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

Monday, December 15, 2014

Gone to Texas--The Perrys - Part 2

The Perrys were among many southern families who packed up their belongings and moved to Texas. By the year 1900,  James Perry and Mollie (Ayers)  and their nine children were living in Wood County, Texas, which is in the northeast portion of the state.  Initially predominantly an agricultural community, James continued to do what he knew best, which was farming.

Wanting to know what that part of Texas looked like, I did a quick google search for images. Having lived in Texas for a number of years, I am well aware that the snake population is alive and well in Texas, so it shouldn't have surprised me when numerous images of snakes popped up. Apparently Wood County, Texas has its share of snakes.

According to a "Soil Survey of Wood County, Texas" found here, Wood county is the home for a wide variety of venomous snakes such as rattlesnakes, copperheads, cottonmouths and coral snakes, along with a wide variety of non poisonous yet plenty cantankerous reptiles such as bull snakes, known for their bad attitude. Alligators are also found along the Sabine River of that county.

Although I know that southern folk are no strangers to such critters, I do cringe as I think of the Perry family trying to establish a home and farm where such critters resided in large numbers. In 1900 their oldest three, John Patterson Perry, 20 yrs old, James A., 19 years old and Laura, 15 years old were all of an age to be a significant help on the farm and around the house.  Although some of the younger boys likely helped around the farm as well, they were also of the age to be out running around exploring the countryside to see what they could find. Charles was 13, Robert 11, William 10 and Thomas was 5. The twins, Hugh and Hubert were only 3 years old at the time.

I know that as new ground is broken and disturbed when farmers plow in snake country, the dens or nests of snakes are often stirred up increasing the risk of snake bites. I also know all too well from my own upbringing how easily children can naively stumble onto unsuspecting reptiles. Poor Mollie had her work cut out for her.

In 1900, James and Mollie were living among many other southerners as well as other family members. One door down was Mollie's half brother John W. Perry and his wife, Mary Frances  (Hill) and their five children. Next to John's family was yet another brother, Robert Linfield Perry and his wife Jennie Lee (Howell).

I initially wondered if Mollie had a good relationship with her half siblings. Not only was Mollie the only child from her mother's first marriage to Reuben Ayers, but she was considerably older than her five half siblings.  She was eleven years old by the time her widowed mother Frances (Rainwater) Ayers married her step-father, Robert A. Bailey. In 1877,  the year that Mollie married James C. Perry, her mother delivered her last child, Frances Laura Bailey.  Two years later in 1879, Mollie delivered her first child, John Patterson, and therefore Mollie's youngest sibling and the oldest of her own children were only two years apart.

Although I am not sure if James and Mollie traveled to Texas with her brothers or if one followed the other, knowing that Mollie and her husband lived close to two of her half siblings when approximately 650 miles from "home" seems to suggest they had a good relationship.

Because my original question from my last post was "Is this Perry family responsible for the Perry name in my own family?, I need to know where both families were and if they had opportunity to interact.

In 1887 John Monroe Ganus and Olivia  (Rainwater), along with their five sons and their families moved to Colorado.  Then about 1897, the entire extended Ganus family moved from Colorado to Indian Territory, Oklahoma and were there in 1900.  With a distance of approximately 220 miles between the Perry family in Texas and the Ganus family in Oklahoma, clearly these families were not living anywhere close at this point.  However, the Perry name also would not be used in the Ganus family for thirty more years.  Would descendants of these families end up living close to each other? While I have no evidence of this at this point, I don't think it can be entirely dismissed...yet.

I do have some evidence that members of this extended Rainwater family from Georgia apparently managed to stay in touch with some of the other members over time and despite distance.

In 1900, Sanford Rainwater, born 1866 in Georgia is found living next door to John and Olivia (Rainwater) Ganus, his aunt and uncle.  I shared that story here. The Ganuses had moved from Georgia to Colorado where they remained for ten years before moving to Oklahoma. Georgia born Sanford Rainwater had been living with his parents, John Rainwater and Bargilla (Moore) in Upshur County, Texas, for roughly 30 years prior to his move to Oklahoma.  It had been over 30 years since the two families had lived in Haralson County, Georgia, and yet they became neighbors. Remember this is before the age of Google and cell phones.

Apparently these Rainwater families and their descendants did maintain some awareness of each other over time, despite moves to various states and great distance, but the question remains, did Frances' and Olivia's descendants establish and maintain enough of a relationship for this to be my Perry connection? There is yet more research to be done.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2014,  All rights reserved


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

On The Lookout For Perrys - Part 1

Was this my Perry connection?    The name Perry has been used as a first name in my own immediate family and I was told that it was because of the importance of a family named Perry, but no one knew exactly who that family was.  

But as a result, I have long kept my eye out for a Perry connection somewhere.  As I worked on my Rainwater family, I was intrigued as I came upon a Perry family and couldn't help but wonder if this was the family.  
Photo generously shared by David, a descendant


Mary Ann Ayers,  or Mollie as many called her, was the only daughter of Reuben Ayers and Frances Rainwater.  Frances was a sister to my second great grandmother Olivia Rainwater.  

In 1877, when Mary Ann was 20 years old, she married James Crain Perry in Haralson County, Georgia.  So the question in my mind is, were the two families ever close enough that my Grandfather would have known and named his only son after this Perry family? The question led me on an adventure to get to know Mary Ann.


Mary Ann was born in October of 1857 in Carroll County, Georgia, but by the 1860 census, she moved with her parents Reuben and Frances Ayers to the hills of Calhoun County, Alabama. John and wife Olivia (nee Rainwater) Ganus and their children had also moved from Georgia to Calhoun County and were living just a few households away.  By 1870 Reuben, Frances and Mary Ann were back in Georgia and once again were living in close proximity to the John and Olivia Ganus family.  John and Olivia had three children by the time Mary Ann was born.  Mary Ann and William Franklin Ganus, my great grandfather were about three years apart. There is no doubt that the two families enjoyed each other’s company, as shared in this post. But both families would move multiple times to multiple states in the years that followed and I wondered, did the children several generations later have opportunity to know each other?  It will take some digging to see if they did and if indeed this family was responsible for the Perry name in my own family. 

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2014,  All rights reserved

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Walking the Sunken Road

As we walked the "Sunken Road" beside the stone wall at Fredericksburg,  I surveyed the field below. I could envision in my mind's eye  the brutal battle scene often portrayed in Civil War documentaries and movies.  But the field, once war torn, showed few scars and instead stood peaceful and serene.  It felt surreal to actually be there and to stand on the very site where so many men had lost their lives.


Present day "sunken road" and the rock wall

My husband and I had traveled to Richmond, Virginia to attend the National Genealogy Society's 2014 Conference.  Afterwards, we visited a few of the many historical sites in the area, including the battlefield at Fredericksburg, Virginia.  While I loved knowing that at one time, my ancestors had been there, I hated knowing why.


