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, September 5, 2012

Teaching and being taught, Olivia's lesson

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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





Saturday, September 1, 2012

A True Love Story?

Some of my ancestor's stories seem to reach out and draw me in as if inviting me to learn more. I've never quite figured out why some ancestor's stories are so much more compelling than others, but some are. Such is the case with David Ganus.

It was the 14th day of March 1857 when young David Ganus and Malinda M. Davis married in Fayette, Georgia.  He was 21 and she was about 15, although it's difficult to know her exact age as it is different on every census and document on which she appears.  Son of James Ganus and Elizabeth McCluskey, David was born in 1836, probably in Fayette County, and was the fourth of ten children.  His oldest brother was John Monroe Ganus, my third great grandfather.

David provided for his family by farming, just as his father and brothers did.  Soon David and Melinda had two little girls,  Mary Jane born March of 1858 and Nancy born about 1860. 

Life in Fayetteville during those first few years of their marriage appears to be typical for a small farming community in Georgia, but that would soon change.  A regiment made of men from several neighboring counties, including the county of Fayette, was formed in the spring of 1862.  May 1, 1862 David enlisted in the confederate army, along with two brothers and 3 brothers-in-law.  David became a Private with the Fayette Planters, Co C 53rd Regiment. 

David Ganus
Co C 53rd Infantry
 Among other battles, David participated in the Battle Of Sharpsburg, but by October of 1862 David was shown as "absent" due to sickness.  In December, his service records show that he had febris typhoid, which is a bacteria caused by salmonella.   By the 15th of December, records indicate that he had pneumonia and then on December 24, 1962,  David Ganus, lying in a hospital near Fredrickburg, Virginia, died.  He is listed among those buried in a mass grave at Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond, Virginia.

As I slowly cranked the wheel of the microfilm reader, looking for David’s civil war service records,  I wept when I came to the card that indicated that he had died. Really, the war had just begun, and he was so young,  I had been excited to learn more about him and had not expected for his life to end quite so soon.  Next my thoughts  turned to his young wife.  I cannot fathom the obstacles that Malinda faced at that point in history.  It was 1862 and suddenly Malinda was a 20 year old widow with two children and a third baby on its way.  Living  just outside of Atlanta, she would soon have three children to feed, clothe and protect  and she had no idea what the war would yet bring to citizens of that community.



Malinda M Davis Ganus CW widow of David Ganus
Malinda Ganus's
Claim Commission


 During the Civil War, many of those living in the Fayetteville area were victim to losses and much violence.  On the 27th of September 1871,  along with many of her neighbors, Malinda filed a claim for damages claiming 475 lbs beef,  25 bushels of corn and house furniture had been taken by General Wm. T. Sherman’s Army on August 30, 1864 . 



 Malinda consistently filed for her Widow’s Pension until the end of her life.  Most of her later years , she lived in Whitfield, Georgia, close to her children.  She appears on the 1900 census living with their  son, Burton, and his family.  Living a couple of doors away is daughter, Mary Jane (Ganus) Alexander.  Burton was the child born after his father's death. 

   
Burton's application
for mother's burial
expense
The final record that I have for Malinda is a document in David's Civil War service file, filed by Burton.  He indicated that his mother died on the 7th of December 1908 and that her burial expenses amounted to $20.00.   Malinda was approximately 65 at the time and there is no evidence that she ever remarried.  She always appeared on census records and other documents as Malinda Ganus.

There are several possible reasons why Malinda never remarried, although many other Civil War widows that I have traced did.  I  recognize the possibility that she may have remarried but concealed it in order to obtain her pension, but I just have not found anything to substantiate that.  I choose instead to believe that this is one of those true love stories and that no one could ever replace her David.  It really makes me wish I knew more about them both.