Sunday, April 28, 2013

A Library and a Statue

John Crerar was a Presbyterian who loved to read. He was also a railroad man and made millions after the Civil War. Crerar died in 1889 and left $2.5 million for a “free public library” and for a “colossal statue of Abraham Lincoln.” He was a member of the Illinois Saint Andrew Society and left the charity $10,000 which was distributed to the poor over time.

Mr. Crerar was born in New York City of “Scotch parents” and never married. He is interred in Greenwood Cemetery with his parents. Greenwood Cemetery is located in Brooklyn, New York and I visited his grave and that of Walter Scott in 2005. For many years Crerar was a member of the Scotch Presbyterian Church in New York City and left the church $25,000 in his will. In Chicago, he was a member of the Second Presbyterian Church.

A very religious man, he wrote the following in his will “I desire the books and periodicals selected with a view to create and sustain a healthy moral and Christian sentiment in the community, and that all the nastiness and immorality be excluded. I do not mean by this that there shall not be anything but hymn books and sermons, but I mean that dirty French novels and all skeptical trash and works of questionable moral tone shall never be found in this library.”

The first president of the Crerar library was Norman Williams. It is reported that he was one of Chicago’s best known capitalists. There are other people with familiar Scottish names also serving on the board including: Robert T. Lincoln, Edson Keith, Simon J. McPherson, John M. Clark, John J. Mitchell, Robert Forsyth, and George A. Armour.

The first location was on the sixth floor of the Marshall Field building at 87 Wabash Avenue. The library soon outgrew this space, so the Committee began looking for a new location. The place chosen was one familiar to most people in Chicago: Grant Park. The land was located between the Illinois Central Railroad tracks and Michigan Avenue and between Monroe and Madison. The state legislature approved the location and it was placed on the ballot in 1904. Those in favor numbered 50,960 and those opposed 9,329. As a result of a lawsuit, the Illinois Supreme Court said the building could not be built on this land.

The next location was at Michigan Avenue and Randolph, across from the present Cultural Center. The 11 story building was designed by Holabird and Roche and opened in 1920. In 1962, the library needed more space and the building was sold to the George F. Harding Museum who later sold the building to a New York development firm. The library building was destroyed in 1981 so that a 41 story office building could be constructed. This is a building most Chicagoans will recognize, especially at Christmas, because of the unusual “sharply shaped summit.”

In 1962 the library moved into a new building on the campus of the Illinois Institute of Technology. Its predecessor was the Armour Institute of Technology founded in 1890 with the gift of $1 million dollars from Philip Danforth Armour. Mr. Armour was also a member of the Illinois Saint Andrew Society and was said to have been its most liberal donor.

The new building was designed by architect Walter Netsch. It was a 92,000 sq. ft. facility “with a pleasing modern aesthetic design inspired by Miles van der Rohe.” Mr. Netsch was married to life member and distinguished citizen, Dawn Clark Netsch. (Mrs. Netsch recently died; please see my Blog dated March 6, 2012.)

The Crerar library is now located on the campus of the University of Chicago not far from the midway of the World’s Fair in 1893. The library moved to its present location in 1984.

I hope you’ve noticed all the Scottish connections in this story. Whenever I look at Chicago’s past this connection is always present. Scottish Americans have made a tremendous contribution to Chicago. It’s a little more difficult to find those connections today, but they are still there. Those “quiet immigrants” and their descendants are still a major factor in the life of this City. There is more to the Crerar story and I hope you can follow all the connections.

Norman Williams, Jr. married Joan Chalmers in 1902. He was the son of Norman Williams (the first president of the Crerar Library) and Joan Chalmers who was the daughter of William J. Chalmers and Joan Pinkerton. Both William Chalmers and Joan Pinkerton were first-generation descendants of parents from Scotland.

Their children, Joan Williams and her brother, Major Thomas Stewart Chalmers died within eight days of each other and thus the memorial window in Chrysostrom church. The son of Joan Chalmers was also named Norman. He was the grandson of Norman Williams, the first president of the Crerar Library Board, and he would unveil the statue of Abraham Lincoln in Grant Park in 1926; thus completing the provisions of John Crerar’s will.

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

May 4, 2013 - Please join us for a conversation with Jean Davidson of the famous Harley Davidson Motor Company. Here is just part of the story:

Arthur and Mary Davidson left their tiny house in Brechin, Scotland, in 1852 and headed for America. They had five children: Ann, Margaret, Alexander, William C. and John. It was William C. Davidson who fathered the three Davidson brothers, Arthur, Walter and William A. who co-founded the company with William S. Harley.

