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The Scottish American History Club Newsletter
July 1999

Andrew Carnegie

In 1887 Andrew Carnegie married Louise Whitfield and they traveled to Scotland for their honeymoon. Thus begun a habit that continued throughout their lifetime and the lives of their daughter and grandchildren.

As one of the wealthiest men in the world, Carnegie could afford to purchase any property he wanted. He was to purchase the Skibo estate and all of its 20,000 acres of land. Within two years the gothic mansion became a rose-tinted baronial castle. The house now contained 200 hundred rooms and 400 windows. There was a room and a view for every hour of the day and night. Nothing was overlooked including electricity and the most modern plumbing.

Living at the castle were 85 permanent employees including butlers, maidservants, cooks, a piper, organist, baker and swimming-pool attendant. Two men were employed to just walk the estate's roadways to ensure that were no uneven patches which might jolt his limousine. Over seventeen cars were housed in the various garages. At night a lone piper in full Scottish dress would circle the castle.t>

"It is rumored that Carnegie installed a small rail track on which his bath could be trundled from the bathroom to his bedside. Once when showing guests his amusing gimmick he set the process in motion, only to find his wife was taking a bath!"

Carnegie was never one to forget his own humble beginnings. He met the most prominent people of his day and many visited Skibo. The visitors' book reveals such names as King Edward VIII, W. E. Gladstone, Lloyd George, Rudyard Kipling and the Rockefellers. When approached by a professional tracer of family trees who offered to prove his descent from the ancient Scottish monarchs, Carnegie replied,
"I'm very sorry to hear that, because my wife married me under the impression that I was the son of a weaver."

After his move to Skibo, Carnegie began to consider selling his 58 per cent share in the Carnegie Company. However, the shares were worth so much that no single individual could afford the purchase. A syndicate of financiers approached him with a proposition to purchase and they were given ninety days to raise the money. A
2 million deposit was put into a trust of which 1,170,000 would be forfeited to Carnegie if the option was not taken up within the time frame. At the end of ninety days the syndicate returned to request more time, but this was not granted and Carnegie kept the money. This almost covered the cost of purchasing and renovating Skibo Castle.

Rosehill Cemetery

In 1858, the Illinois St. Andrew Society purchased ground in Rosehill
Cemetery near the historic entrance. In 1871 they purchased a plot of ground in Section five and later more ground in 1895.

These plots were purchased to help meet the original mission statement of the Society "That no deserving Scot, seeking aid, would ever go hungry, homeless, without medical attention, or be buried in a potter's field." Today, 205 persons lie buried in the peaceful surrounds of this beautiful cemetery. Some of our most prominent members have served on the cemetery committee which no longer exists.

The first burial appears to be Robert Osborne who died October 10, 1861. The last burial was Jessie Watson, a resident of the Scottish Home, who died October 10, 1982. A number of children are buried there and two are apparently buried in the same lot. They are shown in the records as the child of John Smith who died May 9, 1864 and the child of Robert Murray who died August 20, 1868. In 1895 a small child was buried in the same grave with its mother.

was designed by William Saunders, a Scot, who also designed the cemetery at Gettysburg. He was assisted by John Ure another Scotsman who then became the resident landscape gardener. Ure had been appointed by Abraham Lincoln to the position of gardener for the government grounds at Washington, D.C. but declined the position. Instead he became the general superintendent of Chicago Parks and Public Grounds. Scottish men were closely associated with many aspects of the cemetery operations during the 1800's. In 1945, as part of the Society's one hundredth anniversary, two large marble monuments were erected. Ten years ago, Marvin Ronaldson arranged to have the monuments cleaned and restored to their original condition.

For the past 13 years the residents of the Scottish Home have traveled to Rosehill
to lay a wreath and remember those who lie buried there. See the next issue of the Tartan Times for pictures.

Samuel Finley Breese Morse
Someone You Should Know

Everyone recognizes that Samuel F. B. Morse was the inventor of the telegraph and the Morse code, but few know that he was also a brilliant painter. Samuel Morse was born in Charleston, Mass. On April 27, 1791. He was an American of Scottish descent.  Morse graduated from Yale in 1810 and then studied art at the Royal Academy, London, England. In addition to the telegraph, Morse also patented a flexible piston pump for horse-drawn fire engines and invented a marble-cutting machine. In politics he was active in the Native American Party and once ran for mayor of New York City.

