Minnie Diggs. She was born a Ganus, yet no one was quite sure why she was remembered as Minnie Diggs. Maybe it was her maternal grandmother’s name they told me, or maybe just a nickname of some sorts. I could think of several possibilities, so I tucked the name Diggs in the back of my mind until I knew for certain.
I wanted to believe that although she had a rough start, Minnie Ganus had ultimately had a good life. I wanted to believe that after her grandmother took her in at three years of age (a story shared HERE) she loved her and cared for her as her own, and I wanted to believe that, although her grandmother was certainly “older” when Minnie came to live with her, it had been good for them both. I wanted to know so much more than any governmental record could tell me. However, records did tell a great deal of her story.
I was able to learn that Minnie remained with her grandmother until the 19th of November, 1890 when in Campbell County, Georgia 20 year old Minnie Ganus married John Hewell Diggs. I now knew why she was called Minnie Diggs. Apparently someone at some point in time had been aware of Minnie’s marriage although time had blurred that fact. By the time Minnie married, her grandmother Nancy Foster was 73 years old and had cared for Minnie for about 17 years.
Grandma Nancy Foster lived another 15 years after Minnie married John. While she lived the remainder of her life with her son Willis and daughter, Mary, Minnie and her husband John and their children lived nearby. Nancy would live long enough to know four of Minnie’s children before she died on 13 March 1905. Nancy was buried in the Fairburn City Cemetery in Fulton County, Georgia.
|Nancy E. Foster’s Headstone
Photo taken by Rhonda Brady Rampy, Used by permission
Find A Grave
John and Minnie [Ganus] Diggs lived their entire married lives in East Point, on the outskirts of Atlanta. There John farmed and together he and Minnie reared seven children; four boys and three girls. Their children were John C., Joseph E., Mary Jewell, Jamie, Herbert O., Velma Elizabeth and Alice Louise . Minnie was able to see their oldest children marry and have their own children, but her three youngest would have time with their mother cut short.
On the 21 March 1921, at the age of 50, Minnie passed from this life leaving 9 year old Alice, 14 year old Velma, and 16 year old Herbert without their mother. According to the death certificate, her cause of death was consumption, which we now call tuberculosis.
Her death certificate helped to fill in a few details of her life and death.
|Minnie Digg’s Death Certificate |
Seeing her father listed as “Bud” Gainous made me wonder if either she and her husband had known him well enough to know his nickname or if perhaps they hadn’t really known him at all and Bud was just a guess. I’ve never seen him referred to as Bud, but always as James. Minnie was buried in the Bethel Church Cemetery in Fulton County, Georgia.
Minnie received a brief mention in the newspaper, The Atlanta Constitution, on 22 March 1921. It simply stated:
“Mrs. J. H. Diggs, 50 years old, died Sunday at the residence in East Point. She is survived by four sons, J.C., J.E., J.F. and H.O. Diggs and three daughters, Mrs. H.D. Eidson and Misses Elizabeth and Lucile Diggs.” 
Initially this was Minnie’s story. The story of a little girl who lost her mother when she was only three years old and was raised by her grandmother Nancy Elizabeth Foster. Minnie married, had children and then, like her mother, she died much too young. Minnie left three children to be reared by another woman, a step-mother.
But as I learned about Minnie, I realized that in the shadows of her story was another story, the story of her widowed grandmother, Nancy Foster. The grandmother who undoubtedly lived a very different life than she had planned. Long after her own children were grown, Nancy returned to the role of a young mother, changing diapers, bandaging skinned knees and raising her granddaughter through marriage.
Truthfully, there are many such women in my line; women who helped raise grandchildren as well as nieces, nephews or even seemingly unrelated children. My great grandfather’s brother, Roderick Monroe Ganus and his wife, Carrie, took several children into their home over the years, including my own grandfather. Two Chance boys were taken in and reared by John Monroe Ganus’ brother, Addison Ganus and his wife Sally.
While thankfully there are records of these stories, I am sure there are just as many similar unrecorded stories in my line and possibly yours. Mothers and grandmothers who dutifully took in other’s laundry, prepared extra meals, and helped with each other’s children. Mothers whose love and duties extended beyond the boundaries of their immediate families to bless and help those around them. Mothers whose love knew no boundaries; mothers helping mothers.
Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2015, All rights reserved
1. Georgia Deaths, 1914-1927; Death Certificate dated 21 March 1921; digital images, Image 1016 of 1525 (https://familysearch.org: accessed 24 June 2015.)
2. Atlanta Constitution, 22 March 1921, page 12, Fold3, www.fold3.com . Accessed on 24 June 2015.
4 thoughts on “Love without Boundaries -Minnie Ganus, part 3”
Your reflection on what all the facts mean makes this a beautifully crafted story.
Minnie was so young when she passed away. What a tragedy this must have been for her husband and children. Tuberculosis was also the cause of death for my great-grandmother.
Thanks Wendy. I love finding the stories among the facts, but they also leaving me wishing for more detail.
Yes, I am amazed how many children were left behind and raised by others. Sad sad times.