The Scottish American History Club Newsletter
Letter to the Editor
November 14, 1979
Mr. John Madigan
Dear Mr. Madigan:
I listened to your pitch this morning re the visit of
Prime Minister Lynch in which you advised us that
one-third of the forces in the Revolutionary War
(American side) were Irish. Also that 10 U. S.
Presidents were Irish.
Please don’t perpetuate this old myth Mr. Madigan. The
Irish you speak of were almost entirely Ulster Scots
Presbyterians with virtually nothing in common with the
Catholic Irish. They have never gotten along together
and would destroy each other today. Many of the Ulster
Scots were there only a few years before moving on to
America in the 18th Century.
For your information, the Catholic Irish didn’t start
arriving in this country in any numbers until the potato
famine in the mid-1800s. The historian Morrison said
that at the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, 12 Roman
Catholic priests served the small Catholic population.
In the TV show “The Last Convertible” shown about six
weeks ago, an Irishman, when told that there were nine
Irish U. S. Presidents, responded that there was only
one and he was John Kennedy. Then he added, “You aren’t
Irish if you aren’t Catholic.”
He wasn’t about to accept the Scots-descended
Presbyterians as Irish which is not uncommon among the
Irish today. Only one Catholic signed the Declaration of
Independence, yet Wally Phillips hands out the same myth
at St. Patrick’s Day that it was signed by 10 Irishmen.
The 10 were Scots and 8 of those were Ulster Scots.
Using the term Scotch-Irish (a term unknown outside the
U.S.) is worse because the average American doesn’t know
what you are talking about.
You and Wally can get away with this fiction because the
average American is pretty dumb about most things. But
you and Wally are in responsible positions and should
not take advantage of the
naiveté of the public.
James C. Thomson
cc: Wally Phillips
(James C. Thomson was President of the Illinois St.
Andrew Society in 1979 and is a recognized Scottish
historian. He researched and wrote the 227 plaques that
hang in the Scottish-American Hall of Fame at the
Scottish Home. Mr. Thomson died on December 20, 1994.)
In Chicago, Douglas Drive is 3500 South and runs from
735 East. Stephen Arnold Douglas (1813-1861) was a U.S.
Senator from Illinois and was the Democrats’ pre-Civil
War leader and his rival for the presidency was Abraham
Lincoln. His greatest achievement for Chicago was to
push through the Illinois Central Railroad bill, which
was a map for the railroad between Chicago and Mobile,
In 1852 Douglas purchased seventy acres of land along
Lake Michigan between 33rd and 35th Street and laid out
two communities known as Groveland Park and Woodland
Park. Groveland Park was a small, elegant South Side
community which developed after the Civil War. In 1900,
the Scottish Home began on property which was once owned
George Anderson, who was President of the St. Andrew
Society in 1852, lived and died on Groveland Avenue.
John Newton, a deserter from the Royal Navy rose to
become the captain of a slave ship. Bound for America,
his ship loaded with slaves, he experienced a religious
conversion. Turning his ship around, he returned to
Africa where his suffering human cargo was freed.
Inspired by his conversion, he wrote Amazing Grace.
Ordained by the Church of England, Newton ministered for
28 years, denouncing from the pulpit the trade by which
he had once lived.
More information on John Newton and Amazing Grace is
Robert Hepburn Sim
*Someone You Should Know*
Robert Hepburn Sim was born in 1895 in Aberdeenshire,
Scotland. In 1912, he joined the Fourth Battalion of the
Gordon Highlanders and served in France throughout WWI.
While recuperating from his wounds suffered at the
Battle of Ypres, he met the King’s Piper, Henry Forysthe.
He had been interested in piping as a child and served
as pipe major of the Convalescent Camp in Buchy, France.
After the war he was invited to become the King’s Piper,
but declined the offer.
In 1920 he came to Chicago and, like so many other
Scots, found employment at Quaker Oats. Almost
immediately he set about forming a pipe band. In 1926
the band became affiliated with the Stock Yards’
American Legion Post #333, thereby becoming the first
pipe band in American Legion history. For many years it
was the official pipe band of the Illinois St. Andrew
Robert Sim was a great teacher, and several of his
students still live in the Chicago area.
Bob Sim and his wife Margaret had no children; the band
was their family and their home was always open to
friend or stranger. Margaret Sim later become a resident
of the Scottish Home. Bob Sim died on October 7, 1963,
and is buried in the family plot at Cedar Park cemetery.
