Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Scots in the Revolutionary War

As many of you know Wayne Rethford had open heart surgery on August 20. After 16 days in the hospital, he is recovering nicely at Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital in Wheaton, Illinois. As of today, his scheduled release date is September 23.

Please join us on September 12 in welcoming Dr. James E. Davis. Now retired and living in Michigan, he is the former William and Charlotte Gardner Professor of History and Professor of Geography at Illinois College. His latest book is Frontier Illinois. His subject will be Scots in the Revolutionary WarPlease welcome him to the Scottish American History Club!

Gus Noble has been kind enough to host the meeting. As usual, the museum will open at 9:00 a.m. and the meeting will begin at 10:00 a.m. Coffee, tea and scones will be available. The meeting takes place in Heritage Hall, The Scottish Home, 28th & Des Plaines, North Riverside, Illinois.

PLEASE NOTE:  The October and November meetings in 2015 will be cancelled.
Elaine Rethford Moore for
Wayne Rethford, President Emeritus
Scottish-American History Club
Illinois Saint Andrew Society 

Friday, July 31, 2015

3 Tong, Stornoway, Scotland

Harris and Lewis make up the largest and northern-most island of the Outer Hebrides. It has a northern part called Lewis and a more mountainous southern part called Harris. The only town is Stornoway. There are two coastal “settlements” about a mile apart known as Tong and Aird Tong. The area now has modern housing, a primary school and community center. The former post office is used by the Scottish Episcopal Church. There are no shops in Tong.

Life was difficult in the 19th century in Tong. Most of the men made a living by fishing and having a small plot where potatoes could be raised and perhaps had a cow. The staple diet was a gruel-like porridge and potatoes. They may have had some beef but the primary diet was fish.

Housing was extreme. One observer described it as “sordid huts.” They were filthy, with doors so low it was necessary to “crawl in and out.” There was no wood so the huts were made of turf having no windows or chimneys. The huts housed both people and their livestock. Living here in the 1800s were Alexander MacLeod and his wife Anne. They spoke Gaelic and perhaps a little English. They were both illiterate.

Alexander and Anne had a son in 1866 whom they named Malcolm. Malcolm, like the other before him, was a fisherman and crofter. He also served as the “compulsory officer” to enforce attendance at the local school. His wife was Mary Smith, born in 1867 in Tong, Stornoway. When Mary was a baby her father was killed in a tragic accident. The four children were raised by their mother. Mary Smith lived until she was 96, dying in 1963 following a fracture of her right leg and subsequent pneumonia.

Malcolm MacLead and Mary Smith were married in the Free Church of Scotland just a few miles from Stornoway. The Rev. Murdo MacLeod performed the ceremony. The marriage produced ten children, one of whom was named Mary Anne MacLeod. She is the one we will follow.

Mary Anne MacLeod was born at 3 Tong, Stornoway on May 10, 1912. She was the youngest child of Malcolm MacLeod and Mary Smith. Apparently, she was raised in a house at 5 Tong. (There is a picture on the Internet.) In the 1930s she visited New York City. How could a fisherman’s family with ten children afford to sent one child to America? Perhaps some of you can help with the story but we know that she met a man named Fred C. Trump while visiting in New York. He had a strong German heritage. They married in 1936. She became a citizen in 1942.

Fred Trump was a builder of homes for working people who wanted a little more quality. His houses had a brick veneer, tudor facades and mansard roofs. His apartment houses had English names. He never promoted himself. He didn’t like putting his name on things. He looked German which was not a good idea during the war years so people were led to believe that he was Swedish or Dutch. Fred Trump was a successful multi-millionaire businessman. Here is something I found on the Internet.

“The old man's office in Brooklyn is left just the way it was when he had to stop working last spring. There's humble shag carpet and industrial-grade steel trim, and the walls are crowded with emblems of 80 years of building: faded pictures of the Highlander and Edgerton, a photograph of Fred meeting Ronald Reagan, three of his beloved cigar store Indians. But there's only one picture of Donald, a framed 1986 cover of Fortune. That was just before ''The Art of the Deal,'' just before Donald became a household name. Just before it became clear that Donald had eclipsed his father's noble achievement forever. They say that when pictures were taken of father and son, Fred would rise just a little on his toes -- so he would look taller.” He was married to Mary Anne for 64 years and suffered from Alzheimer’s disease before his death.

