Monday, June 27, 2011

Colonel Walter Scott - A Very Generous Man

Who was this man that kept sending money to Chicago for the benefit of the Scottish Old Peoples Home? We knew he was often referred to as Colonel Walter Scott and that he worked for Butler Brothers and that his office was at 860 Broadway in New York City. There was nothing more than this in our records. Yet, from 1917 to 1935, he was a regular and generous donor. We now know that he visited the Scottish Home several times and once, in the company of Margaret Williamson Trude, he purchased a tree to be planted in his honor. The tree program was started by Architect William Mundie after the 1917 fire that destroyed the Scottish Home.  A number of trees were purchased and planted to honor various individuals. The trees were never marked, and we have thus far found no other records. Most of the older trees are now gone.

In 1919, there was a remaining debt of $11,000 on the Scottish Home after the fire of 1917. John McGill wrote “our good friend, Mr. Walter Scott of New York City, has promised in a telegram just received to be one of eleven to cancel the debt of $11,000 on our Scottish Old Peoples Home at Riverside. To meet Mr. Scott’s offer, Mr. John Williamson has agreed to give $1,000 and, I, myself, as the new President of the Society, will give $5,000." The goal was met and the debt against the Home was paid. At another time, he sent a check for $1,000 and said “if you can get nine others to match this amount you can keep the check.” They did and kept the check.

Through the years, I had made several attempts to find information about Walter Scott. I visited 860 Broadway and spent time in the New York City Public Library.  In October, 2005, I decided to spend the entire day at the New York City Public Library and do a thorough search. Six hours later, after talking to various individuals and looking at hundreds of entries, I found a young librarian who knew Walter Scott because of some other research he had done. The records I needed were under the name of Colonel Walter Scott and suddenly there was a wealth of information.

Walter Scott was born in Montreal. His parents were Scottish and when he was three years old they moved to Boston. At the age of ten, he managed a small fruit store near Harvard College where he sold apples and plums. One of his customers was Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. At the age of 15 he was employed by  Butler Brothers, wholesale distributors of general merchandise, and at the age of 18 he moved to New York City. In 1932, he retired as senior vice president after fifty-four years of continuous service. On the day of his retirement, his office was filled with flowers, and telegrams came from President Hoover and former President Coolidge.

Colonel Scott became very wealthy and gave his money to worthy causes like the Scottish Old Peoples Home in Riverside. He endowed beds at Roosevelt Hospital in New York City and aided in the work of the Trudeau Tuberculosis Research Center. He endowed scholarships at Smith College, Flora MacDonald College, American International College, Centenary Collegiate Institute and Stevens Institute of Technology. He was a trustee of the Clarke School for the Deaf, Northampton, Mass. He created the Walter Scott Industrial School for children located in New York City at 53 West Sixty-eight Street and the Lulu Thorley Lyons Home for Crippled and Delicate Children at Claverack, New York. He was a founder of the New York Broad Street Hospital.

There is so much more about this dedicated Scottish man that we will continue the story.

Wayne Rethford

The annual History Tour is scheduled for July 16, 2011.  The cost is $25 which includes a box lunch.  We will travel to Coal City and Braidwood to understand the story of Scottish miners who came in 1860.  You can pay online at the Society store, or call me at 630-629-4516.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Patricia Jean Brown LeNoble : January 18, 1923 - May 29, 2011

Pat Brown was the youngest of four children by 15 years. She came to this country in 1927 and celebrated her fourth birthday on a boat to America. The Brown family settled in the Englewood community of Chicago with other Scots and attended Drexel Park Presbyterian Church. Pat was a cheerleader and a "May Queen" of Harper High School. She met John LeNoble through Christian Endeavor and they were married in October of 1947. Pat was a model and taught charm school. She started her banking career at the First National Bank of Chicago, and retired from banking at Chicago City Bank. Her daughter, Nancy, was born in 1957. Along the way, she was active in both St. Paul's Church in Beverly as well as Palos Park Presbyterian Community Chuch. She was a member of many clubs and organizations including, but not limited to, Lakeside Lawn Bowling Club, Nicht Wi Burns, Illinois Saint Andrew Society, American Institute of Banking and Beverly South Christian Women's Club. Upon her retirement, Pat became the President of Golden Oaks Senior Group, where she remained active until last fall.

