war and tulips

February 6, 2013

When I bought my house, the previous owner informed me that there were journals in the attic from the early days of the home. I was delighted at the time, and imagined myself immediately pouring through them.

Well, of course, life took over, and so I’m a bit horrified to admit that it took this history major until now to look through these prized records. Worse, it wasn’t even me who initiated the review. Sneaking up to the attic one day, my brave children discovered the leather bound, gold trimmed “magic books” and started “casting spells.” Unfortunately, they neglected a cleanliness charm, and the historic grim on their hands and faces gave them away. So it was that I decided it was time to rescue the fragile books from my imaginative, but not too gentle, progeny.

And what a find! The journals, dating from 1903 to 1949, are the daily records of Fred T. Dolbeare, who was probably the son-in-law of the original owner, William Bosworth. (I will have to do more research on both.) As you can see from the closeups, the records are quite detailed, providing a wonderfully personal perspective on history. Apparently, just like me, the Dolbeares had some connection with Cape Cod, for Mr. Dolbeare mentions the opening of the Cape Cod Canal on the same day that World War I started. (Of course, being a Downton Abbey fan, I went right to that date.) In reading this entry, which records his daily routine alongside major world events, it is possible to put yourself in the mind of the average citizen. For example, it is interesting to note that, on this day at least, Mr. Dolbeare seems most concerned with the effect of the war on his stocks. Perhaps a natural response for one so far away, who could not yet know the devastating course of history.

I look forward to delving in Mr. Dolbeare’s reactions to events as they progress and will keep you apprised.

“Tuesday, July 28, 1914
Arrived Boston at 5am and immediately proceded home for breakfast. Raining and cloudy all day.
Lester to Sandwich to be present at 275th anniversary of town and opening of the Cape Cod Canal.
War declared by Austria against Serbia. Situation bad throughout Europe.
Stock markets all over the world had a bad slump. CPR dropped 15 pts. Other R.R.s down 3 to 5 pts.”

Later, amidst another World War, a flower order. I do hope some of these come up in the spring.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Katrin February 6, 2013 at 7:05 pm

This is so awesome I don´t even have words. These must be of interest to a museum, no? What an amazing find.
I would so love to have something like this from the family who built our house. There seems to be such a complicated story around this family and their relationship to our village. We don´t know much but at one point in the early 80ies they escaped to Western Germany. I am almost inclined to try and find their descendants ;)


Justine February 6, 2013 at 7:51 pm

Wow. That would be amazing, to find the descendants. I know that the last heir of the family who built this house died childless and left it to her maid, who also died childless.

I will let the Newton historic society know of the journals so that researchers can contact me and I will bring some in for their review. But unless the museum determines that they are of some rare historical value, I will keep them with the house. Although I will try and preserve them in a much better state than I found them.


Eeva February 6, 2013 at 9:09 pm

Oh, that would be one of my various dreams come true!


xenia February 7, 2013 at 6:54 am

this history major is equally intrigued by this thread to the past. how i would have loved to find something like that in the attic (well, i would have loved an attic *)


kara February 7, 2013 at 3:54 pm

What a delight…..so neat that they kept many journals. I would just shiver with delight if I had something like those in our attic.
Our house is 1860s. One day a man stopped in our house…..he had lived here in the 1930′s he told us a lot about our house. Was so fun to hear snippets from him..
Kara {love the pictures, beautiful!}


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