Joan Davidson has a wonderful story to tell and you will enjoy her presentation and the great pictures she will shown.

We also celebrate birthdays in May. So, if you have a birthday around this time come and join us for cake, scones, coffee and tea. Reservations can be made at 708-447-5092.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Howard Van Doren Shaw

Born in Chicago on May 7, 1869, his birth certificate perished in the Great Fire of 1871. His father was Theodore Andrews Shaw, a successful and prominent dry-goods merchant. His obituary (December 7, 1906)) says that he was a “prominent Presbyterian layman.” He died of heart disease at his residence, 1130 Lake Shore Dr., Chicago. Mr. Shaw served on many boards including the Presbyterian hospital, the Presbyterian home and the Second Presbyterian church. He was also a member of the Saddle and Cycle Club. The original family home was at 2124 Calumet Avenue, part of the Prairie Avenue district. He was buried at Graceland.

In my personal files is an unidentified page from a book which in reference to Howard Van Doren Shaw says: “His father was Theodore Andrews Shaw...whose Scotch Presbyterian ancestry went back to the settlement of Pennsylvania. His mother was Sarah Van Doren of Brooklyn, a descendant of Pieter Van Doren, who emigrated to America from Holland in 1639 and settled at New Amsterdam.”

Howard Van Doren Shaw attended the Harvard School for Boys in Hyde Park. He then attended Yale College, graduating in 1890 and then studied architecture (1890-91) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He then went abroad and after a year returned to Chicago and entered the office of William LeBaron Jenney and William B. Mundie. Many of you will recognize the Mundie name as the architect of the Scottish Home and member of our St. Andrew Society Board of Governors. Interesting connection. I don’t believe that Mr. Shaw was ever a member of our Society but he certainly would have know about us through Bill Mundie.

In 1893, he married Miss Frances Lillian Wells who was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. H. D. Wells. She lived with her parents in a grand house at the northwest corner of Michigan Avenue and Twenty-sixth street. At their “house warming” in 1884, fifteen hundred invitations were issued, 1,000 accepted and there was never less than 800 present during an evening of dancing and eating. (Using Google maps, it appears the location is now a parking lot.)

It would be difficult to list all of the work of Howard Van Doren Shaw. “His work, particularly in domestic architecture, exerted a powerful influence on younger architects and on taste in general.” He designed many country homes in Lake Forest and other suburbs. In Chicago: the Lakeside Press Building; the Mentor Building; the Fourth Presbyterian Church (with Cram, Goodhue and Ferguson); the University Church of the Disciples of Christ; the Kenneth Sawyer Goodman Memorial Theater; apartments at 1130 Lake Shore Drive, 2450 Lakeview Avenue and 191 E. Walton Place. When the Second Presbyterian burned in 1900, Shaw was commissioned to rebuild the sanctuary. He had been reared and baptized in the church and was just 31 at the time. The design reflects his interest in the Arts and Crafts movement and today remains one of the most intact religious Arts and Crafts interiors in the country.

He built a beautiful home in Lake Forest, IL. which he called “Ragdale” and today it serves as an artists’ retreat. It is considered by some to be one of the best examples of Arts and Crafts architecture. Here he “became an excellent carpenter, bricklayer, tree-surgeon, gardener and painter; he also designed the setting, lighting effects and scenery for an outdoor theater.” On our history tour of Lake Forest we saw the house of William Wrigley, Jr., which was designed by Howard Van Doren Shaw. It had been built in 1912 for Donald McClennan who named the house “Stornoway” after his family’s hometown in the Western Isles of Scotland. In 2003 the house was on the market for $9.9 million.

In 1912 the Village of Lake Forest wanted to create a “shopping center” where several businesses could be on the same plot of land. Shaw was asked to design this center and in 1915, he designed a U-shaped area with parking and a central courtyard. It is said that Market Square was the first planned shopping center in the United States and still functions quite well. At the east end is a fountain dedicated to Shaw and at the west end is a flag pole dedicated to the “Men of Lake Forest who gave themselves for the safety of their country and the world.”

