Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Dr. Ephraim McDowell and his Christmas Miracle in 1809.

The Christian world celebrates December 25 as a day of miracles. They view it as a miracle because the baby Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary.  The story will be told over and over again by song and sermon over the Christmas holidays. This first Christmas miracle occurred in Bethlehem. Let me tell you about a first miracle that occurred on the wild frontier of America in Motley’s Glen, 60 miles southwest of Danville, Kentucky, in 1809.

Mrs. Jane Todd Crawford, a second cousin of Abraham Lincoln’s wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, was already the mother of four and another physician had told her she was pregnant again with twins. Finally, after a long delay, word was sent to Dr. Ephraim McDowell whose office was in Danville. On horseback, he made the 60 mile journey to Motley’s Glen. She was not pregnant but had a large tumor. He told her that no medication would cause the tumor to disappear, the tumor would continue to grow, and that the only relief was an operation to remove the tumor. He continued, “I have never removed such a tumor, nor do I know of any doctor who has. I told the lady I could do her no good. That opening the abdomen to extract the tumor was inevitable death. But not standing with this, if she thought herself prepared to die, I would take the lump from her.”

After the brutally honest consultation with Mrs. Crawford, he said he would perform surgery if she could make the journey to his office.  A few days later Mrs. Crawford arrived by horseback and after resting several days, the surgery was scheduled.

Christmas Day was chosen because most people would be in church and there would be fewer spectators. Not everyone was in favor of the surgery but the story of a mob ready to hang the doctor is probably not correct. Because there was nothing else Mrs. Crawford could be given, she swallowed an oral dose of opium and several attendants stood by to help hold her down. It would be another 35 years before anesthesia would come to the field of medicine.

Before the surgery Dr. McDowell wrote out a prayer which he placed it in his pocket: 

“Almighty God be with me, I humbly beseech Thee in this attendance in Thy holy hour; give me becoming awe of Thy presence, and grant me Thy direction and aid. I beseech Thee, that in confessing I may be humble and truly penitent in prayer, serious and devout and praises, grateful and sincere, and in hearing Thy word attentive and willing and desirous to be instructed. Direct me, Oh! God, in performing this operation, for I am but an instrument in Thy hands and I am but Thy servant and if it is Thy will, Oh! Spare this poor afflicted woman. Oh! Give me true faith in the atonement of Thy Son, Jesus Christ, or a love sufficient to procure Thy favor and blessing, that worshiping Thee in Spirit and in Truth my services may be accepted through this all – sufficient merit.”

During the painful surgery, Mrs. Crawford sang hymns and quoted from the Psalms. Five days after removing a 22.5 pound ovarian tumor, she was up making her own bed. It was an uncomplicated recovery and 25 days later she returned to Motley’s Glen on horseback.  Mrs. Jane Todd Crawford lived for 32 more years - 12 years longer than Dr. McDowell. There is a statue to Dr. McDowell located in the National Statuary Hall collection in the U.S. Capital. It was donated in 1929 and the sculptor was Charles H. Niehaus.

It was the first successful removal of an ovarian tumor in the world - a miracle on Christmas day in the wilderness of America more than 200 years ago.

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


The next meeting of the Scottish American History Club will be January 7, 2012.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Andrew Harvie - A President whose life did not end well

Andrew Harvie, served one term as president of the Illinois Saint Andrew Society in 1861. He was born in Scotland and was a graduate of the University of Edinburgh. He came to America and was first employed as a Professor of the Greek and Latin languages at the University of Michigan at Tecumseh. 

In 1848 he moved to Detroit and studied law. After that he moved to Sault Ste. Marie and from there he was elected Senator of the state of Michigan.  Because of this classical training he was a good debater and displayed “industry and capacity as a lawyer.”

In 1852, Mr. Harvie came to Chicago and began practicing law.   He soon “took a deservedly high rank at the Bar, and fame and fortune both seem to open wide their gates that he might enter.”  In another article he was described as a man of “ability and thorough culture.”

We have limited knowledge about Mr. Harvie - just small glimpses into his life. There is a record of him speaking about Thomas Jefferson at the Nebraska Meeting, February 13, 1854.  His eulogy for Dr. Houghton, a geologist in Michigan who drowned in Lake Superior, was described as a “masterpiece of eloquence and beauty.”  In 1858, he served on a committee that planned and organized “The Burns Festival.”  And in 1861, he was elected President of the Illinois Saint Andrew Society, a position of honor and ability recognized by the entire city of Chicago.

There is evidence that he was married but his wife cannot be identified.  Some time after 1861 and his own death in 1863, Mrs. Harvie died. The circumstances of her death are not known at the present time and there appears to be no published obituary.  But her death brought significant changes to the life of Andrew Harvie.  He was not well physically and despite the urging of close friends he refused to seek medical attention.  In addition, Mr. Harvie became an alcoholic.

In reporting on his death the Chicago Tribune wrote the following on January 7, 1863: “About seven o’clock yesterday morning, a policeman, while patrolling his customary beat, found the dead body of Andrew Harvie, a man well and sadly known in this community, lying at the foot of the basement stairs, No. 6 Tremont Block on Dearborn Street. He lay with his head downward, where he had fallen, and when found, life was extinct, although the warmth of a part of the system indicated that he had been dead but a short time.”  The coroner’s report indicated that he had died from the effects of a fall and exposure.”

The Chicago Tribune continued a description of Mr. Harvie’s life by writing the following: “He sacrificed wealth, position, fame, a great intellect and a generous heart to that insatiable fiend which has brought low too many of our most brilliant and accomplished men. Death (his wife) broke up his family, and the wretched man became a homeless outcast, wandering our streets, a shattered wreck; even in his ruin, attracting universal sympathy and pity. His sad fate is a terrible warning; not the least terrible that his intellect was profound, his scholarship ornate and his heart open and genial.”  (I doubt a present day newspaper would print such comments.)

Members of the Chicago Bar met in the Superior Court room and drafted the following resolution:

“Where as, it has pleased Almighty God to remove from our midst our brother Andrew Harvie, therefore:”

     “Resolved, that alas another of our number has fallen, an able lawyer, a ripe scholar and kind friend; his loss we deeply deplore and his memory we cherish with the most heartfelt affection.”
      “Resolved, that a copy of these resolutions be spread on the records of the various courts of the city and county, and be furnished to the daily papers of the city for publication.”

Judge Murray F. Tuley in moving the adoption of the resolution paid a feeling tribute to the deceased as a gentleman, a scholar, and a lawyer.  His first law partner had been Andrew Harvie.

The Tribune reported on January 7, 1863, page 4, that "members of the St. Andrew's Society and friends of the deceased are invited to attend the funeral at the Briggs House, at 1 p.m. today."  We do not know where Mr. Harvie is buried. If any of our readers have additional knowledge, especially his place of burial, please communicate with us.

Wayne Rethford, President Emeritus
Illinois Saint Andrew Society

January 7, 2012 - Next meeting of the Scottish-American History Club. The subject: What Happened Between 1866 and 1875?

February 4, 2012 - Tom Campbell, author of “Fighting Slavery in Chicago.” Mr. Campbell is a lawyer with Baker & McKenzie and life member of the Society.  Copies of his book will be available for purchase.

March 31, 2012 - Proposed tour of the Auditorium Theater.  Watch for further details. Also, the April 7th History Club may be cancelled.  Watch for announcements.

Friday, December 9, 2011

William J. Chalmers & Joan Pinkerton, Part III

William Chalmers and Joan Pinkerton were married in October 1878. A year later their first child was born and she, like others in the family, was named Joan. The second child was born in September of 1889 and he was named Thomas Stewart Chalmers after his grandfather.


Given the location of their house on Ashland Avenue, he probably attended the Brown school. There was one newspaper article about his going to school back east and another reference to Yale. These facts could not be verified for certain.

In 1917, Thomas Stewart was in the second graduating class of officers at Fort Sheridan. On that day, November 28, 1917, 2,218 men graduated as second lieutenants. Before leaving for overseas, he was promoted to Captain and in France received his final promotion to Major. After the war he returned to Chicago where he continued his life as one of Chicago’s most eligible bachelors. In 1920, he traveled overseas visiting England, France and Sweden.

With his father and brother-in-law, Norman Williams, they began a new company called Chalmers and Williams. They manufactured their own mining machinery and operated a supply house. Thomas served as president of the company.

Thomas Stewart Chalmers died on March 26, 1923 at the age of 34. The cause of death was listed as chronic hepatitis and the secondary cause was anemia. He died at his residence, 220 E. Walton Place, and was buried in Graceland cemetery. A funeral service was held at his residence but no other information was given. He left an estate of approximately $250,000 to be divided into three equal parts. One gift was for the County home for Convalescent Children at Prince Crossing, Illinois and one each for his nephew and niece, Joan and Norman Williams.

JOAN CHALMERS (1879-1923)

Like so many other girls from wealthy families in Chicago, Joan attended the Sieboth-Kennedy School. It was said their graduates “married young and married well.” On December 4, 1902, at the age of 23, Joan Chalmers married Norman Williams, Jr. The wedding took place at the Fourth Presbyterian Church and the church was filled with friends and family. Dr. Kittridge of New York, who had married the bride’s parents, performed the ceremony. The Tribune published a long article about the wedding including a beautiful picture of the bride.

The couple had two children. A daughter also named Joan and a son named Norman. The son would later unveil the Lincoln Statue at its dedication in 1926. It is located south of the Art Institute and was a gift from John Crerar, a life member of our Society.

