Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Photos! Do Not Bend!

I opened the mailbox and peered in, half holding my breath while hoping today would be the day. Every day for 3 weeks I jumped and ran to the mailbox when I heard the mail truck and every day I opened the mailbox and was greeted by nothing more than junk mail.

But today was different. There sitting among the grocery fliers was a small padded envelope from Chattanooga, Tennessee. The words "PHOTOS, DO NOT BEND" were written across the front. The much hoped for letter had come!

A few weeks earlier I had once again gone through the obituary index on the Chattanooga Public Library site found HERE. In the past, I had searched the obituaries there primarily for my Faucett and Fricks line, but I recently realized that some of the descendants of David Ganus, had ended up in Chattanooga as well. I was so happy to find an obituary for Burton Bartow Ganus' daughter. Burton was the son of David Ganus. David was the son of James Gurganus and Elizabeth McCluskey and a brother to my second great grandfather, John Monroe Ganus. I previously shared David's story HERE,

David Gurganus, Mary Swain, James Gurganus, Elizabeth McCluskey, David Ganus, Malinda Ganus, John Monroe Ganus, Burton Bartow Ganus, Whitfield Georgia, Chattanooga, Chattanooga Public Library, Family History, Genealogy, Ancestry.

With the help of the obituary and the internet, I was able to trace his family forward and find a living descendant!! So I wrote her and was ecstatic when she wrote me back. 

Burton Bartow Ganus, was David and Malinda's third child and their only son. Born in October of 1861 in Fayetteville, Georgia, which is about 30 miles outside of Atlanta, he and his family faced many frightening and difficult events over the first few years of his life.

Burton was only 8 months old when on May 1st,1862, his father enlisted in the 53rd Company C, The Fayette Planters. His mother Malinda who was only 23 at the time surely had her hands full with three small children; 8-month-old Burton and his two sisters, one two years old and the other five years old. I can imagine David telling his young family goodbye, fully expecting to soon return to his life with Malinda and their babies.

On June 20th, after only a few weeks of drilling and training, David, along with the other members of the 53rd, boarded the train bound for Virginia.

David soon experienced first hand the horrors of war. On September 17, 1862, the 53rd fought in their first major battle, the battle of Sharpsburg, or the Battle of Antietam, often referred to as the single bloodiest day in military history. Although many of their regiment died or were wounded, David and his brother-in-law Burton Cook would survive that battle.

As fall turned to winter, the temperatures grew cold and David caught pneumonia from exposure. In December of 1862 David died while in the Winder Hospital in Richmond, Virginia, leaving his wife Malinda and their 3 children without a father.

David Ganus, Winder Hospital, Richmond  Virginia, Fayette Planters, Georgia 53rd Regiment Company C, Fayetteville, Civil War
David Ganus is #358 in Hollywood Cemetery
Richmond, Virginia
Back at home, Malinda and the rest of the residents of Fayetteville faced many challenges. Although there were no battles fought in Fayetteville because it is located a short distance from Atlanta, troops often passed through there and the residents endured many hardships as a result. As a young boy, Burton would have seen Federal troops march through, taking what they wanted, terrorizing those who lived there and burning what they could not take with them. Life was hard for the families there. 

I am not sure how Malinda managed to care for her family, but by the time she was able to apply for and receive the meager pension allotted to the widows of confederate soldiers, it was 1891 and her children were grown.

Burton would marry three times. He first married Emma Plaer first and they had a daughter. Emma died early in their marriage and Burton then married Susan (LNU). I do not know if they divorced or if she died, but about 1922 he married Emma Jane Stowe and he spent the remainder of his life with her. 

Burton farmed a little and also worked with the railroad in Whitfield County, Georgia, which is at the southern end of the Appalachian mountains and borders Tennessee. In her last years, Malinda moved in with Burton and his family and remained with them until her death. 

After Malinda passed away on December 23rd, 1908, Burton applied for reimbursement for her burial expenses because she was a widowed pensioner. Ironically he applied for reimbursement 47 years to the day that his father had died.

Burton died 1 Jun 1959 in Whitfield, Georgia at the age of 71. A petition for the benefit of his widow indicated that at this death, he had a piece of land worth $200.00, a heifer jersey, 30 hens, some farming tools, a few household goods, a bedstead, dresser, chairs and one organ. He was a man raised in a difficult time and difficult place and yet following the example of his determined mother, he forged ahead, creating a life for himself.

