Sunday, June 21, 2015

My Father's Name!

Gearing up for my very first Father's Day as a father, I've had a lot of time to reflect on the things my father has passed on to me, like he's a social butterfly, he loves UCLA, and he loves spending time with his family! 

If you've met my Dad, you know that he is a fun loving, easy going, and generous individual! He is a peacemaker in our family, and has a quiet dignity about him (which I attribute to his parent's attempt to raise him as elegant, high-society boy).  He is extremely giving and humble and kind.

With this long list of great qualities, if you know me, you're probably wondering, "So what exactly did you get from your father?!" I admit, my feisty personality many times seems at odds with the attributes I've described my father as having, but I hope to have inherited a fraction of those characteristics that I admire so much about my father!

But perhaps the thing I'm most proud of that inherited from my Dad is something I'm excited to pass on! It's a rare treasure, and not many people have it....

...The DOWDEN Name! 

171 years ago Edwin Dowden was born to James Walter Dowden and Jane Elizabeth Stroud. He would be one of the three children to survive to adulthood out of the six children they had, and the only one to leave his home in Brighton, Sussex, England and set sail for America and the promise of a new life and a new religion. Edwin would also be the only child to pass on his Father's name: Dowden. His older brother, Frederick Charles would remain in England and have only 1 daughter, while their younger sister Caroline would travel to New Zealand and marry twice but have no children of her own.

It has been said by the Roman Historian Publius that, "Posterity gives every man his true value." I wonder if this principle was a motivating factor for Edwin as he would father 12 children with his wife Naomi Debenham once he reached Utah. However, passing on a name is more difficult than just having children. Of the 12, only 5 lived to adulthood and of the 5 only 2 were sons: Shirley Willard and Charles Frederick.

Shirley never married and never had any children, But Charles had three sons to continue his father's legacy.

Of the 18 grandchildren of Edwin, 3 would carry on his name: Charles Jr, Lynn Jensen, and Kenneth Boyd.

With each generation, Edwin's posterity would practically double in size, however the number of sons to carry the Dowden name would remain small in comparison.

Edwin's great-grandchildren would number around 40, but only 6 sons would have the Dowden surname. Charles bore 3 sons: Monty, Marvin, and Gary. Lynn would have one son: Greg. And Boyd would produce the final 2: Stephen and Ronald.

In the next generation, Edwin would have more than eighty 2nd great-grandchildren and only 5 would have the potential to perpetuate the Dowden moniker.

I think of Edwin often. In fact, hardly a day goes by that he doesn't at least cross my mind. I wonder if he had any idea how his decisions would have the potential to impact his posterity 171 years later. He left his family, his home, and everything familiar to start a new life in a new country.

As one of his 2nd great-grandsons it amazes me how so many blessings in my life are a direct result of a choice someone made 171 years ago. Every time I sign my name, or see it printed on something a small tinge of gratitude flashes across my mind that I am lucky enough to carry his name and be able to pass it on so that he will not be forgotten.

I am grateful and excited that in his most recent generation of posterity which number around 200, the Dowden name has been passed on to two more sons: Ronan and Briggs Dowden. Within them is the potential to carry on the memory of Edwin and perpetuate his legacy.

I'm grateful for the long heritage associated with my name and I associate many of the good qualities of my father with this name he's given me. Hopefully I will be able to teach my son to respect and honor his name and to carry on this legacy of love, sacrifice and faithfulness to his future children!

No comments: