Showing posts with label Ganus Blanche E. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ganus Blanche E. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

A Reason to Celebrate--17 Becoming Acquainted With John

I considered myself one of the lucky ones when my Grandma Ganus moved to a small house on Main street in Sanford, Colorado. What was so good about living on Main street? There were several good things, one being that we could sit out front and watch people come and go. In a small town like Sanford where life was slow and simple, knowing who was going where and with whom could be big news. Lucky for us, Grandma's crab apple trees provided the perfect perch for us and provided a little cover because we could watch without others realizing that we were watching. It could have also provided a snack at the same time, but every year,  I tried, I really tried, to like the sour crab apples in those trees, but even with a good salting, I just could not eat them. Even now, it makes my mouth pucker just to think about biting into one. 

But the truly best part of living on Main street was that it meant a prime seat to the big event of the year, the 24th of July parade!!!

I loved being in Colorado for the 24th of July. The 24th of July, 1847 was the day the Mormon pioneers arrived in the Salt Lake Valley and so it is a day of celebration for members of the LDS church, everywhere. Most of the early inhabitants of the cluster of small Southern Colorado towns were either descendants of pioneers who had first settled in Utah and then were sent on to the San Luis Valley or descendants of a Southerner who fled there after joining the LDS church.

My parents, brothers and myself outside an old pioneer
house in Sanford Colorado 2012
In Colorado, the 24th celebration actually lasts an entire week. The activities are spread among the small neighboring towns of LaJara, Sanford and Manassa due to the high density of Mormons in those small little farm towns.The celebration includes parades, a pageant, rodeos, activities such as three-legged races, pie eating contests, dances, ballgames, etc. A carnival always comes to Manassa and an afternoon spent there includes a mouth-watering hamburger. It is quite the celebration. You can read about the history of the celebration and see details about the most recent celebration HERE. We loved going as kids and it continues to be a wonderful tradition today. 

Southern Colorado was selected as a place for the Mormons to emigrate to in part because land was reasonable and there was access to water. (1) When the first group of Southerners arrived in 1879, there were only about 160 living there. (2)  That group of Southerners, like those who would follow them, arrived poor and fairly ill-prepared for the harsh winters and short growing seasons they would experience. Other Mormons were sent from Utah to settle there to help the Southerners with the transition. Latinos who were living there first helped both groups through the difficult adjustment.


Colorado, San Luis Valley, Mormons, LDS, emigration, Southerners, 24th of July, Celebration, Pioneer Days
Map showing the location of Conejos County Colorado
The following description of Manassa appeared in the Salt Lake Herald in 1879:
"The city of Manassa, so named, is situated in Conejos County, seven miles north by east of the county seat on ranges 9 and 10, township 34, north of New Mexico, principal meridian. A more beautiful location would be difficult to find, the site being selected with judicious foresight for agricultural and pastoral enterprises, and the settlers cannot fail ultimately to realize fully the most sanguine hopes of those now building the city. 
........The streets of the city are six rods wide, with streams running on either side, the immediate intention being to plant shade trees, according to the system established in Salt Lake City. Many of these streets are already occupied by the Mormon families, who at the present writing number 156 souls who are living in tents and temporary buildings. (3)
John and his family were among the sixth group to emigrate to Manassa from the South and by the time they arrived, 8 years after the first group, the town had grown considerably due to the large number of Mormon converts who had fled from the South.

By 1889, a  few years after John and his family arrived, almost a thousand people were living in Manassa, most of whom were Southerners. There was half a dozen stores, a log church and although initially most all of the homes were log, the log homes were slowly being replaced by small frame homes.(4)

Eventually, the Ganus families would have their own homes. As this early Manassa Map shows, "Frank"  (my Great-Grandfather William Franklin Ganus) had a home on Peterson Street (Lot 10) and "Father Ganus" and John Ganus were a couple of streets away on Smith Street (Lot 40).  (5)




Adjusting to a different climate can be physically hard. At 7,690 feet, Manassa is approximately 6,447 feet higher than John's home in Georgia. John's family likely experienced some of the effects of that altitude change which for some includes fatigue and headache at first. In addition, the humid climate of their Georgia home was replaced by a much drier climate. The Ganus family had to learn to grow and eat different crops from what they were accustomed to due in part to the high altitude and short growing season. All of these issues presented challenges for John, as well as the other Southerners.

Whenever groups of people converge from different areas of the country and world, they bring with them the illnesses of that region and such was true for Manassa. Measles, smallpox, diphtheria, and mumps were just a few of the illnesses that plagued the valley. The Ganus family knew the heartbreak of losing family members to illness in the years that they were there and it seems to have especially taken a toll on the little children of the Ganus family. John and Olivia experienced the heartbreak of burying four grandchildren during the time in Manassa.

The first Ganus child taken was John Thackason Ganus and Mary's son, Morgan L. Ganus who was born 20 Oct 1887 and died 1888. The following year John T. and Mary lost another child, John William, who was born in 1882 and died in 1889.  Then in 1890, William Franklin Ganus (Frank) and Sarah Faucett (Sally) buried their son, Parley L. Ganus who was born on 18 February 1889 and died 2 February 1890. One year later, Frank and Sally buried their only daughter, Blanche E. who was born 16 Feb. 1891 and died that same year.