She was known by many things...her vast collection of hats...always carrying a "kazoo" in her purse (because you never know when you might be called on to entertain)...never missing a birthday or anniversary or just sending a "thinking of you" card...always matching her purse to her shoes...her love of holiday sweaters... and of course her rendition of "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas!"

The above was written by Nancy LeNoble Strolle. Nancy was the first and, as of this date, the only woman President of the Illinois Saint Andrew Society. She served in 1990 and 1991. The memorial service for her mother was held on June 11, 2011, at the Palos Park Presbyterian Community Church, Palos Park, Illinois. It was a wonderful celebration of her mother's life. Our thoughts and prayers go to the entire family.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Patton's Prayer is Answered

I am writing this on June 6th commonly known as D-Day. This special day in our history did not get much attention this year but we should not forget the thousands of young men who died. At the time, you could follow the invasion on the radio and I spent the entire night listening to the Normandy invasion. During the war, I had two heroes: one was General Patton and the other was General MacArthur.
On January 26, 1944, Patton was given command of the Third Army. They were untrained and some were still en route from the United States. Most of them came across on the Ile De France, the Queen Elizabeth and the Queen Mary. (The Queen Mary is now docked at Long Beach, CA.) They were met in Glasgow, Scotland, by their new commander, Lieutenant General George S. Patton, Jr. Their battle record began on August 1, 1944 at 1200 hours.

 The Third Army consisted of Infantry, Armor, Artillery, Airborne and Air Force. Their history is one of constant attack. “They drove on in fair weather or foul, across favorable terrain or across mud, ice and snow.” It was an army on wheels and thousands of trucks driven by soldiers carried tons of supplies to keep the Army fighting. They called themselves the Red Ball Express. Patton had a truck designed as his sleeping quarters and he used it whenever his Army was in combat. “In terms of speed of advance, in amount of ground liberated or captured, and in terms of losses inflicted upon a powerful enemy there was never before anything like the Third Army’s lightening quick sweep across France.”

On December 8, 1944, Patton called for the Chaplin of the Third Army to find a prayer about rain. (Please see the last blog). The prayer was distributed to the entire Third Army. On December 16th, using the bad weather as a cover and attacking a weak segment of Allied lines, the German army broke through and surrounded Bastogne. The 101st Airborne Division was holding out and “fighting off the fierce attempts by the Germans to overrun Bastogne.” Patton told Eisenhower that he could attack in two days with at least two divisions. “Everyone thought he was crazy.” But Patton had been using his 3 P’s - Planning, Preparation and Prayer. On December 19th, Patton’s Army turned from North to East to meet the attack. On December 20th the skies cleared. His army’s prayer had been answered.

The Chaplin, Brigadier General Msgr. O’Neill, wrote the following as part of an official government document: “On December 20, to the consternation of the Germans and the delight of the American forecasters who were equally surprised at the turn-about, the rains and the fogs ceased. For the better part of a week came bright clear skies and perfect flying weather. Our planes came over by tens, hundreds, and thousands. They knocked out hundreds of tanks, killed thousands of enemy troops in the Bastogne salient, and harried the enemy as he valiantly tried to bring up reinforcements. General Patton prayed for fair weather for battle. He got it.” Without the decisive actions of Patton’s Third Army the Battle of the Bulge would have been a massive disaster for the Allies."

The Chaplin continued: “It was late in January of 1945 when I saw the Army Commander again. This was in the city of Luxembourg. He stood directly in front of me, smiled: Well, Padre, our prayers worked. I knew they would. Then he cracked me on the side of my steel helmet with his riding crop. That was his way of saying, Well done.”

