Monday, June 30, 2014

The “Sitting” Lincoln

2nd stop on Our Summer History Tour:

Chicago has two great statues of Abraham Lincoln, both by Augustus Saint-Gaudens. One, often called the “Standing Lincoln,” is in Lincoln Park, just east of the Chicago Historical Society. The second one is in Grant Park and features the President in a sitting position. Both have Scottish connections and we will visit both during our July History Tour.

Our first stop, after we leave the Scottish Home, will be at the statue of General John A. Logan. The second stop will be at the Lincoln statue, just south of the Art Institute. This statue of the 16th President was made possible by a gift from John Crearer. Who was John Crerar?

The parents of John Crerar were born in Scotland. His father was born in Dull, Perthshire, and his mother, Agnes Smeallie, in Kirkiston, Scotland. She came to America independently sometime in the 1820s and probably met John Crerar at the Scotch Presbyterian Church in New York City where they both attended. Their son, John Crerar was born, March 8, 1827 and came to Chicago in the 1860s. Crerar, Adams & Co. were dealers in railroad supplies and contractors’ materials.

Mr. Crerar was an original investor in the Pullman Palace Car Company and was a member of the board of directors for twenty-two years. He was also a director of the Chicago and Alton Railway, Chicago and Joliet Railroad, and the London and Globe Insurance Company. He belonged to the Chicago Literary Club, the Chicago Historical Society, the YMCA, the American Sunday School Union, the Chicago Orphan Asylum, and the Presbyterian Hospital, holding positions of director or president in each. He was also a life-member of the Illinois Saint Andrew Society. He led a very quiet personal life, never married and lived for a time at the Grand Pacific Hotel. John Crerar died in Chicago at the home of Norman Williams and was buried in Greenwood cemetery in Brooklyn, New York next to his mother. I visited his simple grave a few years ago, but don’t go unless you have a car or like to walk!

In his will, John Crerar left $100,000 for a statue of Abraham Lincoln. The bronze edifice is the last work of sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens who died in 1907. The first four years of the life of the statue were spent in the basement of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. The statue was then displayed in different cities of the United States while “the South Park Board fought over the right to place it in Grant Park.” It was finally brought to Chicago in 1916 and for the next ten years was “stored in a shed in Washington Park.”

Two sets of trustees died unable to erect the statue. The third group, led by William Louderback, was successful in obtaining approval to place the monument in Grant Park. Stanford White, a noted architect, designed the architectural setting for the monument. White was a member of the firm McKim, Mead & White, all of whom were Scottish Americans. Finally, on May 31, 1926, forty years after John Crerar’s bequest, the “Sitting” Lincoln statue was unveiled in Grant Park just east of Van Buren street.

“In the center of the semicircular seat, 153 feet in diameter, which forms the setting for the statue, rises a monolithic pedestal of granite supporting the bronze figure of Lincoln, which faces the south. The pedestal rests on a raised platform with granite steps leading to it.” Serious, with open arms, the statue well represents a time of great change and two great men - Abraham Lincoln and John Crerar.

Thomas C. McMillan wrote about John Crerar and said: “He made the public his heir, and erected a monument which will endure after marble has crumbled to dust, and the fame of mere earthly deeds have faded from the memories of men.”

Wayne Rethford, President Emeritus
Illinois Saint Andrew Society
Office 630.629.4516


Luxury bus arrives at Scottish Home, July 19, 2014, at 11 a.m.
Bus departs Scottish Home promptly at 11:30 a.m.
1st stop - Grant Park, Logan Statue
2nd stop - “Seated” Lincoln, Grant Park
3rd stop - Millennium Park - Visit the Bean, play in the water, Military Museum
4th stop - “Standing” Lincoln in Lincoln Park
5th stop - Robert Burns statue in Garfield Park

Cost is $25 per person. Children under 10 admitted free. Box lunch and soft drinks furnished. Call 708.447.5092 or 630.629.4516 to make reservations.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The flag weighs 1,200 pounds

The first stop on our July history tour will be the memorial in Grant Park to General John Alexander Logan. Who was Logan? He was the only Union Volunteer in the Civil War to successively command a regiment, a brigade, a division, a corp and finally an army. He never suffered a defeat in battle. He was wounded twice and was awarded the Congressional Medal at Vicksburg.

