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Peter G Thomson

Caption Reads: Exhibition, Jan. 8, 1873, Gold Medal. First prize, Indian Clubs. Lifted 1265 pounds, dead weight, without harness.

Peter G.Thomson (1851-1931)

Thomson's Family Heritage

Peter G. Thomson’s grandfather (Peter) came to New York in 1825 from the area around Paisley, Scotland. In New York, he married Rhoda Johnson, whose family also came from Scotland. They had one son, Alexander. The family came to Cincinnati about ten years after entering the country.

Alexander married Mary Ann Edwards, whose family migrated to America from Wales. Their infant son, Alexander, died in an accident, leaving Peter G. Thomson as their only surviving son. His father and grandfather died within a year of each other, forcing 14 year old Peter to begin working to support his mother and two sisters.

Peter G Thomson's Early Years

In 1868, at the age of 17, Peter purchased a $50 membership in the Bryant, Stratford & Co. Business College. The school offered bookkeeping, commercial arithmetic, commercial law and practical penmanship. Peter also joined a gym conducted by Samuel Barrett (a professional boxer), where he vigorously pursued weight lifting and boxing. This gym later became the Cincinnati Athletic Club. At the time of his death, he was the oldest member of this club and still held records in weight lifting. He credited his life-long health and energy to the gym, and he neither smoked nor drank.

Peter’s first recorded job was in 1871 as a shipping clerk for Robert Clark Company, a bookstore in downtown Cincinnati. Within six years he borrowed money and opened his own store and publishing business on Vine Street. He worked from the store's opening at 7 A.M. to its closing at 10 P.M. He kept this schedule for 5 years, without taking any time off.

While he was selling books, he also was collecting them - rare books on the history of the Northwest Territory and a collection of letters by John Cleves Symmes. He had them bound in London and Paris, seeking out the premier names in leather binding, making each book a work of art. Over a period of ten years, Thomson wrote his own book, A Bibliography of the State of Ohio, listing all known books printed about Ohio up to that time.

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