52 Ancestors: Family Legend


This weeks prompt is Family Legend, so I thought I would share a family legend I have been working on solving.

A couple years ago, my mom’s cousin Bobbie had a genealogical inquiry she wanted to solve. She knew her dad had been married for a short time before he married her mom, but that was it. When Bobbie would ask other family members about it, they would say that it was the past or change the subject, so she could never get any answers.

I agreed to look into it but didn’t find anything. But a few months ago as I was searching through records, I found the marriage record from his first wedding. John August Gall, Jr. married Irene Francis Soar in Yuma, Arizona on 5 March 1939.

The marriage license of John August Gall, Jr. and Irene Francis Soar, 1939.

At first glance, nothing seemed out of the ordinary. But as I looked further into Irene, I found that it appears that she lied on her marriage license. I have not found her exact birth date, but I did find her high school yearbook. In 1939 she was a junior Coronado High School in San Diego, California. In addition, on the 1930 census, Irene is listed as being 8 years old, so in 1939 she was most likely 17.

irene soar hs
From the Coronado High School yearbook, 1939.

Bobbie believed that her dad and his first wife were both young, and was surprised to learn John was 25 when he married. Bobbie began to question if Irene was pregnant and that is why they ran off. When Bobbie asked relatives about this years ago, she was told the couple never lived together so there couldn’t be a baby involved.

I found no record of a divorce, and because John married his second wife Barbara Paprocki in the Catholic Church, Bobbie believes the first marriage must have ended with an annulment.

By the 1940 census, John is listed as single and not living with Irene. In fact, I couldn’t find Irene (either under Soar or Gall) on the census. So I began looking at marriage records again. Irene Francis Soar was once again married in Yuma, Arizona on 14 January 1940 to William Henry Zimmerman.

1940 census zimmerman

On the 1940 census William and Irene Zimmerman are living in San Diego, and Irene is (once again) 18. After the census, Irene is listed with William in the San Diego directories from 1941 and 1943, and then the trail runs cold. They are separated by 1946, as William married Marie R. Simmons in Pima, Arizona.

I have yet to find any evidence that she gave birth to a child in either marriage.

Bobbie remembers Irene calling their house when she was younger, and her grandma Ida telling her to stop calling, that John was married now. She doesn’t remember her calling again, but years later found a snapshot of a woman in his things and believes it was a photo of Irene.


John and Barbara Gall.


So now I am putting this story out in the world, hoping someone may stumble upon it who has some information to share. I will keep looking as well. At the least, I would like to find out what happened to Irene and help Bobbie have some closure on this family legend.

You can find all my 52ancestors posts by clicking the tag above!

Until next time,




52 Ancestors: Youngest


Last week I explored a memory of my grandma, and for this weeks prompt, I share more of my grandma’s journal.

My grandpa Gerald (Jerry) Eby was my grandparent who died the youngest, at the age of 51. He died before I was born, so what I know about him through stories and pictures. So I think the best way to share about him is through the memories of my grandma. From 1998:

Jerry was born on July 8, 1921, in Idaho. He had 2 older brothers, 3 older sisters, and 1 younger sister. His family was very poor. They came to Oregon when Jerry was six years old where they lived on a hop ranch. His father (Dallas Eby) worked at the ranch. When Jerry was about 10 yrs. old his father died from cancer. The family then was on welfare until Jerry quit school at sixteen to help take care of his mother and younger sister. The older children had all left home by this time.


In 1942 after war was declared, Jerry joined the Coast Guard. He was in until 1945. After he came home from the service was when I met him. He was a customer at a restaurant I worked in.

Gerald Eby, Coast Guard

Jerry was a big man. About 6’2″ weighing 225-240 lbs. He never was fat but very strong. He had brown eyes, dark brown hair (lots of it) and his looks were almost Indian like. He used to kiddingly say, he was part Indian (He wasn’t).

He was definitely a family man. Before we were married he never got into any kind of trouble, drank very little liquor, and was a good friend to everyone. He did smoke cigarettes (as most people did at that time). He never quit and probably never would have if he had lived. This was his big vice.


Gerald and Richard Eby, 1960.


This main concern was always for the family. At first for his mother and younger sister, then for me and our children. He always said he never wanted to “do things with the boys.” If he had he wouldn’t have gotten married in the first place.

Veva and Gerald
Veva and Gerald Eby, 1972.

He was an auto parts salesman with the reputation of being the best in Salem. He did this all the years I knew him.


Gerald Eby, c. 1970.


He died on June 24, 1973, of a massive heart attack. That part of my life died with him.

{One correction: Dallas Eby died in 1934 when my grandpa was 13.}

Sometimes it can be hard to put genealogy into words. A lot of family history is looking at documents and other pieces of paper, so having the written (or oral) memories about someone you never knew can be invaluable.

And I had been wondering lately where I got all my dark, thick hair, and it is apparently from my grandpa!

This photo was always displayed in our house growing up. Gerald and Veva Eby celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary, 1972.

