Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Worshiping Despite Fear - 13 Becoming Acquainted with John M. Ganus

LDS, Mormons, genealogy, missionaries, Ganus, Sunday, worship, persecution
My husband, my grandson and myself
ready for church!
Each Sunday we get up, dress in our Sunday-best and head to church where we join with neighbors and friends in worshipping God.

I've lived in four different states over the years and have been blessed to live among many good people belonging to a variety of different religions. We have benefitted and learned so much from all of them. I have never worried for my safety or for my children's safety because our beliefs differed and I've also never felt the need to persecute or threaten others when their beliefs were different than mine. 

Sadly, times were very different for John and Olivia. A study of the circumstances at that time reveals many complex issues, too complicated and detailed to be dealt with here. My purpose in sharing their story is not to be critical of either the place, time or people of the community in which they lived because I can not possibly imagine what life was like for any of them, or the fears or biases they experienced. My only desire is to share John and Olivia's story and to show that they truly demonstrated great faith and commitment to what they believed in the face of danger.

Following John and Olivia's baptism in the Mormon church in May of 1880, the threats and hostility towards the Mormons increased in many areas, making it difficult for many LDS church members to sell and trade in their communities and in some cases, making it dangerous for children to attend school or be out on their own. The missionaries were often threatened and those who allowed them to meet in their homes and who housed and fed them similarly became the target of threats. The following article appeared in the North Georgia Citizen:

Mormon missionaries, Georgia, Worship, ancestry, genealogy
North Georgia Citizen, Jul. 1, 1886 -- page 3

And another:
genealogy, ancestry, missionaries, LDS
North Georgia Citizen, Nov. 17, 1887 -- page 3
Rumors surrounding the beliefs and intents of the Mormons ran rampant, stirring up suspicions, fears and fueling acts of violence. 

For several years after John and Olivia were baptized, Mormons in the Polk County area were counseled not to meet together in public for their own safety. So for several years, member of the LDS church remained relatively isolated and without support from other Mormons. Then on February 7, 1886, new missionaries came to the area and called a meeting of those few families who had been baptized members of the LDS church, which included John and Olivia Ganus. The meeting began with the small group singing "Now Let Us Rejoice" written by W. W. Phelps. The words to the second verse surely expressed some of what they must have felt and hoped for:

"We'll love one another and never dissemble
But cease to do evil and ever be one.

And when the ungodly are fearing and tremble,

We'll watch for the day when the Savior will come,

When all that was promised the Saints will be given,

And none will molest them from morn until ev'n,

And earth will appear as the Garden of Eden,

And Jesus will say to all Israel, "Come home."

Following the hymn, Elder Spry spoke to them about their responsibility to live in a way that enabled them to receive blessings from God. He then asked for a vote as to whether they wanted to organize a Sunday School and the vote was unanimous. The Sacrament was administered, they sang a few more hymns and the meeting was dismissed.

Over the next few years, John and Olivia continued to welcome the missionaries and allow meetings to be held in their home and it's apparent from Elder Murphy's record that it became an important part of their life. Like Elder Metcalf who was mentioned in the previous post, Elder Murphy mentions some of his frequent visits with the Ganus family. On Sunday, July 4, 1886, Elder Murphy recorded:

"After dinner we taken  up the line of march back to Bro. Gainous (sic). Arrived there at 4 p.m. At 7 p.m. we opened our meeting Bro. Spry presiding we administered the sacrament of the Lords supper after which I occupied 1 hour and 30 minutes and felt well." 
Thursday, August 26, 1886
"I rode with Ezra Barker to within a mile or 2 of Br. John Gainous. Got out of the buggy and went to his house spent the remainder of the day and stayed all night with them had a pleasant time with the family. They were glad to see me! You bet they were. " 
Wednesday, Sept 8, 1886
"I went to Bro Gainous and received the letters from R. M. Humphrey telling me of his trip to Ogden City to see my family. When I got to Mr. Gainusis he said he had almost got ready to say out loud that I had told him a lie. But as I had come he said he would take it all back. We sang songs and prayed and went to bed."
Then Friday, Sept. 10, 1886
"I spent the day at Bro. John Ganus reading and talking on the principals of the gospel......." 
Neither John nor Olivia kept a journal, so truthfully we don't know how they felt about things, but we can surmise from the journals of those who knew them and the sacrifices that they made, that they enjoyed the time spent with the missionaries, were willing to share what they believed and apparently were willing to stand firm in the face of adversity.

Beginning in 1877, many Southern Mormon converts began to emigrate out of the South to safer locations. That emigration continued for about 10 years as Southern Mormons sought a place where they could freely worship. Many moved to the San Luis Valley of Colorado. Would John and Olivia remain in Georgia and if so, for how long? 

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2017, All rights reserved

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Sleeping Over ---12 - Becoming Acquainted with John M. Ganus

Every summer our family loaded up the station wagon and made the drive from California to Colorado where all of our relatives lived. We loved the time with our extended family and couldn't wait to get there. 


My brothers and a cousin in Colorado

When we stayed at my Grandma Hostetter's house, I usually slept on the hide-a-bed sofa in the living room. I didn't mind that bed so much, but the location provided some challenges. In her small little house, the living room was adjacent to the dining room where a large cuckoo clock from Switzerland hung on the wall. It was great to watch the little Swiss people come out and dance to the music during the daytime hours, but much to my dismay, those same little people never slept and the clock played off and on throughout the night. In addition, Grandma was a very early riser and she would get up in the wee hours of the morning to go work in her garden. Accustomed to living alone, she probably didn't realize how loud the screen door slammed on her way out. 



Sleeping at other people's homes can sometimes be challenging.

In the nineteenth century, the LDS missionaries went out without purse or script, meaning they relied on others for a meal and a place to stay. The missionaries in Polk County, Georgia were welcome in the Ganus' house and they frequently stayed in their home. In his missionary journal, Elder John Joseph Pledger Murphy recorded some of the experiences he had staying with the Ganus family. 


Elder Murphy once told John M. Ganus that he hadn't stopped at the mill one evening where the Ganuses were working because he "got tired of lying on the soft side of a board during the war." The following night he stayed at John's home and it may have made sleeping on the soft side of a board look good. 

Elder John Joseph Pledger Murphy
As was common among the poorer class of people during that time, when staying at the Ganus's home, Elder Murphy didn't get a guest room or even his own bed, but shared the bed with John's son, Newton. Elder Murphy recorded on Sept 10, 1886:
"Stayed all knight at Bro. Ganus. Slept with Newt, he kicked and punched me all knight."
The next night wasn't much better, Elder Murphy recorded:
"Saturday , Sept 11, 1886 I spent the day at Bro. Ganus wrote a letter to Bro. D. H. Peery of Ogden concerning Brother W. F. Ganus getting a job with him in the mill also I showed Bro. Ganus about getting up his genealogy at night I went down and slept with his little boy and he tried to be on me all knight with his feet. I was almost sick with cold and nervous."
On Saturday, October 23, 1886, Elder Murphy went with Frank (William Franklin Ganus) to John's son's home, John Thackson Ganus. When Elder Murphy referred to John Monroe Ganus, he called him Brother John Ganus, but when he referred to John's son, John Thackason Ganus, he called him simply John Ganus as John T. had not yet been baptized. 

Although Elder Murphy's experience was slightly different at John Thackason Ganus' home, he still didn't get an uninterrupted night of sleep. Elder Murphy recorded:
"Frank and me slept at John Ganus the bed fell down with us. "
Despite the difficulty in getting a solid night's sleep at the Ganuses, Elder Murphy returned to the Ganus household time and again. I guess although sleeping at the Ganus' house sometimes had its challenges, it still beat sleeping on the soft side of a board. 

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2017, All rights reserved

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