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

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, September 7, 2012

Revisiting sources--the case for Mary M. Chisenhall

There is definitely wisdom in revisiting the documents and notes that we have in our files and I know that,  but I find myself often procrastinating that task for another day.  The hunt for new clues in new resources is exciting and with it I feel renewed hope that this time I will find something that will ultimately break down that solid brick wall of mine. But the reality is, each time I reread the material in my files, I am doing it from a slightly different perspective, having grown in my knowledge and understanding about my ancestors and their families and so, in a way, the material is new or at least seen in a new way.  

Recently I  pulled out the Journal of John Edward Metcalf who served a mission for the LDS church to Georgia in the 1880's.  One of my cousins, Darlene, located this journal online early in our research as we initially scoured the internet to see what we could find about John Monroe Ganus and his life.  John M. Ganus and several members of his immediate family are mentioned numerous times in John Metcalf's account.  It has been years since I read through this journal and I realized that I have forgotten  many of the details. John Metcalf's descendants have graciously shared a transcribed typed copy of his journal online which can be found here: http://www.metcalfwaslin.org/album/history/jejr_jnl.htm

This journal does not contain as much day to day information about individuals' lives, as does the John Joseph Pledger Murphy journal that I have mentioned in earlier posts, but it does provide some information that cannot be found anywhere else.  The following is an entry from this journal:

April 1882
Thursday 13th-Called up to go to Sis Mary Gamus and Administered to her baby who was very sick the Lord releaved it from pain We also Blessed & Named it at the same time But it gradually got worse til death which occured at 5 PM.  We also Blessed another of thier chidren stayed all night at Bro John Ganus.

William Franklin Ganus
William Franklin Ganus
The question is, just which Mary Ganus was he referring to?  Initially I was unsure, but over time, I have learned more about the two Mary Ganuses that are candidates and their children.  Although I continue to look for additional information to back up my assumption, I feel fairly confident.

William Franklin Ganus married Mary Matilda Roberts about 1879 in Haralson County and they had a daughter in 1880 named Martha Olivia and a daughter born in 1881 named Mary E.  By the time Frank moved to Colorado in 1886, his wife, Mary Matilda, had died and although he had  their daughter, Martha Olivia, with him, there is no further mention of  daughter Mary E. Could the baby have been Frank Ganus and Mary Matilda Robert's daughter, Mary E.? 

John Thackason Ganus also married a Mary. John T. and Mary M. Chisenhall married about 1878.  Church records indicate that they had a child named Walter Scott who was born 24 March 1882 and this child was not with them when they arrived in Colorado either. Could the baby that died been Walter, son of John T. and Mary M Chisenhall ?


John Thackason Ganus
John Thackason Ganus
While both Marys are possibilities as they both lost young children that were born in the same time period and appear to have died in approximately the same time period, I believe that it is more likely that the Mary mentioned in the journal was Mary M. Chisenhall.   I have found that Mary Matilda most often was known as "Tilda" and in the 1880 census, she is recorded as Matilda.  John Metcalf then mentioned in the journal that he stayed the night with John Ganus,  and it seems more likely that he stayed with the younger John, husband to Mary M Chisenhall.   Unfortunately, I have not been able to find a grave for either of these Ganus babies.  This journal records the only reference found to this date of this baby's death. 

Whenever I look at pictures of John Thackason Ganus, I think of all that he and Mary endured.  I've heard that he had 12 children, and so far I have found records for 11.  Of the 11 that I am aware of, six died as children.  John and Mary buried children in Georgia, Colorado and Oklahoma.  While conditions for childbirth and after care for mothers and babies are not ideal throughout the world today, they certainly have improved and I wonder if their children would have survived with today's knowledge and care?

William Franklin Ganus had his share of troubles as well.  He and his first wife, Mary Matilda,  lost one of their two children.  Then, following Tilda's death, Frank married  Sarah E. Faucett and they lost 3 of their 6 children. Frank buried children in Georgia and Colorado. 

I am amazed at the challenges that people faced back "in those days."  It was difficult just to survive.  But I guess the reality is, people continue to face hard things today, although the details of those challenges have changed.  I remember hearing a man say once that our life is full of challenges and that every day we face a series of problems. Our life story is made up of the details of how we face and solve those problems.  Being able to see and understand our ancestor's problems is essential in writing their story.  

As I recently reread the Metcalf Journal for the first time in several years,  I was reminded of the importance of continually revisiting what I know, or at least what I think that I know. Because I've continued to research my Ganus family over the years and have learned more about them and their families, when I reread the things that I have filed away,  I seem to see more and understand more, which in turn helps me in my search for more.  I have known that for some time really, but it's always good to be reminded. 


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

On Their Way!

 From the “Journals of John Joseph Pledger Murphy” Georgia

 Friday November 12, 1886 “We arose early & at my sujestion Franklin Ganus packed up all of his things preparatory to going to Colorado. Also we made a start on his Fathers packing. …. John Ganus & John Ganus [son John Thackason]returned from Cedar Town. I went home with Johny Ganus and stoped all night. Slept well.

 Monday November 15, 1886 …. I went to John Ganuses  & had a good talk with him and family. G.W. Driver [George W. Driver] loaned him $10.00 so that he could take his son Baby Ganus with him to Colorado. Their hearts were made glad and they rejoiced in having the priviledge of all going.

 Tuesday, November 16, 1886 We et early breakfeast went to Bro. G.W.D. with Johny Ganus & did the hardest days work I almost ever did in my life packing up his household & kitchen furniture & got it to the depot by 5 p.m

Wednesday November 17, 1886 ……I stayed with them until I seen the last of them at 8:30 am. [after having taken them to the train depot]

They were on their way! On Wednesday, November 17, 1886, John and Olivia Rainwater, along with their son William Franklin and his daughter “Ollie”, John and Olivia's son John Thackason, and his wife Mary Chisenhall along with their children, John W., and Minnie Delania , plus John and Olivia’s sons Roderick, Robert and Newton, all boarded the train headed for the San Luis Valley in Colorado. It’s hard to imagine the emotion that they must have felt as they contemplated the new life that lay ahead as well as the life that they were leaving behind. John Monroe was 60 years old. Would they be able to make a living? They were all farmers, but would they be able to adjust to the very short growing season there in Colorado? Did they know that winter temperatures often plunged to below zero? There were many things that would change with this move. On top of it all, John and Olivia had left siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins and would never again return to Georgia to see them. While we have no idea exactly what they knew or felt, we do know that they were willing to take that courageous step to begin a new life.

Photo of train is from the L.D. McClure collection 1890-1935, album III, 137, from Denver Public Library Digital Collections.

Monday, August 20, 2012

They lived in Manassa, Colorado?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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