Wednesday, April 29, 2020

In the Foothills of North Georgia


John Monroe Ganus, William Franklin Ganus, genealogy, ancestry, familysearch, lds missionaries
Hightower Mill

Tucked in the foothills of north Georgia sits the beautiful remains of an old gristmill made of local stone and dating back to about 1845. At one time, wheat and corn were ground on large stone wheels within. My Great Grandfather, William Franklin Ganus, or Frank as he was known, dressed millstones there. Thanks to old missionary journals, I learned that he lived and worked there. 


Today the old mill is privately owned and is only open for private events and previously scheduled photo sessions. Luckily I was able to arrange a time on our recent trip to Georgia. The beauty there is incredible and exceeded my expectations. 


William H. Kirby, LDS missionary,Elder Pledger Murphy
Large Waterfall next to mill


Situated beside a large 80-foot waterfall and surrounded by lush foliage, the ruins of the mill appear almost surreal. I read about the mill prior to our recent trip to Georgia, saw the pictures of it on the internet and yet when I stepped into view of the old mill, it took my breath away. It is beautiful. 


At one time, my second great grandfather John Monroe Ganus along with his sons Frank, Newton, Roderick, and Robert worked there. Were they as mesmerized by the beauty of the area as I was? 

The following are just a few of the excerpts from missionary journals that helped identify this location as the place where my great grandfather Frank lived and worked and as a place frequented by other members of the Ganus family.  
Millstone located at the Polk County
Historical Society in Cedartown,
Georgia



March 20th, 1883 "We arrived at Hightowers Mill at 6 p.m. - Met with Franklin Ganus and family--finding them all well." William H. Kirby

October 16th, 1883 "Went to Hightowers Mill. Ate dinner with F. Ganus, thence to Brooks Mill overnight." William H. Kirby 

December 13th, 1883 Left Brooks Mill---south direction. No dinner. came to Hightowers factory -- to F. Ganuses. 12 miles William H. Kirby

January 28th, 1884  "Left for south. Bid the saints farewell for the present. Thence on our journey for Hightowers Mill ---Frank Ganus." Elder William H. Kirby 

July 11th, 1884  "We went to Hightowers Mill at Frank Ganus'. Ate dinner there. Went and stayed in the mill most of the day."  Elder William H. Kirby

August 30, 1884  "We then came to Hightower's Mill. Ate dinner at F. Ganuses, then continued our journey to Haralson Co." Elder William H. Kirby

September 11th, 1884 "After dinner, I went to the mill. Helped Franklin Ganus dress mill stones." Elder William H. Kirby

"Sept. Thursday 9, 1886 Bro [John] Ganis and I went to Mr. Hightowers mill to see his son Franklin Ganus. I had a good time with him. While Bro. [John] Ganus and his 3 sons, John, Rody and Boby made shingles and hauled them to Mr. Hightowers mill."  Elder Pledger Murphy 

Sept. Friday 10, 1886 .....about noon Bro. [John] Ganus and the boys come from the mill. They laughed at me about not stoping at the mill all knight. I told them that I had got tired of living or lying on the soft side of a board during the war." Elder Pledger Murphy

         
I'm so grateful for those early missionaries who kept journals and mentioned the Ganus family. I've been equally grateful for their descendants who have generously shared copies of the journals with me. The journals have added so much to what I know about my ancestor's lives.

Standing there at the foot of the mill, lines from the journals ran through my head such as "about noon Bro [John] Ganus and the boys come from the mill," and "Bro [John] Ganis and I went to Hightowers mill to see his son Franklin Ganus."  I imagined Frank going through the tedious process of dressing the millstones and I imagined Frank's father, John, and Frank's brothers, John, Newton, Roderick and Robert coming and going, both to do work and to visit Frank. 


I visited many places during our trip, but it was here that I felt the closest to my ancestors, it was here I could almost feel their presence and it was here than I longed to just remain for awhile. I'm so grateful that on that day, for just a brief moment, I was able to truly walk where they had walked. 



(For information about booking this incredible venue for a photo shoot or private event, see here.)

 Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2020, All rights reserved

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

The Gene to Tinker

One day a few years ago, in a statement of independence, I took apart my broken iron, thinking I would somehow figure out the problem and have it back together in no time. Having no knowledge of irons or anything electric, I am not sure why I thought I could fix it, but I decided to try. Unfortunately, I had no clue what to do with it once I got it apart, consequently, when my husband got home from work, he discovered the iron on the kitchen counter, surrounded by all of its insides. After a few more failed attempts at repairing things, I realized that I definitely did not inherit the gene to fix and repair anything.

Back in the 1940's when gas was well under 20 cents a gallon and it was possible to buy a car for under $1,000.00, my Grandpa Heber Monroe Ganus worked as an auto mechanic at the Chevrolet Garage in LaJara, Colorado. 


