Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Leaving on a Jet Plane -Part 1 Becoming Acquainted with John Monroe Ganus

John Monroe Ganus, move, Shell Oil Company, West Texas, Ancestry, Genealogy, Ancestors
The plane we took from LA Ex to Lubbock, Texas
June 19, 1974
As I stepped out of the airport I was hit by a blast of hot air. I did a quick 360 and immediately realized that things looked about the same at ground level as they had from the air. We had landed in Lubbock, Texas and although I hadn't been sure what to expect as we left California, I had not envisioned miles of flat sandy terrain, dotted with oil wells. With a rock in my gut, I climbed into the back seat of the rental car and my family, consisting my parents, two brothers and me, began the 109 mile trip to our motel. As I looked out the car window my stomach sank as I viewed what would soon become our home. 

genealogy, ancestry, family history, John Monroe Ganus, Olivia Rainwater, Denver City, Texas, Shell Oil Company
Outside of Denver City, Texas 

When our plane left LAX a few hours earlier, I knew my life was about to change dramatically, but at the time I really had no idea how different the climate and culture of West Texas was to my native California. I would soon learn they really had little in common.

Gone were lazy days at the beach, frequent visits to Disneyland and of course I would no longer see my large group of friends. Although I knew I would form new friendships and find new things to do, my life would be very different from the life I had known. 

I have reflected on that life-changing move many times over the years. The pull for my family was a great opportunity for my father to advance with the Shell Oil Company. As a 15-year-old teenager, I had begrudgingly accepted that fact, knowing it would severely cut into my fun. Little did I realize just how many life lessons I would learn in that little West Texas town or how much I would draw on those lessons throughout my life.

Many of my ancestors also made major moves during their lifetime. In some cases, I have been able to discover the "push" or "pull" that motivated them to move, but for others, those reasons are still to be discovered.

In November of 1886, John Monroe Ganus, his wife, Olivia (Rainwater) and their five sons, along with their spouses and grandchildren boarded a train and left their native state of Georgia and made the long 1,479 mile trip to Manassa, Colorado. John and Olivia were my second great grandparents and that move forever affected not only their lives but also the lives of all of the generations that followed, including mine. Unlike so many of the moves during that time, that move was not motivated by the quest for better land, for work or enticement by other family members. Please join me over the next little while as I focus on John Monroe Ganus, his life and the events that led up to this life-altering move.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2017, All rights reserved

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Playing Favorites: Burton W. Cook

I never felt that I had a favorite child among our four children. Each contributed to our family in their own unique way, had his/her own talents, abilities, and challenges and so each has a special place in my heart. 

Our four "kids" on a recent visit
I tend to say I don't have favorite ancestors, although I have to confess, there are some I feel a little more drawn to. Not surprisingly, they are often the ones I know the most about. Do I dare say, maybe I do actually have a few favorites? 

Burton W. Cook, b. 1831 in Georgia is one of those. However, he is not truly my ancestor but married Mary Ganus, sister to my 2nd great grandfather. I've written about him quite a bit, including the following: 

Having his marriage record, a multitude of deeds, tax digests, Civil War records and even his will, which is a rare find for my family, I really have done a lot of research on Burton and felt satisfied that I knew a lot about him. But recently while using the site, "Georgia Historic Newspapers," a free website found HERE, I was excited to find yet a few more things about Burton. 

Although I was actually researching someone else at the time, I can never resist the temptation to enter in a few other names into the search box while I am there. You never know what has been recently added.  First of all, I found in the Carroll Free Press, Feb. 2, 1894, page 2, the following: 

 "Mr. Burton Cook was struck with paralysis last Friday and hasn't been able to set up to (sic) since. He is not expected to live." 

Interestingly enough, in the same edition, just one page later, on page 3, was the following:

"Mr. Burton Cook of Kansas district, died Tuesday evening from a stroke of paralysis. He was stricken on Friday. 

"Mr. Cook was in the 70th year of his age at the time of his death.

He was highly esteemed by all who knew him, and in his death the county has lost a good citizen." 
So now I knew the circumstances of his death, although none of my research supported the statement that he was in his 70th year. A final find was constant with what I had for his age and birth year but added additional rich details about his life. Published in the Carroll Free Press, February 9, 1894, page 3, this was written about Burton:  

"The subject of this notice was born in Coweta county in April 1829 and departed this life at his home in Carroll county on the 30th day of January 1894, aged 64 years, 9 months and 14 days.  
"He was married to Mary Ganus in 1850, united with the Baptist church while in the army in 1862, and cast his lot with the church at Shadner afterwards, moved his membership to Sardus church Coweta county, moved to Carroll county and united with the church at Abilene on the 5th day of June 1880, where he remained a consistent member until called away. 
 "Bro. Cook was a good man and was loved by all who knew him. Always ready to give counsel to those who he thought needed it, always ready to assist those who were in distress, always tried to visit the sick and administer to their wants and do all that he could to console them. His seat was seldom vacant at church when he was able to go. He has said for many years that he was ready to quit the walks of men when it was the will of the Lord to call him away.
"Therefore be it resolved; That in the death of Bro Cook the county has lost one of her best citizens, the church one of its brightest jewels, his companion and children a loving and affectionate husband and father."
So with the aid of one of my favorite resources, newspapers, I was able to learn more about one of my favorite men, someone I thought I already knew so much about. I learned that at the age of 64, Burton died as a result of a stroke. I learned that he was a religious man, a man eager to serve others, and who was respected in the community. I have never been able to determine exactly who his parents were in the large sea of southern Cooks but hopefully the clue, "he was born in Coweta," was shared by someone who actually knew and I'm excited to pursue that possibility. This new information just further fueled my love for Burton and yes, I think his place as one of my favorites is pretty secure. 

