#52Ancestors: Headstone for Walter Scott Gann (1875-1947) Prompts Me to Learn More

My 44th entry in Amy Johnson Crow’s “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks family history blogging challenge.

The challenge: have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor.

I am still playing catch up, from being sick much of this year.

My 44th ancestor is my husband Jeff’s 2nd great grand uncle Walter Scott Gann (1875-1947). Walter was the youngest brother I have identified for Pauline Adeline Gann (1860-1938), my husband’s 2nd great grandmother. He was born 7 September 1875 in California to William Chamberlain Gann (1831-1893) and Elmira Tucker (1840-1920).

Headstone Walter S. Gann

Walter only recently came on my radar when Jeff and I visited the burial site of Jeff’s 2nd great grandmother Pauline and her husband Leonard Jackson Harless, who share a plot and headstone at the historic Mariposa District Cemetery in Mariposa (Mariposa County), California. We were there in July looking specifically for Pauline and Leonard’s headstone, but noticed a couple other Gann headstones located next to their grave site. I wasn’t sure who these Ganns were, just that they were likely related to us, so I snapped photos of the headstones. In doing a bit of follow up research for the names of those Gann headstones, I discovered that one of them was for Pauline’s brother Walter.

Headstone Leonard Jackson Harless and Pauline Adeline Gann
Walter’s headstone is located just off of my husband’s left shoulder, behind and to the right of the headstone for Jeff’s 2nd great grandparents, Leonard and Pauline.

I have thus far found Walter on the following U.S. Censuses:

  • (1880) 10th District, Calaveras County, California: 4 years old, living with his parents and siblings.
  • (1910) White Rock, Mariposa County, California: 35 years old, worked as a copper miner, married to Gertrude E. (possibly a son name Joseph P.), living with sister Pauline and her husband Leonard.
  • (1920) Lewis, Mariposa County, California: 45 years old, worked as a farmer on a stock farm, married now to Diana B., living next door to his sister Pauline and her husband Leonard.
  • (1930) Township 5, Mariposa County, California: 55 years old, worked as a gold miner, divorced, living with his business partner.

The only other real information I have on Walter is from his World War I draft registration card dated 12 September 1918. He registered in Madera, Madera County, California at 43 years of age. Walter lists a PO box in Lewis, Maricopa County, California as his last home address (his mother Elmira’s address), but identifies himself as a miner working for James H. Lestor in Raymond, Madera County, California. Gann is described with medium height, medium build, blue eyes, brown hair, and no physical disqualifications from service.

Gann Walter Scott - WWI Draft Card - Mariposa CA
WWI Draft Registration Card. Courtesy of Ancestry.com. Click to view a larger image.

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Finding the Gravesite of 2nd Great Grandparents Leonard Harless Jackson and Pauline Adeline Gann

This is a continuation of my last post, about my husband Jeff’s 2nd great grandmother Pauline Adeline Gann (1860-1938). It also focuses on Pauline’s husband, Leonard Jackson Harless (1858-1946). Pauline and Leonard were second cousins, sharing the same great grandparents.

The day after driving to Pauline’s birth place, Jenny Lind (in Calaverqas County, California), Jeff  and I packed up the RV again, checked out of our Ebbetts Pass campground, and spent the first two-thirds of the day driving down scenic WINDING slow Highway 49, hitting all of the tiny historic mining towns between Angels Camp and Mariposa. Mariposa (in Mariposa County) — one of the gateways into Yosemite National Park — was our next big family history stop.

Fremont's Fort view of Highway 49
At Fremont’s Fort, looking north back over the stretch of Highway 49 we just travelled.

The Mariposa area is where my husband’s Harless ancestors moved to by the time of the 1880 US Census: 3rd great grandfather Miles Washington Harless died here in 1891, 2nd great grandmother Pauline Adeline Gann died here in 1938, and her husband Leonard Jackson Harless died here in 1946. The internet is flooded with photos of Leonard Jackson and Pauline Adeline’s shared headstone in the old (yet still active) Mariposa District Cemetery located smack in the middle town.

Upon arrival, we did a quick drive through of old town (yes! finally…a surviving historical district!), then pulled up to the Mariposa Museum & History Center. Jeff and Holly hung out at a shady picnic table outside while I toured this very well done museum (wonderful exhibits, incorporating some really cool historical documents) and spent a good hour talking to the super friendly knowledgeable docents (remember me mentioning how one of them laughed when I told him we drove all the way to French Camp?). Silly me thought they would instantly recognize the Harless name (they did not). But they definitely knew the specific locations I had on my list….and that was really really important. Because they convinced me we definitely did not want to try to head out to those spots during such a hot time of the year, and that there isn’t much out there to visit at all (perhaps for another trip).

So they spared my husband and beagle another day (it was the next day’s itinerary) of wild goose chases, and allowed us an extra full day to explore majestic Yosemite National Park.

Mariposa History Museum
Entrance to the Research Library at the Mariposa Museum & History Center. Photography is not allowed inside the museum, but they let me snap a quick photo of the library when I told them I’m a librarian doing family history research in the area. I must come back and spend time here. They will verify the existence of records in the collection and pull them ahead of time for researchers. Wonderful people!

Our final stop of the day before heading through Yosemite to check-in to our next campground was the historic Mariposa District Cemetery located around the corner. The Find A Grave listing for Leonard and Pauline’s headstone identified a specific row, so we figured their plot would be a piece of cake to find. Right. There is no map posted at the cemetery, and no one there to assist with finding specific plots. We spent an hour walking all over the deceptively large cemetery in the insane heat and sun when I told my husband that I was willing to call it quits. I had copies of their headstone from the internet… I couldn’t subject us (and our poor beagle) to more aimless wandering through the cemetery in that heat. I was so upset.

As we headed towards the cemetery gate, my husband saw it…the headstone. We had practically walked right past it upon entering the cemetery. We almost missed it on our way out. After two very long days in the RV driving all over the San Joaquin Valley chasing Jeff’s ancestors, we finally found a tangible piece of family history!

Mariposa District Cemetery
Headstone and plot for Leonard Jackson Harless and Pauline Adeline Gann. Mariposa District Cemetery, located near the entrance.
Headstone Harless Adeline
Jeff posing with his 2nd great grandparents.
Headstone Harless Adeline
Close up of the headstone for Leonard Jackson Harless and Pauline Adeline Gann.

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Found: Sarah Kennedy Ward Flanagan’s Burial Place

Today I somehow stumbled upon a burial entry memorial and headstone photo for my great-grandmother Sarah Kennedy Flanagan, on Find A Grave. Thank you so much to Find A Grave volunteer Phyllis Meyer for taking the time to record a virtual memorial for Sarah!

Kennedy Sarah Headstone
Photo courtesy of Find A Grave volunteer Phyllis Meyer.

Sarah is buried in Buffalo Cemetery in Cheektowaga, New York. I don’t find any other Flanagans listed here in the Find A Grave database, including Sarah’s last husband (my great-grandfather) Patrick. I did send off a genealogy request to the cemetery today, so I am hoping they have funeral and burial records that can help me uncover more clues about Sarah.Sarah is one of my brickwall ancestors, due to my grandfather, her son, Michael John Flanagan, being orphaned by both parents by the time he was a toddler. We are pretty sure that Sarah’s maiden name is Kennedy, and that she was married to Frank J. Ward prior to marrying my great-grandfather Patrick Thomas Flanagan, Jr. in 1925. I don’t yet have a death or birth record for Sarah.

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