Showing posts with label Sanford. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sanford. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Snake Stories

When our kids were little, they used to love to ask me for what they affectionately called "snake stories."  Growing up in the hills of California, and having adventurous brothers, I did have more than my fair share of snake encounters.  Once I somewhat innocently shared a few of those stories with our kids, the stories became favorites, to be retold time and again.

There was the time a large section of a large, old pepper tree fell down in our yard and we begged Dad to just leave it for awhile.  My brother and I took some sheers and chopped and hacked the smaller branches to form little rooms for our "house."  We played all week in that thing and were so sad to discover on our return home from school one day that Dad had some men haul the large section of the tree off. The dismay quickly turned to relief and horror when he told us that as they were removing the tree, the men had discovered a large rattlesnake coiled in the tree.

Despite the fact that I just hate snakes, I have loads of snake stories.  But my real purpose today is to share my grandpa's snake story.

A couple of years ago on our visit to Sanford, Colorado, my Uncle Gaylon shared a story about my Grandpa Ganus and I am so glad that he did.  Grandpa Ganus died when I was little and the stories that I know about him are few and far between.


Sanford, Colorado
Sanford, Colorado
When this incident occurred, my Grandpa, Heber Ganus, was working as a mechanic at a garage in Sanford.  This particular day, Boyd Poulson was pulling weeds down by the river, a little ways out of town when he saw a snake. Water snakes and garden snakes are a common sight there in the San Luis Valley,  so he thought it was just another harmless little garden snake and was not too concerned.  But Boyd was mistaken and he realized his error when the snake struck him on his hand.  He had been struck by a rattlesnake! Boyd was out by himself and seeing no other option, he ran three miles to Sanford.  By the time he reached town, he was woozy and his hand had become very swollen. Frantic, he couldn't think at first what to do, so he ran to the garage where Grandpa Ganus was working.  Grandpa could see how bad the situation was and he hurriedly loaded Boyd up in the car and drove as fast as he could to the nearby town of Alamosa for medical help.  Grandpa's quick action was credited for saving Boyd's life.

Grandpa Heber Monroe Ganus and Grandma Hazel (nee Mickelsen)
Grandpa Heber Monroe Ganus
and Grandma Hazel Ganus (nee Mickelsen)
It's a simple story, but it warms my heart to think that Grandpa's quick action helped to save someone's life.

Occasionally I tell my husband that maybe we need to move to the south where I can do more research and get in touch with my southern roots, but at that point he always reminds me that there is no shortage of snakes in the south.  That always does the trick and for a time, I abandon that aching to return to my roots, although I suspect it would provide me with some great new material for my snake stories.




Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2014,  All rights reserved

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Three Brothers, Three Roads - Part 1

Ernest William Ganus, Heber Monroe Ganus
Ernest and Heber
Unknown date
They weren't little boys anymore and life had taken them in very different directions.   Two brothers, tossed and shaped by tragic circumstances, took opportunity to pose for a picture.  Ernest Ganus, the oldest of the sons of William Franklin Ganus and Sarah E. Faucett was born 23 May 1893 and was seven years older than his brother Heber.  It is unknown why Ernest and Heber posed together for the picture without Heber's twin, Orson.

I find myself feeling a little pang of sadness at the thought of one of the brothers missing and while I really won't go so far as to compromise the integrity of the photo by photoshopping Orson in, I confess part of me would like to. While the picture seems incomplete,  it is nevertheless a great picture of two brothers and the only picture I have of my grandfather at that age. Today however, I turn my attention to Ernest.

Although the Ganus family arrived in Oklahoma about 1897, well after the initial land rush, they witnessed a great deal of growth and change occur as Oklahoma went from sparsely populated Indian Territory to communities that boomed with the discovery of rich crude oil and the promise of work. Oklahoma officially became the 47th state in 1907.  Ernest was a young man of 14 at the time and I wonder if he and his brothers understood the significance of that historic day when Oklahoma became part of the United States?