Our visit was in May and as is typical for the season, the air was warm and humid.  A few songbirds sang in the trees surrounding the fields, but otherwise the air was still and quiet,  a sharp contrast to December of 1862.  That December, as troops converged on the battlefield, the bitter cold, snow and mud added to the misery of the war.  While cannon balls took out lines of men,  bullets riddled the smoke filled air,  killing many who courageously fought, and yet they were not the only enemy.  Lack of good food, few tents and a shortage of blankets, along with rampant disease and inadequate medical care,
took the lives of many.

Gallant Charge of Humphrey's Division
at the Battle of Fredericksburg
Library of Congress

David Ganus, Burton Cook and James Blackmon were all at Fredericksburg.  David Ganus was born in 1836 in Fayette County, Georgia to James (Gur)Ganus and Elizabeth McCluskey.  David was a younger brother to my 3rd great grandfather, John Monroe Ganus. Burton Cook was married to David and John's oldest sister, Mary, and James Blackmon was married to their sister, Margaret.  David, Burton and James were among the thousands of Confederate soldiers present for the historic battle at Fredericksburg.

Cobb's and Kershaw's Troops
behind the stone wall
Library of Congress



As I paused to read the historical markers, I felt a flood of emotion as I imagined David, Burton and James, standing shoulder to shoulder with each other, their neighbors and friends. Given the number of soldiers there,  it is doubtful that David was even aware of the presence of other more distant relatives, such as Florida cousins, Willis and Moses Gurganus.   As regiments from multiple counties and states joined together at the various battles, brothers, uncles, cousins, sons and fathers all fought, sometimes side by side and sometimes on opposing sides




Part of the original rock wall today,  built by Confederate Soldiers

I was grateful that we practically had the park to ourselves that day because I wanted to feel and to think, without the distractions of a noisy crowd.  I wanted to reflect on what I knew about the men that I have researched and grown to love and to pay honor to them as I walked along the road where they had once been. As we walked along the Sunken Road behind the rock wall and at the base of Marye's Heights,  I felt a solemn reverence for the significance of that site,  as it had offered significant protection from the oncoming Union troops.  According to "The Dorman-Marshbourne Letters" by John W. Lynch, the Georgia 53rd was posted on the road below Marye's Heights on December 14th and 15th of 1862.

Luckily David, Burton and James all survived the battle at Fredericksburg, but David developed pneumonia and a few weeks later he was sent to Winder Hospital in Richmond.  With that,  I knew where our next stop would be.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2014

Sunday, December 22, 2013

I'll Be Home For Christmas


“I’ll be home for Christmas.” As the song played softly on the radio, stirring up memories of my childhood and of days when our own children were home,  I felt the familiar lump rise in my throat. That song has been responsible for many tears over the years.  It made me cry when I was away at college and longing for home.  It made me cry the first year after I was married when we lived too far from my parents and siblings to visit, and now I cry because I miss both my childhood Christmases as well as the days when my own sweet children were at home.

The words ring true for me, I will always be home for Christmas, even if it is in my dreams and I know I am not alone in feeling that way.  While I now create new memories with family,  life is perpetually changing and I will always cherish the memories of past Christmas. 

While Christmas traditions have varied greatly over the years, one theme seems to always be consistent and that is that Christmas has always been a time to gather with family and friends.  For that reason, the Christmas of 1886 must have been particularly difficult for my great great grandparents, John and Olivia (Rainwater) Ganus.  Having left their native Georgia on the 16th of November,  John and Olivia, along with their sons and their families, spent December 1886 on the cold wind swept plains of southern Colorado.  Nearly 1500 miles from “home,”  they were far from their extended family and lifelong friends.


Trena Ganus, Sanford, Colorado
View looking across San Luis Valley, Colorado,
 Taken August 2013
By Trena Ganus

They were totally new to the wide open spaces of the west and, while I personally love the valley where they settled,  not much about Southern Colorado would have reminded them of “home.”  The seemingly unending fields of grassland stand in stark contrast to the Haralson County area of Georgia with its hills and pine forests.  While Georgia’s low temperatures can dip as low as the mid 30’s during December,
temperatures in the 30’s are frequently the high for Southern Colorado with temperature sometimes dropping as low as 40 below zero. Were John and Olivia prepared for the harsh winters of their new home?  Did they have adequate clothing and bedding? 

Many of the foods of Southern Colorado reflect the heritage of the Mexican people who originally settled the area, in addition to foods typical of the Scandinavian and English people who settled the area prior to the arrival of the Southerners. These foods were vastly different from the foods most often enjoyed by the southern people.  I can only assume that the Christmas traditions also reflected the cultural heritage of the earlier settlers and were also somewhat foreign to John and Olivia.

Having left all extended family behind,  there would have been no family near by that December to drop by John and Olivia’s home for a visit or to drop off even a simple gift or homemade goodie, nor would there have been invitations to extended family gatherings. On Christmas day, long before the days when home phones were common place,  there would not have been calls made to brothers and sisters back home to help ease the homesickness. I wonder, how did the Ganus family feel that Christmas season?  Did they reflect on past Christmases?  Did they long for family and friends left behind?   

Over the years, the Christmas Season has become exponentially bigger, louder and brighter.  Despite the aggressive sales campaigns, Christmas music blasting in the stores way before I want to hear it and the traditional colors of red and green now sharing the stage with hot pink, purple and lime, one thing seems to remain the same and that is the desire to be with family.  I suspect that at Christmas time I will always reflect over the memories of past years with parents, siblings and our children and that just as the song says, " I'll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams."  

May your Christmas be filled with the love of family and of our Savior, Jesus Christ, whose birthday we celebrate.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2013


 Top left:  "Farmyard in Winter" by George Henry Durrie, 1858 PD Art, courtesy of Wikimedia; in public domain.   http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Farmyard_in_Winter_by_George_Henry_Durrie,_1858.jpg

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Intensity of His Gaze


John Thackason Ganus
John Thackason Ganus
From Original in possession
of Michelle Ganus Taggart
I'll never forget the first time I saw the picture of John Monroe Ganus with his five sons as seen at the top of this page.  Each man with his coarse wavy hair, each sporting a mustache and each with other shared family characteristics and yet, as with each family, each person had something uniquely theirs.  While all but Newton maintained the typical solemn countenance, John Thackason's  expression struck me as a bit more intense than the rest.   I've often wondered if the intensity of his gaze was indicative of his state of mind or just a product of the times.  As I've gotten to know him a little better and of the heartache that he endured during his life, I suspect it is a little of both.

Born 22 April 1855 in Haralson County, Georgia, John Thackason Ganus was the second child born to John Monroe Ganus and Elizabeth McCluskey.  He grew up in a household of boys on a small farm in rural Georgia.   While Georgia was home for much of his childhood, over the course of his life the family lived in Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado and Oklahoma.

By the time John T. was  five years old, his family had moved to Alabama, but they would remain there only a few years before picking up and moving to Arkansas, where they once again remained for only a few short years.  By the time John T. was 15, his family was back in Georgia and was among the many southerners trying to make a life on the heels of the devastating Civil War.  About 1876, John and Mary M. Chisenhall, daughter of William Chisenhall and Sally Reed, married in Haralson County and within a few years they had begun their family.

