Man seeking owner of scrapbook chronicling Hudson brothers' WWII years

by Laura Freeman | Reporter Published:

Ravenna -- One man's junk is another man's treasure -- especially when it's a scrapbook documenting the World War II experience of two Hudson brothers.

Logan Cox, a Ravenna resident, was helping unpack items for the National Alliance on Mental Illness rummage sale July 19 at the Eagles Club in Ravenna and found a scrapbook in one of the boxes.

The scrapbook appears new and was perhaps a project of someone recording the experience of a World War II veteran. Like a puzzle, the scrapbook creates more questions than answers. Who made the scrapbook? What happened to the people mentioned in its pages?

Logan would like to know if the scrapbook was discarded accidently, but if no one claims it, he would like to donate it to the Hudson Library and Historical Society.

Inside are copies of a registration card for Leonard Dawson, 22, of Hudson. He was drafted March 18, 1941, and joined the U.S. Navy.

"Although excited is not the right word, I guess I can say I am eager to serve my country," Leonard wrote. A copy of his words are included on the page with the draft notice.

His older brother, William Holden Dawson, had received his draft notice a few days before. He was a U.S. Marine corporal and machine gunner with the 6th Marines. He fought at Pearl Harbor and was stationed on the Sand Islands. One of the documents in the scrapbook is a copy of a form used by the Hudson library to track military service of Hudson residents.

After being drafted, the brothers trained in the same camp in South Carolina and stayed in tents.

"He is a few tents down from me," Leonard wrote home. "It is comforting to know my big brother is that close."

Logan's mother, Karen Cox, is president of NAMI, and the other workers didn't know what price to put on the scrapbook and decided to give it to Logan. He began showing it around and shared it with his father, a Vietnam veteran. "It has the history of World War II and how some survived," Logan said.

The scrapbook contains a copy of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's speech made Dec. 8, 1941, with the words, "A day that will live in infamy" about the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Leonard wrote he was on the U.S.S. Arizona when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. He was able to escape on a lifeboat unharmed and wrote his mother on Dec. 9, 1941, "The majority of the men from my ship were killed."

More than a thousand officers and crew died on the U.S.S. Arizona, which remains on the bottom of Pearl Harbor and was dedicated in 1962 as memorial to all those who died in the attack.

The scrapbook contains clippings from the Hudson newspaper, "The Times," showing recruitment notices such as "Enlist in the Navy Today" and "Red Cross to Service" along with political cartoons.

Leonard was assigned to the U.S.S. Enterprise Feb. 1, 1942, and in August he was injured near Guadalcanal during a surprise attack. While recovering at a Red Cross station in Hawaii, he met a nurse from Hudson, Nancy Elsorine.

"It's a small world," Leonard commented in his letter home.

William went home to Hudson Aug. 31, 1942, his first furlough in 27 months. "The Times" newspaper published an article featuring him.

Meanwhile, Leonard fought in a string of battles, including the Battle of Bismarck on March 2 to 4, 1943, the Battle of Vella Lavella on Oct. 6, 1943, and the Battle of Makin and Tarawa in the Gilbert Islands Nov. 20, 1943, in which he says he "fought for three hours."

"He survived World War II and came home," Logan said.

Karen said they found an obituary about William, who was born Aug. 11, 1919, and died March 26, 2012. He was a 1938 graduate of Hudson High School.

Another form in the scrapbook stated that William's parents were Richard H. Dawson and Nell Fox Ellsworth, and he had a sister, Lernell D. Eberhard.

"There's a lot of information on Hudson people in the scrapbook," Karen said.

If it was given away accidently, they want to return it. Otherwise at the end of August, they plan to present it to Hudson Library and Historical Society archivist Gwen Mayer, who said she would be happy to accept it.

"This is too much information just to be put away," Karen said.

Anyone with information about the Dawson family or the scrapbook can contact Laura Freeman at lfreeman@recordpub.com or call 330-541-9434.

Facebook: Laura Freeman, Record Publishing

Twitter: @LauraFreeman_RP

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