Scottish Americans are celebrating there heritage this week. Yesterday, I wrote about the vision of things that Scots seem to possess. I will continue today and tomorrow.
I have often wondered about the statement made in 1871 which said that the Illinois St. Andrew's Society wanted to build a “home and hospital.” The Great Fire ended those dreams, but we know they would later built a home for the elderly. We do not know about the vision for a hospital. Did others share that same vision? In 1907, three Scottish American physicians named Alexander A. Whamond, Fred G. Whamond and Joseph Mills founded the Robert Burns Hospital at 3807 W. Washington Blvd. The hospital had a capacity of twenty-five beds.
These men wanted to build a “practical and substantial memorial” to the Scottish Poet. They were opposed to the monument that was built in Garfield Park. (Its interesting to note that they located their hospital just a few blocks west of Garfield park where the statue of Burns now stands.) The Chicago Daily Tribune, November 1, 1913, stated that the hospital was “designed to be free to the poorer patients, and especially to Scotchmen...” The physicians served without pay. The provisional officers were: Dr. J. H. Bates, Dr. Brydon, Robert Hill, Robert Stuart and Robert Matheson. The attorney was Erskine MacMillan. It should also be noted that McNeal Hospital in Berwyn, IL. was founded by Dr. Albert Hall and Dr. MacNeal. These Scottish men also served the residents of the Scottish Home as the house physicians. They served without remuneration.
John Crearer, a life member of the Illinois St. Andrew’s Society, was always a generous donor to our work. However, his Scottish vision was greater. Like Andrew Carnegie, he saw a greater community and a greater need. Crearer gave a fortune to our Society, which was distributed to the poor. However, the bulk of his money was given to the opening of a “free library.” and the erection of a statue of Abraham Lincoln located south of the Art Institute. Thomas C. McMillan wrote about John Crearer and said: “He made the public his heir, and erected a monument which will endure after marble has crumbled to dust, and the fame of mere earthly deeds have faded from the memories of men.” His will provided two and one half million dollars for the establishment of a “free public library” which is now part of the University of Chicago.
Chicago has many Scottish stories like these. Not much media attention, but the fact remains that Scottish people have had a tremendous influence on the growth and development of this great city. There will be more tomorrow.