Showing posts with label Ganus John Monroe. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ganus John Monroe. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Zombies are Not My Thing


Fayetteville, Georgia, Senoia, Ganus, genealogy, ancestry, North Georgia, CarrolltonFayetteville, Georgia. Tell people you are going there and some want to talk about the popular series "The Walking Dead"  filmed in nearby Senoia. In fact, knowing that the Ganus family lived in Fayetteville for many years, someone recommended that I watch the series so I could see the area where my family had lived. So, I gave it a try, but I didn't last ten minutes. Apparently, zombies are not my thing, but being a genealogist, dead people are.

On our October trip to Georgia, one morning we drove from Carrollton where we were staying, to Fayetteville to see the area where the James (Gur)Ganus family had lived for nearly 30 years. 

Driving through North Georgia helped me better understand a few things about my ancestors and their moves in the 1800s in Georgia. 

For instance, the distance from Fayetteville to Carrollton didn't seem like much when viewed on a map, but driving the fifty miles brought new perspective as I considered the difficulty of taking that same trip in wagons through the dense trees while also navigating either through or around the numerous rivers, streams, ponds, and lakes. Driving the distance helped me understand at a different level that the 76-mile move from Fayetteville to Cedartown that James' son, John made about 1850 had not been a casual event, but an intentional move.

I loved seeing the homes tucked back in among the trees and the numerous churches and cemeteries everywhere we drove. I wondered if James' son, John Ganus heart had ached for the beauty of Georgia when he and his family moved to the flat wide-open farmland of the San Luis Valley, Colorado in 1886, and then onto the plains of Oklahoma about ten years later.

Starrs Mill, Fayette County, Georgia
Starrs Mill Fayette County 

A few miles from Fayetteville, we stopped at the beautiful Starrs Mill on Whitewater Creek. It was peaceful and serene there. Although the current mill isn't the original mill that was built in 1825, I wondered if the Ganus family had reason to go to the original mill or if they knew the family who owned it.   


Starrs Mill, Fayette County 


James and Betsy (McCluskey) Gurganus moved to Fayette County in time to be included in the 1840 census. I've always wondered what the push or pull was that influenced that move. Prior to Fayetteville, James and Betsy had lived in Bibb County where James' father David Gurganus and his stepmother Rebecca were living.

Fayette County Court House, research, genealogy
Fayette County Georgia Court House
The year 1838 was a pivotal year for the Gurganus family. That year, Mary Ellen (Gurganus) Pratt, sister to my 3rd great grandfather, James, was murdered. I shared that story HERE. That same year, James's brother, David was arrested in an unrelated incident, a story I shared HERE.

Is it just a coincidence or is it possible that either or both scandals contributed to James' move at about that same time and also contributed to the shortening of his name from Gurganus to Ganus?

Fayette County was created in 1825, so it was a relatively new county when the Ganus family first moved there. At that time the population was around 7,500 people and, "....there were two churches, two schools, three stores, five barrooms, a printing office, and a Division of the Sons of Temperance (or there probably would have been more barrooms)." (1)  Over the next thirty years, while Georgia continued to enlarge its borders and grow, James and Betsy worked on their farm and raised their children, ten in all. 

The Ganus family was living in Fayette County in  1862 when smallpox broke out. Impacted families who contracted the disease were quarantined as Fayetteville struggled to control the outbreak. 

The Ganus family was also in Fayette County when the War between the States broke out and they watched four sons go off to war, and one never came home. Although no large battles took place in Fayette County, it was the scene for several skirmishes and individuals have recorded some of the frightening experiences they experienced when Union soldiers came through. 

The Ganuses would have been among those who endured the challenges experienced during the years of reconstruction when basic commodities were scarce. "In 1867, the State of Kentucky sent corn and bacon to this (Fayette) County. The  Justices wrote . . . corn and bacon will be contributed to the suffering citizens of our County who are unable to support and help themselves."(2)

By 1870, Elizabeth had passed away and James moved in with their daughter Mary and her husband Burton Cook and that is the last record for James.  Although I feel confident that both were buried somewhere in Fayette County, there is no record of where either James or Betsy was laid to rest.

So this is my tie to Fayette County and why I was excited to pay a visit to The Fayette County Historical Society while there. The volunteers were so kind and eager to help. 


