Monday, December 27, 2010

Extract Entry of Birth

James has left a new comment on your post "I have an "Extract Entry of Birth""

I responded to your post, but it never appeared on the blog, so I'm trying again. I found a birth certificate with the following information: Jean Martin - born April 11, 1893. "Extract Entry of Birth, under the 37th Sect of 17 and 18 Vict. Cap. 80" Also "Extracted from the Register Book of Births from the Parish of Re??fr??" It could be Rushen, but it looked more like Reilfren.... Also there is a listing "Baptised in Patrick Parish Church May 14, 1893." Connecting all the dots it looked like this all occurred in the Isle of Man, but I could find no reference to any "Martins" on any of the registries I explored. Again, I appreciate any insights you might provide....

P.S. To answer your question (which I did in my initial response back on the 24th), I grew up in Buffalo, New York, where my grandmother and grandfather (Ernest W. Olliver) moved in 1915 or thereabouts, but I now live in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Statues of Poet Robert Burns,the Drumhead Quarry & Camperdown, Australia

(I find two versions of the spelling for the portrait painter: Alexander Nasmyth and Alexander Naysmith. Not sure which is correct. Can someone in Scotland help me?)

By some accounts the United States has 13 statues of Robert Burns. In our January History Club meeting we will look at six of these statues: New York City; Albany, New York, Barre, Vermont; Denver, Colorado, Chicago, Illinois and San Francisco. The oldest is in Central Park, New York City, which was unveiled October 3, 1880. The Chicago statue is located in Garfield Park and was unveiled on August 25, 1906. The full story can be found in The Scots of Chicago beginning on page 56.

America does not have the honor of being first to erect a statue and perhaps neither does Scotland. That honor may go to Australia. Robert Burns had a friend by the name of Peter Taylor who lived in Edinburgh and painted houses and coaches. Apparently, Burns did sit for him and Taylor painted his portrait. This happened in 1786. If we accept Taylor as a portrait painter then this may be the best image we have of Burns.

The image we most often see is the one painted by Alexander Nasmyth in 1787. It hangs in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. Robert Burns was 28 at the time. Nasmyth was actually a landscape painter and we don’t know how good he was at painting portraits. Some believe that the painting by Peter Taylor “may be the closest likeness.” I am sure there are others who believe that Nasmyth is more accurate.

John Greenshields (1792-1835) was a sculptor who began as an apprentice stone mason and worked as a quarrier, hewer and builder before working with the mason and sculptor, Robert Forrest in 1822. His studio was at Broomhill, Clydeside Scotland. He designed the first public monument to Sir Walter Scott in George Square, but died before its final completion.

Sir Walter Scott knew Greenshields and had on several occasions visited his studio. In 1831, he saw a statue of Robert Burns and wrote: “in a sitting posture, which, all the circumstances considered, must be allowed to be a very wonderful performance.” Scott became “an important patron and admirer of Greenshields.” The statue carved by Greenshields may be the only one based on the portrait by Peter Taylor. All others are based on the likeness drawn by Alexander Nasmyth.

The statue seen by Scott in his visit to the studio of John Greenshields is thought to be the oldest one of Robert Burns that has survived. According to the British Geological Survey web site, the statue was commissioned by William Taylor of Leith between 1826 and 1830. William Taylor’s son Peter emigrated to Australia in 1876 and had the statue shipped in 1882. They indicate that it was “the only painting created when Burns was actually present.”

The citation on the statue reads: ” Burns, from an original painting by his friend, Peter Taylor, Edinburgh 1786. By John Greenshields, sculptor, Edinburgh, 1830. Presented to the public park by W. A. Taylor, Esq. Camperdown, 1883.”

Peter Taylor donated the statue to the town of Camperdown before his death. For 150 years it has occupied a small corner in the botanical gardens where it has been vandalized. “The nose is broken off, the eye socket damaged and parts of the hat brim missing.” The statue and the story were recently discovered by Gordon Ashley an Australian writer and historian. He is now fighting to save the statue. It has been removed from the gardens to a protected area and he would like the statue brought back to Scotland for repairs.

Apparently neither government has the money to ship the statue back to Scotland, so a search was started to find matching stone in Scotland. The British Geological Survey did some “stone-type fingerprinting and decided that the quarry Drumhead near Denny, Scotland “still contains exposures of rock which is of good quality and suitable for repairs.

In my Blog of November 22, 2010 (, I made comments about this story from a BBC news article. Of course, I had no idea where the Drumhead Quarry was located, so I asked for help. In less than 24 hours the owner, Tish Graham, contacted me through the Internet. She and her husband own the Quarry! They are donating the stone and by now it should be on its way to Australia. If you would like to follow this story, they have a facebook page for Drumhead Quarry. I am a follower and enjoy the information.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

What Happened to the President's Pin? 1909

The John O'Groat's Caithness Association of Chicago, composed of natives of Caithness, Scotland, has just been presented with a handsome silver and gold medal by James Dunnett, the first president, now a resident of Edinburgh. The design is Scottish, thistles being a principal decoration.  Between the medallion and the pin is a Sinclair tartan ribbon, with a cluster of three thistles just below.  In the center of the medallion is a coat of arms in gold, showing a rooster perched on a branch.  The motto, "Commit Thy Work to God," surrounds the bird.

On the reverse side appears the following inscription:  "Presented by James Dunnett, first president of the association, to be worn by the president elect while in office.  Edinburgh, May 17, 1909."

(The article appeared in the Chicago Daily Tribune, July 28, 1909.  The Cathness Association of Chicago was once vibrant and active.  It is unclear when it ceased to function or what happened to all its records and especially the beautiful pin.  Some day it may show up on E-bay!)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Chicago, the Robert Burns statue and the death of Luke Grant - 1931

I have been researching the statues of Robert Burns in the United States in preparation for our next History Club meeting on January 8, 2011.  In the process I have found other stories of interest.  This is one of them:

The date is January 25, 1931, and in Chicago, Luke Grant, a very prominent member of the Illinois St. Andrews Society, has died.  There is not much information about Mr. Grant in my files, but he evidently was well liked by other members and friends.  Eleven men decided to honor Luke Grant and also celebrate the 172nd birthday of Robert Burns at the same time.

They journeyed to the Burns statue "and laid a wreath at the foot of the statue in Garfield Park.  John T. Cunningham, who presided at the ceremonies explained that the event was a memorial to Luke Grant, a member of the Society and former publicity representative of the North Shore lines and the Chicago Rapid Transit lines, who died a short while ago."

In the Chicago Daily Tribune there is a picture of the statue, the wreath, and the eleven men.  They are John T. Cunningham, Robert Falconer, Robert Eadie, Robert W. Hall, Donald Fraser, Robert Black, Samuel Hutcheson, Thomas Catto, John F. Holmes, Dr. W. F. Dickson, and William Lister.

I know about Cunningham, Black, Hutcheson, Dickson and Lister.  These men would all serve as Presidents of the Society and there is a file on each of them.  There is little or no information on the others.

If,  perchance, some distant relative searching the Internet some day finds this site would you please contact me?

The 1888 Celebration of Robert Burns in Chicago

The Scots of Chicago have always celebrated the birthday of Robert Burns. The first celebration was a giant parade in 1858.  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."

"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 moments 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 every held in the city."

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Grand Central Station and The Campbell Apartment. Once the impressive office of John W. Campbell

Grand Central Station in New York City has always been one of my favorite places. Perhaps because it was the first place I saw in New York as a very, very, young sailor in World War II. The size of the building with its great open space and that wonderful clock in the middle was overwhelming for a kid from Oklahoma who had never been any place. At that time the Campbell Apartment was a storage room where security police stored their guns.

I have returned numerous times and I always visit Grand Central Station. The most poignant visit was a few days after 9/11 and they had turned Vanderbilt Hall into a memorial for the dead and missing. Thousands of letters, notes, pictures and flowers adorned the walls of that great Hall. The Campbell Apartment was open by this time.

The Campbell Apartment is an upscale bar tucked away in the south-west corner of Grand Central Station. It is a single room 60.x 30 with a 25-foot ceiling. There is a massive fireplace at one end which contains a steel safe.

Once, the entire floor was covered with a Persian carpet worth 3.5 million. There was also a pipe organ and a fine piano. The tables and chairs were 13th century Italian. There were flowering vases, fine statuary, rare books, petrified wood and uncut precious stones. An art collection worth a million dollars adorned the walls. It was the actual office of Mr. Campbell.

In 1920, at the age of 40, “he married the former Rosalind D. Casanave, nicknamed Princess, who was once listed in the New York times as a ‘patroness’ of a Monte Carlo party at the Westchester Country Club.” Mr. & Mrs. Campbell turned the office into a reception hall at night and there entertained 50-60 of their closest friends They actually lived a few blocks away at 270 Park Avenue. The office contained a pantry and kitchen with a permanent butler named Stackhouse.

Who was John W. Campbell? The man who conducted business during the day behind a massive desk never attended college. At the age of 18, he started working with his father who owned a business called the Credit Clearing House. We know the company today as Dun & Bradstreet. He must have been a Scot with a name like Campbell, but I do not know that for sure. Perhaps someone can help with this.

The bar is presently owned by Mark C. Grossich but no one knows what happened to all the valuable possessions that once resided in the Campbell Apartment. John W. Campbell died in 1957.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Samuel Insull and His Association with Thomas Alva Edison and the Scots of Chicago

Whenever prominent people would visit the home of Thomas Alva Edison in Florida, they were always encouraged to bring a stone with their name on it.  He used the stones to make a walkway which you can still see today.  The very first stone in the walkway has the name of Samuel Insull written on it.  Insull at the age of 22 became the personal secretary of Mr. Edison and later the vice-president of Edison General Electric Company in Schenectady, New York.  He was sent to Chicago in 1892 and became president of the Chicago Edison Company which is now known as Commonwealth Edison.  He was often listed among the donors to our St. Andrews Society and often appeared at the St. Andrews Day celebrations.