A younger brother, James Shepherd Sim, also came to
Chicago in 1920 and became the leading drummer in the
Stockyards Band. His son, James Irvin Sim, became a
drummer at the age of six and played with the band for
over forty years. His son, James S. Sim, named after his
grandfather, is now the leading drummer of the
Midlothian Pipe Band.
On September 14, 1994, the Chicago City Council adopted
a resolution honoring the Sim family. It says, in part,
"the Sim family name has grown over the past five
decades to be synonymous with bagpipe music throughout
the City of Chicago...Be it resolved that the Mayor and
members of the City Council...do hereby extend to the
Sim family our heartiest congratulations and sincerest
appreciation for over 50 years of traditional Scottish
On October 25, 1976, the stockyards, along with the
Saddle and Sirloin Club, were to be destroyed. After 56
Stockyard Kiltie Band would be without a home.
(The band now practices at the American Legion Post in
A street has now been named for Robert H. Sim. Exchange
Avenue, which was the main street through the Stone Gate
to the stockyards, is now Robert Sim Drive. All that is
left are memories.
Who knows about
Stirling Calder, the sculptor? A
newspaper article sent in by Dr. John Nettles indicates
that he did monuments to Ethel Barrymore, Marilyn
Miller, Mary Pickford and Rosa Ponselle. The article
goes on to say that “He is also represented by the
statue of George Washington on the northern face of the
arch at Washington Square.” Anyone know the location of
Newt Gingrich was born Newton McPherson. Is the Speaker
of the House of Scottish descent?
Bonnie Blair, the most gifted female athlete in U. S.
Olympic history, is retiring. Is she of Scottish
ancestry? According to the Chicago Tribune her boyfriend
is David Cruickshank. That is certainly an ancient
Scottish name. We also wonder about the new Miss
America, Heather Whitestone. Anyone know?
On a cold wintry day in 1869,
Andrew Hallidie, a
Scottish immigrant, witnessed an accident involving a
horse. Four years later he invented something called
“Hallidie’s Folly.” His invention is still being used
today and is extremely important to one American city.
Who knows the answer?
Have you heard about the Scotsman who never smoked
cigarettes with his gloves on?
He hated the smell of burning leather.
Have you heard about the Scotsman who threw caution to
He gave the canary another seed.
John Paul Jones
The United States Navy recently commissioned another
ship in honor of John Paul Jones. Since the
Revolutionary War five ships have been named after
America’s first great sea fighter.
Few men have led such a tumultuous, swashbuckling life
at sea. Born John Paul in Kircudbrightshire, Scotland,
on July 6, 1747, he was destined to receive special
honor citations by Congress and Louis XVI of France.
At the age of twelve, he sailed to Virginia as a cabin
boy where he visited his brother, William, in
Fredricksburg. John Paul soon moved from first mate to
master to Captain... then he killed the ringleader of a
mutinous crew on a voyage to Tobago. Dropping out of
sight to avoid the British admiralty, he emerged with a
new name, John Paul Jones.
Joining the fledgling U. S. Navy, he was soon disrupting
British shipping from Nova Scotia to the Bermudas. He
extended his raids to the British Isles and once landed
his men on the English coast near his birthplace in
Commanding the Bon Homme Richard, Jones intercepted a
British convoy guarded by HMS Serapis. In perhaps the
best known and bloodiest engagement of the war - nearly
600 were killed or wounded - he lost his ship, but
boarded and captured the Serapis.
After the war he joined the Russian Navy as a rear
admiral and fought the Turks. He later returned to
France embittered by Russian politics. His health failed
and he died July 18, 1792. John Paul was buried in an
More than a century later, a U. S. flotilla of
destroyers was sent to France to return his body to
America. He is buried in a magnificent tomb of marble
beneath the domed chapel of the United States Naval
Academy in Annapolis.
Read his biography at
1904 Steam Yacht
Medea was built for William Macalister Hall of
Torrisale Castle, Scotland, by Stephen of Linthouse. She
was launched on August 29, 1904. The yacht was built of
steel, decked with imported teak and finished inside
with quarter-sawn English oak.
