Showing posts with label Rainwater Olivia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rainwater Olivia. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Filling His Time---Part 9 Becoming Acquainted with John M. Ganus

Masons, Buchanan Masonic Lodge #113, Haralson County, Georgia
Although without a doubt, most of John and Olivia's time was spent caring for their farm and their children, I knew they had to be involved in other things. So, I was thrilled to discover that John and Olivia were associated with one of the largest fraternal organizations at that time, an organization, that much like religion focuses on the spiritual side of the human experience.


In the book, "Haralson County, Georgia, A History," by Lois Owens Newman, John Ganus and his brother-in-law, Abner Rainwater, were listed on the membership rolls for the Buchanan Masonic Lodge  #113 in the year 1866, which was the last membership role found for that lodge. In addition, family records indicate that Olivia was an Eastern Star. While both men and women can be an Eastern Star, men must also be a Mason and women must have an affiliation with a Mason. 

Freemasonry has had a long history in Georgia. The first lodge was organized in 1734 in Savannah. As I've read about Masons, I've learned that they have spiritual convictions and are open to people of all faiths. They emphasize among other things, brotherhood, self-improvement and charitable service.

So John and Olivia had found time to participate in a group that focused on service and in making a difference in their community.   

Marietta Camp Meetings, Bethany Baptist Church, Methodist, Baptist, religion in the south
Bethany Baptist Church
Haralson County, GA
Some remodeling has occurred,
but has remained in the same location
(used by permission)
Although no specific religion was recorded for John Monroe Ganus' parents or grandparents, it can be noted that a Methodist Preacher was a witness for John's grandfather, David Gurganus's  Revolutionary War Pension application and that many of the Gurganus/Ganus families participated in the Methodist religion. In addition, in 1850, John was living with his parents, James and Elizabeth among a large group of Methodist families who established the Marietta Camp Ground. The names of the Marrietta tenting families and the history of this campground can be found here:

The History of Marietta Camp Meetings

Religion played an important role in most Georgian's lives. The church provided a place of refuge, a sense of community and provided a kinship that went beyond blood lines.

While it appears that at least some of the early Ganus family had Methodist affiliations, Olivia's family, the Rainwaters, were members of the Baptist church. Although the mention was not always a positive one, Olivia's parent's names can be found in the minutes of the Yellow Creek Baptist Church in Hall County, Georgia. According to Kay Ohana, who was able to view the church minutes on microfilm at the Georgia State Archives in Atlanta, Joshua was received by letter December 15th, 1827, most likely indicating that he had transferred from another church. About six months later, on July 19th, 1828, Polly was received by experience, suggesting that she joined by conversion. A later entry dated the 14th of February 1831, indicated that Joshua "gave satisfaction for drinking too much spirits," and a few days later both Joshua and Polly were granted letters of dismission for drinking. Oh dear!  

You can find Kay's post with the partial minutes of  Yellow Creek Baptist Church here:



Joshua Rainwater and his family later moved to Haralson County and soon listed among the Early Members of Bethany Baptist Church, was Joshua's wife Mary and his children Louisa, John, Abner, Mariah and Olivia. 

With John having at least some association with those of the Methodist faith and Olivia from a Baptist background and their association with the Masons, I initially wondered if religion would play a role in John and Olivia's married life? Time and research told me it would take a significant place in their life, but their chosen religion would come as a surprise to many. 

*Masonic Clip Art was freely shared on http://www.msana.com/clipart.asp

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2017, All rights reserved

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Following in His Father's Footsteps---Part 8 Becoming Acquainted with John M. Ganus


Grandsons learning to plow at
a local living history farm
A few years ago while visiting our daughter and her family on their farm in Central Washington, I rode along with one of the neighboring farmers in his tractor.  I say "in" his tractor because it had an air conditioned cab, power steering and a satellite system that ensured the rows were perfectly straight. I was amazed at how farming has changed from the time I was a teenager and drove a tractor for my cousins as they baled hay. 

Farming has changed even more since my ancestors' day. Georgia farmers often used mules to pull their plows, or pushed them along themselves. For the small poor farmer, their help was often limited to what his family could provide. According to the agricultural digests, it doesn't appear that John ever hired help on his farm, but lucky for him, he had five sons. 