In 1843, Congress voted $30,000 for an experimental telegraph line from Washington, D. C. to Baltimore, Md. On May 24, 1844, a telegraph message was sent from the Supreme Court chamber to Baltimore. The message said, "What hath God wrought." In 1857, Morse served as an electrician for Cyrus W. Field's company in laying the transatlantic telegraph cable. In 1861, he cofounded Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, N.Y. and was also President of the National Academy of Design. Morse died April 2, 1872 in New York City.

Samuel Morse was one of the great American painter - something that was recognized by Chicago's Daniel Terra, "U.S. ambassador at large for cultural affairs." He acquired the Morse painting "Gallery of the Louvre" for the Terra Museum of American Art in Chicago, IL. He paid $3.25 million for the painting which at the time was the highest price ever paid for the work of an American artist.

The papers of Samuel Morse were given to The Library of Congress and may be accessed on the Internet. They show that beginning in 1848, he became embroiled in law suits over patents which lasted until his death. He carried on a particularly acrimonious dispute with Joseph Henry, who also claimed to have invented the telegraph.

Bill Arrott recently sent the following e-mail. "I enjoyed your piece in the History Club Newsletter. In the old Engineering Building at Princeton, where I studied electrical engineering, there was a very impressive mural depicting Joseph Henry transmitting an electromagnetic wave through the walls of Nassau Hall in the 1830s, probably before either Marconi or Popov were born." (See the April, 1999, issue of the History Club Newsletter for more information about Joseph Henry.)1

George Anderson Letter

The Illinois St. Andrew Society recently purchased a letter written by George Anderson to Daniel Dow of Rockford, Illinois. The letter is dated November 22, 1847, and was in the hands of a private collector. George Anderson was a charter member of the Society and attended the first St. Andrew's Day dinner, November 30, 1845. He served as president of the Society in 1852, and was chairman of the first bylaw's committee.

The letter reads: "Mr. Malcolm Reid recommended me to apply to you as he says you know two persons that can play the bagpipes and as the St. Andrew's Society intends celebrating St. Andrew's day next Tuesday evening, they have entrusted me to procure a piper. So if you can engage one send him on by Monday next & the Society will pay all his expenses. Get the best one & write me immediately whether he will come or not."

The letter is of special significance to our Society and we are indebted to Don Buik, Chairman of the Roscoe Company, for making the purchase possible.


The Illinois Saint Andrew Society recently constructed a new building, and part of that structure contains a museum with beautiful display cabinets. One of the oldest and most interesting articles is a newspaper. It is called "The Aberdeen's Journal" and was published December 29, 1747. It is labeled "Numb.1." We assume that to mean it is the first edition. The small four page edition is in excellent condition. The following is just one of the more interesting bits of news contained in the Journal.

"They write from Paris, that the apothecary who was to have made an experiment of a new invented kind of gunpowder, in the presence of Marshall Saxe, having employed a person to dry a quantity of it for that purpose, by some accident or other it took fire, and blew up the operator and the house, and did considerable damage in the neighborhood."

Coates & Clark, Kearny, N. J.

We had been told that Kearny, New Jersey was once the center of a large Scottish community so an e-mail was sent to John Nisbet at piperscove@home.com. And soon a fax reply was received.

"In the early 1900's Coates & Clark Thread Mills moved from Paisley Scotland to Kearny bringing with many of their valued employees. Also Singer Sewing Maching Co. and Nairn Congoleum from Kircauldy in Fife, Scotland did the same. For many years, Kearny was the place to live for Scotsmen and even boasts a couple of men who became mayor of the town. However, since Lyndon Johnson and the British Prime Minister, Alex McMillan stopped what was called the "BRAIN DRAIN," the town has slowly changed. Coates & Clark moved south as did all the others and we have had literally no immigration for the past 30 years. Sadly, almost all of the Scots have died or retired to shore homes. Most of the Scottish style shops are long gone...

The New Jersey St. Andrews Society gave up its chapter in the late 1930s, but I have seen a book they printed which gives all the bylaws and officers. The gentleman who owns it is a good friend of mine.

I am a member of The New York St. Andrews Society. A wonderful organization which helps many Scots who are down on their luck."

Yours faithfully,
John Nisbet


1. Mark of the Scot by Duncan A. Bruce.

Wayne Rethford, President Emeritus
Illinois Saint Andrew Society
Scottish-American History Club
2800 Des Plaines Avenue
North Riverside, IL 60546