Mr. & Mrs. Norman Williams, spent two years traveling and living in Europe in 1922. They spent that Fall in Woodstock, Vermont, and later came to Chicago for Christmas and lived at the Virginia hotel. Mrs. Williams became ill and was finally taken to St. Luke’s hospital where she was reported critically ill “of a malady which puzzles our physicians.” She died, April 3, 1923 - 8 days after her brother’s death. (According to the death certificate, she died of a staph infection. Neither death was related to the other.) “She was as noted for her wit, her charm of manner and gracious personality as she was for her beauty . . . ” She was buried in Woodstock, Vermont.


In memory of their two children, Thomas Chalmers and his wife gave a beautiful stained-glass window to St. Chrysostom Church in Chicago. The window was designed and executed by Charles J Connick of Boston. The church is located at 1424 North Dearborn.

(The granddaughter, Joan Williams, was a student at Harvard when her wedding announcement was made February 26, 1934. She was to wed Dr. Hamilton Merrill of New York. I was unable to trace the grandson, Norman Williams. Perhaps some distant family member will read this on the Internet and respond.)

Wayne Rethford
President Emeritus & Historian
Scottish American History Club

The next meeting of the History Club is January 7, 2012

Donations to the History Club made be made through the Illinois St. Andrew's Society at

Monday, November 28, 2011

Joan Pinkerton and William Chalmers, Part II

I have written several articles about Joan Pinkerton. She is one of the more memorable personalities in Chicago history. I wish there was more information but perhaps I don’t know where to look. Joan Pinkerton, was born on July 22, 1855 to Alan Pinkerton and his wife. She was their only living daughter. (The name Joan is carried through many generations in this family.)

Joan Pinkerton was described as being beautiful, well-educated, and extremely popular. I couldn’t find a reference as to her schooling except that she was sent "back East." She loved music, and she loved to dance which may explain the ballroom on the third floor of their Ashland home. In the society pages of the Chicago Daily Tribune, you can see the name Joan Pinkerton and William Chalmers attending weddings, club dances and other social events. She was described as “a leader in the city’s social and charitable life for more than four decades."

Joan and William were very popular young people in Chicago. When their wedding was scheduled, October 21, 1878, they sent out 500 invitations. Some 3,000 young people arrived at the Third Presbyterian Church. The Chicago Tribune reported that “the galleries, the seats, and the floor – every available space was taken. A large number stood upon the seats, much to the disgust of the church trustees.” Outside the streets were jammed with horses and carriages for blocks around. "There was never such a wedding in Chicago.”

Outside of the social scene, Mrs. Chalmers became interested in crippled children because her sister Isabel was a crippled child who died in 1863. In Chicago at the corner of Polina and Park Avenue, was a home for crippled children. Its official name was The Home for Destitute and Crippled Children. Joan Chalmers became interested in these children and wanted them to have a place in the country once they were able to leave the facility on Park Avenue. She was instrumental in the purchase of 68 acres valued at $12,000 along the Aurora & Elgin Electric Line, some 3 miles west of Wheaton, Illinois. There is much more to this story and it will be reserved for another blog in the future.

I don’t know how much they traveled, but on June 5, 1898 they sailed for Europe on the Cunard steamship Lucania. Also on board were Mr. And Mrs. Lambert Tree. This note appeared on March 5, 1902 . “Mrs. W. J. Chalmers and Miss. Joan Chalmers are going abroad.  They will leave town on Saturday and sail from New York on March 15, going directly to Paris. Their stay abroad will not be a prolonged one, as Mrs. Chalmers expects to be back in time to open her country house at Lake Geneva early in June. At some time on this trip they were joined by Norman Williams, Jr. of Chicago and all three returned on the steamship Pennsylvania. They were met in New York by Mr. Chalmers and shortly thereafter a statement was issued that Miss Joan Chalmers was engaged to be married to Norman Williams, Jr.

Mr. & Mrs. Chalmers were in Europe when World War I started and they returned home immediately and began to raise money for the Belgian children caught in war. They returned to Europe in 1921 and brought home a collection of war medals which was later given to the Art Institute. One of the medals was dated May 5, 1915 which shows “death” booking a passage on the Lusitania. The ship was sunk May 7, 1915. Mrs. Chalmers believed that this was clear evidence that Germany intended to sink the ship. Does the Art Institute still have the medals on display?

During her lifetime she was: President of the West End Woman’s Club; member of the Saddle and Cycle; the Fortnightly and the Woman’s Athletic Club. Mrs. Chalmers also once taught a Sunday school class at the Third Presbyterian Church. She believed that if one remained young at heart they would never grow old.

Mrs. Chalmers died on January 25, 1940. Her funeral was held in St. Chrysostom’s Episcopal Church, 1424 North Dearborn street. Burial was private in Graceland cemetery. Two grandchildren survived: Mrs. F. Hamilton Merrill of New York and Norman Williams, Jr. of Woodstock, VT.

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

The next meeting of the Scottish-American History Club will be January 7, 2012.

Donations to the History Club may be made through the Illinois St. Andrew's Society.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

William J. Chalmers & Joan Pinkerton, Part I

William James Chalmers was born in Chicago on July 10, 1852. His father was Thomas Chalmers born in Dundee, Scotland. His mother, Janet Telser, was also born in Scotland. William was educated in the public schools of Chicago and did not attend college. He began working with his father early in life at the Eagle Works Mfg. Company where his father was General Superintendent. In 1872 they created a new firm called Fraser & Chalmers which became the largest manufacturer of mining machinery in the world. In 1900 they united with the Allis Engine Works at Milwaukee and became Allis-Chalmers with William J. as the President.

Joan Pinkerton was the only daughter of Alan Pinkerton, the detective. She was described as a striking brunette, well educated and highly independent. A classmate of hers, Lizzie Chalmers, had a brother named William and they were introduced at a party in 1876. They had a great deal in common since they were both first generation Scottish Americans. William was described as handsome, well educated and cultured. He shared Joan’s love of music. Throughout the Summer and Fall the romance blossomed. William became a regular visitor to the Pinkerton home at 554 W. Monroe Street. Mr. Pinkerton traveled frequently and Joan’s mother encouraged the relationship.

Alan Pinkerton vigorously, and with anger, opposed the marriage but the ceremony occurred October 21, 1878. It was held at the fashionable Third Presbyterian Church with Dr. A. E. Kittredge officiating. The reception was held at 372 Monroe Street which was the home of the newly married couple. The house was fully furnished including an elegant piano. It was filled with many expensive wedding gifts. The house was later robbed and many of those gifts were stolen.

In the mid-1880's, the Chalmers built a new home at 315 S. Ashland Avenue. It contained 15 rooms with a ballroom on the third floor. Across the street lived Carter H. Harrison the mayor of Chicago. The Chalmers house is still standing but is now a condominium. You can find pictures on the Internet. They sold the house in 1897. It is unclear where they lived next, but their final residence was 1100 Lake Shore Drive in Chicago.

Carter Harrison was mayor for five terms and was greatly loved by the people of Chicago. He was assassinated in his home on Ashland Avenue, October 28, 1893, around 8 p.m. The first persons on the scene were William and Joan Chalmers. They had heard the gunshots and ran to give assistance and comfort to the dying Mayor but nothing could be done to save him. The man who did the shooting was Eugene Patrick Prendergast. He was defended by Clarence S. Darrow on the grounds that he had become insane after the shooting. Prendergast had two trials and was found guilty both times. He was hanged on Friday, July 13, 1894, and was later buried in Calvary Cemetery. Carter Harrison was buried at Graceland Cemetery. Six hundred carriages, driven three abreast and 15,000 men followed the body to its final resting place.

Alan Pinkerton believed that William Chalmers would never accomplish much and thus he opposed the marriage. You can be the judge. Mr. Chalmers was President of the Commercial National Safe Deposit Co; Director of Frazer & Chalmers in London, England. Member of the Chicago Board of Education; Director of World’s Columbian Exposition; President of the Commercial Club of Chicago; Director of the Field Museum of Natural History; Member of the Union League Club, Chicago Athletic Club, Lake Geneva Country Club, Saddle and Cycle Club, and the Engineers Club of New York. The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago has the largest cut topaz in the world. It is named for William J. Chalmers.

The Chalmer’s were known for their philanthropy. They supported many causes including the Illinois Saint Andrew Society and the Scottish Home. Our records of giving are few in number but we do know that in 1927, the Chalmers sent a check for $500. Because of their many connections to Society members we would believe that they were consistent contributors. In one of the old boxes, we found a letter from Mr. Chalmer’s secretary dated 1931 which said: “Mr. Chalmers thought the enclosed picture of Scots-American Tribute to Scotland’s Dead might be of interest to the inmates of the Scottish Old Peoples Home.” The pictures are now apparently gone.

Mr. Chalmers died December 10, 1938. His wife, Joan Pinkerton Chalmers, died January 25, 1940. On at least two of our history tours, we have visited the Chalmers grave and the monument erected in their honor. There is much more to the story which we will continue in our next blog.

Wayne Rethford
President Emeritus & Historian
Illinois St. Andrew's Society

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Twenty Years After the Fire

One more blog about the dinner being held on November 18 at the Inter-Continental Hotel in Chicago.  You can get full details by clicking here.

