The Scottish American History Club Newsletter
William Maclure was born in Scotland in 1763 and made
his fortune in a London mercantile firm before he
devoted his life to science and philanthropy.
He had become an American citizen by 1803, when
President Jefferson appointed him to a commission to
settle claims between the U.S. and France. Then, mostly
alone, Maclure set out to survey the regions east of the
Mississippi River. He made a geological map of the U.S.,
one of the first of its scope ever prepared, which he
published with “Observations on the Geology of the
United States” in 1809.
An early member of the Academy of Natural Sciences,
Maclure was elected its president in 1817 a position
which he held until his death in 1840. He was the
Academy’s major benefactor in those years, giving it his
library and scientific collections, as well as financial
support. A correspondent of Jefferson’s on scientific
matters, Maclure is known as the “father of American
geology.” In 1824, he visited Robert Owen’s cotton mill
at New Lanark, Scotland, and the following November, he
met Robert Owen in Philadelphia and decided to join his
group at New Harmony, Indiana.
In 1818, Thomas Nuttall named the genus Maclura to honor
William Maclure. It is a medium-sized tree native to
parts of Oklahoma, Texas and Arkansas. Osage Orange (Maclura
pomifera) is noted for its beautiful glossy leaves and
curious citrus-like fruit. Because native Americans
prized its wood for making bows, the French called it
The University of Pennsylvania houses a Maclure
Collection that contains more than 25,000 items mostly
materials on the French Revolution. Maclure was an
“enthusiastic advocate of the benefits of the French
Revolution to the people of France.”
The University of Indiana also has a collection of his
work where he is recognized as the founder of free
libraries in both Indiana and Illinois. Maclure spent
the last years of his life in Mexico and died there in
1840. His place of burial is unclear.
Note: Some of the above information was taken from a
card distributed by The Jefferson Center for Historic
Plants. The Internet also contains a great deal of
information about William Maclure.
Dr. Alexander Stewart
Someone You Should Know
Dr. Alexander Stewart was a veterinary surgeon in
Scotland who had studied in London and Edinburgh. For 14
years he was a surgeon to the Perth Agriculture Society.
In 1817, he came to America and because there was so
much “sickness--chill and fever” he took up the practice
of medicine and was very successful. He was especially
kind to the poor and often took people into his own home
where he would treat and care for them.
He always had a desire to come to America and began
reading literature produced by a Mr. Flowers who
apparently gave a graphic picture of life in America.
Finally, he began preparing for the trip, but
grandparents on both sides of the family pleaded that
his four daughters should remain in Scotland and that
his wife and four sons should make this initial trip.
Once settled, the daughters would follow.
After crossing the Atlantic, they finally arrived in New
Harmony, Indiana, but stayed only a short time because
they were not altogether satisfied with life in the
community as envisioned by Robert Owen. After traveling
over southern Illinois, they finally took up a homestead
of 200 acres in the northern part of White County, about
a mile from the “Scotch settlement” of Liberty.
About this time, he began writing to a friend and
neighbor in Edinburgh, Scotland, trying to persuade him
to bring his family and come to America with the next
group of emigrants. Dr. Stewart sent money to this
friend for his daughters transportation along with
instructions on how to reach his home in Illinois.
It took seven weeks to reach America in a sailing
vessel and after landing in New York, the friend went
into the city to find lodging. He left with all their
money, letters of introduction and instructions on how
to reach Liberty, Illinois. He never returned. The girls
waited all afternoon and “in their great disappointment
and fear for what might happen to them they were all in
Toward evening, “they saw a very fine looking
gentleman with a tall silk hat and gold headed cane
walking toward them from the city. He came up to them
and asked how they came to be there at such a late hour.
Then they told him their story of their father’s
misplaced confidence in this man who had been their
neighbor for years.” It happened that the man in the
silk hat was a “Scotchman and could understand them
perfectly.” Not only was he from Scotland with a “kindly
Scotch tongue” but he had been a classmate of Dr.
Stewart. That night in his elegant home they enjoyed a
The four girls now ranged in age from 11 to 19 and
they have not seen their parents in seven years. The
girls were placed with Scottish families except for
Mary, the youngest, who stayed with Dr. Ferguson. “They
were all sent to school and given dancing lessons and
had the advantages of the wealthy children of that day.”
“The father of the girls knew about when they were to
start on their voyage and could guess about the usual
time of seven weeks for them to make their landing in
New York. He also knew it would take weeks and perhaps
months for them to make their way through the broken
country to his home. After he had allowed a reasonable
length of time for this to happen, and his daughters had
not arrived, he was quite disturbed and finally
concluded they were lost or had met with some accident.”
The girls did not have their father’s address and
thus had no way of communicating with him, except by
writing a letter to their grandparents in Scotland and
waiting for them to notify their father in Illinois. “As
mail traveled very slowly in those days, it took months
for their father to get the message of their
whereabouts.” In the meantime, the oldest daughter,
Jessie, had met and fallen in love with George Dick on
the trip across the Atlantic. Finally, word reached the
father, who started on the long trip alone, “armed with
his gun and on foot.” After a wedding for the oldest
daughter, they began the long journey back to Illinois.