John followed in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps and farmed, but farming in postwar Georgia was not an easy undertaking. Providing for one's family was nearly impossible for someone without means to obtain his own land or a way of obtaining goods to sell or trade.  The 1880 Non Population Census for Haralson County indicates that John T. “rents for shares,” implying  that he fell into that group of folks, both black and white alike, that in desperation turned to sharecropping as a way of providing for their family, albeit a very difficult way of life.  (For more information about sharecroppers and their plight in post war Georgia, see this article.)  

In 1887, John and Mary, along with John’s parents and siblings and their families boarded a train bound for Colorado, where they remained until about 1897 at which point they moved to Okmulgee, Oklahoma. 

I have been told that John T. and Mary had a dozen children but according to both the 1900 and the 1910 censuses, John and Mary actually had 13 children, with only five surviving to that point.  (I wrote about Mary and the death of one of their children in this blog post: http://www.asouthernsleuth.com/2012/09/revisiting-sources-case-for-mary-m.html.)   I have known people who have suffered the loss of a child and know that the grief that accompanies that loss compares to none other.  I can not even begin to comprehend the heartache that John and Mary experienced with losing eight children.

Old Manassa Cemetery
Old Manassa Cemetery
Manassa, Colorado
Their first son, John William, lived to be 11 years old and was buried in the Old Manassa Cemetery. I visited the cemetery a year ago August and was touched by the desolation and loneliness of the old cemetery which sits just outside the small town of Manassa, Colorado.  While there are still a few who choose to be buried there, it is essentially an old neglected cemetery as seen in the picture.  As I walked the rows and viewed the aged and varied headstones of some of the early pioneers of the San Luis Valley, I ached to know more about their lives, knowing that the stories would be about hope, sacrifice, joy and hardship.
John William Ganus

John William and his brother Morgan Lafayette Ganus were among those listed on the stone plaque at the entrance to this cemetery.  On that plaque is a rather extensive list of some of the known un-marked graves of that cemetery.  It saddens me to know that there is nothing marking the exact final resting place for so many individuals, including several of John and Mary’s children.

John and Mary’s known children are the following:
John William Ganus b. 1878 Cherokee, AL  d. 1889 Manassa, Conejos, CO
Marthy Ganus b. 1880 Haralson Co., GA     d. 1880, Haralson Co., GA
Walter Scott Ganus b. 24 Mar 1882 Polk Co., GA   d. bef. 1900
Minnie Delanie Ganus b. 2 Jul 1883 Haralson Co., GA  d 12 June 1977 Okmulgee Co., OK
Roderick Elvin Ganus  b. 18 Apr 1885 Polk Co., GA  d.  bef. 1900
Morgan Lafayette Ganus  b. 20 Oct 1887 Manassa, Conejos, CO  d. 1888 Manassa, CO
Lola Bell Ganus  b. 1 Oct 1889 Manassa, CO  d. 18 Jan 1970 Okmulgee, OK
Sterling Robert Ganus  b. 23 Feb 1891 CO,   d. 5 Dec 1971 Sacrament, CA
Elvyn Monroe Ganus b. 5 Feb 1898 Indian Territory, Creek Nation, OK d. 5 Dec 1971 Sacramento, CA
Claud Mitchner Ganus  b. Apr 1900 Indian Territory, Creek Nation, OK d. bef. 1910
Elmer Russell Ganus  b. 17 Sep 1905 OK  d. 29 Oct 1941 Kern Co., CA
If anyone is aware of John and Mary’s other two children, I would love to hear from them and to be able to add their names to the family. 

The final record that I have for John Thackason Ganus is an Okmulgee Cemetery Record Card.  It indicates that John died 23 November 1926 at the age of 70 and was buried two days later in the Okmulgee Cemetery.  The cause of death is listed as “Paralysis.”

While we see evidence of joyful events in John T's life such as his marriage and the birth of children who lived into adulthood, we also see evidence of great poverty, loss and suffering.  Could these be the things we see reflected in John's gaze?  As always, I never feel like I know quite enough and  would love to hear from anyone that could share more about John Thackason Ganus and his life.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2013

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Gift of Time

image
Time.  From the time we are born until the time we die, our life is broken up into increments of time.  While we are all given 24 hours a day, the total time that we spend on this earth and how we spend it, varies tremendously.  For each of us, the time to which we are born and live creates the stage for our life and determines much of what we experience. The way we spend our time creates who we are.

Recently, one of Roderick Monroe Ganus’ descendants shared with me pictures of Roderick's pocket watch that he had inherited.  As I looked at the pictures of the beautiful old timepiece, I wondered what filled the minutes of Roderick's life?  How did he spend his time?

Born on 23 June 1863 in Calhoun, Alabama to John Monroe Ganus and Olivia Rainwater, Roderick, was the fifth child of eight born to the union, although only five sons actually survived to adulthood.

For the first few years of his life, Roderick’s family lived in Calhoun County, Alabama before moving to Pine Bluff, Arkansas, where they lived for about three years.  By 1870, John and Olivia returned to their home state of Georgia, with their four sons, William Franklin, John Thackason, Roderick Monroe and Newton Lafayette.  Soon after their move back to Georgia, their last son, Robert Lee, was born. There in Haralson County, Georgia,  Roderick grew up with a house full of brothers, worked on the farm, learned to hunt and enjoyed the close proximity to aunts, uncles and cousins.  While they did the best they could with what they had, life following the Civil War was a difficult  time of  "Reconstruction"  for those in Georgia and  the Ganus family was no exception.

In November of 1886, at the age of 23, Roderick, along with his parents, siblings and their families, boarded a steam locomotive bound for Colorado where they would remain for the next ten years. Then in about 1896, Roderick accompanied his parents and siblings in a move to Oklahoma where they would all live for the remainder of the lives.

I wish that I knew the story behind Roderick's watch.  Did Roderick buy the watch for himself or was it a gift?  imageAs I studied the pictures and thought about what the watch might have meant to Roderick, I was glad that this precious possession had been preserved and had made its way into the hands of a beloved great grandson.  I am equally grateful that he generously shared pictures of the watch with me and others.

Curious about how old the watch might be,  I checked a database for pocket watches to see what information might be available. Based on the make and serial number, the estimated production year for the watch was 1909.  I knew that in 1909, Roderick was 46 years old and had been married to Carrie Melinda Davis for 4 years. (Carrie was the subject of posts here and here.)  By 1909, Roderick and Carrie were living in Okmulgee, Oklahoma and had  two children, John William and Bertha Mae. 

Wanting to know more about Roderick during that time period,  I looked for him on the 1910 census.  As I pulled up the image on Ancestry and saw  Roderick’s household, tears immediately filled my eyes and began to slide down my cheeks.  Along with Roderick and Carrie were their children John W. and Bertha, but in addition,  listed in their household was my grandpa, then nine year old Heber, his twin Orson and Roderick’s thirty-eight year old brother, Newton.  (I shared Newton’s sad story in this post.) 