John was a typical Georgia farmer, planting most of his farm in cotton and corn. According to the 1880 Agricultural Census, John was the owner of a 40-acre 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. Cotton was considered one of the most profitable crops in the south and corn was the other commonly grown crop. Corn was needed for the farm animals and was a staple served at the southern table. It would be years before I realized that the corn pone and cornbread often served at my childhood dinner table in California was likely tied to my Southern roots.



cotton, Georgia, Agricultural Census, 1880, Elder Metcalf, farm, genealogy, family history
In 1880, John and Olivia's two oldest sons, William Franklin and John Thackason, were both married, had families and were farming just down the road. The three sons still at home who could help 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 received some help from a Mormon missionary serving in the area. I am so thankful for the insight that the Elder John Metcalf’s journal provides.

According to Elder Metcalf's journal, when he 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 didn't softened the disappointment of such a loss. From what I know about John, he was never particularly well off, so I am sure that losing some of his crops came as a blow. The 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 in the Ganus home. 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, a farmer was not yet “done," as the fields had to be cleared and cleaned so that they would be ready in the spring for the new crop to be planted. On September 9th of that same year, Elder Metcalf found John in the field doing exactly that 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 had 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, requiring that each stalk be 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 to help 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. For the next few months, John would take a brief break from working the soil but would continue 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 2017, All rights reserved

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Olivia's New Role--Part 6 Becoming Acquainted With John M. Ganus

one room school house, Little Creek School, Haralson County, Polk County, ancestry, genealogy, teaching certificate, common school, Arakans
Not long after John and Olivia returned to Haralson County, Georgia, following their short stint in Arkansas, Olivia obtained a teaching certificate. In the movies, a school teacher of that time period was often portrayed as either a man, a very young unmarried woman or an older spinster. Olivia certainly was not any of those.

In 1871, when she obtained her certificate, Olivia was a 40-year-old woman and 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. 


Some time ago I stumbled onto an article that grabbed my attention. Written in 2008, it told about the restoration of an old one-room school in Haralson County. Unfortunately, the article is no longer accessible on the internet. 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 John and Olivia 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, she married and she and John began their family. Everything seems to point to a normal everyday 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:  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 

I wrote to individuals in Haralson County and they attempted to help me locate records of those who taught during that time, but little could be found. We do not have any records indicating 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. I wonder if their move to Arkansas and back created a financial crisis which made it necessary for Olivia to help provide?  If Olivia did, in fact, teach, who cared for her children? Olivia's sister, Frances Bailey 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 wife and mother of that day. Not only could she read and write at a time and place when many could not, but she qualified to teach others those skills. Whether she taught as a profession or not, she certainly taught her own children and 
I am quite certain this independent, strong nature helped her with the hard decisions she would soon face.


Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2017, All rights reserved

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Living the Life of a Gypsy- Part 5 Becoming Acquainted with John Monroe Ganus

moving, genealogy, ancestry, Arkansas, Haralson County, Georgia, Alabama
Sometimes I wonder if it is time to downsize to a smaller home. We raised our family here but now they all have married and have homes of their own. But as I look around our house, the task seems insurmountable. Moving is never easy. It requires a lot of hard work and always seems to involve a fair amount of expense. That is not only true now but applied to our ancestors as well. 

Some of our ancestors had land to sell and there were always possessions that either had to be sold, given away or taken with them. They had to find a place to live once they arrived and there were hungry mouths to feed, both as they traveled and when they arrived. Without the luxuries of freeways, the convenience of hotels and a McDonalds on every corner, travel was not only costly and a lot of work, but often included a variety of dangers along the way. A move was not something to be taken lightly.

I've often half wondered if John was part gypsy. For a man who never seemed to have very much in terms of material goods, he and Olivia moved an awful lot. The record of their children's births helped me trace the family's move over various counties and across various states.

Georgia State Flag
Their first child, William Franklin, was born in August of 1853 in Georgia followed by John Thackason a few years later. Still in Georgia, they lost the next two of their children in infancy. They were living in Alabama when Roderick Monroe was born in 1863. But 1867 would find John and his family in Pine Bluff, Arkansas when Newton Lafayette and his twin Frances Olivia were born.