Fayette County Historical Society, Fayetteville, Fayette, Georgia
Fayette County Historical Society
Marriage records, genealogy, Fayette County Marriage Records, Book C
Fayette County Marriage Records, Book C

I was thrilled to learn that among their collection were marriage record books. James and Betsy's oldest child, Mary married Burton Cook in nearby Dekalb County and their son, John, my second great grandfather married Olivia Rainwater in Cedartown, Polk County. However, their children Margaret and David both married in Fayette County. Even though I already had the dates of their marriages, I loved being able to view their entries in the actual book. 



Margaret Ganus, James Blackmon, Fayette County Marriage records
Margaret Ganus and James Blackmon's marriage entry 



David Ganus, Malinda M. Davis, Fayette County Marriage records
David Ganus and Malinda M. Davis' marriage entry 
Not only did I not see any zombies while there, but I also didn't find any new information, yet I was so glad to have visited. A lot can be said about the experience we have of seeing the area where our ancestors lived and the feelings we experience as a result as well as the increase of understanding we gain in the process.

It was hard to leave Fayetteville that day and I couldn't shake that feeling that I had unfinished business there. Hopefully, someday I will return.  


1.  The History of Fayette County 1821-1971  published by the Fayette County Historical Society, Inc., First Edition, December 1977, The Fayette County Historical Society, p. 20

2. Ibid,  p. 20


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

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Rainwater Ford-I DID go there.



Joshua Rainwater, Mary Peterson, Olivia Rainwater, Tallapoosa, Rainwater Ford
Rainwater Ford on the Tallapoosa



Back in 2012 I wrote about my desire to someday visit Rainwater Ford, a landmark located outside of Tallapoosa, Georgia.   

I became aware of the property when I bought the book by Lois Owens Newman, "Haralson County, A History."  On page 222, I read the following:


"The Rainwater property, lot 157 lies along the Tallapoosa River and it is on this lot that the well known Rainwater Ford is located." (1990) 

A little research confirmed that my third great grandfather, Joshua Rainwater, had owned the property. In 1832, for the sum of $100.00 Joshua purchased Land Lot #57 in the 8th District of Haralson from Abner Carter. At the time, it consisted of 202 1/2 acres and was located in Carroll County, but due to boundary changes, the property now lies in Haralson County. 


genealogy, research, a southern sleuth, ancestry, family, Georgia
Rainwater Ford
Published by the U. S. Geological Survey 

Joshua was born on the 13th of November 1791 in South Carolina. He was the seventh of eleven children born to Solomon Rainwater and Ruth Felton. On January 20th, 1814, at the age of 23, Joshua volunteered to serve in Captain Alexander Morehead's Company, Col. Nash's Regiment in the battle that would be known as the "War of 1812." He survived his time in the army and returned home to South Carolina. Joshua married, moved his family to Georgia and later, after the passing of his wife Mary, he moved with sons John and Abner to Texas. There he applied for a pension and thanks to that document, we are able to see his signature. 



Joshua died on the 15th of August 1878 and is buried in Rock House Cemetery in Hamilton County, Texas. 

Visiting the location of Rainwater Ford had long been on my bucket list. I was so excited when in the fall of 2019, my husband and I decided to take a trip to Georgia. I pulled out my list of "must-sees" and we planned our trip. 

By plugging the longitude and latitude for Rainwater Ford provided on GA HomeTownLocator  into Google maps, we were able to find the location of Rainwater Ford. The area was beautiful, the dense trees lining the rushing water of the Tallapoosa and we could clearly see where the water was more shallow. 

Standing there on the bridge that spanned the river, I tried to imagine a time when Joshua and Mary and their children lived there. I imagined their sons and daughters fishing in the river and playing in the trees lining the river. I imagined the children cooling off in the water during the hot summer months.  I also imagined their daughter Olivia's delight when as a married woman, her husband John Monroe Ganus bought property adjacent to Joshua's. 

I wondered how many people took advantage of the shallow crossing there to cross the Tallapoosa and if the ford ever benefitted Joshua financially. 

It was a beautiful spot and I was thrilled that not only were we able to find it, but that finally, I could really say, "Rainwater Ford--I DID go there!" 


Rainwater Ford on the Tallapoosa 

To learn more about Joshua Rainwater, see the previous blog posts:





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




Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Were They There? Addison and Sally Gainus


Deep down inside, I knew, so I shouldn't have been disappointed, yet you know how it is when a little part of you hopes against hope that something is different than you've been told. 

