Thursday, November 21, 2013

My Okie from Muskogee


I clearly remember singing with great enthusiasm  "I'm proud to be an Okie from Muskogee," to a new girl in school who had just moved to our little California town from Oklahoma.  Although I didn't know much about Oklahoma at the time, we had all heard the Merle Haggard song played on the radio and it seemed somehow appropriate to serenade our new classmate with the popular tune. Little did I know then that they might as well have sung it to me, as I have my own Muskogee, Oklahoma roots.

Sarah E. Faucett, Orson Ganus, Heber Ganus
Sally with twins Orson (L) and Heber (R)
It was there that  forty-five year old widowed Sally Faucett Ganus passed from this life on March 17, 1909, leaving behind  three young sons. Sally and husband, Frank, had moved to Oklahoma approximately ten years earlier from Manassa, Colorado.  Seven hundred and thirty miles from her nearest blood relative, Sally was, in many ways, quite alone.  Because Frank had preceded her in death three years earlier, their children, sixteen year old Ernest and eight year old twins, Orson and Heber, were now left orphaned.  I’ve always wondered who was at Sally’s side in her final moments?  Were her children there?  Were there others?  Was there someone there to embrace her children and dry their tears?

Although she was my great Grandmother,  I really know very little about Sally Faucett Ganus.  I don’t know any of the little details about her that could help me to envision her as a person.  I don’t know what she liked to eat,  what she liked to do with her time and I have never heard a single story about her.

I was glad to find a microfilmed record pertaining to her death at the Family History Library.  I learned that G. H. Bloom’s funeral home records from Muskogee, Oklahoma are among the few to survive from that time period, so I did feel fortunate that they were microfilmed and that there was an entry for her.  However, as is too often the case, the find left me with as many questions as answers.

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It was disappointing to note that Sally’s record was the only record on that page that did not indicate the cause of death.  Was her death sudden and the cause unknown?  Her son, Heber, recorded in his life history that she had requested before her death that her sons be sent back to live with her brother in Colorado.  That suggests to me that she had some idea that her death was imminent.

I also noted from the record  that her body was shipped to Okmulgee for burial.  It troubles me that I have no idea where in Okmulgee she was buried, and no one else seems to know either. While there are a few early Ganus family members buried at Little Cussetah Cemetery in Okmulgee,  she is not listed among the dead there.

Sarah Faucett
Sally Faucett Ganus
“Cemetery Records of Okmulgee Oklahoma,” published by The Genealogical Society of Okmulgee, Oklahoma in 1974, included a survey of a small family cemetery located northwest of Okmulgee, called Berryhill Cemetery.  Among the six people buried there is “W. F. Ganus.”  His date of birth and death match the known dates for Sally’s husband “Frank” or William Franklin Ganus, my great grandfather.  Jessie Ganus, daughter of Robert Lee Ganus (Frank’s brother)  is also buried there along with four Berryhills, with whom we have no known connection.  Attempts by family members to visit that cemetery have been in vain.  The little burying ground lies on private land a short distance from the road and signs stating “No Trespassing” are clearly posted at the fence.  Efforts to contact the current land owner for permission to access the cemetery have failed.  So, many questions remain, including why was Frank buried there and just where is Sally? 

As genealogists, we all seem to feel driven to find our ancestor’s final resting place.  Standing at their headstone and reflecting on whatever small bit of information we may know about them somehow helps satisfy that inner need to be close to them, to connect to them, to honor them and to acknowledge that they lived and that they mattered.  And so, I continue to look for Sally, my Okie from Muskogee.


Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2013

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Gurganus, Ganus, Ganues and Gainus--What?


imageNestled in the woods near Shadinger Lake, just a couple of miles outside of Carrollton, Georgia, is Tallapoosa Primitive Baptist Church.  The cemetery lies beside the church and is the final resting place for many who once gathered there as family and friends to worship and socialize.  It is there that Rebecca Ganus Lee is buried alongside her husband Samuel Solomon Lee and many of their children.

Rebecca Gainus was the fifth child and third daughter of James and Elizabeth (Gur)Ganus.   Born in 1836, she was ten years younger than her brother John Monroe Ganus who was my third great grandfather. Interestingly enough, her father shortened their surname from Gurganus to Ganus around 1840, and while most of his descendants spell their surname Ganus, some chose other spellings. Rebecca and her descendants spell their surname as Gainus and her brother Jackson and his descendants spell it Ganues.

image“Rebecker” grew up outside of Fayetteville, Georgia and as a child, she likely worked alongside her sisters Mary, Margaret, and Martha, as they helped their mother Betsy.  Girls generally helped their mothers with household duties such as cooking, cleaning and washing clothes, in addition to other chores such as feeding the chickens and light farm duties. Census data implies that Rebeca could read and write, so whether she attended school or was taught at home, she received some education. 