The date is December 1, 1891 and the location is the Sherman House in Chicago. It is now twenty years since the disastrous fire in 1871.  The headlines in the Chicago Daily Tribune read “St. Andrew’s Night Celebrated.”  It was the 46th anniversary of the event.  “Before the banquet the members and guests assembled in the upper halls of the hotel and for an hour the corridors were crowded with bonny Scots, each of whom wore a sprig of Stewart plaid on his coat lapel.”  There is no explanation of why they wore the Stewart plaid instead of a sprig of heather.

The annual business meeting and elections occurred before the actual dinner and the newly elected President and Board of Governors were then introduced.  The mayor of Chicago, Hempstead Washburne, made an appearance at the business meeting and returned later for the meal.  Not sure if the Mayor was a Scot but he certainly felt at home in their presence.  He lived at 1448 Astor street where he died on June 6, 1927.  He was said to be a loyal Republican and was a member of the Chicago Club, the University Club, and the Saddle and Cycle Club. His grandson, 2nd Lt. Richard P. Washburne was lost in a raid over Germany during World War II.  His parents lived at 608 Arbor Vitae Rd. In Winnetka.

Here are some of the people who attended:  Inspector of the police department, Alexander Ross;  U. S. District Attorney, Thomas E. Milchrist; Bishop McLaren represented the clergy; Clarence S. Darrow also attended and actually gave the toast to the City of Chicago.  I wonder if he had Scottish connections?

At 8:30 the guests started for the dining room walking two abreast.  They were led by Inspector Ross and Lieut. Adam Fyfe.  “Following them were two pipers, who set the marching time with the stirring music of bagpipes.”  Following the pipers was the last surviving charter member, John Alston, and Bishop McLaren.  The dinner took an hour and then the speeches began. 

Here is part of the Menu:   Blue Points - Deep shell, Green Turtle and Celery.
Blue Fish, Burgundy Sauce, Roast of Premium Hereford Beef.  Mashed Potatoes, French Peas, Oyster Patties, Claret Punch, Quail, Scotch Haggis, Tutti Frutti, Assorted Cakes, Fruit, Stilton Cheese, Water Crackers and Coffee.  (It is obvious they ate well.  It is also the first mention of haggis being served.)

There were a number of toasts as usual.  The first being “The Day and a’ Wha Honor it”, followed by a toast to the Queen, followed by one to the President of the United States. Clarence Darrow offered a toast to “Internationalism.” Rev. John Rouse gave “The Land We Left and the Land We Live In.”

“Then the sound of pipes was heard and stalwart men, arrayed in the full costume of Highland pipers, marched into the room playing “The Campbells Are Coming.”  When a moment later the face of Gov. Campbell of Ohio was seen closely behind the pipers, there were the loudest cheers.”  The reporter said he made a “facetious speech.”

There is a long list of names of those who attended.  Some of the names I recognized are: William Kirkwood, C. W. Morris, Dr. McArthur, James McVicker, Geoffrey MacDonald, Hugh Ritchie, and George Sutherland, The number attending is not given.

Friday, November 11, 2011

President Roosevelt's D-Day prayer - A remembrance on this Veteran's Day, 2011

June 6, 1944

My fellow Americans: Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far.

And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer:

Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our Nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.

Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.

They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.

They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest-until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men's souls will be shaken with the violences of war.

For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and good will among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.

Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.

And for us at home -- fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas -- whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them--help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.

Many people have urged that I call the Nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.

Give us strength, too -- strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces.

And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.

And, O Lord, give us Faith. Give us Faith in Thee; Faith in our sons; Faith in each other; Faith in our united crusade. Let not the keenness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.

With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogancies. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister Nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace, a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.

Thy will be done, Almighty God.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Chicago Fire and The Celebration of St. Andrew's Day

One hundred forty years ago the Chicago Fire occurred and the Chicago History Museum now has an iPhone app that “combines a chronology of the fire and an analysis of the several ways in which it has entered historical memory.” You can get more information on their web site.

The City was destroyed on October 8, 1871 and the Society’s banquet honoring St. Andrew was scheduled for November 30. It was a very difficult time for the inhabitants of Chicago and some may have thought the annual dinner should have been cancelled. The President at the time was General John McArthur, a Civil War hero. The two vice-presidents were William Stewart and A. M. Thomson. Wm. M. Dale was the Treasurer with John Stewart serving as Secretary. These men could have cancelled the dinner, but they did not.

The evening of the dinner, men who once were wealthy now found themselves with nothing. Everything they owned was destroyed, only their spirit and integrity remained. Eight thousand Scottish families felt the terrible effects of their city being destroyed. The smell of smoke permeated the environment even to the clothes they wore. “Still, 120 guests managed to show their support...”

The Chicago Tribune, as it always had, carried the story. (Dec. 2, 1871, page 4). It begins: “We do not remember who it was who said that the Scotch were always leaving their native land, and always singing in her praise. The last part of the statement is undoubtedly true, and the first does not admit of much question. The land of the lake, mountain and heather is well remembered by her sons, no matter  what part of the world; like their own thistle down, chance may have blown them. The St. Andrew Society will hold their regular annual banquet at the Briggs House, and celebrate the occasion with becoming hilarity.”

The walls of the banquet room were bare. All pictures, signs and membership records had been lost when the Court House fell in flames. (They had been given permission to use a room in the court house for their meetings and all their possessions were stored there.) There is no mention of pipers, music or Highland dancers. In fact, it was almost like the first dinner held in 1845. The menu is not given - food was in short supply but there is mention of “hot scotch.” There were speeches and toasts as usual and General MacArthur spoke of charity and generosity but it must have been a quiet and subdued evening. The paper also reports: “Before sitting down to meat, each member adorned himself with a sprig of heather, imported from Scotland for the occasion.” A list of attendees is not given, so we don’t know who said Grace over the meal.

Near the close, George Anderson was again called upon to recite Tam O’Shanter. “He declined saying after the great calamity he had no heart to recite a poem abounding in such tender associations.” He did however present to the Society a ram’s head, “handsomely mounted, and ornamented with many Scottish devices.” The ram’s head is now the beloved mascot of the Society and will have a place of honor at the event this year scheduled for November 18. Click here for more information about the Annual Dinner.

The closing paragraph of the article reads: “After the customary toasts and responses, the assembly broke up, having spent a delightful evening.”

This annual dinner, originally held to celebrate the Patron Saint of Scotland, has never been cancelled.

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


Monday, October 31, 2011

St. Andrew's Day Celebrated in Chicago for the First Time - 1845

The Annual Dinner of the Illinois Saint Andrew Society is scheduled for November 18 at the Inner-Continental Hotel on Michigan Ave., Chicago, Illinois and you can get all the necessary information at their web site.

This event has now been held continuously for 166 years and is the oldest of its kind in Chicago. The original purpose was to celebrate St. Andrew’s Day as indicated by the headlines in the Chicago Daily Journal of December 6, 1845. November 30 is St. Andrew’s Day but, if it fell on Sunday as it did in 1845, the event was held the next night. As most of you know, it was at the Lake House hotel, along the banks of the Chicago River and only a few steps from the present location of the Wrigley Building.

James Murray, Esq. came from Buffalo, N.Y. to chair the meeting. Mr. Murray was a private banker who had lived in Chicago but had sold his business to Alexander Brand and moved to Buffalo. He was assisted by George Steele and Daniel McElroy. Also, on the platform were Judge Thomson and the Rev. Mr. Giles. The Daily Journal reported that between “fifty and sixty sat down to a sumptuous dinner.”

Music was supplied by two individuals but it is unclear what kind of instruments they played. Here is a list of some of the songs they played after the appropriate toasts: It was in this order: “God Save the Queen,” “Star-Spangled Banner,” “Lochiel’s March,” “Washington March,” “Yankee Doodle,” and “Green Grow the Rushes O.” You can hear all of these songs on the Internet. (One song I couldn’t find on the Internet was “Nannia ch,” however the newspaper is very old so perhaps I am not spelling it correctly.)

Apparently there were no dancers but there may have been a piper because George Anderson had written to Rockford, IL. seeking one. The actual letter was purchased from a collector several years ago and is on display in the Scottish American Museum.

After the nine planned toasts with appropriate music, there were some 20 “volunteer toasts” which included such things as: “The Bench and Bar in Illinois,” “The Lyrics of Scotland and her Literature,” “Robert Burns,” “The City of Edinburgh,” and last of all “The Highlands of Scotland” offered by D. E. Ross. The paper reports that the room was “appropriately decorated with the Stars and Stripes blending with the Plaid and Thistle.” There is no indication of what was on the menu or what those in attendance wore.

Captain John McClellan (not the famous Civil War general) was in attendance. He was here working on the Chicago harbor. There is no known record of who planned the event or when they began planning but since George Steele was shown as president in 1845, one would suspect that he was much involved. We do know he passed around a paper soliciting names of those interested in forming a St. Andrew’s Society. The first formal meeting of the new organization was held in January 1846.

The event on November 18 will be totally different from the first one, even the emphasis will not be the same, but it all started 166 years ago.

Wayne Rethford, Historian
Scottish-American History Club


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Titanic and Some of The Scots Who Died in The Disaster

The Titanic, a magnificent ship and the largest ever made up to its time, was built in Northern Ireland. Perhaps, they should have used John Brown and Company of Clydebank which built such world-famous ships as the Lusitania and the Queen Mary. Not sure if this is correct, but I have read that some of the rivets which failed in the collision may have been below standard.

The Titanic had a telephone system, lending library, swimming pool, squash courts and a gymnasium. First class passengers had the use of three elevators with one in second class. The most expensive one-way fare was $99,237.00 (using 2011 values).

