Great Scots

Scottish Name List



Visit our Blog




The Scottish American History Club Newsletter
October 2005

Colonel Walter Scott

col.walter_scottoct05Who was this man that kept sending money to Chicago for the benefit of the Scottish Old People’s Home? We knew he was often referred to as Colonel Walter Scott and that he worked for Butler Brothers and his office was at 860 Broadway in New York City. There was nothing more than this in our records. Yet, from 1917 to 1935, he was a regular and generous donor. We now know that he visited the Scottish Home several times and, once in the company Margaret Williamson True, he purchased a tree to be planted in his honor. The tree program was started by Architect William Mundie after the 1917 fire and a number of trees were purchased and planted to honor various individuals. The trees were never marked and we have thus far found no records. Sadly, most of the older trees are now gone.

In 1919, there was a remaining mortgage of $11,000.00 on the Scottish Home after the disastrous fire in 1917. John McGill writes “our good friend, Mr. Walter Scott of New York City has promised in a telegram just received to be one of eleven to cancel the debt of $11,000.00 on our Scottish Old Peoples Home at Riverside. To meet Mr. Scott’s offer, Mr. John Williamson has agreed to give $1,000.00 and, I, myself, as the new President of the Society, will give $5,000.00.” The goal was met and the only mortgage against the Home was paid. At another time, he sent a check for $1,000.00 and said “if you can get nine others to match this amount you can keep the check.” They did and kept the check.

Through the years, I have made several attempts to find information about Walter Scott. I visited 860 Broadway and spent time in the public library in New York City. In October, I decided to spend the day at the New York City Public Library and do a thorough search. Six hours later, after talking to various individuals and looking at hundreds of entries, I found a young librarian who knew Walter Scott because of some other research he had done. The records I needed were under the full name of Colonel Walter Scott and suddenly there was a wealth of information.

Walter Scott was born in Montreal. His parents were Scots and when he was three years old they moved to Boston. At the age of ten, he managed a small fruit store near Harvard College where he sold apples and plums. One of his customers was Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. At the age of 15 he was employed by the Butler Brothers, wholesale distributors of general merchandise, and at the age of 18 moved to New York City. In 1932, he retired as senior vice president after fifty-four years of continuous service. On the day of his retirement, his office was filled with flowers, and telegrams came from President Hoover and former President Coolidge.

Colonel Scott became very wealthy and gave his money to worthy causes like the Scottish Old Peoples Home in Riverside. He endowed beds at Roosevelt Hospital in New York City and aided in the work of the Trudeau Tuberculosis Research Work. He endowed scholar-ships at Smith College, Flora MacDonald College, American International College, Centenary Collegiate Institute and Stevens Institute of Technology. He was a trustee of the Clarke School for the Deaf, Northampton, Mass.  He created the Walter Scott Industrial School for children located in New York City at 53 West Sixty-Eighth Street and the Lulu Thorley Lyons Home for Crippled and Delicate Children at Claverack, New York. He was a founder of the New York Broad Street Hospital.

He had a lifelong interest in policemen and firemen. He was an honorary Police Commissioner of New York and whenever a policeman or a fireman lost his life in the performance of his duty he always sent a check to the grieving family. “He created a perpetual endowment to provide a medal to be awarded annually to a police or fireman in New York, Boston, Worcester, Holyoke, and Detroit for outstanding bravery in the course of duty.” In 2005 the Walter Scott Medal was awarded to Firefighter Thomas P. Maxwell, Ladder Company 44, New York City. In 2005 at the Northfield Mount Hermon School, Yiqin Chang won The Colonel Walter Scott Prize in Mathematics.

The New York Times dated, November 29, 1935, said: “Colonel Walter Scott, Past Royal Chief of the Order of Scottish Clans in the United States and Canada and former senior vice president of Butler Brothers, died at 4:30 a.m. yesterday at his home, 225 West Eighty-Sixth Street, after an illness of two years. He was 73 years old.” He is buried in the Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn. A recent walk by his home address shows a large square condominium type building, covering almost an entire block and built in a square. The interior courtyard is now a beautiful garden, and there is a covered entrance for one’s horse and carriage that now serves as a guard house.