He was a congressman, lawyer, and a candidate for Vice President with James G. Blaine. He was one of Illinois’ most distinguished leaders. As Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic (1868-1871), General Logan proposed that May 30th be designated as Memorial Day and made a National holiday. He was a member of the Senate when he died, December 26, 1886.

Like so many others the Logan’s came through Northern Ireland on their way to America. Dr. John Logan arrived in America in 1823. He settled in Jackson Co., Illinois, where John Alexander was born.

When General Logan died, Illinois made the first claim to have him buried within the state. The General Assembly appropriated $50,000 to erect a monument. Augustus Saint-Gaudens was chosen as the sculptor. He asked for four years to complete the first model. It was to be an equestrian statue. The model for the horse came from Logan’s own farm, a coal black stallion resembling one of the General's favorite horses. The pedestal dome was designed by the firm of McKim, Mead and White.

The moment portrayed is the battle of Atlanta. General McPherson has just been killed and command of the confused and almost broken line fell to Logan. With the battle flag in his hand and bullets flying everywhere Logan rallied the troops and led them to advance. “It is the Logan of this moment that the statue represents. On the big black horse, the torn battle flag in his hand, with stern determination and self-forgetful courage in his face, he is rallying the disordered ranks.” Mrs Logan chose the anniversary of this date for the dedication in Chicago.

It is the only equestrian work ever designed by Saint-Gaudens and may be the largest equestrian statute in America. From the base to Logan’s head is 15 feet, 11 inches. The horse weighs 5,126 pounds. The flag itself weighs 1,200 pounds and the entire statue weights 14,200 pounds. The base of the statue is 24 feet above Michigan avenue. Inside the mound is a crypt designed for both Mr. and Mrs. Logan. It was never used. They are buried at the U.S. Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home National Cemetery in Washington, D.C.

Logan is one of only three individuals mentioned by name in the Illinois state song:

                                    On the record of thy years,
                                    Abraham Lincoln's name appears,
                                    Grant and Logan, and our tears,
                                    Illinois, Illinois,
                                    Grant and Logan, and our tears,
                                    Illinois, Illinois.

Some of the places named for General John Alexander Logan:

     Logan Junior High School in Princeton, IL.
     Logan County, Oklahoma (Guthrie is the county seat)
     Logan Square in Chicago
     Logan Heights in San Diego
     Logan Township, New Jersey
     Logan County in Kansas
     Logan County in North Dakota
     Logan Circle in Washington, D.C. also has a monument
     Logan Museum in Murphysboro, Illinois
     John A. Logan College

The History Tour will take place on July 19, 2014. The luxury charter bus will leave the Scottish Home at 11.30 p.m. For full details click here.

Wayne Rethford, President Emeritus
Illinois Saint Andrew Society

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Scottish American History Tour Itinerary

Date: July 19, 2014

11:00 a.m. - Our luxury charter bus will arrive at the Scottish Home
11:30 a.m. - We will depart for downtown. (Each person will be supplied with a box lunch and a choice of drinks. You may eat whenever you like, especially during the bus ride into the City.)

  • The first stop will be the statue of General John Logan in Grant Park.
  • The second stop will be the Lincoln statue, south of the Art Institute.
  • Third stop will be Millennium Park.  You will be here 2.5 hours to do as you please.
    •  Visit Millennium Park
    •  Take pictures at Cloud Gate, better know as “The Bean.” 
    •  Cool off in the fountain
    •  Visit the Art Institute (see their website for prices)
    •  Visit the Pritzker Military Museum across the street. (Admission $5.00)
    •  Shop on State Street (2 blocks away)
    •  Find a bench and enjoy our great city
  •  Fourth stop will be the Robert Burns Statue in Garfield Park
4:00 p.m. - Return to the Scottish Home

Cost is $25.00 per person, which includes soft drinks and a box lunch. The first 10 children under the age of 12, accompanied by an adult, will be free.

To make reservations please call: 708-447-5092 and speak to Kristen or call my home office at 630-629-4516.

Wayne Rethford
President Emeritus
Scottish American History Club
Illinois Saint Andrew Society