Friday, August 26, 2016



I am taking a little time off, but will be back in a few weeks. See you then!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Married to a Southerner

I lived in Texas for quite a few years and I remember so clearly the day an elderly gentleman pulled my friend and me aside at church and counseled us to be sure and marry someone from Texas. We were just in high school at the time and much more concerned about getting a date than the culture of the man we would someday marry, but we were intrigued and so we listened to what he had to say.

He told us that Texas had its own culture and that if we were to marry someone from outside the state, they would have a different upbringing and that they wouldn't understand some of our Texas ways and that would create difficulties in the marriage. He said if we married a fellow Texan, we would have so much more in common.While my friend was Texas born and raised, I had only lived there a couple of years and so it applied more to her than it did for me, but neither of us took his advice too seriously.

A few years later both she and I went off to a university several states away and as it turned out, neither of us married Texans. Funny enough, though, we both ended up returning with our non-Texas spouses to live in Texas for a time. Texas is, after all, a great place to live.

As I've studied my ancestors and their southern culture, I've often thought about the elderly man's counsel given to me so many years ago. On my father's side, generation after generation married other southerners, right down until my own grandparents who broke tradition.

Heber Monroe Ganus, Hazel Mickelsen, Southerner, Oklahoma, Georgia, Family History, FamilySearch, Genealogy, Ancestry
Hazel Mickelsen and Heber Monroe Ganus

In all fairness, although my Grandpa was born to Georgia natives, he was not born in the south. When it came time to marry, he was living in Colorado, although it was Southern Colorado. 

Grandpa Heber Monroe Ganus was born in Oklahoma in 1900 to William Franklin Ganus and Sarah E. Faucett, both born and raised in Georgia. He married my Grandma, Hazel Mickelsen, whose parents were full blooded Danish.  Both sets of her grandparents had immigrated to the US directly from Denmark. Although obviously, they loved each other, I can't help but wonder what challenges they may have faced as they worked to mesh two very different cultures.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2016, All rights reserved

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Happy Blogiversary to Me!

Happy Blogiversary to me!

I can hardly believe I have been blogging for four years . When I first began this blog, I did so having no idea where it would take me. It's been a lot more work than I ever imagined, but also a lot more fun. I've connected with cousins I didn't know before, made friends with other bloggers and genealogist and learned so much. Thanks for coming along with me on this wonderful journey! 

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2016, All rights reserved

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Making Sorghum Molasses the Old Way

I am always grateful for those willing to share memories with me that give a glimpse of the past. The following story takes us back to a time when even something as simple as molasses came by hard work. Thank you, Floyd Ganus, descendant of Robert Lee Ganus and Stella Montgomery for sharing the following memory of your Grandpa and Grandma Ganus and how you learned to make sorghum molasses the old way .

Robert Lee Ganus and Stella Montgomery
"We lived about a mile west of Grandpa (Robert Lee Ganus) and Grandma’s(Stella). Across the road and about an 1/8 mile up the hill lived Uncle Floyd & Aunt Jean. They had two girls Roberta, a year older and Olivia about 3 years older. There for a spell we didn’t have a car, electricity, or a radio so our entertainment was to walk up the hill and visit them. Also, we were dependent on them to take Mother or Dad to the grocery store. I was 3 or 4 and had an older sister, Virginia, 5 years older and a brother Robert D. 2 years older.

Robert Lee Ganus and Stella Montgomery with their six children
Robert Orvil b. 1910, Floyd Otto b. 1912, Andrew Monroe b. 1917, Robert Lee Ganus,
Stella Montgomery, Ida Mae b. 1907, Stella Jane b. 1904, Mary Olivia b. 1902
"This particular place was on a sandy creek bottom and Dad (Robert O.) Decided it would be a good place to grow sweet potatoes and sugar cane. They both did pretty well and my older years I have regained my taste for sweet potatoes. The sugar cane was a big summer treat to us kids. Mother (Edith P.) Would cut a stalk, clean off the leaves, and cut away the outside stalk and give us the sweet core to eat on. The core was mushy with sugar water and thus delicious to us kids. So for that summer we had the equivalent of a candy bar for several times , a real treat since store bought candy was unknown to us.

