Friday, January 16, 2015

Pullman Town and Scots

In 1996, we chartered a bus and drove to the Florence Hotel in the town of Pullman. After lunch, we held a quarterly meeting of the Society and then took a tour of the town. What we didn’t know at the time was the influence that Scots had exerted on the Pullman Company and the town itself. In November, while reading through obituaries posted in the Chicago Tribune, I came across the funeral for John McLachlan. That led to a call to the Historic Pullman Foundation and our History Club speaker on April 4, Michael Shymanski.

Alexander McLachlan, the father, was apparently a major figure in the building of the town of Pullman. However, there is only one article about him in the Chicago Tribune. It was written by Jeanne McCarthy and published on October 11, 1942. The article says that George Pullman brought Alec McLachlan from Glasgow, Scotland, to specifically build the town of Pullman and the Pullman shops.

He also built himself a home at 24 E. 114th Place. It was a three-story brick house with stone trim. A family man, he enjoyed having his six children around him constantly. “When the young men of Pullman began to frequent billiard parlors, he equipped a billiard parlor in his home for his sons. When they became old enough to be lured to dance halls, he established a ballroom in the house. When physical culture became the fad, he constructed a gymnasium at home. The McLachlan house became the focal point in Pullman.”

There were banquets in the house as well and many of the town’s most elaborate functions were held there. In 1942, John McLachlan, the only surviving son, sold the home to the San Salvador Knight’s of Columbus Lodge. I could not find any information about the lodge on the Internet, so I assume it no longer exists.

John lived with his sister, Mrs. Agnes Vanderbilt, at 11432 Prairie Avenue. He died in 1949. His funeral was held at the Roseland Presbyterian church and he was buried in Oakwoods Cemetery. John was “prominent in Scottish Societies, being a member of St. Andrew’s Society and Lodge 41 of Clan McDonald. He was a bachelor.”

Wayne Rethford, President Emeritus
Illinois Saint Andrew Society

Upcoming Events:

February 7, 2015. Our Speaker will be Professor Euan Hague of DePaul University. Dr. Hague was born and raised in Edinburgh, Scotland. He moved to Syracuse University in 1994 to pursue a Ph.D. that examined the relationship of Scottish-Americans to Scotland. He is now Professor and Chair of Geography at DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois. He is a member of the Board of Governors, Illinois St. Andrew’s Society. The paragraph below describes his proposed speech to the History Club.

"From Christmas Day 1950 to September 2014 - A history of modern Scottish Nationalism.” The September 2014 Scottish referendum was a remarkable event. Around 85% of the electorate voted, and a majority decided that Scotland should remain in the United Kingdom. The bigger story, however, was that of the Scottish nationalists who gained 45% of the vote for independence and separation from the United Kingdom". This promises to be a very informative meeting for our members. 

March 7, 2015 - “Hats, including our Bess Ben hats.” The speaker is Mary Robak who wants every woman to wear a hat. She and Elizabeth Fanuzzi have been studying the six Bess Ben hats in our museum. You will find their presentation very interesting and entertaining.

April 4, 2015 - The Town of Pullman. 

The Scottish-American Museum opens at 9 a.m. on the day of our event and the program begins at 10. There is no charge. Reservations not necessary but helpful. Call 708-408-5591. Please join us in Heritage Hall, the Scottish Home, 28th and Des Plaines, North Riverside, IL.

1 comment:

  1. The Pullman Company employment cards are housed at the South Suburban Genealogical Society. These are strictly for Pullman's mechanics and builders, and include a photo and employment history with address and next-of-kin.

    The metal boxes of employment records were thrown out to the curb many years ago as trash and luckily a passerby stopped and looked inside! Quite a find for the group.

    These records do not include the Pullman porters. The Porter employment records are at the Newberry Library's Special Collections.