mystery man

Growing I heard stories of my grandfather Nicholas Dozenberg, confabulous stories about China and the pottery pieces that adorned the fireplace hearth. Far, far away places that I could only imagine. And that man.

I knew he was my mother’s father and had been married to my grandmother. There where “cousins,” in Santa Barbara California that had visited us but that was as much as I knew about his family. He must have had a family.

He must have been an interesting man for all of the grown up people to be talking about him. I heard from my grandmother that he spoke, “seven languages,” and that intrigued me more than anything. How could anyone speak that many languages?

right – Nicholas Dozenberg
HUAC Committe Hearings
secret testimony
Washington DC
May 21 1940

Why was my grandmother so intent on writing her story?

Why did my mother feel the deep loss of this man in her life?

Where was his family?

Where did he come from?

Who is a spy?

Who did he spy on?

Why was he a spy?

How could I know him better?

Would I ever know him?

Was he really a communist?

I grew up in a culture of hippies, free love and sunshine. A very different place then most of the rest of the world. My aunt listened to the Beattles and my favorite color was hot pink.

The information gap grew and turned into a lifetime pursuit of learning, understanding and appreciating the life of the mystery man

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Evolution of a Sister Blog

I was challenged by someone to, “start writing,” after admitting to years of research for the Man of Family blog . I could not refute the logic or resist the challenge.

The idea of writing a blog seemed easy at first …….. until I attempted to write it …….. well here are a few of the lesson I have learned along the way.

I procrastonated and in retropect it seems as though I was protecting myself because the idea and the actual writing where more challenging than anticipated even though I have invested many years researching in preparation.

Writing a blog is like creating a piece of jewelry; the finished piece needs to be purpousefuly balanced and athestic in final form.

My blog is a family history project so there is the context of time to which I am necessarly bound, (chronological order).

Another equally important constraint is telling the story is a coherant narrative, not just a bunch of facts about people that other people are not related to, to add character and depth to ancestors near and far that I did not know in my lifetime.

The very first entry was important for my project, it may not be for others that have subjects that include subjects that are less restrictive.

The acutal writing seems to fall into place after the first sentance is written. The first sentance sets the tone for the entry.

Researching the facts are important pieces not be overlooked in the interest of time.

And related to the above sentence; understanding the historical context in which my ancestors lived. This includes reading and appreciating history as I have never appreciated it before. (I recently finished my second book on World War I, not much of a war buff but the historical context cannot be overlooked.)

Writing about ancestors first includes gathering as many of the facts of their lives as possible, this includes a photos, writings, personal effects if possible. People leave behind things and pictures that where important to them and this leaves a sense of who they where in “real life.” I also try and acquire vital records when possible.

The idea of the “sister blog” developed to include how the research has been done, some interesting observations, and points of interest and writing exercises to help bend the mind around the beauty and the power of the written word.

writing exercise #1

Solitary

The sun is light is freedom.

Feeling my body in motion.

The tune of trinkets at my side.

The confidence of safety.

The door is thick dark steel.

The barrels turn under the command of my key.

The dank still air 

Smells of musty concrete and new paint.

The slab is cold and hard.

Layers of old old paint and ancient scrawls

Dance on the walls.

Love pledges to long forgotten faces.

The clank of the cell door and catch of the lock.

Blare out their call of home.

photo by: Blue Sharpie

A Christian Heritage

Like tracing the outline of a shadow on the wall, so is recounting one’s family’s spiritual heritage. The sturdy Scot-Irish identity, grounded in Presbyterianism, was passed down generations to men who served in the capacity as missionaries, ministers, deacons and women who demonstrated courageous acts of charity.
Pastor was James Patterson Kerr
Boyds MD Presbyterian Church
c. 1955

Quakers took up the cause of racial equality generations before civil rights came to the forefront of social consciousness. Such was the legacy of Jonathan Lindley whose influence lived on in his great granddaughter and great-great granddaughter, faithful keepers of the light.

It is evident that charity began in the home of Henry Presley Thornton (1783-1865). When Clorinda Coffin married the oldest son Thomas Volney Thornton (1810-1845), a Presbyterian by faith, she was ex-communicated from her Quaker church and family. Sadly, their only child, Harriet, did not survive her first year. When Clorinda was widowed in her husband’s 38th year, it was her in-laws who provided shelter. Following their father’s example, the Thornton men were active in their community as church lay-leaders and financial supporters, to name a few; Edmund Braxton Thronton (1856-1929), Henry Clark Thornton (1852-1930) and George Abram Thornton (1821-1854).

 

Wordless Wednesday: Home of Mary A Thornton and Edmund B Thornton

Home of Mary Braxton Thornton, Bedford, IN

“Mother’s home where I was married”
1133 Lincoln Ave, Bedford, IN
the property next door is the home of
Edmund B Thornton

“Mothers home” would be the home of Mary A. Thornton (nee Braxton) and “Ed’s home,” would be the house for Edmund Braxton Thornton

(written by Emma Sickles Thornton where she married Albert Hopkins Davis)
Bedford, Indiana

Reference: The Annals of a Family p. 125