Wednesday, May 13, 2020

In Search of Matilda Rainwater Goggans

Photo by form PxHere
Piece by piece, the things that only months earlier had been belonged to her and her husband were sold. Trunks, tables, chests, secretary, clocks, nine lots of books, and much more were removed from their home and her life. (1)

Matilda's husband Josiah Goggans had done well in his 74 years of life and so they had lived comfortably. But at the age of 54, Matilda (Rainwater) Goggans found herself a widow and facing a new chapter in her life.  

Josiah Joseph Goggans passed on the 8th of August 1875 and was laid to rest in the Goggans family cemetery not far from where they lived. Was it Matilda's idea to bury him next to his first wife or did it come at the insistence of his children? Years later when Matilda passed, she would be buried in the Bethany Baptist Cemetery some distance away. 
Josiah Goggans, Bethany Baptist Church, Matilda Rainwater, Joshua Rainwater, Haralson County, Georgia
The road leading to Bethany Baptist Church where
the Rainwaters and Goggans attended 

Only fifteen years earlier, on June 14, 1860, 38-year-old Matilda Rainwater married Josiah Goggans. Josiah was a widower 20 years her senior, so it was safe to assume that she would outlive him. However, for a woman who did not marry until later in life, and who had never had children, spending the last 29 years of her life alone was an additional sorrow for her.  

When Matilda married Josiah, she instantly became a part of a well-established family because Josiah and his first wife had nine children together. Josiah was a well-known member of the community and made his living as a farmer and owner of a local store. 

I can't help but wonder what challenges Matilda faced as all tried to adjust to her new role as Josiah's wife and as the step-mother to his children. Some of his oldest children were only a couple of years younger than Matilda and were raising their own families. However, his youngest three children were still at home when Josiah and Matilda married. When a couple of years later,  the Civil War broke out, Josiah's youngest sons, Jasper and Carey marched off to war and neither ever returned home. There was little opportunity to develop a motherly type relationship with his adult children and it appears from the probate records, they felt little obligation to help support her at Josiah's death. 

Despite the fact that Josiah "departed this life possessed of a large estate of both real and personal property," the year following his death presented many challenges for Matilda. 

According to court documents, Josiah left a will naming Matilda as the executrix, and that will was presented to the court, but unfortunately, there were problems as stated by his children. (3) 

The court documents show that Josiah's children claimed that he didn't have title to the property he willed, and prior to his death, that he had stated that he was opposed to his will and wanted to change it. In addition, they indicated that he had not signed the will in the presence of witnesses and that Josiah didn't see the witnesses sign. Finally, the documents stated:
"That said Will is illegal and unatural in- That it - prohibith the wife and widow of any dower in said estate." (2) 
And what was the outcome? 
That the will was "set aside and made void on the grounds that it is impossible to carry said will into effect on the grounds that the property had been set apart as a homestead and there being no other property only that set apart as a homestead out of which to pay the legatees  named in the will."
Matilda then petitioned the court for a suitable allowance to be set apart from the estate for a 12 months' support for her. 

At the sale of Josiah's property, the majority of the furniture and farm implements were purchased by immediate and extended family members. Matilda's only purchases, however, were 1 sow, 1 pigg (sic), and 3 shoats, which are baby pigs. 

Although it had been an estate of considerable size, there were debts to be paid, and two years later, the land on which she and Josiah had lived was sold.



Bethany Baptist Church, Haralson County, Georgia 

At this point in her life, Matilda was more alone than she had ever been before. She lived at home with her parents for most of her life until after her mother's death and then she and her aging father, Joshua, lived with her brother John and his wife up until her marriage. But her father, along with both brothers had gone to Texas years prior to Josiah's passing.


Despite the desperate appearance of her situation, records show that Matilda lived in a home that she owned free of a mortgage. In terms of emotional support, for a time George Goggans, a 61-year-old widower and relative of Josiah's lived with her as a border, her sister Frances Bailey lived next door and Matilda remained in the community where she had lived for much of her life. (4) 

For the next 29 years, Matilda managed to support herself presumably by farming as indicated in the 1900 census.  When in 1904, she passed away at the age of 83, she was laid to rest in the cemetery beside Bethany Baptist Church where she had attended church as a child with her family and with Josiah. 


