The Scottish American History Club Newsletter
Cyrus Hall McCormick
Cyrus Hall McCormick appears to have had a fierce
Scottish temper. He would fight at the drop of a hat if
anyone dared venture into his space, especially if it
dealt with personal possessions. In 1862, when traveling
from Washington, D. C. to Chicago, he found himself at
odds with the Pennsylvania Railroad.
His entourage included his wife, two children, a cousin,
two servants and nine trunks. In Philadelphia, the
railroad sought to impose a charge of $8.70 for excess
baggage. Mr. McCormick refused to pay and ordered his
luggage off the train, while he and his party made their
way to a local hotel. The railroad, for whatever reason,
failed to remove the luggage from the baggage car and it
came on to Chicago. Here it was unloaded and, being
unclaimed, placed in a storage building. The building
was then destroyed by lightning.
Mr. McCormick sued the railroad for damages. He lost,
but appealed and lost again. He appealed all the way to
the U.S. Supreme Court where he won a judgment of
$18,000 against the railroad. It took 23 years to
resolve the case and, when it was finally concluded,
Cyrus Hall McCormick had been dead a full year. This
ruling, however, set the present day legal policy that a
carrier of passengers also assumes liability for their
luggage - thanks to the untiring efforts of Mr.
More information about Cyrus H. McCormick is
Northern Illinois University
Laflin street in Chicago runs 1500 West from 356 North
to 12258 South. It is named for Matthew Laflin
(1803-1897) whose family came from an Ulster-Scots
strain. He was born at Southwick, Massachusetts.
His father was a manufacturer of gunpowder and Matthew
Laflin learned the trade. He was attracted to Chicago
because of the construction of the Illinois and Michigan
Canal and hoped to sell gunpowder to the construction
company. The first home in Chicago for Matthew Laflin
was at old Fort Dearborn, because no other shelter could
be found in the "embryo city."
Early on, he began to purchase real estate and once
owned 140 acres of land within the city limits. He
bought the land for $300 and lived to see it worth
millions. In 1849, he purchased 100 acres of land on the
west side, extending eastward from Madison Street and
Ogden avenue. Here he built the Bull's Head Hotel. He
also built barns, sheds and cattle pens and so
established Chicago's first stock yards.
Matthew Laflin built one of the first plank roads, known
in those days as the Blue Island toll road. He operated
the first omnibus line to carry his hotel patrons to his
stock yards and the State Street markets. He also
established the first water works system in Chicago by
building a pine-log reservoir at Lake Street and the
lake shore. Water funneled into the reservoir was
distributed through wooden pipes to the city.
His gift to Chicago was a building to house the Academy
of Sciences in Lincoln Park. It is called the Matthew
Laflin Memorial Building.
Captain John Sutherland -
Someone You Should Know
John Sutherland was a veteran salt water sailor who
left Chicago in 1897 for Seattle, Washington. From there
he sailed to Alaska in the spring of 1900.
Captain Sutherland was the last man to reach Nome,
Alaska, over the ice in 1900. He left Dawson in March
behind 8,000 people who made the trip by dog team. All
were in search of gold. When he reached Norton Sound, he
found the "ice was out", so he walked 360 miles around
the Sound through swamps and "through mosquitoes" making
the very difficult trip in 62 days.
He didn't actually walk, he rode a bicycle! "I rode my
bicycle night and day...well, sometimes it rode me," he
corrected himself, "and many mornings I started out when
it was 68 degrees below zero." Missing for more than 30
days, his family in Chicago and Scotland began to mourn,
fearing he was dead. During the trip he lost 20 pounds,
but still weighed 230.
"I came across some Indians on the way. They were
frightened by the bicycle, and their medicine man told
them if they did not kill me all the fish in the sea
would die. They started to shoot at me and just missed.
Some soldiers from a nearby fort came to my rescue. The
next day the Indians came to the fort to make peace,
with offerings of food and fruit. They punched me to see
if I were real flesh and blood, and went away
"One of the Indians asked me how much my bicycle was
worth. I told him $200. He grunted and went away. He
came back the next day with the money in gold pieces of
$20 and $10. He insisted that he have the bicycle, but I
got away from him."
John Sutherland died in 1940 and is buried in Washington
Memorial Park, Seattle. He was survived by a daughter,
Mrs. William Whiteside, Riverton Heights, Washington,
and a son, John S. Sutherland of Redding, California.
Captain Sutherland was a member of the Pioneers of
Alaska. Any additional information from our readers on
the West Coast would be greatly appreciated.
