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The Scottish American History Club Newsletter
April 2003

Crombie Park

Edward Crombie, from Broxburn, Scotland, a refrigeration engineer, came to America in 1889 to install ice factories in the Midwest.  He was accompanied by his wife and two young sons, Edward, age 9 and William, age 7. An early job was in Spring Valley, Illinois. The father died suddenly at the age of 39 in Ft. Payne, Alabama, where he had been installing an ice-making facility. The Mayor of Ft. Payne befriended the widow with a job and community help for the family to return home to Scotland.

When the boys became adults, they returned to America, William in 1906 and Edward in 1907. William sent money back to Scotland to support his mother and Edward, trained as an machinist, soon joined his brother. Edward came through Ellis Island on his way to Morris, Illinois. His name is on Panel 93 at Ellis Island. Later, he moved to Joliet and worked in the steel mills. The boys brought their mother, Janet, to America in 1910. All three are buried in historic Oakwood Cemetery in Joliet.

Edward soon bought the home and business of a dairyman and brought his future wife, the girl he left behind in Scotland, to America. They were married in Morris, but made their home in Joliet. A son, Edward Harvey Crombie, was born in 1909. By 1914, he was a widower with a five year old son. He married again in 1919 and Robert was born in 1920. The dairy prospered and Edward became active in the Will County Caledonian Club. By 1921, he was their Chief, and a photo of him wearing a kilt is on the cover of the 20th Annual Scotch Picnic and Games. The Games were held on Wednesday, July 20, 1921, in Dellwood Park.

The dairy continued to grow and the two adult sons, Edward and Robert, joined the business. After World War II, the dairy incorporated and purchased a 1924 dairy plant in Joliet on Second Avenue near Hickory Creek. Trucks were now used to deliver milk, so the Joliet Limestone building was purchased for additional space. It had been built in 1890 as the original street car barn when horses pulled the cars. Edward and his wife died in 1964, and the plant closed in 1966. An arson fire destroyed the dairy barn building in 1972 and it was then demolished. The plant building was empty after six years and was also demolished in 1978.

The land where the plant and store stood was given to the Park District by Robert and Dorothy Crombie. Robert Anderson Crombie died in 1970. The 1924 dated stone of the original plant is now part of the signage for Crombie Park. The park name honors a Scot who became part of the fabric of Joliet.

Robert  Crombie, who is now deceased, was a life member of the Society. His wife Dorothy B. Crombie and their children, Robert B. and Janet are also Life members of the Society. Robert lives in Huntington Beach, California, and Janet lives in Chicago.

Other members of the Crombie family who are members include: Dorothy M., Edward C., Timothy C., and Elizabeth Crombie Schloss. 


 Letter From David Forlow

Dear Wayne,
Please find enclosed a check for $50 to help offset the cost of the History Club Newsletter. Could you please add my sister to your mailing list?

I look forward to reading the quarterly newsletter and it has made me look out for Scottish connections each time I travel. Among the many maritime connections Scotland has with the U.S., I recently ran across the following:

The maritime museum at Aquatic Park (near Fisherman’s Wharf) in San Francisco has a tall ship named Balclutha on display. The Balclutha was built in Glasgow in 1886. A friend who served in the U.S. Navy recently returned from Hawaii and told me of the  Falls of Clyde docked in Honolulu Harbor. Reputedly the worlds only surviving 4 masted full-rigged ship, the Falls of Clyde was built in 1878 by Russell & Co. in Glasgow.

Another idea you might consider for your newsletter is the many Scottish-American connections in the music and film business. Keep up the good work!

David Forlow is the Associate Vice President-Investments of A.G. Edwards & Sons, Inc. in Skokie, Illinois.

The Balclutha is pictured above.