Alabama State Flag

A land deed selling John's land in Haralson County in March of 1867 coupled with both church records and census records indicating that their son, Newton, was born in Arkansas in June of 1867 help to narrow down the time frame in which John and Olivia made the move to Arkansas. 

But the question remains, why did John and Olivia load up their family and travel to Arkansas during the rough reconstruction period? The railroad did not reach Pine Bluff until 1873 (1) and so they did not travel the roughly 500-mile trip by rail. The remaining two possibilities are either they traveled by wagon or possibly by water. Pine Bluff is just south of Little Rock and sits on a bluff above the Arkansas River, which was sometimes used for boat travel. Whatever the mode of transportation, keep in mind, Olivia was at most, three months away from delivering Newton.

Pine Bluff, Arkansas, Marshall Law
Arkansas State Flag
When I think about the push and pull associated with a move, I can not imagine what either was for John and Olivia's move to Arkansas. Not only were most Georgians struggling just to survive in 1867, but most of John and Olivia's  siblings were in the Haralson and Carroll County area of Georgia, so what was the push? 

And just what was the pull to Pine Bluff? Pine Bluff had been a crowded gathering place for fleeing freed slaves following the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, was occupied by Union troops during the Civil War, and was under Marshall Law for three years during the reconstruction period following the Civil War. I can't see it as being a place of hope and promise at the time John moved there. 

Whatever the reason, their stay in Arkansas was short lived because by 1870, when Robert Lee was born, they were back in Georgia and the family appears on the 1870 census in Haralson County, Georgia. My first post in this series contained a spoiler and so you know the family did not remain in Georgia, but what you don't know is what occurred over the next few years that lead up to their next major move.


1. History of Pine Bluff,  http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h2224.html

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2017, All rights reserved

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

John's Curious Adventures During the Civil War---Part 4 Becoming Acquainted with John M. Ganus

Road Commission, Haralson County, farmingAfter marriage, John and Olivia settled in Haralson County, Georgia and John began farming. They
didn't live too far from Olivia's family but they did live some distance from John's parents, although John had siblings that eventually settled nearby. John and Olivia's first child, William Franklin, joined their family in August of the following year, followed by John Thackason in 1855. As a male member of the community, John shared the responsibility to help maintain the road on which he lived. In 1855 John took his turn and worked alongside Thomason Moore and Eli Howell as Road Commissioners for the Second District in Haralson County.

In 1857 John and Olivia welcomed James Roderick into their family and Mary Elizabeth in 1860 but sadly neither of those children survived. About that same time, John and Olivia decided to pull up stakes and move just over the state line to the rolling hills of Calhoun County, Alabama. Did they go to be near Olivia's sister, Frances, who was living there with her husband Reuben Ayers and daughter Mary Ann? Although Frances was six years younger than Olivia, the sisters lived in close proximity to each other much of their adult lives, so I suspect this played a significant part in the move. Calhoun Alabama was chiefly an agricultural area and the farmers grew cotton, corn, and wheat and so John was able to do what he knew best, he farmed.

Civil War, Calhoun Alabama, Haralson Georgia, Ancestry, genealogy, research
The next few years were rough for the south and men anxiously enlisted in the Confederate Army to protect their southern soil. Although many men fought from Calhoun, Alabama and from Haralson County, Georgia where John had previously lived, John did not enlist. John had brothers and brother-in-laws who fought and I've always thought it was curious that John did not enlist with them. Although I know there were quotas and that often men with families did not serve,  John had brothers and brothers-in-laws who left homes, wives, and children in order to fight. Some descendants today have questioned John's loyalty to the Southern cause and to them I point out that John named his youngest son, Robert Lee Ganus.

