Monday, December 27, 2010

Extract Entry of Birth

James has left a new comment on your post "I have an "Extract Entry of Birth""

I responded to your post, but it never appeared on the blog, so I'm trying again. I found a birth certificate with the following information: Jean Martin - born April 11, 1893. "Extract Entry of Birth, under the 37th Sect of 17 and 18 Vict. Cap. 80" Also "Extracted from the Register Book of Births from the Parish of Re??fr??" It could be Rushen, but it looked more like Reilfren.... Also there is a listing "Baptised in Patrick Parish Church May 14, 1893." Connecting all the dots it looked like this all occurred in the Isle of Man, but I could find no reference to any "Martins" on any of the registries I explored. Again, I appreciate any insights you might provide....

P.S. To answer your question (which I did in my initial response back on the 24th), I grew up in Buffalo, New York, where my grandmother and grandfather (Ernest W. Olliver) moved in 1915 or thereabouts, but I now live in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Statues of Poet Robert Burns,the Drumhead Quarry & Camperdown, Australia

(I find two versions of the spelling for the portrait painter: Alexander Nasmyth and Alexander Naysmith. Not sure which is correct. Can someone in Scotland help me?)

By some accounts the United States has 13 statues of Robert Burns. In our January History Club meeting we will look at six of these statues: New York City; Albany, New York, Barre, Vermont; Denver, Colorado, Chicago, Illinois and San Francisco. The oldest is in Central Park, New York City, which was unveiled October 3, 1880. The Chicago statue is located in Garfield Park and was unveiled on August 25, 1906. The full story can be found in The Scots of Chicago beginning on page 56.

America does not have the honor of being first to erect a statue and perhaps neither does Scotland. That honor may go to Australia. Robert Burns had a friend by the name of Peter Taylor who lived in Edinburgh and painted houses and coaches. Apparently, Burns did sit for him and Taylor painted his portrait. This happened in 1786. If we accept Taylor as a portrait painter then this may be the best image we have of Burns.

The image we most often see is the one painted by Alexander Nasmyth in 1787. It hangs in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. Robert Burns was 28 at the time. Nasmyth was actually a landscape painter and we don’t know how good he was at painting portraits. Some believe that the painting by Peter Taylor “may be the closest likeness.” I am sure there are others who believe that Nasmyth is more accurate.

John Greenshields (1792-1835) was a sculptor who began as an apprentice stone mason and worked as a quarrier, hewer and builder before working with the mason and sculptor, Robert Forrest in 1822. His studio was at Broomhill, Clydeside Scotland. He designed the first public monument to Sir Walter Scott in George Square, but died before its final completion.

Sir Walter Scott knew Greenshields and had on several occasions visited his studio. In 1831, he saw a statue of Robert Burns and wrote: “in a sitting posture, which, all the circumstances considered, must be allowed to be a very wonderful performance.” Scott became “an important patron and admirer of Greenshields.” The statue carved by Greenshields may be the only one based on the portrait by Peter Taylor. All others are based on the likeness drawn by Alexander Nasmyth.

The statue seen by Scott in his visit to the studio of John Greenshields is thought to be the oldest one of Robert Burns that has survived. According to the British Geological Survey web site, the statue was commissioned by William Taylor of Leith between 1826 and 1830. William Taylor’s son Peter emigrated to Australia in 1876 and had the statue shipped in 1882. They indicate that it was “the only painting created when Burns was actually present.”

The citation on the statue reads: ” Burns, from an original painting by his friend, Peter Taylor, Edinburgh 1786. By John Greenshields, sculptor, Edinburgh, 1830. Presented to the public park by W. A. Taylor, Esq. Camperdown, 1883.”

Peter Taylor donated the statue to the town of Camperdown before his death. For 150 years it has occupied a small corner in the botanical gardens where it has been vandalized. “The nose is broken off, the eye socket damaged and parts of the hat brim missing.” The statue and the story were recently discovered by Gordon Ashley an Australian writer and historian. He is now fighting to save the statue. It has been removed from the gardens to a protected area and he would like the statue brought back to Scotland for repairs.

Apparently neither government has the money to ship the statue back to Scotland, so a search was started to find matching stone in Scotland. The British Geological Survey did some “stone-type fingerprinting and decided that the quarry Drumhead near Denny, Scotland “still contains exposures of rock which is of good quality and suitable for repairs.

