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.