It was on 7 January 1865 that John did something even more curious. That is IF the clerk copied the deed into the deed book correctly. It reads:


land deed, Alabama, Georgia, J. J. Miller, John M. Ganus

"This indenture made and entered into this the seventh of January eighteen hundred and sixty five between J. J. Miller and John M. Ganes of the one part of the state of Alabama witnesseth that the said J. J. Miller and aforesaid for and in consideration of the sum of three thousand dollars to him in hand paid at and before the sealing and delivery of these presents the receipt whereof hath granted bargained sold and conveyed unto the said John M. Ganes his heirs and assigns on tract of land situated lying being in eighth district of original Carroll now Haralson County known and distinguished in the plan of the said district by being the west part of lot number one hundred and fifty six all of said lot lying west of the Tallapoosa River containing one hundred and fifty acres ore or less ............ (emphasis added)" 

THREE THOUSAND DOLLARS? Did John really pay $3,000 for land at the close of the Civil War? The amount was clearly written out longhand and yet, I can't help but wonder if perhaps the clerk read the original deed wrong. Using an inflation calculator, $3,000 dollars in 1865 would be equivalent to approximately $47,762.28 today. Even if an additional zero was inadvertently added when the clerk recorded the deed in the deed book and the amount should have been $300.00, that would equal $4,776.23 today. Either way, where did John get that much money at a time when most Southerners were just trying to survive? The land was lying directly next to his father-in-law's land on the Tallapoosa River and his father-in-law, Joshua Rainwater had a ford on his property, which was generally profitable, but what value did John's land have? By tracing the deeds for this property, nothing indicates that that land held any unique value.

I tend to think that the clerk recorded the deed incorrectly as just two years later,  on 12 March 1867, John sold the same piece of land for a mere $200.00. Even if the clerk had incorrectly recorded the deed by adding an extra zero, it still appears that John likely lost money on the land but I still wonder where at the very least, he got $300.00 to purchase it at the close of the war.

Soon after John sold the land, he made yet another move and so it is likely that he sold the land in preparation for that move. His next move was even further away and would be even harder to understand.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2017, All rights reserved


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Leaving on a Jet Plane -Part 1 Becoming Acquainted with John Monroe Ganus

John Monroe Ganus, move, Shell Oil Company, West Texas, Ancestry, Genealogy, Ancestors
The plane we took from LA Ex to Lubbock, Texas
June 19, 1974
As I stepped out of the airport I was hit by a blast of hot air. I did a quick 360 and immediately realized that things looked about the same at ground level as they had from the air. We had landed in Lubbock, Texas and although I hadn't been sure what to expect as we left California, I had not envisioned miles of flat sandy terrain, dotted with oil wells. With a rock in my gut, I climbed into the back seat of the rental car and my family, consisting my parents, two brothers and me, began the 109 mile trip to our motel. As I looked out the car window my stomach sank as I viewed what would soon become our home. 


genealogy, ancestry, family history, John Monroe Ganus, Olivia Rainwater, Denver City, Texas, Shell Oil Company
Outside of Denver City, Texas 

When our plane left LAX a few hours earlier, I knew my life was about to change dramatically, but at the time I really had no idea how different the climate and culture of West Texas was to my native California. I would soon learn they really had little in common.

Gone were lazy days at the beach, frequent visits to Disneyland and of course I would no longer see my large group of friends. Although I knew I would form new friendships and find new things to do, my life would be very different from the life I had known. 

I have reflected on that life-changing move many times over the years. The pull for my family was a great opportunity for my father to advance with the Shell Oil Company. As a 15-year-old teenager, I had begrudgingly accepted that fact, knowing it would severely cut into my fun. Little did I realize just how many life lessons I would learn in that little West Texas town or how much I would draw on those lessons throughout my life.

Many of my ancestors also made major moves during their lifetime. In some cases, I have been able to discover the "push" or "pull" that motivated them to move, but for others, those reasons are still to be discovered.

In November of 1886, John Monroe Ganus, his wife, Olivia (Rainwater) and their five sons, along with their spouses and grandchildren boarded a train and left their native state of Georgia and made the long 1,479 mile trip to Manassa, Colorado. John and Olivia were my second great grandparents and that move forever affected not only their lives but also the lives of all of the generations that followed, including mine. Unlike so many of the moves during that time, that move was not motivated by the quest for better land, for work or enticement by other family members. Please join me over the next little while as I focus on John Monroe Ganus, his life and the events that led up to this life-altering move.


Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2017, All rights reserved

Friday, May 13, 2016

Foto Friday--Finally Meeting Olivia Rainwater Ganus

As I opened the restored photo of my 2nd Great Grandparents, John Monroe Ganus and Olivia Rainwater, I almost felt like I was meeting them for the first time.

Ganus, genealogy, research, photos, 399Retouch, photo restoration
Restored version of John Monroe Ganus and
Olivia Rainwater
Although I had a copy of their photo for many years, it was badly faded and it was difficult to see their faces. Various individuals tried to fix the photo over the years, but there was so little to work with it and it was too difficult. So when Miles at 399Retouch contacted me and offered to restore a photo of my choosing, I couldn't resist and sent him this photo. He accepted the challenge. Miles was great to work with, determined to help me get a better idea of what Olivia looked like and I am happy with what he was able to do.  Thank you Miles! 

My only copy of John Monroe Ganus
and Olivia Rainwater
While I have one other photo of John, this is the only known photo of Olivia.  I am not sure exactly when or where the photo was taken, but Olivia died in 1906 in Oklahoma, so obviously it was prior to that time.

John was born in 1826 in Georgia and Olivia was born in 1831 in Georgia. They married in 1852 and over the next sixty-one years, they lived in Georgia, Arkansas, Alabama and Colorado before finally settling in Oklahoma in the late 1890's.  For more of their story, see Teaching and being taught, Olivia's lesson and On Their Way!

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2016, All rights reserved

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Seeing Double

One of my favorite movies while growing up was "Parent Trap" starring Hayley Mills.  I loved the antics and mischief the twins drummed up as they manipulated their divorced parents into first seeing each other once again and then eventually remarrying.
Orson and Heber as babies.
Oklahoma 

Off the movie screen, twins always seem to draw attention....whether it be in the grocery store or the mall, people frequently do a double take and then whisper to the person next to them----"Are they twins?"

Identical or fraternal, there is a discernable connection between twins. Although frequently very different in personality, they often act almost in tandem with one another when they are younger.  

Orson and Heber, likely in Colorado
following their parents death















As  I look through my family tree, I see several sets of twins, although most of the twins are fraternal, which supposedly is not a genetic occurrence.

 My own Grandpa Heber Ganus was a twin.  I've heard that  Heber and Orson were so tiny when they were born they could fit in a shoe box.  They were fraternal twins.

There are other twins in my tree as well.  Heber's father, Frank had a brother Newton who was a twin, although once again, they were not identical twins.  Newton and his sister Frances were born in 1867.

Some believe that Heber's grandmother,  Olivia Rainwater may have been a twin with her brother Abner as some census records show their year of birth as the same.  There are a good number of twins throughout the Rainwater line.

While it is said that fraternal twins are not genetic,  I do find it interesting that there seems to be a fair number of them in our family tree and, while I do feel a sense of relief that my children came one at a time, I can't help but hope that just maybe there might be a set of twins among our grandchildren.


Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2015, All rights reserved

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Day Grandpa Hijacked the Car

I have never known anyone who hijacked anything, so when Mary said she remembered the day her grandpa hijacked the car, she had my full attention.

A few months ago I decided to round up descendants of John Monroe Ganus in a Facebook group. I am a member of several Facebook family groups and have enjoyed the association. The results of such groups seems to vary, but I was hopeful that this one would prove successful.  

Over the years I have been in touch with a few distant Ganus cousins, but I didn't expect that there would be very many on Facebook. As I've shared many times on this blog, my grandfather was orphaned at 8 and sent from Oklahoma where the Ganus family was living to Colorado to live with his mother's family, so I didn't grow up near any of my Ganus cousins and have never met any of them in person. 


While initially the group was composed of just a small handful of cousins, and I do mean a small handful, word soon spread, and the cousins I contacted began to tell other Ganus cousins and soon our group began to grow and so did the online chatter. 


Mary Jo Shaw Tedder, the granddaughter of Robert Lee Ganus is one of my newly discovered cousins. 
Robert Lee Ganus was born 29 May 1870 in Polk County, Georgia to John Monroe Ganus and Olivia Rainwater. He married Stella May Montgomery 8 July 1900 in Indian Territory, Creek Nation, Oklahoma.  He was the youngest of John and Olivia's children and 17 years younger than their eldest child, my great grandfather William Franklin Ganus. 