In 1922, he donated the land on which the British Home in Brookfield, Illinois, was built.  Commonwealth Edison failed during the Great Depression and in 1932, Samuel Insull was indicted on charges of bankruptcy, embezzlement and using the mails to defraud.  He was acquitted on all charges,  However, the public was so angry that Mr. Insull returned to France where he had been living.  He died of a heart attack in a Paris subway on July 16, 1938.  The last of the Insulls died on May 17, 1997, with the passing of Samuel Insull III, the grandson of Samuel Insull.

Members of the family are buried at Graceland in Chicago.  There is even a headstone carved with the name of Samuel Insull, however, it appears he was buried overseas.  I am not sure that Samuel Insull was a Scot, but he sure associated with them and was friends with many Scots during his lifetime.  He was unfortunately blamed for something that could not have been avoided.

I have visited the home of Thomas Edison several times and once the Guide referred to Mr. Edison as being English, so I asked her about this statement.  However, she wasn't very interested in talking about his Scottish roots.  It is sufficient to say that Thomas Alva Edison is a proud member of the Scottish American Hall of Fame.

Friday, November 26, 2010

George William Curtis Dedicates the Robert Burns Statue in Central Park

George William Curtis:  Here are some of his comments at the dedication in Central Park, New York City, on October 2, 1880

"Until we know why the rose is sweet, or the dewdrop pure, or the rainbow beautiful, we cannot know why the poet is the best benefactor of humanity. Whether because he reveals us to ourselves or because he touches the soul with the fevor of divine aspiration, whether because in a world of sordid and restless anxiety he fill us with serene joy, or puts into rhythmic and permanent form the best thoughts and hopes of man - who shall say?  How the faith of Christendom has been stayed for centuries upon the mighty words of the old Hebrew bards and prophets, and how the vast and inexpressible mystery of divine love and power and purpose has been best breathed in parable and poem!

"The poet's genius is an unconscious but sweet and elevated in our national life.  It is not a power dramatic, obvious, imposing, immediate, like that of the statesman, the warrior, and the inventor, but it is as deep and strong and abiding .  The soldier fights for his native land, but the poet touches that land with a charm that makes it worth fighting for and fires the warrior's heart with the fierce energy that makes his blow invincible.  The statesman enlarges and orders liberty in the states, but the poet fosters the love of liberty in the heart of the citizen. The inventor multiples the facilities of life, but the poet makes life better worth living.

"Robert Burns transfigured the country of his birth and love.  Every bird and flower, every hill and dale and river whispers and repeats his name.  When he died there was not a Scotchman who was not proud of being a Scotchman.  But he, as all great poets, as they turn to music the emotions common to humanity passed from the exclusive love of his own country into the reverence of the world."

Statutes to Robert Burns in U.S. - 13 in all.

Here is the list so far:

New York City - Central Park - unveiled October 3, 1880

Albany, New York - unveiled September 30, 1888

Barre, Vermont - unveiled July 24, 1899

Denver, Colorado - unveiled July 4, 1904

Chicago, Illinois - unveiled September 26, 1906

San Francisco, California - unveiled February 22, 1908

Milwaukee, Wisconsin - unveiled June 26, 1909

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania - unveiled October 27, 1914

Boston, Massachusetts - unveiled January 1, 1920

Detroit, Michigan - unveiled July 23, 1921

Cheyenne, Wyoming - unveiled December, 1921

St. Louis, Missouri - unveiled June 2, 1928

Jacksonville, Florida - unveiled 1930

Information about the statute in Jacksonville, Florida, is difficult to find. Any of our Florida readers know the history? If so, please let me know.

The statute in St. Louis, Missouri has recently been fully restored.

I also have pictures and the story of a recent memorial to Robert Burns in Houston, Texas. It does not appear to meet the definition of a statue, but is more of a memorial. However, it is very impressive and the most recent that I know about.

Does anyone have documentation that each Carnegie Library was to contain a bust of Robert Burns? Several of the libraries that I have visited in Illinois do have a bust, but some don’t.

If anyone has actual documentation please let me know.

If I am missing any city in the above list, please send an email to

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Old Monroe Street in Chicago, Illinois. Published in 1914

Several years ago in Naples, Florida, I bought a used book entitled Old Monroe Street published by Central Trust Company of Illinois in 1914. The bank was located at 125 West Monroe Street. The book describes the street from “the river to the lake” listing the history of various buildings and the companies that occupied them.

A map of Chicago dated 1830 shows the village clustered around the old Fort Dearborn. Monroe was then in the country. Originally, the street was located in what was known as a School Section. Section No. 16 in every township was given to the State for the use of schools. In 1833, in order to raise money for schools the 140 blocks (640 acres) was auctioned off for a total of $38,619.47 or an average of $6.72 an acre.

When Chicago was incorporated as a town, Monroe street was not within the original limits. Chicago was incorporated on March 4, 1837. Later the following ordinance was passed: “That the first street in said town, south of Washington Street, be named Madison Street; the second street shall be named Monroe Street; the third shall be named Adams Street and the fourth shall be named Jackson Street.” And, so it remains.

This is part of the listings in 1855:
Mrs. Hendee - Boarding House
Dr. Thos. Bryan
J.A. Kent - Perfumer
Elizabeth Brock - Boarding House
Thomas Milner - Builder
Wm. Goldie - Manufacturer of sashes, doors and blinds - 216 Monroe, besides the gas works.
Miss S.A. Heath, Select School at 186 Monroe.

“Across the alley, east of State Street lived a clairvoyant. The only information which we have been able to definitely establish about her, from reliable witnesses (men) is that she was good-looking!”

The Sinai Congregation built their first temple on the north side of Monroe Street, just east of LaSalle Street. It was about 50 feet wide and 80 feet deep. The building was dedicated on June 21, 1861. The congregation later moved to Grand Boulevard and 46th Street.  Wonder if that building is still there?

The post office was at Dearborn and Monroe (1860s) on the northwest corner. Congress appropriated in 1855 a total of $84,000 for the building. When it was finished in 1860, the cost had risen to $243,000. Sounds familiar! The building was destroyed in the Great Fire, 1871.

At #65-9 on the north side was Campbell, McNellis & Campbell, linens; and Illinois Soap Stone Stove Co. Saloon in the basement. Sounds like a Scottish thing.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Presbyterians/RobertBurns/A Scottish Quarry at Drumhead and Some of My Reseach for 2011.

I have begun working on a couple of future projects and this may influence my blog for next few weeks. The next meeting of the History Club will be on January 8, 2011. We don’t meet in December but the St. Andrews Society does have its AGM on December 12, 2010, beginning at 3 p.m.

On February 12, 2011, I have been asked to speak at the First Presbyterian church in Wheaton, Illinois. The subject is the Scottish/Presbyterian contribution to American Democracy and Freedom. Not sure how I can cover that subject in just one night, but I will be sharing some of my research on the blog. The Woodrow Wilson story was the first research on this subject.

Usually in January, we try to do something about Robert Burns. Not sure what it will be at the moment, but we might take a look at all the monuments to Burns in the United States. There are great stories surrounding some of those monuments.

Last August, the BBC News ran a story about a Burns statue in Victoria, Australia. “The sculpture carved by John Greenshields in 1826 was shipped to Australia in the 1850s.” Apparently, the statue had been in poor condition for quite some time even though some restoration work had been done “using inappropriate stone and techniques.”

The closest match to the stone was found at the Drumhead Quarry in Denny, Stirlingshire, Scotland. The quarry was not operational so permission had to be obtained in order to reopen the quarry. A “planning permission” had been submitted as of August 26, 2010. Can someone tell me if the quarry has reopened? If Scotland is anything like America it will be years before permission can be obtained. Must have an environmental impact study first!

Dr. Ewan Hyslop said: “In comparison to other sandstones currently quarried throughout the UK, the Drumhead sandstone ranks as one of the higher quality stone types.” He said it was also a good match for many of the historic buildings in Falkirk, Stirling, Linlithgow, Glasgow and Kilmarnock.

Now the question is: Did they get permission to open the quarry and was the statue in the Botanical Gardens in Camperdown repaired?

We do have readers in Australia, so can someone let us know what happened? Did “the oldest existing statue of Robert Burns” get restored or not?

The cost of restoration was around 60,000 pounds and needed to be raised though public donations.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

President Woodrow Wilson - "Every line of strength in American history is a line colored with Scottish blood."

Thomas Woodrow Wilson was born in Staunton, Virginia to parents “of a predominantly Scottish heritage. His father was a Presbyterian minister and his mother the daughter of Presbyterian ministers. “He was raised in a pious and academic household.” He has a baccalaureate degree from Princeton University in 1879.

He taught at Princeton and later became President of Princeton. From there, he ran for Governor of New Jersey in 1911 where he gained national attention as a reformer. As President, he continued as a reformer. In 1913, he signed into law the Federal Income Tax Act and the Federal Reserve Act. In addition, he set up the Federal Trade Commission.

When World War I came, Wilson tried to keep America out of the war. On January 31, 1917, Germany announced that unrestricted submarine warfare would begin immediately. After four American ships were lost, Wilson asked for a declaration of war.

He insisted that the League of Nations was an essential part of the peace settlement. “But the demands of the victors at the expense of the defeated and political opposition at home were more than he could cope with.” After giving a speech in Pueblo, Colorado on September 25, 1919, he collapsed and later suffered a cerebral hemorrhage.

He was left an invalid but completed the remaining seventeen months of his term and then lived in retirement for three more years. Wilson was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1920. He died in his sleep on Washington on February 3, 1924.

In 1885, he married Ellen Louise Axson. They had three daughters. He was one of only three presidents to be widowed while in office. He took daily automobile rides with the top down. His favorite care was a 1919 Pierce-Arrow, car is on display in his hometown of Staunton, Virginia. He was also a fan of baseball and became the first President to throw out the first ball at a World Series game. He was also a golfer, but perhaps not very good. While in office, he played 1,000 rounds of golf or “almost one every other day.” In the winter months, the Secret Service painted the balls black.

