Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Zombies are Not My Thing


Fayetteville, Georgia, Senoia, Ganus, genealogy, ancestry, North Georgia, CarrolltonFayetteville, Georgia. Tell people you are going there and some want to talk about the popular series "The Walking Dead"  filmed in nearby Senoia. In fact, knowing that the Ganus family lived in Fayetteville for many years, someone recommended that I watch the series so I could see the area where my family had lived. So, I gave it a try, but I didn't last ten minutes. Apparently, zombies are not my thing, but being a genealogist, dead people are.

On our October trip to Georgia, one morning we drove from Carrollton where we were staying, to Fayetteville to see the area where the James (Gur)Ganus family had lived for nearly 30 years. 

Driving through North Georgia helped me better understand a few things about my ancestors and their moves in the 1800s in Georgia. 

For instance, the distance from Fayetteville to Carrollton didn't seem like much when viewed on a map, but driving the fifty miles brought new perspective as I considered the difficulty of taking that same trip in wagons through the dense trees while also navigating either through or around the numerous rivers, streams, ponds, and lakes. Driving the distance helped me understand at a different level that the 76-mile move from Fayetteville to Cedartown that James' son, John made about 1850 had not been a casual event, but an intentional move.

I loved seeing the homes tucked back in among the trees and the numerous churches and cemeteries everywhere we drove. I wondered if James' son, John Ganus heart had ached for the beauty of Georgia when he and his family moved to the flat wide-open farmland of the San Luis Valley, Colorado in 1886, and then onto the plains of Oklahoma about ten years later.

Starrs Mill, Fayette County, Georgia
Starrs Mill Fayette County 

A few miles from Fayetteville, we stopped at the beautiful Starrs Mill on Whitewater Creek. It was peaceful and serene there. Although the current mill isn't the original mill that was built in 1825, I wondered if the Ganus family had reason to go to the original mill or if they knew the family who owned it.   


Starrs Mill, Fayette County 


James and Betsy (McCluskey) Gurganus moved to Fayette County in time to be included in the 1840 census. I've always wondered what the push or pull was that influenced that move. Prior to Fayetteville, James and Betsy had lived in Bibb County where James' father David Gurganus and his stepmother Rebecca were living.

Fayette County Court House, research, genealogy
Fayette County Georgia Court House
The year 1838 was a pivotal year for the Gurganus family. That year, Mary Ellen (Gurganus) Pratt, sister to my 3rd great grandfather, James, was murdered. I shared that story HERE. That same year, James's brother, David was arrested in an unrelated incident, a story I shared HERE.

Is it just a coincidence or is it possible that either or both scandals contributed to James' move at about that same time and also contributed to the shortening of his name from Gurganus to Ganus?

Fayette County was created in 1825, so it was a relatively new county when the Ganus family first moved there. At that time the population was around 7,500 people and, "....there were two churches, two schools, three stores, five barrooms, a printing office, and a Division of the Sons of Temperance (or there probably would have been more barrooms)." (1)  Over the next thirty years, while Georgia continued to enlarge its borders and grow, James and Betsy worked on their farm and raised their children, ten in all. 

The Ganus family was living in Fayette County in  1862 when smallpox broke out. Impacted families who contracted the disease were quarantined as Fayetteville struggled to control the outbreak. 

The Ganus family was also in Fayette County when the War between the States broke out and they watched four sons go off to war, and one never came home. Although no large battles took place in Fayette County, it was the scene for several skirmishes and individuals have recorded some of the frightening experiences they experienced when Union soldiers came through. 

The Ganuses would have been among those who endured the challenges experienced during the years of reconstruction when basic commodities were scarce. "In 1867, the State of Kentucky sent corn and bacon to this (Fayette) County. The  Justices wrote . . . corn and bacon will be contributed to the suffering citizens of our County who are unable to support and help themselves."(2)

By 1870, Elizabeth had passed away and James moved in with their daughter Mary and her husband Burton Cook and that is the last record for James.  Although I feel confident that both were buried somewhere in Fayette County, there is no record of where either James or Betsy was laid to rest.

So this is my tie to Fayette County and why I was excited to pay a visit to The Fayette County Historical Society while there. The volunteers were so kind and eager to help. 


Fayette County Historical Society, Fayetteville, Fayette, Georgia
Fayette County Historical Society
Marriage records, genealogy, Fayette County Marriage Records, Book C
Fayette County Marriage Records, Book C

I was thrilled to learn that among their collection were marriage record books. James and Betsy's oldest child, Mary married Burton Cook in nearby Dekalb County and their son, John, my second great grandfather married Olivia Rainwater in Cedartown, Polk County. However, their children Margaret and David both married in Fayette County. Even though I already had the dates of their marriages, I loved being able to view their entries in the actual book. 



Margaret Ganus, James Blackmon, Fayette County Marriage records
Margaret Ganus and James Blackmon's marriage entry 



David Ganus, Malinda M. Davis, Fayette County Marriage records
David Ganus and Malinda M. Davis' marriage entry 
Not only did I not see any zombies while there, but I also didn't find any new information, yet I was so glad to have visited. A lot can be said about the experience we have of seeing the area where our ancestors lived and the feelings we experience as a result as well as the increase of understanding we gain in the process.