The Captain was Edward John Smith who went down with his ship. His body was never recovered. The First Officer was William McMaster Murdock who was born in Dalbeattie, Dumfries, Scotland, and was the officer in charge on the bridge. If his body was recovered, it was never identified. In the recent movie he committed suicide which is not true because numerous people saw him in the water assisting others. The film producers were asked to change the suicide scene but they refused. Studio executives later flew to Murdock’s hometown to issue an apology to his surviving relatives and establish a memorial fund.

The orchestra was composed of eight people. The violinist was John Law Hume also from Dumfries, Scotland. It is true that the band played as the ship was sinking and one of the songs was Sarah Adams’ “Nearer, My God, To Thee.” John Hume was twenty-one and lived with his parents on George St. It was believed that when he finished this trip, he was to return home and marry. The body of John Hume was recovered and he is buried in grave #193 in Fairview Cemetery, Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Another young man from Dumfries was Thomas Mullin. Thomas was 20 years old and single. His body was recovered (#323) and buried in Fairview Lawn Cemetery, Halifax, Nova Scotia on May 10, 1912. Later, the people of Dumfries would erect a monument to honor both men. The monument is 16.5 ft. in height and “covers a space of 9.5 square feet." On the front is an engraving of the Titanic and a bronze scroll of music containing the music for “Nearer My God to Thee”. I assume the monument is still in Dock Park. Perhaps, someone could check and let us know how the monument looks after nearly 100 years.

I received an email from Michael C. Copperthite who lives in Falls Church, VA. stating that a Scottish relative of his named Bert Copperthite also died on the Titanic. He was a fireman but I don’t know if his body was ever recovered. Michael if you have more information, please let us know.

The next meeting of the Scottish American History Club will be November 5th and we will share the program with the Scottish Home. Caroline Goldthorpe will present a program on “Life Aboard the Titanic.” Ms. Goldthorpe, formerly a curator with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, is now Director of Museum Studies at Northwestern University.

This paid lecture is a gift from Mr. and Mrs. Jamie McKechnie.  If you have questions please call the number below.

Wayne Rethford
President Emeritus
Illinois St. Andrews Society


Monday, October 10, 2011


A little after midnight on April 15, 1912, the R.M.S. Titanic sank off the coast of Newfoundland and took the lives of more than 1,500 passengers and crew. In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, attention focused on the Douglas family because Walter and Mahala Douglas, along with their maid Berthe Leroy, were returning from Europe. They had boarded at Cherbourg, were traveling first class, and assigned to cabin C-86.

(If you google the name “Berthe Leroy: Titanic Survivor”, you will get some interesting information about this lady who stayed with Mrs. Douglas until her death, crossed the Atlantic 19 times, married, became an American citizen and died in France, July 4, 1972.)

Walter Douglas was the son of George Douglas, one of the founders of the Quaker Oats Company. Walter Douglas had been widowed at age 37 and in 1906 married Mahala Dutton Benedict. He had just retired on January 1, 1912. Walter and Mahala had built a mansion overlooking Lake Minnetonka that was said to be a copy of a French palace. The three-month trip to Europe was to obtain furnishings for their new home. Does anyone know if the mansion still exists? At the time of his death, Mr. Douglas was a director of the Quaker Oats company and his wealth was estimated at four million dollars. When his body was recovered, he was dressed in his finest and had helped lower the last lifeboat of the Titanic. It is reported that he refused to leave the ship with others, saying it would make him “less than a man.”

His body (No. 62) was recovered by the cable ship Mackay-Bennett. The crew reported they had recovered a man about 55 with gray hair, in evening dress with the initials W.D.D. on the shirt. They also recovered a gold watch and chain, a gold cigarette case, five gold studs, a wedding ring engraved May 19, 1884. In addition there was a pocket letter case with $551.00 and a one pound note and five note cards.

Mr. Douglas was first taken to his home in Minneapolis and then by special train to Cedar Rapids for burial in Oak Hill cemetery. Later, Mahala returned to her new home and became involved in the life of Minneapolis. She did some writing about the Titanic and actually wrote a poem about the sinking. You can find this poem on the Internet as well as her testimony before a Senate committee investigating the cause of the sinking. She died in 1945 in Pasadena, California where she had a summer home. She is buried with her husband.

Next year the world will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the sinking. I understand the movie will be released in 3-D and I am sure the History Channel will have many programs. The History Channel has already aired several programs about the Titanic and especially on attempts to raise a large section of the ship. After repeated attempts the section was raised and it turned out to be a portion of cabin C-86 where Mr. and Mrs. Douglas had their quarters.

The Illinois St. Andrews Society has had many connections with the Douglas family and Quaker Oats. We are grateful for their help and support.

The next meeting of the Scottish American History Club will be November 5th and we will share the program with the Scottish Home. Caroline Goldthorpe will present a program on “Life Aboard the Titanic.” Ms. Goldthorpe, formerly a curator with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, is now Director of Museum Studies at Northwestern University.

This paid lecture is a gift from Mr. and Mrs. Jamie McKechnie.

Wayne Rethford
President Emeritus
Illinois St. Andrew Society

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


We are looking for ways to expand the number of people who receive our blog. So, we recently added a number of Scottish organizations and St. Andrew’s Societies around the world. (You can easily opt-out if not interested.) We currently have over 900 on our list and will happily add anyone interested. Just send us a name and email address.

The Scottish American History Club has several goals, first we want to tell the story of our history and its people and second, we want to encourage others to become bloggers. It’s relatively simple and inexpensive to set-up a blog and the stories are endless. In America, I can’t think of a state that doesn’t have a strong Scottish influence.

Our blog is mostly concerned with the Chicago area and the Illinois Saint Andrew Society. Our Society began in 1845 and so we have a long history of people and events. The Society also owns a health care facility called the Scottish Home in North Riverside, Illinois (USA). Thus, many of our stories are about the Home which is 111 years old. However, we do write of other things like today’s story.

On November 2, 2011, The Bank of England will introduce a new 50 pound bank note. For the first time the banknote will have two portraits. One is of James Watt and the other is his business partner Matthew Boulton (pronounced Boulten). The present fifty pound note featuring Sir John Houblon will be gradually withdrawn.

James Watt was born in Greenock, Scotland on January 19, 1736. He began his working career learning the trade of mathematical-instrument making in London. Later, when he returned to Glasgow, he set up a work shop at Glasgow University where he repaired and calibrated instruments. However, he soon became interested in the steam engine which at the time was just being used to pump water from mines. As an engineer, Watt worked on the Forth and Clyde Canal and the Caledonian Canal. He also worked to improve harbors and the deepening of rivers in Scotland like the Forth and Clyde. One of his inventions was an attachment to telescopes for the measuring of distances.

The term by which we measure electricity is named for him and he also coined the word horsepower. Watt charged his customers an extra premium for using his engine. "Watt calculated that a horse exerted a pull of 180 lbs; therefore, when he made a machine, he described its power in relation to a horse: a 20 horse-power engine, for instance. Watt worked out how much each company saved by using his machine rather than a team of horses. The company then had to pay him one third of that figure every year for the next twenty-five years.” The government gave Watt and Boulton a monopoly on the construction of steam engines. There was never any competition.

James Watt didn’t invent the steam engine but like so many other Scottish inventors he improved on the idea. (McCormick didn’t invent the reaper, he just made it work better, especially when the grain was wet.) The first patent issued to James Watt was in 1769 and had to do with a separate condensing chamber which greatly increased the power of the engine. He also made it a rotary engine.

Arthur Herman in his book How the Scots Invented The Modern World writes about the influence of these two men, Watt and Boulton. He wrote, “They made the modern factory, and the factory system, possible. They also altered the way people saw the world. That became clear when James Boswell visited their Soho works outside Birmingham, and Boulton showed him around, uttering the famous phase: ‘I sell here, Sir, what all the world desires to have: power.’”

James Watt died in Heathfield, England, August 19, 1819. “By the time he died, he’d changed history and was the most honored engineer who had ever lived.”

Wayne Rethford
President Emeritus
Illinois St. Andrew’s Society

The next meeting of the Scottish American History Club will be November 7, 2011. We will have a guest speaker on the subject of the Titanic. More information to follow. No December meeting. Visit our web site at

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


This coming Saturday (Oct. 1, 2011) the Scottish American History Club will share its time with the Illinois St. Andrew Society and the Scottish Home as they celebrate “100 Years in North Riverside.” The meeting begins at 2:00 p.m. and reservations are necessary (708-447-5092). Attendance is limited to 125. There will be refreshments: “special teas, coffee, scones with clotted cream, shortbread, muffins and an array of finger sandwiches.” I will be repeating a presentation on the history of the Scottish Home given at the North American Leadership Conference last year. If you have never visited the Scottish Home this would be good opportunity.

The Scottish Home was originally located on Chicago’s south side, close to the lake. The two story brownstone was small and located next to the railroad tracks that run along Lake Michigan. It was decided to move further away from the smoke-filled air to the countryside. We do not know who located the five acres for sale in Riverside.

The land was owned by Mary V. Hughes and the asking price was $2,500.00. It was described as "on a ridge 1,000 feet east of the Des Plaines river, is well wooded and has flourishing apple trees as an attraction.” The Board of Governors approved the purchase on June 8, 1909, and Dr. John McGill donated the money. (Older Society records indicate that Dr. McGill owned the land but that does not appear to be accurate.)

