Several trips to the Boyce Thompson Southwestern arboretum provided no evidence that the cactus named after my great uncle, Echinocereus boyce thompsonii, actually blooms. I even bought one in the visitors center and brought it home to Maryland, where it failed to bloom over several years but did succeed in ruining a couple nice shirts. […]
The project started out innocently enough. I merely wanted to confirm some of the often bizarre stories my parents and grandparents had told me at family events, typically after a few drinks.
Genealogical research often turns up more than you really want to know. I got a rude reminder of this truism before the Christmas holidays, when a genealogist working in Cobourg, Ontario discovered that my earliest North American ancestor, William Thompson (1806-1849), assaulted a tailor, didn’t pay the fine, and spent time in the lock-up. The […]
Was William Thompson da man? Or was it William Boyce Thompson? A dissident family faction weighs in.
I was recently sitting comfortably in a reading room of the Library of Congress, going through some papers left behind by Hermann Hagedorn, William Boyce Thompson’s biographer. I was minding my own business, trying to speed-read interviews related to the Magnate’s acquisition of a mining venture in Ely, Nevada, dreaming of my next cup of […]
Legend has it that a French assistant, Rocha, used to wheel an invalid William Boyce Thompson to the window of his remote Picket Post house in a bathtub on wheels just so he could watch the sun rise. Turns out that story is an urban legend — or should we say “rural legend” — invented by […]