This is where Grandpa Ganus worked as an auto mechanic in LaJara, Colorado 
This photo taken on our visit several years ago shows it is not in great shape and is for sale.



Mechanics in those days often relied on experience as their teacher, and for many, that experience came from working on farm equipment. Prior to being a mechanic, Grandpa worked on a farm in Colorado and then on various projects with Heiselt Construction. Perhaps those jobs helped prepare him for work as a mechanic.

There were no diagnostic machines with codes to help mechanics determine the problem with a vehicle, so it was up to the mechanic to figure out on his own and then repair it. Mechanics had to be creative with the repairs, especially in remote areas because car parts were not readily available nor easy to find, so they made do with the tools they had and made parts from other cars.

The 1940 census confirms that my Grandpa, Heber Monroe Ganus was working as a mechanic in 1940.

1940 US Federal Census, Sanford, Conejos, Colorado 
A few years later when Grandpa registered for WWII in 1942, he indicated that he was working at the Phillips Chevrolet Co. 




Grandpa continued to work as a mechanic until health issues forced him to quit. 


Grandma recorded the following in her life history:
"It was while Heber was working in La Jara, as a mechanic in one of the garages that he became ill and found he could not work at this kind of a job. His brother, Ernest had come from Oklahoma on a visit. He talked Heber into going back with him in hopes he would feel better. This was in 1954, in the spring. 
 "In the following summer when school was out after graduating from Adams State, Lena, Sally and boys and myself drove to Oklahoma to Okmulgee where Heber was staying with his brother Ernest. We found him feeling better and he returned home with us, but he was put in the hospital the next day, in Alamosa. Doctor Stong who was his doctor told him never to come back to Colorado, as it was too high here for him." 
And so, Grandpa Ganus moved to Oklahoma to live with his brother Ernest. The following year Grandma taught school in Colorado and when school was over for the summer, she joined Grandpa in Oklahoma. The following school year, Grandma taught school in Oklahoma, but Grandpa never worked again. He may have tinkered with their car some, but his days as an auto mechanic were over. 


mechanic, Heber Monroe Ganus, Ganus, Okmulgee, ancestry, family history, health
Heber Monroe Ganus
Oklahoma

Just as vehicles have changed dramatically over the years, so have gas stations and the way vehicles are worked on and repaired. I may not have inherited the ability to repair much of anything, but I did inherit the love of family and a drive to know more.  

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2018, All rights reserved

Monday, September 10, 2018

Fireflies and Grandpa Ganus

 Sapulpa Oklahoma family history ancestry genealogy Ganus
Grandpa Heber Monroe Ganus
The memory exists in my mind much like a magical dream.

We were visiting my grandparents in Sapulpa, Oklahoma and my parents had gone out for the evening.

It was getting dark and my Grandpa Ganus and I went into the backyard of their small rented home to see the coi in the little fish pond. As a young child, I was fascinated by the orange fish and loved watching them dart in and out of the green plants and vines. Grandpa and I watched them for a bit, while it grew steadily darker outside. When it became too dark to see anymore, we started to go back in the house when I saw the small flicker and flash of tiny little lights that would glow momentarily and then disappear. My grandpa explained that they were fireflies or lightning bugs. Growing up in California, I had never seen fireflies before. Grandpa went into the house for a minute and when he came back out, he had a mason jar for me to catch a few of the magical little creatures in so I could see them up close.

For the next little bit of time, Grandpa and I caught fireflies. Whether real or imagined, in my mind's eye I can see us laughing while chasing and catching the fairy-like bugs. But that is all that I remember of that night. I don't remember what we did after that or anything else that we did on that visit to my Grandparents.

Grandpa died a few years later and living several states apart,  I really never got to spend much time with him or to get to know him very well.

I do know that we had time together a few other times though because there are a few photos that catch those times.

Hazel Mickelsen Ganus, Heber Monroe Ganus, Colorado, genealogy, ancestry
Grandma Hazel (Mickelsen) Ganus and
Grandpa Heber Monroe Ganus
along with my brother, myself and a cousin

grandparents, Heber Monroe Ganus, genealogy, family history, memories, hospital
My parents, Grandpa Heber Monroe Ganus and
Grandma Hazel Ganus, my father's sister, my
cousin and myself (sitting on Grandpa's lap) 
  
A couple of years ago my husband was in a store and found a little mason jar that had little glowing fireflies in it and so he bought it for me. The fireflies are powered by a battery in the lid and they glow off and on much like the real thing.  I love to have it sitting on my desk as a reminder of a very special memory that happened so many years ago. Do you have things that trigger memories of grandparents? 

memories, fireflies, ancestry, family history, genealogy


Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2018, All rights reserved