Here is his quotation that has been widely circulated in the Scottish community:

“Every line of strength in American history is a line colored with Scottish blood”

Friday, November 19, 2010

President Theodore Roosevelt, Scottish On His Mother's Side

Theodore Roosevelt became President of the U. S. In 1901 with the murder of President McKinley. He served two terms. Roosevelt was Dutch on his father’s side but was Scottish on his mother’s side. His mother was descended from James Bulloch, born in Scotland about 1701 who emigrated to Charleston in 1728. George A. Bulloch was the first governor of Georgia after the Revolutionary War. His mother Martha Bulloch was a Southern bell from a slave-owning family and maintained her Confederate sympathies.

President Roosevelt is best known for leading the Rough Riders in the Spanish-American War.

He was Governor of New York and was then elected Vice-President. When McKinley was killed in 1901, he succeeded to the P:residency. From his grandparents’ home in New York, he witnessed the funeral possession of Abraham Lincoln. His brother, Elliot became the father of Eleanor Roosevelt and Franklin D. Roosevelt was her fathers’ fifth cousin.

Theodore Roosevelt’s administration had an aggressive foreign policy, In 1903, he acquired the Canal Zone and began to direct the building of the Panama Canal. He also increased the power of the Office and attacked big business trusts. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1906 for his efforts to promote world peace.

Roosevelt was a naturalist, hunter, author, soldier and explorer. At the age of 42, he was, and still is, the youngest to serve in our Highest Office.. Up to his time, he was the most traveled President of all time. Not so today. He ran again for President but lost to Woodrow Wilson.

He was the first President seen riding in an automobile. The police rode bicycles as protection. He also signed the proclamation establishing Oklahoma as the 46th stat of the Union.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Colonel R. Biddle Roberts - A Important Man Lost in History. Fighter, Veteran, Lawyer, A Man of Integrity

There is much we don’t know about this man who was president of the Illinois St. Andrews Society in 1882. We don’t know his Scottish heritage except that he had one. There are no Society records available for 1882 but the newspaper does record two events. An “annual charity ball and banquet” was held March 10, 1882, at the Sherman House hotel. Two hundred people attended. There was a reception, followed by dancing, led by Pound’s orchestra. At 11 p.m. they ate an “excellent supper. After supper, the dance was resumed and kept up until a late hour.” Obviously, ladies attended this event, but apparently not the next event.

“The thirty-seventh annual banquet of the Illinois St. Andrew’s Society was held at the Sherman House” November 29, 1882. Three hundred people attended an opening reception and at 8:30 were invited into the dining room of the hotel. The room was decorated with banners, flags and portraits of Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott. After dinner there were seven speeches and toasts. (Wonder what happened to the portraits?)

We know that Colonel R. Biddle Roberts was born, August 25, 1825 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He died on January 10, 1886 at the Sherman House hotel in Chicago. He had suffered from kidney trouble for many years.

His grandfather, Judge Roberts, was a noted man in Western Pennsylvania and is said to have been the first person to cross the Alleghenies in a carriage. His father, Edward J. Roberts was also a lawyer and for many years clerk of the United States Court in Pittsburgh.

R. Biddle Roberts was also trained as a lawyer and in 1857, President Buchanan appointed him U.S. District Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania. When the Civil War began, he volunteered and became part of the Thirty-Second Volunteers of Pennsylvania.

He fought in the Peninsular Campaign under George McClellan and was in the battles of South Mountain and Antietam. He was commended for gallant conduct at the Charles City Cross-Roads. He commanded a brigade where all the senior officers were killed, wounded, or captured. It is unclear exactly when he came to Chicago, but by 1880, he had formed a partnership with Frank J. Loesch. He represented a number of railroads including the Pennsylvania Railroad company.

He served as President of the Bar Association and was described “as an eloquent speaker and a great favorite with judges and lawyers. He was noted for his integrity.” His wife, who survived him, was a Miss Mary Anderson, a relative of Robert Emmet.

There was no funeral services in Chicago since his body was taken to Pittsburgh for burial. No records of what happened to his wife, nor do we even know his full name.

I post this in the hope that some family member will respond and give us more information.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

How to Care for 100,000 people after the Great Fire. Here is Housing.

The fire left 100,000 people homeless. How do you care for this many people? First, free passage was offered to anyone who wanted to leave Chicago and train after train was filled with people going to other cities. It is estimated that on Monday and Tuesday some 30,000 individuals left the city. Public education was cancelled for the year and every remaining school was a refuge for the homeless. Vacant buildings were used and temporary buildings were constructed.

On the parries west of town many of the homeless built temporary shelters of the “roughest kind.” These were mostly day-laborers and the poor of the city who, in the long run, were the “greatest sufferers of the fire.” The churches also became the temporary home of many, especially for those sick and injured.

It was decided to build barracks for some and simple homes for others. The cottages would be simple but comfortable.However, the skilled workmen had lost their tools in the fire and this became a major problem.
The houses would be of two sizes: one 20x16 for families of more than three persons; the other 12x16 for families of three. “The floor joists were of 2x6 inches, covered with a flooring of planed and matched boards; the studding was of 2x4 inches, covered with inch boards and battened on the outside or with planed and matched flooring; the inside walls were lined with thick felt paper; and each house had a double iron chimney, two four-paneled doors, three windows, and a partition to be put up where the occupant pleased. Many of the houses were afterward shingled, painted and plastered. The cost without furnishings was about one hundred dollars. So far, I have been unable to obtain any locations for these dwellings.

Between October 18, 1871 and May 1, 1873, the Shelter Committee built 7,988 houses for more than thirty-nine thousand people. “Of the houses built, 5,226 were constructed within a month from the time the committee commenced work.”

Besides these houses there were four barracks in different parts of the city, each one accommodating twelve hundred and fifty persons. “Each family in these barracks had two rooms furnished the same as the isolated homes.” Each community had medical and police supervision.

Can you imagine they did all of this without any aid from what they called the Central Government. In fact, they only asked the government to lift all restrictions, like Tarriffs, and then stand aside.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Rev David Sweet & some of his writings about the Great Fire.

The Reverend David Sweet was the pastor of the Fourth Presbyterian church in 1871. He wrote a dramatic account of the Great Fire and its impact on his family. Here is a part of what he wrote.  David Sweet is buried at Rosehill in Chicago.  He is on my list of Scottish Americans

“It must have been ten o’clock Monday morning when the flames had come so near as to make it necessary for us to move on, and for the LaSalle avenue people to join the exodus. It was not necessary to run, or even to walk rapidly. It was necessary only to work toward the open fields outside the limits of the city. At no point was there a crowd or a panic, for the fire being in the center of the city the victims could at many points pass into the long circumference. In our line of retreat there were not more than ten thousand persons; and these were spread out through many squares (blocks), reaching out toward the west. Each wagon, each wheelbarrow , each family had plenty of room. My little family impressed an abandoned handcart into service, and with our living and inanimate plunder placed in this little two-wheeled affair we moved along in a manner more comfortable even if not more elegant. A man driving a fine team and having a great truck-load of valuable goods, looked down upon us with not a little air of better consciousness, but when we informed him that his load was ablaze in the rear of the big mountain his vanity passed away, and he hastily unhitched his horses, and left all else to become a bonfire in the street. The dresses of many women and children took fire, but there were many eyes watching, and many hands ready, so that personal injuries were rare. Late in the afternoon our group reached an open field. It had been recently plowed. It contained nothing which could be burned. It offered us the one thing most needed - rest and security. Here we encamped and sat down with faces toward a mass of smoke and fire now four or five miles in breadth.”

Monday, November 15, 2010

Turlington Walker Harvey, A Great Man Who Established the Town of Harvey, Illinois

I have been reading about events after the Great Fire of 1871. How did Chicago care for 100,000 people who were without housing, food, water and medical care? One of the men who played a prominent role in that effort was Turlington Walker Harvey.

Mr. Walker was born in Siloam, New York, March 10, 1835. His mother, Paulina Walker was of Scottish heritage. Both parents were active in the Presbyterian church. At 19, he came to Chicago with one large copper penny. He found work his first day for a sash and door company. Later, he was employed by Abbott & Kingman and, when Mr. Abbott went down on the Lady Elgin, the company was reformed.

The Civil War brought increasing business. His first mill built in 1865 burned and he moved to 22nd and Morgan. He then built the first really fire-proof building up to that time. By 1883, his business reached the enormous figure of 140 million feet. His own boats brought the lumber to Chicago and he was the first to build small gauge railroads to reach the lumber.

In 1883, he organized the T. W. Harvey Lumber Company, putting a million dollars into the company. He owned companies that operated 90 lumberyards in the west.

Mr. Harvey was a member of the Chicago Relief and Aid Society and helped distribute $10 million sent to Chicago. He was in charge of housing which we deal with later. For six months after the fire, he was never in his office but worked for the Relief Society from their offices at 13th and Michigan. His dedication, knowledge and ability was indispensable in providing housing for the people after the fire.

His first wife died and he was left to care for four small children. A second marriage produced seven children. He was an intimate friend of Dwight L. Moody who conducted services at Camp Douglas for the southern soldiers. He “was one of the first to import Aberdeen Angus Cattle from Scotland.”

He established the town of Harvey, Illinois, which was a temperance town. There he built the Harvey Steel Car Company Works in 1892, the first steel freight cars adopted by the railroads.

His favorite poet was Robert Burns. He owned a large stock farm in Eastern Nebraska, at Turlington. Mr. Harvey is buried at Graceland cemetery in Chicago, Illinois.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Joseph Medill, Editor, Chicago Mayor and Advisor to President Lincoln

Joseph Medill is a member of the Scottish American Hall of Fame located in North Riverside, Illinois (USA).
Here is what James Thomson wrote about his life:

Commenting on his death in 1899, a competitive Chicago newspaper said of Chicago Tribune editor Joseph Medill, "No man of his time exercised a more decisive - or on the whole - a more beneficial influence on public affairs as Mr. Medill." As editor of the fledgling Chicago Tribune, Joseph Medill gave the newspaper character and set it on the path to success. He served as mayor of Chicago just after the fire of 1871, instituting the reforms that still endure. He was confidant and adviser to Abraham Lincoln.  And as editor and delegate, he had wide influence in shaping the Illinois Constitution of 1870.

