Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Joseph Badenoch, Scotland to Chicago, His Life and Death

When Joseph Badenoch arrived in Chicago in April of 1866, he knew not a single person. He arrived alone, leaving the family in New York City until he was settled. He brought a letter of recommendation to the foreman of the Illinois Central’s repair shops, but they were discharging good men. Times were hard. So he reverted to his old practice and opened his own shop. On Desplaines Street he bought a lot and built a shop with living quarters above. The family arrived in the autumn of 1866.

On Desplaines Street he began shoeing horses. He did so well “that in a little time he had a reputation which spread over the city.” At first there was a single forge, but soon he had a dozen. Joseph was at work by 5:00 in the morning and worked until late in the evening. Because of his location, he caught the draymen and teamsters of the wholesale houses in the downtown area.

When the Great Fire came in 1871, Desplaines Street was spared. Hundreds of other shops were burned and he said in his broad Scotch “Tis an ill wind that blaws naebody good.” His business doubled and tripled. He not only worked with horses, but could do all kinds of wrought-iron work. Joseph Badenoch was a very skilled workman. “If he did not grow rapidly rich, he surely accumulated money, and need it be said that this true Scotchman took good care of his money?” I could find no indication of how long he worked, but for many years he and his wife continued to live above his shop. The sound of the anvil was pleasing to him.

Mr. Badenoch and his wife were deeply religious. They “are Christians of the order of Alexander Campbell.” His belief in working was almost as strong as his religious belief. “Fathers should send their sons to learn manual trades or send them to farms,” rather than institutions of higher learning." His house was near the Chicago University and he once said: “...there is Chicago University; it is making beggars.” He went on to say, “the millions contributed toward its rich endowment would be better expended making farms for the unemployed people...”

The obituary for Joseph Badenoch was published in the Chicago Daily Tribune, October 15, 1897. “He died at the residence of his daughter, 751 S. Albany Ave. Beloved husband of Helen Badenoch and father of Mrs. David S. Jaffray, Joseph Badenoch, Jr., and John J. Badenoch, He was 83 years and seven months old. Funeral Friday, Oct. 12, 12:30 p.m., from his late residence, to Rosehill Cemetery by carriages.” The pallbearers were all grandchildren. Helen Tough Badenoch died January 20, 1907, at the same residence and is also buried at Rosehill. Thus ended a long journey. There is no evidence they ever returned home to Scotland.

Gus Noble and I often visit Rosehill Cemetery and always stop at the large Badenoch burial plot. Twenty people are buried here and there is room for more. On either side are two large plots owned by Scottish-born families. On the right, is the plot belonging to the McArthur family. The principal owner is General John McArthur. I have not made a connection between the McArthurs and the Badenochs, except they fought in the Civil War and were members of the Illinois Saint Andrew Society. John Joseph Badenoch and General John McArthur both served as President of our Society.

On the left is the plot belonging to the Mason clan. Major George Mason is the principal owner. He is the nephew of General McArthur and served under his command during part of the Civil War, especially at Shiloh. In the museum, we have his officer’s sword, pictures and letters. Vickie Dandridge, who lives in California, inherited the George Mason collection which included furniture, pictures, books and letters. She has given to our museum many of his pictures and letters. She once found a letter to George Mason from his mother in Scotland addressed to “George Mason, Blacksmith, Chicago, Illinois.” (I doubt he would get the letter today - no zip code.) Later, he and his father, Carlisle, owned the Excelsior Iron Works. They would always need a good blacksmith.

In the next blog, I will write about John Joseph Badenoch who rose to prominence in Chicago and served as President of the Illinois Saint Andrew Society.

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