"When early fall came Dad gathered all of the sugar cane by cutting them off at ground and stripped off the leaves. When he finished with plot, less than an acre, we had a wagon load of sugar cane. Since our transportation was a wagon drawn by a team of horse, we got up early in morning and took the trip about 2 and one-half miles west to the old black mans place to squeeze the canes for the juice. The press was a metal contraption about the size of washing machine with a pole extending from the top to the side 15 or 20 feet. He had a donkey trained to walk the circle around the press giving it power. His was a very slow walk. The old man sat on the ground next to the press and fed the stalks into the press. My brother and I found out why we were invited on this trip. We were the carriers of the sugar cane stalks from the wagon to the old man feeding them in. You had to duck under the pole to hand him the canes. The process of extracting the nectar took about 2 hours or so. Time goes fast when you are having fun- I mean working. When we left the old man kept all of the sugar cane juice and kept it for the final tasks of cooking it down into molasses.
"By the time it was ready, we had moved about a mile or so on the other side of Grandpa and Grandma’s. Also, I guess Dad got good prices for those sweet potatoes since he now owned an old pickup truck. He came in one day with several jugs of dark molasses for us. Dad loved molasses and an evening supper would often be pancakes and molasses. Us kids would beg Mom into making home made the syrup by boiling some sugar in some water and adding maple favoring. This was much better than the strong tasting molasses. With so much molasses and reluctant eaters part of the molasses turned into sugar (looked like dark brown sugar). Thank goodness!"

Times certainly have changed and I for one am grateful that when I need molasses for a recipe, I can grab a bottle from the grocery shelf .Thank you Floyd, for sharing memories from your childhood years and teaching me about the process of making sorghum molasses the old way! 

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2016, All rights reserved

Friday, August 12, 2016

Foto Friday-James M. Lee and Alice C. Suttles

I love this picture of James Marshall Lee and Alice Cathleen Suttles. James was born 1 December 1859 and was the son of Samuel Solomon Lee and Rebecca Ganus. Alice Cathleen Suttles was born 22 September 1862 and was the daughter of Alfred D. Suttles and Nancy C. Baker. 

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2016, All rights reserved

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Feeding the Bindlestiffs

I knew my Grandma Hazel Mickelsen Ganus well. She died in 1987, the day before our third child was born.  I was fortunate enough to know her during my childhood, throughout my teen years and into my adult life. Even though we lived several states away, every summer we made the trek across the country to visit our family in Colorado. We had family dinners at her house and I often spent the night there. Although she did not like to travel, I remember several visits that she made to our home.

I say I knew her well, but in reading her life history I realize that although our lives overlapped, there was so much that I didn't know about her at the time. Thankfully she did record some of  her experiences in a life history and from that I have a few glimpses into her world, but oh how I wish that I had heard the stories straight from mouth.

I've heard people talk about the Great Depression and what it was like but I think for those of us who have lived in a world with so many comforts, it is hard to imagine how bad things really were for so many. My grandparent's life was deeply impacted by those hard years. While many of my grandparent's siblings remained in Colorado and Oklahoma and continued to farm during the difficult Depression Era, Grandpa Heber Monroe Ganus and Grandma Hazel bundled up their kids and followed Heiselt Construction on various projects throughout Utah and California.

Lake Almanor
Public Domain 
One of the projects took Grandma and Grandpa Ganus to Northern California where Grandpa worked to help clear forest land for a railroad track that would run from Keddy, California to Klamath Falls, Oregon. During that time they lived in a small camp a short distance from Lake Almanor.  There, Grandpa gratefully worked when so many were without work. In her history, Grandma shared some of her observation of things they saw during those years.

