While many genealogical writers have keys of their own for ready identification of each individual named in their work there is an orthodox (say, rather, time-honored) system in general use, alone meeting the approval of librarians and cataloguers. If space is of little importance and if a family be not very large, it works well; but in an unhomogeneous collection of over 30,000 names, derived from at least a dozen unrelated ancestors, it is cumbersome, even ambiguous. It fails to show the degree of relationship between any two individuals. If each person is numbered, the task must be done while the Book is a closed document (else any addition would require renumbering every subsequent person). If each traced individual is designated as (say) Robert 11, John 10, James 9, etc., the unnecessary repetition alone would consume over 75 pages of this Book. Moreover, an index is needed every moment by the author as his work progresses year after year. Such index must be a catalogue of full data needful to identify any new name. It must be used in abbreviated form for the published Book. To type and check an index of 30,000 names is a half year's labor.
Therefore we have adopted a key, just beginning to be used in published works, which, so far as we know, was invented for his own convenience by Herbert B. Dow and which is the simplest, clearest ever devised. This key must be learned, each reader giving almost sixty seconds to it, else this Book will be unreadable. To each immigrant Dow is given a letter, in order of date of arrival.
We omit Matthew Doue of Amesbury in 1650 and Francis Doue of Salisbury in 1639, for they are properly Doves. Our work covers such Dow as arrived prior to Aug. 1775. The order will be:
a Henry Dow,
from Ormsby to Watertown 1637 b Thomas Dow, grantee of Newbury 1639
c Samuel Dow, mariner, of Hartford 1660
d John Dow, of Piscataway by 1692
_____,father of Lieuts John and James Dow, Philadelphia 1757 or before
_____, father of John, Moses and William Dow, arrived N Y about 1768
g _____, father of James Dow, presumably pioneer of Acadia after its conquest
from the French
Order of primogeniture must be rigidly kept throughout. A second letter is added for the second generation. Thus the
1st born of Henry Dow immigrant is aa. The 3rd letter denotes 3rd generation. The
1st born grandson of Thomas Dow immigrant is baa. And so on. The 12th generation has arrived. At worst the individual identification mark will be 12 letters. The combination of letters is inexhaustible, accommodating every descendant, the actual total of whom is over 250,000. Moreover, the combination of letters sticks in one's mind, as digits would not. They show relationship at a glance.
bcdebac and bedebbd must be own cousins. To the Author adggdecab is as familiar as his baptismal name. Besides, all of us are easily grouped. All Quaker Dow must begin with an
ad. All beginning with bede are descendants of four brothers who met at Lexington 1775. All Connecticut Dows (e line excepted) are from
ahc, ahd or ahg. The abbe line is peculiarly of Hampton, N. H. And so on.
As primogeniture is strictly followed, the key fills every requirement which consecutive pagination does. If the order of birth is not known, any person becomes
x, y, z, symbols of unknown. adgx figures much in this Book. The only exception is Thomas Nudd, quasi adopted son of Henry Dow; he skips a letter to become (for convenience, he being older than the true sons)
ak. Unnecessary punctuation is omitted, saving many pages. Abbreviations are numerous as possible, but all are the usual and recognized ones. The word "untraced" appears on almost every page, attached in table of children to each male whose subsequent career is unknown to the Author. It is
seldom attached to female names, for over half of them would be untraced. If
no comment follows a male name in a birth table, he is to be followed up under his individual letter key. Per contra, in tables of births many appear with death, marriage, etc. This does not preclude a subsequent item. The genealogist does not follow with great keenness females. They are hard to discover; vital statistics ignore them shamefully. Moreover, in a next generation they belong to some other family, the married name. Our space forbids, except in rare instances, the inclusion of a third female generation. It is our (and should be of all) duty to carry as far as possible every female child through a second generation. Thus, and only thus, can a genealogy be a document of historical and public usefulness.