In this case, I hoped that when I visited the Tallapoosa Primitive Church Cemetery in Carrollton, Georgia, I would notice something that others had managed to overlook, maybe a marker back in the trees or a simple stone with a marking on it or something partially covered with the earth. I really wasn't sure, but I so wanted to know for sure where Addison Gainus' exact final resting place was, yet deep down inside, I knew it was not marked just as I had been told. 

While other family members are buried there and their resting place is well marked, records for the small Tallapoosa Primitive Church Cemetery do not include Addison and Sally (Bowen) Gainus. Other extended family members have visited that cemetery over the years and they warned me that there are no markers for Addison or Sallie, but I had to see for myself.  

Addison Gainus was the youngest brother of my second great grandfather, John Monroe Ganus and the youngest child of James (Gur)Ganus and Elizabeth (McCluskey). Note that he was among those who spelled the last name as Gainus, while my line and a few other of the siblings spell the name simply Ganus without the "i". 
Tallapoosa Primitive Church, Lee, Gainus, Ganus, McCluskey, Gurganus, genealogy, ancestry
Empty spot behind the Tallapoosa Primitive Church
where it is believed Addison and Sallie could be buried. 

So on my recent trip to Georgia, we visited the small Tallapoosa Primitive Church cemetery. As an added bonus,  I was able to meet up with extended cousins and together we walked through the cemetery. They shared stories and experiences they had growing up in that small family community. They told me that in talking to others, it is believed that back behind the church, surrounded by other family headstones, a conspicuously empty space is likely their final resting place. 

So why would I expect them to be there at all if there is no marker? 

To begin with, Addison's death certificate indicates that he was buried at Tallapoosa Church and so does Sallie's. 


Addison Ganus, Gainus, Sarah Bowen, Sallie Bowen, James Gurganus, Elizabeth McCluskey , Richard Bowen, Annie Carr,
Addison Gainus'  death certificate

Tallapoosa Primitive Church, Carrollton, Georgia, genealogy, ancestry, ancestors
Sallie Gainus' death certificate

In addition, an obituary located in the Carroll Free Press, dated Thursday, December 8, 1927, also indicates that Add was buried there. It reads:
The Lee's Chapel community was made sad Saturday by the death of one of its oldest and most esteemed citizens Uncle Add Gainus.
            Funeral Services were conducted by his friend and neighbor Rev. T. A. Bonner and his body was laid to rest in the cemetery at Tallapoosa church Sunday afternoon. 
Just six months later, Add's wife, Sallie, joined him. Her obituary appeared June 14, 1928, in the Carroll Free Press and is as follows:
             Mrs. Sallie Ganus, age 85, died last Friday the 8th instant, near Carrollton on R. F. D. No. 8. Her funeral was held on the 9t at Tallapoosa church, conducted by Rev. Mr. Hanks. Interment was in the church cemetery beside her husband who died since Christmas. 
Everything points to the Tallapoosa Primitive Church cemetery. 

Although there aren't any known pictures of Addison and Sally, I feel that I can almost picture them.  

Addison Ganus, son of John Monroe Gainus and Sarah Bowen, daughter of Richard Bowen and Annie Carr were married 20 September 1866 in Coweta, Georgia. They lived near Addison's family in Fayette County, but then later moved to Carrollton, Carroll County, Georgia by 1900. There they lived in a three-room shotgun style house, had a small farm and raised chickens and cows. Addison's sister Rebecca and her husband Samuel Solomon Lee and their children lived nearby, as did Addison's sister Martha and her husband William C. Brock and their children. 

The story is told that Addison and Sallie had a love/hate relationship with the cows. Sallie loved the cows and apparently, the cows felt the same about her and allowed her to milk them. However, if anyone else tried to milk them, they ran away. Perhaps the cows knew how Addison felt about them because nothing seemed to get his ire more than discovering when he went to get them in the evenings that they had gone home with someone else's cows. Known for his "high temper," anyone close by could hear Add yelling at his cows to get back home! 

A humorous story is recorded by those who knew Add. The story is about his grand-nephew and namesake, Add Lee. Add Lee had a pair of white overalls that Add Gainus just hated and he made sure Add Lee knew it. One day when Add Lee's overall were hanging out to dry on the clothesline, they disappeared. Although others tried to help Add Lee find them, they were nowhere to be found. Next spring when the stables were cleaned out and the manure taken from the barn and spread out on the fields for fertilizer, the overalls were discovered, buried deep in the manure in the barn. Although it was impossible to prove, everyone had their suspicions on how they got there. 