Mary has a delightful talent for writing and sharing her memories. When she shares a story, I feel that I am right there with her. With permission I want to share a memory that she recently shared with our group.  


Stella May Montomery, Andrew Monroe Ganus, Robert Lee Ganus
Shared by Floyd Ganus 


The Day Grandpa Ganus (Robert Lee) Hijacked the Car
I will have to start by confessing that the title was a bit of a tease. He didn't really hijack the car. It was his car but the other adults in the family much preferred he didn't drive it. We're talking early 30's and no particular skills were required it seems - and no driver's licenses. I was about 5 years old which meant there weren't more than 5 other grandkids in the area - all of us outside of course. My Aunt Olivia was a pretty "together" person so I was rather startled when she came running out the back door yelling - yes she was yelling - "gather up the kids and get them in the house. Papa's gonna drive the car." Kids were quickly gathered up and moved to a safe place. Grandpa came marching (I always think of him as marching rather than walking or strolling) out of the house and headed for the car. He got it started, ground the gears and lurched toward the road. It's true all the kids were safely in the house or the fenced in yard but the chickens were on their own. There was much squawking and running and I swear some of them tried to fly to get out of the way of that car. Grandpa didn't seem to notice. He got to the road, turned left and lurched away. The end of the story is anti-climatic I guess. He did come back and I never knew where he went or why. I sometimes wonder if those chickens were traumatized and unable to lay eggs at least for a few days.
I have laughed and laughed at this story. Thank you Mary for sharing your fun recollection! From the description of Robert marching out to the car, to the kids scattering and the chickens squawking, I can envision it all.

Robert Lee Ganus and
Stella May Montgomery
It's only been a couple of months since the group was first formed, but what a joy it has been already! We have laughed together and felt touched by the many photos and memories that have been shared. I am amazed at how quickly things have come together and how much it has already blessed my life by helping me become acquainted with my Ganus cousins, both past and present. 

As each person in our group has shared what they have or know about our family, each has given us something that can not be found in any document. Say what you want about Facebook.....but it's been the setting for a wonderful reunion. Stay tuned for more stories in the coming months!


Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2015, All rights reserved


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Sticky Fingers




As they pulled away, the little hands waved wildly out the car windows while their sweet voices called out "Goodbye Nana, goodbye Papa!"

I felt the familiar lump rise in my throat.  Their visit was officially over and they were on their way to their home hundreds of miles away. The much anticipated visit was over and all that was left were the memories, sticky fingerprints and the many pieces of art work decorating the front of my fridge. Family. There's nothing better than time with those you love.

As I began the task of restoring order to my house, my tendency to relate everything to genealogy surfaced.  I began to think of my ancestors and contemplate their relationships with their children and grandchildren.

I thought of the ever important FAN club as taught by Elizabeth Shown Mills and the the vital role Families, Associates and Neighbors played in each others' lives.  Beside the natural tendency for people to want to live in close proximity to each other, family was a source of safety and protection in addition to a source of help and support in every aspect of life.  Aunts, uncles and grandparents played a significant role in their grandchildren's lives.  On my childhood visits to Colorado I learned all too quickly that aunts, uncles and grandparents all helped in correcting and instructing the children and that reports of public misbehavior made its way back to mom very quickly in those small familial communities.  Families worked together in raising their children.

Although, in many instances, I can see evidence of this tendency to live near each other in my ancestor's migrations,  I confess, there are those times when I scratch my head and wonder if some were just gypsies and moved willy nilly. But then I am reminded that even gypsies traveled together in a caravan. Sometimes no obvious clues are present but I know that likely within that "missing information" lies clues to yet unknown extended family.

One such situation is the move of my 2nd great grandparents John and Olivia (Rainwater) Ganus to Arkansas. The only evidence of that move which occurred between the 1860 and 1870 census is the indication on both later census records and church records that John and Olivia's son Newton was born in Pine Bluff Arkansas in 1867. The family lived in Alabama in 1860 near Olivia's sister's family, the Baileys, and by 1870 they had returned to Georgia, and were again living near family. So why the move in 1867 and did they go with family and if so, who and why?