Shaw was described as quiet, somewhat withdrawn, but he was very active in society. He was a trustee of the Art Institute of Chicago, chairman of the State Art Commission, a trustee of Illinois College, Jacksonville, Illinois, and a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects. “He was also the teacher of several younger men, who continued his ideals of utility and good taste. Stanley Anderson and Ralph Milman were among his loyal students.” (1) Stanley Anderson was the grandson of a Scot who helped import the first registered herd of Aberdeen Angus cattle to the United States.

Howard Van Doren Shaw died in Baltimore on May 6, 1926 at the age of 57. He is buried in Graceland cemetery, Chicago, Illinois. He was survived by his widow and three daughters: Evelyn who was Mrs. John T. McCutcheon; (the Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist whose family emigrated from Scotland); Sylvia, who was Mrs. Clay Judson, and Frances Theodora Shaw who at the time was 12 years old. She later became Mrs. John Lord King.

Mrs. Frances Wells Shaw died October 12, 1937 at the age of 65. She was a world traveler and gave many presentations to Chicago clubs. She was also a writer including poetry and several plays. Sylvia Shaw was a noted sculptor.

The Shaw family was quite artistic and each one made a contribution to the life and times of greater Chicago. We are all indebted for their gifts and contributions. The name continues to be honored .

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

1. Lake Forest, Illinois History and Reminiscences, 1861-1961, page180
2. Other quotations are from various articles in the Chicago Tribune.

Upcoming events:

May 4, 2013 - Please join us for a conversation with Jean Davidson of the famous Harley Davidson Motor Company. Here is just part of the story:

Arthur and Mary Davidson left their tiny house in Brechin, Scotland, in 1852 and headed for America. They had five children: Ann, Margaret, Alexander, William C. And John. It was William C Davidson who fathered the three Davidson brothers, Arthur, Walter and William A. who co-founded the company with William S. Harley.

Jan Davidson has a wonderful story to tell and you will enjoy her presentation.

We also celebrate birthdays in May. So, if you have a birthday around that time come and join us for cake, scones, coffee and tea. Reservations can be made at 708-447-5092.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Harley Davidson

The next History Club meeting is May 4, 2013. Our special guest will be Jean Davidson.

Jean is the granddaughter of Walter Davidson, one of the four founders and the first president of Harley-Davidson. Her father, Gordon Davidson, was Vice President of Manufacturing.

Jean began riding a Harley at the age of 12. She was the owner of the largest Harley-Davidson dealership in Wisconsin and rubbed shoulders with all the Harley and Davidson family members, famous racers, Hell’s Angels and even Evil Knievel.

She is the mother of five children and the grandmother of seven grandchildren. She has spent a number of years gathering personal family stories and old photographs to bring you a rare and exciting look into one of the most famous families in motorcycling history.

Most of all Jean is a storyteller who loves sharing the stories and experiences of her life as a Davidson through books and public speaking engagements. The adventures she has experienced, both in and out of the motorcycling industry, coupled with her enthusiastic, outgoing personality have captivated thousands of people over the years.

April Recap

The April History Club meeting was very enjoyable. David Macfarlane was most interesting and he gave us insights into the White House that most of us didn’t know. David is a Master Chef with a wide array of jobs and experiences. He talked about Scottish food, especially the haggis. We spend a lot of time making fun of haggis but maybe we should reconsider that because it was a serious food for previous generations. Talk about haggis sometimes keeps us from the more important facts of our Scottish history.

Master Chef David likes Scottish food and is making an effort to bring it to the attention of the world. He believes its basic goodness is in the water of Scotland. He was born in Scotland, raised in the United States and has tasted water from around the world. Scotland’s water is the best. The next time you go, pay special attention to the water, one of God’s special gifts to Scotland. Thanks David. We enjoyed your visit. Many of us bought copies of your book and we looking forward to having time to read “Ginger.”

The Connecticut-Copperthite Pie Company

At our History Club meeting in May last year, Michael Copperthite brought us fresh baked pies from Washington, D.C. He brought them on an airplane which was an adventure in itself. They were the best! He told us his family story and his efforts to reestablish the pie company and keep his family story alive.

Michael and I have kept in touch the entire year. He faithfully reads the Blog and keeps me informed on his family and the pie company. He has called for “A Gathering Celebration and Reunion of Family and Friends for the 125th Anniversary of the Connecticut-Copperthite Pie Baking Company in Georgetown, D. C. “ For full information visit their web site.

