52ancestors

52 Ancestors: Family Legend

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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,

Meredith

 

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52ancestors

52 Ancestors: Youngest

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

 

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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!

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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,

Meredith

 

 

 

 

 

52ancestors

52 Ancestors: Oldest

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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).


 

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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,

Meredith