The finding confirmed what my grandfather had written in his life history.  After the death of his mother in 1909, which followed just three short years after his father's death, it was Roderick that had taken him into his home. Years ago, when I shared that story with one of Roderick’s descendants,  he indicated that Roderick had never had very much in material goods and had always struggled to make ends meet.  He didn’t know how Roderick could have fed another mouth, so I was shocked to learn that Roderick didn’t feed just one extra mouth, but he had fed three!  He had taken in two energetic young boys, who likely had bottomless pits for stomachs, and Roderick's adult brother.  The census was taken in April of 1910,  which was a little over a year after the death of Heber and Orson’s mother, meaning this had not been a short visit for them.

As I pondered Roderick’s life in terms of time, finding that he had taken in his two nephews, Orson and Heber, and his thirty eight year old, mentally ill brother, Newton, spoke volumes about Roderick's use of his time.  Fast forward to 1930 and from that census I learned that at the age of sixty-six, in addition to providing for his wife and four children, Roderick had taken in his daughter-in-law, Thelma, and grandson, Carl.  Truly Roderick made time and space in his life, in his heart and in his home for those in need at many stages of his life. 

I’ve always felt drawn to Roderick.  When I look at the only known picture of him, I see a tenderness and a kindness in his face.  Roderick’s life and experiences spanned from the raging brutality of the Civil War in the the South to the harshness shown by Mother Nature in the days of the Oklahoma Dust Bowl.  Yet from all indications,  rather than allowing the struggles of life to harden him, Roderick seemed to instead be more sensitive to the vulnerability and delicateness of the human condition, ever willing to give of  his time to alleviate the sufferings of others.

As shared in his obituary:
[Roderick] was an upright and worthy citizen and loved and respected by those who knew him.  His being translated into the new life will leave a vacant place not only in the hearts of loved ones but in his wide circle of friends and neighbors . . . “
image

While I do not know the story behind Roderick's pocket watch, I am grateful that his great grandson shared pictures of it with me.  Doing so caused me to take the time to look at Roderick's life a little closer and in the process I was able to see evidence of his generosity and kindness and the way in which Roderick used his time to lift and bless others in their need.  It seems only fitting that a pocket watch has been passed down through generations as truly his use of his time ultimately defined him.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2013



Pictures of Roderick's watch and headstone generously shared by Great Grandson, Lloyd Ganus.

Obituary shared with me by descendants, but source not recorded.


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Spring With Forty Acres and a Plow

imageI am always thrilled when I see the first crocus poke its head through the soil …..it brings with it anticipation and excitement for spring and warmer weather.  As I recently drove  to the nursery to select plants and seeds for my garden, I wondered what spring meant to my ancestors. Many of my ancestors were Georgia farmers and so I suspect that for them spring meant work, hope and anticipation for a bountiful harvest.

Here we plant most of our garden after Mother’s Day, so I was surprised to learn that in many areas of Georgia they plant some crops as early FEBRUARY!  So while I am still watching the snow drifts pile up, they are preparing soil and sowing seeds . When I am looking through the starts at our local nursery, in many parts of Georgia, they are beginning to harvest crops such as sweet corn, peaches and squash.

According to the 1880 Agricultural Census 1 John Monroe Ganus was the owner of his farm, which included 18 acres of Indian corn,  2 acres of oats, 2 acres of wheat, and 18 acres of cotton.  He also had 5 barnyard poultry, 8 swine and one milch cow in addition to one other cow.
image
While this was not a big farm, by any standards, as I recently surveyed my cluster of simple raised garden boxes and thought of the time required to care for them,  I could not help but wonder what farming was like for John and how he managed to care for all that he had.  Farming is demanding for the farmers of today, but I can not imagine how grueling it must have been for the farmers of the late 19th century, void of the benefits of modern day equipment.

In 1880, John and Olivia had sons living at home who may have been a source of help.  At that time, their two oldest sons, William Franklin and John Thackason, were both married, had families and were farming nearby. The three sons still at home, were Roderick Monroe who was 17, Newton Lafayette who was 13 and Robert Lee who was 10.  I also know that for a period of time in 1882, John had help from an Mormon missionary serving in the area at that time.  I am so thankful for the insight that the John Metcalf’s journal2  provides into John’s life as a farmer.

According to his journal, when Elder Metcalf visited John ‘s home on May 19, 1882, he learned that a frost had killed some of John’s cotton and corn.  Farmers have always been vulnerable to the unpredictability of the weather, but that wouldn't have softened the disappointment of such loss.  From what I know about John, he was never particularly well off, but had to work hard for most of his life in order to provide for his family, so I am sure that losing crop came as a blow.  The next next morning, John got up and did the only thing that he could do and that was to get to work.  Elder Metcalf recorded that the next day he helped John to plow, indicating that they plowed half a day and were so busy, he ended up staying the night with John and Olivia.  A few days later, John had wheat to bind and Elder Metcalf returned to help.  On July 28, Elder Metcalf helped John “plow cotton”  and the men once again worked long and late into the evening.
 
As  crops were harvested, the farmer was not yet “done," as the fields then had to be cleared and cleaned.  Elder Metcalf found John in the field doing exactly that on September 9, and once again, stepped in to help him.  The following day, September 10,  it rained all day and  Elder Metcalf recorded that consequently they just “waited it out”.  I can almost picture the men, anxious to complete the task, periodically peering out the window for any indication of a break in the storm.  The following day, the rain stopped and they were able to return to the field to continue their work.  In my mind, I can see the steam rising from the field as the  hot Georgia sun warmed the drenched soil.  I also can imagine John and Elder Metcalf returning to John’s house at the end of the day, sunburned, tired and muddy from a full day’s work.  For three back breaking days, John and Elder Metcalf worked to clear the field. 

September 14, Elder Metcalf helped John pull fodder. After harvesting corn, farmers use to “pull fodder”, which involves pulling the blades off of the cornstalks and gathering them into bunches to dry in the sun. The fodder was then stored to be fed to the cows later. It was difficult work and the sharp edges of the corn blades often sliced their hands in the process.
 
image
Sugar Cane
According to the  journal, John raised sugar cane that year and Elder Metcalf was there to help John cut the cane on September 28th, 29th and 30th  and again on October 2nd, and 3rd.  Cutting sugar cane was also difficult work, in which each stalk was cut individually from the ground and then at the top, after stripping off the foliage along the sides.3    

As they came to the end of the growing season, John Metcalf returned to John’s farm one final time on October 31 and helped John "pull and haul corn."

While Elder Metcalf continued to visit John’s home, no further mention was made that year of helping him on the farm and so for a few months at least, John continued to feed and care for his handful of livestock until the following spring, when he would once again begin the process of plowing, planting and harvesting.


1. Selected U.S. Federal Census Non-Population Schedules, 1850-1880 database, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 20 May 2013, entry for John M. Ganus, District 1143 Haralson, Georgia; Archive Collection Number:  T1137; Page: 08; Line 10

2 Journal of John Edward Metcalf, Mission to the Southern States.  No longer available on the internet. (bulk of material for this post was taken from entries in this journal).