Riverside was the first planned community in the United States and had train access to Chicago. It also served as the summer home for a large numbers of families. When the Great Fire occurred in 1871, many of those families moved permanently to Riverside. The Riverside Golf Club was established in 1893 and at least one Scot served on that original board. It is said that a fresh water spring ran near the first tee and here local residents obtained their drinking water. The Des Plaines River was also a popular attraction being used for fishing, camping and boating. I have been told that one of the boat docks was at the end of 28th street and that was one of the prime reasons for extending the street past the Scottish Home.

When the Columbian Exposition occurred in 1893, a local newspaper reports that much of the top soil in the area now known as North Riverside was removed and used for the floral displays at the Fair. During Prohibition the area was used for making illegal whiskey and was often raided by the Feds. In May 1928, just north of the present Village Hall, two carloads of gangsters ambushed the Chief of Police and two others as they drove down Des Plaines Avenue. Melody Mill located where the Village complex now stands was a very famous dance hall with a skating rink in the basement, Rumor has it that it was owned by Al Capone. When bicycle clubs were popular, group trips to Riverside were often on the calendar.

The Annual Report of the Secretary of the Board of Governors for the year 1913 states: “During the year, the village authorities at Riverside admitted that a certain street adjacent to the Home on the south end which had been enclosed by a fence, be removed and placed back on the block line, which took seventy-nine feet of the space on that end of the ground.” The Administrator, Mrs. Cora J.Cummings was very unhappy about this loss of property.

The cornerstone of the new building was laid May 21, 1910. Many Scots were present with John Williamson, Rev. James MacLagan, Rev. Balcom Shaw, James B. Forgan, and Horace D. Nugent, British consul general, participating in the program. Involved in raising money for the Home were members of the United Scottish Societies but they quickly withdrew from ownership and the project was turned over to the St. Andrew Society. Residents moved into their new home in October and the Scottish Home was dedicated on November 5, 1910.

The Scottish Home was destroyed by fire, March 17, 1917, but was quickly rebuilt.

North Riverside was incorporated in 1923 and consisted of 50 homes and 200 residents. The population in 2009 was 6,203.

Wayne Rethford
President Emeritus
Illinois St. Andrew's Society

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Miscellaneous Notes

August 12, 1948

The obituary of Andrew Taylor Porter, 90, brother-in-law to Frank Lloyd Wright who died at his home, Tan-Y-Deri, near Spring Green, Wisconsin.  He was a native of Scotland and had first founded an importing company in Montreal and later entered in the investment business in Chicago.  He was married in 1900 to Jane Lloyd Wright, of Oak Park, who survives as does one son, Franklin, of White Plaines,  New York.

December 28, 1892

The Royal Scots Regiment held a Christmas reception at 75 Randolph St.  Eight hundred people were present. Music was supplied by eight bagpipers one of whom was Maj. Beaton of Cleveland, who was the champion American piper.  The Regiment planned to be part of the Rob Roy celebration of the 134th anniversary of Robert Burns. They were to take part in the McGregor charge at the celebration.
August 9, 1892

One hundred Scots, each man six feet tall and wearing the Royal Stuart kilt and armed with a claymore will form a new organization.  The first meeting was held in Parlor A of the Grand Pacific Hotel.  Royal Stuart was chosen  because they said “it represents all of Scotland and not any particular clan.”  All members were selected for size and build.
November 18, 1956

The first in a series of afternoon teas were started on November 18, 1956, at the Scottish Home.  The hosts were: “ George Buiks of Maywood, the junior John Allwoods of River Forest, the Stuart B. Potters of Riverside, and Mrs. C. Edward Larson, the superintendent of the home.”  These informal parties were organized by the Ladies Auxiliary for Chicagoland Scots.  The article in the Chicago Daily Tribune also mentions that the “Old People’s Home is a beneficiary of the annual tag day of the Chicago Federation of Aged and Adult Charities.”  Mrs. Potter had succeed Mrs. John Hutchinson of Kenilworth as the chairman for tag day for the home.

October 27, 1900

 “There was a gathering of the Clan Campbell in Oakley Hall last night to celebrate the arrival in Chicago of a genuine Gyrony flag of the Campbells of Argyll, which the Duke of Argyll recently presented to the clan.  The flag was unfurled amid cheers, while the band planed The Campbells are Coming.  It was placed beside a handsome silk American flag, and then the band played The Star Spangled Banner. 

The Gyrony flag is the historic emblem of Argyll.  It floats over Inveraray Castle in Scotland whenever the Duke of Argyll is within the walls.  Its design is that of four black triangles and four yellow triangles, all converging to the center.  The Clan Campbell of Cook County has increased in numbers during the last two years from sixteen to 108.  It is No. 28 of the Order of Scottish Clans.

Wayne Rethford
President Emeritus
Illinois St. Andrew Society

September 17, 2011 - The Scottish American History Club will meet in Heritage Hall at the Scottish Home.  Our special speaker will be Brett Batterson, Executive Director of the Auditorium Theater of Roosevelt University. You will enjoy his presentation at 10:00 a.m.  and it will serve as the foundation of a proposed history tour sometime in the future.

October 1, 2011 - Please note there will be some major changes in the format of our October meeting.  The time will change to the afternoon.  Reservations are required (708-447-5092) and seating is limited to 125.  Watch for further announcements on the web site.

Saturday, September 3, 2011


On August 27, 2011, a number of us attended the memorial for Don Gillies at the Lake Street Church of Evanston, IL. Don had served as president of the Illinois Saint Andrew Society and had been a supporter of our programs since becoming a life member in 1975. It was good to see David Fargo, who was president in 1981-82, and is now the oldest surviving member to have served in that position. Other past-presidents attending were: Robert Bruce Graham, Alexander D. Kerr, Jr. , myself and Gus Noble, the current president.

The service was held in the Lake Street Church, which was founded in 1858 as the First Baptist Society in Evanston. (A change in names occurred in the mid 1990's.) The Victorian Gothic building was erected in 1875 for a total cost of $30,647.63. The church is just magnificent and is now the oldest public building in Evanston. There is much information on the Internet about the church and the building.

I knew something about the church from a study of the life of Andrew MacLeish. Mr. MacLeish was born in Glasgow, Scotland and came to Chicago in 1857, where, in time, he became associated with Carson, Pirie & Scott. Under his leadership the State Street Store was purchased and “the rest is Chicago retail history.”

Andrew MacLeish married Martha Hillard in 1888 and they eventually moved to 627 Adams St. in Glencoe, IL. They became members of the First Baptist Church in Evanston. Mr. MacLeish was a very religious man and regularly taught a Sunday School class. Martha Hillard MacLeish was the first president of Rockford College and was a leader in religious and cultural activities that made “her one of the most esteemed women of Chicago and the North Shore.”

Kenneth MacLeish was the youngest son of Andrew and Martha MacLeish. He was a student at Yale when America entered World War I and was also a member of the First Yale Unit, composed of young men who loved flying. Kenneth was killed in a dog fight over Belgium three weeks before the war ended. He is buried in Flanders Field and the parents sought solace and comfort at their church in Evanston.

On April 8, 1923, the church dedicated a “churchhouse” adjoining the present sanctuary. It contains a hall “named after and in memory of Lt. Kenneth MacLeish.”

Jean Gillies, sister of Don, was kind enough to give Gus Noble and me a tour of the annex where we viewed the hall dedicated to this brave young man. A plaque tells his story. Once a picture of Kenneth along with a cross made of wood taken from Flanders Field adorned the wall. Those items mysteriously disappeared a few years ago.

If you would like to know more about Kenneth MacLeish and his love affair with Priscilla Murdock, I recommend you read The Price of Honor by Geoffrey L. Rossano or The Millionaires’ Unit by Marc Wortman.

Wayne Rethford
President Emeritus
Illinois St. Andrews Society

P.S. The History Club will meet September 17 at the Scottish Home. (This is a change in date.) Our speaker will be Brett Batterson, Executive Director of the Auditorium Theater of Roosevelt University. After spending 11 years at the Michigan Opera Theater in Detroit, he came to Chicago in 2004. Under his direction, a number of significant changes have occurred to the building and its programming. You will enjoy his presentation and it will serve as the foundation for a proposed tour of the Auditorium sometime in the future.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Donald A. Gillies (1931-2011) A man who loved all things Scottish and a close friend is dead.

I first met Don Gillies in the fall of 1985. Rev. Arthur T. Guscott brought us together for lunch at the University Club in Chicago. The Scottish Home was seeking to hire an Administrator and I was being interviewed. I suppose his findings were passed along to the search committee and my next interview was with Peter Georgeson and Bob Black at the Scottish Home. I was hired in December of 1985 and reported for work in January, 1986.

Don was a very demanding boss and called almost every day to check on my progress. We developed a strong bond and became close friends. Our last lunch was also at the University Club, but I am not sure of the date. He was struggling with his Parkinsons disease but there was not the slightest verbal hint that anything was wrong. We talked of past days and perhaps both of us understood that this would be our last lunch. We shook hands for a long time and then parted. I will always consider Don Gillies a close, personal friend.  Our Society is much indebted to him for his years of service and his dedication to our work.

His obituary was printed in the Chicago Tribune, August 22,  and a memorial service will be held this Saturday at 11 a.m. at the Lake Street Church, 607 Lake Street, Evanston, IL. If you would like a copy of his obituary, you may call the Society office or email me at He is survived by his wife Judith, a daughter Beth and a sister Jean.

Here are some comments from the obiturary.