Now go forth and record your memories so younger generations can have them!

Until next time,








52 Ancestors: Oldest


I have already posted about my great-aunt, who lived to be the oldest family member (that I am aware of), so I decided to write about my grandparent who lived to be the oldest: my paternal grandma Veva.

Veva Eby Obituary
Veva Loene Eby, 29 September 1922 – 4 May 2010

I have written multiple outlines for this post, and I had a hard time narrowing down exactly what to write. I ended up pulling out my grandma’s journal, where she handwrote her life story and memories. Reading it I could hear her voice.

Growing up, I used to accompany my grandma to work. She worked at a furniture store in Portland, Oregon. We used to ride the #12 bus, which we would catch outside her apartment building, and ride into town.

I would entertain myself by looking at the furniture and roaming the store while she spent a short time working. All the furniture was unfinished, but they would have a few pieces painted. The owner and employees were friendly and didn’t seem to mind a kid hanging around.

Here is the excerpt from her journal, where she describes her time at her job, dated January 1998:

I answered an ad in the paper for a part-time bookkeeper in a downtown business. (I went to Chemeketa Community College the whole year after Jerry died and took all their accounting classes). I was hired immediately at this unfinished furniture store. I worked 4 days a week, had a parking space for my car behind the building, and it was only 10-5. Harry Dichter, who owned the store then, was wonderful to work for. He and I became very good friends. He was about the same age as my oldest son, David. He was married at the time and had three sons. Harry owned three stores at that time: another furniture store in Portland and a health food store near Oregon City. I kept the books for all of them, including writing all the checks for the bills, doing payroll and taxes.

After a year Harry sold the store in Salem. I continued to work for him, at first driving up to Portland, working a couple of days (staying over at Rick’s house) then coming home for a day, and going back the next day.

Mother died suddenly in May of 1978 (heart attack again) (all three of my loved ones who have died so far have been from heart attacks. Hopefully I’ll be so lucky). Tere was no real reason for me to stay in Salem and Harry needed me to work more in the store. So I sold my mobile home and moved to King City (near Portland) into an apartment that was for adults only. Harry had sold the health food store so there was only the unfinished stove over on 8th and Broadway near the Lloyd Center. This was in 1980. I worked full time then at the store.

In 1982 Harry sold the store to Rick Slagter who had gone to work for Harry the same year I did in 1978. It was on the condition that I stay and help Rick run the store for as long as I was needed and then Rick would continue to pay me a little each month as retirement as long as I lived. (It is now 1998 and I’m still doing a little work for the store at home. Rick is still the owner and paying me my monthly check).


Veva Eby outside Natural Furniture, 1996.


For next weeks prompt Youngest, I will write about my paternal grandpa Gerald Eby, who died at 51 and is the only grandparent I did not know personally.

And you can follow along on Instagram as well: @familyhistoryfood.

Until next time,



52 Ancestors: Colorful


Oh man, did this prompt send me down a rabbit hole. I remembered an ancestor who had a colorful name, and I set out to learn more about her. Unfortunately, I was unable to learn too much, so I set off in another direction.

This week I would like to introduce you to my 3x great grandfather George Washington Sanford, who was born in a town with a color in its name: Whiteside, Illinois.


George Washington Sanford
George Washington Sanford.


George was born about 1840 to Reverend Joel Sanford and Jane Osterhout, the second out of ten children.

The Sanford family traveled to Oregon sometime in the 1860’s and settled in the town of Stayton. The next year George married his first wife, Martha Jane Dawes.


Martha Jane Daws Sanford
Martha Jane Dawes

George and Martha had three sons: John (born in 1872), Walter (my 2x great grandfather, born in 1874), and Eugene (born in 1880).

However, according to family lore, Martha asked for a divorce after Eugene’s birth. Her reason? She wanted to marry a man who would give her a daughter. Martha remarried and had her daughter, leaving her three sons with George.

On 27 April 1884, George remarried. Bernetta Urbania “Nettie” Wray was a widower with one son, and George believed she would make a good mother to his three sons.


Bernetta Urbania 'Nettie' Wray
Nettie Wray


The following year, Nettie gave birth to her only son with George, Cecil. It is his memories, recorded before his death, which give this information!

According to Cecil, Nettie fell ill, and the family moved to Waterloo, Oregon. The water there was believed to cure all diseases. However, during their move, Nettie rode a stallion and the use of the whip created a blister on her finger. It developed into an infection, and Cecil believed this led, at least partly, in her death. Nettie died in 1889, just shy of her fifth wedding anniversary.



Cecil Grant Sanford (1907)
Cecil Sanford, 1907.


At the time of Nettie’s death, George was building the family a house, where he lived until his death in 1904.

And you can follow along on Instagram as well: @familyhistoryfood.