Two Presidents offered him cabinet posts but he turned them down.  He was one of the founders of the Republican party and instrumental in selecting the name.

Joseph Medill was born April 6, 1823, near St. John, New Brunswick, Canada.  His parents were Scots Presbyterians who emigrated from Ulster in 1819.  The family moved to Ohio when Joseph was 9.  He studied law and was admitted to the Ohio bar but quickly turned to journalism.  He edited newspapers which he bought and sold until 1855 when he moved to Chicago to become part owner of the Chicago Tribune.  From then on until his death, he was a major force in the newspaper's growth and influence as well as the city of Chicago. 

As an abolitionist, Medill effectively rallied Midwest public opinion against slavery.  Medill actively supported Lincoln during his rise to prominence, became his adviser, and urged him to issue the Emancipation Proclamation.

He worked until the day he died in a San Antonio, Texas hotel on March 16 1899.  Editorials he had written appeared in the Tribune two days after his death.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The World Series, My Dad and Old Faded Memories

The World Series each year bring thoughts of my Father. He was a kind and gentle man who loved to watch baseball on television. I always tried to be home for the Series so we could enjoy the games together. This year for the first time, I never saw a game. His team didn’t win anyhow.

My parents were born and raised in the foothills of the Ozarks, some 30 miles east of Springfield, Missouri. For my mother, Ola Jack, it was along Panther Creek in a log cabin built, I suspect, by her father. The foundation still remains and some flowers planted by my grandmother still bloom. At least that was true a few years ago. My father, Newton, was raised across the mountain, also in a log cabin, and they both attended New Hope school. Neither graduated from the tenth grade. I suspect they meet at school.

The closest town was Fordland, some 10 miles away and that is where I was born. My mother left our small log cabin and journeyed into town in a wagon where she stayed with friends until I was born, May 5, 1927. I think the house may still be standing but not sure.  I had an older brother, now dead, and I do not know the circumstances of his birth but I suspect they might be similar to mine.

I do remember living in that one room log cabin. There was a loft where my brother and I slept and there was a fireplace. I suspect we were fairly self-sufficient. There were chickens and a cow. The milk was placed in a jug, tied with a rope and placed in a nearby spring. My mother would churn for butter A garden for sure and my father would kill a squirrel each day for meat. He walked 5 miles each day and worked for one dollar. We had a squirrel-dog who accompanied my father and would tree the squirrels so my dad could shoot them. My brother David may still have his twenty-two rifle. My brother Lawrence and I had traps in the winter for whatever we could catch and the hides were then sold for a few pennies. Dad would often find a bee hive in a tree and he could get the honey without any kind of protection and not be stung.

We attended New Hope school, the same as our parents. It was a one-room building, painted white. There was a well for water, but no indoor plumbing. I have no recollection of any teaching or the name of the teacher. My father came once and built a desk for us and, he along with several other men came and cut down a large tree in the school yard. Beyond this, there is little recollection. The location of the school is somehow lost. There is a road named “The New Hope School” but none of the people living along the road knew of the school’s location. It appears to be lost in the hills and trees of the Ozarks.

I didn’t watch the World Series in 2010, but the game sure brought back a lot of memories.

More later.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans/Armistice Day - 2010 (my thoughts)

Its another beautiful day in the Chicago area.  I have spent part of the morning on my deck enjoying the sun and talking to my squirrels who came by for their peanuts. I did some thinking about Veterans Day and what it all means. Today, a family just to the south in Plainfield will bury their young son in the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery.  He died in Afganistan.  My prayers for them.

I read some from  The Price of Honor,  The World War One, Letters of Naval Aviator, Kenneth MacLeish.  It is a love story of 200 letters between Kenneth MacLeish and Priscilla Murdock. Both are now gone, but somewhere there is a daughter and perhaps grandchildren. Kenneth is buried in Flanders Field. Not sure about Priscilla. It’s a story that often settles on my mind.

I also thought about Don Penn. He flew a P-38 fighter in World War II. He survived and flew for American Airlines after the war. He died at the Scottish Home and I had the privilege of knowing him and saying a few words at his memorial service, also at the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery. He was large man with big hands and a smile and laugh to compliment his size. His casket flag is in the Scottish American Museum.

The Scotsman Newspaper today published an interesting story from World War II. As the Gordon Highlanders were being forced to retreat to Dunkirk, A young soldier buried the regimental side drum in a farmer’s field. He probably thought they would not survive and this would keep the drum from the enemy.  Within a few hours a policeman on his way home from the village of Hem stumbled across the hiding place. He planned to give the drum to his grandson, but because of German soldiers, the drum was hidden again at his daughters home. It lay forgetton for another 50 years. The daughter, Ms. Boulet, died and the family came to clean out the home. In a closet, buried under a stack of old clothes the drum was found. It was actually discovered by the grandson who was to get the drum in 1940 as a birthday present.

Tomorrow, the side drum, “emblazoned with the battle honours of the Gordon Highlanders” will be returned to Aberdeen, Scotland. It will proudly be displayed in the Gordon Highlanders museum.

My thanks and appreciation to all who have served.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Last Surviving Daughter of Mayor Mason is Dead in Scotland

If you have been reading these blogs, you will know that I am trying to find a link between Mayor Roswell Mason and a Scottish heritage. He is on my list of Scottish Americans but I don’t know where the information came from. I am hoping that some descendant will contact me with the answer.

It was interesting to note that one of the Mason’s daughters lived in Glasgow, Scotland. Why was she living there? Two obituaries supply part of the answer.

November 26, 1907

“William F. G. Anderson, managing director of the Anchor Line Steamship company, died on Sunday at his home in Glasgow, Scotland. Mr. Anderson married Miss Harriet H. Mason of Chicago, daughter of former Mayor Roswell B. Mason. Mrs. Anderson has lived in Glasgow since her marriage and was there at the time of her husband’s death.”

This obit appeared in 1921: “Daughter of Mayor Mason of Chicago Fire days is dead. Mrs. Harriet Hopkins Mason Anderson, the last surviving daughter of the late Roswell B. Mason, mayor of Chicago at the time of the big fire, died March 1 in Glasgow, Scotland, according to word received here yesterday.”

“In 1872 she married William F. G. Anderson of Glasgow, and made Glasgow her home until the time of her death. Mr. Anderson died in 1907. He was for many years one of the prominent ship owners in Scotland.”

“She is survived by two daughters, Marjorie M. and Winifred Anderson. The paper also carried a picture. I wonder if there are grandchildren still living in Glasgow.?

Mayor Roswell B Mason, His Death and Descendants

Mr. Mason died on January 1, 1892, at his residence No. 27 Delaware Place, at the age of 86. He had enjoyed excellent health until four weeks prior to his death. All of his family was present, except for a son who lived in New York City and a married daughter living in Glasgow, Scotland. In 1831, he had married Harriet Lavinia Hopkins and she had died on March 29, 1891.

They had moved to Chicago in 1851, when he was appointed Chef Engineer of the Illinois Central Railroad. He began surveying a line that would run 700 miles from Chicago to Urbana, Jonesboro, Vandalia, Bloomington, LaSalle and Freeport. Congress, after much delay, finally granted 2,600,000 acres to build the railroad which was completed in October 1856.

Mr. Mason was a very religious man and served as an elder in the Fourth Presbyterian Church and, for many years, he was a trustee of the McCormick Theological Seminary. The funeral, attended by more than 200 people, was held at his residence. The Rev. Dr. M. Woolseyh Stryker and the Rev. R. W. Patterson participated. The four sons and four grandsons were pallbearers. Internment was in Rosehill Cemetery.

Seven children survived: Mr. Henry G. Miller; Mrs. James H. Trowbridge; Edward G. Mason; Roswell H. Mason; Mrs. W.F.G. Anderson; Henry B. Mason and Alfred Bishop Mason.

The City Council passed a resolution which said in part: “In life his name was the synonym for firmness, official and private integrity, and in death he leaves a memory honored of all men and a name which is worthily and honorably borne by several sons who have distinguished themselves in their various avocations of life and are numbered among our most esteemed citizens.” City Hall was closed the day of the funeral from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

When his will was filed for probate, it showed personal property worth $28,016 and real estate worth $686,470. It was bequeathed equally among the seven children.

(There must be descendants still living in the Chicago area and I hope someone will contact me in the coming days, weeks or months.)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Roswell B. Mason, An Honest & Effective Mayor of Chicago

Roswell B. Mason was the mayor of Chicago when the Great Fire of 1871 befell the city. He was sixty-six years old and was completing a two-year term as mayor. As a teenager in his native state of New York, he had worked on the Erie Canal. In the late 1830s he moved to the railroad industry. Eventually, he became the chief engineer and superintendent of the New York and New Haven Railroad. In 1851, he moved to Illinois to supervise the construction of the Illinois Central Railroad and this became his most impressive achievement.

He ran for mayor of Chicago on the reform ticket as a counter to the corruption of the Common Council. Unafraid to act, he called on General Sheridan to keep the peace and guard the city. He then called on the Relief and Aid Society to administer the enormous contributions sent to help the city recover. (Perhaps his actions indicate some value in term limits. The mayor had one two-year term and only 2 months left to serve.)

The night of the fire, he reached his office in the courthouse at midnight. There he followed the progress of the fire, issued orders and sent telegrams asking for help. He was soon forced to flee and unable to return home by a direct route of going south, he was forced to go north and then head back south through the West Division. It took him three hours to reach his home in the South Division.

On Monday morning, with the city still burning, he called elected officials and prominent citizens to a meeting at the First Congregational Church in the West Division. The church became the temporary city hall. Here the mayor signed a series of executive orders that “established the price of bread, banned smoking, limited the hours of saloons and forbade wagon drivers from charging more than their normal rates.”

General Philip Sheridan, the Civil War hero now living in Chicago, was asked to ensure “preservation of the good order and peace of the city.” The Governor of Illinois was extremely unhappy with this decision but the citizens were very pleased to have the military presence. In addition to the military, some 500 citizens were delegated to stand armed watch in the various neighborhoods.

