Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Worshiping Despite Fear - 13 Becoming Acquainted with John M. Ganus

LDS, Mormons, genealogy, missionaries, Ganus, Sunday, worship, persecution
My husband, my grandson and myself
ready for church!
Each Sunday we get up, dress in our Sunday-best and head to church where we join with neighbors and friends in worshipping God.

I've lived in four different states over the years and have been blessed to live among many good people belonging to a variety of different religions. We have benefitted and learned so much from all of them. I have never worried for my safety or for my children's safety because our beliefs differed and I've also never felt the need to persecute or threaten others when their beliefs were different than mine. 

Sadly, times were very different for John and Olivia. A study of the circumstances at that time reveals many complex issues, too complicated and detailed to be dealt with here. My purpose in sharing their story is not to be critical of either the place, time or people of the community in which they lived because I can not possibly imagine what life was like for any of them, or the fears or biases they experienced. My only desire is to share John and Olivia's story and to show that they truly demonstrated great faith and commitment to what they believed in the face of danger.

Following John and Olivia's baptism in the Mormon church in May of 1880, the threats and hostility towards the Mormons increased in many areas, making it difficult for many LDS church members to sell and trade in their communities and in some cases, making it dangerous for children to attend school or be out on their own. The missionaries were often threatened and those who allowed them to meet in their homes and who housed and fed them similarly became the target of threats. The following article appeared in the North Georgia Citizen:

Mormon missionaries, Georgia, Worship, ancestry, genealogy
North Georgia Citizen, Jul. 1, 1886 -- page 3

And another:
genealogy, ancestry, missionaries, LDS
North Georgia Citizen, Nov. 17, 1887 -- page 3
Rumors surrounding the beliefs and intents of the Mormons ran rampant, stirring up suspicions, fears and fueling acts of violence. 

For several years after John and Olivia were baptized, Mormons in the Polk County area were counseled not to meet together in public for their own safety. So for several years, member of the LDS church remained relatively isolated and without support from other Mormons. Then on February 7, 1886, new missionaries came to the area and called a meeting of those few families who had been baptized members of the LDS church, which included John and Olivia Ganus. The meeting began with the small group singing "Now Let Us Rejoice" written by W. W. Phelps. The words to the second verse surely expressed some of what they must have felt and hoped for:

"We'll love one another and never dissemble
But cease to do evil and ever be one.

And when the ungodly are fearing and tremble,

We'll watch for the day when the Savior will come,

When all that was promised the Saints will be given,

And none will molest them from morn until ev'n,

And earth will appear as the Garden of Eden,

And Jesus will say to all Israel, "Come home."

Following the hymn, Elder Spry spoke to them about their responsibility to live in a way that enabled them to receive blessings from God. He then asked for a vote as to whether they wanted to organize a Sunday School and the vote was unanimous. The Sacrament was administered, they sang a few more hymns and the meeting was dismissed.

Over the next few years, John and Olivia continued to welcome the missionaries and allow meetings to be held in their home and it's apparent from Elder Murphy's record that it became an important part of their life. Like Elder Metcalf who was mentioned in the previous post, Elder Murphy mentions some of his frequent visits with the Ganus family. On Sunday, July 4, 1886, Elder Murphy recorded:

"After dinner we taken  up the line of march back to Bro. Gainous (sic). Arrived there at 4 p.m. At 7 p.m. we opened our meeting Bro. Spry presiding we administered the sacrament of the Lords supper after which I occupied 1 hour and 30 minutes and felt well." 
Thursday, August 26, 1886
"I rode with Ezra Barker to within a mile or 2 of Br. John Gainous. Got out of the buggy and went to his house spent the remainder of the day and stayed all night with them had a pleasant time with the family. They were glad to see me! You bet they were. " 
Wednesday, Sept 8, 1886
"I went to Bro Gainous and received the letters from R. M. Humphrey telling me of his trip to Ogden City to see my family. When I got to Mr. Gainusis he said he had almost got ready to say out loud that I had told him a lie. But as I had come he said he would take it all back. We sang songs and prayed and went to bed."
Then Friday, Sept. 10, 1886
"I spent the day at Bro. John Ganus reading and talking on the principals of the gospel......." 
Neither John nor Olivia kept a journal, so truthfully we don't know how they felt about things, but we can surmise from the journals of those who knew them and the sacrifices that they made, that they enjoyed the time spent with the missionaries, were willing to share what they believed and apparently were willing to stand firm in the face of adversity.

Beginning in 1877, many Southern Mormon converts began to emigrate out of the South to safer locations. That emigration continued for about 10 years as Southern Mormons sought a place where they could freely worship. Many moved to the San Luis Valley of Colorado. Would John and Olivia remain in Georgia and if so, for how long? 

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2017, All rights reserved

2 comments:

  1. That's so sad for your ancestors, Michelle.

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  2. What an amazing series you have been presenting. Even though John and Olivia did not keep a journal, it is just as enlightening to learn about them through the words of the missionaries.

    ReplyDelete