Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Joseph Badenoch, Blacksmith and Ironworker Extraordinaire

The name Badenoch is no longer found in Chicago, except at Rosehill cemetery. But, once it was a name familiar to every Chicago citizen. Over the years, I have been in contact with Badenochs in Georgia, Indiana, Arizona and California. Geoff Badenoch has kept in touch on a regular basis. He lives in Montana, and we will write more about him later. I was once told that there are more than 225 descendants on the Badenoch family tree.

Joseph Badenoch stood 6 ft. tall and weighted 250 pounds. It is said he had extra long arms, muscles of iron and tendons which hold like steel. He was a blacksmith and looked the part. Always his own man, he opened his Scottish shop wherever there was work: first at Banff, then at Keihill and later to Ashogle. In 1833, he moved to Aberdeen and carried on blacksmithing with vigor and success. He would say it may make the hands black but the money is clean.

Joseph was born near Aberdeen, Scotland, in the hamlet of Dallachy, not far from the mouth of the river Spey. His father, George, was a child when Culloden was fought (April 16, 1746) but had vivid memories of the troops as they moved from Aberdeen to the battlefield. He lived to be 94 years of age and was the teller of great stories.

Joseph Badenoch had little formal training but did know how to read and had access to books of history and, of course, as a Presbyterian, the Bible. He also had access to a radical paper published in London and early became in principle a republican. He was in feeling an American but it would be another twenty years before his dream would come true.

At Aberdeen, Joseph Badenoch marred Miss Ellen Tough. She, too, had ideas of liberty and independence which caused her to wish to depart from Scotland and dwell in the United States. It would be later, after children were born and some had died, that they finally decided to leave. They were both raised in the Presbyterian church but left upon their marriage and joined the Baptists. The change in churches had to do with slavery in America, but is much too complicated for this short story.

In 1855, they landed in New York and Joseph set up his shop as a blacksmith. He found work in various place like Staten Island and later helping to build Central Park. Four thousand people were at work on the Park and sixty were blacksmiths. The pay was $2.00 per day. Every Saturday they were paid in gold and silver from the back of a wagon. He found a house nearby and placed his children in public schools, one of whom was John Joseph Badenoch. This son would later become the President of the Illinois Saint Andrew Society and a major player in Chicago history.

When the Civil War began, work on public improvements stopped. He thought about moving to Chicago at that time but saw an ad in the New York Herald for 100 well recommended blacksmiths to serve with the army. (It is said that he was a blood relative to James Gordon Bennet, the editor of the Herald, but the connection is unclear at this time.) I never considered the role of a blacksmith in the Civil War but it makes sense when you think of all the horses, wagons, cannons and such that would need repair. In addition there were bridges to be built or repaired as well as railroads to maintain.

His first assignment with ninety-nine other blacksmiths was Hilton Head, Charleston, S.C. The North needed that port in order to blockade the remainder of the coast. The fleet consisted of 80 ships, 20,000 men and 1,500 horses. The attack began the morning of November 7, 1861, and by mid-afternoon the fleet had fired nearly 3,000 shells. The Confederate forces retreated. Joseph Badenoch served the entire four years with many adventures and close calls.

The war ended and Joseph Badenoch returned to New York. There, reunited with his family, he sought in vain for what would suit him in the way of business, and resolved to remove to Chicago.

To be continued...

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Abraham Lincoln, His Death and Funeral

Abraham Lincoln died on Good Friday, the 15th of April, 1865.  Almost immediately plans were undertaken for his funeral. In Chicago, a call was issued for all members of the Saint Andrew’s Society to meet on Saturday night. The special meeting was held in Parlor No. 1 at the Briggs House. The outcome of the meeting is unknown, but the Society did participate in the procession that brought the hearse from Park Row (12th St. station) to the Court House. 

In Washington, D.C. plans were also under way for the funeral which was held on April 19.  The actual funeral was held in the White House which was filled to overflowing. The Reverend Dr. Phineas Dinsmore Gurley gave the sermon. He had been present when Lincoln died and knelt by his bed for prayer. Rev. Gurley was the President’s pastor at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church. He would later ride the great funeral train all the way to Springfield. The Gurley ancestors came from Inverness, Scotland, arriving in 1695.  Mary Todd Lincoln, whose family had a direct link back to Scotland, did not attend the funeral in the White House.

The Governor of Illinois at the time was Richard J. Oglesby who happened to be in Washington when the President died  He took a major role in seeing that the burial would be in Springfield. Oglesby, who was a Major General in the Civil War, was a close friend of the fallen President and according to Thomas C. MacMillan "liked to trace his ancestry back to Scotland."

The funeral train, known as the Lincoln Special,  would travel for the next 14 days and cover 1,666 miles.  Some of the stops were: Philadelphia, New York City, Albany, Buffalo, Cleveland, Indianapolis, and finally arriving in Chicago on May 1. The largest crowd to see the President was in New York City where 150,000 people viewed the remains. In Chicago an estimated 40,000 marched in the procession and 120,000 viewed their fallen leader in the Court House.

Leaving Chicago the train would stop in Joliet, Pontiac, Bloomington, Lincoln and other small towns along the route. Lincoln finally arrived in Springfield on May 4. A Committee of One Hundred accompanied the body from Chicago to Springfield.  There are at least seven Scots in the Committee that I recognize. They are: George Anderson, James H. McVicker, Robert Hervey, Joseph Medill, John H. Kinzie, John Alston and John A. Wilson. There are probably more but these are the names I know.