3   Cultivation of Sugar Cane;  William Carter Stubbs; Daniel Gugel Purse, Savannah, Morning News Print, 1900, page 144, found on www.books.google.com

Pictures from Wikipedia Commons, all in Public Domain.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2013
.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Piecing Together Their Lives - Part 1

imageWe all have them.  Those individuals in our family tree that seemingly disappear into thin air. I have many such souls in my tree and each and every unwritten story troubles me.  Among my “missing” was Margaret. 
Margaret Ganus was born in 1832 and grew up in the Fayette County area of Georgia.  She was a younger sister to my second great grandfather, John Monroe Ganus, and the third child of James Gurganus and Elizabeth McCluskey in a family of ten children. 
On the 1850 census,eighteen year old Margaret was shown living with her parents and the eight siblings still living at home.  By the 1860 census, however, she was no longer shown living at home.  I realized that in all likelihood, if she had lived until 1860, she was most likely married, but I could not find a marriage record for her.  Margaret’s three sisters, Mary, Martha and Rebecca, all had recorded marriage records which of course helped me to follow them as they established their homes and had their children. But no marriage record could be found for Margaret.  Some speculated that Margaret had died young, but I could find nothing conclusive.
I imagined Margaret to be much like any little girl growing up in mid 19th century Georgia.  I could almost see her running and playing alongside her brothers and sisters in the warm Georgia sun. Growing up on a small family farm, she would have had her share of chores,  helping with everything from the household duties of preparing food and washing clothes to milking cows and feeding the chickens. The day likely began early each morning and the the work would have stretched on until the sun dropped beneath the rolling hills and dense trees that define that region.  At night Margaret likely climbed into a bed shared with several of her sisters.  
Knowing that southern families were tight knit and often lived in close proximity for much of their lives,  I looked for Margaret in Fayette County as well as in neighboring counties, but could find nothing.  For years, her unfinished story was part of my growing pile of genealogical mysteries and just one more frustration. 
I mentioned in a previous post, the value of collaborating with others along the way.  So often other individuals hold critical pieces of information not found in any publicly held document. In this case, posting a query made all the difference. 
On the 17th of October 2002, I received an email from Karen, whom I did not know.  My heart jumped as I opened her email that began with, “I am almost 100% sure that we click.”  I will share what I learned from Karen in my upcoming post.  

Note: Picture The Old Quilt by Walter Langley found on Wikipedia Commons and in Public Domain.
           Continue onto Part 2 of Piecing Together their Lives

          Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2013




Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Stories Their Faces Tell

Robert Lee Ganus, Roderick Ganus, Newton Ganus, John Monroe Ganus, John Thackason Ganus, William Franklin Ganus
Tow Row, L to R:  Robert Lee Ganus, Roderick  Monroe Ganus, Newton Lafayette Ganus
Bottom Row, L to R:  John Monroe Ganus, John Thackason Ganus, William Franklin Ganus
As much as I love the stories that I uncover, I think I almost love the pictures more. I find myself sitting and studying my ancestors' pictures and wondering what stories their faces tell? What do their eyes say? What caused that wrinkle in their brow?  What does the way they hold their mouth and their hands tell me about their life and what they were like?  It's all speculative, but it's a game I like to play.  

I particularly love it when someone shares a story to go with a picture. Such is the case of the picture of John and "his boys"  shown above.  I can't help but notice that Roderick (center back) obviously had his own ideas about how to dress for a picture. Story has it that while his father, John, and his brothers put on their “Sunday best”  for the picture, Roderick had been working in the field and said that he was not going to spend half the day dressing and undressing for a picture, so he came as he was.  The story makes me smile and reminds me that that ole Ganus spunk had trickled down through yet another generation.  

Newton L. Ganus
Newton L. Ganus
When my father first shared this picture with me, I noticed that while five of the men wore the typical solemn expressions, one son seemed not to care about how long he had to wait for the camera, nor whether the social norm dictated that a proper picture be taken in a somber manner and devoid of a smile. Newton's smile stretched from his lips to his eyes and seeing that solitary smile among the six men never fails to make me smile. When I show this picture to others, they are often quick to point to him and say things such as  “He looks like fun.”  The truth be known, Newton had experienced more than his share of heartache, but for some reason, he broke tradition, smiled for the camera and made us all want to know more about him.

Newton Lafayette Ganus and his twin, Frances Olivia Ganus, were born the 17th of July, 1867 in Pine Bluff, Jefferson, Arkansas to John Monroe Ganus and Olivia Rainwater. I am not sure how long Frances lived, but I do know that she had died by 1870 when the family returned to Haralson County, Georgia.  The Ganus family would remain there until November of 1886, at which time they migrated by train to Colorado. Later, in about 1897, the Ganus family moved on to Oklahoma where John, Olivia and all of the sons lived until they died.

Not much is known about Newton’s childhood although most of his siblings' descendants were told the story that when Newton was a child, he was kicked in the head by a mule.  In addition, all seemed to have been told that he was very smart when it came to math.  We do know that Newton never married and that he lived with his parents until their death, at which time, his married brothers took him in.  But life with Newton was not easy and it became more trying with time.  Among other issues, Newton had bouts with terrible headaches and when he did, he became angry and was difficult to deal with.

On August 30, 1921, at the age of 54,  Newton was taken to the Eastern Oklahoma State Hospital for the mentally ill at Vinita and examined by Dr. Hayes along with two other doctors.  Prior to that time, Newton had spent a year in Fort Supply, which was the first mental hospital in Oklahoma.  His brother, Robert, felt concerned enough about Newton's mental state that he had traveled a little over 100 miles from his home in Okmulgee to take him to the hospital in Vinita, which was no small distance at that time.

When examined by the doctors there, Newton was asked if his mind was as good as any body else’s and he responded that he did not know.  According to records,  Newton said, “Seems like my head hurts me right smart.  I don’t know what causes it.”  Newton also indicated that he did not believe that his "mind would be as good and stout as one not in any misery."  When asked why he had been sent there, he said, “For bad behavior I reckon.”  The doctor then asked Newton  if he had been bad and Newton indicated, “Not bad, I don’t think, just this misery and anger like I cursed a little but I don’t think I done bad.”

Newton L. Ganus
Newton L. Ganus
The doctors asked Newton a variety of other questions, including a series of mathematical questions.  Newton responded correctly to questions such as "if he received .125 cents an hour and worked 8 hours, how much would he have?" It is interesting that he was able to answer correctly every mathematical question  asked, yet his history indicated that he only had a 1st grade education.  By his responses to other questions, some of which were quite basic, Newton seemed to sometimes be a little confused and forgetful and yet his responses did not appear to be very far out of the ordinary.  I wonder what additional information may have been supplied by Newton’s brothers? With all three doctors in agreement, Newton was admitted and for the next 32 years, the hospital was his home.

Eastern Oklahoma State Hospital Cemetery
Thanks to John Schehrer for sharing the photo
On December 19, 1953, at the age of 86, Newton died of chronic myocarditis in Eastern Oklahoma State Hospital.  He was buried among countless other hospital patients on the hospital ground cemetery.  Confined for much of his adult life in the hospital, Newton had managed to outlive all of his brothers and died without any descendants of his own.  I find myself wondering just how he spent his final days? Did he have any visitors?   Did he have friends?  Did anyone weep when he was gone? 