In my Blog of November 22, 2010 (, I made comments about this story from a BBC news article. Of course, I had no idea where the Drumhead Quarry was located, so I asked for help. In less than 24 hours the owner, Tish Graham, contacted me through the Internet. She and her husband own the Quarry! They are donating the stone and by now it should be on its way to Australia. If you would like to follow this story, they have a facebook page for Drumhead Quarry. I am a follower and enjoy the information.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

What Happened to the President's Pin? 1909

The John O'Groat's Caithness Association of Chicago, composed of natives of Caithness, Scotland, has just been presented with a handsome silver and gold medal by James Dunnett, the first president, now a resident of Edinburgh. The design is Scottish, thistles being a principal decoration.  Between the medallion and the pin is a Sinclair tartan ribbon, with a cluster of three thistles just below.  In the center of the medallion is a coat of arms in gold, showing a rooster perched on a branch.  The motto, "Commit Thy Work to God," surrounds the bird.

On the reverse side appears the following inscription:  "Presented by James Dunnett, first president of the association, to be worn by the president elect while in office.  Edinburgh, May 17, 1909."

(The article appeared in the Chicago Daily Tribune, July 28, 1909.  The Cathness Association of Chicago was once vibrant and active.  It is unclear when it ceased to function or what happened to all its records and especially the beautiful pin.  Some day it may show up on E-bay!)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Chicago, the Robert Burns statue and the death of Luke Grant - 1931

I have been researching the statues of Robert Burns in the United States in preparation for our next History Club meeting on January 8, 2011.  In the process I have found other stories of interest.  This is one of them:

The date is January 25, 1931, and in Chicago, Luke Grant, a very prominent member of the Illinois St. Andrews Society, has died.  There is not much information about Mr. Grant in my files, but he evidently was well liked by other members and friends.  Eleven men decided to honor Luke Grant and also celebrate the 172nd birthday of Robert Burns at the same time.

They journeyed to the Burns statue "and laid a wreath at the foot of the statue in Garfield Park.  John T. Cunningham, who presided at the ceremonies explained that the event was a memorial to Luke Grant, a member of the Society and former publicity representative of the North Shore lines and the Chicago Rapid Transit lines, who died a short while ago."

In the Chicago Daily Tribune there is a picture of the statue, the wreath, and the eleven men.  They are John T. Cunningham, Robert Falconer, Robert Eadie, Robert W. Hall, Donald Fraser, Robert Black, Samuel Hutcheson, Thomas Catto, John F. Holmes, Dr. W. F. Dickson, and William Lister.

I know about Cunningham, Black, Hutcheson, Dickson and Lister.  These men would all serve as Presidents of the Society and there is a file on each of them.  There is little or no information on the others.

If,  perchance, some distant relative searching the Internet some day finds this site would you please contact me?

The 1888 Celebration of Robert Burns in Chicago

The Scots of Chicago have always celebrated the birthday of Robert Burns. The first celebration was a giant parade in 1858.  In 1888, the celebration was held at Farwell Hall, but the building was much too small for all those who wanted to attend.  It only seated three thousand. Long before the concert time a line was forming on Madison street with "well dressed, good-natured Scottish citizens and for an hour the stairway leading into the hall was blocked with a squeezing, joking, laughing crowd."

"It was a grave mistake on the part of the management, by crowding such an immense audience into Farwell Hall.  Every inch of standing room was occupied and still the crowd poured in, until the blockade became almost unbearable, and many who had been carried in by the stream were glad to make their escape and leave breathing-room for the late comers."

On stage the majority were dressed in tartans and kilts.  Standing the tallest was Mr. Gordon Murray, "his stalwart limbs showing up massive and picturesque in a Gordon kilt."  Among those on stage were:  A. C. Baldwin, Rev. James McLaughlin, Dr. Gray, the Rev. William Smith, the Rev. Robert McIntyre, D. R. Goudie, William McRae, James Anderson, James Small, and the Rev. William Brown.

"A fair-haired little girl, her bonnie blue eyes showing like violets beneath her Highland bonnet, advances shyly from the wing of the stage.  She is a violet indeed, and as she stands facing the audience timidly trying to cast her eyes as far as the orchestra, the wailing, screeching, droning sound of a bagpipe is heard approaching from somewhere in the rear of the stage.  Nearer and nearer comes the doleful sound and the fairy feet begin to move and little Violet Crow is dancing the Highland Fling."