Old Manassa Cemetery, Manassa, Colorado 
As I visited the Old Manassa Cemetery several years ago, I stood in that little abandoned cemetery and imagined the grief the Ganus family felt each time another child passed away. Four times they brought one of their little ones to be buried, four times they dug a small grave and four times they said goodbye.

The Ganus family had come to Colorado for safety, and although they were safer from physical and emotional harm, illness found them. 

When I stood in front of my Grandma Ganus' house as a child, all those many years ago, and waited for the floats and horses to pass by, I wish I had known more about my ancestry and the price they paid. I wish I would have understood the sacrifices that were made, the hardships they endured and all that was given so that I could have the life that I have. I am sure I still would have appreciated the front row seat at the parade and the juicy hamburger at the carnival, but just maybe I would have felt all the more reason to celebrate. 




(1) Mormon Colonization of the San Luis Valley, Colorado, 1878-1900.  page 50
(2) sic p. 49
(3) "Mormon Manassa, " Salt Lake Herald, May 22, 1879, page 3, accessed on Utah Digital Newspapers,  https://digitalnewspapers.org/
(4) "Manassa Matters," Salt Lake Herald, Dec. 8, 1889, page 14, accessed on Utah Digital Newspapers, https://digitalnewspapers.org/.
(5). Portion of map from the back pocket of "The Life and Ministry of John Morgan," Arthur Richardson, Historical Research Nicholas G. Morgan Sr.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2017, All rights reserved

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Write Soon Please

Martha Olivia Ganus Howell
Martha Olivia Ganus Howell


Mr. Earnest Ganus 
Dear brother, I wright you a few lines to let you know we are well . hope it will find you the same . . . .  Say why did you never wright to me.  I waited to here from you. but you did not wright.  So wright soon.  Please wright to me.  I have still got feelings for you.  From Ollie Howell to Earnest. 
Ollie Howell letter

Ernest and Heber Ganus
Earnest W. Ganus (L)
Heber M. Ganus (R)

The sweet pleading of a sister longing to hear from her brother are both tender and sad.  I found this postcard among a few papers in a small fabric suitcase that I received from my Grandma Ganus and that I mentioned in an earlier post. Perplexed and intrigued by the postcard,  I found myself reading the message over and over, hoping to see some sort of clue, all the while wondering who in the world was Ollie Howell?  Ollie had referred to Earnest as Dear Brother!   If Ollie was a sister to Earnest, then she certainly was a sister to Earnest's brother, my Grandpa Heber Ganus as well!!  I was not aware that my grandfather had had a sister by the name of Ollie.  So who was she?   As I looked over the list of my Grandpa Ganus’ siblings, I  saw only one sister, and that was Blanche who had died  in 1891 when she was about seven months old. So I called my father but he echoed my confusion—he had no idea who Ollie was either!

Apparently there were a few details missing from what we knew about my grandfather and his family, and so I launched into a search to find out who the mystery sister was. It amazed me that my grandfather had never mentioned a sister.

As is always the case, it took time and effort to search through a variety of records and piece together Ollie's story, but eventually I was able to find her place in my family tree.

I learned that my Great Grandfather, William Franklin Ganus (Frank)  had been married twice and I descend from his second wife.  My family really knew nothing about the first marriage and so nothing about that family had been shared.  Frank had first married Mary Matilda Roberts (Tilda)  in about 1879 in Georgia.  To this union were born two girls,  Martha Oliva Ganus (Ollie) who was born September 23, 1880  and Mary E. Ganus who was born  December 5, 1881, both in Polk County, Georgia.  While I found mention of Mary E. Ganus on church blessing records, I could find nothing further about her, leading me to believe that she must have died as a child.  It is so inconvenient when people are born and die between census records!  Neither Tilda nor Mary E. were included on the list of those that migrated along with the Ganus family  in 1886 to Southern Colorado. ( I shared the story of their migration in an earlier post. )  I was able to find Frank and daughter, Ollie,  in Manassa, Colorado church records confirming that they had both made the trip along with other members of the Ganus family. Wanting to find out more about Tilda, I returned to the church membership records for Polk County, Georgia and examined them carefully once again .  It was then that I discovered very faint writing in the far right hand edge of the margin beside Tilda’s name indicating that she had died, although no year was included.
Old Manassa Colorado cemetery
Old Manassa Colorado cemetery


So at the tender young age of 6, and without her mother, Ollie had traveled to Colorado with her father, Frank, and her grandparents and uncles. I wonder what she felt as she boarded the train bound for Colorado.  A year later in 1887, Ollie gained a stepmother when her father, Frank married Sarah E.Faucett (Sallie), who was my great grandmother .  Soon Frank and Sallie began to have children and Ollie was no longer an only child.  Ollie's  life continued to have many challenges.  Sally and Frank's first child, Parley, died when he was a year old, the second child, Blanche, died at seven months and Homer died when he was around five.  Last August, I was able to visit the cemetery in Manassa Colorado where two of their three children were buried and I wrote about that experience here.  Of Sally and Frank’s first four children, only Earnest survived to adulthood and while he and half sibling, Ollie, were 13 years apart in age and had different mothers, they apparently felt a closeness that would continue into adulthood. Surely they needed each other as their little family dealt with the heartbreak of death.  I can envision Ollie and Earnest in that small country cemetery, standing beside their parents and mourning the loss of each sibling. 


