Beware of what you might find when researching your family history. My family in particular seems to have more than its share of ghosts in the closet. Here are a few that I’ve discovered so far.
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.
Late in his life, while traveling through Italy, William Thompson (1838-1900) sought a meeting with Pope Leo XIII. “I thought he and I might sit down and have a confidential chat,” the former mayor of Butte (1895-1897) wrote in a February 20, 1898 letter to the Montana Standard, “but I wasn’t even invited to sit down.” Instead, […]
Though we know very little about the life of my third great grandmother Margaret Maguire (1794-1880), this much has been passed down: Her parents were pretty pissed when she took a tailor, John Robinson, for a first husband in Belfast Northern Ireland. Tailoring may seem like a pretty noble occupation today. But Maguire’s father, a […]
The decent, law-abiding citizens of Virginia City, Montana, had had enough. They wanted to send a strong, clear message to Henry Plummer and his road agents who had been robbing and killing the innocent people of this frontier town. With no formal legal system in place, the vigilantes decided to take matters into their own hands. The […]