On the Eve of Thanksgiving 1885 Henry C. Copperthite and Johanna O’Neil Copperthite started baking pies in Georgetown and turned a profit of .90 cents. In 1888 The Connecticut-Copperthite Pie Company was incorporated and family and friends came to work for what became the largest pie baking concern on the planet. By 1918 there were in the District of Columbia alone 230 delivery wagons, 600 horses, and 15,000 employees turning out 50,000 pies a day. Washingtonians were consuming 125,000 slices of pie a day and over 14 million pies a year making them the pie capital of the planet. Henry, Johanna, and family prospered and gave back to their community and country. 2013 marks their 125th Anniversary and they are doing and participating in a host of events to honor the service and commitment of the family that still bakes the finest pies in the world has ever known. The slogan then has and always will represent who they are.

Ask for, Insist Upon, and Accept No Other!
                                                                                                          Michael C. Copperthite

Great story and my congratulations to Michael for keeping the story alive and involving family members in the history. Good example for all of us. He turns 80% of the profit over to local charities. If you would like to attend the celebration and are interested in learning how to bake pies “in your part of the world,” call Michael at 202.670.PIEO or visit the web site. Michael also has a “day job” as the Founder, President and CEO of Capital Campaigns, LLC. “A former top campaign manager and consultant to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Michael has worked on campaigns since 1968.” He has offices across the country.

John LeNoble one of the most faithful members of our History Club is taking the “Honor Flight” to Washington, D. C. this month to view the World War II Memorial. His daughter Nancy Strolle will accompany him on the trip. Congratulations!

We are in discussions with Dan Rutherford, Illinois State Treasurer, about our June meeting. He would like to be present if his calendar can be cleared.

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

Monday, April 1, 2013

National Tartan Day - April 6, 2013

In some of my speeches I have often said that, without the influence of Scots in America, there would have been no revolution in 1776. I’m not sure I could prove that and elitist professors in America’s universities would certainly take exception. In college, I majored in history with an emphasis on American history. In all that time, in all those classes, not one professor talked about the Scots who made America. Not once! We were led to believe that the pilgrims and the English made America. But, of course, that is not completely true.

For 50 years prior to the American Revolution thousands of Scots emigrated to America. Primarily they came from Northern Ireland (Ulster) where they had been given free land by the government in London. They were hardened by war. They were familiar with firearms and they knew how to suffer. Their primary ambition was to own land and be free from governmental oppression. When government regulations changed in Northern Ireland and they were no longer free, they moved onto America. “A New England historian, quoted by Whitelaw Reid, counts between 1730 and 1770 at least half a million souls transferred from Ulster to the colonies - more than half of the Presbyterian population of Ulster...” (1).

“It is a reasonable estimate that between 1763 and 1776 more than 50,000 people of Scottish blood, from both Scotland and Ulster, crossed the Atlantic Ocean to settle permanently in the 13 colonies.”(2). However, these Scots didn’t settle in established cities like the Irish would do in the 1840s. Instead, they chose uninhabited land in Pennsylvania, Virginia, the Carolinas, and finally Tennessee and Kentucky. Up and down that frontier were 50 to 70 settlements of Scots-Irish people, who should more properly be called Ulster Scots. As George Fraser Black points out in his book, the Scots in Ulster “preserved their distinctive Scottish characteristics and generally described themselves as the Scottish nation in the north of Ireland.” They did not intermarry with the Irish as some may presume from the name Scots-Irish.

These people would become the fighters in Washington’s army. Forty percent of his army was composed of these tough, hardened men and women who were willing to suffer and die for freedom. (3)  They stayed with Washington at Valley Forge during that cold and awful winter and they never retreated under fire.

“For those Scots who had arrived in America from Northern Ireland, the need for the colonies to become independent from England was manifest. The English-dominated government in Ulster had cheated them out of their farms by raising their rents after their labor had made the land valuable; it had discriminated against their Presbyterianism by allowing only Anglicans to hold civil or military office; and it had prohibited the export of linen, the Ulsterman’s most valuable manufacture. The Scots-Irish had arrived in America bearing a hatred of the Hanoverian government, which drove them into the revolutionary movement with a religious fervor. Perhaps their presence in the colonies was even the revolution’s principal cause.” (4)

But the fighters didn’t all come from Northern Ireland and those who loved freedom were not all called Ulster Scots. There were the Highland clearances that brought strong, rugged men to America who spoke only Gaelic. And, then there were the educated Scots like Patrick Henry and John Witherspoon. “At least 21 of the 56 men who risked their “lives, fortunes, and sacred honor” in signing the Declaration of Independence were of Scottish ancestry, including two native Scots, John Witherspoon and James Wilson.”