No American genealogy is complete or anything like complete. Except for a very few small families, no single span of life, no succession of lives has sufficed to dig out the pedigree of every one of the name, even if records of them had ever existed. Over one-half of the vital statistics of colonial times have been lost by fire or time or carelessness of officials appointed to keep them. Perhaps a fourth never were recorded. It was not thought worth while in early inland settlements to bother with records. Even at this, the average town clerk thought he did his whole duty if he wrote: wid Dow d May 1, 1729. A record: wid
Mary Dow m John Fox, for example. Whose wid? What her name? It is rare that an entry is clear as John Dow rn Mary Smith, wid of James Davis. The parish clerk was no better. He wrote the baptismal record of John Dow, son of John; who the mother and what John did not seem necessary. Five John Dow were born about 1712 in a radius of 25 miles. How do we know which is which? They all married about the same time. Have we identified each arigbt? There is no proving record.
It becomes a matter of partial proof, of inference, of other evidence, of wills, deeds,
family tradition, finally of reductio ad absurdum. People do not stay put. They move even in the 17th century. How can we identify John Dow of Seabrook by birth with John Dow of unknown origin who settles in young manhood in Maine? One needs his wits even to connect John of 1900 born in Maine and married in Montana.
All of our genealogically inclined Dow have been steadily of the opinion that a published Dow Book is out of the question on account of the enormous total of errors, as well as omissions. Our best early collector admitted himself that it would take a year to check up dates alone and still be laughed at by other genealogists for palpable errors. Besides, there are too many untraced, too many disconnected Dow. The Author deems otherwise and shoulders the responsibility for every wrong date, wrong name, wrong identity, often occurring from his own clerical error. He has eliminated thousands of errors, but also added new ones. This volume is the mine of low grade ore, from which future workers may discard slag and expose the fine gold. No good Dow Genealogy can ever be printed, if some Dow Genealogy is not printed now. n another generation it would be too unwieldy. Moreover, the work is going on constantly. Every owner of this Book will make his own additions from time to time. The actuarial expectation of life of the Author is still 16 years and in that time he hopes to make sundry thousand additions and corrections. That a Dow genealogy is needed by all students of Massachusetts Bay families is a prominent fact, for the name interlinks with every one in the colony, and the obscurity of Dow has hitherto been a great stumbling block. An ideal genealogy should give in every case the authority for a date, place or circumstance. It is impossible in a work of this size. Thousands of the dates differ, State, township, family Bible disagreeing. In vast numbers of instances our manuscript has been crowded with
pencil corrections, with no space or time to note the authority. Spellings differ; must we load up page after page with authority for each? Official
rec give a man two very distinct wives; we have no space for each authority. On the whole, town vital records are the most reliable; Quaker records very reliable as far as they go, but they go little. Church records are often careless. Family Bibles are notorious liars, never complete liars, only inclined to add some absolutely wrong item to throw confusion into the Book, as deadly as a monkey wrench in an engine. The author has drawn from many sources. In addition to the genealogical material collected by H. B. Dow and Edgar R. Dow, he has obtained the complete lists of all births, marriages and deaths to 1920 or so from each New England State, Massachusetts as far as published. He has added the information obtained from the 1790 census, neglected by his predecessors. He has also the 1850 census of all New England, the 1860 and 1870 in spots. He has collated every reference in every well known genealogical
periodical. He has read every genealogical page of Transcript or other
authority for over 25 years back. He looked through every local history in the New York Public Library; read every genealogy or other reference book in Los Angeles. He has corresponded with every other genealogist willing to compare notes with him. He cannot print his "authority." Life is not long enough, printing too expensive.
We have remarked that the greatest of genealogical difficulties is individual mobility. If a family remained century after century in its original town, all would be easy. But the younger son of 1750 had to emigrate then
as now. From the coast there came to Gilmanton at its settlement a dozen Dow families. Not a record in Gilmanton indicates whence they came, what their origin, place or parentage. Among them were 3 Jonathans, 3 Johns, 2 Nathaniels, 2 Benjamins. In Maine the early settlers all came over the border. No vital statistics were collected until 1892. Prior to 1830 a record, "went to Maine" was equivalent to being lost, settlers seldom writing home or keeping any knowledge of absent brothers. About 1790 to 1812 Ohio is as bad. All settlers to the Western Reserve are "lost" so far as the East is concerned. California looms as a trouble-maker. Most of its early permanent settlers had little to say about family. New England town histories end their genealogies about 1850, as a rule. From 1850 onward for a single generation is a terrible source of "untraceds." To get data after 1850 one must depend on personal correspondence. To search church records, town by town, would cost a fortune. Now, replies from individuals are generally unsatisfactory, few bothering to write more than a dozen sentences of vague pedigree. If they have any curiosity, they can wait and get it out of the printed Dow Genealogy. Why put it in themselves? That 3,000 living Dow are not included in this Book is because they were too lazy, too indifferent, too something, to reply at all to a clearly worded letter asking genealogical information and promising to give freely the line of ancestors back to the earliest possible date. Indifference is not the only reason. There is lurking in many minds a suspicion of sinister motive in seeking names of one's parents, grandparents, etc.