Mary Anne MacLeod Trump was the “mainstay” of the Women’s Auxiliary of Jamaica Hospital. She and her husband were also active in the Salvation Army, the Boy Scouts of America and the Lighthouse for the Blind. They also gave buildings to the National Kidney Foundation of New York and to Community Mainstreaming Associates of Great Neck, New York, which provides homes for the disabled. She spoke perfect Gaelic and returned frequently to the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides as did other members of the family.

Mary Anne Trump, born at Tong, died at the age of 88 on August 7, 2000. Her husband had died the year before. Her funeral was at the Marble Collegiate Church in New York. She was described as a philanthropist who supported charities near her home in Queens and elsewhere. Her obituary said she was survived by these children: Robert, president of his father’s property management company, Maryanne, a Third Circuit Court of Appeals judge, Elizabeth, a Chase Manhattan Bank executive, and Donald John Trump.

Wayne Rethford, President Emeritus
Illinois Saint Andrew Society

Upcoming Events

August 5: I will be speaking to the senior’s group at the Palos Park Presbyterian Church.

September 12: The History Club will resume meeting. Our speaker will be Dr. James E. Davis, now retired and living in Michigan. He is the former William and Charlotte Gardner Professor of History and Professor of Geography at Illinois College. His latest book is Frontier Illinois.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Morse Museum - Part I

One of the things I wanted to do on my recent trip to Florida was to visit the Morris Museum in Winter Park. With no Society appointments on Wednesday, I made the drive from Sarasota. The museum is located in the center of town in a new location since 1995. Two buildings were purchased and then joined together with a tower and designed to blend with the local area. The cost was $7 million and the area is about 42,000 square feet. It is well done in every respect.

The Scottish American History Club has had several presentations on the Columbian Exposition so we knew about the Tiffany Chapel. I also knew that there were other Chicago connections in addition to the 1893 World’s Fair.

At his studio in New York City, Louis Comfort Tiffany, designed a chapel interior for the Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company and had it shipped to Chicago for the Columbian Exposition. (Tiffany & Co. was long associated with Chicago having a store here as early as the 1850s.) The chapel proved to be very popular. It was so impressive that men removed their hats and individuals knelt in prayer. The chapel won 54 medals including one for the “electrification of its imposing chandelier.”

 Louis was the son of Charles Lewis Tiffany, founder of Tiffany and Company, and Harriet Olivia Avery Young, the daughter of Judge Young of Killingly, Connecticut. Tiffany’s father, Charles Lewis Tiffany was also born in Killingly. Given my limited research, the family appears to be English but “Young” is certainly a Scottish name.

Born in New York City, Louis Comfort Tiffany was married twice. First to Miss Mary Woodbridge Goddard in 1872. Mary, known as “May” was born June 5, 1846 in Salem, CT. They were married on Wednesday, May 22, 1872, by the Rev. Mr. Dana in Norwich, Conn. Mary was twenty years old. does not show a father or a mother for Mary Goddard but the name appears to be English She died in 1884 at the age of thirty-two and had given birth to four children.

After her death, Tiffany married Miss Louise Wakeman Knox, daughter of the Rev. J. H. Mason Knox of Philadelphia. Here is the Scottish connection. The “patronymic and matronymic” of James Hall Mason Knox both came directly from Scottish heritage - His father from the Ulster region of Norther Ireland (Ulster-Scot) and his mother directly from Scotland. Louise was the “granddaughter of Dr. John Mason who was born in Mid-Calder Scotland in 1734.” (Journal of the Presbyterian Historical Society [1901-1930] Vol. No. 2 [September 1903], pp. 65-74). He and his second wife also had four children.

In 1885, Tiffany built a home commissioned by his father, at Seventh-Second Street and Madison Avenue in New York City. It was designed and built by the Scottish firm of McKim, Mead and White with 57 rooms. The home no longer exists but there is a picture on the Internet.

One contemporary critic of Tiffany stated: “It is acknowledged by all experts that the great advance made in this country in both colored windows and wall mosaic work is largely due to the discoveries and inventions of Mr. Tiffany, Particularly that of Favrile Glass.” Favrile glass was an iridescent glass that Tiffany created in his famous Tiffany studios, Favrile glass was copied by almost every important glass studio working at the time but few came close to the quality and style that Tiffany employed in his process.” (American Silversmiths). He was even commissioned by President Chester A. Arthur to decorate the White House. Louis Comfort Tiffany was described as a Renaissance man.

