YHS has a growing collection of audio recordings of people from Yetholm and the surrounding area. We have recently digitized a recording of Wull Eliot, born 1908, who was a shepherd from the age of twenty, at Hindhope, for over 50 years. The recording was made in Romany House, during the period in which it was an old folks home.
In 1956 Calum Iain Maclean visited Yetholm and recorded several hours of conversation with Charlie Douglas. Charlie and his brother Skaffy, of gipsy heritage, were well-known characters in Kirk Yetholm. Charlie was born in 1893 and could just remember the last gipsy coronation. The recordings are accesible on the Tobar an Dualchais website - HERE - enter 'Yetholm' into the search bar and all of the recordings with Charlie will be listed. A typical conversation can he found HERE - in this case Charlie describes how whisky was smuggled over the border using pig's bladders. Charlie was a truely dreadful singer - as you will discover if you listen to his rendering of The Scottish Emigrants Farewell - HERE.
Andrew Thompson was born in Yetholm in 1773, the son of a weaver. He spent the first sixteen years of his life in our village, but in 1791 was transported to Australia for stealing some cloth. He was pardoned in 1798 and became a leading emancipist, a highly respected land owner and prosperous businessman, operating a store in the new village Green Hills (now Windsor) from 1799. In 1810 Governor Macquarie appointed Thompson magistrate for the Hawkesbury district, the first freed convict to hold this office. Many people emigrated from Yetholm in the nineteenth century, but it is Andrew Thompson, a transported convict, who became one of the most successful emigrants and who features in the Australian Dictionary of National Biography as a prominent figure in Australia's early colonial history.
This is not the place to go into details about Thompson’s life – hopefully he will feature prominently in a future YHS exhibition on Yetholm’s diaspora. The reason for this post is that Thompson Square in Green Hills, named after Andrew and where he both lived and operated his store (the dot in the picture from 1803 shows Thompson’s house/store), is under threat of demolition in order to construct a new bridge and three-lane highway. YHS has been approached by the group which is campaigning against this. They would be grateful if members would sign their online petition, which can be found HERE. If you want to know more about their campaign and about Thompson himself then please visit their website – HERE. Please take some time to protest against this wanton act of destruction of one of the oldest public squares in Australia and which is notable for the large number of Colonial Georgian buildings which surround it.
This Year's Border Shepherds Show was blessed with sunny weather and large crowds. Many folks visited the History Society stall and over 80 people bought a copy of Yetholm Past & Present; A Walking Guide, which was launched on that day. If you are interested in buying a copy, they can be found at both the Village Shop and Valley Meats in Town Yetholm - or email the society directly via our contact page. At only £5 the book is a bargain - and makes an ideal Christmas gift!
The photo shows members Margaret Rustad and Dorothy Sharpe busily at work on the stall.
Yetholm History Society will have a stall at this year's Border Shepherd's Show, which will take place on the Venchen Haugh, Town Yetholm, on Saturday 7th October. We will be launching our latest book Yetholm Past and Present - A Walking Guide at the event. Also on sale will be prints and postcards of Janet Canning's wonderful illustrations, which are used throughout the book. For more details ofYetholm Past and Present see the Publications section of the website. We will also be selling copies of the DVD Yetholm - the Finest Place and Graeme Watson's book The Last of the Wandering Minstrels, a selection of poetry by Robert Grey, the nineteenth century vagabond poet, who hailed from yetholm and always referred to himself as 'the Yetholm Poet'. If you are coming to the show, make sure you check out our stall.