The Scottish American History Club Newsletter
William Bryce Mundie, Scottish Home Architect
This year the Illinois St. Andrew Society will begin
celebrating the 100th birthday of
the Scottish Home. Since the first St. Andrew?s Day
Dinner was held in Chicago on November 30, 1845, the
care of elderly Scots has been the heart of this
organization. It all started with a rented two-story
brownstone on the south side of Chicago. In 1910, Dr.
John A. McGill gave the Society five acres of land in
Riverside, Illinois, to construct a home for elderly men
and women. The architect was William Bryce Mundie.
Mundie was born in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, April 30,
1863. Both his parents were born in Scotland. He was
educated at the Hamilton Collegiate institute and
decided to follow the footsteps of his father and
grandfather and become an architect.
After the great fire of 1871, Chicago was the place to
practice architecture. Just before his 21st birthday,
Mundie arrived in Chicago. On his first day in the city,
he was hired by William LeBaron Jenney and never left
the firm. Within seven years he was Jenney?s partner, a
partnership that lasted until the Major?s retirement in
1905. Mundie continued to run the office until his own
death in 1939.
On June 2, 1892, Mr. Mundie was united in marriage in
Plainville, Ohio, to Miss Bessie Russell Jenney, a
daughter of Ansel G. Jenney of Cincinnati. (Editor?s
note: It is thought that Miss Bessie Jenney was a niece
of William LeBaron Jenney.) Her ancestors in both the
paternal and maternal lines were members of the Plymouth
Colony and came over as passengers on the ships John
and Little James. Three daughters were born:
Elizabeth J., Margaret B., and Jean F. William Mundie is
buried at Rosehill, but there is no stone to mark his
grave. The Society has lost all contact with members of
For a number of years, Mundie was a member of the Board
of Governors of the Illinois St. Andrew Society. When
land was given in 1910 for the Scottish Old People's
Home, Mundie became the architect. (You can obtain more
information about Mundie and his work in the latest
issue of the Tartan Times.) After fire
destroyed the Home in 1917, Mundie again became the
architect. The present building, with few alterations,
is the home he designed. Many of the large trees on the
present property are the result of Mundie?s interest. In
1919, he asked each Governor to purchase a tree to
replace those lost in the fire.
In 1986, William Bryce Mundie was inducted into the Hall
of Fame of the Union League Club of Chicago. The speaker
for that occasion was Donald A. Gillies who was serving
as the President of the Illinois St. Andrew Society.
Much of the material used in this article came from his
Read more about William Bryce Mundie in
Chicago: Its History and its Builders
Col. Robert Bruce Fraser
Someone You Should Know
The following story was published in a local newspaper.
We do not know the name of the paper, but the year
should be 1968 and the caption was World?s Oldest Scout.
?Col. Robert Bruce Fraser, know as the world?s oldest
scout, now resides at the Scottish Home, North
Riverside. In his wanderings, he has been aide-de-camp
to a duke, has fought in the Boxer Rebellion and Boer
War, has brought the Boy Scout movement to Chicago,
worked nights to get a degree in civil engineering and
has studied for the ministry.?
?He was born this day in 1876 in Beaufort Castle,
Aberdeenshire, Scotland, the home of Lord Simon Fraser,
Earl of Lavat, head of the Fraser clan. His mother died
when he was 18 months, and his father when he was ten
years old. He was brought up by his maternal grandfather
Sir Frederick Pierce Campbell, a judge of the English
Circuit Court, duke of the Argyles Family. ?
His education was left to private schools and tutors
until he attended Winchester School, where he began a
life-long friendship with Sir Winston Churchill. At the
outbreak of the Boer War, he chose to enter the army,
where he became a captain. ?In South Africa, he again
saw Churchill, who was at that time a war correspondent.
Col. Fraser found him hiding in a freight yard, with a
price on his head. The Colonel put Churchill in a piano
packing case, in which he was shipped to Cape Town and
from there, Churchill returned safely to England. For
this he was knighted by Queen Victoria.?
?After numerous adventures, he came to America aboard
the Saxonia. He moved to the south side of
Chicago when he married and lived there for 51 years
until his wife died. Before World War I, he was
valuation engineer for various railroad companies, while
establishing the Boy Scouts in the Back of the Yards.?
?Among his other memories is the time he was
aide-de-camp to the Duke of York, later King George V.
In this position, the Colonel bought the first pair of
pants for Prince Edward, now the Duke of Windsor.?
?I neither drink intoxicating liquor or smoke and teach
my boys that there is a Divine Maker whether we are
Protestant, Catholic, or Jewish, to Whom we must give an
account of ourselves when we leave this earth.?
Bath, New York
New York was founded in 1793 by Captain Charles
Williamson, a native of Edinburgh. He was one of the
many soldiers who settled in America after the
Revolution. In 1791, he was made manager of the company
organized by Patrick Colquhoun, Lord Provost of Glasgow,
and others, which had purchased a tract of 1,200,000
acres in New York.
He also founded Williamsburgh on the Genesee River. For
three terms he represented Steuben County in the New
York legislature, was county judge and a colonel of
He died on shipboard between New Orleans and Jamaica in
More about Charles Williamson can be found at
The Crooked Lake Review.
The Minutes of 1912
James R. Glass, the secretary, reported that four
quarterly meetings were held at the Great Northern Hotel
with an average attendance of 35. The Executive
Committee had met nine times with average attendance of
five. Application for membership totaled 51, of which 9
were elected to life membership. Total membership was
446, an increase of 19 over the preceding year. Total
cash assets of the Society were $45,165.70.