Edgar Howell and Ollie's children
Edgar and Ollie Ganus
Howell's children
About 1895,  Frank, Sally, Ollie and brother Earnest along with Frank’s parents John M. Ganus and Olivia, as well as Frank’s brothers,  all moved to Oklahoma.  Family lore says it was just too darn cold in the high San Luis Valley for the Ganus family and so they moved to a warmer climate. The following year on March 16, 1896, at the age of 16, Ollie Ganus married Henry Edgar Howell in Muskogee, Oklahoma. Four years later in 1900, my grandfather Heber Monroe and his twin, Orson Merrit  were born and so Ollie gained two more half brothers, however they never lived in the same household because she was married by then. That, along with the fact that there was twenty years difference in their ages may explain why my grandpa had never mentioned Ollie.

In 1902, Ollie’s grandmother, Olivia Rainwater Ganus passed away in Okmulgee, Oklahoma at the age of 71.  Ollie’s grandfather, John Monroe Ganus lived another four years and died in April of 1906 at the age of 80.  Ollie’s father, Frank followed, dying in November of that same year at the age of 53.  Then, less than three years later, in 1909, Ollie’s stepmother, Sally died, leaving her three young sons, Earnest, Orson and Heber, orphaned.  After a short period of time, all three boys were sent from Muskogee, Oklahoma  to Sanford, Colorado to live with Sally’s brother. Ollie was then separated from her half brothers by 760 miles, no small distance in 1909.  Having been married for nearly 13 years by that time, Ollie had six children of her own to care for and undoubtedly her hands were full.  Ollie would have one more child before she passed away in 1916.

Martha Olivia Ganus Howell, or Ollie as she was called,  died at 36 years of age.  She experienced more grief in her relatively short life than some ever experience. She had lost her mother, her father, her stepmother, a sister, a half sister, two half brothers, and both sets of grandparents. Is it any wonder that she reached out across the miles to a remaining brother, wanting him to know that she still thought of him and that she still had feelings for him?  Is it any wonder that she longed to hear from him and to feel the reassurance that she was still remembered and loved by him as well?

As I looked at the date stamped on the postcard, I realized that Ollie penned her message to her brother in 1914, just two years before she too passed away. I sincerely hope that his heart felt the same need to in turn reach out to her and that he responded to her plea to "write soon please."  

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2013

Monday, August 20, 2012

They lived in Manassa, Colorado?

It was a surprise to learn a few years ago that the John Monroe Ganus family had lived in Manassa, Colorado for almost 13 years.  I knew that they had lived in Georgia and that they had eventually moved to and settled in Oklahoma.  I also knew that my grandfather, Heber, along with his two brothers,  Orson and Earnest,  had been sent to Colorado from Oklahoma  to live with his mother’s brother when they were orphaned . But  my first clue that the John M. Ganus family had lived in Manassa came when I was researching at a local archive and had a chance meeting with a woman whose ancestors had also lived in  Manassa.  This woman shared a map with me entitled “Pioneer Map of the First Survey of the Town of Manassa in Conejos Co.,  Colorado , Showing the lot location of the original owners and residents of this settlement.”  

 Below is a copy of a portion of the map of original lot owners for Manassa.  Notice that John Monroe (shown as “Old Father Ganus”) and Olivia lived on lot # 40, as did their married son, John T. and his wife Mary (Chisenhall) .   Frank Ganus  and wife Sally (Faucett) lived on lot# 10. John and Olivia’s younger sons, Roderick, Newton and  Robert were not married at the time and would have been living with their parents, John or “Old Father Ganus” and Olivia .

 Portion of map from in the back pocket of
"The Life and Ministry of John Morgan"
Arthur Richardson, Historical Research
Nicholas G. Morgan Sr. 

As a follow up to my last post, I have corresponded with the woman who submitted the Old Manassa Cemetery information to the website, "Findagrave," and she indicated that she had a copy of the sexton records for that cemetery and that the following information was recorded for the Ganus babies buried there:

 Ganus, Blanche E.  16 Feb 1891   1891
Parents:  W. Frank Ganus & S. E. Faucett

Ganus, Parley L.   18 Feb 1889  2 Feb 1890
Parents:  W. Frank Ganus & S.E. Faucett

Ganus, Morgan L.   20 Oct 1887   1888
Parents:  John T. Ganus  &  Mary M. Chisenhall

Ganus, John William   1882   1889
Parents:  John T. Ganus   Mary M. Chisenhall


As always, the  more answers I find, the more questions I have.