1939 was Hollywood’s Golden Year. Its classic films included “Gone with the Wind”, “The Wizard of Oz”, “Jessie James”, “Wuthering Heights”, “Of Mice and Men”, “Mr Smith Goes to Washington” as well as two iconic films directed by John Ford – the definitive “Stagecoach” and the highly-successful “Drums along the Mohawk”.
Set during the American Revolution/War of Independence, and starring Claudette Colbert and Henry Fonda, ‘Drums across the Mohawk’ followed the lives of settlers in the strategically important Mohawk Valley on the frontier of New York state. The couple suffered attacks on their farm from the British, from Native Americans and from “Tories” (those allied to the British cause). Finally they were forced to take refuge in Fort Herkimer. Reinforcements arrived in the nick of time from Fort Dayton. The war ended and the patriots raised the American flag above the Fort.
Archie Thomson – great-great-great-great grandfather of David Thomson, Chairman of Thomson Reuters, took an active part in these historic events. He was not, however, one of the loyal Americans defending Fort Herkimer. He was on the other side. (more…)
…The bare rolling stretch of country from the North Tyne and Cheviots to the Scottish southern uplands was for a long time the territory of men who spoke English but had the outlook of Afghan tribesmen; they prized a poem almost as much as plunder, and produced such an impressive assembly of local narrative songs that some people used to label all our greater folk poems as ‘Border Ballads’ …
Folk Song in England: A L Lloyd (2008)
It was high summer in the year 1773. At the door of one of the cottages in the tiny Scottish border hamlet of Nether Knock in Eskdale, a 24 year-old country carpenter bade a final farewell to his parents, his brothers and his only sister. Lifting his bundle onto his shoulder, he followed the rough road beside the river out of the valley. On reaching the small town of Langholm, he turned westward and continued on foot for a further 25 miles to Dumfries. There, waiting at the quayside, was a ship bound for Canada. Until that moment, he had never seen the sea.
The name of the young carpenter was Archie Thomson – great-great-great-great grandfather of David Thomson, Chairman of Thomson Reuters.
I think that we will not follow his ship, unfurling its sails as it moves out into the River Nith towards the Solway Firth and on to the New World. Instead, let us return to the old world of Eskdale. For it is there that we may discover more about the Thomson family and the life which Archie had chosen to leave behind.
There had been Thomsons in Eskdale as long as anyone could remember. For centuries they had been associated most particularly with the hamlets of Nether Knock and Mid Knock. (more…)