|The John Dobson Family circa 1871|
My favorite retro era is the 1930s through the 1940s. It seems to me that's when the concept of home management was at its peak – when it was studied as a system that could be taught for the benefit of the individual and therefore society. As the '40s became the '50s and '60s, we began to question that "a woman's place is in the home" and women began to express their right to find fulfillment outside the home, to have careers apart from or in addition to home and family – and rightly so. The wrong was that home management as a career was de-valued to the point that we stopped teaching, developing, and encouraging it. Some of us feel the loss of that. Some of us have discovered we can still find it – through the written word (books and letters) and through each other. The subject of domestic encouragement is really rather timeless in nature. Modern conveniences may relieve us of much drudgery, but the value of the home to society remains.
Here's an anecdote about my paternal great-grandmother, Lucy Winans Dobson, from my Grandmother Ina Dobson's unpublished memoir. Lucy was Ina's mother-in-law, of course. To my knowledge they never met. Lucy lived near Deloit, Iowa, with her husband, John.
"John Dobson was a good and kind man," Ina writes, "and was often called upon by the native Americans to settle little matters between them and the settlers. One chief and his wife called at the house to do honor to Grandpa John. At the time there were twins in the old cradle, Julian and Junius. Before this there had been twin girls in the old cradle, Julia and Mary. This seemed a great thing to the chief -- that this woman had born not one but two sets of twins, and he thought Grandma Lucy a wonderful woman. He offered to trade his spouse and I don't know what else for Grandma! We do not know by what diplomacy Grandpa John got out of this situation.
|Julia Ann & Mary Jane; Julian & Junius|
By the way, the two sets of twins were just four of the ten children that Lucy bore between 1856 and 1876. The girl twins were born in 1857 while the boys, Julian (my grandfather) and Junius were born in 1864.
Family generation gaps are certainly interesting, aren't they? My great-grandfather John Dobson was born in 1834, my grandfather Julian Dobson in 1864, my dad in 1904, and I in 1949. My half-sister Harriet's first great-grandchild was born in April of this year, just weeks before Harriet turned 80, while my half-brother Chuck at 74 has great-grandchildren who are half grown. Some people, like me, never knew their great-grandparents. They were gone by at least 20 years when I was born.
[Recently through this blog I became acquainted with Leah, a shirt-tail relative, who provided the family portrait of the John Dobson Family from her genealogy research. I had never seen the family portrait but had the photo of the twins taken in 1871. Together, Leah and I worked through some errors in dating and identification of the photo. The baby is not Lawrence, who was born and died in 1868, but Cora, born in 1870. See the cute little topknot tied with ribbon?] KW