Add and Sallie grew tobacco and smoked it in corncob pipes. Visitors to their home were intrigued by Sallie and the long thin cane stemmed pipe which she smoked. 

Add and Sally Gainus were never able to have children, and they took two Chance boys into their home and raised them as their own. 

Carrollton was Sallie and Addison's home. It was in Carrollton that they lived, raised children, socialized with their siblings, and attended church and it makes total sense that it is there in Carrollton that they were finally laid to rest. It only seems to reason that just like their death certificates and obituaries indicate, that Sallie was buried beside Addison there at the Tallapoosa Primitive Church. 

Despite the fact others had told me there was no marker for them there, I still needed to visit the cemetery and see for myself. And, while it was disappointing to not miraculously stumble onto something no one else had seen, I loved my visit to the cemetery filled with other ancestor's graves and I left, convinced like others have been, that although there is no marker, given the other evidence, Addison and Sallie really are there. 


Tallapoosa Primitive Church and cemetery 






Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2020, All rights reserved 

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

In the Foothills of North Georgia


John Monroe Ganus, William Franklin Ganus, genealogy, ancestry, familysearch, lds missionaries
Hightower Mill

Tucked in the foothills of north Georgia sits the beautiful remains of an old gristmill made of local stone and dating back to about 1845. At one time, wheat and corn were ground on large stone wheels within. My Great Grandfather, William Franklin Ganus, or Frank as he was known, dressed millstones there. Thanks to old missionary journals, I learned that he lived and worked there. 


Today the old mill is privately owned and is only open for private events and previously scheduled photo sessions. Luckily I was able to arrange a time on our recent trip to Georgia. The beauty there is incredible and exceeded my expectations. 


William H. Kirby, LDS missionary,Elder Pledger Murphy
Large Waterfall next to mill


Situated beside a large 80-foot waterfall and surrounded by lush foliage, the ruins of the mill appear almost surreal. I read about the mill prior to our recent trip to Georgia, saw the pictures of it on the internet and yet when I stepped into view of the old mill, it took my breath away. It is beautiful. 


At one time, my second great grandfather John Monroe Ganus along with his sons Frank, Newton, Roderick, and Robert worked there. Were they as mesmerized by the beauty of the area as I was? 

The following are just a few of the excerpts from missionary journals that helped identify this location as the place where my great grandfather Frank lived and worked and as a place frequented by other members of the Ganus family.  
Millstone located at the Polk County
Historical Society in Cedartown,
Georgia



March 20th, 1883 "We arrived at Hightowers Mill at 6 p.m. - Met with Franklin Ganus and family--finding them all well." William H. Kirby

October 16th, 1883 "Went to Hightowers Mill. Ate dinner with F. Ganus, thence to Brooks Mill overnight." William H. Kirby 

December 13th, 1883 Left Brooks Mill---south direction. No dinner. came to Hightowers factory -- to F. Ganuses. 12 miles William H. Kirby

January 28th, 1884  "Left for south. Bid the saints farewell for the present. Thence on our journey for Hightowers Mill ---Frank Ganus." Elder William H. Kirby 

July 11th, 1884  "We went to Hightowers Mill at Frank Ganus'. Ate dinner there. Went and stayed in the mill most of the day."  Elder William H. Kirby

August 30, 1884  "We then came to Hightower's Mill. Ate dinner at F. Ganuses, then continued our journey to Haralson Co." Elder William H. Kirby

September 11th, 1884 "After dinner, I went to the mill. Helped Franklin Ganus dress mill stones." Elder William H. Kirby

"Sept. Thursday 9, 1886 Bro [John] Ganis and I went to Mr. Hightowers mill to see his son Franklin Ganus. I had a good time with him. While Bro. [John] Ganus and his 3 sons, John, Rody and Boby made shingles and hauled them to Mr. Hightowers mill."  Elder Pledger Murphy 

Sept. Friday 10, 1886 .....about noon Bro. [John] Ganus and the boys come from the mill. They laughed at me about not stoping at the mill all knight. I told them that I had got tired of living or lying on the soft side of a board during the war." Elder Pledger Murphy

         
I'm so grateful for those early missionaries who kept journals and mentioned the Ganus family. I've been equally grateful for their descendants who have generously shared copies of the journals with me. The journals have added so much to what I know about my ancestor's lives.