The hearse came from St. Louis and was finished in gold, silver and crystal.  It was followed by Lincoln’s horse, Old Bob. The Abraham Lincoln Memorial Association wanted to bury Lincoln at the current site of the State Capitol, which was then vacant,  but Mrs. Lincoln refused to give her approval. Oakridge Cemetery appeared to be important to the Lincoln’s since they had participated in its dedication in 1859 and “it was quiet.”

The final funeral sermon was given by Bishop Simpson of the Methodist Church. He was a friend of the President but never his pastor. Thomas C. MacMillan in his article, The Scots and Their Descendants in Illinois, called Bishop Simpson  “a Scot.”

Abraham Lincoln, like George Washington, was surrounded by Scots in life and in death.We remember this great president on Good Friday 2011.

Wayne Rethford, Historian
Illinois St. Andrew’s Society

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Andrew Doig, John Struthers & George Washington's Sarcophagus

The Dunfermline Press issued a special supplement on July 2, 1976, where they explored the “Historic Links with the Kingdom of Fife.” It was the bicentennial of America and this was a “record of Scottish endeavors in the history of America.” Several pages were devoted to Andrew Carnegie. They also published a number of letters from Americans who had connections with the Kingdom of Fife. I have a copy in the files.

One lady from Colorado wrote the newspaper about her great-great-grandparents named Doig.  She wrote that Andrew Doig was born in Dundee in 1797,  and married Catherine Isabelle Fife of Fifeshire in 1825.  He left for America in 1830, settled in Philadelphia and two years later was joined by his family.  “He was a stone cutter and skilled workman”.  In the 1840s he moved to Washington, D.C. and helped build the old Post Office.  He was then employed on the Capital Building where “he put up the self-supported hanging stairs.”

The Philadelphia firm that he worked for gave two massive blocks of marble “out of which he carved the sarcophagus of George and Martha Washington.  He carved the eagle and coat-of-arms on the sarcophagus of George Washington seen in the tomb at Mount Vernon.” A Google search did not reveal any more information about Andrew Doig, but there is information about the firm he worked for in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

John Struthers was a prominent architect and builder in Glasgow but he brought his family to America in 1816, including his son John who was following in his father’s footsteps.  John  became associated with Thomas Wilson who conducted a marble-yard in Philadelphia. When Washington’s body was moved to its present location at Mount Vernon,  John Struthers donated a solid block of Pennsylvania marble for the sarcophagus and chiseled out the interior to admit a leaden coffin.  He did the same for Martha Washington. 

On one side of the sarcophagus is carved “By the permission of Lawrence Lewis, Esq.  This Sarcophagus of Washington was presented by John Struthers, of Philadelphia, Marble Mason.” One the other side reads: “This Sarcophagus containing the remains of George Washington, first President of the United States, was made and presented for the purpose by John Struthers of Philadelphia this day of A.D. 1837.”  It is possible that Andrew Doig worked on the engraving but all the credit was given to the owner of the firm, John Struthers.   

George Washington, it appears, was surrounded by Scots both in life and death.

Since we are approaching the Easter Season it is significant to note that posted above the sarcophagus are the words of St. John: "I am the resurrection and the life, saith the Lord.  He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.” 

Note: Comments from the Colorado letter are “Reproduced by kind permission of the Dumfermline Press Ltd.

Wayne Rethford, Historian
Scottish American History Club

Friday, April 1, 2011

Tartan Day 2011

April 6 is National Tartan Day in the United States.  It is an American celebration.  It gives Americans an opportunity to talk about their history and heritage.  It is also a chance to educate others about the accomplishments of Scottish people and their contributions to our independence and freedom. One gift was their interest in education.

“Scots have largely contributed to raise the standard of education and culture in the United States” so says Dr. George Fraser Black in his book Scotland’s Mark on America. (The book is now in the Public Domain.) He believes that Scots furnished most of the principal teachers in the Colonies south of New York. The professors in Harvard and William and Mary College were mostly graduates of Scottish and English universities in the early years. 

The Scots established the Log College at Nashaminy, Pennsylvania, Jefferson College, Mercer College, Wabash College and Dickinson College. “The Log College was the seed from which Princeton College sprang.  The University of North Carolina was founded and nurtured by Scots in 1793 as was the University of Pennsylvania.  The first private gift to establish a “free school” in North Carolina came from James Innes. He came to America from Canisbay, Caithness, in 1734. He gave his plantation, his personal estate and his library.

Here are some other names, mostly forgotten now, but all of them believed in education for the people  We remember them on this Tartan Day, April 6, 2011.

  • James Blair (1656-1734) born in Edinburgh, was the chef founder and first president of William and Mary College.
  • Francis Alison (1705-1799), educated in Glasgow, was Vice-Provost of the College of Philadelphia, now the University of Pennsylvania.
  • The man who taught Thomas Jefferson was Samuel Finley a graduate of Glasgow University. He was born in Armagh and in 1763 was the President of the College of New Jersey. 
  • Isabella Graham (17445-1799) born in Lanarkshire, was one of the most successful teachers in New York at the end of the eighteenth century. 
  • William Graham, was the first president of Washington College, now Washington and Lee University.
  • Thomas Craighead was the first president of Davidson Academy, now the University of Nashville. 
  • Joseph Caldwell (1773-1835) was Founder and President of the University of North Carolina.
  • Charles Macalister (1798-1873), born of Scottish parents in Philadelphia, was founder of Macalister College in Minneapolis.
  • John Dempster (1794-1863) President of Illinois Wesleyan University was of Scottish parentage.

This is only a small list of the names in Dr. Black’s book. These are people mostly forgotten but each made a large contribution to the educational system of America and we thank them for their efforts.

Wayne Rethford, Historian
Illinois St. Andrew's Society