There is the miserly instinct, too. A worthy farmer wrote that if information of his grandfather was so valuable, he had better keep it to himself. The Author caused to be compiled a complete list of Dows from over 2,100 directories published in America and wrote to most of them. Not 5 per cent ever replied. Fifty interviewed Dows admitted (or claimed) they did not know their grandparents' names. There are over 600 families of Dow immigrated since 1830, mostly from Scotland, next from Ireland, none from England.
It is difficult to get genealogical data by letter. No matter how carefully the wants are specified, only one reply in 20,000 has been complete and concise. A Massachusetts judge wrote such a letter, 2 pages, but not omitting a name, date or important circumstance and not containing a superfluous word. No other letter has said as much in 20 pages. On the average it takes five letters to get what should have been contained in
the first reply. The first mentions a few names; the second adds some dates requested, and takes them mainly from memory. The third, if at all, is inclined to argue on the uselessness of adding a mother's maiden name. The Author has written over 20,000 letters to make this Book. Edgar Dow used to send out great numbers of his printed form, to be filled in. The form had space for mention of each child, including his marriage, with date, and his children, grandchildren of the addressee. Most of these forms which came back specified under marriage "husband" or ' 'wife," it not occurring to the answerer to insert the names. Grandchildren, yes, 3, or as the case might be. Seldom were they named or dated.
Collections of data for a Dow Genealogy were begun within the year of each other by three men. Edgar R. Dow of Portland, Me., was the pioneer, his letters beginning 1881. His interest in the subject began with tracing the descendants of his own great grandfather, who was a Revolutionary captain. Following this, with great patience, he gained the data of the two immigrants, Henry and Thomas, with most of their descendants of the third generation, several to the fifth. He had to work without the great libraries existing today and there were omissions in his 3rd generation. As soon as his idea broadened to include a general Dow genealogy, he collected every name and address of a Dow throughout the country, every newspaper mention of the name. Excepting two years lost by ill health, he kept up this practice for 25 years and sent out thousands of blank forms. Such genealogies as he was able to connect with the main line, he kept on special printed page forms, the whole bound in loose leaf ledgers. After his death, the work was very occasionally kept up by his brother, Dr. George E. Dow. That gentleman, finally realizing that the ledgers were useless at home and that the Author meant business, sent them on. They contained somewhat over 6,000 names, of which over 2,000 were new to the Author and to other Dow collectors. James J. Dow of Faribault, Minn., had conceived the idea of a genealogy and had started on one, with similar method of sending out blanks. The two men found each other. The James J. Dow work was a hopeless failure, wrong in his own line, which he was never able to straighten out. His collections were finally thrown away. He also met D. Webster Dow of Epping, devotee of his own line. Correspondence with the Author's father began in 1888. One great value of Edgar's work was its exact birth dates, which replaced great numbers of approximated dates, as will later be explained.
When Edgar died, his widow was inclined to destroy the manuscripts, which did not seem useful to any one and which had been a contributing cause to his ill health and death. They were rescued by his brother, who in turn died in 1921. It finally dawned upon the Author's mind that all he had received from Edgar was in finished form, with no disconnected Dow, no unformulated, scattered leftovers. He wrote for
such in 1923 and received two more ledgers. One was halfway formulated,---
lines to date, occasionally back to the 5th generation, but left unconnected with the main tree. This was of fully 3,000 names. Lapse of time and added knowledge enabled the Author to identify 95 per cent of these names, and in almost every instance, family records interpolated one or more children between those found in public vital statistics. This necessitated changing the letter keys to date in most of the lines. The second ledger was of wholly unconnected material, letters and the original blanks filled in. Their comparative illegibility entailed vast work, but they finally added over 5,000 names.
Even of this, 95 per cent had become connectible through lapse of time. This necessitated re-typing this entire Book for the fourth time.
