Thursday, January 31, 2013


I recently had opportunity to purchase ($52.00) on eBay a copy of the Constitution, bylaws, and list of members of the “Illinois St. Andrew’s Society of the City of Chicago for the year 1874." The little book measures 5 x 7 and is in a blue cloth cover. It was printed in Chicago by the Fergus printing company which was located at 244 Illinois St. The book apparently was in the private collection of Joseph A. Sadony.  

I found a Joseph Alexander Sadony on the Internet. The website says that he ‘was a philosopher and a spiritualist who studied every religion in the world and yet was very much a Christian.” He lived on an estate located in Montague, Michigan, and the book came from a seller who also lived in Michigan. Sadony once lived in Chicago. I don‘t think he was a Scot although the name Alexander might indicate something.

In the preface, a mention is made that the great fire which devastated Chicago in October 1871, and destroyed “the entire records and property of the Society.” It also indicated that a notice has been placed in the newspapers that all members of the Society “should forward their names and addresses to the secretary so that the records of the society may be fully restored.” The initiation fee for membership was two dollars and the dues were three dollars each year payable by January 1 each year. On page 9, there is a “History of St. Andrew” and on page 10 a “Historical Sketch of the Illinois St. Andrew’s Society.” The history is mostly the same as we presently know it with little new information.

“Among those present at the first dinner to celebrate St. Andrew’s Day (1845) was General J. A. McDougal, and Captain, afterwards General, McClellan.” We now believe that a Capt. McClellan was at the Dinner but not the famous General of the Civil War. That story has persisted throughout our history but there is now enough evidence to the contrary that we believe it was not the General McClellan of Civil War fame. Perhaps, that story should be the next article on the blog.

The first Constitution and By-Laws for the Society were adopted in 1850. It was written by George Anderson (Chairman), John H. Kedzie, Peter MacFarlane and John Stewart. In 1853, a Charter was obtained from the Stater Legislature of Illinois. There was little growth for the fledgling Society until 1850 when “a number of Scotchmen settled in Chicago, who immediately joined the Society . . . ”

It is unclear at the moment what happened in 1850 to bring those Scotchmen to Chicago. (The population in 1850 was 29,000.) The first mention of the Society in the Chicago Tribune is a report on the “Seventh Annual Dinner of the Illinois St. Andrew’s Society” in 1852.  Dr. John McArthur came to Chicago, joined the Society (1856) and was elected the physician “and continued til the day of his death, to give his devoted attention to all the sick recommended by the Managers.”

Among those with special mention as leaders were: Peter MacFarlane, Hugh Ritchie, James Thomson, John Alston, John Stewart, Robert Hervey, George Kennedy, Solomon McKichan, and General John McArthur. In 1858, the Society purchased ground in Rosehill Cemetery and “have expended a large amount of money in curbing and ornamenting it, so that the poor and friendless Scot may have a decent and sacred resting place, apart from the Potter’s Field.” A list of those buried along with their place of birth and date of death is given on the last page. Thirty-eight names are shown and are native born Scots except two.

“Such is a meagre historical outline of the Illinois St. Andrew’s Society, and without enumerating the many last results of its beneficence to the poor, the wayfarer, and the unemployed, we are happy to state that it is growing in strength and usefulness; and at present, its funds are inadequate to meet all the numerous claims that are made for relief, and which the Managers would gladly extend to every deserving applicant, if the revenue of the Society would permit, still we trust that the Society will continue to increase till no call for aid, no cry for distress, and no appeal from ony o’ Scotland’s waunert bairns will ever be uttered without meeting a prompt and satisfying response.”

The book lists the “Office-Bearers” from 1846 to 1874, showing the names of the officers: President, 1st vice-president, 2nd vice-president, Treasurer, Secretary, Assistant Secretary and Physician. It takes the membership records from 1873 and lists the ones who have died, withdrawn, or have been removed. It also lists the life members and honorary members. Honorary Members had to live out of Illinois and pay a fee of ten dollars. Membership was restricted to “none but Scotchmen, or the sons or grandsons of a native of Scotland, shall be admitted as members of the Society.”

Last of all there is a Revised List of Members as of 1874. It also shows the “city, town or village, shire and country” of each member. If I counted correctly there were 242 active members in 1874. It would be interesting to have that list on the Internet for anyone who might be doing genealogy research.

