Patricia Thompson

Expert Author

Patricia Dingwall Thompson, a national board Certified Genealogist, has been passionately involved in genealogical research for the past 15 years. As a high school English teacher, Tricia has lived in the world of research and writing much longer, for over 38 years, often incorporating the two fields to spark interest in potential future genealogists and historians.

Her published articles in Everton�s Genealogical Helper include �Unraveling a Gordian Knot� and �City Directories�a Treasure Chest of Information�; and serialized in the New Hampshire Genealogical Record is the three-part case study �Early McMillens of New Boston, New Hampshire.� The McMillen study and a second work, �Ronald Dingwall of Scotland and Ontario,� are housed in the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.

Turning to professional work for others, Tricia has conducted research spanning the United States, in addition to Canada, England, Scotland, Yugoslavia, Poland, Russia, Italy, Mexico, and Puerto Rico.

Retired from the classroom in May 2011, she will now turn to full-time genealogical pursuits. But her love of teaching will continue through the local Adult Education Program, in which she offers a class in Beginning Genealogy.

Favorite Genealogy Quote

�Genealogy without documentation is mythology.�

What are your specific genealogical interests?

Specific interests include helping others begin their own genealogical journeys, following sound practices and building trees on the internet so that the generational loss of treasured family stories, photographs, and documents ends. I urge all of my Beginning Genealogy students and all of my clients to scan and upload every piece of family history they have. I am also interested in interviewing elderly patients in nursing homes to record their family stories and historical recollections.

What got you into genealogy?

While training for the Korean War, my father was killed in the crash of his fighter plane. I was just 6 years old, and I have felt the loss of him ever since. Family tradition held that our family came from a town in Scotland named Dingwall, but as an adult, I had set aside that story as mere myth. Then one day in a senior English class that was studying Macbeth, I pulled down a map of Scotland to indicate the location of Inverness, a key locale in the play. As I pointed to the city on the map, my eyes just happened to catch a much smaller town just to the northwest�the village of Dingwall! I had to go, and within 5 years, my husband made that dream come true. However, without genealogical skills, I had no way of sorting through the village records, trying to find my Dingwalls in a town named for the ancient clan of Dingwall, in which fully half of the current residents carried that surname. So I returned to Montana determined to learn what I needed to become a genealogist.

Most surprising genealogical find:

My most surprising genealogical find involves the Salem Witch Trials. After conducting much personal research, with a great deal of chagrin I learned I am a 7th-great-granddaughter of Deacon Edward Putnam, who, along with his brother Thomas, was one of the leaders on the accusers� side of that shameful period in American history. But when I traced the family line of my first husband, Richard Toothaker, so my sons would have a balanced view of their lineage, imagine my shock to discover that one of the victims of the accusations was a Dr. Roger Toothaker, who died in prison while awaiting his �day in court.� Dr. Roger Toothaker is an 8th-great-grandfather of my sons. So 270 years after the fact, in the small town of Clovis, New Mexico, a direct descendant of an accuser met and eventually married a direct descendant of a victim. Perhaps if I had been aware of that history, I would have realized the marriage was doomed to end in divorce . . . .

If you could find the family history of any historical great, who would it be and why?

I would enjoy researching the real Lady Macbeth because of my years of teaching Macbeth and because of the real Macbeth�s ties to my own ancestral village of Dingwall�he is reputed to have been born there. The real Lady Macbeth, Gruoch, certainly has been researched, but I have not delved into the various works. Teaching 150 teenagers a day for 38 years, along with pursuing my own genealogical research for the last 15 years, has not left a lot of time for such pursuits. But I would indeed enjoy getting behind the Shakespearian image and discovering the background of Gruoch.

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