I have one additional picture of Newton and this time he is alone.  While I can't be sure, I suspect from his clothing and his age that it was likely taken in the hospital.  This picture is a stark contrast to his picture from earlier days where he is seen smiling alongside his father and brothers. In fact, the first time I came across this picture, I was surprised to flip it over and read that it was in fact Newton. As with most of us, he had changed a lot over the years. This picture shows an older, thinner Newton, a Newton that no longer felt compelled to smile for the camera.  This time his face tells a different story, a story that I wish had had a happier ending.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2013

Friday, December 28, 2012

The Whys of It All

When my husband and I were first married, we were in our final years of college and we lived in an apartment close to the university.  One of our neighbors had an adorable little boy who was about three years old at the time.  Whenever I sat out on our little patio, I could count on a visit from the cute little guy.  I will never forget his steady stream of questions, and how he asked “why” following almost everything that I said.  It quickly helped me to realize just how little I really knew about the world. I have thought about him a lot lately as I have frequently asked myself  “why?”  Why do some people seem to have more to deal with than others?  Why do some seem to get so much more done in a day ?  Why must it snow for three days nonstop?
      
Martha Olivia Ganus
Martha Olivia Ganus
Although asking “why” for many questions does not produce an answer and is not necessarily even productive, I have found the opposite to be true in genealogy.  It’s in asking “why” that I have been led to some of my greatest finds.

It was in asking “why” John Monroe Ganus and wife Olivia were living in Alabama in 1860 instead of their home state of Georgia, that I learned they were there living among Olivia’s family, and I shared that story in this post. Asking why they were there led me to learn more about my Great Great Grandmother, Olivia's family, the Rainwaters.  And it was because I wondered “why”  I could not find more about my Gurganus family in Macon that I searched faded, difficult to read, microfilmed court records for hours, which in turn led me to the sad finding of a murder trial involving my family, which I shared earlier.  And, it was in asking “why” Grandma had faintly written in the corner of a little piece of paper, “John M. had a brother Jim that went to Alabama,”  that I began to search for Jim Ganus and that ultimately led me to not only Jim, but Jim’s descendants and I shared what I found in this post.  In addition, a picture of an unknown woman in my Grandpa Ganus’  papers led me to ask "why" her picture was among his few possessions and  led me to information about my Great Grandfather William Franklin’s first wife and their daughter, Martha Olivia Ganus.  I am saving that story to share at a later time.  I have truly learned that with genealogical research, asking the questions helps me to stop and evaluate what I know and what I want  to know and that ultimately leads to new information. 

I have witnessed a fair amount of banter among individuals recently over various issues of genealogical importance and as a result, I have looked at my own research and asked another "why."  Just "why” am I doing genealogy in the first place and am I on the road that will lead me to my desired goal?  Have I lost site of my original purpose and if so, "why" and what do I need to do about it?   I plan to set some genealogical goals for this coming year and as I do, I certainly plan to evaluate what I do against  “why” I am doing it and hopefully that will help me remain focused, lead me to some great finds and keep me out of trouble.

That curious little neighbor boy from so many years ago has long since grown up to be a man and I am sure that he has his own little children that sometimes ask him "why."   I am just as sure that he has long forgotten me and has no idea that I often think of him as I ponder issues in my own life and ask  "why?"

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2012

Friday, December 7, 2012

Blood is Thicker than Water

On Wednesday, I attended the funeral for a cousin of mine.  He was still relatively young, had children at home and his passing was unexpected, so it was a hard day.  As I walked into the church, I was greeted by other cousins, some whom I had not seen for some time and it was a bittersweet experience.  While we were glad to see each other and grateful to be able to be together and provide support to each other, it was nonetheless a very solemn occasion as we said goodbye to a cousin, brother, uncle, husband and father.
Nephi Glen Hostetter, Maud
Hostetter Gathering in Colorado mountains

As I listened to the speakers share experiences from this remarkable cousin's life, I felt cheated that we had lived so many miles apart during our adult years and so I consequently knew very little about his more recent life.  I kept flashing back to childhood family gatherings.  My family lived out of state, so our association with cousins was limited to our yearly family vacations.  During those visits, we "helped" (or so we thought) cousins during the day as they gathered eggs, milked cows, baled hay and moved the sheep and cows.  Nights and weekends were filled with kick the can, riding tote gotes, softball games and sometimes a picnic in the mountains.  Grandmas and aunts on both sides of the family would fry up chicken, whip up tasty sandwiches or some delectable main dish, make salads and side dishes galore and top it off with the best desserts imaginable. Summers were heavenly and I remember wishing they would never end.

Because I loved those summer visits,  I started to count down the days to our next trip almost as soon as we waved goodbye to Grandma each year. I can remember that the tears began almost the second we pulled out from her house and would continue off and on during the thousand mile road trip home.

Me with mother, my brothers and Grandma Ganus,
my aunt and a cousin
Blood truly is thicker than water and that has always been the case.  I see evidence of families remaining close to each other as I research my various family lines.  Families used to be an "all in one" deal, living close to each other and providing everything from safety to friendship.  I was reminded of this as I searched for my second great grandfather in the 1860 census. John Monroe Ganus was born in Georgia in 1826 and could be found in Georgia Census records prior to 1860,and then again in 1870 and 1880.  But initially I couldn't find him in 1860.  When I finally did find him, he was living in Calhoun County, Alabama, across the border from his previous home in Georgia.  At first I couldn't imagine what he was doing there and then I realized that John and Olivia were living among Olivia's family.  The census entries surrounding the Ganus family are full of Browns, Baileys and Ayers, all who tie into the Rainwaters.  Living a few doors down is Olivia's sister, Frances, and her husband Ruben Ayers.  It was this sister, Frances, that Olivia visited a few days before she and John left Georgia to move to Colorado.  It's more than a little apparent that these sisters enjoyed each other's company and consequently their children had the advantage of being able to interact with each other, which was demonstrated in the story that I shared in a previous post.  So family at least played a part in John and Olivia's move to Alabama and that realization helped to solve that mystery.

But there is one other mystery associated with that 1860 census record.  Listed as living in the Ganus household is John Ganus 32, Olivia who was 27, William F. who was 6 and was my great grandfather, John T. who was 5 years old, another brother, James R. who was 2 and then lastly, Henry who was 19.  Each name following John's has ditto marks in place of their last name, suggesting that each member had the same last name as the first entry, which was "Ganus."  Each person is familiar and seems to belong until I come to Henry, and I have to say, finding a Henry listed with this family has actually kept me awake at nights.  I do not have a Henry listed anywhere in my database under any surname!  Who in the world is Henry?  Is he really a Ganus, or are those ditto marks following his first name just evidence of a lazy census taker? I know that families stuck together and often took in other family members and so I have searched the 1850 census many times to find other Ganus families, as well as other known relatives with a "Henry,"  who would have been approximately 9 years old in that earlier census, but have not been successful.  If anyone is aware of a missing Henry, please let me know.  