When the Chicago Public Library (now the Chicago Cultural Center) was finished in 1897, it contained a 38-foot glass dome designed by Tiffany. It had some 30,000 separate pieces of art glass set in 243 panels. It remained unchanged until the 1930's when it was covered by a concrete and copper dome. The dome has now been removed so that natural light can reflect the original beauty. Stop in and see it some day. On the Internet, you can find an article entitled “A Tale of Two Tiffanies Restored” by Gary L. Cole that gives more information.

The Presbyterian Church in Springfield, Illinois has several Tiffany windows. When the World’s Fair occurred in Chicago many parishioners visited the Fair and became acquainted with Tiffany. In 1895, the church received its first window. One of the windows “may have been the central panel of Tiffany’s Chapel...according to church oral history.” The Second Presbyterian church in Chicago has nine stained glass windows by Tiffany. “Reid Memorial Presbyterian Church in Richmond, Indiana has a collection of 62 Tiffany windows which are still in their original placement but the church is deteriorating and is in jeopardy.” The American Church in Paris has two windows and there are others, but too many for this short article.

After the World’s Fair in 1893, the chapel was dismantled and taken back to New York City. In 1898, Mrs. Celia Whipple Wallace (there must be a Scottish story with that name) bought the chapel and gave it to The Episcopal Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine which was under construction at the time. The Priest was opposed to the style of architecture, so it was placed in the basement and the arches cut to fit the space. It suffered water damage and finally in 1916, Louis Tiffany wrote the church and offered to remove it at his expense.

He had it taken to his estate, Laurelton Hall, on Long Island. Tiffany had designed and built a mansion of eight levels with 84-rooms on 600 acres of land, including 60 acres of formal gardens. The chapel was placed in a separate building. After Tiffany’s death, the estate fell into disrepair. It had originally cost about $2,000,000 to build. It was sold for $10,000 in 1949 and burned in 1957.

At the Morse Museum in Winter Park, Florida you can see the restored chapel. It is quite amazing and beautiful. How it was saved and restored by Hugh & Jeannette McKean is part II of our story. Mrs. McKean was born and reared in Chicago.

Wayne Rethford, Past President
Illinois St. Andrew Society

Upcoming Events:

History Club: June 6 
“Bloody Omaha Beach” as we honor those who fought and died on D-Day, 1945. Everyone is invited. Reservations not necessary but helpful. Call 708-447-5092. Coffee and scones as usual.

Highland Games: June 17 & 18
Click here for tickets and information

Help another Piper - We all have our favorite pipers, I suppose if you have need of a piper, you probably know who to call. But, if you don’t, here is a young man looking for opportunities this summer. His name is Austin Wallerstedt and he is a student at Monmouth College on a piping scholarship. He is a “lifetime member of the Chicago Highlanders and will be starting to play with the Greater Midwest Pipe Band in the coming year.” He will be participating at the Highland Games in Milwaukee and our Chicago games in Itasca. If you know of any piping opportunities this summer, his email is

Monday, May 11, 2015

It all started in Chicago

If you follow me on Facebook, you know that I made a recent trip to Florida. My last day was in Sarasota on a Sunday and since I didn’t have a church to attend, I decided to do something different. The day before, driving up from Naples on I -75, I noticed a sign that said “Sarasota National Cemetery.” After an early breakfast, I drove south to state road 72 and turned east for four miles and found the cemetery.

The cemetery is new, the 295 acres being purchased in 2007, and should serve veterans’ needs for the next 50 years. As I entered the grounds to my left was a large structure of some kind so that was my first stop. It was an amphitheater, seating almost 3,000 and covered by a glass roof of some 20,800 sq. ft. consisting of 792 glass panels. The rostrum is also glass covered and is almost the size of two tennis courts. It can seat a 55-piece orchestra. You can click here for pictures and more information.

Off to one side is a display that traces the history of the glass covered theater. The first display shows a picture of the Chicago Tribune building in 1855 and mentions Joseph Medill. The next is a photograph of President Lincoln because he authorized the purchase of grounds for a national cemetery in 1862. The next is dated 1914 and says: “Medill’s grandsons Col. Robert McCormick and Capt. Joseph Medill Patterson served in U.S. armed forces during World War I. The next display is dated 1944 and is a picture of Medill’s great grandson, James J. Patterson, a graduate of West Point who achieved the rank of captain. The final display is dated 1997 and shows a picture of James J. Patterson and his wife, Dorothy Clarke Patterson, who created the Patterson Foundation that erected the glass covered amphitheater.