Until next time,







Why I Publish My Family History

Why I Publish My Family History

This site allows me to share photos, documents, and stories with my family and others, and I wanted to share why it is important to me to share in an environment that is free and accessible.

myself, my maternal grandma Pauline, my brother Cameron, sister Meaghan, and grandpa William McCallum, circa 1985

First: it’s not just MY family history. It is a shared history, with my siblings, cousins, and extended family members. Having our family stories on a website allows members of my family to log in whenever they want and see stories and pictures. I hope that at least one of them will find these stories of interest. I have a lot of family members, many who are interested in family history, and swapping stories, photos, and information gives everyone a better view of our family.

Eby children
The Eby family: Luella, Gerald (my grandpa), Ruth, Gene, Zelma, and Dee.

Second: to find new family members. One has already reached out to me! It’s incredible to hear from someone you didn’t even know existed, and gain family insight from them. I hope that putting the names of my ancestors out into the world will lead someone to me.

Hermann Borchert and his family
Back row: Barbara Gall, Pauline McCallum with son Peter (my grandma and uncle), Ida Borchert, unknown. Front row: Bobbie Gall, Hermann Borchert, and I think George Borchert with daughter Jean.

Third: to work through issues in my own research. Examining my family tree in a different way has uncovered gaps in my research and other issues. Turning records into a written work help to highlight issues, and in my case, tends to raise more questions!

Jennie Ishmael with her siblings and parents
Jennie Ishmael (on the left), with her siblings and parents.

Fourth: I want to inspire others. Your own stories may not seem important, but they are. I hope at least one person will read something on here and begin their own family history journey. I know it isn’t for everyone, but someone might begin a small step in recording their own story.

Wedding Photo to Pauline Gall
My maternal grandparents William and Pauline McCallum on their wedding day.

And finally, I love sharing the stories and what I am working on! I hope people enjoy reading the posts as much as I enjoy writing them!

I want to know, why or why not do you publicly share your family history?

Until next time,





52 Ancestors: Music


Before my grandma died, she made a box of family history items she still had in her possession and left them for me. It contained momentoes, her passport, and some other notes and documents. I cross-stitched that bookmark for her, and she used it for years, in every book she read until she passed.


One piece of paper had song lyrics written on it.


Grandma Crowe’s song.


However, my grandma outlived her two sons (my dad and uncle), who would have been the ones to recall such a thing. “I hope you kids remember the tune,” it says at the bottom.

As I read the lyrics aloud, it dawned on my mom: the melody is “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean.” It works!

Upon further research, I found the lyrics on the internet! They call it “The Kitty Song.”

Obviously, this song meant something to my Grandma, that is why she documented the lyrics. I mean, other items she saved were a George Jones concert ticket stub and a letter from Gerry Frank. She also saved this:


“When I’m an old woman I shall wear purple…”


I feel like most people would look at these things like trivial items, but they so represent my Grandma. She had this poem hanging on her bedroom wall, but changing the words to “wine and bingo” reflect who she was.

Grandma Crowe (Myrtle) with my dad’s immediate family, parents Veva and Gerald, and his sister Susan. In the late 1950’s, my dad looks to be about 8-9 (which would be 1957-1958).

I loved this prompt! Working on this solved a little mystery I had. (On to the next!)

You can find the rest of my 52 Ancestors posts by clicking the tag at the top of the post.

And you can follow along on Instagram as well: @familyhistoryfood.

Until next time,




52 Ancestors: Travel


I have written before about how my mom’s family were new immigrants to the United States, with three of her grandparents born abroad. We have to evidence that her German ancestors had any contact with their relatives back home, but her Canadian grandparents are a different story.

My mom’s paternal grandparents, William McCallum and Etta Moore, immigrated to the United States from Carleton Place, Ontario, Canada. The first Declaration of Intention I have from William lists his arrival as July 1905:

July 1905 Declaration of Intention

William and Etta married in Orilla, Washington on 10th October 1905.

Marriage certificate

Their two sons, Donald and William (my grandfather) were born in Seattle in 1906 and 1907, respectively.

In 1914, William and Etta enter Canada through the Port of Vancouver, B.C.:


This lists Etta’s father as still living in Ontario but also lists William’s occupation as a dredger. He went to Canada at this time to work building the seawall in Victoria, B.C.

William re-enters the United States from Canada in October 1914:

1914 Declaration of Intention

The 1920 census lists William and Etta’s immigration year as 1914, and William’s occupation as a farmer. They are both alien citizens.


I do not have any evidence of William and Etta traveling back to Ontario, but Etta did keep in touch with relatives. A few years ago a woman reached out to me and had photos Etta had sent to her cousin in Canada.

That baby is my grandpa! It was remarkable to receive copies of these photographs, and I am so thankful these photos were held onto.

And today when I was looking through our emails, I found a photo of the house in Seattle the McCallum’s lived in.

McCallum home,Seattle
5412 41st Avenue SW, Seattle. The McCallum family is listed as owning this house in the 1910 census and lived here throughout the decade. By 1920 they had moved to Sumner, Washington.
The same house in 2017.

You can find the rest of my 52 Ancestors posts by clicking the tag at the top of the post.

And you can follow along on Instagram as well: @familyhistoryfood.

Until next time,