Friday, June 25, 2010

One Definition of the "Scots-Irish" are as a People

Ulster-Scots are an ethnic group in Ireland, descended from mainly Lowland Scots who settled in the Province of Ulster in the north of Ireland. The term Ulster-Scot refers to both the Scottish Presbyterian settlers of the 17th century and, less commonly, to the gallowglass who arrived from what is now northwest Scotland centuries prior to the Scottish Reformation. Settlement of the former first began in large numbers with the Plantation of Ulster, a planned process of colonization which took place in the reign of James VI of Scotland and I of England.

Ulster-Scots were largely descended from immigrants from Galloway, Ayrshire, and the Scottish Borders Country, although some descend from people further north in the Scottish Lowlands and the Highlands. Ulster-Scots emigrated in significant numbers to the United States and all corners of the then-worldwide British Empire — Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa — and to a lesser extent to Argentina and Chile in South America. Scotch-Irish is a traditional term for Ulster Scots who later emigrated to what is now the United States; "Scots-Irish" is a more recent form of the American term, and is not to be confused with Irish-Scots, i.e., recent Irish immigrants to Scotland.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Lindberg pays his respects to the fallen in Flanders Field

Lindberg made his solo trip across the Atlantic in 33 1/2 hours in 1927. He arrived in Paris to a hero’s welcome on May 21. After days of being feted in Paris, he flew to Brussels where he was met by thousands and then had an audience with King Albert. It is now Saturday, May 29, 1927. In the evening, there was a banquet in his honor with 200 guests including Crown Prince Leopold. Lindberg, in his quiet manner described his flight, and spoke of himself and his plane as “we”. More ceremonies followed on Sunday and then on Monday Lindberg took off for London. But, he did not fly the most direct route, instead he took a detour and flew over Waregem military cemetery. It was now May 30, Memorial Day in the United States of America. A large crowd had gathered at the cemetery to commemorate the special day. As Lindberg flew over the cemetery, he dropped a bouquet of flowers on the graves. It was his own personal mark of respect to the fallen at Flanders Field,

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Story of one Couple from the Orkney & Shetland Islands.

As previously mentioned, Chicago had a large group of people from the Orkney and Shetland Islands. The O. and S. Society was an active, busy organization keeping alive the traditions of the Islands. Among those who came to Chicago was Donald and Elizabeth Swannie. (You can read the complete story in the Tartan Times at Reprinted here is only a small amount of the entire story.)

“Our parents, Donald (Danny) and Elizabeth (Lizzie) Frazer Swannie made that courageous decision, leaving Shetland but taking with them all of the ingredients for their new life. Danny, born in Orkney, had been in the British Navy and was a trained baker; known for his christening cakes with marzipan, meat pies and sausage rolls. He also was an accomplished fiddler. His father was a cooper. Danny first journeyed here with his mother, 1 sister and 4 brothers with 1 brother remaining in Lerwick. The reason for the journey was his Mother’s grief over the death of his father and 2 children (diphtheria). After establishing residence in Chicago, Danny kept his promise to Lizzie and returned to Lerwick, successfully wooing her. A 3 month honeymoon followed with a grand departure party held in their honor. They then continued their journey to Chicago.”

“Lizzie was born and raised on Papa Stour. Her father was a seagoing Captain with dual citizenship in Shetland and the U.S. During his travels, he purchased a home in Boston and planned to move the family there. Resistance from his wife, Lizzie’s Mother, thwarted that idea and the Boston house idea was abandoned.”

“Life in Chicago consisted of family (they ultimately had 5 children - Marge, Clare, Frances, Don and Georgene), including brothers and sisters-in-law, Shetland friends, other Scots, knitting bees, games of ‘500', Drexel Park Presbyterian Church and the Ogden Park Scot/Irish dances...”

The greatest gift they brought to the U.S. and to us, their children, with love and importance of family and Scottish heritage....The item we are delighted and proud to present today, is Danny’s Masonic Apron from the Lerwick Lodge...”

