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Beyond Rusted Dreams – Busted Lives

In 2006, when I was in the fifty-eighth year of my life, I decided that I should learn who my family was. When I was four years I lived in Beaver County, Pennsylvania. I lived in a loving family, but I was suddenly orphaned. My thirty-six year old father, Arthur Allen Dunn, came home from work, ate dinner, and went to teach a night school drafting class. Within two hours the Pa. State Police were at the door, and my mother, collapsed. My father had died of a sudden and massive heart attack while teaching his class.
My wonderful childhood slammed shut. My mother survived (at least in body), and in a desperate bid for security, married my step-father, who did adopt me. Although this man raised me, I knew he was not my father. He discouraged me from spending much time with the members of my birth family. My mother’s fragile mind prevented her from thinking about her past, and she was only able to tell me about her tragic life, and my family, in 2000, while she was slowly dying of cancer, and her mind was already slipping into the fog of dementia. She scribbled down a few pages of her memories, gave me a few old photos, and tried to tell me her memories. This small packet of information became the starting point for my search.
On Memorial Day 2007, Ancestry.com gave America’s veterans a gift; two weeks of free access. I had no experience in genealogy research, but I had been trained in research as a Geology student, and also when I was a Coast Guard Petty Officer. I had just learned how to use the on-line search engines, and was impressed with their data base which gave me a rough timeline, home towns, and the cast of main characters. I learned a lot about my eight families who emigrated from war-torn Europe in the 19th Century, setting out to find a better life in Pennsylvania’s hills and valleys.
By March of 2008, I had enough details to write a 54 page book about my family. I printed up fifty copies (using my Economic Stimulus Check) and gifted these to my friends, with instructions, to pass the copies on to their own circles. I admit, this first edition was rather crude, and was mainly based on conjecture, but it served as a handy framework to begin my second round of research.
I have now visited Ambridge and Old Economy, and researched microfilm, and original documents. This delving doubled my knowledge. I have walked the streets of Etna, Sharpsburg, and Sewickley, in Allegheny County; and Plymouth in Luzerne Co., all sites where my families once lived. I have been in contact with churches, funeral homes, local and county offices, and cemeteries. I also have been in contact with the Blair and Fayette County Genealogy Societies, and will soon visit them, to research their records.
My son, Tobin, now lives on Okinawa and is married to a native woman. He has learned how important knowledge of one’s honored ancestors is. He is currently ‘funding’ my current on-line searches. I admit – I am hooked! Two years ago I did not even know what an ‘ahnentafel’ was, and now I am #1 on one!
For two years I have been posting my on-line Farm Journal on this website. This winter I decided to rest that project, and to write a weekly posting featuring my updated family history. Each week I will be present short essays featuring my Fulford, Davis, Dunn, Vesicko, Cumashot, Johnson, Flueckiger, etc., families, plus tributes to the many family veterans, as well as to provide historical overlays (which will be italicized) to tie their stories together. Enjoy your read!
Thomas Joseph (Dunn) Marti – 12/17/2008
PS: I really do feel that as I sit here typing I am surrounded by a cloud of their spirits, all whispering their stories into my ears.
PPS: 1/15/2009 – Now that I am caught up a bit on the farm work, I am going back thru these family history posts and updating them with all the information I learned this winter. I never thought I would learn so much about a family I thouhgt I lost fifty-five years ago. And I even re-connected with Deb, a younger genealogist, who is also related to my great-great-grandfather William Dunn. It really helps to have two minds investigating the old dust covered tomes..

pps: 8/2/2009 – so much new information has poured in that I am slowly wading thru my past postings and updating them. It is surprising having so many relatives – I wsh a few more were still among the living.. thom dunn marti
thom

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