Wednesday, March 28, 2018

This Telephone Business Has Got to be Stopped!

Perched on the end of my Grandma's cushioned rocker, my cousin and I glanced nervously at each other as she slowly and quietly lifted the receiver. Then squeezing closer together, we leaned into the phone so that we could both hear the conversation.  

Grandma had gone out to her garden and we knew we only had a few minutes before she would be back. We also knew the call wasn't for Grandma because each person on the party line had their own distinctive number of rings. But curious as to what gossip might possibly be shared that day and feeling a little bored, we decided to listen in, making sure not to make any sound that would give us away.

Over the years, telephones have gone from party lines with multiple households sharing the same line to cell phones, where every family member with a cell phone has his own line. Phones have been used to unify friends and family, as a source of information and mischief and unfortunately, they have also been the source of trouble.

Recently I came across the following article which shows just how much trouble can be caused by a telephone, which in this case resulted in the death of one man and the imprisonment of three. The newspaper article provides additional information for my three-part series "Moonshining in Alabama" which continues to be one of my most visited series on my blog. Part 1 of the series can be found here HERE



moonshine, Alabama, revenuer, telephone, ancestry, genealogy, family history, Gurganus,
Atlanta Georgia and News 1907-1912
June 13,1910
Georgia Historic Newspapers, Image 7

John Morgan, who has begun a 20-year sentence in the Atlanta Federal prison, was convicted on a peculiar charge, that of telephoning a warning to the murderers of Deputy Collector W. A. Anderson. In speaking of the matter, J. H. Surber, revenue agent said:
 
"In the case of John Morgan, who was convicted of the conspiracy and who is now serving a 20-year sentence in the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary, he was accused of telephoning old Man Gurganus of the approach of the officers. 
"He had nothing to do with the actual firing of the fatal shot, but the private system of telephones throughout the country was the greatest menace which the revenue officers had to contend with.
"In searching for the murderers we discovered at least 30 telephones. 
"This telephone business has got to be stopped and the sentence of Morgan should be a good warning to all others." 


Public Domain

The very phones that were supposed to help keep Marion and his boys from getting into trouble with the law ended up being the thing that set everything into motion, ultimately resulting in a charge of conspiracy for John Morgan and ensuring that Marion and Johnny Gurganus were fired up and waiting for the revenuer when he showed up. Truly it would have been best for them all if their telephone business had been stopped. 


Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2018, All rights reserved

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The Final Chapter-- #19 Becoming Acquainted with John

It's no small secret that this final post in the series about John Monroe Ganus' life is long past due. I could blame the delay on my recent move, on some challenging family circumstances or countless other things, and although those things have undoubtedly played a part, the truth of the matter is, I've struggled to know how to bring it all to a close. If you missed the beginning of John's story, you will want to go back and read it beginning with this post


genealogy, ancestry, Georgia, Manassa, Colorado, Indian Territory, Ganus


Up to this point, land records, newspapers, US. Population Censuses, Agricultural Censuses, journals of LDS missionaries and LDS church membership records have provided me with details and insight into John's life. I had hoped to end his life story with the same level of detail. But sadly, after John's move to Colorado, the sources began to dwindle.

What I do know is that the Ganus family remained in Colorado until about 1894, and then they once again packed up and moved. A move was never a cheap or easy endeavor and yet, despite the difficulties and just short of being 70 years old, John, along with his family made the roughly 690 mile trip from Manassa, Colorado to Indian Territory, now known as Oklahoma.

Indian Territory in the mid to late 1890's posed many challenges. Lack of good medical care, the difficulty in growing gardens and crops, in addition to the challenge of finding adequate housing meant many families lived in shacks and sod houses while having to go without. Most frontier towns had more saloons than churches and outlaws roamed the countryside.

Availability of land enticed many folks to move to Indian Territory and yet I find no evidence that any member of the Ganus family acquired land there in the early days. They arrived well after the initial Land Run of 1889 and no record has been found to show that they obtained land in any of the later run
s.


migration, southerners, Indian Territory, Oklahoma,
John's moves: Red, Georgia to Alabama in early 1860s, Orange, Georgia to Arkansas late 1860s.
Green, Georgia to Colorado 1887, Yellow, Colorado to Oklahoma late 1890s

Not only is it difficult to understand why they moved to Indian Territory, it is equally difficult to fathom why they were willing to leave Colorado.

