Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Photos! Do Not Bend!

I opened the mailbox and peered in, half holding my breath while hoping today would be the day. Every day for 3 weeks I jumped and ran to the mailbox when I heard the mail truck and every day I opened the mailbox and was greeted by nothing more than junk mail.

But today was different. There sitting among the grocery fliers was a small padded envelope from Chattanooga, Tennessee. The words "PHOTOS, DO NOT BEND" were written across the front. The much hoped for letter had come!

A few weeks earlier I had once again gone through the obituary index on the Chattanooga Public Library site found HERE. In the past, I had searched the obituaries there primarily for my Faucett and Fricks line, but I recently realized that some of the descendants of David Ganus, had ended up in Chattanooga as well. I was so happy to find an obituary for Burton Bartow Ganus' daughter. Burton was the son of David Ganus. David was the son of James Gurganus and Elizabeth McCluskey and a brother to my second great grandfather, John Monroe Ganus. I previously shared David's story HERE,

David Gurganus, Mary Swain, James Gurganus, Elizabeth McCluskey, David Ganus, Malinda Ganus, John Monroe Ganus, Burton Bartow Ganus, Whitfield Georgia, Chattanooga, Chattanooga Public Library, Family History, Genealogy, Ancestry.

With the help of the obituary and the internet, I was able to trace his family forward and find a living descendant!! So I wrote her and was ecstatic when she wrote me back. 

Burton Bartow Ganus, was David and Malinda's third child and their only son. Born in October of 1861 in Fayetteville, Georgia, which is about 30 miles outside of Atlanta, he and his family faced many frightening and difficult events over the first few years of his life.

Burton was only 8 months old when on May 1st,1862, his father enlisted in the 53rd Company C, The Fayette Planters. His mother Malinda who was only 23 at the time surely had her hands full with three small children; 8-month-old Burton and his two sisters, one two years old and the other five years old. I can imagine David telling his young family goodbye, fully expecting to soon return to his life with Malinda and their babies.

On June 20th, after only a few weeks of drilling and training, David, along with the other members of the 53rd, boarded the train bound for Virginia.

David soon experienced first hand the horrors of war. On September 17, 1862, the 53rd fought in their first major battle, the battle of Sharpsburg, or the Battle of Antietam, often referred to as the single bloodiest day in military history. Although many of their regiment died or were wounded, David and his brother-in-law Burton Cook would survive that battle.

As fall turned to winter, the temperatures grew cold and David caught pneumonia from exposure. In December of 1862 David died while in the Winder Hospital in Richmond, Virginia, leaving his wife Malinda and their 3 children without a father.

David Ganus, Winder Hospital, Richmond  Virginia, Fayette Planters, Georgia 53rd Regiment Company C, Fayetteville, Civil War
David Ganus is #358 in Hollywood Cemetery
Richmond, Virginia
Back at home, Malinda and the rest of the residents of Fayetteville faced many challenges. Although there were no battles fought in Fayetteville because it is located a short distance from Atlanta, troops often passed through there and the residents endured many hardships as a result. As a young boy, Burton would have seen Federal troops march through, taking what they wanted, terrorizing those who lived there and burning what they could not take with them. Life was hard for the families there. 

I am not sure how Malinda managed to care for her family, but by the time she was able to apply for and receive the meager pension allotted to the widows of confederate soldiers, it was 1891 and her children were grown.

Burton would marry three times. He first married Emma Plaer first and they had a daughter. Emma died early in their marriage and Burton then married Susan (LNU). I do not know if they divorced or if she died, but about 1922 he married Emma Jane Stowe and he spent the remainder of his life with her. 

Burton farmed a little and also worked with the railroad in Whitfield County, Georgia, which is at the southern end of the Appalachian mountains and borders Tennessee. In her last years, Malinda moved in with Burton and his family and remained with them until her death. 

After Malinda passed away on December 23rd, 1908, Burton applied for reimbursement for her burial expenses because she was a widowed pensioner. Ironically he applied for reimbursement 47 years to the day that his father had died.

Burton died 1 Jun 1959 in Whitfield, Georgia at the age of 71. A petition for the benefit of his widow indicated that at this death, he had a piece of land worth $200.00, a heifer jersey, 30 hens, some farming tools, a few household goods, a bedstead, dresser, chairs and one organ. He was a man raised in a difficult time and difficult place and yet following the example of his determined mother, he forged ahead, creating a life for himself.

I gathered this information through research and while sadly my new cousin could not add any new information to what I already knew, she could share something I did not have and something very precious to me---a picture! Finally, I was able to put a face with the facts I knew about Burton !!! I was thrilled!

Burton Bartow Ganus, Whitfield Georgia
Burton Bartow Ganus
Thank you to Grand daughter for graciously sharing this photo. 

I love to look into an ancestor's eyes and wonder what they would tell me if they were still living. As I look at Burton, I see a man weathered by many hard experiences, beginning almost immediately after his birth and yet his features do not reflect the harshness of his life, instead, I see warmth and kindness. Like his mother, he was a survivor. 

The day I opened the mailbox and saw the envelope from my new found cousin was an exciting day for me and I will forever be grateful for the arrival of that little padded envelope with the four simple words, "Photos, Do Not Bend!"