Consider these men of Scottish ancestry and their influence on American history:

Alexander Hamilton, Henry Knox, James Monroe, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Quincy Adams, James Blair and even George Washington was himself remotely descended from the Scottish king Malcolm II. (5)

In order to counteract some of the misconceptions about the Scots in American and their influence on American history, an invitation was issued in 1995 for Scots to gather in Sarasota, Florida. Another meeting was held in Sarasota in 1996. I had the privilege of attending both meetings and came to represent the St. Andrew’s Societies in America. I first met Alan Bain and many of you, both here and in Scotland, at those meetings.

Joanne Phipps, who lived in Washington, DC at the time, coordinated with the national Scottish Groups and worked closely with the staff of Senator Trent Lott, then Majority Leader of the U. S. Senate and obtained a Senate Resolution recognizing Tartan Day. The Resolution was published in the Congressional Record on April 7, 1997. Under the Senator’s continued leadership, Senate Resolution No. 155 was passed in 1998 which permanently established a National Tartan Day as April 6. The original Resolution was given to the Swem Library and The College of William and Mary on September 25, 1999. We have copy #2, framed and on display in the Scottish American Museum.

I was quoted on that day at William and Mary as having said the following: “As a nation we really do owe a tremendous debt to those early Scots who helped settle this country. Scots knew how to fight. They still do. Scots were willing to die in behalf of their freedom and they had little love for the British in 1776.

I think sometimes the contributions that Scots have made to the establishment of this nation draws little attention. Tartan Day is a way to start reeducating Americans on the contributions that our forefathers have made. It is fitting that we leave this document at William and Mary where in so many ways we are close to the beginnings of our nation. So, on behalf of all the St. Andrew Societies in America, we thank the College and the members of the Scottish Coalition for their work in making Tartan Day a success.”

April 6 was chosen because the Declaration of Arbroath was signed at Arbroath Abbey on April 6, 1320. In it, they declared Scotland to be an independent nation with the right to live free from rule or oppression by other countries. It also claimed that Scottish independence was the right and responsibility of the Scottish people, not the King. It is best known for the passage which reads:

"...for, as long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be brought under English rule. It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom – for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself."

Those of us involved in establishing April 6 as National Tartan Day are getting older. I believe the Scottish Coalition no longer meets. JoAnne Phipps is retired and living in Mississippi. On May 5, I will be 86 years old. We leave our work to the next generation. Please, don’t let our Scottish history in the making of America be forgotten, silenced by political correctness or changed by revisionist historians.  

“Who is like us? Naebody!

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

Scotland’s Mark on America by George Fraser Black, page 4
2. How the Scots Made America by Michael Fry, page 23
3. Born Fighting - James Webb, page 10
4. The Mark of The Scots - Duncan A. Bruce, page 27
5. The Mark of The Scots- Duncan A. Bruce, page 31

History Club meets 10 A.M. April 6 (Tartan Day) in Heritage Hall at the Scottish Home. No admission but reservations are helpful.

“David T. Macfarlane is a consummate professional chef. Chef Macfarlane spent ten years on active service in the Navy, serving two four-star admirals, the crew and officers of the USS Mount Whitney LCC-20 and the President of the United States in the White House and Blair House in Washington, D.C. He is a recipient of many awards and commendations in recognition for his service to the United States, its citizens and its President as a top Navy chef. Born in Scotland, he now lives in the U.S. with his wife and two children.”

David T. Macfarlane is a Scotsman. He is an American. He is a chef. He is a veteran. And his story, "Ginger," just released from Dunrobin Publishing, is a story of abuse, hardship, hard work, passion, and never taking no for an answer.

"Ginger is a boy who never gave up. A boy who never accepted life's trials as an excuse to give in," author and chef David T. Macfarlane said. "For Ginger, coming to America was not easy. But he learns. He adjusts. He grows. He learns to love food and cooking. He serves in the U.S. Navy. And he ends up cooking for two U.S. Presidents in the White House."

"This is an American story and a Scottish story," Mark Sutherland, President of Dunrobin Publishing, said. "It is a story that makes you mad, that makes you grieve, but also inspires you and reminds you of the things that make both Scotland and America great - the people, the opportunity." Questions? Email or call 630-629-4516