Wednesday, August 9, 2017

He Dared Let Them Stay ---11 Becoming Acquainted with John M. Ganus

John and Olivia had been baptized just a little over a year when on April 12th, 1881, Elder John E. Metcalf boarded a train in Salt Lake City, bound for Georgia. He had been called to serve as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints and would serve in the Southern States. Sharing his beliefs with the people of the South would mean spending several years away from his family who were living in Sanpete County, Utah. 

The Mormon missionaries of that time traveled without purse or script, relying on the goodness of those whom they met to allow them to stay and offer them a meal. But with mounting violence aimed at members of the LDS faith and the Mormon missionaries, some were afraid to allow the missionaries to stay in their home. John and Olivia, however, opened their door to the missionaries, including Elder Metcalf, who soon became a frequent visitor in their home.  


John E. Metcalf, missionary, Mormons, genealogy, family history, faith, persecution
John E. Metcalf, Jr.  
There were very few members of the Mormon faith where John and Olivia lived, and there wasn't a church building for them to meet in. Mormon meetings often drew the attention of those who opposed them and so members were cautious about when and where they met and at times they were counseled not to gather at all. In neighboring communities, Mormons and Mormon missionaries were shot at and some were killed, their homes and barns burned to the ground. 

A story in the Deseret Evening News, on 22 July 1879, told about an incident that took place in Varnell, Whitfield County, Georgia:
"In May, Elder C H. Hulse and Thomas Lloyd, of Cache Valley, passed through Varnell's on the way to North Carolina, when the same mob came upon them, entered the house of one of the Saints, flourishing pistols, swearing to kill the inmates if they ever harbored the Elders again and drove the brethren out of the neighborhood." (1)
These incidents grew in number and intensity in the years that followed. Nevertheless, at great risk to themselves, John and Olivia provided a place for the missionaries to stay and allowed meetings to be held in their home. On Sunday, April 9th, 1882, Elder Metcalf recorded: 
"Held Meeting at Bro. Ganus's had a nice tournout, had a good flow of the Spirit of God this is the first Meeting held in this neighborhood hope to do some good, stayed all night at G's." [sic]
John and his extended family continued to help the missionaries and turned to them in their time of need. 

On the 13th of April of 1882, Elder Metcalf recorded that he was needed at John and Olivia's son, John Thackason and his wife, Mary Ganus's house. Elder Metcalf recorded:
"Called up to go to Sis Mary Ganus 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 till death which occured at 5 P.M.we also Blessed another of thier children stayed all night at Bro John Ganus."
When President John Morgan, the Mission President for the Southern States Mission visited the area, he too stayed with John and Olivia. Known for his service in the Union Army, President Morgan was considered an even greater problem to those opposed the Mormon religion and consequently, there was an even greater risk for those who housed him. During his time in the South, President Morgan received many threats from the Klu Klux Klan, which included both verbal threats and the posting of written signs on trees and in other locations. One particular sign, read "A Charitable hint to Mormons" and portrayed a man being hung.(2)  

John and Olivia's willingness to help the missionaries shows strength in the face of danger and implies a commitment to their beliefs. Would it become too much, or would they stay true to what they believed in the face of such danger? 



1.  "The Life and Ministry of John Morgan" by Arthur Richardson, Historical Research Nicholas G. Morgan Sr. pg. 234 

2. Ibid, p. 191 

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2017, All rights reserved

Friday, August 4, 2017

Is Your Ancestor Listed Here?A Great New Resource

I wanted to take a break in the story about John Ganus long enough to tell you about a website I've become aware of. It is a collection of some different and unique information.

I've long been aware of Ray Gurganus' webpage. I am a Ganus/Gurganus after all and he's spent year creating a website that brings together information about the Ganus and Gurganus families and the families who married into them. But recently Ray has taken on a new project----and this project has a scope that extends way beyond the Gurganus families and may even include in YOUR family.

So what is this new project? It all began when Ray found a list of a little over fifty pastors of his home church in North Carolina and became curious. He wondered where were these pastors before they came to his church and where did they move when they left? There was no one place to look for such information and he found himself googling and winding his way through the massive world wide web trying to find out more about them, which was extremely time-consuming. So Ray began to record what he found for future reference, but he didn't stop there.

Now, over 40,000 minister records later, Ray's list has grown to include not only ministers but many other occupations from many states and his collection is still growing.  Lucky for us, Ray has made his findings available to everyone---for free. Not only does he have an extensive listing of links to information about ministers, but his list now includes post masters, justice of the peace, treasurers, judges, university professors and even lighthouse keepers, in addition to others and the list just keeps growing! At the time of this post, Ray site lists over 78, 000 records and it is still growing.

