Great Scots

Scottish Name List



Visit our Blog




The Scottish American History Club Newsletter
July 2005

The Scottish Mapmaker

James Mackay was born May 1, 1761 in the far north Highlands of Scotland in a long-house croft. At the age of 15, he and his brother emigrated to Canada to join the fur trade. He later moved to an area that would become part of the United States through the Louisiana Purchase. His map-making ability led to employment with the Spanish government from whom he petitioned land grants in the Louisiana Territories as payment for his work. His explorations produced the Indian Map that charted the Missouri  River to the Yellowstone River and served as the basis for the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1804. Mackay is credited as the first white man to record the Yellowstone River. The Missouri River Map, often called the “Indian Map,” is now in the Library of Congress.

The purchase of the Louisiana Territory “changed his life as he sought to expand his survey business and fight the denials of his right to the Land Grants from the Spanish government. Many of his claims went all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States where most of them were settled in favor of the claimant.”  On Tartan Day 2005 in St. Charles, Missouri (where James Mackay lived with his wife and children) a street was named in his honor. They hope to soon raise a life-sized statue of him in recognition of his work which has long been forgotten.

Helen Ogden Widener has written the story of his life in a book entitled  James Mackay, A Man To Cherish - 1761-1822. It is a factual book told in an oral-narrative form, which has long been used in Scotland to relate history from one generation to the next. “In his life, the readers find themselves immersed in the family culture and customs of the Scots.” James Mackay built Fort Charles near the Omaha Indian Village and the Plate River. He had previously visited the Mandan Indian Village “and taken vegetable seeds for them to grow including musk and watermelon seeds.... ” He later found that the Indians had carefully preserved the seeds for planting the next year.

Mrs. Widener and her husband have accepted an invitation to attend the Scottish North-American Leadership Conference in September as our featured author.  She plans to bring a full size copy of the Indian Map. Information about the conference can be obtained at www.chicago-scots.org. Those of you who would like to order her book should go to www.jamesmackay.us. I have read the book and highly recommend it to our members and friends. The very unique and interesting cover of her book was done by her son Tad who is serving in Iraq.

We look forward to having Mr. & Mrs. Widener at the Scottish-North American Leadership Conference Sept.30 - Oct. 2 at the Scottish Home.

Pictured:  Drawing of Fort Charles

The Charles A. Brown Family

Charles A. Brown was born in Manchester, New York on  August 25, 1858, to Thomas A. and Emily A. Brown. He was descended from Scottish Covenanters who came to this country in 1685 and whose posterity fought in the American Revolution.

He first attended the University of Rochester where he received a Bachelor of Arts and a Masters degree. He later earned a Bachelor of Laws degree and a Masters (L.L.M.) at Lake Forest University. He was first employed by the Western Electric Manufacturing Company and later resigned to practice patent law. He was a senior member of Brown, Jackson, Boettcher and Dienner.

Mr. Brown probably lived in Hinsdale, Illinois, since he was president of the Hinsdale Cemetery Association beginning in 1910. He was a member of many organizations and  clubs including the Union League, Law and University Clubs.

On July 27, 1892, he married Caroline Cotton of Chicago and they had seven children, Kenneth,  Malcolm (who died in World War I), Meredith (Mrs. Ralph Fisher Skelton), Winifred (Mrs. D. G. Ghrist), Barbara (Mrs. Frederick P. Bowes), Marian (Mrs. Eliot F. Porter), and Gordon.

We once asked if any descendants of John Williamson were still around and we found an entire family named Essig living in Washington, Illinois. Now, are there any descendants of Charles A. Brown still around?

Source:  Chicago’s Accomplishments and Leaders, Glenn A. Bishop, page 67.

Chicago - 1850


In 1850, the Illinois Saint Andrew Society was almost five years old and struggling to meet its mission statement. Chicago had grown to a population of 26,000 and claimed to be the largest grain market in the world and also first in the lumber market.  The harbor was the Chicago River with a north and south branch and represented some 15 miles of riverfront. The river was crossed using a drawbridge every third, fourth or fifth street. “I have seen a closely-packed column a quarter of a mile in length waiting for the bridge to be turned.” The streets were wide and formed at right angles with 16 blocks to the mile.

The city directory contained 250 pages of “solid matter.” It contained advertisements for 13 railroads, nine omnibus routes, 16 newspapers, 60 clergymen and 220 lawyers. The anonymous writer of this report spent some time in court observing the system. In comparison to the East, he said: “There is rather more freedom in illustration, and more frequent use of phrases, which of themselves, mean little or nothing, but as delivered with a tone and manner implying great import.”

He was once in court when a military company was passing in the street and everyone including he lawyers, sheriff, jury and spectators made a mad dash to the windows. The judge preserved his decorum and remained on the bench.