Medill, McCormick, and Patterson all names that can be traced back to Chicago and then through northern Ireland to Scotland. This is a complicated story and difficult to tell the story of so many people. This is just a summary. I didn’t even get to the McCormick side of the family.

Joseph Medill married Katherine Patrick on September 2, 1852, and the marriage produced three daughters: Katherine, Elinor and Josephine.

Katherine, the oldest, married Robert S. McCormick who served as our ambassador to Austria, Russia, France and England. He was also the Special Commissioner from Great Britain to the Worlds Columbian Exposition in 1893. They had two sons: Joseph Medill McCormick and Robert Rutherford McCormick.

Elinor, married Robert W. Patterson, Jr. in 1878. (His father was the Reverend Mr. Patterson, pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church in Chicago.) The two had met while teaching Sunday School in a mission church. After graduation from Yale, he began working as a reporter for the Chicago Times and later worked at the Interior. He began working for the Tribune shortly before the great fire in 1871. When Joseph Medill died, Patterson became editor-in-chief of the Chicago Tribune.

 They had two children, Joseph Medill Patterson and Elinor Josephine Medill “Cissy” Patterson. Joseph became the president of the New York Daily News and vice president of the Chicago Tribune.

He also had a very complicated life including the birth a son, James Joseph Patterson, born in France. He was also the father of Alicia Patterson, who founded and edited Newsday.

His sister, Elinor Josephine Medill Patterson, always known as “Cissy” was born in Chicago on November 7, 1884. She was educated at Miss Porter’s School in Farmington, Connecticut. It’s a long and complicated story which included a marriage to a Russian count, the birth of a daughter and finally a divorce which took thirteen years. After that she lived for a time in Lake Forest, Illinois, before moving on to Washington, D.C. She was one of the first women to own a major newspaper, the Washington Times-Herald. She died in 1948.

James Joseph Patterson, the great-grandson of Joseph Medill, was raised in Ossining, New York. He graduated from West Point in 1944 and soon after married Dorothy Marie Clarke. (Her father was a prison guard at Sing Sing with 14 siblings.) They met in grade school. After his military career, he joined the Daily News as a reporter in Washington, D.C. In 1958, he became vice president.

Mr. and Mrs. James Joseph Patterson retired to Longboat Key, Florida, where he died on June 24, 1992. Dorothy Clark Patterson died September 20, 2007. Five years after the death of her husband she created the Patterson Foundation with a gift of $5 million. Her estate of an estimated $225 million was added to the Foundation in 2008. She left few guidelines as to how the Foundation should operate. The Foundation built and maintains the amphitheater which is used for concerts and programs. Last year, the Army band held a concert there which was open to the public. Interesting family and I hope I have all the facts correct.

Who is like us? Nae body!

Wayne, President Emeritus

Upcoming Events

June 6, 2015 - This is the last meeting until September. Since it falls on D-Day, we should do something about the invasion. It may be a combination of several power point presentations but concentrate on “Bloody Omaha Beach.”

Highland Games - June 19-20. Held on the grounds of Hamilton Lakes, Itasca, Illinois, located at I-290 and Thorndale Avenue. For additional information click here.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Joseph Medill

Mr. Medill is a member of the Scottish American Hall of Fame. Here is the information on his plaque.

"Commenting on his death in 1899, a competitive Chicago newspaper said of Chicago Tribune editor Joseph Medill, 'No man of his time exercised a more decisive - or on the whole - a more beneficial influence on public affairs as Mr. Medill.'

"As editor of the fledgling Chicago Tribune, Joseph Medill gave the newspaper character and set it on the path to success. He served as mayor of Chicago just after the fire of 1871, instituting the reforms that still endure. He was a confidant and adviser to Abraham Lincoln. And, as editor and delegate, he had wide influence in shaping the Illinois Constitution of 1870.

