Saturday, March 5, 2016

FAMILY HISTORY | The Writers GIG, Vero Beach, Fla.

Edgar Jadwin telling the story of his book to the Writers'
"GIG" at the Indian River Genealogical Society, Vero
Beach, Fla. Photo by JT Marlin.
The Indian River Genealogical Society met in February in Vero Beach and I was astounded at the large number of people in attendance–I estimated 150.

A certified genealogist gave a talk on using the Internet and software applications for genealogical research. However, her slides are proprietary so I cannot reproduce them.

However, at the meeting I signed up as a member and I found out about the Writers' Genealogical Interest Group, or "GIG". The subject of that meeting was a family history written by a long-time member of the group, Edgar Jadwin, who turns 90 in September of this year. He is a proud Army Brat, a group that should not be underestimated. I have written about Army Brats elsewhere.

Jadwin comes from a military family. He writes about some of them:
Edgar Jadwin (L) with Mary Mitchell, who guides
the Writers' GIG at the Genealogical Society.
  • His grandfather, Lt. Gen. Edgar Jadwin (1865-1931), who graduated first in his class from West Point in 1890. 
  • His second cousin once removed, Flight Commander David Mckelvey Peterson (1895-1919), who graduated from Lehigh in 1915 and became a World War I flying ace with six victories, one in the Lafayette Escadrille and five with the U.S. Army Air Service. He was awarded two Distinguished Service Crosses. He died in an aviation accident after World War I.
  • His uncle Maj. Gen. Thomas (Long John) Hearn (1890-1980), a graduate of the West Point Class of 1915 that included Bradley, Eisenhower and other generals. He got his name from the fact that he was 6'5" tall. He served as Gen. Stilwell's chief of staff in the China/Burma/India march of 1944.
  • His first cousin by marriage, Maj. Gen. Charles R. Sniffen (Ret. 1981), born 1924. who participated in actions in Italy in World War II, in Korea, and in the Vietnam War. His awards are numerous, including the Purple Heart, the Distinguished Service Medal, the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit with One Oak Leaf Cluster. Two sons followed him into the military. One is Charles (Chip) Sniffen, a 1979 West Point graduate who served in Korea, with many merit awards to his credit, and is now at the Department of Defense serving the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The other is Chaplain (rank of Colonel) Peter R. Sniffen, born in 1962, earned his BA from VMI and his Master's degree in Divinity from Westminster Theological Seminary. He has served as chaplain in Germany and Afghanistan. In 2015 he was appointed Commander of the U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School in Fort Jackson, S.C.
  • His father, Col. Cornelius Comegys Jadwin II (1896-1982), graduated from West Point in 1918. His father's story is told through the eyes of his son, who traveled around the world with him. In the Army, Col. Jadwin mastered the equestrian arts and taught them to other army personnel. He was a member of the Army Polo Team. (It may be hard to remember this in 2016, but until World War II when tank technology was taken by the Wehrmacht to a new level, horses were still thought of as a basic unit of military warfare. Police forces still find them useful for crowd control.)
Edgar Jadwin, Author.
Photo by JT Marlin.
Some of the highlights of the book include his time at Hotchkiss (shortened by one year by the war), his application to Princeton and his acceptance and deferral, his military train and wartime service in North Africa, his study at Princeton with other G.I.s after the war, and his business career.

Jadwin is excited to have finished his book, which took him many years to write. He is extravagant in thanking the people who worked with him on finishing the 140-page family history–the Writer's GIG, Mary Mitchell in particular; his editor, who did not charge him for his help; and the printer who put it all together.

Clearly, the book was a meaningful exercise for him and his work would be justified on that basis alone. It is a valuable resource for other people in his family. It should be of value in helping to tie together individuals in the military and in other institutions that Jadwin was associated with. I believe that it could have a wider audience if it were given a further edit with an eye to what would interest people outside his own family. The material is there and just needs the edge that a professional writer can give it, answering questions like:
  • What are the hallmarks of a Welsh heritage (the Jadwin name is Welsh)?
  • How are Brats similar (I am a U.N. Brat and I can see some commonalities)
Jadwin (L) and your blogger. Photo
by Mary Mitchell.
Also, the book could be much improved if the photographs were larger and better reproduced. They also require captions.

Jadwin is too modest to charge for his book and he is giving it away. I think he should do this only in return for getting feedback on the book, with the idea of doing another edition. 

His family has served their country well and they deserve the best. Meanwhile, he shouldn't have to make it a gift. He should put a proper price on the book and give it away only to people like me who write it up and help promote it, or who return his favor by giving him comments!

Meanwhile, I am grateful for the various writers' groups I have attended, one of which met regularly at my mother's home in Berkhamsted, Herts., UK. Another is the Poets & Writers Group at the Harvard Club of New York City, and the Amagansett Library Writers Group, which I attend in the summertime. In addition, the Tuesday lunches of Manhattan's Coffee House Club, which has some of the characteristics of a writers group, since almost everyone there is wrapped up in the moment with writing, reading or publishing something!

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