Saturday, August 6, 2011

Shopping Saturday - Dana, Indiana

Every genealogist should be so lucky:  having ancestors who wrote part of their history!  My grandfather's first cousin, Gerard Dawson, died in 2002 - the last in his line. [See the Tuesday, August 2nd post.]  Gerard left his house in Suffolk, Virginia to the local historical society.  I went to visit the Suffolk-Nansemond Historical Society (The Dawson House) to see what family history I could learn. 

The Dawson House
137 Bank Street, Suffolk, Virginia

One discovery was a series of 8 envelopes each containing about 25 pages of manuscripts.  Challis Haddon Dawson wrote them to his son Gerard, who was attending Harvard University, in 1947.  The manuscripts tell about Challis' early life in Illinois, visits to family in Kansas, personalities of his relatives, fatherly advice to his son, the social life in Suffolk, VA, life as a family doctor, and his budding art hobby with examples of his art.  It also contained some drawings of the family farm and his uncle's house in Scotland, Illinois.  The only sad part is that one manuscript has not been found. 

This excerpt from page 75 . . .

   "I mentioned the small town seven miles east of Scotland.  It was Dana, Ind.  This was the thriving community where mother and I went each week during a certain period to swap our butter and eggs for staple groceries.  My mother's butter enjoyed an excellent reputation and always was in good demand, bringing top prices.  The eggs, of course, were average eggs, produced by better than average hens, and "untouched by human hands".  Since we did not make the eggs, we could not claim any superiority except through the racial quality or breeding of the hens.  They were a large type of hen know as Buff cochin, or something like that.  I dont know why we preferred, or why mother preferred, Dana to Chrisman since it was three miles further but we would hitch Old Mike to the buggy once or twice a week and drive there.  This was while we were still on the farm, after Dad had left us and before mother got the town idea.  It was on one of these trips that I ate the dozen or so over ripe bananas and became so deathly sick.  this was also the home town of the immortal war correspondent, Ernie Pyle, who was raised outside of Dana on a farm, but I can't remember anyone . . ."

More on "after Dad had left us" in another post. 


  1. What a lucky find to come across. A real treasure trove of information to sort through. Have fun.
    Theresa (Tangled Trees)

  2. Thanks, Theresa. Everytime I read through the pages, I find new information, or at least see it in a different light. I am having fun!