By Unknown - Library of Congress
Public Domain,
Speaking of their time there in the camp near Almanor Lake, she said:
"This was during the depression and so many people were out of work, we could see men walking along the highway with packs on their backs, any time of the day looking for work. Mr. Heiselt was very good to feed them that came asking for food. 
"Some of the men got to coming to our house asking for food. I always gave them something to eat. We felt sorry for them. These people were called bindelstiffs. 
"The railroads allowed people to ride free. Many days we would see big long freight trains go by with people riding all over them, some on the flat cars, some on box cars, some in gondolas, and one time we even saw a woman with a baby riding on top of a boxcar. 

"One night three men came to our place asking for something to eat. I gave them some potatoes, a can of corn, bread and some coffee. They seemed real glad to get them. But they went just a little way from the house, where there was a place someone else had fixed to cook on. They built a fire and cooked their supper, then laid down in their sleeping bags around the fire to sleep. 
"I was so nervous and frightened I didn't sleep any all night. In fact, I sat by a window where I could see what was going on. Heber wanted me to go to bed, saying they wouldn't harm us, but I just couldn't. Goodness knows I don't know how we could have protected ourselves from them if they had, for we didn't even have any kind of a gun or even a dog. I was so glad when morning came and they were gone. The ground was covered with snow, too. 
"The majority of this kind of people were good, just out of work and looking for a job of some kind. There were eight or ten companies working on this job, and they probably hit all of them for work."

The thought of large groups of people riding on top of trains and men walking along the road looking for work is heartbreaking. Grandma indicated that they called the people bindlestiffs, a word I had never heard before, so I looked it up and learned that according to Merriam-Webster, bindlestiff refers to a "hobo: especially one who carries his clothes or bedding in a bundle."

It was not an easy time to support a family, nor was Grandpa's work easy to do, but for a time, he had work when many were unemployed. At first, Grandpa was paid and they had hope things would work out. But in the end, Heiselt began to have financial trouble, workers went unpaid and word spread that Heiselt's machinery was heavily mortgaged and that the company was in serious financial trouble. Sadly my grandparents realized that they would never see the $2,000 owed to them, so they packed up their kids and what little they had and returned to Colorado.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2016, All rights reserved

Friday, August 5, 2016

Foto Friday--Laverne Ganus

We "met" on the internet, cousins, descended from twin brothers. Her father was Orson Merritt Ganus and my grandfather was his twin, Heber Monroe Ganus. 

She and I emailed, we talked on the phone, we talked about what we knew about our ancestry. We shared a few pictures and talked about our families. We made plans to meet each other, but one year turned into two and as the years passed, we always hoped the next year would be a little better and we vowed we would get together. I loved her for her witty sense of humor and her warm kindness. Sadly Laverne became ill and passed away before we ever met. 

Ganus, Orson, Laverne Ganus Walker, Okmulgee Oklahoma, cousins, genealogy, ancestry, family history

Gertrude Laverne Ganus Walker
b. 11 July 1934 Okmulgee, Oklahoma
d. 14 August 2008 Nipomo, California 

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2016, All rights reserved

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The Day I got Paddled

School will be starting soon and as I see the kids shopping for school clothes and supplies, my mind always flashes back to the days when I was in school. School has certainly changed over the years. Our local Jr. High has gone totally paperless with everything, EVERYTHING being done on a tablet! I can't even comprehend that. I wonder what schools smell like without the smells of books, paper and lead pencils. 

Although schools have changed dramatically since I was a kid, they changed just as dramatically from the time my Grandma Hazel (Mickelsen) Ganus attended school and when I was in school. In her life story, she inserted the picture below of her school, a little log school in Sanford, Colorado. It is marked, although she ran out of room for some of the names and the picture covered portions of other names, so I did my best at transcribing what she wrote. (If you know these people, please help me out.) 