While that may sound like a silly thing to ask, it actually was a previously unknown cousin who provided the solution to another similar mystery.  Early in my research, she contacted me as a result of my post on a forum and told me that she believed that she descended from James and Elizabeth's "missing" daughter, Margaret. I, as well as several other researchers, had begun to assume that Margaret had died as a child, but thanks to the email from this distant cousin, I learned that Margaret was actually living next door to her parents with her husband and two children in 1860!! While the census taker had elected to use only initials for those he enumerated, making it a little trickier to piece together, with help of  this cousin's information, along with other records, we were able to confirm that this was "our" Margaret living next to her parents.  This was my introduction to the fact that families, particularly in the South, had a tendency to live close to each other and it helped me to understand the importance of carefully analyzing neighbors for potential relationships.

1860 U.S. Federal Census
Fayetteville, Fayette, Georgia 

Knowing that families used to live in such close proximity and knowing how dearly I love my own cousins,  I can't help but feel a little envious of earlier times. In many instances, cousins were able to provide a lifetime of strength and support to each other.  It's so different from today's world where many,  if not most people, live some distance from family and where gatherings are often limited to holidays, summer vacations and the occasional reunions.  I do have to say that social media has provided an outlet for staying in touch and that some of my cousins and I  have enjoyed interacting and sharing pictures through Facebook, texts, email and other means never imagined by our 19th century cousins. While these means hardly take the place of living close to each other, I am grateful that we have found some way to stay in touch across the miles, because I believe that while times have changed,  we truly do still need each other and that even in today's world, blood is thicker than water.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2012

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Just a Little Piece of Paper

"John M. had a brother Jim that went to Alabama."  This simple sentence was scribbled on the corner of a small piece of  faded paper and barely legible. The paper was among a meager collection of a handful of papers and pedigree charts that had belonged to my Grandma and Grandpa Ganus. When I first received the little floral fabric suitcase,  I had had such high hopes that it would be filled with the kind of information that every genealogist dreams of receiving- a family bible, letters rich in genealogical detail and pictures.  At first glance the suitcase appeared to hold just a few pedigrees with names, dates and information which I already had and void of any documentation.  Upon closer examination, however, I found that among the pedigrees sheets were a few choice pieces of papers with handwritten notes that would provide me with some much needed clues.

Grandma had researched in a day without computers and the endless online databases, forums and mailing lists so readily available today.  She was limited by her inability to travel to a distant research facility and the long wait associated with snail mail.  I feel so fortunate to have ready access to so much online data in addition to being close to an excellent research library.  But Grandma had something I don't have---she had people around her that remembered,  people that knew the people who are now just names on a pedigree for me.  How I wish I would have been interested in family history when Grandma was alive and that I had tapped into her knowledge. But I was young and busy and my mind and interests were elsewhere. So I will just be grateful that she took the time to scribble a few notes that I would eventually find and treasure.

My father had no knowledge of Jim, who was John's brother and who had gone to Alabama.  In fact, my family knew very little about John, my own great great grandfather because my grandfather had been orphaned at 8 years of age. So we were left to piece together what we could and  to do our best to learn from what others had recorded, which brings me back to the faded paper and the scribbled note about Jim.  Just who was Jim?

Turning to the 1850 census, I could see that my third great grandparents, James and Betsy Ganus did have a son named James.  Their oldest son, my second great grandfather, John was 22 at the time, but James, a much younger brother was only 11.  In between John and James were brothers David, who was 16 and Jackson (William Jackson) who was 12, along with sisters Margaret and Rebecca, and then some additional younger siblings,  so I find it interesting that James, or "Jim" was the only sibling named on that paper.

Jim's formal name was James W. and he was born Nov 1841, likely in Fayetteville, Georgia. On the 31st of August in 1862, at the age of 21, James enlisted in the Confederate Army and served with the 44th Georgia Regiment. From James' Civil War discharge certificate we learn that he was six feet tall, had a fair complexion, blue eyes and light hair. I love knowing what he looked like.

Battle of Sharpsburg fought September 17, 1862
 near Sharpsburg, Maryland
Picture by Kurz & Allison
I wonder how James' parents felt when they learned that he had been shot in the right arm at The Battle of Sharpsburg, which was known as the bloodiest single-day battle of the Civil War. James was treated and remained with his regiment until he was discharged on July 3, 1863.  I also wonder if James realized how fortunate he was to have survived a gunshot wound during a time when the medicine practiced was relatively primitive and when so many died of infection. His record did indicate that at his release he was partially blind due to sickness contracted while in the service. It went on to state that at that time that James was
 "so blind he cannot see to read or distinguish one person from another at ten paces.  Is unfit for duty in any depart. of government."  
My heart goes out to him, knowing that he was so blind he was considered unfit for duty and yet he would return home and would need to provide for himself and his family for the rest of his life.

Tallapoosa, Haralson County 1890
From Vanishing Georgia used with permission

In about 1865 James married Frances Foster.  They lived in Haralson County and had two children, James C. and Minnie Elizabeth.   Early in my research, descendants of James C. shared with me a story that had been passed down.  According to the story, James' wife Frances had died in childbirth and so James had taken that child, a daughter named Minnie, to her maternal grandmother to raise and then he had taken his son James C. with him and headed to Alabama. While evidence suggests that Frances did die and that Minnie was raised by her grandmother and that James C. remained with his father, James W. actually did not go to Alabama until nearly 30 years later. (I will tell Minnie's story at a later time.)   In about 1875,  James W. married Nancy E. Ayers in Haralson County, Georgia.  No children were ever born to this union.  On January 5th, 1897, Nancy died and was buried in the Fairview West Missionary Baptist Church Cemetery in Cullman, Alabama.  In 1897, James once again married, this time to Martha Henriettta Watterson Basinger, a widow.

February 10, 1899, James applied for relief as a confederate soldier, indicating that he was incapable of making a living by manual labor because of partial blindness and Bright's Disease.  At that time he was 58 and living at Johnson's Crossing in Cullman County, Alabama. The County board indicated that they felt satisfied to the truth of his application and his pension was approved.

On March 18, 1911, James W.  or "Jim" as John called him,  passed from this life. According to his death certificate, he was buried in Fairview West Missionary Baptist Church cemetery although no headstone has been found.

My journey in learning about James all began with the simple words, "John M. had a brother Jim that went to Alabama."  Once again I am grateful for those that took the time to record what they knew, no matter how seemingly insignificant.  It makes me ask myself, what clues am I leaving for the next generation?


Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2012


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Those wonderful Southern roots

I am continually amazed at the instant bonding that happens as cousins connect via electronic means across the miles.  I generally feel a real kinship and a connection despite the fact that we have never met face to face.  In my mind, I can almost see our ancestors smiling from beyond, glad to know that against all odds, distant cousins have managed to find each other across the miles and join together in a quest to know them better.

Addison R. Ganus was "my" John Monroe Ganus's youngest brother and my second great granduncle.  He was born Jun 1847, likely in Fayetteville, Georgia.  While there are no known pictures of Addison, thanks to information shared by descendants of Addison's siblings,  I feel that I can almost picture him.  One thing I know for sure, he had that ole Ganus spunk.