Leaving Colorado meant leaving behind their homes as well as an established community of other southerners and other members of their church. Some of their neighbors in Manassa had traveled with them when they left Georgia in 1886. The Ganus family also left behind the graves of their tender young grandchildren who had died much too young.

Given the challenges of moving yet once again, I can only assume their decision to leave was mulled over for some time and discussed at length among their sons and their families.

This would be John and Olivia's final move. Roughly six years later on the windswept plains of Oklahoma, Olivia passed away on 12 September 1902 at 71 years. John would live another four years, dying on 9 April 1906 at the age of 79.

After a lifetime of looking to their father for direction and guidance, the five brothers would be left to stand on their own. The oldest son, Frank was only 54 years old when he passed away a few months after his father, John. Frank's wife, Sarah was only 45 years old when she followed three years later and so Frank and Sarah's sons were sent to back to Colorado to be raised by Sarah's brothers. The other four Ganus brothers, John, Roderick, Newton and Robert, remained in Oklahoma, and all but Newton, who never married, raised their families ther
e.


John Monroe Ganus, Robert Lee Ganus, Roderick Monroe Ganus, Newton Lafayette Ganus, William Franklin Ganus
TR-L: Robert Lee Ganus, Roderick Monroe Ganus, Newton Lafayette Ganus
BR-L: John Monroe Ganus, John Thackason Ganus, William Franklin Ganus
I often study this picture of John and his sons and wonder what they would tell me if they could. Taken in Indian Territory, my guess is that the photo was taken sometime between Olivia's death in 1902 and John's death in 1906. Although I understand that photography was different in those days, I can't help but think they look a little tired, perhaps a little worn by years of difficult and trying experiences. Newton in the top right of the photo is the one exception. Although he wears a smile, I suspect the smile had more to do with the head injury he sustained as a child and less about his view on life.

Although I have learned a great deal about John over the years, there remain many questions. Why didn't John enlist in the Civil War along with his brothers and brothers-in-law? Why did he move to Arkansas for a few short years following the Civil War? Why did John listen to the LDS missionaries when so many would not? Why did he openly allow the Mormon missionaries to have cottage meetings in his home in Georgia and share what little he had with them when he obviously had so little and the risks were so great?

As I look at John's life, I see a man who sacrificed much and took many risks for what he believed. I see a man who established such strong family ties with his sons that the extended family remained together through the hardest of times and through many moves. I see a man who made difficult choices and wasn't afraid of change. I've been blessed by his choices and am grateful for his sacrifices and through many years of research, I am grateful to feel I've come a little closer to becoming acquainted with my second great-grandfather, John Monroe Ganus
.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2018, All rights reserved

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The Generosity of Strangers -- -# 18 Becomming Acquainted with John

Colorado, Manassa, genealogy, Southern, Ganus, San Luis Valley, Mormon, Georgia, ancestry
We had been driving for hours but finally, we began to recognize familiar landmarks and the nervous anticipation began. We loved visiting our relatives in the San Luis Valley in Southern Colorado. While we lived in California, our trips had been limited to the summer months, but after our family moved to West Texas, we decided to make the trip for Thanksgiving one year.  

I looked out across the wide valley framed by majestic mountain ranges and was taken by how different everything looked in November. Fields that were filled with the green of alfalfa during the summer months now lay bare and covered by a thin layer of snow. Void of the tractors and baling wagons that dotted the fields during the summer, the empty fields had a certain peaceful silence about them, as if quietly resting for the season. 

Finally, we pulled up to Grandma's house and as we climbed out of the car, the brisk cold bit at our skin, indicating that our light jackets were woefully inadequate for the stinging cold of November in the San Luis Valley. 

As I recently realized that my ancestors moved to Colorado that same time of year, I couldn't help but reflect on my own experience and how unprepared we were for the cold there. Sadly most of the Southerners, including my ancestors, who arrived in the San Luis Valley in November of 1887 lacked clothing suitable for the cold they would experience.

As John and Olivia, along with their sons and their families, descended from the train in Colorado in November 1887, they truly began a new and very different chapter in their lives. Over fourteen hundred miles from their home in Georgia, they left behind those who opposed their beliefs and threatened their safety, but they also left behind beloved siblings, cousins, aunts, and uncles, as well as life-long friends. They left behind their culture, the land they had tended and farmed and of course their homes. They sacrificed it all for their religious beliefs.