Those of you who visit ebay regularly are requested to notify the History Club when interesting items are noted for sale.

Wayne Rethford, President Emeritus
Illinois St. Andrew’s Society

February 2, 2013 - “Sir Winston S. Churchill, The Greatest Statesman of the Twentieth Century.” Daniel N. Myers, speaker. The Scottish American History Club meets in Heritage Hall at the Scottish Home. Reservations are helpful but not necessary. Call 630-629-4516 for more information.

February 9, 2013 - The 2013 Chicago Scots, Robert Burns Supper will be held at the Union League Club. Email Julia Witty for more information . To purchase tickets, click here

March 2, 2013 - “Remembering Marshall Field’s”, Leslie Goddard, speaker. History Club meeting, Heritage Hall, Scottish Home, North Riverside, IL

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Scottish American History Club and years 1876-1886

The History Club started many years ago with the residents of the Scottish Home, it was discontinued during the construction of the Georgeson wing but started again in 2003.  The Residents no longer attend but the meetings continue to be held the first Saturday of each month in Heritage Hall at the Scottish Home.  No meetings in July, August or December. 

Often at the meetings we have special guests and on February 6, 2013, we will have a presentation on Sir Winston Churchill. Our presenter will be Daniel N. Meyers.  Mr. Meyers is the Chief Operating Officer of The Churchill Centre. (Churchill had a slight Scottish connection through his American mother.)  There is no fee, all are welcome, reservations are helpful.  Call (708) 447-5092 or (630) 629-4516.

I sometimes have a power point presentation.  All of my presentations are filmed by Robert Peterson, edited and placed on a computer disc for future reference.  Bob and his daughter Katelyn are faithful volunteers. They have the latest and best equipment so if you ever have need of a photographer please consider their services.

At our January 5, 2013, meeting we studied the history of The Illinois Saint Andrew Society between the years 1875 and 1886.  Starting with the date of our founding in 1845, we have been working through the history in ten year segments.  Here is a short summary of that meeting.  This is important because it will now be on the Internet and hopefully some family member will contact us with more information.

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Six men served as President of the Society.   Here is a summary of what we know presently about each individual.

- (President 1876 & 1877) He was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, 1829.  His father taught anatomy at the University of Edinburgh.  At the age of 22, he moved to Canada and became involved with the railroads.  Later, he moved to Lodor, Illinois, and soon to Chicago.  In Chicago, he married and was the General Passenger Agent for the Lake Shore railroad.  His wife was Margaret (Mary) Blackwell. In the 1900 census there are 2 older sons still living at home along with two granddaughters, Janet (16) and Frances (14). One of his sons, Charles Blair MacDonald was the famous golfer.  Mr. MacDonald died in 1910 and is buried in the Drummond Hill Cemetery, Niagara Falls, Canada.

DANIEL ROSS CAMERON - (President 1877- 1878) He was born in Glengarry, Canada, August 19, 1836.  Came to Chicago in 1863 at the age of twenty-seven.  In Chicago, he formed a printing company with William A. Amberg.  Their business was destroyed in 1871 by the Great Fire but they quickly rebuilt.  In time, they would have 200 employees, 22 large printing presses and offices in New York and London. Mr. Amberg invented the Amberg Letter Filing System which was used around the world.

Mr. Cameron served 21 years on the Board of Education and has a school named for him in Chicago.  The Cameron Elementary School is located at 1234 N. Monticello Ave., in the Humboldt Park area.  He died in 1918 in Los Angeles County, California and one year later his body was returned to Graceland Cemetery in Chicago.  His wife was Emma L. Grange. They were married October 9, 1884.  There is no mention of children.

ALEXANDER KIRKLAND - (President 1879-1881) Born September 24, 1834 in Renfrewshire, Scotland.  Father may have been a retired army captain who had been wounded at Waterloo.  Graduate of Glasgow University with a degree in architecture and engineering.  In 1861, he moved to London, then to New York and finally to Chicago.

His first wife, Jane Hewitson, died in Scotland leaving two small boys.  He then married his second cousin, Eliza Maria Kirkland.  One daughter was born to this marriage who later married William Edgar of Chicago.