You can search his database by occupation, surname and/or state:

https://www.ourfamtree.org/records/

I decided to give his site a spin and I was amazed by the links and information provided. For example, I entered one of my surnames, Rainwater and it brought up two ministers by that name. For Roland Rainwater, it shows that he served at the Mt Zion Methodist Church in Currituck County, NC in 1944. A link next to his name takes me to a page that shows me who else has served as a minister at that church and what years they were there. Another link takes me to a 54-page history of the Mt. Zion Methodist Church. J. Rainwater also popped up in the search and he served in Goucher Baptist Church in Spartanburg Co. in 1836 and the result also includes a link to other ministers for that church as well as a brief history of that church.

We can search using as much or as little information as we would like. For example, a search for simply "Georgia" revealed the current list of 738 records for individuals with a variety of occupations.

Do you wonder who the minister was for your ancestor's church?  A quick search in Georgia records brought up ministers for some of the churches where my ancestors attended church.

Can't find someone you think should be there? If you are aware of a list, Ray would love for you to submit that information to him so that it can be included. And although it's already a massive project, the list is still growing, so check back often.


Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2017, All rights reserved

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Eerily Silent----10 Becoming Acquainted with John M. Ganus

For a moment, everything went eerily quiet as the smoke and thick dust swirled around them. As the air began to clear, Elder Rudger Clawson could see that it was just as he had feared, Elder Joseph Standing, his missionary companion, had been shot and lay on the ground with a large bullet hole in his forehead. 

Rudger Clawson, Joseph Standing, murder, Mormons, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Georgia
Rudger Clawson (L) and Joseph Standing (R)

Folding his arms, Elder Clawson looked up at the angry mob and said, "Shoot." When nothing happened, he stooped down to help his dying companion.  

It was July 21, 1879 and Elder Clawson and Elder Standing had been on their way to Rome, Georgia, which was about 20 miles from where John Monroe Ganus and his wife, Olivia lived. As they were walking along, they looked up and discovered a mob positioned a short distance away and looking right at them. Waving their hats over their heads, the mob whooped and headed straight for the two Elders. Well armed, the mob took the two missionaries as prisoners. Things soon escalated and ended with the murder of Elder Standing, one of many murders of Mormons that would take place in the South. 

Amazingly enough, in May of 1880, just slightly over nine months after the murder of Elder Standing, John and Olivia joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints, commonly referred to by many as the Mormon church. 

In 1878, the southern headquarters for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints, had moved from Chattanooga, Tennessee to Rome, Georgia. At that time, John and Olivia were working to feed and clothe three growing boys in a Georgia still struggling from the effects of the war. Although the strains of reconstruction had eased somewhat, poverty was still widespread and many felt a fear and uncertainty about the future. With a desire to preserve their way of life, many residents viewed outsiders and those with different views suspiciously and that included those of the Mormon church. Many of the Mormon missionaries were from other states and there were many rumors and suspicions about their reasons for going to the south to proselyte. 

In July of 1880, a missionary from Utah, Elder Solomon C. Stephens, organized a small congregation of 12 Mormon converts in Haralson County, Georgia. (1) Among them were John and Olivia Ganus, who had been baptized by Elder Stephens two months earlier on May 7, 1880, likely in a nearby pond called "Mormon Hole." Although many of their neighbors had avoided and rejected the Mormon missionaries, John and Olivia were among the few who listened to their message and joined the LDS church. 

I've often wondered why John and Olivia listened when so many did not. John and Olivia had lost several children, so the Mormon's teachings about eternal families may have brought comfort to them. Was it the way the Mormon church is organized or the doctrine regarding our purpose here on earth? We likely will never know, but something about the Mormon church felt right to them and they listened to the missionaries, believed what they were taught and then accepted the invitation to be baptized. 

That decision forever changed the course of John and Olivia's lives and the choices they made in the days and years that followed. Fortunately, some of the missionaries who served in their area recorded events and details of the Ganus' lives so stay tuned as there is much more to tell. 



For more information about Joseph Standing, see: http://www.ldschurchnewsarchive.com/articles/40866/In-memory-of-a-martyr.html

(1) Ancestor Files: http://theancestorfiles.blogspot.com/2009/04/history-of-southern-states-mission-part_09.html


Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2017, All rights reserved