Macalister Hall was a wealthy landowner and British army
officer who used the Medea for social functions and
hunting trips around the isles and lochs of Western
Scotland. The Medea saw extensive use during both World
Wars. In 1971, she was purchased by Paul Whittier who
restored her and then donated the yacht to the San Diego
Star of India, an 1863 sailing ship, is also located
in San Diego. She was launched at Ramsey, Isle of Man,
on November 14, 1863, as one of the earliest iron-hulled
ships to be built. A tour of the ship gives one an
insight into the difficulties of travel for Scottish
people as they migrated around the world. A working
ship, the Star of India is the oldest iron sailing ship
The Fiery Cross
It may please those who love the pipes to know, and surprise Biblical students to learn, that the
Journal of Biblical Literature proves that the music
the elder brother in the story of “The Prodigal Son”
heard as he approached the house was the bagpipes.
word used in the Greek Testament is Symphona. This is an
Aramaic loan word used in Daniel and is properly
translated bagpipe. In the western church “bagpipe” was
the prevalent translation as late as the fifth century,
and the reading of the verse was, “Now his elder brother
was in the field, and as he came and drew nigh to the
house, he heard bagpipe and dancing.” Some critics say
this is the reason he would “not go in.”
Gordon Crombie supplied information about Bobby Thomson.
He is alive and well, living in Watchung, NJ. Gordon is
a collector of baseball autographs and has a signed
picture of Bobby Thomson. Gordon also knew about Mr. &
Mrs. Graham Massey, who now live in Atlanta. Thanks,
Gordon, for all the information.
George R. Smith of Ocala, FL, sent a brochure
Mississippi Queen. Three of the river
cruises in 1995 are called “All-American Baseball
Cruises.” Guess who will be aboard signing autographs?
None other than Glasgow-born Bobby Thomson. Mr. Thomson
was a member of the Chicago Cubs in 1958 and 1959.
Concerning Robert Burns we heard from: Robert O.
Patterson, Neil Henderson, and Betty Priest. Thanks for
Whatever happened to Laurie Johnson, Heather Queen in
1967? She is a Registered Nurse, mother of twins, and
lives in Highland Park. Her mother, Mrs. Harold Drummond
of Ladysmith, WI supplied the information. This family
was known as the Drummond Family Singers and often
appeared at the Anniversary Dinners. Dr. Drummond died
in 1993, after an illustrious career.
Someone apparently took a copy of our last Newsletter to
the Georgia Historical Society Library in Savannah,
Georgia. As a result we received a very nice letter from
Eileen Ielmini, who is an archivist at the library. She
sent all of the interesting information about the
beginnings of golf in Savannah.
We have recently spoken to Sam Harrod of Eureka, IL, and
sent copies of the information from the Savannah
Historical Library to him. If anyone else would like
copies of this information about the beginnings of golf,
please let us know.
Business is booming in Scotland’s “Silicon Glen,” a
70-mile-wide corridor between Glasgow and Edinburgh,
says U. S. News of October 24, 1994. “More personal
computers and workstations are produced here per worker
than anywhere else in the world, and over 450 electronic
companies have plants in the area.” The area began to
develop during World War II, when British companies
moved there to escape German bombings. In 1950 IBM moved
to the region, and today over half the companies are
American. Motorola has just announced that “it will
invest $375 million in a Scottish expansion program.”
Thanks to: Donald McLeod,
Dr. Ian W. Taylor
Dr. Ian W. Taylor of Wheeling, IL, holds a perfect
attendance record of 36 years for monthly Lions Club
meetings. He has attended international club meetings in
57 different countries. He recently received the
Distinguished Alumni Award from the Ontario Veterinary
College Association. In 1994 he was named Wheeling’s
Centennial Historian for getting the old village hall on
Milwaukee Avenue preserved as a museum. Dr. Taylor is a
life member of the Illinois St. Andrew Society.
From the Editor...
This issue marks the completion of our first year which
means that many of you need to renew your subscription.
Slightly over 500 people responded last year to help
with the postage. We did not keep a record so we do not
know when your subscription expires. We will leave that
to your records. I do want to thank everyone for their
help. There has been an amazing response from all over
The cost of printing each issue is about $400. If any
printer in the Chicago area could help us reduce this
amount, it would be greatly appreciated. At present the
Illinois St. Andrew Society has kindly consented to
cover the deficit. Since we use the mailing list of the
Illinois St. Andrew Society, each mailing is almost
three thousand copies.
We owe a special debt to Ian Lisk and Margaret Laing for
their expertise in editing our publication. Thanks!
Two of our readers knew about the Big Woods Cemetery
near Batavia, IL and the final resting place of David
McKee. Thanks to Charles Stamm and Robert McNamara. Full
details will be in our next issue. The History Club will
visit the Cemetery on April 8. If you would like to
attend, please call the Scottish Home.