Rainwater, Bethany Baptist Cemetery, Bethany Baptist Church, Haralson County, Georgia,
Matilda Rainwater Goggans tombstone
Bethany Baptist Cemetery
Haralson County, Georgia 


It was there, in the Bethany Baptist Cemetery that I found Matilda and it was there that I became intrigued by her life and the circumstances of her death. How did a woman who farmed right up to the end of her life and who didn't have children, pay for one of the largest tombstones in the cemetery? And assuming she didn't, who did? Josiah's headstone in the Goggans cemetery was small and quite primitive in comparison, so it seems unlikely that his children provided it for Matilda. 


Matilda Rainwater, Matilda Goggans, Haralson County, Genealogy, Ancestry, A Southern Sleuth,
Matilda Rainwater Goggans

Although Matilda's only living family members at the time of her death were her sister Frances who lived nearby and her brother Abner, who lived in Texas, it is unlikely, given the financial circumstances of either, that they paid for her tombstone.


The road to Bethany Baptist Cemetery

As I stood there in the cemetery, surrounded by the beauty of the area and recognizing many of the names of members of the community, it wasn't hard to imagine why she stayed, but I wish I knew more of her story. 

I do know she was a strong woman who withstood many challenges during her life. She had to be industrious and frugal. She must have developed some strong relationships over her life to people who felt some devotion after her death. 

But I do wonder, who felt it was important to memorialize her with such a significant tombstone? Who knew enough to provide the exact dates of her birth and death? 

Sadly, without descendants to tell her story, I likely will never know. 




Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2020, All rights reserved. 
                            No use without permission. 



1. Georgia, Wills and Probate Records, 1742, 1992 for Josiah Goggans, Haralson County, Unbound Estate Case Files, 1850-1950, Garrett, E. F. - Goldin James L Accessed on Ancestry.com. Image 898

2. Ibid. image 876

3. Ibid. image 885

4. 1880 US Federal Census M. D. 1078, Newnan, Haralson County, Georgia, 4 June 1880, stamped page 341. Accessed on Ancestry.com.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Were They There? Addison and Sally Gainus


Deep down inside, I knew, so I shouldn't have been disappointed, yet you know how it is when a little part of you hopes against hope that something is different than you've been told. 

In this case, I hoped that when I visited the Tallapoosa Primitive Church Cemetery in Carrollton, Georgia, I would notice something that others had managed to overlook, maybe a marker back in the trees or a simple stone with a marking on it or something partially covered with the earth. I really wasn't sure, but I so wanted to know for sure where Addison Gainus' exact final resting place was, yet deep down inside, I knew it was not marked just as I had been told. 

While other family members are buried there and their resting place is well marked, records for the small Tallapoosa Primitive Church Cemetery do not include Addison and Sally (Bowen) Gainus. Other extended family members have visited that cemetery over the years and they warned me that there are no markers for Addison or Sallie, but I had to see for myself.  

Addison Gainus was the youngest brother of my second great grandfather, John Monroe Ganus and the youngest child of James (Gur)Ganus and Elizabeth (McCluskey). Note that he was among those who spelled the last name as Gainus, while my line and a few other of the siblings spell the name simply Ganus without the "i". 
Tallapoosa Primitive Church, Lee, Gainus, Ganus, McCluskey, Gurganus, genealogy, ancestry
Empty spot behind the Tallapoosa Primitive Church
where it is believed Addison and Sallie could be buried. 

So on my recent trip to Georgia, we visited the small Tallapoosa Primitive Church cemetery. As an added bonus,  I was able to meet up with extended cousins and together we walked through the cemetery. They shared stories and experiences they had growing up in that small family community. They told me that in talking to others, it is believed that back behind the church, surrounded by other family headstones, a conspicuously empty space is likely their final resting place. 