Typical Shotgun style house
Addison married Sarah Bowen on 20 September 1866 in nearby Coweta, Georgia where Sarah  had lived in the home of her parents,  Richard Bowen and Annie Carr.  For a few years after they were married, Addison and Sarah, or Sally as she was called, lived in the Fayette County area, but by 1900 they had moved to Carrollton, Carroll County, Georgia.  There they lived in a three room shotgun style house, had a little farm with chickens and cows and there they lived out the rest of their life. It is said that Sally loved the cows and that the cows ran away when anyone else tried to milk them.  I'm not so sure that Addison felt that same affection for the cows.  Apparently nothing riled him more than finding that his cows had gone home with someone else's cows in the evening and were now in their barn.  At that point Ad's well known "high temper" flared and everyone in the area could hear Ad yelling at his cows to get them back to his barn.

Ad and Sally were never able to have children, but according to the family stories, they adopted two Chance boys.  On the 1900 census, Robert Chance is shown living in their household, but I could find no other Chance boy ever living with them.  I did find it very interesting that when Addison died on 3 Dec 1927, that  listed on his death certificate was his informant,  I.C. Chance of Ashville, North Carolina.  Although Sally, his wife was still living at that  time, she was not the informant, as was often the case.  It would seem that I.C. had come a considerable distance to be there, leading me to believe that Addison was important to him and that possibly he was the other "Chance boy."  I will need to do further research to see if I can't determine for sure what the relationship was between I.C. Chance and Addison.   Addison is recorded as having been 83 years old at the time of his death and so he had those good ole long Ganus genes passed down from his father and grandfather.  Sally followed Addison about six months later, dying 7 June 1928 at the age of 85.  Their death certificates both indicate that they were buried at the Tallapoosa Church cemetery, yet there are no headstones in that cemetery for them.

A funny story was recorded by those that knew Addison.  The story pertains to a grandnephew of Addison's and obviously a name sake, Ad Lee who lived nearby.  Apparently he had some white overalls that Ad Ganus just hated and Ad Ganus made it known.  One day when Ad Lee's overalls were hung on the clothesline to dry, they disappeared.  Look as they might, no one could find them.  The following spring when the stables were cleaned out and the manure taken from the barn and spread out on the fields for fertilizer, there the overalls were, buried deep in the manure in the barn.  Apparently there was no question in anyone's mind how they got there.

Ad and Sally grew and cured  their own tobacco and  then smoked it in corncob pipes.  Those that visited noted that Sally liked to smoke a pipe with a long thin cane stem and some recalled that they had never seen a woman smoke a pipe before.  Friends and family liked to visit Ad and Sally in the evenings. I can just envision them sitting on their porch, smoking their pipes and visiting until bedtime at which point Ad and Sally would retire to their rope bed..

I feel so much gratitude for those that thought to record the "small" details of Addison and Sally's lives and even more grateful that they freely shared those details with me, a distant cousin, living many miles away.  Some times I feel a little cheated that I live a life so distant from my southern roots and that consequently so many details of my ancestor's lives are so foreign to me. But I will be forever grateful for my generous southern cousins that have reached out, pulled me in and included me in a way that helps me feel a connection to my southern heritage.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2012

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Teaching and being taught, Olivia's lesson

Recently, I  stumbled on an article that grabbed my attention .  The article was written back in 2008 and can be found here:  HC Historical Society dedicates Little Creek School House.  The article told about the restoration of an old one-room school and said the following:

The Little Creek School House was built between 1866 and 1871 after the Georgia state legislature established the common school system. . . . It was originally located on GA 100 near the border between Haralson and Polk Counties. . . . last year it was relocated to its current position on Van Wert Street next to the County Commission office.


John Monroe Ganus and Olivia Rainwater
John Monroe Ganus
and Olivia Rainwater
The original location of this school was very close to where my second great grandparents, John Monroe Ganus and Olivia Rainwater, lived in Haralson County, Georgia. Is it possible that Olivia either attended or taught at that school?  In my files is a treasured copy of Olivia's Teacher's Certificate.   This certificate was shared with me by Carlos Ganus, a dear cousin of mine and descendant of John and Olivia's son, Roderick.  The certificate is a treasure but creates many questions. 

 Olivia was born on the 20th of February 1831 in Hall County, Georgia to Joshua Rainwater and Mary Peterson.  She was the 4th of six children, four of which were girls.  Her life seemed to follow the normal  pattern for girls of that time period.  She lived with her parents until the age of 21, at which time she married John Monroe Ganus on the 7th of October 1862 in Cedartown, Polk County, Georgia.  As was common then, John farmed and they soon began their family, with their first son being born a little over a year later.  John and Olivia would have a total of 8 children, with five sons surviving through adulthood.  Everything seems to point to a normal every day life for a Georgia family during the mid 19th century,  until you factor in her Teacher's Certificate.  

When I think of schools of that era, my mind immediately goes to old TV westerns and shows such as "Little House on the Prairie."  They always portray children of varying ages all attending school together in a small one-room school .  I was excited to discover a Youtube video showing the inside of the recently restored Little Creek School.  You can visit it yourself here Youtube visit to Little Creek School   Everything down to the pot bellied stove fits with what I envisioned . 
Olivia Ganus Teacher's certificate, Haralson County, Georgia
Olivia's Teacher's Certificate 

In the movies, the teacher is always portrayed as either a man or as a very young unmarried woman or an older spinster.  If there is any authenticity at all to that portrayal, Olivia certainly did not fit the mold.  In 1871, when she obtained her certificate, she was a 40 year old woman and she had a houseful of children.  Their youngest at that time was one year old Robert Lee, Newton was 3 years old,  Roderick was 7,  John Thackason was 16 and Frank was 18.  Certainly Olivia had her hands full with all of the duties that fell to the wife and mother of the home. 

I've written to individuals in Haralson County and they attempted  to help me locate records of those that taught during that time, but little could be found.  We do not have any records that indicate that Olivia actually taught school, but it seems unlikely that she obtained the certificate just for the sense of accomplishment.  Her brother Abner Rainwater was a school teacher and family lore says that he helped her become a teacher.  But why did she go through the testing to become a teacher at that time?  How did she have the time to prepare and to test when she had two children under the age of 5? I wonder if her husband, John, had an injury or ailment that prevented him from providing for the family for a time.  If Olivia did in fact teach, who cared for her children?  In a previous post entitled "Treasured Find" I indicated that a sister, Frances, and her family lived close by.  Did perhaps Frances help care for Olivia's little ones?  

For whatever reason, Olivia went through the process of testing and obtained the certificate on the 5th of September 1871 in Haralson County, Georgia.  Her Teacher's Certificate indicates that her general average was a 90, which is impressive by any standards.  Whether she taught or not, she accomplished something not common for women of that day.   Not only could she read and write at a time and place when few could,  but she qualified to teach others those skills.  Whether she taught as a profession or not, she certainly taught her own children and  through her example she continues to teach her descendants today that we too can do hard things.