Friday, May 24, 2013

St. James Church at the Sag Bridge

Our summer history tour is scheduled for July 20 and the first stop will be St. James Church at the Sag Bridge in Willow Springs. Saint James was founded in 1833 as a mission of the Catholic Church. Archeologists claim that Father Jacques Marquette may have offered Mass on the bluff in 1673. This location has been inhabited for centuries because of its importance as a lookout.

The present stone church is one of the oldest churches in Illinois and the existing church is the “oldest parish in northern Illinois still functioning at its original location.” It was founded in 1833. (The original church was a rough log cabin located on an Indian trail that we know as Ogden avenue.)

The stone is from a local quarry known as the Lemont-Sag. The Chicago Water Tower on Michigan Avenue and Holy Name Cathedral used stone from the same quarry. It took six long years for the people to haul enough stones to the top of the hill. “Those that did the most work were given cemetery plots closest to the church.”

“Some unique features of St. James are: the urn-topped wrought iron gates which were installed in 1914 and serve as the church entrance; the buttresses that were added to the church building in 1919 when dynamiting the Cal-Sag Channel weakened the foundation; the limestone Stations of the Cross lining the church and cemetery walkway were constructed in the 1920s and donated by parishioners in memory of deceased family members; and the historic wrought iron entrance gates to the St. James complex that were acquired from the Western Electric Hawthorne Plant in 1976 and originally fabricated in 1905.”

We are not only interested in the church but the cemetery as well. James Hunt Michie was a charter member of the Illinois Saint Andrew Society and president in 1847. He is buried at St. James along with his wife, Margaret Guthrie. Both were born in Scotland.

Their daughter, Katherine MacGregor Michie married David Francis Bremner on November 30, 1865.

For more information on the Bremner family, please read the Blog for October 27, 2010.

Wayne Rethford, President Emeritus
Illinois Saint Andrew Society

History Club meeting, June 1, 2013. We will honor veterans at this meeting so if you have served please join us. John LeNoble and his daughter, Nancy Strolle, have recently taken the “Honor Flight” to Washington, D.C. John will tell us about his trip. There will also be a video showing the landing of our troops on Normandy, June 6, 1944 (D-Day).

The History Tour is scheduled for July 20. Our chartered bus will leave the Scottish Home at 10:30 a.m. First stop will be St. James church and cemetery where we will find and pay our respect to James Michie. Second stop will be at the Wheatland Presbyterian Church, established in 1848 by Scottish immigrants. We will have our lunch at the church, visit the church cemetery and hear from direct descendants of those pioneer families. Our last stop will be at the NaAuSay cemetery, 12 miles west of Plainfield. In this country cemetery is buried Thomas C. MacMillan, president in 1906 and 1907. There are always surprises along the way.

Cost $30.00 per person. To register call 708-447-5092 or my home office at 630-629-4516.


  1. I will certainly try to make the July 20 event. James Michie is my great-great grandfather. His daughter Katherine married my great-grandfather, David Francis Bremner, Captain of the Illinois 19th Highland Guard and founder of Bremner Brothers Bakery. I have his membership certificate from the Society.

  2. Wayne and Anonymous, great blog and info. Glen Moss is a local from the area. His wife is a descendant of James Hunt Michie. If you do another tour, you should add him to the group (he's on Facebook or I can contact him). Glen is a retired history teacher and has done a lot of history on the Michie-Bremner families. The photos on find-a-grave are great! John Sutherland is also descendant but of the daughter Jane Michie who married Dr. Fox. Thanks again!