As Others See Chicago: Impressions of Visitors, 1673-1933 By Bessie Louise Pierce 

Pictured:  Fort Dearborn 1857

John Logan Campbell

John Logan Campbell was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, November 3, 1817.  Following in his father’s footsteps, he graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 1839 as a doctor of medicine. He decided not to practice in Scotland, but instead  sailed to Australia in 1839 aboard the Palmyra as the ship’s surgeon. After spending some time in Australia he sailed for New Zealand. Here he was met by another Scot, William Brown, and an American trader by the name of William Webster who may have also been a Scot. In Auckland, he and Brown set up a trading company and in spite of his education, he never practiced medicine but was often called Dr. Campbell.

In 1844, the firm purchased the sailing ship Bolina and sent the first cargo direct to England. In 1848 Campbell left for Scotland and did not return until 1850. Upon his return he immediately left for the California gold rush with a cargo of potatoes and onions, returning with huge profits. Later while traveling from Sydney to Sri Lanka, he met Emma Wilson, daughter of John Wilson. She was returning to her home in India. Campbell would later go to Meerut in India where they were married on February 25, 1858. Mrs. Campbell was much younger than her husband, but we could find no information about her or the date of her death. Dr. Campbell wrote an autobiography in 1881 which he called Poenamo. It became a classic and was reprinted many times. Thanks to the Don Campbell Museum Fund, we have been able to purchase a copy of Poenamo from the Internet, and it is available to any interested person.

By 1870, Campbell had become a substantial figure in Auckland. He served on many boards controlling companies, financial institutions, newspapers and scientific organizations. At the age of 80, he began withdrawing from business and public affairs. When the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and of York came to visit in 1901, Campbell was made honorary mayor to welcome them to New Zealand. Using the presence of royalty, Campbell gave 230 acres of land to be called Cornwall Park.michael_campbell_jul05

Sir John Logan Campbell died on June 22, 1912. He is buried on the summit of “One Tree Hill,” and had the largest funeral in Auckland’s history. Much like Andrew Carnegie, he took care of his family and then donated the rest of his money to Auckland. But, here is the rest of the story….

Sir John Logan Campbell’s great, great, great-grandson, Michael Campbell, won the 105th U.S. Open title this year. From New Zealand, he won the title at Pinehurst No. 2, defeating runner-up Tiger Woods and was awarded a check for $1.1 million. 

October 6, 1962

Twelve residents from the Scottish Home accompanied by Nurse Steike were taken by bus to the Morton Arboretum, through the goodness of the Deacons of the Riverside Presbyterian Church. “A really fine time was had enjoying the beauty of the fall landscape, and the special treats of a chicken dinner with potato fries, salad and sweets. Considerable chatter and enthusiasm over the event were heard and spirits were raised considerably.” The administrator, Mary A. (Molly) Williams sent letters of thanks to Mr. Joseph Tecson and Mr. Pavlik.

Letters to James B. Forgan

Dear Mr. Forgan:

Have yours of January 28 [1920] and enclose herewith my check for $500.00 drawn to the order of Mr. Alexander Robertson. As you no doubt know, I am very fond of the Scotch, Scotch songs and the Scotch Old Peoples Home. I would much rather make this donation than the previous one mentioned by you to me.

Sincerely Yours,

Wm. Wrigley, Jr., President
Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company
5N. Wabash Avenue

January 19, 1920

The superintendent of the Scottish Home, Cora J. Cummings wrote a letter to Mr. Forgan about the New Year’s dinner, the cost of which amounted to $68.29. “I am indeed sorry that the amount is so far in excess of former years. When Mr. Williamson told me that he had invited several guests to meet Sir Harry Lauder, I had already made my plans for the dinner and the provisions were bought. I was obliged to buy a turkey which amounted to $10.00 and for which Mr. Williamson gave me his check.”


….I was glad to see Art Murray at one of the Tartan Day events, and he related that his hometown of Hoopeston, Illinois has a Carnegie library with an addition, but the original building remains intact. The cemetery in Hoopeston is owned by the town and contains three generations of Murrays, including his mother.

….My grandson, J.R. who will be attending Western Illinois University this fall reports seeing the Carnegie library on a recent visit.

….An e-mail from Caledonia, New York, indicates that the First Presbyterian Church of Caledonia is celebrating its 200th anniversary this year. This Scottish Church is one of the oldest of its kind in the United States and many of its descendants migrated west and came to Illinois. More information, including some genealogical information can be obtained on the Internet or by e-mail to oatkamac@cox.net

…. In June, we had a visit from Sandy DeBeers whose uncle was James McMillan who was the President of the Wander Corp., maker of Ovaltine. He was the major donor of the McMillan wing at the Scottish Home and lived at 445 Sheridan Rd. in Winnetka. Are any of our readers familiar with that address?

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