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,






52 Ancestors: Independence


I would like to introduce you to Ezekiel Sanford, born 21 December 1745 in New Haven, Colony of Connecticut, my 6x great-grandfather. His mother died when he was 2 and his father when he was 15, and at the age of 30 joined the American Revolution.

A copy of Ezekiel Sanford’s application for a pension after his service in the Revolutionary War.

And why yes, he served under Benedict Arnold, in 1775 for 8 months. This was before Arnold defected to Britain in 1780. He served until 1779, and applied for a pension in 1818, at the age of 72.

The most exciting find is a letter from Ezekiel to his wife Sarah, dated 27 April 1778 from Valley Forge. (He was at Valley Forge with George Washington and Alexander Hamilton!)

This letter is found in his Revolutionary War pension file, and was transcribed on Ancestry:


Camp Valley Forge, 27th Apr 1778

Dear Wife:

A sense of my conjugal obligation and tender afection for you and the children whom God hath given us induces me to write at this time and I doubt not you have earnest desire to hear from me as you have frequently manifested.  I have been very sick and nigh to Death for a long time, but God of his infinite mercy has lenthened out my life and so far restored my helth that I have returned to the Camp under circumstances of comfort and am able to attend the exercises of the _____ and am gaining strengh very fast.  Hope soon to enjoy a confirmed state of helth, great and maniford have been the favors and Blessings which God of his infinite goodness has bestowed on me who am unworthy of any motive from him, may his name be suitable praised, and all his benefits Remembered by me and all concerned for me:  I received your letters my :Majs” Curtis camp, am obligated to you for the care and concerne for me therein manifested.

Rejoiced greatly to hear of your welfare, but am not without the greatest concerne and anxiety for you and the Children.  I know the times are difficult and I consider the care upon you to be very great under your particular circumstance–the duty of parents to children is very important and as it is necessarily devolved upon you, I cannot forbare, nor do I think it inconsistent with my Duty to express my concerne for them and earnest desire that they may be well instructed in the ways of virtue and piety, if they are not, Sin lieth at the Dore and we must be answerable for the neglect, and I can do my duty in no other way than by recommending them to your care and the care of a kind and indulgent Providence.

I understand the neighbors are kind and careful for you which I am very glad of, as I think it must of no small comfort to you and greatly softens your cares, be not discouraged but surmount the difficulties with all becoming Patience, and God bless your indeavors and preserve your helth __________.

I intend to come home but now do not expect, this summer–it would be very agreeable and gratifying to me to see you once more and hope I may at the close of another campaign, but that is uncertain.  We appoint and God disappoints and it becomes us to prepare for the event of his will with all due submission and that His blessing may ever attend you.

Peace be restored to our land and our hearts prepared for the receipt of so great favors is the desire and prayer of your Loving Husband.



sanford_ezekiel_real estate
Property of Ezekiel Sanford, as listed in 1820.

By 1820, Ezekiel claimed 23 and a half acres of land, valued at $100. Ezekiel died in Springwater, New York on 1 September 1833 at the age of 87.

I am proud of all of the members of my family who have served, but Ezekiel fighting for our independence holds a special place for me!

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,