Friday, July 31, 2015

3 Tong, Stornoway, Scotland

Harris and Lewis make up the largest and northern-most island of the Outer Hebrides. It has a northern part called Lewis and a more mountainous southern part called Harris. The only town is Stornoway. There are two coastal “settlements” about a mile apart known as Tong and Aird Tong. The area now has modern housing, a primary school and community center. The former post office is used by the Scottish Episcopal Church. There are no shops in Tong.

Life was difficult in the 19th century in Tong. Most of the men made a living by fishing and having a small plot where potatoes could be raised and perhaps had a cow. The staple diet was a gruel-like porridge and potatoes. They may have had some beef but the primary diet was fish.

Housing was extreme. One observer described it as “sordid huts.” They were filthy, with doors so low it was necessary to “crawl in and out.” There was no wood so the huts were made of turf having no windows or chimneys. The huts housed both people and their livestock. Living here in the 1800s were Alexander MacLeod and his wife Anne. They spoke Gaelic and perhaps a little English. They were both illiterate.

Alexander and Anne had a son in 1866 whom they named Malcolm. Malcolm, like the other before him, was a fisherman and crofter. He also served as the “compulsory officer” to enforce attendance at the local school. His wife was Mary Smith, born in 1867 in Tong, Stornoway. When Mary was a baby her father was killed in a tragic accident. The four children were raised by their mother. Mary Smith lived until she was 96, dying in 1963 following a fracture of her right leg and subsequent pneumonia.

Malcolm MacLead and Mary Smith were married in the Free Church of Scotland just a few miles from Stornoway. The Rev. Murdo MacLeod performed the ceremony. The marriage produced ten children, one of whom was named Mary Anne MacLeod. She is the one we will follow.

Mary Anne MacLeod was born at 3 Tong, Stornoway on May 10, 1912. She was the youngest child of Malcolm MacLeod and Mary Smith. Apparently, she was raised in a house at 5 Tong. (There is a picture on the Internet.) In the 1930s she visited New York City. How could a fisherman’s family with ten children afford to sent one child to America? Perhaps some of you can help with the story but we know that she met a man named Fred C. Trump while visiting in New York. He had a strong German heritage. They married in 1936. She became a citizen in 1942.

Fred Trump was a builder of homes for working people who wanted a little more quality. His houses had a brick veneer, tudor facades and mansard roofs. His apartment houses had English names. He never promoted himself. He didn’t like putting his name on things. He looked German which was not a good idea during the war years so people were led to believe that he was Swedish or Dutch. Fred Trump was a successful multi-millionaire businessman. Here is something I found on the Internet.

“The old man's office in Brooklyn is left just the way it was when he had to stop working last spring. There's humble shag carpet and industrial-grade steel trim, and the walls are crowded with emblems of 80 years of building: faded pictures of the Highlander and Edgerton, a photograph of Fred meeting Ronald Reagan, three of his beloved cigar store Indians. But there's only one picture of Donald, a framed 1986 cover of Fortune. That was just before ''The Art of the Deal,'' just before Donald became a household name. Just before it became clear that Donald had eclipsed his father's noble achievement forever. They say that when pictures were taken of father and son, Fred would rise just a little on his toes -- so he would look taller.” He was married to Mary Anne for 64 years and suffered from Alzheimer’s disease before his death.

Mary Anne MacLeod Trump was the “mainstay” of the Women’s Auxiliary of Jamaica Hospital. She and her husband were also active in the Salvation Army, the Boy Scouts of America and the Lighthouse for the Blind. They also gave buildings to the National Kidney Foundation of New York and to Community Mainstreaming Associates of Great Neck, New York, which provides homes for the disabled. She spoke perfect Gaelic and returned frequently to the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides as did other members of the family.

Mary Anne Trump, born at Tong, died at the age of 88 on August 7, 2000. Her husband had died the year before. Her funeral was at the Marble Collegiate Church in New York. She was described as a philanthropist who supported charities near her home in Queens and elsewhere. Her obituary said she was survived by these children: Robert, president of his father’s property management company, Maryanne, a Third Circuit Court of Appeals judge, Elizabeth, a Chase Manhattan Bank executive, and Donald John Trump.

Wayne Rethford, President Emeritus
Illinois Saint Andrew Society

Upcoming Events

August 5: I will be speaking to the senior’s group at the Palos Park Presbyterian Church.

September 12: The History Club will resume meeting. Our speaker will be Dr. James E. Davis, now retired and living in Michigan. He is the former William and Charlotte Gardner Professor of History and Professor of Geography at Illinois College. His latest book is Frontier Illinois.