 Pioneer Schools

Schools were only held at irregular intervals and by subscription. A wandering Scotch school teacher would come into the neighborhood and get up a school. On my grandfather’s land a tenant cabin became the school house, and the children were paid for pro rata, that is the first child for so much, the second for a less sum, and so on. Free schools were to come later.”(Publication No. 9 of the Historical Library, Illinois, 1904, page 509)


Denver Burns Statue

By 1900, Denver had a Scottish population of about 1,000. One of them, James Duff, was the most influential foreign investor in Colorado. He brokered deals for the English, Irish and Scottish investors. Soon the Scots organized a Caledonian Club.

William J. Palmer and Dr. William A. Bell of the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad laid out North Denver’s Scottish Village, a tiny neighborhood of short curving streets with Scottish names at W. 32th Avenue and Zuni Streets, that is an unusual exception to Denver’s ubiquitous street grid.

Although some Scots-Irish settled in the area known as The Highlands, they were soon outnumbered by the Irish, Italian, and Hispanic residents. Like the English, the Scots assimilated into the dominant Anglo culture and made less of their ethnicity than most other groups. One of the few traces left of Denver’s Scottish pioneers is a bronze statue of Robert Burns, installed in City Park in 1904 by the Colorado Caledonian Club. The St. Andrew Society of Colorado was formed in 1963.

The foregoing was sent to us by John Lyons.


Millburn, Illinois

In 1843, David Minto from Annan, Dumfriesshire, Scotland, took possession of 120 acres of land near Millburn, Illinois. It is said that many Scots families settled in the area including the Thains, Smiths, Taylors and Strangs. Millburn was a Scottish village. The word burn is the Scottish word for stream or creek.

“The families were members of the Millburn Congregational Church and staunchly anti-slavery...Millburn was a hotbed of abolition.” When the war started four young men joined the 96th Illinois Infantry. They were Alexander and Richard Smith, Richard Thain and David Minto. They enlisted at Rockford, Illinois, in September, 1862. Nine months later David Minto was discharged because of illness. The others fought at Chickamauga, Chattanooga, Lookout Mountain, Atlanta, Franklin and Nashville. The regiment lost about 200 men killed in battle and another 80 were missing. All of the Millburn boys escaped injury or capture. The Minto letters written during the war, old photos, china plates, clothing, a 19th century diary, linen, and old books from Scotland have all now been donated to the Lake County Discovery Museum in Wauconda, Illinois. The five boxes of letters have been read, sorted and transcribed by Rebman Martin for the museum. They can be read today on computer disc.

Diane Russell sent us this newspaper article from the NewsSun, dated October 24, 2002. 


Andrew Carnegie

In 1901 philanthropist Andrew Carnegie donated $5.2 million to New York City for the construction of 65 neighborhood branch libraries.

The first library, completed in 1902, was the Yorkville Library, designed by architect James Brown Lord. It is located at 222-79th Street, between Second and Third  Avenues in New York. We have read that each Carnegie Library originally contained a bust of Robert Burns.

We do not have a Carnegie Library in Chicago, so if someone could check for us it would be greatly appreciated. 


 Stanford White

We recently wrote of the architect Stanford White who was influential in founding the firm of McKim, Mead and White. All three men were apparently of Scottish descent.

White and McKim had worked for Henry Hobson Richardson who is also said to have had a Scottish heritage. As I mentioned previously, Richardson is best know in Chicago for designing Glessner House which still exists on Prairie Avenue.

The Chicago Tribune on December 29, 2002, (section 16, page 3) noted that: “...horse breeder Virginia Kraft Payson reduced the price of her 14-acre estate in Sands Point, with its 25-room Stanford White Georgian colonial mansion dating to 1902 - from $50 million to $29.5 million after an unsuccessful June auction of the property. The property is considered to be the “architectural crown jewel” of the late Stanford White. The mansion, known as   Lands End and located on Long Island, was built for Herbert Bayard Swope, renowned editor and the first recipient of the Pulitzer prize for journalism. The unsuccessful auction was apparently held by Sheldon Good & Company of Chicago.

We also note that one of the properties designed by William Mundie in Chicago was also recently on the market for almost $2 million.


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

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