Ernest William Ganus, Heber Monroe Ganus
Ernest and Heber
Unknown date

They weren’t little boys anymore and life had taken them in very different directions.   Two brothers, tossed and shaped by tragic circumstances, took opportunity to pose for a picture.  Ernest Ganus, the oldest of the sons of William Franklin Ganus and Sarah E. Faucett was born 23 May 1893 and was seven years older than his brother Heber.  It is unknown why Ernest and Heber posed together for the picture without Heber’s twin, Orson.

I find myself feeling a little pang of sadness at the thought of one of the brothers missing and while I really won’t go so far as to compromise the integrity of the photo by photoshopping Orson in, I confess part of me would like to. While the picture seems incomplete,  it is nevertheless a great picture of two brothers and the only picture I have of my grandfather at that age. Today however, I turn my attention to Ernest.

Although the Ganus family arrived in Oklahoma about 1897, well after the initial land rush, they witnessed a great deal of growth and change occur as Oklahoma went from sparsely populated Indian Territory to communities that boomed with the discovery of rich crude oil and the promise of work. Oklahoma officially became the 47th state in 1907.  Ernest was a young man of 14 at the time and I wonder if he and his brothers understood the significance of that historic day when Oklahoma became part of the United States?

Ernest attended school until his father’s death in 1906, when he was just 13 years old and  I have wondered if he quit school to work and help with the support of the family.  Undoubtedly it was difficult to for his mother Sarah to support three growing boys in 1906,  but her struggle to provide was short lived.  In 1909, just three short years after husband Frank’s death, Sarah died, leaving the three boys orphaned.

I suspect that initially the twins leaned on sixteen year old Ernest for assurance and emotional security. Harsh experiences such as these propel children into the adult world of survival and worries that are typically shouldered by their parents.

Sadly, none of the relatives were able to take in all three boys for any length of time and so the little security that they felt in being together was soon shattered.  The boys appear on the 1910 Census in both Okmulgee with Uncle Roderick Ganus, their father’s brother, and a few months later with their mother’s sister, Mary Haggard, in the small farming community of Sanford, Colorado.  Mary, herself a widow at the time, could only keep the boys for a little while and then they were each sent to different homes.

Still little boys, Heber and Orson were unable to provide for themselves and would remain in the care of others for quite a few more years.  But at 17 years of age, Ernest was nearly a man in the world’s eyes and soon set out on his own. Although his brothers remained in Sanford, Colorado, Ernest soon returned to Oklahoma where his life would take him on a very different path.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2014,  All rights reserved

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13 thoughts on “Three Brothers, Three Roads – Part 1

  1. Interesting to see the familial struggles set within the larger context of historical changes, Michelle. Helpful point about the big changes in the new state of Oklahoma.

    Now you've got me wondering, though: if all the family tragedy had caused the boys to move from relative to relative, did that mean the twins were split up? I think that would be particularly hard for twins, more than other siblings.

  2. How sad for these boys to lose both of their parents at such young ages! It must have been such a difficult trial for them to endure.

    It is curious that Orson wasn't in the picture with his brothers. Perhaps he was living somewhere else at the time since they were split up and living with different relatives.

  3. It is hard to imagine how these boys handled the difficulties in their lives at an emotional level. Death is always hard but to be split up and moved around so much would make their lives all the harder. Do you know anything about their adulthood. Did they weather the challenges well?

  4. I am just not sure when the picture was taken, which makes it hard to figure out where Orson might have been. I know Ernest went to Oklahoma and never really returned to Colorado again, whereas my Grandpa stayed in Colorado until very late in life when he was of poor health and went to OK to be at a lower altitude. That being said, either one could have made the trip to visit the other but why not Orson also?

    I know that Heber's situation was such that he didn't have much while he was living with others (the family he stayed with the most had other step-children living in the home) and Ernest struggled to make ends meet. The reason that is significant is they appear to be dressed in nice clothes—so it just really is a mystery!

  5. I agree Nancy! There is a sadness. I have several upcoming blog posts where I will share Ernest's life and he had a lot more heartache to come. Heber had a really hard time in life, but I know next to nothing about Orson.

  6. Michelle, this is my first visit to your blog. First, I'd like to say it is a very attractive layout. I love the way the photos seem to be hanging over the mantle. We are searching in some of the same areas but I do not see any common surnames.
    The story of the three brothers is sad and probably more common than we'd like. It is especially sad to think twins might have been separated. Like your other readers, I'd love to learn more about this family.

  7. Thank you for dropping by Colleen and thank you for your kind words.

    As I wrote this blog post, it turned out to be way too long for a single post, so I will be continuing the story over several posts. I have found that in many instances I jump over ancestors relatively close by for those more distant and so taking time to become acquainted with my grandfather's family has proven very interesting. Stay tuned for more!

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