The Chicago Relief and Aid Society was composed of young professionals that included Marshall Field, George Pullman and Wirt Dexter. Their first act was to divide the city into districts and then to separate their work into different areas. The five areas were: contributions, shelter, employment, transportation and health. Each of these areas were then overseen by a different committee.

The Relief and Aid Society deserve a great deal of credit for resolving many of the problems faced by the citizens of Chicago. R. B. Mason was a very effective mayor during this critical period of recovery for the city.  He is on my list of people with a Scottish heritage, but I am not sure of the source.  Perhaps, someone can help me.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

D. F. Bremner - "Damn Fine Bread"

(At the Leadership Conference this past weekend, one of the presenters with a very talented young woman whose married name was Bremner.  That name was certainly familiar to me, so we are trying figure out if her husband is a descendant of Mr. Bremner the baker.  Here is some of the information I have.)

David Francis Bremner was born in Ottawa, Canada, June 30, 1839. He was the son of Robert and Rachel (Brooks) Bremner. They moved to Chicago in 1848. He attended the University of St. Mary’s of the Lake and in 1865 married Katherine, who was the daughter of James Michie of Lyons, Illinois.

In 1861, Mr. Bremner was a Second Lieutenant with the Highland Guards and was called to active duty immediately upon the start of the Civil War. After the 90 days enlistment the entire group enlisted for 3 years and became Company E, 19th Illinois Volunteers. At Missionary Ridge, David Bremner picked up the regimental flag and carried it over the entrenchment. Three bearers had already been shot down in quick succession. His overcoat was riddled with bullets. (I understand that this coat is in the Chicago History Museum although I have not seen it.)

After the war, he married and opened a bakery in Cairo, Illinois where he made crackers. At some point, probably before 1871, he moved to Chicago and opened a bakery. It is believed that his bakery escaped the Great Fire and thus was able to produce bread for the starving people. Each loaf of bread, using his initials, was inscribed “Damn Fine Bread.” The bakery was across the street from Foster school and the little kids would bring their lunch buckets by the bakery after school for the broken cookies. I suppose that would be illegal today.

His company merged with the National Biscuit Co., and he was a department manager and director until about 1906. Mr. Bremner served three years as a member of the Chicago Board of Education. He lived in LaGrange, Illinois at 37 N. Madison Ave., and his office was 226 W. Adams St. in Chicago.

Mr. Bremner was also an active member of the Illinois St. Andrew Society and served as an officer in 1872. I have yet to find an obituary. A book was written about the exploits of the 19th Illinois and it is called “The Nineteenth Illinois: A Memoir & Who Will Save the Left.” by Henry Haynie. I do not have a copy.

His wife Katherine Michie was the daughter of James Michie, the third president of our Society.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Standing Stone of James B. Forgan

James B. Forgan was born in St. Andrew, Scotland, April 11, 1852. He died October 28, 1924 in Chicago and is buried in Graceland cemetery. Around the age of 20 he moved to Canada and was employed by the Bank of British North America. In 1892, he came to Chicago and was elected vice president of the First National Bank. By 1900, he was president of the bank. Mr. Forgan was a member of the Fourth Presbyterian church in Chicago, and also president of the Illinois St. Andrew Society.

Just prior to his death, Mr. Forgan wrote his autobiography.  He gave the book and the proceeds to the St. Andrew Society.  We have one copy in the Scottish American Museum.  Recently a young friend of mine, lost his grandfather. I sent him this passage from Mr. Forgans’ book.  There are people in Scotland who often read this blog, so I am hoping that someone who knows the area will contact us.  We all leave "standing stones" so I wonder if this one can be found.  Here is what he wrote.

"I paid frequent visits to them (my grandparents)during my summer vacations, and my last visit, just before I left for Canada, is indelibly fixed in my memory. The only direct means of transportation then was a bus, which ran daily from Anstruther to St. Andrews each morning and returned in the last afternoon. The two miles between Anstruther and Pittenweem had to be walked. On returning from my last visit to them, my grandfather, a large, heavily built man, who had retired from business and was showing the effects of his advancing years, accompanied me on my morning walk from Pittenweem to catch the bus at Anstruther. He walked about three-fourth of the distance with me and suddenly stopped at a stone, which stood erect from the bottom to the top of a dike, built along the front of a field. He drew my attention to the standing stone, as he called it, and told me that if ever I passed that way again, I would remember that there is where I parted with my grandfather, that I would never see him again. Then he said: “Good-bye God bless you, Jamie”, and with that, being overcome with his feelings, he suddenly left me. My feelings were no less affected. He had been a kind grandfather to me, and I was very fond of him. I have visited Scotland six times since, and passed over the Anstruther and Pittenweem road, and on each occasion I stopped at the standing stone and recalled this affecting parting scene with my grandfather."

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Marcia is one of the followers of this blog and I would like to communicate with her.  However, I have been unable to use this site to do so.  I would like to join the Bremner blog, but I need permission.  If this is about the Bremner who was a baker in Chicago in 1871, please write me.  I believe some of his descendants presently live in Oak Park and Lake Forest.


Wayne Rethford

Scots Entertain Will Fyffe - May 12, 1929

Will Fyffe, who was a comedian and entertainer, had just closed a two weeks' engagement at the Palace in Chicago.  He was given a farewell dinner at the Brevoort hotel also in Chicago.  The group consisted of officers and members of the Illinois St. Andrew Society.  Among those present were:  Robert Black, William Lister, Luke Grant, Donald Fraser, William Cameron, Joseph Mills, John Faulds, Malcolm M. Davidson and Alexander McKenzie.  They found Mr. Fyffe as entertaining off the stage as he was when performing.   Mr. Fyffe stated that he had two more tours of the U.S.  and then planned to form his own company.  At that time, he hoped "to show his interest  in the Scottish Old People's Home in a more substantial manner.  He said the friendly reception he had been given by Chicago Scots had cheered and helped him immensely and he would not forget it."

(I know this will not be of interest to most of our readers, but placing this on the Internet might help find descendants of some of the people listed.)

May 6, 1929

The following gifts have been received at the Scottish Old People's Home and are gratefully acknowledge:

Four jars of marmalade from Mrs. John Gay and $10.00 from Miss Florence Coe for the purpose of making a pansy bed on the Home grounds.

                                                                          Cora J. Cummings,

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Epsy Smith born a slave became the nurse to Robert T. Lincoln

I have been trying to research a story about Mrs. Epsy Smith, or Epsy Arnsby Smith. She was brought from Kentucky to Illinois and given to Ninian Edwards who at the time was Governor of Illinois. Epsy was born a slave on a plantation near Shelbyville, Kentucky.

Later, she would became a housekeeping for the Lincoln family in Springfield, Illinois. She died in Chicago on May 9, 1892. There is no obituary or death notice and a trip to the Clerk’s office did not produce a death certificate.

I probably need to make a trip to the Lincoln Library in Springfield for more research. If everything goes as planned, I will be in Springfield on November 1 and 2, so perhaps I will have some free time.

Epsy Smith lived an eventful life and hardly anyone noticed when she died. At this point, I do not know her place of burial.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Some things never change: Treasurer of Chicago owes $500,000 back to the City in 1869

Just after the Civil War, David Gage, the treasurer of the City of Chicago purchased 1,600 acres of land on what now would be both sides of Harlem Avenue between Cermak Road and 26th Street. Later, he would sell a portion of the land "to the Riverside Improvement Co. for the development in 1869 of Riverside, IL. designed by Frederick Law Olmsted.  On the remaining portion, he built a horse racetrack that extended for half a mile, and he enjoyed the life of a country gentleman."  Upon leaving his post as treasurer, the City discovered that they were more than $500,000 in the red.  Mr. Gage surrendered his estate as settlement.  The land "through the years was used as a nursery for the city of Chicago, home to the Cook County Home for Boys, a tuberculosis sanitarium and then sold in 1964 to Concordia College.  The land is now the site of the North Riverside Park Mall.

North Riverside was incorporated in 1923 and consisted of 50 homes and 200 residents.  In the 1920s and '30s the area was used for making illegal whiskey, that is, until raided by the Feds.  In May, 1928, two carloads of gangsters ambushed the Chief of Police and two others as they drove down Des Plaines Avenue, north of the present Village Hall.  It is also reported that Al Capone is believed to have built Melody Mill on Des Plaines Avenue.  Melody Mill was a very famous dance hall with a skating rink in the basement.  The Village complex now occupies the site.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Hale and Hearty, but 85 Years Old - January 8, 1905

"Mrs. Jane Griffith, more than 85 years old, awoke yesterday morning feeling sprightly after having been entertained the night before at a large reception in honor of herself and eleven companions whose ages aggregate 900 years.  The reception was given at the Illinois Saint Andrew's Society Old People's home, 43 Bryant avenue, by the members of the society and their friends."

"I am just as young as I was when I came west in 1848", said Mrs. Griffith. "I wouldn't know from my feelings that a year had passed since then, but I only have to look around me to realize that I am pretty old.  When I settled in Dundee, Illinois, the farmers had to haul their wheat to Chicago."

The average age of the inmates of the home is more than 75 years."

(Chicago Daily Tribune, January 8, 1905.  Page 7)  There is also a picture of Mrs. Griffith.

This is all I know about Mrs. Griffith.  I place her story on the Internet in case some family member might be looking for her.  It would be nice to know the rest of her story.  If anyone knows, please contact me.

Donald Trump gets Honorary Degree from Scottish University

By BEN MCCONVILLE (AP) – 9 hours ago

EDINBURGH, Scotland — Donald Trump is to receive an honorary degree in business from a Scottish university on Friday despite protests from local residents who say his massive 750-million-pound ($1.2-billion) golf resort could force them out of their homes.

Critics at Robert Gordon University of Aberdeen argue that the U.S. reality star and property tycoon doesn't deserve the degree, but the university counters that students have much to learn from his business savvy.

Trump himself sounded upbeat about the award, telling reporters: "It's a great university, it's a great honor and a great place."

