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.

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