Graduate of Denison University and J.D. at Northwestern University
Member of Phi Beta Kappa
Board of Trustees, University of Chicago - 1977 to 1983
Board President of The Baptist Theological Union - 27 years
Vice President and Board of Directors, Baptist Retirement Home
President of the Illinois St. Andrew Society - 1986 to 1988
Member of the Skokie Country Club in Glencoe since 1976
Frequently traveled to Scotland with his wife to play golf
Loved bagpipe music and all things Scottish
Partner with Altheimer & Gray, which he joined in 1961
Counsel with Holland & Knight from 2003 until retirement
Specialized in taxation and estate law.

Wayne Rethford
President Emeritus
Illinois Saint Andrew Society

Monday, August 22, 2011


PLEASE NOTEThe History Club meeting scheduled for September 10 has been rescheduled for September 17.

I have had several emails wanting more information about the Auditorium building and the seating capacity of the theater. The story of the Auditorium is a great story and someone should write a book if it hasn’t already been done.

There are several different numbers about the seating capacity of the Auditorium Theater. When the first events were held there was no permanent seating. Folding chairs were used along with overflow spaces. This may be where the 9,000 number originated. (It could also be that the reporter was wrong with his estimate.) Later there is a statement in the Tribune saying that the theater was built to seat 4,237 "and was the largest permanent theater every constructed in the world up to that time.”

During the first political convention, folding chairs were used and the newspaper reports that there were 5,000 spectators, 2,000 reporters plus the delegates. In 1889, the Tribune reports that 5,000 opera-chairs were furnished by “the old and reliable house of A. H Andrews and Co.” Today, I understand the Theater seats 2,327.

The Tribune in 1887, lists the original stockholders and more than 100 names are listed. The officers of the corporations were: Charles L. Hutchinson, John R. Walsh, N. F. Fairbanks, A. L. Coe, Charles Counselman, A. A. Sprague, M. A. Ryerson, W. E. Hale, William Penn Nixon, Henry Field, and Ferdinand W. Peck. Mr. Peck served as President.

It is the only major Adler and Sullivan Building remaining in Chicago and was marked by grand stairways, magnificent arches, stained glass, 22-karat gold leaf and an acoustically perfect auditorium. Upwards of 60,000 sq. ft. of plate glass was used in the building. On top of the Auditorium is an 8-story office building. Not sure how the office building is used today but, it once recorded the official temperatures for the city of Chicago and was the tallest structure in town.

The opening performance on December 11, 1889, was a “Grand Italian Opera production of Romeo and Juliet.”

The building was among the first to be totally wired for electricity and one of the last great buildings to rest on sand and mud without a foundation of caissons. The area of the site is about two acres.

A 10-foot duct brought in air from the roof and was cooled by sprays of water in the summer and the air was heated in the winter. The vast stage with its elevators and backdrops was designed in Vienna.

The Chicago Opera Company used the theater for 40 years but the building was never a financial success and by the Great Depression the Chicago Auditorium Association was bankrupt. Bids to demolish the building were taken in 1930 and 1931, but the cost of demolition was greater than the value of the land. The question of who had authority to demolish the building, the land owners or the Association, became a legal issue and made it all the way to the Supreme Court.

During World War II, the Auditorium served as the USO and the great stage was turned into a bowling alley.

Roosevelt University bought the building in 1946 for $400,000 and a promise to pay back taxes of $1,300,000. The Founders had originally chosen the name of Jefferson University but when President Roosevelt died on April 12, 1945, the name was changed. The University began restoring the Theater in 1960 and it was reopened in 1967.

In Chicago, who owns the land is always interesting. Part of the land, the northeast corner, was owned by the Studebaker Brothers Manufacturing Company. In 1903, that lease was assigned to the Fine Arts Association. The term of the lease was for 99 years. In 1889, Boston capitalists purchased the southwest corner of the property for $232,200. It was leased back to the Auditorium Association for 99 years. Henry J. Willing once owned a major portion of the land. Over time, the University has purchased back most of the land according to an article in the Chicago Tribune dated, February 27, 1947. One lease does not expire until 2085. It was written for 200 years.

We are considering a Fall history tour to visit the Auditorium Theater. The History Club meeting on September 17 will feature the Director of the Auditorium Theater.  Once we have more information, we will send everyone an email with the details.

Wayne Rethford
President Scottish American History Club

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Scots Celebrate Robert Burns in the Newly Opened Auditorium Theatre, 1890

The Auditorium Theater in Chicago was dedicated on December 9, 1889, and the Scottish people held one of the first events in the new building on January 25, 1890. It was a celebration of Robert Burns.  The headlines read “Scotch Citizens pack the auditorium to do the Bard Honor.” The Auditorium was said to seat 9,000 and was the largest building of its kind in the world.

The Highland Association rented the auditorium for the occasion. The Chicago Daily Tribune reported, “well-to-do Scotchmen - and there are scores of them in Chicago - bought boxes and sat in them with their wives and families; middle-class Scotchmen and Scotchwomen occupied the vast parquet and parquet circle, transforming the spacious hall into a sweeping upland of smiling faces.” Young people chose the balcony so that every seat was filled and there was standing room only.

The paper gave an interesting list of those on the platform and indicated they are all Scottish, including Mayor Cregier. Among the other names listed were: General M. M. Trumbull, Peter McEwen, F. B. Williams, George Stewart, Colin Bell, A. G. Hodge, John McLean, John McKinnon, Dr. Reynolds and the Rev. W. Kettle.

The Orator of the evening was the Rev. Dr. Lorimer and his theme was Robert Burns, the Poet of the People. “For Robert Burns, the poor man, the speaker had only words of praise; for Robert Burns, the songster who stirred men’s hearts to a marvelous degree, praise became something warmer and dearer. But higher than all, Robert Burns, the teacher, the poet-philosopher, who spurned the trappings of a monarch’s court and took off his hat to a picture of George Washington, who taught men to soar above narrow-mindedness and in a universal brotherhood to recognize the attributes of an all-merciful Heaven-for such a Burns, Dr. Lorimer’s words were eloquent almost to veneration. And that other side of the poet’s character - the rollicking, ne’er-do-weel, amorous country swain - even that was shorn of its unpleasantness by the kindly portrayal of the orator.”

The highlight of the evening was the singing of young Blatchford Kavanaugh. Not sure of his age, but he was a child and became quite famous for his singing. That evening he sang “Cuddle Doon,” “Annie Laurie” and later in the program dressed in Highland costume sang “Ye Banks and Braes o’ Bonnie Doon.” A reporter wrote that “it looked for a while as if the audience would be crazed with delight.” If you search the Internet there is more information about the child Blatchford Kavanaugh. He must have been an amazing singer. I do not know what happened to him as an adult.

There were other songs, singers and Highland dancers. Of all the dancing, the Highland fling drew the greatest applause. It was a great evening of entertainment and must have been quite a sight to see the Auditorium filled with “Scotchmen in broadcloth and Scotchmen in tartan kilt, Scotch lassies in bran noo gownes, and Scotch guidwives in go-to-meeting clothes . . . ”

Chicago had a large Scottish population. In fact, some have said it had the largest Scottish population of any major American city. We still have a large population of Scottish Americans scattered throughout the greater Chicago area. We would ask all of them to support the Illinois St. Andrew Society and The Scots of Chicago and keep alive their heritage.

For more information go to

Wayne Rethford
President Emeritus

If you don’t know history you are a leaf that doesn’t know its part of a tree.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Auditorium Theater and Hotel

The Chicago Daily Tribune announced on January 30, 1887, that ground had been broken for the Chicago Auditorium Building which was to be 11 stories high and have a seating capacity of 5,000 to 8,000, and cost $1,500,000. In order to clear the land it was necessary to remove three residences, a large skating rink, and the Hotel Brunswick.

In April the paper reported again with information taken from the specifications of the architects. Now, the building is to cost two million dollars. And be 10 stories high. When completed is was to be a hotel and auditorium. The hotel entrance was to be on Michigan avenue and the auditorium on Congress street. “The auditorium will be the largest in the word, containing 5,000 seats and a full seating capacity of 9,000.” The amount of iron used will be the largest ever made for one building, 4,000 tons of materials.

The plans for the building were provided by Adler and Sullivan who carefully prepared the foundation. Frank Lloyd Wright as a young man served as a draftsman. The borings for the floating foundation extended 60 feet “into the tunnel clay.” The excavation required the removal of 30,000 cubic yards of earth. (I suppose they only had horse-power, but it is not clear how long the process took.) For the foundation “two transverse layers of twelve-inch timber were first put down. Above these was placed a mass of concrete in which was imbedded railroad bars and T beams.”

For the hotel they dug an artesian well to a depth of over 1,200 feet which would furnish 150 gallons per minute for hotel use. There were nine passenger elevators and four freight elevators. The hotel had 400 rooms, with 100 rooms having a private bath. The dining room was on the tenth floor. We can only imagine how beautiful the hotel was for their special guests.

There was an immense organ in the auditorium. It was built by Frank Roosevelt of New York and contained four-manual, 175 stops and 7,371 pipes and bells. The largest pipes were thirty-two feet in height. It was to cost fifty thousand dollars. I don’t know if the organ still exists.

It was later decided that the substructure up to the top of the second floor would be granite. The rest of the building would be stone A new stone was to be introduced. It was a “fine gray granite, with a rose-colored tint running though it.” The quarries were located in St. Louis County, Minnesota about 80 miles north of Duluth and 50 miles west of Lake Superior. The cutting, polishing and preparations would be done in Chicago by Chicago workmen.