"Two Presidents offered him cabinet posts but he turned them down. He was one of the founders of the Republican party and instrumental in selecting the name. Joseph Medill was born April 6, 1823, near St. John, New Brunswick, Canada. His parents were Scots Presbyterian who emigrated from Ulster in 1819. The family moved to Ohio when Joseph was 9. He studied law and was admitted to the Ohio bar but quickly turned to journalism. He edited newspapers which he bought and sold until 1855 when he moved to Chicago to become part owner of the Chicago Tribune. From then on until his death, he was a major force in the newspaper’s growth and influence as well as the city of Chicago.

"As an abolitionist, Medill effectively rallied Midwest public opinion against slavery. Medill actively supported Lincoln during his rise to prominence, became his adviser, and urged him to issue the Emancipation Proclamation.

"He worked until the day he died in a San Antonio, Texas, hotel on March 16, 1899. Editorials he had written appeared in the Tribune two days after his death."

                                                                     James C. Thompson

In coming day, I want to take some members of the Medill family and follow their lives. One branch is involved in the new National Cemetery in Sarasota, Florida which I visited last week.

Lake Forest report: More than 200 people crowded into the auditorium to watch The Scots of Lake Forest on April 11, 2015. I am told the phone rang constantly on Saturday but there was no additional space. The weather was spectacular, so people had a chance to be outside and enjoy the gardens. You can only imagine how beautiful it was when the Amour’s lived in the house. Those who attended were complimentary so it appears the film exceeded expectations. No doubt there will be more opportunities to see the film, so watch for future announcements.

History Club - May 2, 2015: Join us in Heritage Hall at the Scottish Home, 28th & Des Plaines, North Riverside, IL. I will be doing the presentation continuing our discussion of the Society’s history from 1875 to 1885. We have been doing these history presentation in 10 year blocks. Bob Peterson is kind enough to bring all his expensive equipment and record the session which he then edits and places on a disc. These are available for $20.00 each.

We will also celebrate May birthdays, including mine. If you have a birthday in May come and join us for birthday cake, scones, coffee and tea. Sweet Pea, the dog, will attend, so if you have not had the opportunity to meet SP or to view the Scottish American Museum, May 2 is your day.

History Club - June 6, 2015. This is our last meeting until September and it falls on D-Day. We will concentrate our presentation on bloody Omaha Beach in honor of all our servicemen who served during World War II.

Scottish Festivals and Highland Games - June 19-20 at Hamilton Lakes in Itasca, Illinois. Click here for complete information.

Wayne Rethford, President Emeritus
Illinois St. Andrew Society

Friday, March 27, 2015

I am Lolita Sheldon Armour


My name is Lolita Sheldon Amour. Actually, it’s Lola H. but I changed it in the 1900s. I understand that some of you will be viewing The Scots of Lake Forest in our country home on April 11. It was a wonderful place to live and I am pleased it still exists. Did you know I grew prize winning roses at Mellody Farm? I am sure they must all be gone by now. During the Great War, we also grew acres and acres of potatoes for our troops. We had two other homes but this was our favorite.

I was born in Suffield, Connecticut in 1869. My father was Martin J. Sheldon and he was from an old family in Connecticut. My mother was born in England. Sadly, she died when I was eleven. It was a very difficult time but my dad did the best he could under the circumstances. He placed me in Miss Porter’s school in Farmington. It was a great school and gave the training I needed for all the other phases of my life. My father never remarried and died in 1917. He is buried beside my mother in the Woodlawn Cemetery, Suffield, CT.

It wasn’t easy to travel then but I made several trips to Chicago visiting friends. On one of those trip, I met Ogden Amour. I think it was at a party but I do remember it was love at first sight. We talked and talked about our common interests and Ogden was very persistent, a trait that served him well in business. Three weeks later our engagement was announced.

Three months later, May 13, 1891, we were married in New York City. I was 22 and Ogden was 28. My father lived at the Murray Hill Hotel and we reserved one of the private parlors. It was elaborately trimmed with roses, lilacs, and hydrangeas. We stood under a canopy of roses for our vows and Dr. Gunsaulus of the Plymouth Congregational Church in Chicago read the marriage service. You recognize that name, don’t you? He’s the one who preached The Million Dollar Sermon that had such a dramatic effect on my father-in-law, Philip D. Amour.

It was a very small wedding there were no ushers and my husband didn’t have a best man. I only had two attendants: Miss Murray of Chicago and Miss Farrington of Rhinebeck, New York. Only family members and close friends were present. My father gave me away and I so wished my mother could have been there. She would have been so happy.

