52 Ancestors: In The Paper

This is the story of two women, who used a photo, a marriage certificate, and the newspaper to learn about a wedding.

(Bonus points if you read that in Ron Howard’s voice!)

When I began researching my ancestry, my mom showed me this photo:

The wedding of William McCallum and Pauline Gall. John Gall, Jr. is to my grandpa’s right.

This photo, taken at the wedding of her parents William McCallum and Pauline Gall, on 29 August 1937. However, she could not identify the people in the photo, and she did not know where her parents married. Her father was from Seattle and her mother San Diego, so she assumed it was one of these places.

We asked a couple of family members, but they could not answer our questions. On a whim, I emailed the San Diego History Center, hoping that they might be able to point me in the right direction. I didn’t want to contact the state and pay unless I was sure my grandparents married in San Diego.

Luckily, I received an email right back, and the person was able to pull their marriage record and email me a copy (for free!). My grandparents had indeed been married in San Diego.

The Marriage License and Certificate of William McCallum and Pauline Gall.

This, however, unleashed another question: where did my grandparents marry? The license does not list a location, and the photo was taken outside. We wondered if the photo was at a reception, and we were still unable to identify most of the people in their wedding photo. And who was Catherine Johnson, one of the witnesses? My mom had heard stories about Dolly (Grandma and Dolly were known as Polly and Dolly), but had no recollection of a Catherine.

This is where I turned to newspapers (the Facebook of pre-internet, that’s for sure!). I signed up to view the San Diego Union Tribune online and went searching. I ended up finding many articles and photos of my grandma, including her wedding shower and ceremony.

From the San Diego Union, August 28, 1937.

This article stated that she married at the home of Catherine Johnson’s mother, and my grandparents would live there after their honeymoon! The article paints a picture of their wedding, including what my grandma wore.

I was also found many articles mentioning my grandma and Catherine, including events on behalf of the Daughters of the Confederacy. This must have been from Catherine’s family, as my grandma was first generation American on her dad’s side and second generation on her mom’s side.

Many of the articles mentioned my grandma and Catherine in the Girl Scouts, and one had a picture:

From the San Diego Union, November 24, 1929. Pauline Gall is on the right (she would have been 12), and Catherine is the second girl over from her.

As I resisted the wedding photo this week, I realized who was standing beside my grandma: Catherine Johnson! A couple weeks ago I received a copy of my grandma’s high school yearbook, and found Catherine’s picture.

Catherine Johnson in the 1934 San Diego High School yearbook.

I am still tying things together, but the newspaper article gave so much information and helped open up a lot about my grandma’s life!

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