Local home owners claim Trump wants to force them to make room for his luxury resort, which features a five-star hotel, more than 1,000 homes and two golf courses and is expected to open in the summer of 2012.

David Kennedy, a former head of the university, argued that Trump ignored the local planning committee to build the golf resort near the residential Menie Estate north of Aberdeen.

"That is not the work of an honorable businessman," he said.

"The university should be bestowing honorary degrees to people who are honorable, respected for their contribution to society and most importantly a role model for the students. Donald Trump is none of these," he said.

Tripping Up Trump, the protest group opposing the development, collected an online petition with 6,500 signatures against the honorary degree in four days. Local resident Susan Munro presented the petition to the university on Wednesday.

"If I had one thing to say to Mr. Trump it would be 'go home,'" said the 57-year-old. "As for Robert Gordon University, it is all about the money, they are just after Mr. Trump's money."

Trump flew into Scotland after indicating he might run for president against Barack Obama. Trump walked the back nine holes of the golf course on Wednesday and said the first players would tee off in June or July 2012.

John Harper, Acting Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Robert Gordon University, said Trump is recognized as one of the world's top businessmen and students have much to learn from his acumen, drive and focus.

"Given that business and entrepreneurship lie at the heart of much of the university's academic offering, it is only fitting to award Mr. Trump with an honorary degree," he said in a statement.

Friday, October 1, 2010

I have an "Extract Entry of Birth"

I have a file of old letters found in boxes at the Scottish Home located in North Riverside, IL. (USA).  One is called "Extract Entry of Birth, Under 37th Sect. of 17 and 18 Vict. Cap. 80."  The date appears to be August 1, 1884.  The name of the baby is Inglis McHang.  The father is Henry I. McHang and is listed as a tailor.  There is an address that appears to be 69 Raeberry, Glasgow, Scotland.  The name of the mother is impossible to read.  The page is torn in half and has been repaired using something like scotch tape. 

It may be of interest to someone.  If so, please contact me.

Monday, September 27, 2010

John Hutchinson Powrie - The Son

John Hutchinson Powre was born in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin n 1875. Following in his father’s footsteps, he began working with color in lithography. He traveled to Germany and studied the color process in the early 1900's. He returned to the United States to advance his research in the laboratory of Thomas A. Edison until the destruction of the laboratory by fire in 1914. His first color patent was issued in 1906.

At first, he was interested in prints on glass for projection, but after working with Edison, he turned to the possibilities of colored film. The prints on glass were called lantern slides and became a way to illustrate using screen projection.

Thanks to Norman Nelson, we have 75 of the lantern slides made by John Powrie. They consist of pictures from Scotland and probably date from around the turn of the century. Lantern slide projectors are no longer available except in some museums. The lantern slides are now part of the Scottish American Museum and have been copied to computer dics. We will show some of those slides prior to our Scottish American History Club meeting on October 2, 2010. (

In 1926, the Warner Powrie color film process was patented. In May, 1928, John Powrie presented his color film to a national film makers convention in California. By 1930, the firm was incorporated and ready to make full-length movies, The Great Depression brought an end to those dreams. John Powrie died in Chicago about 1935 and is buried in Forest Home Cemetery in Forest Park, Illinois. A search of the Chicago Tribune did not produce an obiturary.

In Woodlawn Cemetery, New York City, there is a grave stone with his name on it, but he and his wife are buried in Forest Home. The cemetery is one mile north of the Scottish Home on Des Plaines Avenue.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Robert Hutchinson Powrie - The Father

Mr. Powrie was born July 27, 1842, in Kinnoull, Perthshire, Scotland.  His family came to Wisconsin when he was 13 and settled near Sussex, Waukesha County.  Five years later when he was 18, Robert Powrie enlisted in the Northern Army and soon became the first musician of the 5th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, Regimental Band (Company F).  He served the entire four years of the war and wrote some 50 letters describing his experiences at Antietam, Fredericksburg and the Wilderness.  He often sketched military men, including General Grant.  He once met President Lincoln.

Throughout the war he carved bone and wood, sketched  in charcoal and painted.  He built a fiddle and learned the bugle and several other instruments.  This would become his twin lifelong passions,  art and music. In 1866, he married Elizabeth Powrie, his cousin, and they settled in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, where Robert began a business as a monument sculptor.  He was naturally gifted as a sculptor and carved many exquisite monuments and tablets, including a monument for General John Gibbon which is at the Arlington National Cemetery.

He also executed tombstones for Fond du Lac's famous General Bragg and artist Mark Harrison. Both are located at Rienzi Cemetery. Many of his carvings are to be found in St. Paul's Cathedral and the First Presbyterian Church in Fond du Lac.  In the public library hall there is an oil painting of Abraham Lincoln and in the Circuit Court room a carved bust of General Edward S. Bragg.  He enjoyed art in all forms and began using glass slides made with a rudimentary camera.  This impressed his children, especially one son, John Hutchison Powrie.  More about him later.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Who Visits the Scottish-American Web site? Google Analytics provides the answer.

The Scottish-American History Club, a part of the Illinois St. Andrews Society in Chicago Illinois, maintains a web site at All of the work is a credit to Elaine Moore who donates her time. The Wayne Rethford blog can be reached from this site by pressing the blog button on the left side.

Who visits and how many is always an interesting question about web sites and blogs. Google Analytics keep track of our numbers and here are the latest results. The results can be broken down by day, week, month, or year.

For the web site,, 3,301 visits have been made since January 1, 2010. The name list had 1,291 visits, Events 341, and the History Club Newsletter 330. In total these 3,301 people read 6,679 pages.

The visits came from 66 countries, 2,400 from the United States. 324 from the United Kingdom; 143 from Canada, Australia 100, New Zealand 36, India 22 and France 13.

The Blog Site had 1,283 visits and these people read 2,337 pages. 96 came from United States, the United Kingdom had 165, Canada 36, Australia 11 and India 9. Visitors read the article about Philip Amour (85), Scottish Inventors (72), Patrick Valentine 50, and the Scottish Stone Cutters (34).

The blog has 23 followers and 239 have read the complete profile. The Blog contains 135 stories.

We have made contact with many interesting people as a result of the Web Site and Blog.

Monday, September 13, 2010

A Good Man is Dead and Will Be Greatly Missed

Forlow, John “Ian” Kelly  of Rockford, Illinois died September 8th on the way home from a trip to Bermuda. He was born in Rotten Row Hospital, Glasgow, Scotland to Alexander and Euphemia (Gilmour) Forlow. Known as Ian, he was the oldest of 3 children. He was educated at St John’s Primary and St John’s Senior Secondary School in Glasgow before continuing his studies at Glasgow University.

Ian was raised in incredibly modest circumstances. During his early years he shared a tenement flat with just 2 rooms in the Bridgeton area of Glasgow with his parents, sister Elma, brother Joe and a widowed aunt. During World War II he was evacuated from Glasgow after German bombing raids and he lived for a while on a farm. He managed to rise above his difficult surroundings, forged a successful career and raised a family. He rose through a mechanical engineering training program at Babcock & Wilcox in Glasgow and eventually moved with wife Betty and two small children in tow to Canada after accepting a position with Fruehauf and Co. From there he emigrated to Detroit in 1966, registered for the US draft and took a position with ExCellO Corp in Howell, MI where he eventually was appointed Chief of Engineering. In 1978 the family moved to Rockford when he accepted a management position at Greenlee Brothers. He eventually became President and part owner of Roper Whitney Manufacturing.

Ian accomplished much in his career and was awarded several patents, including one which involved work on the tooling required to cut the tiles which were affixed to the outside of the Space Shuttle. He was a volunteer for several years with AYSO and while he served as President of the Rockford Area AYSO he helped convince the Rockford Park District to build the new Sports Core Soccer Complex.

Ian enjoyed travel. Work and vacations took him to all corners of the world. He loved literature and could quote passages from the Bible as well as works of the poet Robert Burns. He was a music lover. As a boy he found time to teach himself to play the piano and guitar. He earned pocket money playing in a wedding band as a teenager.

Although he left his homeland many years ago and was proud to eventually become a US citizen, all who knew him will tell you that he was intensely proud to be a Scot.

Special thanks to Dr Lim, Dr Khan, Dr Ryan and all of the wonderful staff at OSF.

Survivors include wife Elizabeth “Betty”; son John (Kathy) of Deerfield, son David (Molly) of Lake Bluff, daughter Andrea of Chicago (fiancĂ© Brad) and 5 grandchildren: Kayleigh, Emma, Andrew, Ian and Liam as well as brother Joe and sister Elma. His grandchildren were his pride and joy, he loved to spend time with his family and attend the various activities of his children and grandchildren. He will be sorely missed by all.

Friday, September 3, 2010

My Trip to Washington, D.C. - Part 3

Sunday, August 29, was my last free day in Washington, D.C. Saturday was a long day, so I slept-in on Sunday morning. Breakfast was about 9:00 a.m. and I had time to plan the day. The Yellow Line which goes to Reagan National ends at Fort Totten and that stop is only two away from Silver Spring on the Red line. Since I will have a suitcase tomorrow, I decided to do a practice run to the airport. Getting on at the end of the line will give me several choices of seats where I can get the suitcase out of the way. I saw a number of people heading to Reagan National that obviously had attended the rally on Saturday. It was a beautiful day, so I watched the planes land and take-off for awhile.

One of the things I always do in Washington is to visit DuPont Circle. Don’t ask we why because I don’t know. It’s a tradition. So, I transferred to the Red Line only to learn that DuPoint Circle was closed because of a power failure. Soon, it was back to Union Station and the double deck bus out to Arlington. There is something inspiring about Arlington and those young men who guard the Tomb of the Unknowns. (I noted that Unknowns was plural in some of the documents. I wonder if that is the correct term?)

From Arlington, I go to the Vietnam Wall. Hundreds of people are now milling around the site. Off to the side a Pipe Band is practicing for some reason. I am finally able to find the McDonough name. Sp4 George Watson McDonough was the young son of my wife’s brother. He was 19 years of age. In the Vietnam War, West Virginia had the highest casualty rate in the nation, Oklahoma was second. Names are still being added as veterans die from war related causes. Not sure about the total number but one source said 58,195 names, including several women.