I gathered this information through research and while sadly my new cousin could not add any new information to what I already knew, she could share something I did not have and something very precious to me---a picture! Finally, I was able to put a face with the facts I knew about Burton !!! I was thrilled!

Burton Bartow Ganus, Whitfield Georgia
Burton Bartow Ganus
Thank you to Grand daughter for graciously sharing this photo. 

I love to look into an ancestor's eyes and wonder what they would tell me if they were still living. As I look at Burton, I see a man weathered by many hard experiences, beginning almost immediately after his birth and yet his features do not reflect the harshness of his life, instead, I see warmth and kindness. Like his mother, he was a survivor. 

The day I opened the mailbox and saw the envelope from my new found cousin was an exciting day for me and I will forever be grateful for the arrival of that little padded envelope with the four simple words, "Photos, Do Not Bend!"

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2016, All rights reserved

Friday, June 24, 2016

Foto Friday-Dorothy Heckman

Here is a picture that is labeled! Oh happy day!!

Meet Dorothy Heckman. I love the long blessing dresses from long ago. I wonder if her mother is behind her holding her up?

I wish that I knew more about Dorothy and what eventually became of her. I shared what little I do know in this post.

Dorothy Heckman, baby, ancestry, Salida Colorado, Tula Faucett, Scott Heckman

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2016, All rights reserved

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Spooky Mountain Stories

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2016, All rights reserved

Friday, June 17, 2016

Foto Friday-More of That Hair

Photos without names trouble me. Their faces seem to haunt me, to call to me, asking me to give them a name and tell their stories. My hope is that by sharing this un-named photo that someone will recognize the children, help me identify them and hopefully I can then find and tell their story.

This is a picture that was among the few in my Grandma's little suitcase. In ways, he reminds me of my Great Grandfather John Monroe Ganus shown below.

This man's wavy, somewhat wild hair is certainly similar to John's and some of John's sons' hair. I realize, however, that many times strong family resemblances exist among extended family members so it could just as easily be another relation. What do you think?

I wonder why he had his picture taken that particular day and why the backdrop is simple white fabric. Is that a clue of some kind?

I always feel a little pull at my heart when I look into his eyes and wonder what he would tell me about his life. What did those eyes witness during his lifetime?

Whoever he is, I would love to be able to save his name with his picture and better yet, learn a little about his story.

unknown Ganus, ancestor, ancestry, research, family history, ancestor
Unknown ancestor

Ganus, old photos, John Monroe Ganus, ancestor, ancestry, research, family history, familysearch
John Monroe Ganus

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2016, All rights reserved

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

A Poor Substitute for a Sandwich

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What do you think of peanut butter sandwiches?

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2016, All rights reserved

Friday, June 10, 2016

Foto Friday--Cooling Off

Swimming pools, water parks and splash pads abound these days and provide a wonderful way for children to cool off in the blistering summer heat. Kids and water just seem to go together during the summer months, but oh how times have changed! 

Although the methods have changed, it seems kids have always found a way to cool off. As I went through my grandma's pictures in her little suitcase, I found the following picture of my dad and his sister. The caption written by my grandma indicates that it was too hot and the kids had to cool off. It's a far cry from how kids cool off today and quite different from how we cooled off as a kid, but one thing is for sure, when the temperatures soar and the days get hot, kids find a way to cool off.  

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2016, All rights reserved

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Guest Blogger--Lisa Lisson!


 I am pleased to welcome guest blogger, Lisa Lisson, author of the blog LisaLisson.com. Today Lisa shares with us her expertise in identifying ancestors in family photos, a topic pertinent to all who love family history. (Please note that Lisa's post contains a few affiliate links that benefit her, but for which I do not receive compensation.) 

ancestors, Lisa Lisson, Winnie Haley Carr, Elton Carr

Do you have a few “unidentified” photographs among your ancestors’ photographs? Many of us do and the question is how we identify these individuals.
This photograph was in my collection of “unidentified” photos for quite a long time. Eventually I got serious on identifying the young man on the right leaning against the bridge.  The process of determining who the young man was required a systematic approach.

This photograph was among my great grandmother’s (Winnie Haley Carr) photographs.  The collection eventually passed to her daughter Elton Carr, and then to her granddaughter, my aunt.  Oral history stated the young man was a Haley and the photograph would have been taken in the vicinity of Clarkson Plantation.
Knowing who held the photograph before me combined with the family’s limited oral history, I was able to narrow down my search to one family line.  I was looking for a Haley. That in itself was a big step forward.