Times have certainly changed and so have the roles that families fill.  Families no longer rely on each other for physical protection. Women go to the hospital to have babies and fewer people live on family farms. More and more people are turning to the convenience of HOAs, condos and apartment living. If people want the answer to a question, no need to ask parents or grandparents, Google knows it all, and Youtube has a video demonstrating it. As much as I enjoy modern conveniences, when the house is quiet and void of the voices of my children and grandchildren, I often wish we could go back to the days when grandparents and parents made a community.

William C. Brock and Martha Ganus and family
William Cohen Brock and Martha (Ganus) with their family
Martha was the sister of my 2nd great grandfather John Monroe Ganus



Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2015, All rights reserved


Sunday, March 22, 2015

Justified Fear

Without a doubt, the fear was justified.

What initially began like the flu soon became much more. Within days of the beginning symptoms of fatigue, fever, headache and general discomfort, spots began to appear.  The red spots were followed by the formation of deep, painful blisters which often covered much of the body. Although not all who contracted smallpox died, all suffered greatly and the resulting deep pitted scars left their unmistakable mark on its victims for a lifetime.

The John Monroe Ganus family moved about considerably over the years. In the early years they lived in Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas and Colorado. In about 1897 the family moved to Indian Territory, which would later become Oklahoma.

Smallpox comes up with some frequency in the history of the early days of Indian Territory. Although smallpox certainly was not unique to Indian Territory (Oklahoma), the risk appears to have been greater than it had been in Colorado where the Ganus family previously lived.  For example, according to the "Annual Report" by the United States Public Health for the year 1909, Oklahoma had 1,328 cases of smallpox with 6 deaths as compared to Colorado's 345 cases and no deaths. (see page 188)

A microfilm at the Family History Library entitled "Creek Nation: Outbreaks" for the years 1882-1909 * covers the period my ancestors lived in Okmulgee, in Creek Nation. It was while living in Indian Territory that my Great Grandfather William Franklin Ganus died in 1906 at the age of 53, and my Great Grandmother, Sally died in 1909 at the age of 45. In addition, my Gr Gr Grandmother Olivia Ganus died there in 1902, followed by my Gr Gr Grandfather John Monroe Ganus  in 1906, Although it's obvious that my great great grandparents were considerably older,  I've always thought it was curious that the four died in a relatively short span of time and particularly that my great grandparents died fairly young while many of the older Ganus generations lived until quite old. Because no death records exist for Indian Territory for that period of time, the cause of death is not known. I wondered if there was a chance that any of my Ganus ancestors died of smallpox.


As I scrolled through the microfilm, it became very apparent that smallpox was a major concern during those years.  There were a variety of records related to the efforts taken to control and reduce the spread of smallpox, such as setting aside funds to deal with outbreaks, plans for immunization and determining where to treat the victims. From the film I learned that on February 18,1899, Okmulgee, where my Ganus family was living at the time, was quarantined for smallpox. How had this impacted the Ganus family?  What changes did they make to the way they conducted their day to day life? Were neighbors and friends ill?

In January of the following year, houses and furniture of some of the ill in the area were burned, leaving the owners of the dwellings homeless. The act was justified as being for the "benefit of all people, white, black and indian residing in Indian Territory and adjoining states and territories."  In addition, a detention camp was prescribed by the board of health. Nurses and doctors were employed to assist in treating the smallpox victims in the camps and hospitals.

As I turned to Oklahoma newspapers, I found a variety of articles pertaining to smallpox.

From the Muskogee Times-Democrat 31 Mar 1909, I learned that the detention hospitals were more than just a place to receive medical attention, but as the name implies, they were literally a place of detention, with serious consequences for those who chose not to be confined. On page 1 I found the following:
 "Sheriff Ramsey today offered a reward of $25 for the apprehension of C. O. Zinn, who escaped from the smallpox detention hospital south of the city night before last."
Some Oklahoma community newspapers carried a monthly bulletin stating which illnesses were most prevalent along with the number of resulting deaths. Some communities listed the individuals suffering from smallpox as well as the specific towns under quarantine. Such was the case in 1909 of Fort Towson, Oklahoma which is located down near the Texas border. According to page 1 of the Dailey Armoreite on May 13th of that year,  the entire town was quarantined due to smallpox and no one was allowed to get on or off the train there without a physician's certificate.

