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,



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