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As It Was: Zany Ganung Chops Down Confederate Flag

One of the early colorful characters of Jacksonville, Ore., was Zany Ganung.  Born Mary Ross in 1818, she moved from Ohio to Southern Oregon in 1853 with her husband, Dr. Lewis Ganung, settling in Jacksonville around 1855.

Zany had a reputation of being a good woman, but once riled up, watch out!  Maybe she took after her twin brother, Col. John Ross.  Zany became legendary for chopping down a Confederate flag with an axe.

The story goes like this: during the run-up to the Civil War, Jacksonville was home to immigrants from many parts of the country, predominantly southern sympathizers of Confederate secession.  One night, some of them raised a Confederate flag on California Street near the Ganung’s house. 

When Zany and her husband returned from an all-night medical call, the flag was waving in the breeze.  Zany wasted no time.  Legend has it that she ran into the house, returning with a gun and an axe.  No one doubted her resolve.  Zany chopped down the flag and carried it home, where neighbors soon reported seeing smoke rising from the chimney. 

The flag was never seen again.

Sources: "Aunty Ganung vs the Confederate Flag." Southern Oregon Historical Society, The Table Rock Sentinel, Sept. 1981, sohs.org. Path: sohs.org; library; SOHS magazines; zany ganung;  Kingsnorth, Carolyn. "The Legend of "Aunty" Zany Ganung." Jacksonvillereview.com, Jacksonville Publishing LLC, Mar. 2019, www.jacksonvillereview.com. Path: jacksonvillereview.com; pioneer profiles.   

Sharon Bywater of Ashland, Oregon grew up in Southern California. She taught English literature and writing at Syracuse University in New York, where she also wrote and edited adult literacy books and published freelance articles in local media. Later, she lived in Washington, D.C., where she worked as an international telecommunications policy advisor at the U.S. Department of Commerce. She has Master’s degrees in English and Communications Management.