Additionally sometimes courts were cancelled due to outbreaks of smallpox.  On page 2 of The Indian Chieftain (Vinita, Oklahoma) a headline read "DANGER OF SMALLPOX" No Court Should be Held in Vinita at This time." Schools and other pubic gatherings were often cancelled as well.

As a sideline, The Muskogee Cimeter 25 January1907  included the following humorous story.
An Illinois farmer, ...one day received a note from a Chicago friend which read as follows: "My dear John, the small pox is epidemic in this part of the city and for safety, I have taken advantage of one of your many kind invitations and sent my two sons down to you. In two weeks the farmer sent a note to the city friens (sic) which read:  "I herewith return your boys: please send me the small pox."  Oklahoma State Capital, Jan 19, 1907.  (page 1) 
Did any of the early Ganus family members contract smallpox?  I still don't know for sure, but I feel fairly confident that they likely had friends and neighbors who did. While I did not find any of the Ganus family on a list of smallpox victims, I can see that smallpox touched every member of a community in some way and that the fear it generated was justified.



*Creek Nation: Outbreaks, documents 22 July 1882 - 7 Apr. 1909- FHL US/CAN Film 1666283, Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah 

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2015, All rights reserved

Monday, January 26, 2015

Searching for Perry

It has been over a month since my last post about the Perry family.  While I am not going to share all that I found on each family here, I am willing to share with anyone that has an interest. You can contact me using the "Email me"  link on the main page.  I will say that I feel a little disappointed with what I found, or should I say, what I did not find.

While I knew it was a long shot, I had hoped that as I researched down through the generations, I would eventually find Ganus and Perry families living near each other or some evidence of a close relationship.  In my family we have three generations of family members using the name Perry as a first or middle name and the story is that years ago there was family of significance with that name.

Therefore I was excited when I discovered that my second great grandmother's sister had a child who married into a Perry family. However, it does not appear that the descendants of my second great grandmother, Olivia (Rainwater) Ganus and her sister Frances (Rainwater) Bailey, ever lived close to each other even though Olivia and Frances chose to live close to one another during much of their married lives in both Alabama and Georgia.  One of Frances' daughters married a Perry and they eventually migrated to Oklahoma, as did Olivia's children, however the Ganus family was generally in the Oklmulgee County area of Oklahoma and the Perry family ended up in the Comanche County area, a distance of nearly 200 miles.
Map:  Federal Census Bureau Map 

On the maternal side of my family, my Grandma Hostetter provided a glimpse into the relationship between her family and her mother's sister's family in her journal. She documented a trip her family took from their home in Colorado to an aunt's home in Utah. Although the two families never lived in close proximity to each other, her journal entries helped establish the fact the two families remained in contact. Unfortunately, to my knowledge, no journal or any letters exchanged between family members exist for either the Ganus or Perry family and there seems to be nothing to suggest that the descendants of the two families were aware of each other, at least certainly nothing that warranted the naming of children after the other. If anyone has evidence to the contrary, I would love to hear from you.
Charles F. Perry, Hubert Perry, Huey Perry, Sam Crenshaw, Mary Ann Ayers Perry, Gerushia Laura Perry
Mary Ann Ayers Perry, along with her children
Courtesy of descendant, David
A descendant of Mollie's shared the above picture with me. He regretted that the photo is in such poor condition, but it is exactly as he received it.  It is always icing on the cake to have a picture.  I am thrilled that the photo exists and that he generously shared the photo with me and allowed me to in turn share it with you. Thank you David!

Back row, left to right:  Charles F. Perry b. 1886,  twins Hubert and Huey (source unsure of which twin is which), last man is likely Sam Crenshaw (Gerushia's husband).  Bottom row: First two women are likely in-laws, then Mary Ann (Ayers) Perry and Gerushia Laura Perry b. 1884.


Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2015, All rights reserved

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