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The Scottish American History Club Newsletter
January 2004

Alexander Brand

In the summer of 1839, James Murray arrived in Chicago from Scotland and opened an exchange office. He took into partnership Alexander Brand from Aberdeen and they called the firm Murray & Brand. The company was involved in most forms of banking, including the buying and selling of real estate. By 1844, James Murray was no longer a partner and the name had changed to Alexander Brand and Company. The directory of Chicago in 1845 says: “Alexander Brand - private banker and exchange broker, 127 Lake St. corner of Clark St. - residence, Lake House.” The company was said to have been a partnership of Scotsmen. They took over the business of Strachan and Scott in 1840 and appeared to be “very much interested in foreign and domestic exchange....”1 Alexander Brand served as the second president of our Society and we can assume that he was present at the St. Andrew's Dinner on November 30, 1845. They held this first dinner at the Lake House. He was elected president in 1846, 1848, 1850 and 1851. They dissolved his company in 1851 after the passage of the Illinois Free Banking Act.

On November 30, 1847, “The Anniversary of Scotland's Patron Saint” was celebrated at the Sherman house. The dining hall was decorated with Scottish and American flags and behind the President's chair stood a “Banner of the Royal Arms of Scotland (painted in the free style of the art, by J. M. Read, artist, of this city.) Behind the Vice President's chair was a transparency of St. Andrew.” As the company marched into the dining room, the band played “The Campbells are Coming.”
After the blessing by the Chaplain, Rev. William Adam, Alexander Brand rose to speak. He said, “the purpose of the dinner is to remember the Patron Saint of Scotland, to talk of Scotland and Auld Lang Syne, and to promote friendly and kindly feelings among ourselves, to raise a fund for the relief of our brethren in distress, to cherish the remembrance of Scotland, and her glorious associations, to swell anew, in every heart, the patriotic tide…. Long may such festive scenes be acted o'er and o'er.” Alexander Brand would be pleased to know that for 158 years we have continued to celebrate this anniversary.

It appears that James Murray moved to Niagara Falls and that sometime after 1851, Alexander Brand moved back to Aberdeen. In 1876, a resolution appears in the annual report announcing the death of Alexander Brand in Aberdeen and mentions that James Michie, a past president, has also died. “Resolved, that we tender the heartfelt sympathy of the Illinois Saint Andrew's Society to the families of our deceased brothers...and that as a mark of respect to their memories (which the Society will always affectionately remember), the above resolutions be spread on the records of the Society, and that a copy be transmitted to the families of our deceased brother.” Let it be noted that in 2004 we still remember!

Looking for more information about the death of Alexander Brand in 1989, one of our employees placed an article in the Evening Express of Aberdeen. No one replied.

Recently, however, we were able to purchase on the Internet a copy of Alexander Brand's personal estate for $7.50. He died on March 24, 1876. His wife, Mrs. Harriette Watson Brand was still living along with Peter Brand, whom we assume to be a son. They inherited his estate. Abroad, his estate was worth £17,050. They valued his estate in Scotland at £13,719.38. He had money in the Home National Bank of Chicago and Elgin. He owned bonds from the West Chicago Park Commissioners, the City of Elgin, the Beloit and Madison Railroad Co., the Chicago Water Department, and the State of Illinois. His occupation was listed as “Chartered Accountant.” His place of burial is not given.

We commemorate his memory.

1The Growth of Chicago Banks by F. Cyril James, V. I, page 199.  

Corduroy Roads

On the frontier, stretches of swampy ground were often made passable by sawn logs laid side by side. The pattern reminded people of corduroy. In some situations, barrels would be used and the entire structure would float much like our modern-day pontoon bridge.

Information from Miles Historical Atlas of York, 1878, page 11.


Each month, we receive many e-mails from around the world, mostly looking for information about long lost relatives. Here is an example: Bette Solomon from Los Angeles wrote: “I have a marriage license here dated 1881 and signed by James Maclaughlan, Pastor, Scotch Church, Chicago. I have poked around some with the Chicago Presbytery looking for that church , but have not yet found anyone who knew anything about it. I did find the pastor listed in 1900 at Brighton Park Presbyterian Church, 38th near Sacramento.”

We do know James Maclaughlan quite well and he was very active in Scottish circles. For many years, he was the chaplain of our Saint Andrew Society. It was said of him that “he married more couples, baptized more babies and buried more Scots than anyone in Chicago.” He is buried in Rosehill Cemetery and we have visited his grave.

The First Scotch Presbyterian Church was located in the near west loop area. In our files is a copy of the church directory printed in 1876 and a drawing of the church. In our museum, we have a copy of a marriage ceremony, like a book, and signed by the Reverend Maclaughlan and given to the Society by Lois McCullaugh. His picture also hangs in our Hall of Fame area.

Space Pictures Reveal Ancient Roads

Scottish researchers have made the first discovery from space of an ancient archaeological site. Using radar images from the Space Shuttle, the University of Edinburgh team, working with NASA researchers, found a network of ancient roads and tracks beneath the soil around the Islay headquarters of the Lords of the Isles, at Finlaggan Castle. Work has now moved from space down to the ground, where traditional archaeology has dated the tracks to the early middle ages, a time when the Lords of the Isles were the dominant power in the Irish Sea.