The complete article is presented in the Tartan Times and the article was read to the History Club by Mrs. Georgina Kiler on behalf of the entire family. Others are invited to add their family story to our growing collection.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

List of Orkney and Shetland Islanders who once lived in Chicago, IL. USA

I have two lists of people connected to the Orkney and Shetland Islands. The first list contains 845 names. It contains all the “Orcadians and Shetlanders in Chicago, together with the descendants 14 years old or over, and also those marred to O. and S. people. 257 are Orkney born and 302 are Shetland born. 129 are adopted by marriage.” It also breaks the list down by island towns. There is no date and I do not know who sent it to me. The following is on the first page: “Terry-Sorry this took so long in the making - Jim D.”

Included with the list are some other pages. One lists all the presidents of the O. And S. Society from 1885 to 1911. Some of the names are very familiar to me like: Peter Driver; Magnus Flaws; John Sutherland; J. D. Williamson; and Wm. R. Simpson. A couple of pages gives the history of the Society.

Its probably not possible to put this list on the Internet, but if I can help anyone with their family research, please send an email.

The second list appears to be a membership list of the O. and S. Society in 1912. The list has been retyped and is quite legible.

There are five columns across the page beginning with the individuals first name, then the surname, then the address, followed by the city and country. 852 names are on this list and the majority live in Chicago with a few names from Oak Park.

I do not have the name of the person who gave me the list, but I seem to remember that he visited me at the Scottish Home, lived south of the city and was connected to Magnus Flaws. Again, if anyone needs me to look for a name, just send an email.

I have two letters in the file, one is from Jeffrey Wentz of Chicago and the other is from Suzanne J. Harper Beesley in Mt. Prospect, IL. I believe Mrs. Beesley is now deceased, and I write about her later.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Orkney and Shetland Society in Chicago.

The Orkney and Shetland Islands are usually spoken together, even though there are lots of differences. Orkney has about 70 islands and Shetland has 100 islands, more or less.. They are located where the cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean meets the North Sea off the northern most tip of Scotland.

Centuries ago these islands fell under the power of seafaring people from Norway looking for land and treasures, Today one can reach adulthood on these islands without having crossed a busy street, ridden on an airplane or an elevator. There is an old joke which says that one day the wind stopped blowing and everyone fell over. The people are closer to Norway than to London.

In the nineteenth century, the northern isles suffered through severe changes and between 1871 and 1881, 4600 Shetlanders and 4200 Orcadians left for distant lands. Many of them came to Chicago, Illinois. With the discovery of oil on the North Slope the population has now stabilized.

In 1885, twenty-six men met in Chicago to form the Orkney and Shetland Society. Their mission was to provide aid to “those of our country who may require our aid and for the advancement of the social and intellectual culture of its members. The following men were elected: President - Peter B. Driver; Vice-President - John Johnson; Secretary - Robert Flaws and the Treasurer was John Harper.

At first the Society voted down the admission of women, but five years later elected 120 ladies to “honorary” membership. They later changed their constitution and women were admitted to full membership.

In 1891, the Orkney and Shetland Society and the John O’Groats Caithness Society held the first "Union Scotch Picnic" at Des Plaines, IL. It rained, of course, and the attendance was greatly reduced. The O. and S. Society grew to be a strong organization with over 500 members.  More about the O. and S. tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Mr. Wrigley Makes a Donation To The Society

                                                                                                   January 20, 1920

My dear Mr. Forgan:

"Having yours of January 28 and enclose herewith my check for $500.00 drawn to the order of Mr. Alexander Robertson.  As you no doubt know, I am very fond of the Scotch, Scotch Songs and the Scotch Old Peoples Home.  I would rather make this donation than the previous one mentioned by you to me."

Sincerely yours,

Wm. Wrigley Jr., President                                                                                         
Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company
5 N. Wabash Avenue

(The use of the word "Scotch" in referring to people was very common in the 1920s.  This is an exact quote from Mr. Wrigley's letter.)

Monday, June 7, 2010

The life of the immigrant in the 1800s was very difficult. Most of them could not read or write and thus suffered at the hands of land-sharks. Chicago and other cities started programs to help protect the immigrant, providing shelter, food and legal advice. Lincoln, Nebraska, was a model of this effort. In Chicago, the Illinois Saint Andrew Society and the Highland Association tried to provide these services to needy Scottish immigrants.

