Showing posts with label Oklahoma. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Oklahoma. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Site Sleuthing- On Demand Court Records for Oklahoma

Oklahoma, court records, genealogy, family history, research, marriage license

When we lived in Dallas, Texas, shopping was both wonderful and hard. It was wonderful because there were so many options and it seemed that whatever I wanted or needed could be found if I just persisted in looking long enough. The bad part was for someone who is a little compulsive in nature, if I couldn't find something it was hard to just give up because I knew if one place didn't have it, another place might. So with so many options, the search could go on forever and sometimes it felt like it did.

In ways I feel like that is how it is with genealogy research today.  It's good because there is always one more place to look, but bad because the never ending options are responsible for both anxiety and sleep deprivation for many a genealogist.

While some stay within the confines of the sites created specifically with genealogy in mind,  the bottom really opens up once we realize that, in addition to the massive number of records on those sites, there are many options beyond the typical genealogy sites.

A couple of years ago I stumbled onto a website for Oklahoma court records called  "On Demand Court Records." This site has Oklahoma public records searchable for free. In addition, there are subscription options for advanced tools, but so far I have only used the free version which allows me to search by individual, by court, by county, by party type, and date range.

What have I found on the website? The records I've found vary from marriages, imported marriages, divorces, estates,  and lawsuits etc., so in other words, the stuff genealogist love to find!

For example, I found a reference to an imported marriage license for Edgar Howell and Ollie Ganus for 1896. Now granted, I was not successful as long as I searched only for Ollie or Olivia Ganus, but when I searched for Edgar Howell, I was able to find the couple. Unfortunately she is listed as Allie Gomes instead of Ollie Ganus and with that experience, I was reminded to be very creative with spellings and to search for all who may have been involved.

 


One downside is, it is really more of an index, but it is still useful in narrowing down dates and places and in providing clues leading to other existing records.

Some counties have records going further back than others and it's also worth noting that I've found instances where there are records on the site that actually go further back than indicated for that particular county. For instance on the marriage record below,  the marriage license was filed in Lincoln, Oklahoma in 1899 and yet looking at the website's court upload status, it indicates that records for Lincoln County go back to March 22nd, 1904.




Another downside (for your cousins) is that having recent court information online means you get to see references to recent driving violations, arrests or scuffles that friends and family may have been implicated in, which can make for some interesting discoveries and possibly even provide material for some entertaining conversations for the next family reunion.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2015, All rights reserved

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Ernest's Final Return to Oklahoma - Part 5

The winds howled as dark clouds of dust and dirt churned and boiled across the wide open plains.  A layer of grit seemed to cover everything in site, both indoors and out. It was the "Dust Bowl" and Ernest Ganus and his family were smack in the middle of it.

Dust Bowl from Wikimedia Commons, Public DomainCrippling drought combined with over-farmed and over-grazed land resulted in dust storms throughout Oklahoma, as well as other neighboring states.  At times the dust and dirt were so thick, the sky was completely black.

In 1930, Ernest, Goldie and daughter, Louise, were living in Okmulgee, Oklahoma and according to the census, Ernest was working as a laborer on the highways.  Between the dust storms and the crippling effects of the Great Depression, I suspect his work dwindled away to little if anything at all.

Whether the mounting financial and emotional stresses played a part in their marital discord, or there were simply differences that could not be resolved, some time during the next few years, Ernest and Goldie divorced and for a time, Ernest was alone again.

Several years later, Ernest met and married Laura Etta Henson, daughter of Jeff Henson and Lucy Ann Sharp.  Then, much like the characters of John Steinbeck's novel,  The Grapes of Wrath, which depicted the plight of those fleeing the dust bowl,  Ernest and Laura joined the hundreds of thousands of dust bowl refugees and headed for California.

In 1940, forty-two year old Ernest and forty year old Laura appear on the US Federal Census living in Los Angeles, California.  Employers successfully lured desperate job seekers to come to work in the fields of California while Hollywood portrayed a land where everyone prospered and thrived in a near tropical climate.  Consequently, the impoverished headed to California with great hope for a better life.

As if he had not already endured his share of heartache, once again Ernest would be hit hard by loss. On the eighth of December, 1942,  Laura died of cancer, leaving Ernest once again, all alone.

By April of that year, Ernest had followed the migrant trail to Tehachapi as is evidence by his registration form for the "Old Man Draft."  On the form he indicated that his place of residence was "Kirschenmaan Camp- Tehachapi, California."