Herbert Beeman Dow began about the same time and had the first three or four generations properly identified. Then a school principal, he liked to spend the long vacations perusing wills, deeds, etc. He thus got many names rightly connected. Of course, a name found in a will has no birth date. To aid his search, he was accustomed to approximate such birthdate. When his work was copied for the Author, the copyist did not specify what dates were approximated. Some were 20 years out of the way. Almost all of these have been eliminated, either from actual vital data or from Edgar's letters. Herbert was a past master in rightly conjecturing the right father for the right son. His hypotheses, when put to proof by subsequent knowledge, were singularly good. About 6,000 names were his contribution. His good nature impelled him for thirty years to answer every letter of inquiry. I n recent years an arduous daily occupation has compelled him to halt. The Author has stored in Herbert's safe a duplicate of every record collected by himself, so that, in case of fire, death or calamity, a complete Dow collection would exist.
Richard Sylvester Dow of Boston became interested at Herbert's instance and spent much money on professional genealogists to find, in time to insert into the history of Essex County, the antecedents of Thomas Dow
b. In this he failed utterly. His work was in 1916 stored hopelessly in a summer home, but all its useful data had been copied by Herbert and thus came to the Author. The work is marred badly by the methods of professional genealogists who sacrificed all truth to happy and easy guessing.
Mrs. Sarah B. Carrow of Methuen, professionally a searcher to establish lines for membership in D. A. R., has become a very dear friend and great helper. Her kinsman, Judge Harry Robinson Dow of No. Andover, Mass., wrote his own family faultlessly.
The late Joseph Dow of Hampton, N. H., President of the New Hampshire Historical Society, held genealogy as a constant tracemate of the History of Hampton, his life monument, the two being identical to no small extent. He could not do much outside Hampton or outside the
abbe line, but his Dow fundamentals are the final and unimpeachable authority. So is Hist. Hampton, consulted by every historian and genealogist, with many errors, all minor ones, an authority behind which few have been able to go.
Dr. Frank F. Dow of Rochester, N. Y., prepared a wellnigh perfect account of the posterity of
adgge. Joy Wheeler Dow is the best authority on ahc, ahd and
ahg, but neither work has been available for this Book.
Miss Flora Dow of Centerville, N. Y., took up the genealogy of
adacea to entertain an invalid father, but became an enthusiast, although with very limited opportunities. Her narrative started that line rightly for its completer form herein. Her kinswoman, Mrs. Eudalia J. More, was a great help, elucidating the
adacf and adacg lines, most of her details never having been gained elsewhere. She and Flora came by accident on the
bcdec line, thitherto unknown. She has been a faithful friend, full of zeal to add something useful.
Miss Grace A. Price of Cleveland began by tracing her own quarterings when the
ahbc line was to us unknown. Since 1915 she has contributed several thousand hours to this work. As she was a Dow only two generations back, only two motives are possible for her aid, --- an innate spirit of helpfulness and a fondness for a corner of the big and quiet library where genealogical books were ample. No Dow item ever reaching her keen eye remained uncopied. As Mrs. Rawson, she no doubt continues still more useful.
Sterling Tucker Dow of Kennebunkport, Me., entered late, but made up for lost time by getting every member of the then unknown
bbbfaa line, its identity established by the Author.
Mrs. Eva (Dow) Connor of Pittsfield, Me., has helped much in the
adbab line, the Maine Quakers, not one of whom remains today in the Friends. She and the Author were aided much by Mrs. Cynthia Jones of Haddon Heights, N. J., who has retained to great age the sweet simplicity of character characteristic of the Quaker matron of long ago. Mrs. Laura (Dow) Wilson of Raton, N. M., helped clear up her own line,
Miss Mary J. Greene of Hampton Falls, the authority on Judge Henry (1) Green, identified much with Henry Dow
a in the most illustrious days of Hampton's history, received some unimportant help from the Author, magnified its consequence and sought ways to reciprocate. The Dow of Seabrook were an unarranged mass of thousands, so unknown to vital statistics, that all previous collectors deemed a Dow Book impossible on account of them. The Author had made almost no headway. She plunged into the task of rescue. Her discovery of the
adaim line was followed up until it was cleared thoroughly, as complete as any in this Book. They constituted nearly a third of lost Seabrook. She then found the record of
adai, the next most important of the seemingly lost lines. This was followed by complete conquest of
adgx, by the only light
obtained on adaii. Four-fifths of Seabrook was genealogically arranged by her, a work of brains and patience never excelled in American genealogy. She has been the only helper in the still hopeless-looking Dow family of Kensington.