Standing there at the foot of the mill, lines from the journals ran through my head such as "about noon Bro [John] Ganus and the boys come from the mill," and "Bro [John] Ganis and I went to Hightowers mill to see his son Franklin Ganus."  I imagined Frank going through the tedious process of dressing the millstones and I imagined Frank's father, John, and Frank's brothers, John, Newton, Roderick and Robert coming and going, both to do work and to visit Frank. 


I visited many places during our trip, but it was here that I felt the closest to my ancestors, it was here I could almost feel their presence and it was here than I longed to just remain for awhile. I'm so grateful that on that day, for just a brief moment, I was able to truly walk where they had walked. 



(For information about booking this incredible venue for a photo shoot or private event, see here.)

 Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2020, All rights reserved

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The Final Chapter-- #19 Becoming Acquainted with John

It's no small secret that this final post in the series about John Monroe Ganus' life is long past due. I could blame the delay on my recent move, on some challenging family circumstances or countless other things, and although those things have undoubtedly played a part, the truth of the matter is, I've struggled to know how to bring it all to a close. If you missed the beginning of John's story, you will want to go back and read it beginning with this post


genealogy, ancestry, Georgia, Manassa, Colorado, Indian Territory, Ganus


Up to this point, land records, newspapers, US. Population Censuses, Agricultural Censuses, journals of LDS missionaries and LDS church membership records have provided me with details and insight into John's life. I had hoped to end his life story with the same level of detail. But sadly, after John's move to Colorado, the sources began to dwindle.

What I do know is that the Ganus family remained in Colorado until about 1894, and then they once again packed up and moved. A move was never a cheap or easy endeavor and yet, despite the difficulties and just short of being 70 years old, John, along with his family made the roughly 690 mile trip from Manassa, Colorado to Indian Territory, now known as Oklahoma.

Indian Territory in the mid to late 1890's posed many challenges. Lack of good medical care, the difficulty in growing gardens and crops, in addition to the challenge of finding adequate housing meant many families lived in shacks and sod houses while having to go without. Most frontier towns had more saloons than churches and outlaws roamed the countryside.

Availability of land enticed many folks to move to Indian Territory and yet I find no evidence that any member of the Ganus family acquired land there in the early days. They arrived well after the initial Land Run of 1889 and no record has been found to show that they obtained land in any of the later run
s.


migration, southerners, Indian Territory, Oklahoma,
John's moves: Red, Georgia to Alabama in early 1860s, Orange, Georgia to Arkansas late 1860s.
Green, Georgia to Colorado 1887, Yellow, Colorado to Oklahoma late 1890s

Not only is it difficult to understand why they moved to Indian Territory, it is equally difficult to fathom why they were willing to leave Colorado.

Leaving Colorado meant leaving behind their homes as well as an established community of other southerners and other members of their church. Some of their neighbors in Manassa had traveled with them when they left Georgia in 1886. The Ganus family also left behind the graves of their tender young grandchildren who had died much too young.

Given the challenges of moving yet once again, I can only assume their decision to leave was mulled over for some time and discussed at length among their sons and their families.

This would be John and Olivia's final move. Roughly six years later on the windswept plains of Oklahoma, Olivia passed away on 12 September 1902 at 71 years. John would live another four years, dying on 9 April 1906 at the age of 79.

After a lifetime of looking to their father for direction and guidance, the five brothers would be left to stand on their own. The oldest son, Frank was only 54 years old when he passed away a few months after his father, John. Frank's wife, Sarah was only 45 years old when she followed three years later and so Frank and Sarah's sons were sent to back to Colorado to be raised by Sarah's brothers. The other four Ganus brothers, John, Roderick, Newton and Robert, remained in Oklahoma, and all but Newton, who never married, raised their families ther
e.


John Monroe Ganus, Robert Lee Ganus, Roderick Monroe Ganus, Newton Lafayette Ganus, William Franklin Ganus
TR-L: Robert Lee Ganus, Roderick Monroe Ganus, Newton Lafayette Ganus
BR-L: John Monroe Ganus, John Thackason Ganus, William Franklin Ganus
I often study this picture of John and his sons and wonder what they would tell me if they could. Taken in Indian Territory, my guess is that the photo was taken sometime between Olivia's death in 1902 and John's death in 1906. Although I understand that photography was different in those days, I can't help but think they look a little tired, perhaps a little worn by years of difficult and trying experiences. Newton in the top right of the photo is the one exception. Although he wears a smile, I suspect the smile had more to do with the head injury he sustained as a child and less about his view on life.