Closer examination of the Photograph

Next I needed to get an up close look at the young man. Using Picmonkey, I cropped and edited the photograph to isolate him.

Isolating the young man and enlarging the photograph revealed the young man had a strong family resemblance to the Haley side of the family. I was on the right track.

Type of Photograph
The photograph in my collection was printed on paper in the sepia tones you see in the photograph. In this case, I suspected the photograph was a copy of an original that was shared within the family. I tentatively dated the photograph in the early 1900’s, but honestly, was not extremely confident in that based on the photograph’s physical characteristics. More clues were need before I could be more specific in its date.

The young man’s clothing provides a few clues for dating the photograph. If he was indeed a Haley, then he would have been living in a farming community. He clothing has more of a functional look though he has dressed specifically for the photo with a coat and tie. Under his coat he is wearing overalls. His tie is narrow and resembles the ties of other photos of known young men of the 1910’s in my collection. His hat appears to be a flat cap that was commonly worn in the 1910’s in rural communities.

The African American man driving the first wagon looks dressed for the camera and his clothing looks less functional for farm work. The narrow tie and collar resemble the styles common in the late 1900’s into the 1910’s. His hat looks is similar to hats of men worn around 1910.
Based on the wearing of ties and more formal look as opposed to that of farmers who are actually working, this photograph was likely staged and not a candid one.

What Else Is In The Photograph?
Other things in the photograph lend clues to the location and time period of the photograph. The bridge itself provided a big clue. Knowing this photograph was in the Haley family and the Haley family lived in Clarkton, VA, I used a google image search for “Clarkton Bridge Halifax, VA”. The results confirmed the bridge in the photograph was the Clarkton Bridge over the Staunton River near the Clarkton Plantation. (Today the Clarkton Plantation is known as Ardross.) The bridge was built in 1902.

Compare To The Family Tree
At this point, I felt I had enough information to go to my family tree and see if any Haley men matched the unknown young man. Let’s review what was known.  This photograph was in the possession of my Haley side of the family. Specifically, its earliest known owner was Winnie Haley Carr of Halifax County, VA. The young man is standing on the Clarkton Bridge built in 1902. Obviously the photograph was taken after 1902. The clothing points to a date of late 1900’s to early 1910s.

Looking at the Haley family tree, I knew I was looking for a young Haley man who would have been about 20 years old in the late 1900’s or early 1910’s. The best possible candidate was Percy Haley, the eldest son of William and Clara (Holt) Haley.  Percy was born in 1890 on or near the Clarkton Plantation. (Percy’s father was the overseer of Clarkton Plantation.) A much later photograph of Percy was then located for comparison. 

The young man in the photograph is Percy Haley (1890-1959) of Halifax and Charlotte Counties, VA.

The rest of the story…..
Several months after identifying Percy Haley in the photograph, I attended a Haley family reunion. The photograph at the top of this page was part of an ongoing slide show for the family.  An older gentleman walked up and exclaimed “That’s my daddy!  He was supposed to be working on the farm that day.”  The gentleman was Percy Haley’s son! 

Please note that this post contains affiliate links which means I may earn a commission if you decide to purchase a product/service. This does not cost you extra. Be assured I only recommend products/services that I use and think you would like too.


Lisa Lisson is a genealogist, blogger and author of Identify Your Ancestor In That Photograph: Strategies to Analyze and Determine Who Is In Your Family Photos (to be released 15 June 2016). Passionate about genealogy research and helping others find and share their ancestors, Lisa can be found at LisaLisson.com, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Etsy.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2016, All rights reserved

Friday, June 3, 2016

Foto Friday- Fishing for fun

It's that time of year when fisherman take to the rivers, creeks, and lakes. As a child, I always loved going fishing with my Dad, although I think I only ever caught one single fish my whole entire life.

Although the picture below of my Grandpa Ganus is not a closeup, it is him and I love it. Standing out in the middle of the Conejos River, he is away from the cares of the world and in the peace of nature. I wonder.....did he catch anything that day and did they have fried fish for dinner?

Conejos River, Colorado, Heber Ganus, genealogy, ancestry, fishing, family, summer
Heber Monroe Ganus on the Conejos River

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2016, All rights reserved