John Mark Moses of Northwood, secretary of the Piscataway Pioneers, sought, among many other tasks, to perfect a history of Northwood. He got back to its founder, Beniah Dow, but was then confused, there being a Bemah
adgfed. His appeal to the Transcript was answered by the Author, setting him right about Beniah 5 of Epping. He then discovered the lost Epping records and copied every Dow name. He started to copy the records of the Second church and did so to 1772, when one morning he was found dead in bed from an old heart trouble. He was unmarried and left a mother of 83.
Other acknowledgments might be made up to the hundreds.
When the present Author undertook to publish a Book about Dow, nothing was farther from his mind than to undertake the family genealogy and he had no knowledge of the subject. His brother John W. Dow had prepared a 20-page manuscript tracing our own line only. Joy W. Dow had prepared, during twenty years or so, work on the so-called Connecticut Dows,
ahc, ahd and ahg, but he never expected to be able to publish. The Author suggested putting the two works together, copying what Herbert B. Dow had, devoting a few months to the editing, and then publishing materials to start a Dow Genealogy. This will-o'-the-wisp was pursued for a while, in spite of Herbert's warning of its futility. The job of copying Herbert's work took Joy over 6 weeks, not including the Conn. lines, which Joy had already. As the mass was inspected, enlightenment came surely but slowly. A little later Joy Dow withdrew from a difference of opinion over editorial policy.
The matter of Dow Genealogy had by this time progressed until its fascination became engrossing. The original idea of six months devoted to editing existing material was lengthened to two years; and in six months more was lengthened into a minimum of five years.
Since then we have realized constantly that a lifetime is too short.
We have always hoped against hope of succeeding where all predecessors have failed and always been conscious of the great need by all students of a Dow genealogy, its family obscurity blocking all search in all other lines from Mass. Bay. As time went on, the work ahead kept increasing. The mass of unconnected statistics, obtained almost daily from new searches, rose table high. When the original collections were made, libraries were few and small. The original collectors did not know what a big modern library is. This quest the Author began and pursued through 10,000 volumes. An unindexed book is a menace to public health. Over fifty volumes in the New York Public Library have genealogical tables of 10,000 names upward, absolutely unindexed. One has to scan each page. For several years, the daily search swelled
the disconnected list. At one time the Author had 20,000 names disconnected. Only since 1921 was the peak passed. Each search now, each new material of solidity, lessens the disconnected mass, the total under 5,000.
In addition, correspondence increased so that each day's mail entailed work. A majority of letters necessitated some addition or alteration, often of a single word or date. Such pencil interlineations before long made the manuscript illegible to a printer. It has been re-typed from start to finish no less than five times. Each name and date has been each time checked as well as we could, to prevent copying errors. An index had to be kept alongside. It had to be a card affair, with data on each card to establish any disconnected new name. The letter keys changed every day. Often a line from fifth generation must be altered to make it correct. We find that he whom we had supposed to be
adadh is really adadi. This alone means altering 500 cards. Five times our carelessness in keeping index to date, unsatisfactoriness of the system, or other cause, has compelled us to re-index. To correct each card would take five times the effort to begin
de novo. We have done it five times.
Let us not forget that the Author is the sole publisher and bearer of expense, and realizes full well that works of this kind are disastrous financial failures, that under the best of conditions he can scarcely get back the bare cost of printing. D. B. Hoyt's Old Families of Salisbury and Amesbury is a classic, yet has not returned to its author the printing cost. The total cost of this Book is a fortune, the Author does not expect, does not want, a penny back for 5,000 hours of his own labor. No money has ever been asked for or expected. The price of the published Book, luxury as it is, necessary to no one, may seem a little high. It is below half the actual cost, even if every volume is sold. Let this be remembered. Many who have written some single letter to aid expect the gift of the Book. The average public librarian, even of the largest libraries, expects such books to come as gifts, published to satisfy the Author's vanity. In this case, it will not be done. Endowed libraries should buy what books they need, otherwise go without.
