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

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Fall, The Best Three Days of the Year

Fall never seems to be long enough in Utah and some even joke that it is the best three days of the year.  So when I learned that The Board for Certification of Genealogist would be holding a lecture series at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City this past Saturday, for just a moment I wrestled with the idea of giving up the promise of good weather for a day spent indoors.  It wasn't really much of a wrestle though because with Judy Russell and Elizabeth Shown Mills teaching, I knew my time would be well spent.

Judy G. Russell, BCG Seminar, used by permission
Judy G. Russell
BCG Lecture Series
(Used by permission)
Both Judy and Elizabeth are masters at teaching us how to see and think as genealogists, all while weaving the stories of their subjects' lives through the use of records.  Listening to them is not only educational, but a lot of fun.

And so I got up bright and early on Saturday morning and drove down to the  Family History Library and I am so glad that I did.  As I listened to all of the speakers, I enjoyed the day immensely and am excited to once again pull out some of my difficult-to-solve genealogical problems to see if just maybe I will see and understand things that I have missed in the past.   Thank you ladies for time well spent.    


You can find Judy G. Russell on her website,  The Legal Genealogist and Elizabeth Shown Mills on her websites, Historic Pathways and Evidence Explained

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2014,  All rights reserved

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Oh the places you'll go

Recently lines from the popular Dr. Seuss poem, "Oh The Places You'll Go!" have rattled through my brain:
"You're off to Great Places! Today is Your day!
Your mountain is waiting, So .....get on your way!”
Over the past month and a half, my "mountain" has been discovering Ernest and his life and in the process, Oh the places I have been!

Ernest William Ganus and Heber Ganus
Ernest William Ganus (L)
Heber Monroe Ganus 
Initially knowing very little about my grandfather's older brother, Ernest, who died before I was born,  I expected to write a single blog post.  But one record led to another and little by little, I soon realized that it would take multiple posts to share all that was in my mind and heart.

At times I was perplexed by Ernest’s personal choices,  but seeking to understand led me to yet more discoveries. In addition to his personal trials, I followed Ernest into the newly emerging oil industry, through his service in WWI, and finally through the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl.  With each discovery I hoped that just maybe his life would turn a corner and that he would have a happy ending, but by all appearances, life was never easy for Ernest.  I can only hope that the bleak facts that emerged through the documents were at least occasionally balanced out by some of the simple daily joys of life.  

I read and then I read some more. I visited personal and governmental websites containing information about the era. I looked at pictures, I listened to songs written during that time period, I watched film strips, documentaries and a movie.  

Because of my desire to know more about him, I stepped into his world, a world that I had previously known little about and in the process, I received quite an education.  While the journey enlightened my mind, it also broke my heart.  In many ways,  Ernest represents many of the men and women of that era that were born into hard circumstances and fought every step of the way just to survive. 

Had I been satisfied to simply spit out the most basic facts of Ernest's life, I would have missed so much and in all reality, I would have missed Ernest.
 "The more that you read, the more things you will know.  The more that you learn, the more places you'll go."  Dr. Seuss, Oh The Places You'll Go!
Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2014,  All rights reserved