Housing for Oklahoma Refugees, California, Dorothea Lange, Library of Congress
Housing for Oklahoma Refugees, California
Dorothea Lange, Library of Congress 

Approximately 122 miles from his last known residence in Los Angeles and almost 1,500 miles from Okmulgee, Ernest "fit the mold" of the "Okie" on a quest to find employment.

Some  Oklahomans flocked to the areas near Tehachapi to look for work. The sheer number of migrant workers living in makeshift camps created growing concern among many locals. Crowding, inadequate supplies and lack of sanitation often made the camps a dangerous and unhealthy place to live and many communities took steps to close the camps.  In addition, many that had come for work became disillusioned as it became evident that those seeking work greatly exceeded the number of available jobs and that in many cases the pay could not cover even their most basic needs.  For whatever reason, Ernest did not remain in California for long, but once again, returned home to Oklahoma.

At this point the trail goes cold and I know little about the years that follow. I do know that in the early 1950's, when my grandfather, Heber Ganus,  Ernest's younger brother, was suffering from poor health and was advised to go to a lower climate,  he too returned to Oklahoma.  Although Ernest did not have much, he shared what he had and Grandpa lived with him for a short time until Grandma finished the school year as a teacher in Colorado and could join him in Oklahoma.

Ernest lived alone for the remainder of his life.  At the age of 62, suffering from emphysema and pulmonary fibrosis, he was admitted to the VA Hospital in Bonham, Texas.  According to his death certificate he died on March 3, 1956, at 5:40 in the morning of an acute heart attack.  Ernest's body was returned to Oklahoma and he was buried in the Okmulgee County Cemetery near Laura.

Ernest's final resting place was Oklahoma, the place where he had last been with his parents, the place where he had married Goldie and had been with his children, the place where he had met and married Laura, the place where brother Orson had lived for a time and a place where brother Heber had returned as his health failed.....Oklahoma was "home" and Ernest too had returned one last time.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2014,  All rights reserved

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Tragedy in the Roaring Twenties - Part 4

It was the roaring twenties and life was changing rapidly in the United States. Women had gained the right to vote, dance clubs were the vogue and "talkies" became wildly popular.  Ernest was home from the war and he and Goldie, who had only been married six monthes when he left for basic training, were together again.  If he was like many WWI veterans, it took a little time for him to adjust and settle back into life.
17 April 1920 Cartoon by American cartoonist Dick Kennedy,

The year 1921 appeared to be the beginning of better things for Ernest as he and Goldie welcomed their first baby into their home. Goldie gave birth to Charles Franklin Ganus who was likely named for Goldie's father, Charles, and Ernest's father, (William) Franklin. Things were looking up for Ernest.

Ernest, now a family man, returned to the oil fields, but this time he took a job in a refinery working as a still man's helper. In a refinery a still is a large column where oil is heated to a high temperature in order to distill the oil to different grades.

October 28, 1922 likely began like most any other day for the Ganus family, but in the oil fields, any day has the potential for danger.  That afternoon,  as Ernest worked at the Indiahoma refinery, an agitator exploded, setting fire to three oil tanks, killing one man, burning two horses to death and according to newspaper reports, it was feared that two other men, including "E. Ganus," who had been engulfed in flames, would possibly die from their burns.  (1) The article further stated that both men were hospitalized.

Gusher Okemah Ok 1922
While the accident is reported in numerous newspapers, there is no further information about the injured men.  I find myself wondering and hoping that just maybe the initial report was slightly exaggerated.  That could have been the case  . . . but if not,  I would assume that as is typical with burns, the recovery was slow and difficult.  Ernest would certainly require recovery time and he and Goldie likely felt the strain both emotionally and physically as he healed while the medical bills mounted. Sadly, this would not be the only trial this little family would face that week.

On the 29th of October 1922, the very day following the explosion,  Ernest's and Goldie's only child, Charles,  died.  I can't imagine the grief they must have felt. Was Ernest even able to help Goldie make arrangements for Charles' burial or was that a burden she carried alone? How did they afford both the cost of burial as well as Ernest's medical expenses?  How did they manage as they faced one of the most difficult tragedies any parent could face?  Surely there were many dark and difficult days in the weeks and months that followed.

The following year, while still in Okmulgee, Ernest and Goldie again welcomed a baby into their home.  This time their baby was a girl and they named her Louise.  Once again I felt hope that maybe now life would even out for Ernest, and then I remembered what the 1930's held for Oklahoma.