Arriving in Colorado in November and on the brink of winter was a challenge on several levels. At an altitude of over 7,000 feet above sea level, San Luis Valley winters can be bitter cold and a very different winter from what the Southerners were accustomed to. In addition, the valley has a very short growing season and the Ganuses arrived well after the freeze and much too late to plant a garden or any crops for food. Although some who emigrated may have had funds to purchase food and supplies, many of the Southerners, including the Ganus family, had arrived in a state of poverty. The Ganus family had not even had enough money to purchase all of the train tickets needed for their entire family but had relied on the generosity of a friend, George Driver, who lent them $10.00 to buy the final ticket. It would be the generosity of strangers who would get them through the coming winter.
According to Emily Wells, a Manassa resident during that time, Manassa struggled as a community because of the number of Southerners who arrived in a state of poverty and ill-prepared for the cold climate. Nevertheless, the little farming community worked to help all those who were in need.(1) Undoubtedly the Ganuses were among those needing assistance. 

In a dissertation entitled "Mormon Colonization of the San Luis Valley, Colorado, 1878-1900, Judson Harold Flower, Jr. wrote:  
"Whatever the future prospects for Manassa, the prevailing poverty among the southern Saints arriving in the valley was a constant obstacle to the progress of the settlement, and one which could not be overcome solely by the injection of Mormon families from Utah into the community. Much credit for assisting the new arrivals through the first difficult months was due the Mexicans of the valley who rented homes, farms, seed and other materials and equipment to the newcomers arriving in their midst. (2)
Although I was unable to find a record of the weather for 1887, newspaper accounts for the following few winters often reported heavy snowfall and bitter cold. Train travel was frequently halted for days due to deep snow drifts, sometimes as deep as fourteen feet. 

There were other difficulties that cropped up as well. Judson H. Flower, who did considerable research on the early settlement of the San Luis Valley, indicated that as the residents of the small neighboring towns interacted, there were sometimes issues between those from Utah and those from the South due to the differences in their culture. Many of those from Utah were from Scandinavian countries and consequently, English was not their primary language, making it easier to socialize with those who shared their native language and culture. The Southerners likewise had more in common with the other Southerners who had settled there. In addition, many of the American born Southerners found it irritating to receive constant instruction on everything from church matters to farming issues from those of foreign birth.(3) 

As they worked through the various challenges, each new family in the community needed to find a way to work and contribute in order to make a living. Although the Ganus family had farmed in Georgia, John's oldest son, Frank, was recorded as one of the early carpenters in Manassa and John's other sons worked a lot for John Morgan, the Mission President they had previously known in Georgia.(4)

Despite the many adjustments and challenges for John's family, there were many good things that occurred in that small community. Manassa was primarily a Mormon community, so they shared religious beliefs with most who lived there and no longer feared persecution. In addition, because there were so many Southerners in Manassa they found themselves among many who understood their traditions and shared their mannerisms and way of thinking.  

In the Deseret News, November 5, 1887, referring to the San Luis Valley,
"There is in these towns a warm, delightful cordiality, a nearness of brother to brother, and a Gospel spirit of love and co-operation pervading the whole community, that is not met with in older towns. Every grasp of the hand sends a thrill to the heart, and is accompanied by a warm God bless you that speaks volumes of brotherly love. Two facts, we think, will explain this nearer approach to the Gospel ideal of society, the naturally warm-hearted, generous feeling of the southern people and all absence of caste caused by the mutual interdependence of all the settlers in their united battles against the difficulties of pioneer life."
As is often the case, some folks felt the challenges were too great or they were simply enticed by the hope of finding something better and moved. A few families returned to Georgia and a few others chose to move elsewhere, although many remained in Manassa and the surrounding communities.

How was the Ganus family affected by the issues? The many challenges surely took a toll on them just as it did with others, but to what extent, we don't know. What we do know is that they made Colorado their home for quite a few years, but by 1895, when William Franklin Ganus' son, Homer Paul Ganus was born, the family was living in Oklahoma.This would be their final move and the final chapter for John and Olivia. 


1. A Mormon "Widow" in Colorado: The Exile of Emily Wells Grant, page 180. Found online in PDF form.
2.  "Mormon Colonization of the San Luis Valley, Colorado, 1878-1900," a thesis presented by Judson Harold Flower, Jr.,  to Department of History at Brigham Young University, May 1966, p.  57
3. Ibid
4. A record included with information on the families living in Manassa in April of 1888. Digitized by J. Willard Marriot Library, University of Utah.


Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2017, All rights reserved