You should have seen my wedding gown. It was made in Paris of all places and I remember it like it was yesterday. It was made of white brocaded satin with a full court train and trimmed across the front of the skirt with a frill of old point lace. Ogden had given me a diamond lovers’ knot which fastened my tulle vest and I carried a bouquet of lilies of the valley. My granddaughter wore the same dress when she was married in 1953. I wonder what happened to the dress and the diamond knot? After the ceremony we traveled throughout the south.

By September of that same year work began on our first home, It was located on the northwest corner of Michigan avenue and Thirty-seventh place in Chicago. Such a large house for just two people but the Amour’s had an image to uphold. Ogden loved long halls and grand stairways and this house had both. You will see the same pattern when you visit our country home on April 11. The house wasn’t finished until the end of ‘92 and on January 14, 1893 we had a grand open house. Everyone came to visit. It was like the “who’s who” of Chicago. Just look at these names: Kimball, McNeil, Kellogg, Allerton, Keith, Pullman, Farwell, Buckingham, Peck, Spaulding, McIllwaine and the list goes on and on. It was a wonderful night and our poodles had such a good time.

This is a funny story from our past. We owned the first horseless carriage in Chicago. Ogden bought it in Europe and had it delivered to Chicago. So, one day, I left home to get Ogden from work. His office was in the Home Insurance building at Adams and La Salle. Here I am a woman in 1899 driving the first vehicle in Chicago that was not being pulled by a horse. You should have seen the look of amazement on the faces of policemen and of course the horses snorted and bucked at this strange sight and sound. When we finally arrived home, Ogden declared firmly and finally, “Never again, Lolita, it isn’t safe.” We had such marvelous fun and great memories. If I remember correctly, we also brought the first gas powered automobile to Chicago. It was a Panhard and painted a bright red. Sorry we didn’t keep that car. It was such a favorite.

Since we are talking about cars, and since you are going to visit Lake Forest on April 11, I think this is also a funny story. Arthur L. Farwell brought the first car to Lake Forest in 1904. The town fathers thought it so dangerous that they passed a special ordinance for protection. “This required a man on horseback to ride ahead of Mr. Farwell waving a red flag and ringing a copper dinner bell.”

Our daughter was born in 1897. We didn’t think she was going to live. She was premature and crippled. Most premature children born at that time never lived but Lolita was such a fighter and she made it. Perhaps, I should let her tell her own story some day. It was such a painful time that we never had any more children but you should have seen Ogden when he arrived home and had time to spend with our baby.

Ogden could always make money and he accumulated great wealth which in private he shared freely. We supported many charities but tried to be anonymous when we could. Toward the end of his life, events began to turn against him. I won’t go into detail but we lost everything including the mansion in Lake Forest.

It is still painful to talk about his death. Ogden was in London at the time and was staying in the Amour suite at the Carlton hotel. He had contracted typhoid fever and that, combined with a weak heart, was just too much. He was sixty-four and the date was August 27, 1927. We brought him home on the Derengaria and the funeral was held at the Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago. The church was filled with the rich and the poor. They touched shoulders with each other as they paid tribute. Many stood around the edges of the sanctuary. He was buried in the family plot at Graceland.

When you visit our home on April 11, I hope you will think of us and how much we enjoyed this place as our summer home. Remember, the program begins at 2:00 p.m. on April 11, 2015 and the film lasts an hour followed by a reception. I hope this small article of memory will help you appreciate the great mansion and the Scots of Lake Forest. Ogden was always proud of his Scottish heritage, and he was a life member of the Illinois Saint Andrew Society. Please wear your Scottish attire and kilt if you have one.

Click here to register................

Wayne Rethford, President Emeritus
Illinois Saint Andrew Society

Personal Note:  I will be in the Sarasota and Naples area, April 14 through Sunday, April 19 If you would like to have breakfast, lunch or dinner, call me or sent an email to I will be attending a meeting, doing Scottish research, etc.  If you are knowledgeable about Bertha Palmer and her land holdings in the Sarasota area, please contact me. If you are a member of a St. Andrew’s Society, please contact me. I will have a rental car and don’t mind driving to you.

April 4, 2015 - History Club meeting will feature the town of Pullman. Our speaker will be Michael Shymanski. He and his wife live in Pullman and they were founding members of the Historic Pullman Foundation. You will hear about some of the Scots who lived and worked in the town of Pullman. Museum opens at 9 a.m. and the program begins at 10.

