52 Ancestors: Love

When I think of love, I think of hearts, so I thought for this week I would highlight my 9x great-grandfather and one of the founders of Hartford, Connecticut, William Wadsworth.

William Wadsworth was born in 1594 in Long Buckby, Northamptonshire, England to William and Elizabeth Wadsworth.

William married Sarah Talcott in England in 1625. Three of their children were born in England: Sarah (b. 1626), William (b. 1628), and John (b. 1630). The family immigrated to the now United States in 1632 on the ship “Lyon,” arriving in Boston Harbor.

Their daughter (and my 8x great-grandmother) Mary was born soon after their arrival. The family lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts until 1636.

William moved his family to Hartford in 1636, where he held several positions in the city. He was Collector for Hartford and 1638; Deputy to the General Court from 1652 to 1675; was on the Committee on Stonington and Indian Bounds in 1666; Indian Commissioner in 1666, and on the Militia Committee also in 1666. He was on the War Committee 1673 and the Committee on Indian Complaints in 1674, during King Philip’s War. (from the founders website, found HERE).

Sarah’s brother John Talcott was also a founder of Hartford.


William Wadsworth on the Founders Monument, from their website.


Sarah died in 1643, and William married Elizabeth Stone the following year. They had six children of their own. The Stones listed on the monument are Elizabeth’s father (John) and brother (Samuel).

William died in 1675 in Hartford.

This is one of those family stories that turned out to be true! My mom believed she had an ancestor who was a founder, and it turns out we have two (the other being Thomas Olcott). I am researching a name on my dad’s side of the tree that might be another Hartford founder as well.




52 Ancestors: Surprise

One of my favorite places to research my family history is newspapers. You never know what kind of surprise you may find!

Recently, I was on newspapers.com, typing in family names and seeing if anything new had popped up. It had been a while since I had a subscription. I searched for my great-grandfather Hermann Borchert, and three different articles popped up.


Hermann Peter Borchert


I had known Hermann was a printer, from family stories and his obituary, but these articles were a surprise for me.

The first, from the Indianapolis News on January 8, 1900, announcing the election of officers for the German Typographical Union No. 14. Hermann was elected Vice-President. The second article, from the Indianapolis Journal the next day contained a similar announcement.


The Indianapolis News, January 8, 1900.


The final article was from the Indianapolis News on April 30, 1904. The German Typographical Union, along with other German unions, were going to hold a First of May Demonstration. Hermann is listed among those speaking.


The Indianapolis News, April 30, 1904.


These articles help give a little context to his work and what he did in his spare time.

Newspapers.com also provides a free trial if you have never signed up. It’s worth taking the time and seeing what kind of surprises you might find! (If you have the all-access Ancestry pass, the basic newspaper subscription is included).


52 Ancestors: At The Library

One of my goals this year is to learn more about my ancestors’ everyday lives. I began with my grandfather William Gordon McCallum, who served in the Merchant Marines from 1929 to 1951. My mom said he didn’t talk much about his time, so I wanted to try to figure out what life would have been like.


Photo of Captain William Gordon McCallum, from his Merchant Marine file.


I saw on Twitter the recommendation for a book, “The Mathews Men,” which I checked out from the library. It has helped me to better read his records from his time


The main thing I have discovered is the duties of the officers on board. My grandfather was primarily a second officer, which meant he charted the course using a sextant. Each man would sign up for a single ship, so in one journey my grandpa would be chief mate, and the next third mate. Photos of his sextant below:

Another thing, Merchant mariners are only paid when they are on the ship. If the ship was hit and they were forced to abandon, once the men hit the water they were off the clock. Incredible for men who were risking their lives.

One in 26 merchant mariners were killed during World War II. The bulk of those were killed in the Atlantic Ocean. My grandpa sailed out of Eastern ports many times, even in 1942. This map from the book shows the shipping lanes from 1942:


I am still working through this book, but it has been so enlightening. It is one of those eye-opening things: even though he never physically engaged in combat, my grandpa was in danger all the time.

There is current legislation to recognize the service of Merchant Marines during World War II. If you are so inclined, there is a form to contact your legislators and encourage them to move the bills along, which you can find here: LINK

I wrote a little more about my grandpa’s service for a post last year, which you can find HERE.

Buy the book on Amazon (or read more about it) HERE.

Follow the American Merchant Marines Veterans on Twitter HERE.



52 Ancestors: I’d Like to Meet

I landed on the ancestor I would like to meet fairly quickly. Although I wish I could meet each of my ancestors, especially those with brick walls, I decided on an ancestor without much of a paper trail, my great-grandma Ida Catherine Borchert.


ida gall in her garden
Ida Gall, 1961.


Ida was my mom’s maternal grandmother, born 23 October 1885 in Lansing, Michigan, the first in her line to be born in the United States. Her parents came to the country just four months before.

