Saturday, August 21, 2010

Glasgow born Bobby Thomson, who hit the "Shot Heard 'Round the World" in 1951, died last week at the age of 86.

Bobby Thomson died last week at the age of 86. He was born in Glasgow, Scotland, the youngest of six children. The father was a cabinet maker and had moved to Staten Island, New York, shortly before Bobby was born. The entire family soon followed.

Bobby Brown Thomson was raised on Staten Island and in 1942 signed with the New York Giants (and a bonus of $100) right out of high school.  That same year,  he joined the Air Force and trained as a bombardier.

His rookie year was 1947 and he hit 29 home runs and had a batting average of .283. He was traded in 1953 to Milwaukee and then back to the Giants, then to the Chicago Cubs in 1958. In 1960, he was traded to the Boston Red Sox and finished his career with the Baltimore Orioles in 1960.

Thomson became famous for hitting a game-winning home run to win the 1951 National League pennant. It is often called the “Shot Heard ‘Round the World” and is probably the most famous home run in baseball history. The ball was never recovered. You can get the radio broadcast of that game on the internet.

The Illinois St. Andrews Society declared Bobby Thomson the “Scot of the Year” in 1951and invited him to attend the 106th Annual Dinner at the Conrad Hilton hotel in Chicago. He was presented with a certificate and an engraved watch. The Society said “he not only exemplifies the best traits of the Scottish character, but made the year’s outstanding contribution to the ideals of good sportsmanship.”

John Clasper was president of the Society and the Heather Queen that year was Heather Preston. John M. Jardine of Evanston was the Chairman of the Dinner.

In the 1990s, Thomson received a letter from an ex-Marine who had been stationed in Korea in 1951. “I was in a bunker in the front line with my buddy listening to the radio. It was contrary to orders, but he was a Giants fanatic. He never made it home and I promised him if I ever go back I’d write and tell you about the happiest moment of his life. It has taken me this long to put my feelings into words. On behalf of my buddy, thanks Bobby.”

I once wrote to Bobby Thomson asking if he still possessed the certificate and the watch. There was no reply. His wife Elaine died in 1993 and he is survived by 2 daughters and six grandchildren.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Saint Andrew's Dinner, November 26, 1911, Auditorium Hotel

The headlines read "Braw Scots to give dinner.  Eleven hundred highlanders to honor St. Andrew."
This Dinner was held on a Wednesday night at the Auditorium hotel banquet hall. It was the sixty-sixth annual dinner of the Illinois St. Andrew Society, "one of the oldest Scottish organizations in the country."  Daniel A. Campbell, Postmaster of Chicago, was chairman of banquet committee.

Several lines in the article are used to talk about haggis the same as it is today. It's why I have always objected to the term "Feast of the Haggis."  The St. Andrew's Day Dinner should not be about haggis, even though it is served.  The evening should be about our great history and what the event means in our history. It is an evening to celebrate our heritage, our work and our people - not the national dish of Scotland even though the press will only be interested in the Haggis.

At this event in 1911, Governor Deneen was the speaker.  Charles Nagel, secretary of commerce and labor spoke about "The Land We Live In."  Prof. David Kinley of the University of Illinois spoke on "The Land We Left" and W. Stanford Evans, mayor of Winnipeg, on "Our Sister Dominion."  Former Judge Ninian H. Welch was the toastmaster.

"Mounds of purple heather, plucked from the hills within a mile of Skibo Castle on the outskirts of Andrew Carnegie's domain" decorated the tables.  "In the center of the table will be a great ram's head brought here forty years ago by George Anderson and presented to the society at the annual dinner held on Nov. 30, 1871, at the Briggs house."

Hugh Ritchie, was 87 years old in 1911 and had attended all sixty-five dinners except five.  D. R. Cameron, who was a member of the board of education, had attended fifty dinners. Sitting at the speaker's table were:  John Williamson, president; Judge Ninian H. Welch, Dr. J. B. McFetrich, James A. Patten, Andrew McLeish, Dr. Frank Billings, J. Ogden Armour, Thomas Templeton, James B. Forgan, David R. Forgan, Samuel Insull, Oliver Sollitt, Julius Rosenwald, W. K. :Pattison, and Rev. James MacLagan.

Women were not permitted to attend the St. Andrew's Dinner until 1917.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Steve W. Folkers will attend the November meeting of the History Club

Dear Mr. Rethford,

Thank you so much for calling attention to those who gave their lives for their country in World War I. I have often thought that this is becoming almost as forgotten as the War of 1812, which I consider our second War for Independence.

I do have a personal, Scots-Irish connection. My great-uncle Lawrence Delos Fulton was killed in battle in the Argonne-Meuse, a few months before the armistice. He was my paternal grandmother's brother. His mother was probably not among those on the Gold Star ship, as his remains were finally returned to the US in 1921. So many of these brave men who gave their lives are sadly forgotten now -- especially now, since their brothers in arms have all virtually gone to their reward. Your articles will certainly help keep their memory alive in those who read them.

