailey lived next door and Matilda remained in the community where she had lived for much of her life. (4) 

For the next 29 years, Matilda managed to support herself presumably by farming as indicated in the 1900 census.  When in 1904, she passed away at the age of 83, she was laid to rest in the cemetery beside Bethany Baptist Church where she had attended church as a child with her family and with Josiah. 


Rainwater, Bethany Baptist Cemetery, Bethany Baptist Church, Haralson County, Georgia,
Matilda Rainwater Goggans tombstone
Bethany Baptist Cemetery
Haralson County, Georgia 


It was there, in the Bethany Baptist Cemetery that I found Matilda and it was there that I became intrigued by her life and the circumstances of her death. How did a woman who farmed right up to the end of her life and who didn't have children, pay for one of the largest tombstones in the cemetery? And assuming she didn't, who did? Josiah's headstone in the Goggans cemetery was small and quite primitive in comparison, so it seems unlikely that his children provided it for Matilda. 


Matilda Rainwater, Matilda Goggans, Haralson County, Genealogy, Ancestry, A Southern Sleuth,
Matilda Rainwater Goggans

Although Matilda's only living family members at the time of her death were her sister Frances who lived nearby and her brother Abner, who lived in Texas, it is unlikely, given the financial circumstances of either, that they paid for her tombstone.


The road to Bethany Baptist Cemetery

As I stood there in the cemetery, surrounded by the beauty of the area and recognizing many of the names of members of the community, it wasn't hard to imagine why she stayed, but I wish I knew more of her story. 

I do know she was a strong woman who withstood many challenges during her life. She had to be industrious and frugal. She must have developed some strong relationships over her life to people who felt some devotion after her death. 

But I do wonder, who felt it was important to memorialize her with such a significant tombstone? Who knew enough to provide the exact dates of her birth and death? 

Sadly, without descendants to tell her story, I likely will never know. 




Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2020, All rights reserved. 
                            No use without permission. 



1. Georgia, Wills and Probate Records, 1742, 1992 for Josiah Goggans, Haralson County, Unbound Estate Case Files, 1850-1950, Garrett, E. F. - Goldin James L Accessed on Ancestry.com. Image 898

2. Ibid. image 876

3. Ibid. image 885

4. 1880 US Federal Census M. D. 1078, Newnan, Haralson County, Georgia, 4 June 1880, stamped page 341. Accessed on Ancestry.com.