The Auditorium was formally dedicated December 9, 1889 by President Benjamin Harrison. It was now ready for numerous Scottish events including a tribute to Queen Victoria.

There is more to the story and you can find additional information on the Internet.

Wayne Rethford
President Emeritus
Illinois St. Andrew Society

The next meeting of the Scottish American History Club is September 10, 2011. Watch for announcement of special speaker. Subject: “The Scottish Roots of Rotary.”

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Andrew Hervey, Five Times President of the Illinois St. Andrew's Society

Those who attend our monthly History Club meetings know the name Andrew Hervey because he served more terms as President of our Society than anyone. Born in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1820, he kept alive his love for his native land. In fact, he “did not renounce his allegiance to Queen Victoria until 1892." (I assume that means he became an American citizen in 1892?)

He was a graduate of Glasgow University in 1842 and at the age of 30, he emigrated to Canada and began to practice law in Ottawa. He married Miss Mariah Jones whose father was a Loyalist in the American Revolution and moved to Canada for refuge. Mr. Hervey and his wife moved to Chicago in 1852 but Mrs. Hervey must have died shortly thereafter. Sometime later, he married Miss Jeannie E. Graham.

He grew with the legal profession as the city grew. “In his early days he was associated with Abraham Lincoln and other giants in the legal arena.” He was one of the founders of the Chicago Bar Association. One of his most famous cases was the defense of Judge Morris, who was once his partner. The Judge was implicated in a conspiracy to liberate 300 rebel prisoners held at Fort Douglas. He also took a leading role in the defense of 19 Aldermen indicted for bribery in 1872.

During the Civil War, he was too old for active duty but once took “a stand of colors to an Illinois regiment at the front.” (12th Illinois Infantry?) Here, he became acquainted with General Grant. He was always very popular with the “Scotch-American” citizens of Chicago. Between 1857 and 1874, he served five terms as President of the Illinois St. Andrew Society. He was also prominent in the Caledonian Society “and in every way has done good work in the interest of his fellow-countrymen.” He “was regarded by Scotch citizens as their representative on all public occasions.” He was one of the Committee of One Hundred that escorted Mr. Lincoln’s body from Chicago to Springfield.

Mr. Hervey retired in 1887 and invested heavily in certain stocks upon the advice of friends. The company failed and “his entire fortune was swallowed up.” Shortly thereafter his health broke and he became “enfeebled” in mind as well. “In spite of it all and through it all, however, he has kept the charming manners and the gracious bearing which have always marked him as a polished gentleman of the old school.”

 He died December 15, 1902 at his residence 33 Twenty-Fifth street in Chicago. He is buried in Oak Woods cemetery and the Saint Andrew Society officiated at his funeral. Two children survived: one daughter lived in Canada and one son, Robert D., lived in Tonawanda, Iowa. Both children were from the first marriage.

Shortly before his death the citizens of Chicago held a benefit for him at the Auditorium Theater and thousands attended. I will perhaps write about that in the next blog. Gus Noble, the President of the Society and I have been talking about the Auditorium Theater and the Scottish events held there after it was built in 1888. We will be writing more about this later.

Robert Hervey was a great man who served his profession and his community with great zeal.

Wayne Rethford
President Emeritus
Illinois St. Andrew Society

The 95th Annual Scottish Home picnic is this Saturday. I will have the museum open from 10-2. This would be a good opportunity to visit the Scottish Home. More information is on their web site.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Ernie Pyle Visits Edinburgh in 1941

Ernie Pyle was a famous journalist during the Second World War. He mostly wrote about the infantry soldier on the battlefields of Europe but, early in the war, he visited England and Scotland. This is how he wrote and this is what he had to say.

Ernie Pyle, 1941

“Edinburgh is a graceful city. It is the Washington or the Ottawa of Scotland. It is a city of government. It is a planned city. And it is the sturdiest city I have ever seen. In its buildings, I mean. Everything is of massive stone, so massive and so heavy that the entire municipality seems embedded in the rock underfoot.

“It seems to me that Edinburgh would stand up physically under an aerial blitz better than any other city in Britain. They haven’t had one yet, and let’s hope they don’t. If they ever do, it will be the rankest of outrages, for Edinburgh is not an industrial city. (EWR note: I don’t know if Edinburgh was bombed during the war. Glasgow was because of the shipyards. Does anyone know about Edinburgh?)

“Many things are different up here. There is more food than in London, and a greater variety of it. There are beautiful restaurants, where Scottish officers dancing in kilts make a picture. Edinburgh children were evacuated, but 80 per cent of them have come back. The movies run during the day and the night.

“True, Scotland has not been on the receiving end of many bombs. True also, there is a certain fundamental dislike of England, but that goes by the boards in an emergency. Their heart is in the war all right. I get the impression that if I were an invading German, or even a fire bomb, I wouldn’t relish the job of trying the land on Scottish soil.

“I like the Scottish people. Somehow, I had them all wrong. For one thing I thought I wouldn’t be able to understand anything they said, but they are easy to understand. Also, I thought they were dour. On the contrary they are fundamentally witty. It is hard for a Scotsman to go five minutes without giving something a funny twist, and it usually is a left-handed twist. All in all, I have found the Scots much more like Americans than the Englishmen are. I feel perfectly at home with them.

“And incidentally, just a couple of tips in case you ever come over here. Don’t refer to Scotland as if it were a part of England, as I did, for it isn’t. England is England, and Scotland is Scotland. Many bars now limit their customers to two drinks. The whiskey is being sent to America for good American dollars to spend on arms."

(Ernest Taylor Pyle was born August 3, 1900, near Dana, Indiana. He was an American journalist who served as a roving correspondent for the Scripps Howard newspapers. As a war correspondent during WWII he wrote about the common soldier and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1944. On August 18, 1945 on an island off Okinawa, he died after being hit by Japanese machine-gun fire. He was buried with his helmet on among other American soldiers in a long row of graves. Later, his body was moved to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific located in Honolulu. There is much information about Ernie Pyle on the Internet. Millions of us cried upon hearing of his death. He was much loved by the American people. I have read that he had a Scottish heritage. Anyone know for sure?)

Wayne Rethford
President Emeritus

P.S.  August 6 is the Scottish Home Picnic, 2800 Des Plaines Avenue, North Riverside, IL.  I will have the museum open from 10-2.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Chicago Storm, August 5, 1862. Reads like our storm of last night.

We have been experiencing some severe thunderstorms in the Chicago area this summer. I came across this article in the Chicago Tribune, dated 5 August, 1862.  If newspaper people could still write like this, I might renew my subscription.

“One of the most terrific storms which has ever visited this section of country swept over Chicago yesterday afternoon and evening. About noon great masses of threatening clouds, piled up in the most fantastic shape, began to gather at almost every point of the horizon, cumulating in cones and pyramids, in a few minutes changing to spiral whorls, and again massing like a vast army for a final desperate charge - all the time traveling and approaching each other with inconceivable rapidity.”

“About three o’clock, a heavy black bank of clouds...came racing up from the west with a velocity almost like that of a flash of lightning. Almost instantaneously it grew dark. The entire heavens were clouded over. Blinding clouds of dust filled the air; sticks, stones, leaves and boughs of trees flew in every direction. The advent of the gale announced itself by a hollow moaning, followed by a full and unmistakable development of its presence.”

“Hugh trees were bent to the ground; smaller trees, more especially cotton woods, were thirsted of at the base as one would twist a straw. In every part of the city, branches were snapped off like pipe stems. Chimneys, steam pipes, signs and awnings flew about indiscriminately. Tin roofs were rolled up like scrolls. Flags were to torn to ribbons, and flag-staffs came tumbling down into the street...” Dry goods boxes, barrels and bales went insanely rushing through the streets in the most reckless manner, as if playing John Gilpin."   (Not sure what playing John Gilpin means.)

“The wind was no respecter of persons even, and bare headed men were as plenty as black-berries, and unfortunate ladies were rendered en dishabille in the most shocking manner. For fully half an hour the gale prevailed without abatement, accompanied in the mean time with a drenching shower, with the surroundings of heavy thunder and vivid lightning. The tempest spent itself about half past four. The wind died away.”

“The oldest settler cannot remember a more terrific thunder storm...It was a grand gathering of the storm clans, and they charged with banners flying, rattling with musketry, booming and crashing with cannons, and lighting up the whole sky with their fiery signals. The rain poured in broad, drenching sheets. For fully two hours the heavens were in one continued blaze of fire.”

"Sharp Parrots, growling rifles and booming columbiads pealed, crashed and rumbled incessantly in a manner which might have driven Napoleon crazy with delight...Upon Bremer avenue, a two story house being raised and resting upon piles was tumbled into the middle of the street, the inmates narrowly escaping injury. W. H. Dillingham, the druggist at the Orient House, corner of State and Van Buren streets, received most unhandsome treatment. His whole store front was devastated, and scarcely a vestige of a window remains. Finding such a ready access, the wind played the very mischief with drugs and bottles, involving Mr. Dillingham’s purse to the extend to three hundred dollars."

Quite a storm and interesting reporting.

Wayne Rethford
President Emeritus
Illinois St. Andrew's Society

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Legacy of Colonel Walter Scott

(This article is a continuation of one written on June 17 and published on this blog site.)

