Friday, July 12, 2013

A Very Busy Life

Thomas C. MacMillan was born October 4, 1850 in Stranraer, Scotland. Born in the same village was his father, James H., and his mother (Susan Cumming). The family emigrated to Chicago in 1857 where Thomas C. attended high school and then attended the old Chicago University. After the Great Fire of 1871, he began his newspaper career as a cub reporter; and, for more than twenty years, he was associated with the Inter-Ocean newspaper. By the time he retired, Dr. MacMillan was a stockholder and director of the company.

In 1883, he married Mary C. Goudie whose family came from Ayrshire, Scotland. She attended the Brown public school and he attended the old Central High school on Monroe near Halstead Street. Thomas and Mary Goudie MacMillan had three children: a daughter, Mrs. Jeanie Pocock, and two sons, James and Hugh.

Tina Beaird will explain how they met when we visit the Naausay cemetery on our coming history tour. It’s an interesting story.

In 1885, Mr. MacMillan was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives where he served until 1889. Then, for the next four years served in the state senate. Later, he was for twenty-five years clerk of the United States District Court in Chicago. Like many other Scots, he served on the Cook County Board of Education and was once the Director of the Chicago Public Library.

Dr. And Mrs. MacMillan were members of the LaGrange, Illinois Congregational Church. They were very active church workers and he became one of the “most widely known laymen in that denomination.” Their home was at 67 Sixth Avenue in LaGrange.

Here are other facts about this busy man:

  • President of the Chicago Congregational Club - 1900
  • Moderator of the Illinois State Congregational Association
  • First President of the American Congregational Deaconess’ Association
  • First vice-president of the Third International Congregational Council, Edinburgh, Scotland
  • Moderator of the National Council of Congregational Churches of the U.S. - 1907-1910
  • President of the Cook County Saving Conference
  • A corporate member of the American Board for Foreign Missions
  • President of the Illinois Saint Andrew Society - 1906
  • President of the Patriotic Association, McClintock Post, G.A.R.
  • First President of the Travelers’ Aid Society of Illinois
  • Treasurer of the Central Howard Association of Illinois
  • Chairman of the State Senate on Waterways
  • Chairman of the State Senate Committee on World’s Fair, 1893
  • Author of the first Woman’s School Suffrage Act
  • Member of the Chicago Charter Convention
  • Cook County Board of Education 1879
  • Director of the Public Library 1882
  • Board of Managers Illinois State Reformatory, Pontiac, 1897
  • President of the LaGrange School Board - four successive terms
  • Masters degree from Illinois College
  • LL.D. from Knox College - 1911

In 1919, Dr. McMillan wrote a paper (28 pages) which was presented to the annual meeting of the Illinois State Historical Society. Anyone starting to study the influence of Scots in Illinois should start with his small booklet.

In 1933, The Illinois Saint Andrew Society held its annual banquet at the Palmer House. Among the 1,300 who attended was Mr. & Mrs. McMillan.  It was his 45th consecutive time to attend the banquet.

Thomas C MacMillan died December 13, 1935 at the age of 85. According to his death certificate he suffered from “General & Coronary Arteriosclerosis” for five years. His physician was J. C. Clark of LaGrange.

We will pay our respects to this great man and his wife on the July 20 history tour.

Wayne Rethford, President Emeritus
Illinois St. Andrew’s Society
Home office 630-629-4526

Upcoming Events:

The Annual 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 at the Sag Bridge where we will pay our respect to James Michie, president of our Society in 1847.

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 Na-Au-Say cemetery, 12 miles west of Plainfield. In this country cemetery Thomas C. MacMillan, president in 1906 and 1907, is buried. Tina Beaird will meet us at the cemetery and she is an expert on this entire area. Tina is the Reference Librarian at the Plainfield Public Library. She is also a Blackhawks fan.

Cost $30.00 per person includes a box lunch. You can register using our secure website, call 708-447-5092 or my home office at 630-629-4516. Don’t be Scottish and wait til the last day. Call now!


  1. I am so glad I found your blog for many reasons. I am a member of CWI, Celtic Women International, currently on the board of directors.

    I am in the process of writing a book on the Patron Saints of all of the seven Celtic Nations. I have started with Andrew. At this point I feel that I can call him by his first name. I found your prayer on your blog and wonder if I could possibly use it along with more serious prayers in the book. I have always loved God's sense of humor and am sure that Andrew had one too. You obviously do.

    Also, I am planning a trip to Scotland in late 2015. Have any suggestions. I will be in Chicago at the Irish Historical Center in October. And am going to to the Highland Games in Wauwatosa in September.

  2. Oopw. My Blog is I reversed it.

    Silly me