Sanford Colorado, Hazel Mickelsen, Glen Hostetter, school, one room, log cabin, paddle

B.R. Riley Jones, Ed Canty, Glen Hostetter, Walter Cunningham
FR. Earl Jensen, Orson Lloyd, Lyle Jones, Weird Smith, Harry Thomas Bertie Mor (?rest of word covered)

B.R. Ada B. Morgan, Eva Hunt, Zelphia Holman, Amy Hutchins, Nina B. Johnson, Mae W. ?, Bessie ? 
 F.R. Nina Z. Johnson, Rozina Brot?, Hazel Mickelsen, Sarah Mayfield 
I am lucky that both sides of my family are represented in this picture. My Grandpa Glen Hostetter is with the boys and my Grandma Hazel Mickelsen Ganus with the girls. Grandpa Hostetter was four years older than my Grandma Ganus, so I am assuming this is the entire school in the picture, which isn't too hard to believe since Sanford currently has a population around 860. I hope this log school house had windows on at least one of the sides!

Grandma shared a variety of different memories about school, but one thing she said caught my attention. Speaking of a particular teacher she said,
"I remember her bringing a switch to school every day as some of the boys were so mean and ornery. That was the way she tried to keep them in tune." 
She talked about being in a one room log school but later went to a finishing school that was a red brick building and it had stairs. She said,
"I remember how we kids would love to slide down the banisters on the stairway. The teachers would get so disgusted with us. The boys, of course, were the ornery ones." 
Although paddles are no longer used in the classroom, I remember when teachers used them to keep order.  I also remember all too clearly the day I got paddled. 

I was always a very obedient student and tried very hard to do what was asked of me. But one day in sixth grade at Midway Elementary, in the small town of Fellows, California, our teacher Mr. Bozarth had had it with the entire class and told everyone to sit down and be quiet and not to say another word. Then he added, the next person to get up would get paddled. 

I heard him talking, but I guess I was in my own little world because he no more finished saying that than I realized my pencil needed to be sharpened, so I jumped up and headed towards the pencil sharpener. The class gasped and I froze, suddenly realizing with horror what I had just done. I turned and looked at Mr. Bozarth who was looking directly at me and had an expression mixed with shock and that I-can't-believe-YOU-just-did-that look. I was a good student and he knew it, but he had said he would paddle the next person who got up and so he was stuck.

Bozarth, Midway, Fellows California, Genealogy, Ancestry, family history

He motioned for the door, grabbed his paddle and I dutifully followed him out. He headed down the outside hallway and then took off across the school playground. My heart was pounding, I was fighting back tears and I wondered where in the world he was taking me? A few classes were out on the playground and they stopped and watched as I followed Mr. Bozarth to the gym.

When we got to the gym, he opened the door to the woman PE teacher's office and explained the situation and asked her to witness my paddling. I remember her looking at me with a look of surprise and pity. I had never needed to be punished in school before, let alone paddled. 

Mr. Bozarth had a handmade wooden shellacked paddle with a round hole towards the end of the paddle so that it really stung when he smacked your behind. I had heard about that paddle from the boys and I couldn't believe I was about to experience it. 

He directed me to bend over, which I obediently did. He raised the paddle back over his head and I held my breath as he swung the paddle down, but the paddle barely touched my back side, in fact for a minute, I wasn't sure it even had. I paused and wondered if that was all? Surely not!

I remember I looked up at him to see if that was really all he was going to do and he told me to be sure and pay attention the next time he told us not to get out of our seats. I felt a huge sense of relief. He headed to the door and opened it to find the kids who had been out on the playground gathered outside the door trying to listen. I was so embarrassed to walk out of that room, once again following Mr. Bozarth and his paddle, but this time, we headed back to the waiting class. 

I don't think I will ever forget that day. Just as Grandma Ganus had observed when she was in school, it was generally the boys who got the paddling in my school and after that, I made sure it stayed that way, even if I had to write with a very dull pencil.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2016, All rights reserved