The Joke’s on Me

About Theodore J. Thorson (d. 1924), Aunt Clara wrote in Homestead that he became “a very successful businessman,” but also that he “played the violin and became a leader and instructor at Wimbleton” (p. 9). Later he returned to help his aging father save the family farm and he became a successful breeder of purebred Shorthorn cattle.

But Wimbleton?! Tennis? Yes, I know that’s “-don,” not “-ton,” but I thought it must have been a typo. I’ve always been intrigued by this seemingly out-of-place reference in the Borreson family history.

A few days ago, as I was following up on some ski jumping history at the La Crosse Public Library, I came across this bit of news on page 4 of the Whitehall Times & Blair Banner for January 18, 1912: “T. J. Thorson, a former Pigeon boy, now in charge of a lumberyard at Wimbledon, N.D., in sending along the wherewithal for a renewal subscription, says he is getting along nicely and that business is booming in his berg.”

A lumberyard in Wimbledon, North Dakota?! Population, 216, in the 2010 census. No kidding. Maybe not tennis at Wimbledon, England? I burst out laughing! That makes sense – and the joke’s on me. (And now I have no reason to travel to England to examine old tennis records for traces of our ancestor. Too bad.) I loved the surprise. Of course, I still don’t know: was he a leader and instructor of violin at Wimbledon, ND?

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