Ida was the oldest of six children. The family spent Ida’s younger years in Indianapolis. She married John August Gall on 12 November 1912 in Toledo, Ohio. They had two children: John, Jr. and Pauline, who was my grandma.

Among the things I wish I could know:

  1. What it was like for her to be the first child born in the U.S. Did she struggle with her parent’s culture?
  2. What did she see in John that made her marry him? From family stories, Ida was a quiet, kind, and religious woman, while John was the opposite.
  3. My grandma went and lived with another family when she was in high school. My mom had heard it was because Ida and John suffered from tuberculosis. I wonder what she thought of having to send her teenage daughter off, and why she didn’t live with family.
  4. I would also like to know about her time working for the Marston family. She worked as their pastry chef.
  5. And while I am at it, I would ask her to write down her recipes! I heard she was a wonderful baker, and I wish she would have recorded them.

Women are often lost in history. Yes, I have some photos of Ida and a small paper trail, but I am curious about her everyday life. Ida lived to be 87, and she was more than a wife and mother, and I would like to go beyond the official documents.


52 Ancestors: Unusual Name

A short post for the week, to highlight that sometimes it is the pronunciation of a name that makes it unusual. At first glance, my grandpa’s name isn’t unusual. Gerald is a fairly common name. However, it is how it is pronounced that makes it unusual. The “G” is soft (like in Gary).


Gerald Eby, Coast Guard
My grandpa Geralden Kenneth Eby, who served in the Coast Guard during World War II.


At birth, he was given the name Geralden. On the 1930 census, he is listed as “Geraldine.” But by 1940, he is simply Gerald.

And while my grandma was very particular in letting it know how Gerald should be pronounced, her nickname for him? Jerry (with a “J”). I wish I knew why.

This is a story hard to document, but important nonetheless.

(For last year’s prompt of Favorite Name, I wrote about my grandma, which you can find HERE. I wonder if they bonded over their unusual names).

52 Ancestors: First

It’s another year of 52 Ancestors! Last year I learned so much from this exercise and I am excited about the upcoming prompts.

This weeks prompt is First, which gives me the chance to follow up on a post from last year, Thankful. When relaying to my mom the content of my post, I was able to learn how my parents met. It was something I did not previously know or even occurred to ask. So for this week, I would like to share how my parents and both sets of grandparents met.


My parents Richard and Margaret Eby on their wedding day, October 19, 1978.


My parents met at their first day at Lewis and Clark College in 1967. They met at a dance put on by the school to allow students to get to know one another. My mom remarked how if it wasn’t for that dance, they may have never met, as they did not share a major or a single class. They were married for 28 years until my dad died in 2007.


My paternal grandparents Gerald and Veva Eby on their wedding day, May 10, 1947.

My paternal grandparents met in the diner my grandma waited tables at. They both lived in Salem post-war, and my grandpa would eat at the diner. My grandma was going through a divorce at the time. They were married for 25 years until my grandpa’s death in 1973.


Wedding Photo to Pauline Gall
My maternal grandparents William and Pauline McCallum on their wedding day, August 29, 1937.

My maternal grandparents also met at a dance. My grandpa was in the Merchant Marines and was docked in San Diego when he met my grandma. My grandma lived in the city, but my grandpa lived in Sumner, Washington, so it was a chance meeting! They married in the backyard of my grandma’s friend and were married for 49 years until my grandpa’s death in 1987.

I am excited about the year to come! If you want to join, head on over to Amy Johnson Crow’s site to sign up! It’s a lot of fun and a great way to both share and further research your family history.

Until next time,




52 Ancestors: Thankful

One thing this project has taught me is how lucky I am to exist. Writing down stories of ancestors who survived wars, unfortunate accidents, and of ancestors who came from all over the globe, it truly is a miracle that I was born.

I am constantly amazed that my parents even met. My dad’s family has been in the United States for hundreds of years, traveling the Oregon Trail and settling in the middle of Oregon. My mom’s family, on the other hand, traveled to the United States at the turn of the century, from Germany and Canada. Part of her family settled in the Midwest, while others traveled across Canada and settled in Washington.


My parents on their wedding day.


My maternal grandparents met in San Diego, where my grandfather would dock while in the Merchant Marines. It was only after the war when he could not find a job in Seattle when he moved his family to Oregon. My parents met at college.


On their honeymoon.


It really is a miracle that everything fell into place. Thousands of ancestors had to be in the right place at the right time. One death, one movement to a different place, and things would have been totally different.


Their first Halloween, 1978.



So today I am thankful for each of my ancestors. For the ones who left home and came to a new country and the ones who stayed close to home. Every one of my ancestors was right where they were supposed to be.

Until next time,