There was more music and singing.  Seven year old Mr. Murray announces that Miss May P. Cameron will sing "Annie Laurie."  The voice of the singer is soft and low, in sympathy with the words.  It was a touching moments as many returned home to Scotland during the song.

The Reverend Robert McIntyre gave an address on Robert Burns.

The Rev. W. Smith added a few words, which the "majority of the audience could understand, but which were practically an unknown tongue to those whose ancestors had not wi Wallace bled."

It was a long program and many left because of the crush of the crowd "but altogether it was the most successful celebration of the anniversary every held in the city."

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Grand Central Station and The Campbell Apartment. Once the impressive office of John W. Campbell

Grand Central Station in New York City has always been one of my favorite places. Perhaps because it was the first place I saw in New York as a very, very, young sailor in World War II. The size of the building with its great open space and that wonderful clock in the middle was overwhelming for a kid from Oklahoma who had never been any place. At that time the Campbell Apartment was a storage room where security police stored their guns.

I have returned numerous times and I always visit Grand Central Station. The most poignant visit was a few days after 9/11 and they had turned Vanderbilt Hall into a memorial for the dead and missing. Thousands of letters, notes, pictures and flowers adorned the walls of that great Hall. The Campbell Apartment was open by this time.

The Campbell Apartment is an upscale bar tucked away in the south-west corner of Grand Central Station. It is a single room 60.x 30 with a 25-foot ceiling. There is a massive fireplace at one end which contains a steel safe.

Once, the entire floor was covered with a Persian carpet worth 3.5 million. There was also a pipe organ and a fine piano. The tables and chairs were 13th century Italian. There were flowering vases, fine statuary, rare books, petrified wood and uncut precious stones. An art collection worth a million dollars adorned the walls. It was the actual office of Mr. Campbell.

In 1920, at the age of 40, “he married the former Rosalind D. Casanave, nicknamed Princess, who was once listed in the New York times as a ‘patroness’ of a Monte Carlo party at the Westchester Country Club.” Mr. & Mrs. Campbell turned the office into a reception hall at night and there entertained 50-60 of their closest friends They actually lived a few blocks away at 270 Park Avenue. The office contained a pantry and kitchen with a permanent butler named Stackhouse.

Who was John W. Campbell? The man who conducted business during the day behind a massive desk never attended college. At the age of 18, he started working with his father who owned a business called the Credit Clearing House. We know the company today as Dun & Bradstreet. He must have been a Scot with a name like Campbell, but I do not know that for sure. Perhaps someone can help with this.

The bar is presently owned by Mark C. Grossich but no one knows what happened to all the valuable possessions that once resided in the Campbell Apartment. John W. Campbell died in 1957.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Samuel Insull and His Association with Thomas Alva Edison and the Scots of Chicago

Whenever prominent people would visit the home of Thomas Alva Edison in Florida, they were always encouraged to bring a stone with their name on it.  He used the stones to make a walkway which you can still see today.  The very first stone in the walkway has the name of Samuel Insull written on it.  Insull at the age of 22 became the personal secretary of Mr. Edison and later the vice-president of Edison General Electric Company in Schenectady, New York.  He was sent to Chicago in 1892 and became president of the Chicago Edison Company which is now known as Commonwealth Edison.  He was often listed among the donors to our St. Andrews Society and often appeared at the St. Andrews Day celebrations.

In 1922, he donated the land on which the British Home in Brookfield, Illinois, was built.  Commonwealth Edison failed during the Great Depression and in 1932, Samuel Insull was indicted on charges of bankruptcy, embezzlement and using the mails to defraud.  He was acquitted on all charges,  However, the public was so angry that Mr. Insull returned to France where he had been living.  He died of a heart attack in a Paris subway on July 16, 1938.  The last of the Insulls died on May 17, 1997, with the passing of Samuel Insull III, the grandson of Samuel Insull.

Members of the family are buried at Graceland in Chicago.  There is even a headstone carved with the name of Samuel Insull, however, it appears he was buried overseas.  I am not sure that Samuel Insull was a Scot, but he sure associated with them and was friends with many Scots during his lifetime.  He was unfortunately blamed for something that could not have been avoided.

I have visited the home of Thomas Edison several times and once the Guide referred to Mr. Edison as being English, so I asked her about this statement.  However, she wasn't very interested in talking about his Scottish roots.  It is sufficient to say that Thomas Alva Edison is a proud member of the Scottish American Hall of Fame.