We all have them. Those individuals in our family tree that seemingly disappear into thin air. I have many such souls in my tree and each and every unwritten story troubles me. Among my “missing” was Margaret.
Margaret Ganus was born in 1832 and grew up in the Fayette County area of Georgia. She was a younger sister to my second great grandfather, John Monroe Ganus, and the third child of James Gurganus and Elizabeth McCluskey in a family of ten children.
On the 1850 census,eighteen year old Margaret was shown living with her parents and the eight siblings still living at home. By the 1860 census, however, she was no longer shown living at home. I realized that in all likelihood, if she had lived until 1860, she was most likely married, but I could not find a marriage record for her. Margaret’s three sisters, Mary, Martha and Rebecca, all had recorded marriage records which of course helped me to follow them as they established their homes and had their children. But no marriage record could be found for Margaret. Some speculated that Margaret had died young, but I could find nothing conclusive.
I imagined Margaret to be much like any little girl growing up in mid 19th century Georgia. I could almost see her running and playing alongside her brothers and sisters in the warm Georgia sun. Growing up on a small family farm, she would have had her share of chores, helping with everything from the household duties of preparing food and washing clothes to milking cows and feeding the chickens. The day likely began early each morning and the the work would have stretched on until the sun dropped beneath the rolling hills and dense trees that define that region. At night Margaret likely climbed into a bed shared with several of her sisters.
Knowing that southern families were tight knit and often lived in close proximity for much of their lives, I looked for Margaret in Fayette County as well as in neighboring counties, but could find nothing. For years, her unfinished story was part of my growing pile of genealogical mysteries and just one more frustration.
I mentioned in a previous post, the value of collaborating with others along the way. So often other individuals hold critical pieces of information not found in any publicly held document. In this case, posting a query made all the difference.
On the 17th of October 2002, I received an email from Karen, whom I did not know. My heart jumped as I opened her email that began with, “I am almost 100% sure that we click.” I will share what I learned from Karen in my upcoming post.
Note: Picture The Old Quilt by Walter Langley found on Wikipedia Commons and in Public Domain.
Continue onto Part 2 of Piecing Together their Lives
Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2013
10 thoughts on “Piecing Together Their Lives – Part 1”
How encouraging to know you connected with someone who holds a missing piece of the puzzle, Michelle. Collaboration always carries that possibility of discovering helpful answers. Genealogy forums and other ways to connect are so helpful!
Can't wait to hear how this all unfolds…
How exciting to have found a cousin that connects you to Margaret, Michelle. I hope she lived through childhood, was able to marry, and lived through child-bearing to an old age. I'll look forward to your post.
Oooo….I'm excited to hear what you found!
I am sure everyone feels this way, but it is the most exciting thing to me to connect with distant cousins that I never knew about before. It's really the icing on the cake for me. (love love love it when they have a picture too!)
It's so exciting. I know you've talked a lot about this on your blog too Jacqi—you just can't beat the benefits of collaboration.
Thanks Heather—it's a comin!
Lots of suspense here! I'm guessing that Margaret moved to another area. I'll be eager to find out. In our family tree, I notice quite a number of daughters who did not marry and stayed living with their parents.
Isn't social media amazingly helpful with our family history research? I've even had someone from another country answer one of my message board queries. So exciting!
I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at http://janasgenealogyandfamilyhistory.blogspot.com/2013/04/follow-friday-fab-finds-for-april-25.html
Have a great weekend!
Thanks for reading Mariann. The post was going to be so long I really needed to break it up, so that does create a bit of suspense. I still have one of the siblings of this family that I've never been able to find out more about and it drives me nuts.
Jana I think of my own sweet Grandma and how she had to write letters and then wait for weeks or months for a reply and I am sure that sometimes a reply never came. It is so amazing to be doing genealogy today where we have such an amazing ability to connect with people all over the world.
That is so fun to hear from someone in another country–I hope she/he had an amazing clue for you.
Thank you so much for listing my post on your blog!