Family History – Part One


My next several blogs will cover a personal book project that has been in the works now for about fifteen years. Over a hundred years ago, my great-great grandfather, Joshua,  wrote down his family’s history from their arrival in Canada in 1821 until 1907. He was 81 years old. The hand-written manuscript is 240 pages long, and he likely did as many as four copies, one for each of his living sons.

I remember seeing the old manuscript book under the side table that stood beside my grandfather’s armchair; I remember turning the pages, marveling a the delicate handwriting, and the ancient photographs of relatives now distant in time. Then, as now, it seemed extraordinary to me that anyone would undertake such a project.

The book had been handed down from son to son, then ultimately to my father. In the mid 1990s, during one of the periodic bouts of unemployment that the self-employed seem to experience, I pitched the idea to my father that we transcribe the History into text on the computer, then replicate it either as files or print-outs for the benefit of family and relatives who would undoubtedly be interested in their genealogy. Time passed and I revisited the project now and then. My interest in book design meant that, inevitably, the project would evolved from a mere transcription into a printed and bound edition, ultimately completed this fall.

The next few posts will be dedicated to the History, the man who wrote it, some of the information in it and a bit about the production of the new edition and the restoration of the original manuscript.

Part One |Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Part Five | Part Six | Part Seven | Part Eight | Part Nine

Explore posts in the same categories: Books, Genealogy, Musings, Writing

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7 Comments on “Family History – Part One”

  1. Deb Says:

    Wow, what a treasure to have! I’m looking forward to reading about it.

  2. […] Adventures in Letterpress Printing, Writing, Books and Art « Family History – Part One […]

  3. How wonderful! I too have a copy, in the same binding as yours. It was Dedicated to my Great Grandmother Gertrude, who was Joshua’s youngest child of eleven. He presented it to her in January 1907, however, continued adding notes until a year before his death in 1916. In this copy he writes of his thoughts prior to beginning the first copy:

    “Five of my children have died and the six who remain might prize a Family History and Record … ”

    I am Gertrude’s eldest Great Grandchild and consider that I am very fortunate that her youngest Grandchild, my uncle Fred, passed it on to me, for safe keeping, with my mother’s blessing.

    Of his children I always assumed that the following were
    recipients of his “Family History”:
    1 (2d child) James W. Thompson 1856-1923 of Penticton.
    2. (4th) R. Allen Thompson 1860-1919
    3. (5th) Mrs. Elizabeth Murray 1863-1947
    4. (6th) Dr. Charles Walden 1865-1923
    5. (9th) George A. S. Thompson 1877-1968
    6. (11th) Mrs. M. Gertrude Pringle 1881-1969

    A book went to Uncle George (1877-1968) who married Maggie J. Sides (1878-1957) in Palmerston, Ontario. They lived in Regina – they didn’t have any children.

    So you are the first person I have come across who has a copy in hand and I am happy to know that at least 33% of his hard work was not in vain.


  4. Thank you for undertaking this huge project, and should you want another well-meaning “transcriber”, oh please do let me know!.

    • Larry Says:

      Thank you Susan, for sharing this information, and more or less proving that Joshua must have produced a copy for all his children. The Charles Walden Thompson version has been transcribed, printed and bound. I’ll cover that production in the blog in a few days.

  5. What an incredible undertaking. And, how fortunate Joshua’s family is to have you convey his written words. Your comments about him touch me. Thank you so very much.

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