It was hard to leave Fayetteville that day and I couldn't shake that feeling that I had unfinished business there. Hopefully, someday I will return.  


1.  The History of Fayette County 1821-1971  published by the Fayette County Historical Society, Inc., First Edition, December 1977, The Fayette County Historical Society, p. 20

2. Ibid,  p. 20


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

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Rainwater Ford-I DID go there.



Joshua Rainwater, Mary Peterson, Olivia Rainwater, Tallapoosa, Rainwater Ford
Rainwater Ford on the Tallapoosa



Back in 2012 I wrote about my desire to someday visit Rainwater Ford, a landmark located outside of Tallapoosa, Georgia.   

I became aware of the property when I bought the book by Lois Owens Newman, "Haralson County, A History."  On page 222, I read the following:


"The Rainwater property, lot 157 lies along the Tallapoosa River and it is on this lot that the well known Rainwater Ford is located." (1990) 

A little research confirmed that my third great grandfather, Joshua Rainwater, had owned the property. In 1832, for the sum of $100.00 Joshua purchased Land Lot #57 in the 8th District of Haralson from Abner Carter. At the time, it consisted of 202 1/2 acres and was located in Carroll County, but due to boundary changes, the property now lies in Haralson County. 


genealogy, research, a southern sleuth, ancestry, family, Georgia
Rainwater Ford
Published by the U. S. Geological Survey 

Joshua was born on the 13th of November 1791 in South Carolina. He was the seventh of eleven children born to Solomon Rainwater and Ruth Felton. On January 20th, 1814, at the age of 23, Joshua volunteered to serve in Captain Alexander Morehead's Company, Col. Nash's Regiment in the battle that would be known as the "War of 1812." He survived his time in the army and returned home to South Carolina. Joshua married, moved his family to Georgia and later, after the passing of his wife Mary, he moved with sons John and Abner to Texas. There he applied for a pension and thanks to that document, we are able to see his signature. 



Joshua died on the 15th of August 1878 and is buried in Rock House Cemetery in Hamilton County, Texas. 

Visiting the location of Rainwater Ford had long been on my bucket list. I was so excited when in the fall of 2019, my husband and I decided to take a trip to Georgia. I pulled out my list of "must-sees" and we planned our trip. 

By plugging the longitude and latitude for Rainwater Ford provided on GA HomeTownLocator  into Google maps, we were able to find the location of Rainwater Ford. The area was beautiful, the dense trees lining the rushing water of the Tallapoosa and we could clearly see where the water was more shallow. 

Standing there on the bridge that spanned the river, I tried to imagine a time when Joshua and Mary and their children lived there. I imagined their sons and daughters fishing in the river and playing in the trees lining the river. I imagined the children cooling off in the water during the hot summer months.  I also imagined their daughter Olivia's delight when as a married woman, her husband John Monroe Ganus bought property adjacent to Joshua's. 

I wondered how many people took advantage of the shallow crossing there to cross the Tallapoosa and if the ford ever benefitted Joshua financially. 

It was a beautiful spot and I was thrilled that not only were we able to find it, but that finally, I could really say, "Rainwater Ford--I DID go there!" 


Rainwater Ford on the Tallapoosa 

To learn more about Joshua Rainwater, see the previous blog posts:





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




Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Worshipping as Family, Neighbors and Friends, Tallapoosa Primitive Church

Tallapoosa Primitive Church, Carroll County, Carrollton, Georgia, Lee, Ganus
Inside the Tallapoosa Primitive Church
Carrollton, Georgia 

I could imagine them sitting there. Grandparents, parents and children--side by side, gathered together to sing and to worship. 

Peering in the windows of the Tallapoosa Primitive Baptist Church in Carrollton, Georgia, I felt that all over warm feeling of knowing that the Lee, Brock and Ganus families had once been there. 


My people, the people I've worked so hard to get to know on paper had worshipped in that church, walked those grounds, wept at the graves of their departed family members. It truly was hallowed ground. 



genealogy, ancestry, research, Ganus, Lee, Brock Walking through the cemetery, reading the names on the headstones of great aunts and uncles, I felt a new kind of connection to them.  Samuel and Rebecca (Ganus) Lee, Rebecca's sister, Marta Elizabeth Brock, and many others were laid to rest there. Seeing the many graves of ancestors, all in such close proximity underscored what I have always been taught, that the southerners stayed close to their family. Unlike today, where children, parents and grandparents often live many miles apart, years ago, many families chose to stay close as a means of help and support to each other. Certainly, this tendency was evident here. 



Tallapoosa Primitive Church and Cemetery
Carrollton, Georgia


Rebecca (Ganus) Lee
daughter of James Ganus and Elizabeth McCluskey
wife of Samuel Solomon Lee 

Martha (Ganus) Brock
daughter of James Ganus and Elizabeth McCluskey
wife of William C. Brock 


And although I didn't grow up living close to them, and didn't personally know their descendants, the need to be close is still there. But that closeness has come about in a different way. It has come as I've researched my ancestors, discovered and written their stories, and finally as I have visited and paid my respects to their final resting places. 


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