The story about John Sutherland came from Margaret
Baikie Johnson. She, and her husband, Carl, live in
Lynwood, Illinois. Her father was William Baikie who was
Chief of the Caledonian Society of Chicago, established
in 1883. Mrs. Johnson, famous in her own right, was
queen of Scottish Day at the World's Fair in 1933. She
also played the pipes and was a medal-winning Highland
dancer. Margaret Johnson has taught scores of young
people Scottish dancing. Today, she is an active member
of the Illinois Saint Andrew Society and participates in
lawn bowling tournaments around the country. Thanks to
Margaret for the newspaper story about her uncle, John
If Janesville, Wisconsin, was the sixth golf course
established in the U.S., where are the first five?
Connected to golf, do you know the name Donald Ross? How
about John Gillespie?
The Anniversary Dinner in 1965 was held at the Conrad
Hilton Hotel on November 5. The general chairman was
Angus J. Ray. The "Queen of the Heather" was 18 year old
Arlene Auld. Whatever happened to Arlene Auld?
In 1904, the Ladies Auxiliary of the Burns Memorial and
Monument Association of Illinois, made and sold a quilt.
It was an "elaborate autograph quilt with over 900
well-known names on it." The quilt sold for $150.00.
They made another quilt the next year with 600 names,
and it sold for $125.00. Where are they now?
In Rosehill Cemetery, the plots of the families of
Byron Smith, founder of The Northern Trust and Matthew
Laflin (see above) are together. The middle name of
Byron Smith is Laflin. Does anyone know the connection?
How many of the following places have you visited?
Aberdeen, Scotland; Aberdeen, Sk., Canada; Aberdeen,
South Africa; Aberdeen, Idaho; Aberdeen, Maryland;
Aberdeen, Mississippi; Aberdeen, North Carolina;
Aberdeen, Ohio; Aberdeen, South Dakota; Aberdeen,
Washington; Aberdeen Lake, Canada; or the Aberdeen
Proving Grounds in Maryland?
I first joined the Army of Northern Virginia in 1861, I
found a connection of my family, Wilmer McLean, living
on a fine farm through which ran Bull Run, with a nice
farm-house. General Beauregard made his headquarters at
this house during the first affair between the armies -
the so-called Battle of Blackburn's Ford on July 18.
The first hostile shot which I ever saw fired was aimed
at this house, and about the third or fourth went
through its kitchen where our servants were cooking
dinner for the headquarters staff.
I had not seen or heard of McLean for years, when the
day after the surrender, I met him at Appomattox
Court-house, and asked with some surprise what he was
there. He replied, with much indignation: "What are
you doing here" These armies tore my place on Bull Run
all to pieces, and kept running over it backward and
forward till no man could live there, so I just sold out
and came here, two hundred miles away, hoping I should
never see a soldier again. And now, just look around
you! Not a fence-rail is left on the place, the last
guns trampled down all my crops, and Lee surrenders to
Grant in my house.?
McLean was so indignant that I felt bound to apologize
for our coming back, and to throw all the blame
for it upon the gentlemen on the other side
E. P. Alexander,
We are indebted to Society member Richard Springer for
this great story. Mr. Springer is a well-known military
artist now living in Wisconsin. He did not include the
source of this story, but I am sure he would be happy to
give this information to any of our readers. (Picture
of McLean house in Appomattox taken in 1865 by Timothy
We recently received a letter from Clyde M. Clark who
lives in Bradenton, Florida. He has expressed an
interest in the Saddle and Sirloin Club that once
existed in Chicago. There were a large number of
paintings displayed in the club and he wonders if anyone
knows what happened to them. He sent along a booklet
that shows the paintings and a number of prominent Scots
are included, among them Alexander Galbraith.
Alexander Galbraith was born in Killearn, Scotland in
1853. In 1874 he married Christina MacNichol in Glasgow
and six years later they came to the United States. They
settled in Janesville, Wisconsin, where they became
involved in the raising of Clydesdale horses. Each
year, they would return to Scotland and bring back
horses to their farm in Janesville. He was also noted
for raising Scottish sheep dogs.
In 1892, he also brought back 15 golf clubs and a number
of golf balls. With friends, he established the
Janesville Country Club which was officially
organized in 1894. It was the sixth oldest golf club in
Mr. Galbraith regularly sold his horses in Chicago and
served as the Secretary to the American Clydesdale
Breeders Association. After World War I, he sold the
Janesville Stables and moved to Edmonton, Alberta,
Canada, where he served as the head of animal husbandry,
mainly doing horse show judging. He died August 20,
1927, and is buried along with his wife in the Edmonton
Alexander Galbraith was the grandfather of Mrs. Clyde M.
Clark of Bradenton, Florida. Mr. and Mrs. Clark plan to
visit Scotland this summer to watch the British Open
which will be held at Turnberry. They also plan to
visit Chicago, and we are looking forward to meeting
them. Thanks to them for the story and subscribing to
the Newsletter. Clyde also bought a subscription for
his friend, Robert McConnachie, who also lives in