Recently lines from the popular Dr. Seuss poem, “Oh The Places You’ll Go!” have rattled through my brain:
“You’re off to Great Places! Today is Your day!
Your mountain is waiting, So …..get on your way!”
Over the past month and a half, my “mountain” has been discovering Ernest and his life and in the process, Oh the places I have been!
Ernest William Ganus and Heber Ganus
Ernest William Ganus (L)
Heber Monroe Ganus 

Initially knowing very little about my grandfather’s older brother, Ernest, who died before I was born,  I expected to write a single blog post.  But one record led to another and little by little, I soon realized that it would take multiple posts to share all that was in my mind and heart.

At times I was perplexed by Ernest’s personal choices,  but seeking to understand led me to yet more discoveries. In addition to his personal trials, I followed Ernest into the newly emerging oil industry, through his service in WWI, and finally through the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl.  With each discovery I hoped that just maybe his life would turn a corner and that he would have a happy ending, but by all appearances, life was never easy for Ernest.  I can only hope that the bleak facts that emerged through the documents were at least occasionally balanced out by some of the simple daily joys of life.  
I read and then I read some more. I visited personal and governmental websites containing information about the era. I looked at pictures, I listened to songs written during that time period, I watched film strips, documentaries and a movie.  

Because of my desire to know more about him, I stepped into his world, a world that I had previously known little about and in the process, I received quite an education.  While the journey enlightened my mind, it also broke my heart.  In many ways,  Ernest represents many of the men and women of that era that were born into hard circumstances and fought every step of the way just to survive. 
Had I been satisfied to simply spit out the most basic facts of Ernest’s life, I would have missed so much and in all reality, I would have missed Ernest.

 “The more that you read, the more things you will know.  The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”  Dr. Seuss, Oh The Places You’ll Go!

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2014,  All rights reserved

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8 thoughts on “Oh the places you’ll go

  1. I enjoyed reading the life of Ernest – sad, hard, disappointing and trying to better and strive…with what he had and with the time period.
    -but at so many turns – always a sad ending.

  2. You did what a responsible family historian does. Without looking at the world Ernest lived in, you would have been left with JUST the dry facts, facts that together might look like a reflection of a lazy man, a poor man, a pathetic man. The history of the times shows that he wasn't someone who just didn't amount to much — what happened to him happened to his neighbors and to everyone really. Probably he didn't dwell in the woe-is-me attitude because it was just how things were, so he picked up and kept going. I think he had plenty of happiness — he fell in love twice. His 2nd wife came along in not-so-good times and stuck with him. There's happiness in that. Nobility even.

  3. I think you are right Wendy. I think that today we have so many options and there is so much prosperity, it is easy for those that struggle to look around when things aren't going right and wonder "Why me?" Thanks for your insight.

  4. To me, this post highlights the difference between genealogy and family history. The first (for me) is primarily names, dates, locations. Family history (for me) searches to find out more about a person, about the choices he made, about the circumstances and environment of his life. I know you never met Ernest but I can't remember if you spoke with anyone who knew him, especially when he was in the prime of life. We look back at events our ancestors lived through and imagine how we would react to them and then imagine that our ancestor would react the same way. There's no doubt that Ernest's life was definitely difficult, but if Ernest had a sense of humor or a positive attitude even in the face of challenges it's possible that the challenges he faced didn't weigh him down to depression and despair. Maybe you'll never learn more but I hope it's true that there was joy in his life.

    I'm glad you took the time to learn about him and to share your findings, Michelle. You've honored him and you've also taught your readers more about what life was like during those challenging years in American history. Thank you.

  5. Thank you Nancy. You made so many interesting points. I love having people comment and being able to read their insights and ideas about my posts. You always see things that I may have missed and certainly enrich the experience for me.

  6. I love that you entered Ernest's world to get to know him better. That is such an important step in our research and one that is often overlooked at least in part in pursuit of the next generation.

  7. I agree Lisa. It's so easy to fall into a race for more names. The interesting thing is that as I have slowed down and taken time to learn about my ancestors, I've actually found quite a few individuals that have been overlooked in the family by everyone. Sometimes it takes getting to know them to find that previously unknown spouse or child that died at an early age. Such was the case with Ernest. No one in my family knew about Laura, his second wife or Charles, his child that died from his first marriage.

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