Friday, July 30, 2010

A Mother Gives Her Three Sons to Her Country - 1917

June 10, 1917
Four months ago Mrs. John J. Mitchell, offered her three sons to the nation.  Her husband was president of the Illinois Trust and Savings bank.

"If war comes," she said, "I want them to be at the front.  They have been richly blessed by this country.  They have had the chance to get good educations and prepare for whatever careers they choose.  They owe a real debt to the country and I would not be the one to stop them from paying it."

The three sons were:  William H., John J. Mitchell, Jr. and Clarence.  Two of the sons, John J. and William H. joined the new army air force and were trained first at the Great Lakes Naval Training station and then Mastie, Long Island.  On Long Island, these two sons, raised in wealth, were 9 miles from a store and 5 miles from the railroad.  They were eating army "chow" which must have been a shock.  Clarence, the youngest boy was in school at Concord, Mass.

John Jr. was seriously injured in an air crash while training at Key West, Fl.  Thomas W. Eaton, the other pilot was killed.  They were both attempting to land when they collided.  He never made it to the war front.  William H. after completing flight training was assigned to the Blue Devils, American's first stunt flying team.

In December, 1920, John Jr., married Lolita Armour in the great mansion that we visited on our history tour in July, 2010.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Archie V. McNeil, a good Scotchman from Wheaton, IL. (USA)

Archie V. McNeil was one of the vanishing Americans.  A carpenter by trade, the Wheaton (IL.) man who died Friday at the age of 80 never had to make excuses for the work fashioned by the two good hands God gave him.  I considered him a friend, for though he was 80 the day he died, I had come to respect his youthfulness of spirit and honesty of purpose.

This piece is not so much an epitaph for Mr. McNeil as it is an epitaph for the type of person he represented.  At an age when many men retired to a rocking chair to tell the world of their aches and pains, he was still doing the work he knew how to do so well.  It was such men as he who fashioned the log cabins and covered wagons that were an integral part of the early Midwest.

He represented the man whose type we need more of in the world today- a craftsman who took pride in his work; a citizen who took cognizance of his government; a union man who represented the best of trade unionism and a man whose personal life was above reproach.  There are all too few men like Archie V. McNeil left in Wheaton and the country today.  When he was laid to rest a part of our community ceased to exist that is needed by all of us.

His trade, which he carried on in standards such as those set by a carpenter in Nazareth many years ago, will miss him.  His community will miss him, for the kind of man he was, and his many friends will miss him.  Let his monument be the work of his hands, so evident in the community he has left behind.

(Written by William E. Scrivo, Daily Journal Managing Editor, published in the Daily Journal March 31, 1958)

In my circle of friends, this is Tim McNeil's grandfather.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Scotland unveils new plan to increase ties with America

On July 4, 2010, Ministers in Scotland unveiled plans to boost Scotland's ties with the United States.  For them that means increasing tourism and exports.  Americans already visit Scotland more than any other people and we are also their largest single overseas market.  The Scottish government has now released plans to "refresh economic and social ties."

The US House of Representatives has a Scotland Caucus led by Mike McIntrye, a democrat from North Carolina.  He said:  "I am pleased to know that the Scottish Government continues to build on what is already a strong and deep bond between our two nations."  He continued:  "Scotland's friendship remains important to America, and this new plan lays out objectives that stand to be mutually beneficial."  Dana Linnet, who is the US Consul Principal Officer said "Scotland remains a strong friend and partner to the United States.  The plan seeks to further strengthen ancestral, historical, cultural, and commercial ties in ways that will benefit our friendship and co-operation in years to come."

The actual plan was not presented, so I am not quite sure what it says.  But, just as the plan was being released the Lockerbie bomber was again in the news.  Some committee in Congress has reopened the investigation (it is an election year).  The Scottish government said they would not provide any new documents since all relevant documents had been released.  What hasn't been released are "U.S. government representations and some correspondence from the U.K. government, where permission was declined."

We will probably never know the full story.  However, it is hard for me to believe that the Scottish government would release the bomber without outside pressure and influence.  Many of us in the Chicago area know Kenny MacAskill, the Justice Secretary of Scotland,  and we know him to be a good and honest man.  I am sorry he is being made the "fall guy" because I doubt he is responsible.  Now, we also know that BP is somehow involved.

I hope this new flap will not hinder Scotland's effort to increase ties with our country.  Americans love Scotland and that should not change.

Friday, July 23, 2010

See the Gazebo News video of a portion of the Scottish American History Club tour of Lake Forest here. Thanks to Max Moore for his expertise.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Sumary of History Tour and the Death of Mrs. Ogen Armour

This past Saturday the Scottish American History Club conducted its annual history tour. It was a very enjoyable day in Lake Forest, Illinois as we visited the Ogden Armour mansion and then toured the community. My thanks to Andy Kerr who was a gracious host as we visited the mansion and had our lunch. A special thanks, of course, to David Forlow who has collected a vast amount of information about the Scottish families of Lake Forest and Lake Bluff.

The participants had several questions and we will try and answer some of them on our blog. One questions was about Mrs. Armour and her daughter. If you have additional questions, or comments, please feel free to call or send an email.

                                   MRS. LOLITA SHELDON ARMOUR

Mrs. Armour died on February 6, 1953 at the age of 83. She had been ill for a long time and died in her home at 253 N. Green Bay Road in Lake Forest. As a very young girl, she had married Mr. Armour in 1891 and came to be one of Chicago’s most famous hostesses.

Their country home of 1,000 acres became famous for her prize winning roses and horses. The estate was elaborately landscaped and contained two 10 acres lakes. Mr. Armour died in 1927 and his estate became bankrupt, except for some shares of stock that the bank declared worthless. That “worthless stock” was found to be very valuable and restored wealth to Mrs. Armour.

In 1936, Mrs. Armour bought the 18th century, Georgian mansion where she spent the last years of her life. The house was filled with valuable art objects. Her collection of historic shoes was given to the Art Institute in Chicago. (Wonder if they still have them?) Some of the shoes reached back to Queen Anne and “others had danced a minuet at the court of Louis XIV.”

Mrs. Armour was also a good business person. She owned a large interest in the Chicago Tunnel Terminal corporation that is the pedestrian tunnel under the streets of Chicago. (I know about the tunnel, but have never used it.) She sold her interest in 1932. One year later, she purchased the northeast corner of State and Madison, famous as “the world’s busiest corner.” It was once the site of Mandel Brothers Department Store. Does the Amour family still own that corner?

Mrs. Armour was survived by her daughter, Mrs. Lolita Armour Mitchell Wilder of Santa Barbara, California and two grandchildren John J. Mitchell, Jr. and Lolita Mitchell. Services were held in the Church of the Holy Spirit, Lake Forest with burial in Graceland cemetery in Chicago, Illinois.

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Will of Alexander Anderson, 1925

Reading through old documents is really interesting but is also often confusing. I have found correspondence and the will of Alexander Anderson written in 1925. Alexander Anderson, born in Dundee, Scotland, January 8, 1850, was writing his final will. His wife had died. His sister, Mrs. Janet Graham Gardiner, nee Anderson, has also died at Errol, Scotland, January 21, 1921. His daughter, Mrs. Joseph C. Kile, nee Mary Anderson, had died in Chicago, June 21, 1922. His previous will had included his wife, daughter and sister. So, a new will is now necessary.

Mr. Anderson had lived in Liverpool, Halifax, Nova Scotia and finally in Chicago. From 1892 until 1913, he was employed as a “confidential clerk with Swift & Company and Libby, McNeill and Libby.” Not sure what that position would be, but sure sounds important.

He writes: “Being about to undertake a long, arduous, and possibly eventful journey in many countries I hereby wish and direct that, in the event of my death, my possessions, personal and real, be disposed as follows:” I wonder where he was going on this “arduous and possibly eventful journey?”

I won’t list all the points in his will, but here are some interesting ones.

“My house and contents known as The Retreat, Cars Orange, Errol, Perthshire, Scotland” was to be sold at auction. The old Anderson family residence, at No.5 Pomarium St., Perth, Scotland, was to be sold. (If anyone in Perth reads this, please let me know what is located on this property today.)

Various items like books, furniture, pictures, etc., was given to some 17 relatives all living at the time in Scotland. Here is one example: “To Mr. Alexander Reid, 15 Muirend Gardens, Glasgow", he gave his Great Grandfather’s horn snuff box, engraved John Anderson, 1812.

He added an interesting memorandum - “All keys to locked drawers and desks are in small drawer in dresser or book case in small center bedroom, key of that drawer I carry on my person.” I hope he didn’t take the key on his arduous and eventful journey if indeed it was ever taken.

One fourth of his final estate was given to the Scottish Home in Chicago, IL. USA.

Who was Alexander Anderson and what mysterious journey was he starting? It is thought he died in September or October, 1925.. No obituary in Chicago papers, so where did he die and where is he buried?.

Can any of our readers in Scotland help us solve this mystery?

Monday, July 5, 2010

I have often printed lists of various Scottish inventions and discoveries.  I suppose other Countries have great inventors, but I don't see many lists of those inventions.  Even before the Industrial Revolution, Scots were at the forefront of finding new ways to do things.  Here is another list of some different things.

  • The bicycle - Kirpatric Macmillan and Thomas McCall
  • Tubular steel - Sir William Fairbairn.
  • Canal design - Thomas Telfors
  • Coal-gas lighting - William Murdoch
  • Wave-powered electricity generator - Stephel Salter, 1977
  • First passenger steamboat in Europe - Henry Bell
  • Coal mining extraction in the sea on an artifical island by Sir George Bruce of Cranock (1575)  "Regarded as one of the industrial wonders of the late medieval period."
  • The steam hammer - James Nasmyth
  • Wire roper - Robert Stirling Newall
  • Hollow pipe drainage - Sir Hew Dalrymple
  • The adhesive postage stamp and postmark - James Chalmers
  • Universal Standard Time - Sir Sandford Fleming
  • Radar - Robert Watson-Watt
  • First edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica
And the list goes on...

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The story of Donald Trump and the world's best golf course.

The story of Donald Trump and his efforts to build the "world's best golf course" drew several responses from our readers.  So, here is an update from the Bloomberg Businessweek.  They report that construction may begin tomorrow.  It is a 1.12 billion dollar project that includes the golf course, a 450-bed five star hotel, 950 short term rental aparatments and 500 homes.

The Aberdeenshire Council's local planning group has approved the project by a vote of 8-1 with only 10 written objections. Construction will take about 18 months but Trump does not have final approvals for the hotel and the apartments.

The homes of Molly Forbes and David Milne are still in doubt.  They have refused to sell and have protested the "use of compulsory purchase orders to force them to move."  The Trump people have said that no one would build a luxury hotel, overlooking "a derelict slum."  Apparently Molly Forbes and David Milne do not consider their homes as derelict slums.

The golf course is being built on some interesting sand dunes. The dunes are interesting because they are moving northward a few yards each year. Trump has said he would plant marran grass to keep the dunes from moving onto the golf course.

Stay tuned.