Although I have learned a great deal about John over the years, there remain many questions. Why didn't John enlist in the Civil War along with his brothers and brothers-in-law? Why did he move to Arkansas for a few short years following the Civil War? Why did John listen to the LDS missionaries when so many would not? Why did he openly allow the Mormon missionaries to have cottage meetings in his home in Georgia and share what little he had with them when he obviously had so little and the risks were so great?

As I look at John's life, I see a man who sacrificed much and took many risks for what he believed. I see a man who established such strong family ties with his sons that the extended family remained together through the hardest of times and through many moves. I see a man who made difficult choices and wasn't afraid of change. I've been blessed by his choices and am grateful for his sacrifices and through many years of research, I am grateful to feel I've come a little closer to becoming acquainted with my second great-grandfather, John Monroe Ganus
.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2018, All rights reserved

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The Generosity of Strangers -- -# 18 Becomming Acquainted with John

Colorado, Manassa, genealogy, Southern, Ganus, San Luis Valley, Mormon, Georgia, ancestry
We had been driving for hours but finally, we began to recognize familiar landmarks and the nervous anticipation began. We loved visiting our relatives in the San Luis Valley in Southern Colorado. While we lived in California, our trips had been limited to the summer months, but after our family moved to West Texas, we decided to make the trip for Thanksgiving one year.  

I looked out across the wide valley framed by majestic mountain ranges and was taken by how different everything looked in November. Fields that were filled with the green of alfalfa during the summer months now lay bare and covered by a thin layer of snow. Void of the tractors and baling wagons that dotted the fields during the summer, the empty fields had a certain peaceful silence about them, as if quietly resting for the season. 

Finally, we pulled up to Grandma's house and as we climbed out of the car, the brisk cold bit at our skin, indicating that our light jackets were woefully inadequate for the stinging cold of November in the San Luis Valley. 

As I recently realized that my ancestors moved to Colorado that same time of year, I couldn't help but reflect on my own experience and how unprepared we were for the cold there. Sadly most of the Southerners, including my ancestors, who arrived in the San Luis Valley in November of 1887 lacked clothing suitable for the cold they would experience.

As John and Olivia, along with their sons and their families, descended from the train in Colorado in November 1887, they truly began a new and very different chapter in their lives. Over fourteen hundred miles from their home in Georgia, they left behind those who opposed their beliefs and threatened their safety, but they also left behind beloved siblings, cousins, aunts, and uncles, as well as life-long friends. They left behind their culture, the land they had tended and farmed and of course their homes. They sacrificed it all for their religious beliefs.


Arriving in Colorado in November and on the brink of winter was a challenge on several levels. At an altitude of over 7,000 feet above sea level, San Luis Valley winters can be bitter cold and a very different winter from what the Southerners were accustomed to. In addition, the valley has a very short growing season and the Ganuses arrived well after the freeze and much too late to plant a garden or any crops for food. Although some who emigrated may have had funds to purchase food and supplies, many of the Southerners, including the Ganus family, had arrived in a state of poverty. The Ganus family had not even had enough money to purchase all of the train tickets needed for their entire family but had relied on the generosity of a friend, George Driver, who lent them $10.00 to buy the final ticket. It would be the generosity of strangers who would get them through the coming winter.
According to Emily Wells, a Manassa resident during that time, Manassa struggled as a community because of the number of Southerners who arrived in a state of poverty and ill-prepared for the cold climate. Nevertheless, the little farming community worked to help all those who were in need.(1) Undoubtedly the Ganuses were among those needing assistance. 

In a dissertation entitled "Mormon Colonization of the San Luis Valley, Colorado, 1878-1900, Judson Harold Flower, Jr. wrote:  
"Whatever the future prospects for Manassa, the prevailing poverty among the southern Saints arriving in the valley was a constant obstacle to the progress of the settlement, and one which could not be overcome solely by the injection of Mormon families from Utah into the community. Much credit for assisting the new arrivals through the first difficult months was due the Mexicans of the valley who rented homes, farms, seed and other materials and equipment to the newcomers arriving in their midst. (2)
Although I was unable to find a record of the weather for 1887, newspaper accounts for the following few winters often reported heavy snowfall and bitter cold. Train travel was frequently halted for days due to deep snow drifts, sometimes as deep as fourteen feet. 