In 1879 was appointed Commissioner of Public Buildings and was the Superintending Architect of the new City Hall built in 1881.  Mr. Kirkland died in Jefferson, Wisconsin, August 21, 1892.  The Pallbearers were: John Alston, Daniel Ross Cameron, Hugh Ritchie, Alexander Watson, James Steele and William Gardner.  In 1901, his body was brought back to Graceland where other members of the family are buried, including his mother.

RICHARD BIDDLE ROBERTS (President 1881-1882)  - Born August 25, 1825 in Pittsburgh, PA.  His grandfather was a prominent judge and said to have been the first to cross the Alleghenies in a carriage.  R. Biddle Roberts attended college in Washington, D.C. and was admitted to the Bar in 1850.

He was a Colonel in the 32nd Pennsylvania Reserve Corp. and fought under McClellan in the Peninsular Campaign.  He was the last of Civil War veterans who served in a leadership role for the St. Andrew’s Society.  During the war, he saw action at: Antietam, Charles City, Second Bull Run, Malvern Hill, South Mountain and the Second Manassas Campaign and others too numerous to mention.

After the war, he moved to Chicago and began the practice of law. He was said to be an eloquent speaker and a favorite of judges.  Elected as President of the Bar Association.

Mr. Roberts died at the Sherman House in Chicago on April 19, 1886.  He was taken back to Pittsburgh for burial in the Allegheny Cemetery.  His wife was Mary Anderson a relative of Robert Emmet.  She died in 1913 and is buried by her husband.

ANDREW WALLACE - (President 1883-1884) Born in Wigtownshire, Scotland, September, 1825.  He came to Chicago in 1865 and married Jeanie (Jane) Anderson. She was also from Wigtownshire and died August 4, 1915 at the residence of her son-in-law H. B. Kilgour of 800 S. Watola Ave., LaGrange, IL.  The children were: Michael, Agnes, Andrew and Mrs. H. B. Kilgour

Mr. Wallace was a member of the Chicago Curlers Club and his death certificate indicated that his occupation was manufacturing.  He was the manager of J. H. Bass Mfg. and a banker.  He and members of the family are buried at Oakwoods on the South side of Chicago.

ROBERT CLARK, JR. (President 1885-186) His father was born in Forfar, Scotland and his son was born in Arbroath. They came to Chicago in 1849.  The father died in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and his body was never found.  He was a stalwart Reformed Presbyterian Elder.

Mr. Clark was a partner in the firm of Clark and Raffen.  The had a large foundry and owned a block of land on Ohio Street next to the Chicago River. The company furnished iron for most of the major buildings in Chicago.  He was the largest donor for the erection of the Robert Burns statue in Garfield Park.

Served on the Board of Education, 1870-1874.  Was Chief of the Caledonian Club and Alderman of the old Sixteenth Ward.  He was a Republican.  Lived in Lake View where he was very active in local politics.  He married Miss Ester McNeil of Canada in 1854 and they had one child, Grace D. Clark.  She married Edwin H. Welch, July 2, 1897.

Mr. Clark died on July 12, 1909 at his home, 2505 Kenmore Ave.  He had been ill for several months.  The family is buried at Rosehill cemetery in Chicago, Section 2, lot 44.

During this period the Society continued to hold its Annual Dinner in honor of St. Andrew’s Day.  They also held each year a Charity Ball which we will write about in the future.

Wayne Rethford, President Emeritus
Illinois St. Andrew’s Society

January 26, 2013 - The Nicht Wi’ Burns Dinner will be held  in the Grand Ballroom of the Oak Lawn Hilton, Oak Lawn, Illinois. Email Sally Johnson or call 630-515-1997. The Tribute to Robert Burns will be given by Wayne Rethford.

February 2, 2013 - “Sir Winston S. Churchill, The Greatest Statesman of the Twentieth Century.” Daniel N. Myers, speaker

February 9, 2013 - The 2013 Chicago Scots Robert Burns Supper will be held at the Union League Club. Email Julia Witty for more information . To purchase tickets, click here

March 2, 2013 - “Remembering Marshall Field’s”, Leslie Goddard, speaker

Monday, January 7, 2013

Chicago Celebrates Robert Burns

The Scots of Chicago have always celebrated the birthday of Robert Burns. The first celebration was held in 1858 with a giant parade up State street. At the Chicago river 100 cannons were fired in honor of Scotland’s poet.

 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." The temperature was near zero.