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2017, All rights reserved

Saturday, December 31, 2016

A Look Back before Moving Forward 2016

This year has been a difficult year for our family, consequently, it has been challenging for me to keep up with blogging. But as I looked back over my blog posts, I was pleasantly surprised to see how much progress has been made.

Among the highlights are new cousin connections which led to new clues, new photos and personal stories about common ancestors. One special lady, Sue Conklin, shared a beautiful picture of an ancestor, Lucille Rainwater, as well as details about Lucille's life. Although I had found a great deal about Lucille through research, there were gaps of understanding that only a living direct descendant could provide and I was so thankful for Sue's help. I shared Lucille's story HERE. Betty Wedgeworth, a distant Gurganus cousin, found my blog and generously wrote and shared several stories about our Gurganus family, including a beautiful photo and story about her grandmother Lillie and her unbelievably long hair, which I shared HERE.  

The photo restoration company 399Retouch contacted me and offered to restore several of my old photos, so I sent them a couple of my most challenging photos. I was very pleased with the results and I shared those on my blog HERE and HERE. (Several of my friends, including one whose photos were damaged in a flood, have since used them and been extremely happy with the results.) 

Thanks to obituaries obtained through the Chattanooga Public Library, I was able to make considerable progress on my Faucett and Fricks line. One of the obituaries led me to a distant cousin who provided a photo of Burton Bartow Ganus, the son of David Ganus who was a brother to my second great grandfather, John Monroe Ganus. I was so excited the day I opened the mailbox and saw the manilla envelope with the words, "Photos, do not bend."  I tell that story HERE


It's always interesting to see which blog posts were visited the most. The following posts were my most popular, do you remember any of these? 

Getting Recharged - In this blog post I shared my experience when I attended the BCG* Lectures held in the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. 

Making Sorghum Molasses the Old Way - Cousin Floyd Ganus, a descendant of Robert Lee Ganus and Stella Montgomery, shared his memory of learning to make sorghum molasses with his grandfather. 

Photos! Do Not Bend! - In this post, I shared the excitement of finding a new cousin and of the letter and photos that she sent. 

Guest Blogger-Lisa Lisson - Blogger Lisa Lisson, author of the blog, Are You My Cousin? shared some tips and tricks for identifying old photos. 

Just a Beat up Ole Fork - Sometimes the simplest possessions can become treasures to the recipient. What began as a preference of a particular eating utensil at my grandma's dinner table, became a connection to a grandfather I never knew. 

Where is My Peach Pie?  Distant cousin, Betty Wedgeworth shared a humorous story about my third cousin twice removed, Benjamin Powell Gurganus "Dock" and his wife Trannie J. Cain. The story made me laugh and left me wishing I had known them personally. 

A Poor Substitute for a Sandwich In this blog post, I share an entry from my grandma's personal history where she shares her introduction to a sandwich she had never heard of before. 


It's really interesting to see which of my blog posts over the years continue to draw visitors. The most popular posts all include a little mystery and most needed several posts to tell the full story. The following continue to be the top posts: 

The Stories Their Faces Tell -In this post, I share the sad realization of why my great-grandfather's brother, Newton L. Ganus's was the only one smiling in the family photo. 

From Murder Scene to Picnic Spot - Shirttail cousin, Claude Chambers visits the scene of a murder in our family history and is surprised to see what the spot has become over the years. 

Piecing Together Their Lives- This is a three-part series in which I share the exciting email I received from cousin Karen and the discovery that resulted. 

Moonshining in Alabama - There really is no competition when it comes to this three part series about a murder trial of a moonshining ancestral cousin. Written in 2013, this continues to be the most popular post on my blog.   

This past year I continued to pursue opportunities to learn by attending Rootstech 2016 in February, the BCG Lectures in SLC in October, and in December I finally completed the last of the required courses for a certificate in American research from the National Institute for Genealogical Studies

I've also continued to interview bloggers as part of the "May I Introduce to You" team at GeneaBloggers which has provided many wonderful opportunities to get to know other bloggers and to learn from them. Everyone has a story to tell and experience to share. 

All in all, there have been many good things this past year. Hopefully, the coming year will bring more new cousin connections, more family tree discoveries, and more opportunities to learn and share.

*BCG is an acronym for the Board for the Certification of Genealogist

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2015, All rights reserved