There were other difficulties that cropped up as well. Judson H. Flower, who did considerable research on the early settlement of the San Luis Valley, indicated that as the residents of the small neighboring towns interacted, there were sometimes issues between those from Utah and those from the South due to the differences in their culture. Many of those from Utah were from Scandinavian countries and consequently, English was not their primary language, making it easier to socialize with those who shared their native language and culture. The Southerners likewise had more in common with the other Southerners who had settled there. In addition, many of the American born Southerners found it irritating to receive constant instruction on everything from church matters to farming issues from those of foreign birth.(3) 

As they worked through the various challenges, each new family in the community needed to find a way to work and contribute in order to make a living. Although the Ganus family had farmed in Georgia, John's oldest son, Frank, was recorded as one of the early carpenters in Manassa and John's other sons worked a lot for John Morgan, the Mission President they had previously known in Georgia.(4)

Despite the many adjustments and challenges for John's family, there were many good things that occurred in that small community. Manassa was primarily a Mormon community, so they shared religious beliefs with most who lived there and no longer feared persecution. In addition, because there were so many Southerners in Manassa they found themselves among many who understood their traditions and shared their mannerisms and way of thinking.  

In the Deseret News, November 5, 1887, referring to the San Luis Valley,
"There is in these towns a warm, delightful cordiality, a nearness of brother to brother, and a Gospel spirit of love and co-operation pervading the whole community, that is not met with in older towns. Every grasp of the hand sends a thrill to the heart, and is accompanied by a warm God bless you that speaks volumes of brotherly love. Two facts, we think, will explain this nearer approach to the Gospel ideal of society, the naturally warm-hearted, generous feeling of the southern people and all absence of caste caused by the mutual interdependence of all the settlers in their united battles against the difficulties of pioneer life."
As is often the case, some folks felt the challenges were too great or they were simply enticed by the hope of finding something better and moved. A few families returned to Georgia and a few others chose to move elsewhere, although many remained in Manassa and the surrounding communities.

How was the Ganus family affected by the issues? The many challenges surely took a toll on them just as it did with others, but to what extent, we don't know. What we do know is that they made Colorado their home for quite a few years, but by 1895, when William Franklin Ganus' son, Homer Paul Ganus was born, the family was living in Oklahoma.This would be their final move and the final chapter for John and Olivia. 


1. A Mormon "Widow" in Colorado: The Exile of Emily Wells Grant, page 180. Found online in PDF form.
2.  "Mormon Colonization of the San Luis Valley, Colorado, 1878-1900," a thesis presented by Judson Harold Flower, Jr.,  to Department of History at Brigham Young University, May 1966, p.  57
3. Ibid
4. A record included with information on the families living in Manassa in April of 1888. Digitized by J. Willard Marriot Library, University of Utah.


Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2017, All rights reserved

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

Thursday, October 5, 2017

For The Sake of The Gospel--- 16 Becoming Acquainted with John M. Ganus


We've moved. After twenty years in the same home, we sold our home and moved to something smaller. We feel good about the decision and know this is the right step to take at this point in our life, but nonetheless, it is hard. We raised our family in that house and we have many fond memories there. 

As I said goodbye to our wonderful home, I kept thinking about John and Olivia (Rainwater) Ganus who moved across country when they were about our age. Their move in 1886, however, was a much more difficult and drastic move. Without the benefits of modern technology and modern travel, and with limited funds, they left never to return to Georgia or see their friends and extended family again. Unlike many others of their time, John and Olivia's move wasn't motivated by the desire for more land, or in order to join other family members who had moved ahead, but their move was more about finding a place to live where they could feel safe. 

The Ganus family joined the LDS church in the midst of immense opposition towards the LDS missionaries and the church members. In the years that followed their conversion, the persecution against the Mormons intensified and so many of the southern Mormon families began to emigrate west. John and Olivia remained in Georgia longer than many, but eventually, they decided that it would be best for their family if they too left Georgia. On Monday, October 11, 1886, Elder Murphy recorded that he helped John make arrangements to emigrate.  