The city of Lincoln built a building, 100 by 24, at the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad Station to help shelter strangers to their city. Sleeping rooms were provided as well as a kitchen and bathing facilities. During the first year of operation, they cared for 636 persons with 271 being children.

One hundred fifty-four of these people took homesteads, leaving families at the Home, while the men searched for land. Once found, they then filed claims at the Land Office. Those not looking for land could often find employment in Lincoln.

“One old man lately came from Scotland, with three daughters and their new husbands - all very poor.” The wives found work with good Lincoln families, earning $3-4 a week with room and board. The men soon obtained a homestead farther west, and built sod-houses on their farms. Working for neighbors, they soon had a few acres of prairie broken and corn planted. Their united earnings soon paid for all the tools, teams, and wagons necessary to operate a farm."

“Thus, working no harder, and faring no worse than they always did in the Old Country, they will live henceforth lords of a square mile of as good land as any in Scotland. Emigration opens to them a new earth, if not a new heaven, for at home they had not one chance in a million of ever owning a single acre.”

These people became Americans in every aspect of their living.

(Quotations from the Chicago Daily Tribune, January 17, 1873.)

Friday, June 4, 2010

In the early days of its history, Chicago had a great deal of difficulty with mud. There are numerous stories about muddy streets and the problems they caused.  One of those wet spots, or sloughs, was on Clark St, south of Washington.  "The village trustees wishing to drain it and having no funds on hand, applied to Strachan and Scott for a loan of $60; but the wary Scotchmen refused to let them have it unless E. D. Williams endorsed it, which he did.  This was probably the first loan made by the city of Chicago."

Reminiscences of Chicago During the Forties & Fifties
Part of the Fergus series - page 39

The plan was to plow a ditch on both sides of Clark street from Twelfth to the river to help drain the prairie.  The cost was not to exceed sixty dollars.  When Mr. Williams approached Strachan and Scott who were bankers, they required Mr. Williams to sign a personal note for the amount.  The Trustees also thought it "would be well to plow up the public square at the same time and sow it with clover, in order to show strangers where it was, and it was done."

                                                                 Chicago Tribune, May 8, 1881
E. B. Williams was President of the village Trustees.
I have been gone for a few days. A nephew, John Richard Bradley, was killed in an automobile accident and my family attended his funeral. He apparently swerved to avoid an accident and left the road hitting a tree. The funeral was in the Cedar Ridge Christian Church in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, with burial in Haskell, a small town 25 miles south of Broken Arrow.

As the large funeral procession made it way, cars pulled off the road and waited in respect of the dead. Almost every grave in the cemetery was decorated and the day before a ceremony had been held comme rating those who had died in service. As we traveled on Memorial Day, we noticed that most every country graveyard was decorated with flowers. I, for one, am sorry we changed the name from Decoration Day to Memorial Day.

We drove a total of some 1,500 miles. Down I-35, along the Plaines of Illinois, across the Mississippi, through St. Louis and then I-44 to Tulsa. In Missouri, a well maintained Interstate crossed rivers, moved through carved openings in solid rock, up and down great hills and valleys. In Oklahoma, the Turner Turnpike ran across the flat prairies where cattle and horses grazed on green grass. The speed limit in both states was 75 miles per hour.

There were towns and rivers with Scottish names. Here and there a business displayed that heritage. We talked about those early settlers as they moved west. They came on horseback, many walked and later there were wagons and families. My own family had made this same journey, perhaps along this same route, which once may have been an Indian trail.

My family moving west from Tennessee, through Kentucky and Illinois finally settling along the foothills of the Ozarks in Missouri. The Rethfords and the Jacks built their log cabins along Panther Creek, 30 miles east of Springfield, Missouri. The Jacks on one side of the mountain the Rethfords on the other.

In the early days of the Great Depression, my Dad drove a 1929, Model A Ford to Oklahoma to find work in the oil fields and I became a proud Okie.