Back on the bus, I continued riding across the Potomac river to the Crystal City shopping center and then back to Washington and the Willard Hotel. I walk over to the White House again and stand around with a few hundred people. It’s Sunday, so we all think the President is probably playing golf. The Rally people are still very much in evidence.

Chinese food sounded good for today, so I walked to Chinatown and went to 541 H. St. This is the former home of Mary Surratt and is now a Chinese restaurant. Mary Surratt was hanged as one of the conspirators in the murder of President Lincoln. Mrs. Surratt had operated a boarding house at this location and it is believed that meetings took place here as John Wilkes Booth planned the assassination of the President.

The sweet and sour pork was excellent.

The Navy Memorial is not far away on 7th Ave., so I walk in that direction. Across the street is the Starbucks. I skiped the iced coffee with milk in favor of a small decalf. The Navy Memorial is a round ceremonial amphitheater paved in granite with fountains and a large map of the world. Many people had their lunch around the low walls, so I returned with my coffee to sit for an hour..

I have enjoyed being in Washington, D.C. It makes one feel good about the Country to see the great, historic buildings. At my age, I have to wonder if this will be my last trip to Washington.

However, I have a balance of $3.95 on my Metro farecard. It would be a shame to waste the money.

I finally got the Red Line at the Archives Station and head back to Silver Spring.

Tomorrow, I will be home.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

My Trip to Washington, D.C. - Part 2

Saturday was 8/28 and the Glenn Beck- sponsored rally known as Restoring Honor is to be held at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. My alarm goes off at 6:00 a.m. and shortly thereafter I was in the restaurant for breakfast. I planned to eat a large breakfast because there would be nothing to eat until late afternoon. From the buffet I took a little of everything including the biscuits and gravy. Lots of liquids because it was to be 95 degrees with very little shade.

Down the hill to the Metro and off at Union Station. My plan was to ride the double-decker bus to the Lincoln Memorial and thus avoid the two mile walk, but 7th Avenue was already closed and no buses or automobile traffic would be allowed past the Washington Monument. I asked about the fare from a cabbie and he said $15.00 for one. Standing nearby was two people from New Orleans also going to the Rally, so we each paid five dollars. But, the Washington Monument was as close as we could get.

Thousands were already streaming down the Mall and it was just eight a.m.. I continued walking toward the stage until there were more people coming back than going. The area around the Reflecting Pool was already full to overflowing. I decided to get close to one of the large viewing screens and that was among the trees on the left side of the Reflecting Pool. Everyone was talking to everyone, so I asked an older man if I could sit next to his blanket. It turns out he was from Memphis and had come to the event with his daughter and 13 year-old grandson. For the next few hours, we were friends.

As we approached the starting time of 10:00 a.m., I looked back down the Mall toward the Capitol and as far as the Washington Monument there was just a mass of people. That is a distance of 1 mile - a great sea of men, women and children. Glenn Beck had encouraged families to attend and they did. I saw babies in arms, and in strollers. Wheelchairs were common. Nearby, was a young quadriplegic. His mother had brought him in one of those large electric wheelchairs. Families wore the Restoring Honor T-shirts and the younger kids pulled the ice chests and folding chairs. I was the only person who didn’t have a back pack! It was an amazing display of people helping people. Police made not a single arrest the entire day.

The organizers had asked for a flyover, but it was denied. In fact, not a single one of the Armed Forces would supply a military group to present the flag. The Pledge of Allegiance was led by a Boy Scout. At 9:59, a flock of geese, perhaps 20-25 flew over the crowd in a perfect V formation. The crowd cheered. Some said God provided His own flyover.

I don’t how to summarize the program. It started at 10 a.m. and stopped at 1:15 p.m.. The message from Alveda King was a crowd favorite. If you google her name, you can hear her comments, but it does not record the crowd reaction. An elderly black preacher was honored but his name escapes me at this moment, however, he brought the crowd to its feet and his sermon was one of the longest. There was no attempt to control the length of any comments. Tony LaRussa, manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, was presented and he talked briefly about his own personal relationship with God. He then introduced Albert Pujois who was to receive the “Badge of Merit” for “Hope”. Pujois gave his testimony as a born-again Christian and said that God was first in his life and everything else was second. There is information on the Internet about his family foundation, established to help down syndrome babies and strengthen families.

Sarah Palin was obviously a crowd favorite and she was given a standing ovation. Her role was to introduce the three veterans that were honored. One man had lost both arms in Iran, another was a prisoner of war during the Vietnam war and the third was a man whose face was terribly disfigured in Vietnam but he overcame and is now a pastor.

Perhaps the most touching moment was when the bagpipes began Amazing Grace and a lady with a magnificent voice began singing and thousands sang along. Glenn Beck had the final segment and he urged the crowd to find God, join a church and begin tithing 10% of their income to the church. The theme throughout the day was Faith, Hope and Charity. These, coupled with honesty, can make a difference. It’s hard to describe the Rally. It was like church, a southern revival meeting. There were tears, prayers and singing. People often stood with hands raised to Heaven, hearty amens echoed through the trees. There was no anger, no political signs and no harassment. Park officials reported that the grounds were totally clear of trash. I have no other words to describe the event.

NBC reported the attendance at 87,000 so their reporter must have been there before dawn. It is such a disappointment that the Press is unwilling to be truthful if it doesn’t fit their liberal views. The Washington Post said 300,000 were present. Glenn Beck, I believe, has accurately proven that at least 500,000 and perhaps more, were in attendance.

The official program ended about 1:15 but entertainment continued much longer. I began the long walk back to the Metro. The closest station was the Smithsonian but by the time I arrived a crowd had already formed which the news later reported was the length of two football fields. The next station was the Federal Triangle, but it was closed by police because the underground platforms were already filled to capacity. I was told that Metro Center was also closed and the underground waiting area was filled to capacity. These waiting areas are block long underground areas and they were filled with people waiting for trains. Go to “Metro DC” and you can see pictures of the waiting areas.

It was time to eat, so back to Harry’s for one of their famous hamburgers, but this time without the bun. There was a long line at the front entrance, but I had previously used a side door and there was no waiting. It took over an hour for service, but the iced tea was a welcome treat.

By 6:00 p.m., I was able to access the Metro station, got the Red line and headed for Silver Spring. A stop at McDonald’s, the long uphill walk and I am finally at the Hilton.

(The hostage situation and shooting yesterday occurred just across the street from the Metro station in Silver Spring.)

Tomorrow is Sunday.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

My Trip to Washington, D.C. - Part 1

I left for Washington, DC on Thursday, August 27th , flying American Airlines. The plane left on schedule and it took 1 hour and 28 minutes at 37,000 feet. The dome on the Capitol Building is clearly visible as we landed at Reagan International airport - a very impressive sight.

The Metro System in Washington is beginning to show its age but is still the most efficient way to travel around the City. I took the Yellow line to Metro Center and then transferred to the Red Line to Silver Spring, Maryland. (The natives will correct you if you say Silver Springs.) It was the evening rush hour, so thousands of people were on their way home. The system runs in the red, of course, so now there is an additional charge if you ride during rush hours. They only lost $195 million last year, which all of us helped to cover with our tax dollars, I am sure.

Years ago, we took my grandson to Washington and his favorite thing was to ride the Metro, so we daily rode to the end of all four lines. He was around 5 years of age then and the Metro was new and Silver Spring was the end of the Red Line. Now there are two more stops and there is also a new green line.

It is a long walk to the Hilton for an old man and it is uphill. All of the hotels were filled in downtown Washington, at least those I could afford, so it was necessary to move to the suburbs. The Hilton is an older building but it has all the Hilton features and the rate was $109. Spent the first evening in my room. The Hilton could definitely improve their choice of TV cable stations.

The next morning, I had breakfast at the hotel. The buffet actually included biscuits and gravy. Not quite as good as those made by Carolyn Klein for our church dinners but it was OK. Then it was downhill to the Metro and to Union Station. The old station has been restored and is beautiful with its statues and art work. Apparently many people on the East Coast use the trains to move around and it was obvious that many thousands who came to the Restore Honor rally passed through Union Station.

Now, I switched to the double deck bus for transportation, $35 for a two day pass. First stop was the Capitol Building. My original plan was to spend a day at the Library of Congress, but apparently a lot of people had the same idea.. Not willing to wait, I boarded the bus again and rode for awhile. I wanted to get a feel for the distance I would have to walk on Saturday, so I got off at the Washington Monument. There was a long line waiting to enter. From the Monument you can clearly see down the Mall in both directions. Tomorrow, the area from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial would be filled with people. It’s nearly a mile, past the new World War II monument, to the place of honor for Mr. Lincoln.

The WW II monument is relatively new, so I spent some time there. It is beautiful and well done. A large fountain in the middle with stone monuments around the exterior, it is a fitting tribute to those who served and those who died. Back on the bus again, I rode for awhile. We passed the large building for the Department of Education. Actually, its one of 6 buildings where 3,600 people work. That does not include the 10 regional offices which employs 1,400. Since the Constitution leaves education as a State responsibility, you have to wonder what those 5,000 people do all day. I thought about getting off and seeing Arne Duncan, but then I knew he was busy writing his speech for the Rev. Al Sharpton rally on Saturday. With his strong, independent Scottish heritage I wonder how he really enjoys Washington? But, of course, he gets to play basketball with the President.

My next stop was the Willard hotel. President Lincoln lived here when he first arrived in Washington and I always try to walk through the lobby whenever I visit. Glenn Beck stayed here and probably Sarah Palin, the nightly rate starts around $2,000.

Its now the middle of the afternoon, so I walk down to Harry’s bar for lunch. They have the best hamburgers and fries in all of Washington. After eating, I walk over to the White House to see if the President is home from his most recent vacation. Its always interesting to see who is protesting in the little park across the street. I swear the same guy who was protesting the war in Vietnam is still there protesting the war in Afghanistan. At the Federal Triangle, there is a Starbucks, so I order the iced milk and coffee. It’s a hot day, but I don’t think they sold much iced milk and coffee. I was the only one buying and soon discovered why.