Ernest attended school until his father's death in 1906, when he was just 13 years old and  I have wondered if he quit school to work and help with the support of the family.  Undoubtedly it was difficult to for his mother Sarah to support three growing boys in 1906,  but her struggle to provide was short lived.  In 1909, just three short years after husband Frank's death, Sarah died, leaving the three boys orphaned.

I suspect that initially the twins leaned on sixteen year old Ernest for assurance and emotional security. Harsh experiences such as these propel children into the adult world of survival and worries that are typically shouldered by their parents.

Sadly, none of the relatives were able to take in all three boys for any length of time and so the little security that they felt in being together was soon shattered.  The boys appear on the 1910 Census in both Okmulgee with Uncle Roderick Ganus, their father's brother, and a few months later with their mother's sister, Mary Haggard, in the small farming community of Sanford, Colorado.  Mary, herself a widow at the time, could only keep the boys for a little while and then they were each sent to different homes.

Still little boys, Heber and Orson were unable to provide for themselves and would remain in the care of others for quite a few more years.  But at 17 years of age, Ernest was nearly a man in the world's eyes and soon set out on his own. Although his brothers remained in Sanford, Colorado, Ernest soon returned to Oklahoma where his life would take him on a very different path.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2014,  All rights reserved

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A Little Bit of Heaven

My brothers and I 
I loved summers as a child.  Growing up in the country, my brothers and I often set out on foot or on mini bikes to explore the hills where we lived. We climbed trees, shot BB guns, played in the sprinklers and swam at the local pool.  Life was sweet and innocent and our biggest worry was getting back in time for dinner.

Somehow summer has changed.  As I frantically run around, planning, picking up and dropping off this and that,  I try to finish my never ending "to do" list and I can't help but reflect on how summers used to be. They used to be a time to catch my breath before school started up again in the fall.  Summers used to be a time to relax and recharge.  What happened?

As a child, our vacation every year included a trip to the San Luis Valley in Colorado to visit our relatives.  While there, our time was spent with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins galore and it seemed as if we were related to everyone who lived there because, for the most part, we were.  In the valley there was a sense of belonging and of being loved and I always felt that we experienced a little bit of heaven there.

A particularly fun memory is of riding around with Uncle Clyde as he checked on his hay fields. Riding beside him as we bounced along the dirt roads and across the hay fields was a treat I never passed up.  His fun sense of humor, his gentle way of teasing, the treats in his glove box and stops for an ice cold bottle of pop always seemed to be a standard part of his day.  He loved me and I knew it and he spoiled me rotten.

On our visits there,  I helped gather eggs, learned to outrun ornery sheep, watched cousins milk cows (I never quite mastered that one), drove a tractor and enjoyed farm fresh eggs and "fresh side" for breakfast. Oh how my Grandmas and Aunties could cook!  It not only felt like heaven there, but the food tasted like heaven as well.

Evenings and weekends were filled with family gatherings. The adults chatted about everything imaginable while the cousins ran and played night games in the fields and outbuildings. It never occurred to me that those wonderful carefree days would eventually come to an end and that some day I would look back and ache to relive those cherished childhood memories.

Heber and Orson Ganus in Sanford, Colorado
Heber and Orson
While on a trip to the valley a few years ago, we visited the Sanford Museum located in Sanford, Colorado.  They have a great collection of photos and memorabilia and were very helpful. There in an album full of old photos, I found a picture of my Grandpa Heber Ganus and his twin, Orson.  Thankfully,  although the picture was dark and a poor quality, it was clearly marked and my father assured me that it was indeed a picture of my grandfather and his brother.

From the stories I've heard, I know that childhood was rough for my orphaned grandfather, but this simple picture gives me hope that just maybe he too had some fun carefree days.  Seeing the twins, sticks in hand, dressed in their bib overalls and hats while carefully balanced on a small wooden raft in the middle of a pond, I am reminded of the stories and antics of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. Where did Heber and Orson's imagination take them that day?

I wonder if that day was like the days I spent in the valley as a child?  In that high mountain valley the warmth of the sun seems to permeate your whole being, the sky seems a little bluer and although I know I am biased, even the white cotton-candy clouds seem more fluffy.