So why would I expect them to be there at all if there is no marker? 

To begin with, Addison's death certificate indicates that he was buried at Tallapoosa Church and so does Sallie's. 


Addison Ganus, Gainus, Sarah Bowen, Sallie Bowen, James Gurganus, Elizabeth McCluskey , Richard Bowen, Annie Carr,
Addison Gainus'  death certificate

Tallapoosa Primitive Church, Carrollton, Georgia, genealogy, ancestry, ancestors
Sallie Gainus' death certificate

In addition, an obituary located in the Carroll Free Press, dated Thursday, December 8, 1927, also indicates that Add was buried there. It reads:
The Lee's Chapel community was made sad Saturday by the death of one of its oldest and most esteemed citizens Uncle Add Gainus.
            Funeral Services were conducted by his friend and neighbor Rev. T. A. Bonner and his body was laid to rest in the cemetery at Tallapoosa church Sunday afternoon. 
Just six months later, Add's wife, Sallie, joined him. Her obituary appeared June 14, 1928, in the Carroll Free Press and is as follows:
             Mrs. Sallie Ganus, age 85, died last Friday the 8th instant, near Carrollton on R. F. D. No. 8. Her funeral was held on the 9t at Tallapoosa church, conducted by Rev. Mr. Hanks. Interment was in the church cemetery beside her husband who died since Christmas. 
Everything points to the Tallapoosa Primitive Church cemetery. 

Although there aren't any known pictures of Addison and Sally, I feel that I can almost picture them.  

Addison Ganus, son of John Monroe Gainus and Sarah Bowen, daughter of Richard Bowen and Annie Carr were married 20 September 1866 in Coweta, Georgia. They lived near Addison's family in Fayette County, but then later moved to Carrollton, Carroll County, Georgia by 1900. There they lived in a three-room shotgun style house, had a small farm and raised chickens and cows. Addison's sister Rebecca and her husband Samuel Solomon Lee and their children lived nearby, as did Addison's sister Martha and her husband William C. Brock and their children. 

The story is told that Addison and Sallie had a love/hate relationship with the cows. Sallie loved the cows and apparently, the cows felt the same about her and allowed her to milk them. However, if anyone else tried to milk them, they ran away. Perhaps the cows knew how Addison felt about them because nothing seemed to get his ire more than discovering when he went to get them in the evenings that they had gone home with someone else's cows. Known for his "high temper," anyone close by could hear Add yelling at his cows to get back home! 

A humorous story is recorded by those who knew Add. The story is about his grand-nephew and namesake, Add Lee. Add Lee had a pair of white overalls that Add Gainus just hated and he made sure Add Lee knew it. One day when Add Lee's overall were hanging out to dry on the clothesline, they disappeared. Although others tried to help Add Lee find them, they were nowhere to be found. Next spring when the stables were cleaned out and the manure taken from the barn and spread out on the fields for fertilizer, the overalls were discovered, buried deep in the manure in the barn. Although it was impossible to prove, everyone had their suspicions on how they got there. 

Add and Sallie grew tobacco and smoked it in corncob pipes. Visitors to their home were intrigued by Sallie and the long thin cane stemmed pipe which she smoked. 

Add and Sally Gainus were never able to have children, and they took two Chance boys into their home and raised them as their own. 

Carrollton was Sallie and Addison's home. It was in Carrollton that they lived, raised children, socialized with their siblings, and attended church and it makes total sense that it is there in Carrollton that they were finally laid to rest. It only seems to reason that just like their death certificates and obituaries indicate, that Sallie was buried beside Addison there at the Tallapoosa Primitive Church. 

Despite the fact others had told me there was no marker for them there, I still needed to visit the cemetery and see for myself. And, while it was disappointing to not miraculously stumble onto something no one else had seen, I loved my visit to the cemetery filled with other ancestor's graves and I left, convinced like others have been, that although there is no marker, given the other evidence, Addison and Sallie really are there. 


Tallapoosa Primitive Church and cemetery 






Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2020, All rights reserved 

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