Over the past ten years, Jacki and I have done considerable research into our family's history and I have researched musical topics for published articles and the rare books that I have in my book collection. We have used at the Library of Congress, Folger Shakespeare Library, National Archives, other research institutions and at many online sites.
We have put together the following on our family's history: "The Art of the Thoms Family: A Musical History 1920-2010," tracing five generations of music making of the Thoms family; "The 19th-century Journal of Arthur James Moody Tenney, 1840-1880," transcribing Jacki's great-grandfather's personal account of his life in the mid 19th-century; "The Courtship and Marriage of Basilio and Augusta," describing the journey how an Italian immigrant man met a second generation German woman on the Great Plains, courted and married in the early 1910s; "Who, From Our Mothers' Arms," unfolding the biographies of our mothers Serena and Norma; "Memoirs: Through Music and Texts," narrating the compositional development of Hollis Thoms and his musical family from 2001-2017 through Hollis' major dramatic compositions. This page will summarize some of the family history research and musical and book related research that we have done.
This month's focus will be on the research booklet Jacki put together entitled "Walter Moody Tenney: World War 1 Soldier and Prisoner of War." Jacki's great uncle "Dode" was born in 1891 in St. Albans, Vermont. He was the son of Arthur James Moody and Sarah McGarrity. Prior to Walter's birth, Arthur and Sarah lived in Canada and Arthur kept a diary that our family has about his experiences during this time. However, once the family had moved to Vermont, he no longer kept a diary. Walter grew up in St. Albans, and then in 1916 joined the Army. He served in World War I and World War II, then remained in the Army until his retirement in 1951. Jacki knew Uncle "Dode" when she was in elementary school but he never spoke about his military experiences. However, what she found out by doing research is that he was in one of the earliest battles of World War I, the Battle of Seicheprey, France, on April 20, 1918 and that he was injured, captured by the Germans and taken to a hospital, then sent to the prison camp at Villingen, Germany where he remained until the end of the war, November 11, 1918. He was a war hero of sorts, many testified to his bravery as a leader of one of the groups of the machine gun battalions. He knew trench warfare, hand to hand combat, machine gun and chemical weapon warfare, and experienced fighting, being injured, captured and held prisoner in time of war. Jacki's research took her to the Library of Congress and historical newspaper articles about her uncle, to journals from fellow soldiers at the prison camp who mentioned her uncle, to various online sites, and through reading various books on the battle and the prison camp. What inspired the research project and subsequent booklet was a pocket watch she still had from Uncle "Dode" given to him in appreciation by his battalion for his leadership in World War 1, a watch given to him in 1922.
As we celebrate the centennial remembrance of World War 1, we remember Uncle "Dode" a war hero and a beloved family member.