Colonel Scott had a lifelong interest in policemen and fireman. He was an Honorary Police Commissioner of New York and always sent a check when there was a grieving family. He created a perpetual endowment to provide a medal to be awarded for heroism in New York, Boston, Worcester, Holyoke and Detroit. In 2005, the Walter Scott Medal was awarded to Firefighter Thomas P. Maxwell, Ladder Company 44 in New York City. This is the only reference I could find on the Internet. Perhaps, the other cities have stopped presenting the medal. I did find another reference where Yiqin Chang won the Walter Scott Prize in mathematics also in 2005.

For many years, Colonel Scott was a familiar figure at all Scottish gatherings and was a member of several Robert Burns clubs. He was a close friend of Miss Jean Amour Burns Brown of Dumfries, a great-great-granddaughter of the poet, and was also a descendant of his namesake. Among his old friends was Sir Harry Lauder. His clubs are too many to list and so are his honors, but he did receive the Silver Grand Cross of the Republic of Austria, a Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor, and was a member of the Belgian Order of Leopold II. During World War I, he was a member of the New York Scottish Highlanders. He was also a manager of the St. Andrew’s Society of New York.

This article appeared in the New York Times, dated November 29, 1935, “Colonel Walter Scott, Past Royal Chief of the Order of Scottish Clans in the United States and Canada and former senior vice-president of Butler Brothers, died at 4:30 a.m. yesterday at his home, 225 West Eighty-Sixth street after an illness of two years. He was 73 years old.”

Colonel Scott is buried in the historic Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn. On a visit to New York City, I rode the subway out to Brooklyn and visited the Scott family site in Greenwood. It was a long, long walk to the location and once there I found simple stone markers for the family. I also visited the home address at least twice and found a large square condominium-type building covering a city block. The interior courtyard is now a beautiful garden and the covered entrance designed for horse and carriage is a guard house. The security people were kind enough to let me wander around the complex.

In his will he wrote, “I have always felt an impelling desire to accomplish something definite in conferring happiness and relieving distress as conditions permitted me during my life, that I might not defer until after I had passed on an act that might stimulate a heart with joy, bring a smile to a tear worn face, help a struggling student or extend a helping hand to those afflicted with disease, for an opportunity passed to do good is lost forever. I strove to remember my friends while living and to share their joys; I endowed hospital beds to assist those whose needs were immediate. To the extent of my abilities I encouraged all civic enterprises and encouraged the extension of educational facilities to students who were self-supporting.”

Wayne Rethford
President Emeritus

(The Scottish Home picnic will be held on August 6, 2011, 10:00-4:00 p.m. We plan to have the Museum open from 10-2 p.m. The Museum will be a cool place to sit and relax.)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery

We will visit the National Cemetery on our history tour scheduled for July 16.  This might be helpful material for those attending.  For information call 630-629-4516.

Abraham Lincoln founded the National Cemetery System for veterans in 1862 and 14 cemeteries were  prepared during the Civil War. There are ten national cemeteries in Illinois including the Confederate Mound which we have visited on some of our history tours. Last year 8.1 million people visited national cemeteries.

The Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery is some 50 miles south of Chicago on part of the former Joliet Army Ammunition Plant. The nearest town is Elwood, IL. It is the 117th national cemetery and was dedicated on October 3, 1999. The cemetery contains 982 acres making it the third largest is size. The largest one is in Calverton, N.Y. and contains 1,045 acres. Arlington has 624 acres. When our cemetery is fully developed it will provide 400,000 burial spaces.

The Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery has one Medal of Honor soldier. He is First Sergeant Theodore Hyatt (Civil War) Company D, 127the Illinois Infantry, 2nd Division, 15th Army Corps, Battle of Vicksburg, May 22, 1863. He is in Section 1, Grave 1613. The one person I know is Donald A. Penn who died at the Scottish Home. He is in Section G but we were unable to find his grave on a recent visit because of construction in the area. Don’s American flag and a book about his squadron are on display in our museum.

The cemetery already contains 23,000 veterans and  they conduct 2,000 funerals a year. The number of veterans who died in 2010 is placed at 651,000 and 111,800 of them are buried in national cemeteries. That number is expected to increase each year until 2013.

 In one of the Administrative offices the following poem is displayed.

                                       A CONFEDERATE SOLDIER'S PRAYER

Author Unknown,  (Attributed to a battle weary C.S.A soldier near the end of the war)

I asked God for strength, that I might achieve;
I was made weak, that I might learn humbly to obey.
I asked for health, that I might do greater things;
I was given infirmity, that I might do better things.
I asked for riches, that I might be happy;
I was given poverty, that I might be wise.
I asked for power, that I might have the praise of men;
I was given weakness, that I might feel the need of God.
I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life;
I was given life, that I might enjoy all things.
I got nothing that I asked for, but everything I hoped for.
Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.
I am among all men most richly blessed.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Colonel Walter Scott - A Very Generous Man

Who was this man that kept sending money to Chicago for the benefit of the Scottish Old Peoples Home? We knew he was often referred to as Colonel Walter Scott and that he worked for Butler Brothers and that his office was at 860 Broadway in New York City. There was nothing more than this in our records. Yet, from 1917 to 1935, he was a regular and generous donor. We now know that he visited the Scottish Home several times and once, in the company of Margaret Williamson Trude, he purchased a tree to be planted in his honor. The tree program was started by Architect William Mundie after the 1917 fire that destroyed the Scottish Home.  A number of trees were purchased and planted to honor various individuals. The trees were never marked, and we have thus far found no other records. Most of the older trees are now gone.

In 1919, there was a remaining debt of $11,000 on the Scottish Home after the fire of 1917. John McGill wrote “our good friend, Mr. Walter Scott of New York City, has promised in a telegram just received to be one of eleven to cancel the debt of $11,000 on our Scottish Old Peoples Home at Riverside. To meet Mr. Scott’s offer, Mr. John Williamson has agreed to give $1,000 and, I, myself, as the new President of the Society, will give $5,000." The goal was met and the debt against the Home was paid. At another time, he sent a check for $1,000 and said “if you can get nine others to match this amount you can keep the check.” They did and kept the check.

Through the years, I had made several attempts to find information about Walter Scott. I visited 860 Broadway and spent time in the New York City Public Library.  In October, 2005, I decided to spend the entire day at the New York City Public Library and do a thorough search. Six hours later, after talking to various individuals and looking at hundreds of entries, I found a young librarian who knew Walter Scott because of some other research he had done. The records I needed were under the name of Colonel Walter Scott and suddenly there was a wealth of information.

Walter Scott was born in Montreal. His parents were Scottish and when he was three years old they moved to Boston. At the age of ten, he managed a small fruit store near Harvard College where he sold apples and plums. One of his customers was Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. At the age of 15 he was employed by  Butler Brothers, wholesale distributors of general merchandise, and at the age of 18 he moved to New York City. In 1932, he retired as senior vice president after fifty-four years of continuous service. On the day of his retirement, his office was filled with flowers, and telegrams came from President Hoover and former President Coolidge.

Colonel Scott became very wealthy and gave his money to worthy causes like the Scottish Old Peoples Home in Riverside. He endowed beds at Roosevelt Hospital in New York City and aided in the work of the Trudeau Tuberculosis Research Center. He endowed scholarships at Smith College, Flora MacDonald College, American International College, Centenary Collegiate Institute and Stevens Institute of Technology. He was a trustee of the Clarke School for the Deaf, Northampton, Mass. He created the Walter Scott Industrial School for children located in New York City at 53 West Sixty-eight Street and the Lulu Thorley Lyons Home for Crippled and Delicate Children at Claverack, New York. He was a founder of the New York Broad Street Hospital.

There is so much more about this dedicated Scottish man that we will continue the story.

Wayne Rethford

The annual History Tour is scheduled for July 16, 2011.  The cost is $25 which includes a box lunch.  We will travel to Coal City and Braidwood to understand the story of Scottish miners who came in 1860.  You can pay online at the Society store, or call me at 630-629-4516.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Patricia Jean Brown LeNoble : January 18, 1923 - May 29, 2011

Pat Brown was the youngest of four children by 15 years. She came to this country in 1927 and celebrated her fourth birthday on a boat to America. The Brown family settled in the Englewood community of Chicago with other Scots and attended Drexel Park Presbyterian Church. Pat was a cheerleader and a "May Queen" of Harper High School. She met John LeNoble through Christian Endeavor and they were married in October of 1947. Pat was a model and taught charm school. She started her banking career at the First National Bank of Chicago, and retired from banking at Chicago City Bank. Her daughter, Nancy, was born in 1957. Along the way, she was active in both St. Paul's Church in Beverly as well as Palos Park Presbyterian Community Chuch. She was a member of many clubs and organizations including, but not limited to, Lakeside Lawn Bowling Club, Nicht Wi Burns, Illinois Saint Andrew Society, American Institute of Banking and Beverly South Christian Women's Club. Upon her retirement, Pat became the President of Golden Oaks Senior Group, where she remained active until last fall.

She was known by many things...her vast collection of hats...always carrying a "kazoo" in her purse (because you never know when you might be called on to entertain)...never missing a birthday or anniversary or just sending a "thinking of you" card...always matching her purse to her shoes...her love of holiday sweaters... and of course her rendition of "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas!"

The above was written by Nancy LeNoble Strolle. Nancy was the first and, as of this date, the only woman President of the Illinois Saint Andrew Society. She served in 1990 and 1991. The memorial service for her mother was held on June 11, 2011, at the Palos Park Presbyterian Community Church, Palos Park, Illinois. It was a wonderful celebration of her mother's life. Our thoughts and prayers go to the entire family.