Harry Kendall Dowdy, Jr. tackles a monumental challenge in research, collection, and collation to produce this story of his forebears, accompanied by photographs and illustrations.
The author commences his chronicle by introducing readers to the earliest ancestor he can trace, Thomas Dowdy, circa 18th century. Travelling over the decades, he winds through the family tree, moving throughout the generations of Dowdys (also known as Dowdeys), Scarboroughs, Shrivers, and others in his lineage. Throughout, the author highlights relatives such as Elizabeth “Aunt Betty” Dowdy, who was an activist working for black rights at Indiana State University, and Dave Dowdy, who organized the first Bavarian-American Friendship Week in Munich, as well as many other relations who made contributions throughout the decades.
Photographs, copies of historical documents, and carefully crafted drawings of all associated family trees round out Dowdy’s chronicle. One helpful inclusion is a general timeline of historical events between 1917 – 1998, which coincides with the life of Rosa Scott Dowdy, who the author singles out as one of the major influences in the family.
Dowdy admits that in his 22-year search for family lore, he relied not only on historical records but also on personal accounts gathered from relatives near and far. Thus, he notes, some evidence is necessarily conjecture due to the nature of anecdotal re-telling. But he assures readers that corroboration has allowed him to piece together a credible presentation.
This book is an obvious labor of love and a definitive chronicle of one man’s family history. The author takes great pride in shining a light on the achievements and honors accumulated in the book’s annals and lists them in detail. He doesn’t, however, spend much time on any negative aspects, making readers wonder if that was an intentional oversight.
The book’s appeal to anyone outside of the Dowdy relations will likely be limited, but the information methodically gathered and meticulously compiled could be an heirloom worth keeping for the family in question.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.