Its now late in the afternoon and thousands are streaming out of the office buildings. Lots of well-dressed young people, carrying briefcases and computers heading home for the weekend. The streets are full, not only with people heading home from work, but the “rally people” have now arrived with patriotic t-shirts and carrying American flags.

I get the Yellow line to Gallery Place and transferred to the Red line out to Silver Spring. Half way up the long hill is a McDonald’s so I stopped for ice cream and coffee and then continued the long walk to the Hilton.

Tomorrow is the big event!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Glasgow born Bobby Thomson, who hit the "Shot Heard 'Round the World" in 1951, died last week at the age of 86.

Bobby Thomson died last week at the age of 86. He was born in Glasgow, Scotland, the youngest of six children. The father was a cabinet maker and had moved to Staten Island, New York, shortly before Bobby was born. The entire family soon followed.

Bobby Brown Thomson was raised on Staten Island and in 1942 signed with the New York Giants (and a bonus of $100) right out of high school.  That same year,  he joined the Air Force and trained as a bombardier.

His rookie year was 1947 and he hit 29 home runs and had a batting average of .283. He was traded in 1953 to Milwaukee and then back to the Giants, then to the Chicago Cubs in 1958. In 1960, he was traded to the Boston Red Sox and finished his career with the Baltimore Orioles in 1960.

Thomson became famous for hitting a game-winning home run to win the 1951 National League pennant. It is often called the “Shot Heard ‘Round the World” and is probably the most famous home run in baseball history. The ball was never recovered. You can get the radio broadcast of that game on the internet.

The Illinois St. Andrews Society declared Bobby Thomson the “Scot of the Year” in 1951and invited him to attend the 106th Annual Dinner at the Conrad Hilton hotel in Chicago. He was presented with a certificate and an engraved watch. The Society said “he not only exemplifies the best traits of the Scottish character, but made the year’s outstanding contribution to the ideals of good sportsmanship.”

John Clasper was president of the Society and the Heather Queen that year was Heather Preston. John M. Jardine of Evanston was the Chairman of the Dinner.

In the 1990s, Thomson received a letter from an ex-Marine who had been stationed in Korea in 1951. “I was in a bunker in the front line with my buddy listening to the radio. It was contrary to orders, but he was a Giants fanatic. He never made it home and I promised him if I ever go back I’d write and tell you about the happiest moment of his life. It has taken me this long to put my feelings into words. On behalf of my buddy, thanks Bobby.”

I once wrote to Bobby Thomson asking if he still possessed the certificate and the watch. There was no reply. His wife Elaine died in 1993 and he is survived by 2 daughters and six grandchildren.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Saint Andrew's Dinner, November 26, 1911, Auditorium Hotel

The headlines read "Braw Scots to give dinner.  Eleven hundred highlanders to honor St. Andrew."
This Dinner was held on a Wednesday night at the Auditorium hotel banquet hall. It was the sixty-sixth annual dinner of the Illinois St. Andrew Society, "one of the oldest Scottish organizations in the country."  Daniel A. Campbell, Postmaster of Chicago, was chairman of banquet committee.

Several lines in the article are used to talk about haggis the same as it is today. It's why I have always objected to the term "Feast of the Haggis."  The St. Andrew's Day Dinner should not be about haggis, even though it is served.  The evening should be about our great history and what the event means in our history. It is an evening to celebrate our heritage, our work and our people - not the national dish of Scotland even though the press will only be interested in the Haggis.

At this event in 1911, Governor Deneen was the speaker.  Charles Nagel, secretary of commerce and labor spoke about "The Land We Live In."  Prof. David Kinley of the University of Illinois spoke on "The Land We Left" and W. Stanford Evans, mayor of Winnipeg, on "Our Sister Dominion."  Former Judge Ninian H. Welch was the toastmaster.

"Mounds of purple heather, plucked from the hills within a mile of Skibo Castle on the outskirts of Andrew Carnegie's domain" decorated the tables.  "In the center of the table will be a great ram's head brought here forty years ago by George Anderson and presented to the society at the annual dinner held on Nov. 30, 1871, at the Briggs house."

Hugh Ritchie, was 87 years old in 1911 and had attended all sixty-five dinners except five.  D. R. Cameron, who was a member of the board of education, had attended fifty dinners. Sitting at the speaker's table were:  John Williamson, president; Judge Ninian H. Welch, Dr. J. B. McFetrich, James A. Patten, Andrew McLeish, Dr. Frank Billings, J. Ogden Armour, Thomas Templeton, James B. Forgan, David R. Forgan, Samuel Insull, Oliver Sollitt, Julius Rosenwald, W. K. :Pattison, and Rev. James MacLagan.

Women were not permitted to attend the St. Andrew's Dinner until 1917.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Steve W. Folkers will attend the November meeting of the History Club

Dear Mr. Rethford,

Thank you so much for calling attention to those who gave their lives for their country in World War I. I have often thought that this is becoming almost as forgotten as the War of 1812, which I consider our second War for Independence.

I do have a personal, Scots-Irish connection. My great-uncle Lawrence Delos Fulton was killed in battle in the Argonne-Meuse, a few months before the armistice. He was my paternal grandmother's brother. His mother was probably not among those on the Gold Star ship, as his remains were finally returned to the US in 1921. So many of these brave men who gave their lives are sadly forgotten now -- especially now, since their brothers in arms have all virtually gone to their reward. Your articles will certainly help keep their memory alive in those who read them.

Gratefully yours,


Steven Weyand Folkers

Skokie, IL

[Compatriot, Illinois Society Sons of the American Revolution, through the efforts of the above mentioned Lawrence Delos Fulton's second-great-grandfather Robert Fulton as a Ranger on the Frontier and member of the Pennsylvania Militia.]

Friday, August 13, 2010

A Request From Edinburgh, Scotland

Dear Mr Rethford,

I'm Donald Sutherland and I'm writing to you from Edinburgh in Scotland concerning your post on 15th June 2010 titled "List of Orkney and Shetland Islanders who once lived in Chicago". I'm presently working on details of my family, quite a number of whom emigrated from Orkney (mainly from the island of Flotta) to Chicago at the end of the 19th and into the early 20th centuries. In your post you indicate that you would be willing to respond to requests about family research, so I have a number of questions for you concerning possible entries on the list and other papers you mention.

(a) In the list of past presidents of the society, you mention John Sutherland. I think this is my great-uncle. If you have any details relating to him (e.g. age, address, occupation, period of presidency) I'd be very interested. In July 1994 there was a post in the Illinois St Andrew Society Newsletter titled "Captain John Sutherland - someone you should know". The article detailed his escape during the Nome gold rush. This was submitted by Margaret Baikie Johnson, a distant relative of mine. Do you know if this Captain John Sutherland was the same John Sutherland as had been the president of the society?

(b) On the membership list can you check for the following people and their addresses:
(i) David Sutherland (a brother of John above);
(ii) James Sutherland (I understand he became president in 1916 before being killed in WW1);
(iii) Donald Sutherland (my uncle);
(iv) William Sutherland;
(v) Sutherland Simpson Sutherland;
(vi) Alexander Ross;
(vii) John James Ross;
(viii) John (T) Simpson;
(ix) John Sandison;
(x) Peter (or Pierre) Barnett;
(xi) John Thompson;
(xii) William (George) Baikie; and
(xiii) Anyone with the name Garriock (these are relatives of Margaret Baikie Johnson mentioned above)

(c) In the list of past presidents you mention a Wm R Simpson. Any information about this person would be helpful. I'm interested because the James Sutherland above was supported in his application for United States Naturalization by his uncle John T Simpson (above) and a W R Simpson - a person I don't directly know about. One part of my family from Flotta are Sutherlands and another part are Simpsons and I'm wondering whether "W R" is a relative I've missed somewhere.

I'd be most grateful if you looked these people up - any information on any of them would be of interest to me.

Best wishes,

Donald G Sutherland

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Society Owes Property Tax in New York City, 1935

I recently found a tax bill issued to the Illinois Saint Andrew Society from the City of New York, Department of Finance, Bureau of City collections, Borough Hall, St. George, Staten Island.  The location was described as Ward 4, Volume 8, Block 3560, lot no. 52.

The property tax was for the year 1935 and the amount due was $16.80.

The Society was in arrears as of December 31, 1934.

No records have been found to indicate how the Society might have obtained the property, but I would venture a guess that it was a gift, perhaps through an estate.  It would be interesting to know the exact location of the property and what is there now.  I doubt that the tax is still the same.

1935 was in the midst of the Great Depression so the property may have been lost because the taxes were not paid.  If so, I doubt it was from a lack of funds, because the Society actually did quite well during the depression.

Perhaps, someone will read this and find the answer to our questions.

Monday, August 2, 2010

An old passbook from the Northern Trust in Chicago, IL.

Some of our older readers will remember when you had a passbook for the bank.  It was presented each time you made a deposit or a withdrawal.  In an old storage box at the Scottish Home, I found one that belonged to Mrs. Mary W. Gibb.  It was from the Northern Trust Company located at the north-west corner of LaSalle and Monro Streets in Chicago, IL.  Her number was 404136. and the balance on March 2, 1930 was $436.13.  There are 5 pages and most of the withdrawals are for $25.00 made every two weeks.  Most of the deposits are small but on May 24, 1933, there is one for $1,102.10.  The account was closed on August 22, 1935.  I assume Mrs. Gibb was a resident of the Scottish Home but she is not in the name list on our web site.

There is a reference to a Mrs. Mary Gibb in the Chicago Daily Tribune, dated January 19, 1936, which fits the time frame.  John Nevins, who was a railroad engineer, had died and his obituary was published in the paper. He was survived by a son, Harry G. Nevins, 1532 Lake Ave., Wilmette, IL. and three sisters one of whom was named Mrs. Mary Gibb. Same lady?  Don't know.

I wonder if anyone is looking for a Mrs. Mary W. Gibb?  This little blog will put her name on the Internet just in case.