(1) "Explosion Kills Oil Worker and Injures Others,: (Miami),  Miama District News, 29 Oct 1922, p. 1; digital images, GenealogyBank.com, (http://www.genealogybank.com:  accessed 28 August 2014). 

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2014, All rights reserved

Thursday, September 18, 2014

A Family Of His Own-Part 3 of Ernest's Story

Golda Buster Ganus, Okmulgee Oklahoma,
Photo inscribed:
"From Goldie Ganus
Okmulgee, Okla.
I am 18 years old"
Things were indeed heating up overseas, making the future uncertain for young and old alike.  Still living in Oklahoma, Ernest continued working in the oil fields and at some point, while in his early twenties, a young lady by the name of Goldie Buster caught his eye.

Goldie was born 12 October, 1900 in Eldon, Missouri and was the daughter of Charles Buster and Lena Shackelford.  In 1910,  she was living with her mother Lena, her step-father, Columbus Tracy and her sister Ida Buster in Okmulgee, Oklahoma.

In November of 1917,  at the ripe old age of seventeen, Goldie and twenty-four year old Ernest decided to take the big leap and get married.  Ernest and Goldie began life together and finally Ernest once again had a family of his own.

As was feared, conditions in Europe continued to deteriorate and in April of 1917 the United States declared war on Germany.  Ernest was among those called to serve in what became known as the Great World War.

A mere six months after their wedding, Ernest said goodbye to his new bride and joined many others who were training at Camp Travis, near San Antonio, Texas.  According to The Office of Medical History, the men training there to become soldiers were men from Oklahoma and Texas.

In June of 1918,  Ernest's division was shipped overseas and he was assigned to Field Hospital #357, 3155 Sanitary Train, 90 Div. During WW1, men in the Sanitary Trains operated field hospitals and manned the ambulances.  Field Hospital #357 was located in France and aided in evacuation and triage of the injured.

WW 1, men in battle,
Sitting peacefully in the comfort of my own home,  it is difficult to fully comprehend all that was endured by not only the soldiers in the midst of battle, but by men such as Ernest who came to the aid of the injured.  Working in the sanitary train,  Ernest would have helped soldiers in shock, those that had been gassed and those with a variety of injuries.  Often working under extremely difficult conditions, Ernest, along with many men and women, did their part in the fight to preserve our freedom.

WW 1 Ambulance
I gained a little insight into the challenges faced by those of the 357th 90th division, while reading about them on the website The Office of Medical History.  There I read the following:
 "While dressings, splints, supplies, and service by the ambulance companies left much to be desired, only by almost superhuman effort on the part of the commanding officer of the 357th Ambulance Company, his officers and men, was it possible for them to function at all.  The roads were literally torn to pieces by shell fire and continually congested by trucks and artillery." (1)
Ernest undoubtedly witnessed things difficult for us to imagine and things his heart and mind would likely never forget. Was he among the thousands of soldiers who mentally relived those events for the remainder of his life? Did the effects of war impact his life and his relationships?

Although thousands of Americans did not return home at the close of the war, Ernest was among those who did.  On the 19th of June, 1919,  after a little more than a year overseas, Ernest was discharged and returned home to Goldie.  Although I hoped that the next chapter of his life would be more calm, the story that unfolded revealed yet more challenges.

1. U.S. Amy Medical Department, Office of Medical History, Chapter XXXII, Third Phase, pages 781-787. http://history.amedd.army.mil/booksdocs/wwi/fieldoperations/chapter32.html  Accessed 4 September, 2014.

Photos from Wikimedia Commons in Public Domain


Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2014, All rights reserved

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

An Uncertain Future - Part 2

Although Ernest had returned "home" to Oklahoma, undoubtedly it was far from being the home he had known only a few years earlier.  With both parents now dead (see post here) and his younger twin brothers living with relatives in Colorado, he was suddenly very alone.


While he faced an uncertain future personally, the world he lived in was also rapidly changing.  Much of the world was in a state of unrest as the tensions began to mount in Europe.  At the time, few could possibly anticipate how deeply the coming events would impact their lives.

On the 5th of June 1917, approximately two weeks after Congress passed a law to enact a draft, twenty four year old Ernest Ganus joined the ranks of young American men who registered for the draft.

From his registration form, I learned that he was medium height, medium build, with grey eyes and brown hair and that he was living in Morris, Oklahoma, which is just eight miles from Okmulgee.  He worked as a tool dresser for an oil company and so his duties likely included assisting the driller on an oil rig by sharpening and dressing the drill bits.