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Scots of Lake Forest

The Historical Society of Lake Forest-Lake Bluff will sponsor a premier of the video “The Scots of Lake Forest” on Saturday, April 11 at 2 p.m. The video will be shown in the Amour house of Lake Forest Academy. Once described as the “most beautiful house between New York and San Francisco” it was built as the country home of J. Ogden Amour. At the time, Mr. Amour was described as the second richest man in the world.

He purchased several contiguous farms and accumulated more than twelve hundred acres. They called it Mellody Farm. The architect was Arthur Heun of Chicago and the contractor was a Scot, Morton R. Mavor. I have read they brought in black dirt to cover two hundred acres a depth of two feet around the house. Construction started in 1905 and the residence of 29,000 square feet was occupied on May 5, 1908. It is built in the shape of the letter H. Landscaping was done by Jens Jensen.

When you attend the event on April 11, you will enter the central hallway which is 20 feet wide and 112 feet long. At the far end is a fireplace. From here one can enter the music room, the library, the dining room and a breakfast room at the back. There are pictures on the walls which show how the house was originally decorated. “Displaying tapestries against warm white walls, the entrance was furnished with long, low benches, giant porcelain jardinieres, marble-topped 18th-century consoles, and a Chinese lacquer cabinet on a gilt-wood stand.” The floor of the main hall was of marble tile, but almost entirely covered with rugs. It must have been spectacular!

Between the dining room and the living room is the great marble stairway leading to the second floor. The marble was rose and green with a bronze railing. The stairway was then covered with a magnificently woven carpet. If you use your imagination, you can almost see their daughter, Lolita descending the stairs at her wedding to John J. Mitchell, Jr. in 1921.

The Amour House is the perfect venue for the showing of “The Scots of Lake Forest.” The Amour’s came from Argyllshire, Scotland where the chief town is Campbelltown. Philip Danforth Amour established the great meat-packing business in Chicago and became a benefactor of the arts and education. He provided the funds to establish the Amour Institute now known as the Illinois Institute of Technology. “He was one of the most generous supporters of the Scottish organization known as the Illinois Saint Andrew Society.” J. Ogden who built the mansion was the only surviving son of Philip D. Amour and his wife Lolita Sheldon Amour.

There were four permanent residents in the mansion and each had a bedroom in a corner of the H shaped second floor. Mr. Amour lived on the right and had a study on the main floor with private stairs and an elevator. Mrs. Amour lived on the left but there was no connecting hallway between the two bedrooms. Lolita lived in the back bedroom and the mother of J. Ogden lived in the remaining one. Each bedroom also had a separate sitting room.

Mellody Farm cost 12 million dollars. It had its own water and power sources. There were orchards, a carriage house with a clock tower, stables, and an ice house. There were gold and silver doorknobs, imported marble walls with a bowling alley in the basement and 210 fireplaces. The Amour’s were very wealthy, but not everyone who lived in Lake Forest was and many of those people are featured in the video showing on April 11 beginning at 2 p.m.  The hour-long film touches on many of the almost 1,000 native born Scots and their children who helped establish Lake Forest. The video also recognizes the hardworking Scots who paved the streets, built the school, dug the sewers and ran many of the original stores in town. Over 2,000 vintage photographs were collected for this project. You will also hear about the Scots who founded Carson, Pirie and Scott and ran Quaker Oats and the Zenith Corporation.

Admission fee $10.00. Lake Forest Academy is located at 1500 W. Kennedy Road, Lake Forest, IL. Seating is limited to 150.

Click here to register.

Wayne Rethford, President Emeritus
The Illinois Saint Andrew Society

Upcoming Events

April 4, 2015 - History Club meeting will feature the Town of Pullman. Our speaker will be Michael Shymanski. He and his wife live in Pullman and he was a founding member of the Historic Pullman Foundation. You will hear about the Scots who lived and worked in the town of Pullman.

May 2, 2015 - History Club meeting will celebrate all the May birthdays and we will cover 10 more years of Scottish history in Chicago. Details later.

June 6, 2015 - “Bloody Omaha Beach on D-Day.”

No meeting in July or August

September 12, 2015 - Speaker is Dr. James E. Davis. “Unusual Features of the American Revolution.”

October 3, 2015 - Dr. Euan Hague