I envision the two brothers talking and laughing and if I know anything at all about boys, I suspect there was a healthy amount of mischievous splashing.  Did horseplay send either one or both of the boys into the pond?

I hope that in their fun, they were able to forget their troubles and their loneliness for the family life they no longer had.  I hope that in the companionship of his brother, Grandpa Ganus felt that contented sense of belonging and of being loved.  Summers can be good that way and I would like to think that just maybe... on that day... Grandpa too felt a little bit of heaven.


San Luis Valley, Colorado


Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2014,  All rights reserved



Saturday, August 18, 2012

Walking where my ancestors walked

It seems only fitting that my first blog entry should follow a trip to southern Colorado where several generations of my family lived at one time and many relatives currently live.  It was a wonderful trip taken with my husband, my parents and my brothers to see the sites from my parent’s childhood as well as the places that my ancestors lived, worked and worshipped.  While growing up, we would travel every summer from our home in California to the beautiful San Luis Valley, where we would play with cousins and do what country kids do and we loved it.  We played in Uncle Lou’s barn, we gathered eggs, we milked cows, I drove a tractor for my cousins as they baled hay, and I learned to outrun a cantankerous sheep.  In the evenings, the families often gathered to eat together and then the kids played kick the can and hide and seek and other childhood games while the adults sat and visited.  It was a wonderful place filled with loving family and it was heaven to me.
Old Richfield Church

This trip was very different from those childhood visits.  While we did visit family, we mainly visited sites from my parent’s childhood.  We were able to see the old abandoned church where my mom attended as a child.  Both of the homes where my parents were born still stand.  We saw what is left of my grandfather’s sawmill and the filling station where my other grandfather workedFor many of the sites, only a portion of the building remained, serving as a place mark for those ancestors’ lives, reminding us that they had really been there.   

I loved the trip and I was reminded of why we as genealogists need to step away from the books and microfilm readers occasionally and walk where our ancestors walked and imagine what it was like when they were living.  It’s there that we feel the very closest to them and learn something that books can’t provide. 

We visited the museum located in Sanford, Colorado and I was so glad that we did.  It is a small museum, but packed with pictures, newspaper clippings, books and all kinds of memorabilia.  I saw pictures that I had never seen before of grandfathers and others who had lived and died before I was even born.   The volunteer that was there was so kind and helpful.

One of my favorite stops, and the last thing that I will mention in this post, was our visit to the Old Manassa Cemetery.  I love old cemeteries and this one is definitely that.  Most of the burials are from the late 1800’s and early 1900’s and it is located outside the small town of Manassa, Colorado whose population hovers around 1,000 people.  We knew that we had family buried there and were anxious to locate them.  Inside the gate is a lengthy list of unmarked graves located within the cemetery, but there was no listing for the headstones that still exist, so we walked the cemetery.  Among those listed on the plaque for unmarked graves were three Ganus babies, one belonging to my great grandparents, Sarah E. Faucett  and William Franklin Ganus , and two belonging to my great grandfather’s brother,  John Thackason Ganus and his wife Mary M. Chisenhall,.  Only Parley L. Ganus, son of Frank and Sarah, had an actual headstone there.  As I stood before his little grave, I couldn’t help but think of his parents who had also stood on that very spot.  I could imagine their grief as they buried their little boy just a few weeks shy of his first birthday.
Parley's headstone

I wish that I knew more.  Why did Parley die?  In fact, why did all four of those Ganus babies die? They all died within four years of each other, most during the cold winter months, which can be unbearably cold in the valley.  Did the deaths of those four babies contribute to my great great grandparents, John and Olivia Ganus and their five sons, Frank, John, Roderick, Robert and Newton and their families all moving soon after to Oklahoma?   I know that even if I find the answer to those questions, I will still be left wanting to know more.  It seems that no matter how many questions are answered, there are always more and so I keep searching.  In this blog, I plan to share the things that I learn about my ancestors and about research and I know that in the process, I will learn more about myself.