A propos of expense account, a few anecdotes: A sample Dow is a Scot by birth, of Syracuse, N. Y., traveling salesman. To a letter of genealogical inquiry, he replies that he knows quite a lot of Dows and will look them up, but wishes first to know "what there is in it for me." One commercial traveler fixed the price of information, it being a side line, at $5.00 for each Dow interviewed. Happily, this ilk is always of recent immigration, devoid of pride, perhaps of parentage. No professional genealogist of Dow blood has ever suggested that the Author pay anything. Some of them gave material abundantly. Cash outlay is for stationery and return postage, largely, with an occasional dollar to a town clerk. The latter, especially in New England, are a fine race
of men, generally past middle age, almost always identified with their home community, with long memories and a zeal to aid anything which might contribute to the history of their towns. The professional genealogists - bless 'em - have a living to make, but they seldom see that their contributions to a Book like this would cost more in time to collate that they would add. One of the best genealogists in the land wrote one day that in a certain account book in a certain town in Maine was an excellent autograph of one Joseph Dow of 1783. For this information he charged 50 cents, which, he added, the Author was under no obligations, moral, legal or equitable, to pay. At this rate, the Author replied, the whole Dow Book would cost over $575,000, a sum which he did not possess.
Given equal birth and environment, or given most unequal conditions, families average up pretty much the same in the long run. The line from a degenerate generally becomes extinct. Some are for several generations a little more prosperous, more distinguished, more honest than others, often more warlike, with more soldiers, but not enough so to justify vanity in the matter. No pride so liable to take a fall as pride genealogical. The richest Dow in this Book sprang from an ancestor who died from poverty and gradual starvation. The slacker who went to jail for a term of years had for ancestors throughout the bravest male line in this book. The
adage holds fairly well of three generations from shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves, in spite of the tendency to make a practical entail of many swollen fortunes. It is also true that the family having most wealth in individual cases will also have its balance in complete failures. The family having conspicuous genius has more than its usual compensating number of idiots. A family replete with nonogenarians will have a high infant mortality rate. Caste, entail, pride cannot overthrow the superhuman law of evening-up in the long run. T he posterity of Alfred the Great averages just equal to the posterity of Piers, plowman.
Yet:--:- we are a pretty good lot, we Dow. We are generally queer. Some of us are horrible cads, but we believe with good ground that for each cad we have more than the average of generous impulse-bearers and lovable natures. We have had shameless slackers in high places, but in low places we have had men - who led a forlorn hope from Fort this or that. The number of millionaires, of profiteers in war time, of captains of industry, is average; the number of paupers equally average.
Illegitimate births seem below the average, and this statement is made after careful comparisons. Owing to the Quaker stock of a third of us (perhaps this is true), our reputation for honesty is better than average, as well as our prison record. Remarkably few of us have seen prisons from the inside. We have three
sus per coll; one a wronged man, two notorious brigands, not vulgar murderers. Every king in Europe sprang
from a notorious brigand who succeeded. We have had only one conspicuous failure through crime and he fell not from a criminal instinct, but from too dizzy height in high finance, climbing too eagerly toward a captaincy of industry. Perhaps the Quaker leaven has increased the proportion of humble farmers and millhands. The workers in shoe factories are far above the average. The number of men who will cheat the conductor of a nickel is below the average. No case of bigamy has been found, only one of wife desertion. Suicides are fully the average. In martial spirit, the Quaker line has not lessened the average. This is due to the law of compensation. The proportion of Dow in the Revolution is second to no family. Nine of us were at Bunker Hill. In the towns around Haverhill not a single Dow stayed at home, if he were of military age. The proportion of volunteers in 1861 is above the average.
In counting profit and loss in his enterprise, the Author must not omit mention of the richest reward of his labors. He has made from coast to coast firm and lifelong friends of the best of men and women, unknown to him until they aided this Book. He has united a score of brothers and sisters who had for years lost sight of each other. He has found a dozen Dow who, orphaned early, never knew a relative. He has been able to re-unite parted couples, to heal quarrels of twenty years standing, to rescue a cast-off. There is an
esprit du corps, a meaning to the phrase:
THE PRIDE OF DOW
Robert Piercy Dow
Laguna Beach, Calif., May 25, 1926