Gratefully yours,


Steven Weyand Folkers

Skokie, IL

[Compatriot, Illinois Society Sons of the American Revolution, through the efforts of the above mentioned Lawrence Delos Fulton's second-great-grandfather Robert Fulton as a Ranger on the Frontier and member of the Pennsylvania Militia.]

Friday, August 13, 2010

A Request From Edinburgh, Scotland

Dear Mr Rethford,

I'm Donald Sutherland and I'm writing to you from Edinburgh in Scotland concerning your post on 15th June 2010 titled "List of Orkney and Shetland Islanders who once lived in Chicago". I'm presently working on details of my family, quite a number of whom emigrated from Orkney (mainly from the island of Flotta) to Chicago at the end of the 19th and into the early 20th centuries. In your post you indicate that you would be willing to respond to requests about family research, so I have a number of questions for you concerning possible entries on the list and other papers you mention.

(a) In the list of past presidents of the society, you mention John Sutherland. I think this is my great-uncle. If you have any details relating to him (e.g. age, address, occupation, period of presidency) I'd be very interested. In July 1994 there was a post in the Illinois St Andrew Society Newsletter titled "Captain John Sutherland - someone you should know". The article detailed his escape during the Nome gold rush. This was submitted by Margaret Baikie Johnson, a distant relative of mine. Do you know if this Captain John Sutherland was the same John Sutherland as had been the president of the society?

(b) On the membership list can you check for the following people and their addresses:
(i) David Sutherland (a brother of John above);
(ii) James Sutherland (I understand he became president in 1916 before being killed in WW1);
(iii) Donald Sutherland (my uncle);
(iv) William Sutherland;
(v) Sutherland Simpson Sutherland;
(vi) Alexander Ross;
(vii) John James Ross;
(viii) John (T) Simpson;
(ix) John Sandison;
(x) Peter (or Pierre) Barnett;
(xi) John Thompson;
(xii) William (George) Baikie; and
(xiii) Anyone with the name Garriock (these are relatives of Margaret Baikie Johnson mentioned above)

(c) In the list of past presidents you mention a Wm R Simpson. Any information about this person would be helpful. I'm interested because the James Sutherland above was supported in his application for United States Naturalization by his uncle John T Simpson (above) and a W R Simpson - a person I don't directly know about. One part of my family from Flotta are Sutherlands and another part are Simpsons and I'm wondering whether "W R" is a relative I've missed somewhere.

I'd be most grateful if you looked these people up - any information on any of them would be of interest to me.

Best wishes,

Donald G Sutherland

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Society Owes Property Tax in New York City, 1935

I recently found a tax bill issued to the Illinois Saint Andrew Society from the City of New York, Department of Finance, Bureau of City collections, Borough Hall, St. George, Staten Island.  The location was described as Ward 4, Volume 8, Block 3560, lot no. 52.

The property tax was for the year 1935 and the amount due was $16.80.

The Society was in arrears as of December 31, 1934.

No records have been found to indicate how the Society might have obtained the property, but I would venture a guess that it was a gift, perhaps through an estate.  It would be interesting to know the exact location of the property and what is there now.  I doubt that the tax is still the same.

1935 was in the midst of the Great Depression so the property may have been lost because the taxes were not paid.  If so, I doubt it was from a lack of funds, because the Society actually did quite well during the depression.

Perhaps, someone will read this and find the answer to our questions.

Monday, August 2, 2010

An old passbook from the Northern Trust in Chicago, IL.

Some of our older readers will remember when you had a passbook for the bank.  It was presented each time you made a deposit or a withdrawal.  In an old storage box at the Scottish Home, I found one that belonged to Mrs. Mary W. Gibb.  It was from the Northern Trust Company located at the north-west corner of LaSalle and Monro Streets in Chicago, IL.  Her number was 404136. and the balance on March 2, 1930 was $436.13.  There are 5 pages and most of the withdrawals are for $25.00 made every two weeks.  Most of the deposits are small but on May 24, 1933, there is one for $1,102.10.  The account was closed on August 22, 1935.  I assume Mrs. Gibb was a resident of the Scottish Home but she is not in the name list on our web site.

There is a reference to a Mrs. Mary Gibb in the Chicago Daily Tribune, dated January 19, 1936, which fits the time frame.  John Nevins, who was a railroad engineer, had died and his obituary was published in the paper. He was survived by a son, Harry G. Nevins, 1532 Lake Ave., Wilmette, IL. and three sisters one of whom was named Mrs. Mary Gibb. Same lady?  Don't know.

I wonder if anyone is looking for a Mrs. Mary W. Gibb?  This little blog will put her name on the Internet just in case.