On 30 October 1853, at the age of 17, Rebecca married Samuel Solomon Lee in DeKalb County, Georgia. and it was there that they began their life together.  Samuel farmed and Rebecca managed the household and cared for their children.  Typical of the times, Samuel and Rebecca had a large family to feed and care for, but large families were a blessing in many ways as they worked together and supported each other in every aspect of life.  Samuel and Rebecca eventually settled in Carroll County, Georgia a little over 60 miles from Dekalb County where they had married.

At twenty-five years old, Rebecca had buried several babies and was caring for their five children when husband, Samuel Solomon Lee, enlisted with the 63rd Regiment Company C on 27 November 1862.  I marvel at the endurance of the women of that era.  Rearing a large family was not an easy task at any period of time, but caring for the children, the home and the farm, while a husband was away at war was a particularly difficult and demanding undertaking that required a great deal of inner fortitude and determination.  In addition many families lived in constant fear of the enemy troops who continually passed by and through their farms.

The war went longer than any of them could have imagined and the cost to lives and property was high.  Rebecca’s brother became one of the casualties of that cruel and devastating war and several other brothers never fully recovered.  She was one of the fortunate ones, however, because Samuel did return home. Together Rebecca and Samuel resumed their life through lean times, raising their children and farming.  They added three more children to their family and lived out their life in Carroll County, Georgia where some of their descendants live today. Their family consisted of Ann T., Roena J., Leonidas, John Franklin, James Marshall, William Thomas, Charles Mentor, Tobeus A., and Emma E. Lee.

On 10 October 1889, at the age of 53, Rebecca passed away and was buried in the Tallapoosa Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery in Carroll County, Georgia.  Samuel lived an additional eleven years and died on 16 Nov 1900.  He was laid to rest beside Rebecca.

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Samuel Solomon Lee and Rebecca, along with their children, spouses and a grandchild.



All pictures were  generously shared by descendent, Margie Dietz. 

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2013

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Come Out, Come Out, Where Ever You Are

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Jan Verhas –Hide and See
Wikipedia Commons  In Public Domain
Sometimes I envision myself playing the childhood game of hide and seek with my ancestors.  Despite my best laid plans and no matter how determined I sometimes feel, I just can't seem to find much about my Betsy McCloskey. I know she existed, but what I know is sparse. Who were her parents?  Who were her siblings?

Betsy was my third great grandmother  and here is what I do know.  Elizabeth, or Betsy  as she was sometimes called, was born about 1810 in South Carolina.....I think.  One census entry for her indicates that she was born in Georgia instead.   Her last name was McCloskey, McCluskey or McCleskey----I'm not even sure exactly which.  The only known indication of her last name is from her son John Monroe Ganus' church membership record and on that record, it appears to be McCloskey.  However, the name McCleskey or McCluskey seems to be much more common during that time period in both South Carolina and Georgia.

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On the 1850 census she is recorded as “Betsy.”  As for the 1860 census, thanks to a census enumerator with little regard for detail, she is simply “E”.  By 1870 her husband James is living with their oldest daughter Mary Ganus Cook and I have assumed that she has died.  Sadly, I have not been able to find a final resting place for either Betsy or James.

Betsy married James (Gur)Ganus about 1822.  I have not been able to find a marriage record for this couple....anywhere.  I've done extensive searches of the McC*skeys in the areas of Bibb and Monroe Counties of Georgia where the family lived about the time James would have married and in the area of Edgefield and Abbeville, South Carolina areas where the Gurganus family lived prior to moving to Georgia, but with no success.  I've searched in DeKalb, Fayette, Campbell, Henry and surrounding counties.  I did find potential siblings for Betsy in the approximate area where my Ganus family lived, and through wills, deeds and census records have been able to prove their connection to each other, but until this date I have not found a link between any of them and my Betsy.

I know to look at Betsy and James’ friends and neighbors as I've been taught by some of the best, but my problem stems from the fact that from one census to the next, James and Betsy are never living near the same group of people.  While I have found deeds for their children, I have never found ONE DEED for James.  I have searched for him among a variety of records, including military records but he is not to be found. I scratch my head and ask, "Did they have friends or associates?"  I've often called them my gypsies, but even gypsies traveled in a band.

Years ago I had the privilege of emailing  briefly with Walter Scott McCleskey who compiled the information for the book “The McCleskey Family in Georgia.”   Knowing how thoroughly he had researched the McCleskey family in Georgia and how much his books are respected and used by many Mc-researchers, I had hope that in his researching he had perhaps come upon my Betsy or might have an idea to whom she might belong.  He responded that he had no idea where she might fit in.

It’s discouraging, but I know I am among good company when it comes to looking for an elusive ancestor.  Like so many others who continue to search and who refuse to give up, I look and hope and some day I just might find her.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2013