This story was first reported by Jon Pratty and published in a London paper. Name of paper and date not given by the sender. See ABC Science for more information.

Forbes Island

Forbes Island is located in San Francisco and can by reached by a special excursion vessel, The Island Queen , at Pier 39. David Forlow learned about the restaurant and wrote the owner. In his answer the present owner said: “Thanks for your interest. My great, great, great grandfather, James Kiddo, came to the Colonies in 1765 from Scotland and was in the Revolutionary War. He settled in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, and there is still a Kiddo Homestead where the original home is preserved as a state park. I built Forbes Island as my home in 1975, and have lived on the 700-ton vessel for 23 years. It has been a restaurant for five years; come by and try our food.” Their website is www.forbesisland.com

A Forgotten Scottish Connection

(Continued from October, 2003)

General Joseph Duncan and Elizabeth Caldwell Smith were married in Washington, D.C. on May 13, 1828. Two weeks later, they began the long journey to Illinois. They crossed the mountains in a stagecoach and took a steamboat at Wheeling to Cairo. From Cairo to St. Louis , they traveled “in company with Mr. and Mrs. James K. Polk of Tennessee, little thinking he would ever fill the President's chair, such a commonplace man.” They spent a week in St. Louis and then took a boat to Kaskaskia and then on horseback to Fountain Bluff where Joseph Duncan owned a sawmill.

They first arrived in Jacksonville, Illinois in 1832. Elizabeth wore a dress of “white India muslin and a long sky blue sash.” “Wherever I went they turned my trunk inside out, tried on all my clothes and admired them generally. It was funny and often annoying to have them cut patterns of everything they could, often ruining them past use.” "No wonder people asked, what brought you so far from the city out into the wild country? I said, My husband, I followed him.”

Later in the summer, they returned to Washington for the Second Session of Congress. Elizabeth said: “Mrs. Mather took us in their carriage to Carlyle several days journey, two nights and two days. We stopped for the night at a log cabin, so four of us slept in one room, not an unusual occurrence in those days.” At Carlyle they took the stage through Indiana over corduroy roads and then on to Cleveland. “The lake was so rough and the boat so poor we coasted the lake in a covered wagon to Buffalo.” From Buffalo they took a stage to Albany and a steamboat to New York. Another stagecoach completed the final leg to Washington. The entire journey took three weeks. Elizabeth said, “In November the weather was beautiful. It was a rough journey. I felt I was going home. I never liked the west and was so glad to get back.” On one of their many trip s to Washington, their son James “died at Wheeling, Virginia and we buried him on a hill in sight of the river.” He was 2 years and 7 months old. During her lifetime, Mrs. Duncan would make this trip eight times.

They chose Jacksonville, Illinois, to be their home and in 1834, built a three-story, 17-room mansion. It served as the official Governor's Mansion during his term as governor (1834-38) and is the only standing structure that served this capacity outside of Springfield. This diminutive lady living on the frontier gave birth to ten children. Daniel Webster made a visit to Jacksonville in 1837, and the Duncan's held a barbecue where they roasted “a steer whole.” In her diary, she speaks of the big snow in 1830, where the snow came up to the window sills. Her mother-in-law cried the entire night, believing they would be buried alive. On July 20, 1841, the Illinois Bank in Jacksonville was robbed and she said “Satan appears to be walking up and down on the earth.”

Mrs. Duncan was 4'5" tall and if she “was pouting ” when the Governor arrived home after a long stay in Springfield, Governor Duncan would laughingly set his petite wife on the mantle, where she remained until she could attract another member of the household to assist her. We were unable to find the exact date of her death, but would believe she is buried alongside her husband in Jacksonville, Illinois. Governor Joseph Duncan died January 15, 1844. He is buried in the Diamond Grove Cemetery in Jacksonville. The mansion is owned today by the Rev. James Caldwell Chapter NSDAR and is open to the public. The home has been fully restored and contains many original Duncan family furnishings.

A Scottish girl from New York City and a Scottish man from the frontier, who met in Washington and died in Jacksonville, Illinois, makes an interesting story fit for the movies. We will write more about Joseph Duncan and his 14 years as a public servant.

Most of the information for this article came from Publication #26 of the Illinois State Historical Library for the year 1919.

From the Editor

This issue marks ten years that we have published our newsletter. All forty issues are now on the web site, and Elaine has prepared an index that is also available on the Internet. Those of you who appreciate the research and enjoy the articles, should continue your show of support by helping to pay for the postage. The annual cost is about $5,000.

We do appreciate the comments and letters that so many of you have sent to us. Potential stories have come from all parts of the country. Dr. C. Howard Wallace of Dubuque, Iowa, recently sent materials about the Carnegie libraries in his state. Others have also been helping to gather information about Carnegie's gifts to Illinois. For instance, Judge William Bauer has discovered that Chicago has no Carnegie libraries. I was recently in Pekin, Illinois, and discovered that they once had a library. Nevertheless, they destroyed it several years ago and constructed a new building. Too bad! The Librarian of the North Riverside library has found a book that covers the story, but I have yet to obtain a copy. Since these gifts occurred beginning in 1900, telling the story seems appropriate as it affects Illinois. The Carnegie Foundation still exists with headquarters in New York City.

We plan to continue through 2004, though I will no longer be a full-time employee of the Society. In December, we will re-evaluate our situation and decide 2005. Please continue with your support.

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