The above story was written by Isabella
Miller, a granddaughter, and our thanks to
Ted Reeves in Merced, California for
sending this story and several others.
Don Buik recently gave me some materials that
belonged to his father who was very proud of the fact
that he came from Dundee, Scotland. Dundee was once
known by the three “J’s” - Jute, Jelly and Journalism.
In one envelope was a handwritten story about marmalade.
The story as written by George Buik reads like this.
When ships would arrive from Spain, they often used
bitter oranges for ballast. Loading materials for the
return trip, the oranges were dumped overboard. An
enterprising lady in Dundee, saw them floating in the
river and took a basket home. “When she tried to get her
family to eat them, they were so bitter they couldn’t
eat them so she made jelly out of them.” Then she sent
her son out to sell the jelly. When he returned, she
asked what he had been told and the son replied, they
said, “mair ma lad.” A rough translation of this, I am
told, is “sell me more, or I want more.” This is how she
obtained the name marmalade. Keillers Marmalade in a
white pot became a best seller around the world.
Dorothy Taylor, who lives in Dundee was kind enough to
send me a lot of information about the history of
Keillers’ marmalade. It seems her boss was an accountant
for the company before its final demise. “He has a
number of leaflets, papers etc. consigned to the dustbin
that he rescued before the final closure of the
Maryfield factory.” Some of the information may take
exception to the story by George Buik, but the basic
facts are the same.
The first factory was located in Albert Square in the
very heart of Dundee. In 1846, because of a duty imposed
on sugar the factory was moved to the Channel Islands.
In 1879, a factory that would in time cover seven acres,
was opened in London. In 1905 a Grocers Exhibition was
held at Islington and the company rented an entire hall
to display its products. The display line took 12,000
feet to show their entire product line of 63,000
preserve packages. “During the first large-scale raid on
London in September 1940 the Silvertown factory, was
completely destroyed.” In 1945, a new factory was built
at Maryfield on the northern outskirts of Dundee.
Dorothy from Dundee says: “Keiller’s was sold to Cross &
Blackwell in the 1950 or 60's, then to Nestles, then to
a local company, before finally closing in 1991.
Confectionery is still manufactured at the Maryfield
site, but the only connection to the original Keiller’s
is that the owner once worked there. I think that
Keiller’s marmalade is still manufactured by Robertson,
who bought the brand name.”
- “General Forbes, who christened Pittsburgh,
Paterson, who gave his name to Paterson, N. J. and
Cleveland, who gave his name to Cleveland, Ohio, were of
- John Kinzie, the first white settler on the site of
Chicago, was a Scot; and John Whistler (1756-1829), the
grandfather of the painter, was born in Ulster. He
fought in the British army under Burgoyne at the battle
of Saratoga, afterward settling in America and joining
the United States army in 1791. He was sent to Chicago
with his company in 1803 to build Fort Dearborn.”
- “John Harris (1716-1791) was the founder
of Harrisburg, Pa. He built the first ferry across
the Susquehanna at that point and was the principal
storekeeper of the frontier. He had by his fair
dealing, the implicit confidence of the Indians and
many important councils were held at his house . .
- John and Samuel Finley, nephews of Rev.
Samuel Finley, president of Princeton College, both
served with distinction in the Revolutionary War.
John was a noted Indian trader and in 1767 preceded
Boone by two years into Kentucky.
- Simon Kenton (1755-1836), Boone’s companion in many
of his daring enterprises, was the son of a Scottish
mother and an Ulster-Scottish father. At the age of
sixteen he ran away beyond the Alleghenies. He joined
with George Rogers Clark and was with him at Kaskaskia.
Kenton County, Kentucky, is named for him. He was one of
the last surviving of the early pioneers.”
Caledonian Society of Chicago
The Caledonian Society of Chicago was founded on June 8,
1884. They endeavored to encourage fellowship among
Scots, to encourage the wearing of the Scottish national
costume and to perpetuate Scottish music, history and
poetry. The club achieved these goals through such
annual celebrations as Burn’s anniversary suppers, the
Caledonian games, and Halloween activities. In addition
monthly socials, usually of a literary nature, were
presented during the winter months. Business meetings
were held on the second Thursday of the month at their
45 E. Randolph Street location. They also held an annual
picnic and games at such places as Riverview Park at
Belmont and Western Avenues. Races, football matches,
and ballroom dances were common activities.
“In April, 1869, the members proposed that a union of
Scottish societies in Chicago take place or, at the very
least, that the various societies jointly sponsor
national celebrations, events, picnics, and so on. Both
the Orkney and Shetland Society and the Caithness
Association tentatively approved the idea in principle.
Other organizations however, such as the Scottish
Assembly, did not express much enthusiasm for the
At least one editorial writer, though, thought the idea
a good one. ‘There is no city in the country in a better
position than Chicago to have a really good Scottish
organization of some kind.’”
In February 1934 the Caledonian Society of Chicago
celebrated its fiftieth anniversary with a concert and
dance at the Auditorium Hotel. It is unclear when the
Society ceased to operate.
From the Editor
Believe it or not, another year has passed, and we have
now completed our seventh year of publication.
We invite you to send us your family stories. We hope
this newsletter will be a venue to share your family
history with other Scots.