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2016, All rights reserved

Friday, June 24, 2016

Foto Friday-Dorothy Heckman

Here is a picture that is labeled! Oh happy day!!

Meet Dorothy Heckman. I love the long blessing dresses from long ago. I wonder if her mother is behind her holding her up?

I wish that I knew more about Dorothy and what eventually became of her. I shared what little I do know in this post.

Dorothy Heckman, baby, ancestry, Salida Colorado, Tula Faucett, Scott Heckman

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2016, All rights reserved

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Spooky Mountain Stories

As we sat on the lawn chairs pulled up close to the fire pit, the fire mesmerized us. Swirling colors of orange and red swallowed the burning logs while the smoke constantly shifted directions, stinging our eyes and choking us. We always said smoke followed beauty, so while it burned our eyes like the dickens, we acted as if it was a compliment when it came our way.

It was the last night of our week long camping trip and the night Dad always told us a spooky story. It was tradition and I had a love/hate relationship with the story. Dad was a great story teller and could really draw us in, so for that reason, I loved the story. But when the fire was out and I was in bed in the pitch black of the night mountains, the story replayed in my head and my imagination conjured up all kinds of images. I heard every snapping twig or suggestion of a critter or something more sinister outside our little tent trailer and it was often a very long night.

camping, Colorado, California, tent trailer, spooky stories, campfire, night
My brother and I on a family camping trip

Every year our family went camping and we loved those trips. We would fish, hike and swim in the streams. Some of our best memories are of the camping trips our family took in the mountains of California and Colorado.

As I was reading in my Grandma Ganus' life story, I was surprised to discover that Grandma Ganus' family also camped. Reading about her life in the early 1900's,  I guess I thought everyday life was close enough to camping they didn't need the camping experience, but apparently nothing quite compares to the clear crisp air and beauty of the mountains.

Grandma shared the following story about a time her family went camping and I had to wonder if such stories had served as inspiration for the spooky stories my father spun for us. (spelling and punctuation original.)

Conejos River, Colorado, camping, fishing, hunting, ancestry, genealogy, family history
Conejos River
Taken on 2010 trip
"A fishing trip I recall with my parents was up on the Conejos River. Dad, Mother and all us children, Martin, Mable and their baby girl, Evelyn, only six weeks old. My baby sister Elsie was nine weeks old. Mother and Mable and the babies rode in a buggy, the rest of us in the wagon. I think Martin must of rode some of the way with the women. This trip also took three days on the road each way. We went by way of the Alamosa Reservoir, up the Alamosa Canyon, to the Conejos River. We camped below the Old Ghost Town of Platora. When we arrived there, it was almost night and raining. Dad and Martin got the tents put up as soon as they could so the beds could be fixed and a bit of supper prepared. The next day the sun came out nice and bright, it was a pretty day. 

"Dad and Martin had to go to meet the sheep herder at a given place, and take him some provisions. The herder had a big string of fish for them when they met. The herder had taken the sheep up to Blue Lake, where the feed was better, so he didn't tarry long with them. The next day the men decided to try their luck at fishing. They got their outfits and started down the river. Just after they had crossed the river on a bridge, one of them happened to look up the mountain. there setting on a big rock was a woman, half undressed, with the gun laying across her lap. The men didn't know who she was, or what she was doing there, so Martin came back to camp while dad tried fishing in the river while he was gone. Martin had a pistol in the trunk. He got it and loaded it and told Mable to use it if the woman came bothering us. 

"We were all frightened, would hardly go out of the tent all day. She never came by, and the men said when they returned that the  woman was gone when they went back to fish. A couple mornings after this the horses were gone. Dad was sure they were headed for home. So Martin went to find them and bring them back, "on foot." Sure enough they were on their way home. Martin found them at the "World Ranch." How they could have gotten so far, hobbled as they were, was a mystery to everyone.

Colorado Mountains
Photo taken on trip in 2010
"It was about dark when Martin returned to camp. He told us this story. He had passed a certain house while looking for the horses, and on the way back as he drew near the same house, a man came out and talked awhile. He asked him in to rest a little while as he knew Martin must be tired and thirsty, after being gone so long. He had seen Martin go by in the morning. Martin said the man appeared to be real nice fellow, and when he went in the house, there sat the same woman he and dad had seen setting on the rock with the gun across her lap. Martin said he didn't know what to think at first. But the man told him that the woman was his wife, and that their only child, a boy, had been killed in a train wreck, and she had lost her mind. She wasn't harmful and had never hurt anyone. But she did like to hunt animals and she liked the mountains. So every summer they came and stayed in a cabin they had built themselves. He said she was very good with the gun, that she had killed a number of coyotes, and bear and a few lions. Well, we were all excited over the story and of course felt sorry for the poor woman and the man. But we were also kinda glad when we were again all in the wagon and buggy and on the way home."

Crazy people loose in the mountains along with the tales of Frenchman's Flat were often at the center of my father's stories and while we assumed they were fiction, I now wonder how many of those stories were based on stories that were true. Good thing I didn't know that as a kid.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2016, All rights reserved