"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 moment 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 ever held in the city."

Wayne Rethford, President Emeritus

The Nicht Wi’ Burns Dinner will be held on Saturday, January 26, 2013. Hosted in the Grand Ballroom of the Oak Lawn Hilton, Oak Lawn, Illinois. Email Sally Johnson or call 630-515-1997. The Tribute to Robert Burns will be given by Wayne Rethford.

The 2013 Chicago Scots Robert Burns Supper will be February 9, 2013 at the Union League Club. Email Julia Witty for more information . To purchase tickets, click here

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Carpenter’s Son

Before Christmas, I wrote an article about the contractor who built what was called the wigwam. I don’t know much about John McEwen’s life in Perthshire, Scotland, but since he was 26 years of age when he came to Chicago, he must have obtained his skills before leaving his homeland.

The oldest son, Walter, was born in Chicago on February 13, 1860. He attended Lake forest Academy and then entered Northwestern University at Evanston, Illinois, sometime around 1876. His major was business and accounting and in his free time he worked in his father’s contracting office. The plan must have been for Walter to eventually carry on the family business. (Some articles on the Internet suggest he also studied painting at Northwestern.)

The story is that a man borrowed ten dollars from Walter and left a box of paints and brushes for collateral. He never returned to claim his artist supplies so Walter began experimenting with paint. We do not know when the young man finally told the family that he had decided to become an artist. We don’t know what the family response might have been, especially from his strong-willed Scottish father. We do know that he left for Europe and spent a lot of time in Germany at the Munich Royal Academy. He later moved to Paris and also spent much time in Holland.

Walter McEwen always considered Chicago his home and his name often appears in the voting records. When he returned to vote, he brought his work to sell and gradually developed a list of patrons, one of whom was James Deering. MacEwen was invited to participate in the Columbian Exposition of 1893 as a jurist of paintings from Paris and also to paint murals on the exhibition halls. He and a friend, Gari Melchers, painted four forty-foot canvases which decorated the Manufacturers and Liberal Arts Building.

An article in the Chicago Daily Tribune of May 24, 1943, identifies one of John McEwen’s sons as Walter McEwen, the artist. It continues... Walter left home to study art in Munich and Paris and by 20, he had won a medal at Munich. Fifteen years later Walter would return to Chicago “as a distinguished visitor with a professional commission. He painted many mural decorations for buildings of the Columbian Exposition of 1893, and was accepted as an equal among the famous architects, sculptors, and painters who camped on the fairgrounds during the construction of the White City. St. Gaudens spoke of them as the greatest gathering of artists since the 15th century.”

Not only did Walter McEwen work on the Columbian Exposition, he also painted “nine large panels and a number of small ones for the Hall of Heroes in the Library of Congress.” Three of his panels are in the reading room at the Library. “So it seems that the Chicago carpenter’s son who wanted to study art had the right idea.”

“Walter MacEwen may be the most famous American artist you've never heard of.”
Allison Hersh

"He was one of the most highly decorated artists of his time," said Holly Koons McCullough, chief curator of fine arts and exhibitions at the Telfair Museum of Art. "It is a measure of how much our society, and our approach to art, has changed that he is little known today."

The Art Institute of Chicago appears to have only one work by Walter MacEwen called "A Magdalen," c. 1896. It is an oil on canvas 54 x 42" It was a gift from James Deering in 1925 and is not on display.

His wife, Ella Ward, was born in New York City on October 27, 1858. She indicated that she had lived in Paris from 1894 to 1916. I don’t know how they met or when they married. If there was a child it was probably a girl because there some indication that she was the "Young Girl Reading By The Window."

Walter McEwen died in 1942 in New York City after a long illness. He left a widow, Mrs. Emma Ward, and two brothers, Paul and Alfred. His place of burial is not indicated.

If any of our readers have one of his paintings or more information, please let me know.

Wayne Rethford, President Emeritus
Illinois Saint Andrew Society
Scottish-American History Club

History Club Meeting Dates and Subjects:

January 5, 2013 - “Our Society’s History, 1875-1885", Wayne Rethford, speaker

February 2, 2013 - “Sir Winston S. Churchill, The Greatest Statesman of the Twentieth Century.” Daniel N. Myers, speaker

March 2, 2013 - “Remembering Marshall Field’s”, Leslie Goddard, speaker