I wasn't surprised to learn that Ernest was part of the throng of young men working in the oil fields. In the early 1900's, Oklahoma was in the midst of a huge oil boom as hundreds of gallons of thick black crude were pumped from the ground.  Along with the flow of oil came a steady flow of men, hopeful that they could make some of the big money.

Whizbang, Oklahoma oil boom town 1922
Oil Boom Town (Whizbang)
Oklahoma early 1920's
The face of Oklahoma changed dramatically as small towns began to grow and new ones sprang up to provide housing and entertainment to meet the growing demands.  This was the Oklahoma that Ernest returned to and it couldn't have differed more from the small rural farming town in Colorado where Ernest's little brothers now lived.

Meanwhile things were heating up overseas and soon even bigger changes would take place in Ernest's life.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2014,  All rights reserved

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Giggling With The Pig


image
I’ll always remember the day we drove into a small little West Texas town on our move  from California and spotted a Piggly Wiggly sign.  Our family had never seen a Piggly Wiggly, much less heard of that particular grocery store chain and so my brothers and I did what came most natural to us kids, we laughed ourselves silly. 

After years of living in the Texas, we grew accustomed to the name and joined the locals in shopping there.  Years passed and eventually my family moved away and I’ve never seen a Piggly Wiggly since.

Recently as I was going through some family pictures, I came across this picture of my Grandpa’s twin brother, Orson Merritt Ganus, driving a Piggly Wiggly truck.  I couldn’t help but smile at the site of the Piggly Wiggly logo on the side.

Orson Merritt Ganus
Orson Merritt Ganus
I wish I knew the full story behind this picture.  Was it possibly taken on Orson’s first day of work at Piggly Wiggly? Dressed in a suit and tie, this job was in stark contrast to the farm life he had experienced in Colorado as a young man and I wonder if he felt an anxiety over that difference.  Was he excited and hopeful for a future in a new career?

While I am unsure exactly when this picture was taken, based on pictures of grocery trucks found on the internet, my best guess would be that this picture was taken in approximately the late 1920’s or early 1930’s.  I turned to the census to see if I could find any clues about when Orson worked with Piggly Wiggly.

In 1920, Orson was living in Sanford, Colorado where he worked as a farm laborer according to the census.1    But by 1930, Orson had moved and was living in Okmulgee, Oklahoma.  Orson married Frieda Hembree in May of 1924 and by 1930 they had one son, and were expecting their second child.  On the 1930 census, Orson is listed as a salesman for a grocery store and Frieda indicated that she was working as a sales girl at a dry goods store2. This seems to support the possibility that the picture of Orson was taken around 1930, give or take a few years.

image

imageHad Orson taken a job as a salesman with the hope of being able to better provide for his growing family? With a second child on the way, was he looking for a job with a higher earning potential?

Being a  salesman did not become a lifetime pursuit for Orson, however, as evidenced by the 1940 census, where he is no longer listed as a salesman, but is listed as a filling station attendant.3

Did the job of salesman not suit him?  Were the hours too long?  Was there too much pressure or was wearing a suit too foreign? While I may never know any more about Orson’s time as a grocery salesman or why he didn’t continue in that job, I am grateful to have a copy of the picture of him driving a Piggly Wiggly truck.  This image adds dimension to Orson’s life and makes me think that he was willing to try different things in an effort to support his family. In addition, the picture reminds me of time with my brothers and when something as simple as a sign seemed hysterically funny.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2013


1.  1920 U.S. Census,  Sanford, Conejos,Colorado, population schedule, Sanford Town, Enumeration District (ED) 35, sheet 6-B, p. 6B; 35; p. 120 (stamped)  dwelling 114, family 118, Orson Hanus, (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 28 May 2013) citing National Archives microfilm publication T625_157.

2.  1930 U.S. Census, Okmulgee, Okmulgee, Oklahoma; population schedule, Okmulgee City, Enumeration District (ED) 56-28, sheet 8-B, p. 88 (stamped) dwelling 185, family 190, Orson Ganus (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 28 May 2013) citing National Archives microfilm publication T626

3.  1940 U.S. Census, Okmulgee, Okmulgee, Oklahoma, population schedule, Okmulgee City, Enumeration District (ED) 56-30, sheet 7-B, p. 408 (stamped), line 72, Visited No. 149, Orson Ganus (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 28 May 2013) citing Nation Archives microfilm publication T627_3319 .
Piggly Wiggly sign and Piggly Wiggly store front pictures from Wikipedia Commons, Public Domain.