Patton was severely injured in an automobile accident on December 9, 1845. He died from a blood clot which reached his lungs. Patton was buried at the Luxembourg Cemetery and Memorial in Hamm, Luxembourg on December 21, 1945, along with many members of the Third Army. It was his desire to be “buried with my men.” His body now lies in a prominent location at the head of his former troops, marked by a simple military cross headstone. The cemetery contains 5,076 of our military dead. “Rest in peace - your battles are won.”

Wayne Rethford

P.S. The annual history tour is scheduled for July 16 with a bus trip to Coal City and Braidwood, IL. The cost is $25 per person and includes a box lunch. Bus will leave the Scottish Home at 11 a.m. We will be led by Michele Micetich who is the Curator of the Coal City Museum. To register, please call Kristin at 708-447-5092.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Prayer of General Patton

Patton was a complex man but a great commanding officer. Some politicians disliked him and some members of the press as well, but his soldiers loved him. Through North Africa, Sicily, Normandy, and northern France, his Army was always on the move. Patton never wanted his troops to dig fox holes because that meant they were not moving. I remember looking at maps in the daily newspaper during the war as they traced the progress of the Third Army. It was quite amazing how many miles they could travel in a single day.

In war, Patton was an unforgiving General. The enemy must be destroyed and killed. But, there was another side to Patton. He often visited the wounded and talked personally to his soldiers. Patton would kneel in the mud and administer a shot to save a wounded man. He was often irreligious in his language but he also believed that soldiers should pray. Here is the story of what is called Patton’s Prayer.

The phone rang in the office of the Chaplin on December 8, 1944. “This is General Patton; do you have a good prayer for weather? We must do something about these rains if we are too win the war.” (Patton was Episcopalian and was regular in his church attendance.) Rain had hindered the Third Army since September and it was now December.

Brigadier General Msgr. James H. O’Neill was the top Third Army Chaplin. (He would later live in Pueblo, CO.) He couldn’t find a prayer so he wrote one: “Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee, of Thy great goodness, to restrain these immoderate rains with which we have had to contend. Grant us fair weather for battle. Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who call upon Thee that, armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory, and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies and establish thy justice among men and nations.”

On the other side of his 3x5 card, the Chaplain typed a Christmas message. “To each officer and soldier in the Third United States Army, I wish a Merry Christmas. I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We march in our might to complete victory. May God’s blessing rest upon each of you on this Christmas Day. G. S. Patton, Jr, Lieutenant General, Commanding, Third United States Army.”

Patton read both, signed the card and casually said: “Have 250,000 copies printed and see to it that every man in the Third Army gets one.”

There followed a long discussion between the General and the Chaplin about how much “praying is being done in the Third Army.” The General said he was a strong believer in prayer. “There are three ways that men get what they want: by planning, by preparation (working), and by praying. God has His part, or margin, in everything.” Patton continued talking about God’s blessings on the Third Army. “We have never retreated, we have suffered no defeats, no famine, no epidemics.”  He talked about Gideon in the Bible and “said that men should pray no matter where they were, in church or out of it, that if they did not pray, sooner or later they would crack up.”

As a result of the conversation, Training Letter No. 5 was written and approved by Patton. It was distributed to all 486 chaplains and to every commander down to the regimental level - 2,300 copies. It said in part: “Our glorious march from the Normandy Beach across France to where we stand, before and beyond the Siegfried Line, with the wreckage of the German Army behind us should convince the most skeptical soldier that God has ridden with our banner . . . We have had no quitters; and our leadership has been masterful . . . We have no memory of a lost battle to hand on to our children from this great campaign,”

There is more to the story . . .

Wayne Rethford

P.S. The History Club will meet this Saturday, June 4, 2011, beginning at 10 am. Our speaker is Michele Micetich who is the Curator of the Coal city Museum. If you plan to go on the History Tour, July 16th, this presentation will be very helpful.