Mr. Robert Falconer was a delegate to the Scottish
Societies, but it was decided that the By-Laws prevented
the Illinois St. Andrew Society from making a
contribution to the organization. A Button and Badge
Committee was functioning with some difficulty. For
instance, a motion to adopt the Stewart Plaid for the
badge died for lack of a second. There was also a
question raised as to the constitutionality of spending
money for button and badges. Later, Mr. Robert W.
Millar, attorney for the Society ruled that it was
permissible to spend money for the badges, so 500 were
ordered at a cost of $100.00.
At the end of June, 1912, the cost of operating the Home
for six months was $2,055.97. The average number of
?inmates? was 22 for an average cost of $92. The
Cemetery Committee presented its annual report which
showed that 213 adults and 37 children had been buried
in the ?new grounds? and 52 adults and 4 children were
buried in the ?old grounds? of Rosehill Cemetery.
The Board of Governors met 12 times during the year and
always at the Scottish Home. Sir George Reid from the
Commonwealth of Australia had visited the home in
August. The Treasurer reported that a football game
between the Campbell Rovers and the MacDuffs had
produced $103 for the Scottish Home. Total contributions
for the year was $11,250.92
The Banquet Committee reported that the St. Andrew Day
Dinner was the largest attendance ever and required the
use of two large rooms at the LaSalle Hotel. John
Williamson sold $1,435 in tickets and the total receipts
was $4,415. A profit of $1,736.45 was realized.
Fifer James Swan
Swan was born in 1754 in Fifeshire, Scotland. He
immigrated to Boston as a boy and became a
counting-house clerk. He became a member of ?The Sons of
Liberty? participating in the Boston Tea Party in 1773
and was wounded twice at Bunker Hill. During the
Revolutionary War he rose to the rank of colonel.
Having married into money, Swan bought a number of
confiscated Loyalist properties and was involved in land
speculation. In 1786 he purchased a group of islands off
the coast of Maine, the largest of which bears his name.
Champlain had visited these island 150 years before Swan
bought the islands. On Swan's Island, he established saw
mills and built a colonial mansion for himself.
James Swan owned a famous ship by the name of Sally.
It was built in 1791 and was employed in the salt and
spare trade between Wiscasset and La Havre. The captain
of the ship was Stephan Clough and he once sailed the
ship to France to deliver a load of lumber. When Captain
Clough arrived in Paris, he was instructed by Swan to
take on a cargo of furniture, tapestries, family plates,
and valuable paintings belonging to Marie Antoinette and
other royalty. Local legend has it that Marie Antoinette
was suppose to board Captain Clough?s ship to escape the
guillotine. Remnants of her furniture can be seen today
at the Deck House where she was suppose to settle.
In 1787 assisted by Lafayette, he gained control of the
US war debt to France. It totaled $2,024,899.93 and
consisted of money advanced during the Revolution. ?Swan
decided to liquidate it. His decision was breathtakingly
unselfish. He paid it out of his own pocket. On July 9,
1795, he reported to the United States Government that
?the entire American debt was paid and does not exist
any more.? (1) Cheer, a Monthly Publication
(Editor?s Note: We have tried to obtain additional
confirmation about the debt retirement, but have been
unable to do. We repeat the story with some
Thirteen years after his unprecedented gift, he was cast
into a debtor?s prison for nonpayment of a judgment for
$150,000 obtained by a German firm. Swan denied that he
owed the money and rather than pay it spent 22 years in
At the outbreak of the July Revolution of 1830, he was
liberated, but died three days after his release.
James McMillan in 1937 said, ?Like most Scots, I came
to the United States with preconceived ideas of America
and American ways. These were soon shattered. Very soon,
I learned to appreciate the fine democratic spirit
prevailing everywhere in this country. Here a man has to
show his worth before he gains respect. I learned that
the first week when my office boy told me where to get
off. I took it and profited. I have not yet made good.
The feudal system with its respect for inherited place
and privilege seems never to have existed. That appealed
This statement was read at the memorial service of James
Gellatly McMillan in 1965. He was a member of the
Illinois St. Andrew Society and a major donor in 1964.
The McMillan wing at the Scottish Home is named in his
From the Editor...
We have appreciated the continued support of so many
of you over the past few weeks. Our thanks to everyone
who has mailed a check to help with our postage. During
the summer months, a special committee will be working
on the celebration planed for the Scottish Home. The
first event will be a formal dinner planned for August
4. It will be held in Heritage Hall and will feature a
power point presentation of the first 100 years. You
should also read the stories in the Tartan Times as we
review this great story and those individuals who made
The Illinois St. Andrew Society is the oldest
philanthropic organization in Illinois. It was chartered
by the State Legislature in 1853. It continues its
charitable work at the Home and though a great deal is
done, there are still many more who could benefit.
On another subject, one of our efforts in publishing
this simple newsletter is to tell the history and
accomplishments of Scottish Americans, not only in
Chicago, but also in the entire country. One of the
purposes of a National Tartan Day is also to show their
contributions. I was in Washington, D.C. during part of
Tartan Week and participated in some of their events. If
every community will observe this special day in 2001 it
can only add to the historical understanding of what our
Scottish population really accomplished.
Scots and Scots? Descendants in
America, D. MacDougall, Caledonian Publishing Co.,