On Thursday, Oct 21, 1886 on the road coming from town, LDS missionary, Elder Murphy ran into one of John and Olivia's younger sons, Newton L. Ganus. Newton assured Elder Pledger Murphy that they were going to Colorado for the "sake of the Gospel" and not to get rich. Although it had become increasingly difficult for Mormons to make a living in Georgia, there was no promise that they would prosper financially in Colorado either although Colorado was chosen in part because of the availability of land and the lower cost of living there. However, the members of the LDS church had been counseled not to expect to get rich there and clearly, Newton had gotten the message. 

The next day, on Oct 22nd, Olivia visited her sister Frances for the last time. It must have been a tearful occasion as sisters who had lived near each other for their entire lives said goodbye. Earlier, John and Elder Murphy had visited Olivia's sister and Brother-in-law, Robert and Frances Bailey in an effort to share their gospel message, but according to Elder Murphy, "they were not very much inclined to the gospel." Olivia must have been disappointed. 


On Friday, November 12th, Elder Murphy helped Franklin (John and Olivia's oldest son) pack up for Colorado. In his journal, Elder Murphy recorded that the Ganuses were short the cost of one train ticket, so G. W. Driver loaned them $10.00 so they could all go. Elder Murphy said, "Their hearts were made glad and they rejoiced in having the privilege of all going to Zion."  

A few days later, on November 16, 1886, Elder Murphy wrote that he went to G. W. Driver's house with John Ganus and together they did the hardest days' work that he had ever done in his life packing things up so they could get it all to the depot. 

The following morning, Elder Murphy saw the Drivers, the Ganuses and others to the train station. John and Olivia, their sons, daughters-in-law, and grandchildren all boarded the train bound for Colorado. 

Hopefully, John and Olivia's had extended family members and friends at the train station to see them off. LDS Missionary, Elder Murphy recorded that he watched from the platform, waving as the train carrying the small group of converts passed out of sight. I can imagine the Ganus family waving back to a missionary who they had grown to love and who had done so much for them. Were there tears? There must have been mixed emotions for Elder Murphy; relieved that they were able to leave and yet knowing that with this group went much of the support for the remaining LDS church members and missionaries.

Although we don't have a written record of what they felt, truly it can be said that for John and Olivia, their actions spoke louder than their words. As difficult as it was on so many levels, rather than deny or turn away from what they believed, with courage and commitment, they packed up their belongings and left their home and extended family to move hundreds of miles away to start a new life where they could worship as they chose.

John was 60 years old and starting over wouldn't be easy. Was he worried about his ability to make a living? Was he emotional about leaving behind people that he loved? Was he relieved to be escaping the persecution aimed at members of the Mormon faith? Was he excited for the new life that lay ahead? 

In Kansas City, John and family changed trains and headed toward Pueblo, Colorado. In Pueblo, they boarded a narrow gauge line that would take them over the mountains and into the high mountain valley of San Luis.

Ancestry, genealogy, Colorado, Mormons, emigration,
The Pinnacles above the Conejos River
Photo was taken on family trip

The mountains of Colorado are very different from the hills of North Georgia. Steep and ruggedly beautiful, the tall mountains of the Rockies were very different from anything that the Ganus family had ever seen before.


Manassa Colorado, Ganus, Georgia, ancestry, ancestor, genealogy, family history, emigration, train
Looking across the San Luis Valley
Photo taken outside Sanford during a family trip
As they disembarked the train, did they pause to look out over the wide open fields of the San Luis Valley? The valley was so different from their densely treed Georgia home. What did they think? Did they feel butterflies of excited anticipation? Did their hearts sink just a little as they realized how different life would be there? Were they dressed appropriately for the weather or did they shiver with the chill in the air? The average temperature for Manassa in November is 30 to 40 degrees and sometimes there is 4 to 5 inches of snow. 

At the train station, they were greeted by members of the local LDS church who took them by wagon to their temporary accommodations in the homes of other members of the Mormon church. Many other Southerners who had preceded them in migration were already settled there and helped the newcomers with the transition. Although the Ganus family had moved before, this move was dramatically different from any other move they had ever made. 

Moves mean new beginnings and so often they can be good, but at the same time, they can be trying, both emotionally and physically. We just moved across town and yet as I look ahead to life in our new place, I anxiously wonder how well we will adjust. Without any question, for John and his family, the move was much more drastic and the adjustment would be much more extensive. 

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2017, All rights reserved