Thursday, January 31, 2013


I recently had opportunity to purchase ($52.00) on eBay a copy of the Constitution, bylaws, and list of members of the “Illinois St. Andrew’s Society of the City of Chicago for the year 1874." The little book measures 5 x 7 and is in a blue cloth cover. It was printed in Chicago by the Fergus printing company which was located at 244 Illinois St. The book apparently was in the private collection of Joseph A. Sadony.  

I found a Joseph Alexander Sadony on the Internet. The website says that he ‘was a philosopher and a spiritualist who studied every religion in the world and yet was very much a Christian.” He lived on an estate located in Montague, Michigan, and the book came from a seller who also lived in Michigan. Sadony once lived in Chicago. I don‘t think he was a Scot although the name Alexander might indicate something.

In the preface, a mention is made that the great fire which devastated Chicago in October 1871, and destroyed “the entire records and property of the Society.” It also indicated that a notice has been placed in the newspapers that all members of the Society “should forward their names and addresses to the secretary so that the records of the society may be fully restored.” The initiation fee for membership was two dollars and the dues were three dollars each year payable by January 1 each year. On page 9, there is a “History of St. Andrew” and on page 10 a “Historical Sketch of the Illinois St. Andrew’s Society.” The history is mostly the same as we presently know it with little new information.

“Among those present at the first dinner to celebrate St. Andrew’s Day (1845) was General J. A. McDougal, and Captain, afterwards General, McClellan.” We now believe that a Capt. McClellan was at the Dinner but not the famous General of the Civil War. That story has persisted throughout our history but there is now enough evidence to the contrary that we believe it was not the General McClellan of Civil War fame. Perhaps, that story should be the next article on the blog.

The first Constitution and By-Laws for the Society were adopted in 1850. It was written by George Anderson (Chairman), John H. Kedzie, Peter MacFarlane and John Stewart. In 1853, a Charter was obtained from the Stater Legislature of Illinois. There was little growth for the fledgling Society until 1850 when “a number of Scotchmen settled in Chicago, who immediately joined the Society . . . ”

It is unclear at the moment what happened in 1850 to bring those Scotchmen to Chicago. (The population in 1850 was 29,000.) The first mention of the Society in the Chicago Tribune is a report on the “Seventh Annual Dinner of the Illinois St. Andrew’s Society” in 1852.  Dr. John McArthur came to Chicago, joined the Society (1856) and was elected the physician “and continued til the day of his death, to give his devoted attention to all the sick recommended by the Managers.”

Among those with special mention as leaders were: Peter MacFarlane, Hugh Ritchie, James Thomson, John Alston, John Stewart, Robert Hervey, George Kennedy, Solomon McKichan, and General John McArthur. In 1858, the Society purchased ground in Rosehill Cemetery and “have expended a large amount of money in curbing and ornamenting it, so that the poor and friendless Scot may have a decent and sacred resting place, apart from the Potter’s Field.” A list of those buried along with their place of birth and date of death is given on the last page. Thirty-eight names are shown and are native born Scots except two.

“Such is a meagre historical outline of the Illinois St. Andrew’s Society, and without enumerating the many last results of its beneficence to the poor, the wayfarer, and the unemployed, we are happy to state that it is growing in strength and usefulness; and at present, its funds are inadequate to meet all the numerous claims that are made for relief, and which the Managers would gladly extend to every deserving applicant, if the revenue of the Society would permit, still we trust that the Society will continue to increase till no call for aid, no cry for distress, and no appeal from ony o’ Scotland’s waunert bairns will ever be uttered without meeting a prompt and satisfying response.”

The book lists the “Office-Bearers” from 1846 to 1874, showing the names of the officers: President, 1st vice-president, 2nd vice-president, Treasurer, Secretary, Assistant Secretary and Physician. It takes the membership records from 1873 and lists the ones who have died, withdrawn, or have been removed. It also lists the life members and honorary members. Honorary Members had to live out of Illinois and pay a fee of ten dollars. Membership was restricted to “none but Scotchmen, or the sons or grandsons of a native of Scotland, shall be admitted as members of the Society.”

Last of all there is a Revised List of Members as of 1874. It also shows the “city, town or village, shire and country” of each member. If I counted correctly there were 242 active members in 1874. It would be interesting to have that list on the Internet for anyone who might be doing genealogy research.

Those of you who visit ebay regularly are requested to notify the History Club when interesting items are noted for sale.

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

February 2, 2013 - “Sir Winston S. Churchill, The Greatest Statesman of the Twentieth Century.” Daniel N. Myers, speaker. The Scottish American History Club meets in Heritage Hall at the Scottish Home. Reservations are helpful but not necessary. Call 630-629-4516 for more information.

February 9, 2013 - The 2013 Chicago Scots, Robert Burns Supper will be held at the Union League Club. Email Julia Witty for more information . To purchase tickets, click here

March 2, 2013 - “Remembering Marshall Field’s”, Leslie Goddard, speaker. History Club meeting, Heritage Hall, Scottish Home, North Riverside, IL

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