Ganus family settled in Gantt, Heath, Straughn

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 19, 2002

The ancestors of the Ganus descendants in Covington County came to the area bearing the name as Gurganus. It appears that the shortened form of the name was taken by all members of the family after settling here.

John Gurganus and his wife, Susannah Mashburn, daughter of Thomas Mashburn, were married in 1815 in Onslow County, North Carolina. John's death there in 1831 appears to have led to his widow and children ending up being early residents of Covington County. Susannah came to this county between 1833 and 1837 apparently with her Mashburn relatives. These included her sister, Matilda, who had married John James Dauphin. John had homesteaded land in 1836 near the Gantt area and west of Rose Hill. In addition, a first cousin, James Turner Mashburn, had married Frances Devereux in 1837 at her home in Covington County.

According to John's will and guardianship papers, he left his widow and the following children: Eliza, b. 1816; Miles, b. 1817, Frederick, b. 1821; and John Jackson, b. 1827. After Susannah and the children settled in Covington County, they made it their home until the children reached adulthood and married. Eventually all of them with the exception of John Jackson moved to other counties or states to make their permanent homes.

The oldest child, Eliza, was married to James B. Platt, and they made their home in Coffee County. They were residing there in 1850 along with her mother, Susannah. Eliza and James had two sons by that date, Mason and James.

Miles was married to Media "Meady" Clark, daughter of George Clark, Jr. of Covington County, in 1845. He had previously served in Littleberry Rogers's Company, Alabama Mounted Infantry, during the Second Creek War in 1836-1837. After the birth of their first child, the couple moved to Wayne County, Mississippi, and later made their permanent home in Choctaw County, Alabama.

Frederick was married to a lady from Covington County named Charity. They had their first child, Ann, while residing here.

John Jackson was the only child who chose to remain in Covington County. In 1846 he was married to Annah Turner, a native of South Carolina born in 1825. The couple had the following nine children: Mary Jane, b. 1847, d. 1904, m. Jacob Neese; John Jackson Jr., b. 1849, d. 1920, m. Elizabeth Caroline Holley Dauphin; William Henry, b. 1851, d. 1913; Andrew Paul, b. 1853, d. 1914, m. Sarah Jane Bullock; Amanda Caroline, b. 1855, d. 1866 at age 11; Eliza Ann "Sug," b. 1859, d. 1943, m. George W. Kilpatrick; James Marion, b. 1861, d. 1925, m. Martha Jane Stuckey; George Washington, b. 1866, d. 1866 at 7 months; and Francis Elizabeth, b. 1868, d. 1946, m. Arnie "A.J." Bentley.

The oldest daughter, Mary Jane, was married in 1877 at the age of 30 years to Jacob Neese who was 52 years old. They had the following two children: Lilla Ann, b. 1879, m. James T. Rhodes; and Pherby, m. William P. Rhodes. The 1910 census lists the following children for Lilla and James: John Houston, b. 1897; Robert, b. 1903; Rufus, b. 1906; and Beauy, b. 1907; and James, b. 1910. The same census lists a daughter, Buner V., b. 1898, for Pherby and William.

John Jackson Jr. was married circa 1881 to Elizabeth Caroline Holley Dauphin, widow of Thomas Dauphin who had died. The Ganus family was apparently close to the Dauphin family as John Jackson Jr. had been appointed guardian for her children: John D., Lottie, David H., and William T. Molcey Adeline, the oldest child who was born in 1861, was most likely already married at the time. In 1881 Caroline joined the Pilgrim's Rest Primitive Baptist Church by baptism, and John joined by letter in 1882. He was appointed church clerk and served until being elected a deacon in 1884. Circa 1890 the family moved to Houston County, Texas, where they were enumerated in the 1900 census.

William Henry or Bill was never married. In later years he sold his land and lived in the home of his brother, James Marion. A family story is told that one night Bill saw a light looking like a splinter torch coming down the road. When it came to the gate in front of the house, it turned right in three circles and then went back up the road. Bill claimed it meant "three years until the end of time," and strangely enough for him, it was when he died three years later in 1913.

Andrew Paul was married circa 1879 to Sarah Jane "Sally" Bullock, daughter of Alfred and Permelia (Davenport) Bullock of Red Level. They reared the following children: Willis, b. 1880, went to Dakotas; Mary Ann "Annah," b. 1882, moved to New Orleans; Ellah, b. 1886, m. Owen Johnson; Joseph, b. 1887, m. Francis Lenora Wilson; Eudora March, b. 1889, d. 1892; infant girl, b. 1890; Daniel, b. 1892, m. Mary ?; and Alice Permelia, b. 1895, m. Lee Wilson, uncle to Francis Lenora. At one time, Andrew served as a Justice of the Peace when he resided in the Heath community. He operated a 160-acre farm in that community, which he sold after the 1909 harvest season to W.B. Gantt for $3000. He then moved his family to Owens, South Florida, to grow oranges. He purchased 65 acres of land with an orange grove from Henry Clay Wilson for $3200. Andrew and Sally lived out their lives there and were buried at the Mt. Ephraim Baptist Church, Nocatee, Desoto County, Florida.

Eliza Ann "Sug" and her husband, George W. Kilpatrick, did not have any children. Relatives remember her making her own burial dress, which was used when she died in 1943 at age 84 years. She was buried at the Shiloh Primitive Baptist Church at Straughn.

James Marion was married in 1885 to Martha Jane Stuckey, daughter of Benjamin Franklin and Carolina Texanna (Weston) Stuckey. They purchased land near his father's homestead and reared a large family in Covington County. At one time there was a sawmill and gristmill on the farm James was a trustee for the local school and Shiloh Primitive Baptist Church, which is believed to be the oldest church in the county. Their children included David Lee, b. 1886, d. 1965, m. Louise ?; Delar Cee, b. 1889, d. 1967, m. John Blackmon; Ida Texanna, b. 1891, d. 1970, m. Walter Charlie Geeter; Daniel Dee, b. 1894, d. 1965, m. (1) Mamie Gilmer (2) Lillian Welch; Martha Naomi, b. 1896, d. 1960, m. Alcus Bodiford; James Franklin, b. 1898, d. 1976, m. Allie Orene Sauls; John Jackson, b. 1900, d. 1986, m. Annie Frances Turner; and Fannie Pearl, b. 1903, d. 1923, m. George Howell. James M. and Martha were buried at the Shiloh Primitive Baptist Church.

Francis Elizabeth "Sis" was married in 1911 at the age of 43 to Arnie "A.J." Bentley. Her relatives remember that she also had made her burial dress, but she wore it first to her husband's funeral. At her death in 1946, She was buried at the Shiloh Church Cemetery as well.

There is a number of Ganus descendants who still reside in the county. Some of these include the following from the James Marion Ganus line: Ed Ganus, Elmer Ganus, Jeanette Powell, and Leo Smith.

Appreciation is expressed to two family researchers, Carol Ganus Armstrong and Martha Austin, for sharing their family genealogy. Anyone who has corrections to the above or additional information is requested to contact Curtis Thomasson at Route 9, Box 97 Andalusia, AL 34620 or Email: chthom@alaweb.comap.


Thorn family reunion will be held on Saturday, July 20, at the MacArthur State Technical College in Opp. Look for balloons.


The Covington Historical Society will meet at 7 p.m. on Thursday, July 25, at the Andalusia Public Library.

Curtis Thomasson is a regular columnist with the Andalusia Star-News.