For many years, Colonel Scott was a familiar figure at all Scottish gatherings and was a member of several Robert Burns clubs. He was a close friend of Miss Jean Armour Burns Brown of Dumfries, a great-great-granddaughter of the poet, and he was also a descendant of his name sake. Among his old friends was Sir Harry Lauder. His clubs are too many to list and so are his honors, but he received the Silver Grand Cross of the Republic of Austria, a Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor, and a member of the Belgian Order of Leopold II. During World War I, he was a member of the New York Scottish Highlanders and was also a manager of the St. Andrew’s Society of New York.

In his will he wrote, “I have always felt an impelling desire to accomplish something definite in conferring happiness and relieving distress as conditions permitted me during my life, that I might not defer until after I had passed on an act that might stimulate a heart with joy, bring a smile to a tear worn face, help a struggling student or extend a helping hand to those afflicted with disease for an opportunity passed to do good is lost forever. I strove to remember my friends while living and to share their joys; I endowed hospital beds to assist those whose needs were immediate. To the extent of my abilities I encouraged all civic enterprises and encouraged the extension of educational facilities to students who were self-supporting.”
In one of our coming issue we will write about his wife, Mrs. Irene Elliott Benson Scott and his daughter Edith Scott Magna of Holyoke, Mass.

More information is available at Daughters of Scotia.
Pictured first:  Col. Walter Scott
Pictured second:  Sir Harry Lauder

Scots Have A Great Picnic

“The clans of Scotland will make merry today at Trout Park, near Elgin. Scotland’s day will be celebrated there by all the Scottish societies in the city, and part of the proceeds will be given to the Old People’s Home of the Illinois St. Andrew’s Society.

The famous games of Scotland and America will be participated in by the best athletes. Famous champions will enter for the great tug-of-war, and bicycle races for men and women will take place on an excellent track. An excellent dancing pavilion has been provided and will be supplied with music by a band of fifteen pieces. A platform, 20X40 feet, especially built for this occasion on top of the highest peak, and viewed from a grandstand capable of holding thousands of people, will give every one an exceptional opportunity of witnessing a fine exhibition of dancing, in which 500 Highland lassies in full Highland costume will take part. Four bands will supply music for the merry-makers, and twenty of the finest pipers in the land will enter the contest for bagpipe music. All the crack cadet companies of the city have already entered to contest for the $500 cup, offered by the societies. The Black Watch Forty-second Highlanders, in full Highland costume, will appear for the first time in public and act as guard of honor for the great occasion. Three hundred prominent Illinois Scottish-Americans will act as a Reception committee.

The procession will start from the Lake-front for the Wells Street depot at 8:30 a.m.”

There follows a list of the twelve organizations in the procession, including “Women of Societies in Carriages.” The Chicago and Northwester railroad ran special trains every half hour from the Wells and Kinzie Street depot. William Gardner, president of the Illinois Saint Andrew’s Society was also the president of the Central Council of Scottish Societies of Chicago who sponsored the event.

Chicago Daily Tribune August 1, 1896

Trout Park is located just south of I-90 and Dundee Avenue. It is owned by the City of Elgin and consists of 26 acres in two parcels. From a map on the Internet, it appears the North-western railroad runs between the park and the Fox River.

The Other Scottish Home
Scottish Old Folk’s Home, Cleveland

other_scottish_homeoct05We have known for quite some time that another Scottish Home existed somewhere in the United States. Now as a result of the scanning program, we have some answers. A letter has been found from C. E. Duerr, Secretary of the Saint  Andrew’s Scottish Benevolent Society, in Cleveland, Ohio, asking questions about the operation of our Home in Riverside, Il. It seems that Mrs. Cora Cummings, our Superintendent, knew a lady who wanted to apply as the matron of their home and thus a series of letters went back and forth. We do not have all the letters but we can get some understanding of the other Scottish Home, both from the letters and now the Internet. It was called the Scottish Old Folks Home and was “designed to house older natives of Scotland and their families.” The capacity was around thirty, but as of April 5, 1930, they had only nine residents. When it was learned that the matron also did the cooking, Mrs. Cummings felt that her friend would not be interested in the job.

The Scottish Old Folks Home was located at 1835 North Park Boulevard in a Georgian house of 19 rooms. The house was originally built in 1903 as the home of Bishop John Patrick Farrelly of the Catholic Diocese. We do not know when the Saint Andrew’s Scottish Benevolent Society of Cleveland purchased the home and it is unclear if the Society still exists. It appears that the Scottish Old Folks Home began operating in 1919 and continued into the 1940s. An article on the Internet states, “In the 1940's the house was operated as the Scottish Old Folks home under the direction of Matron Harriet Hepburn.” After that it was owned by the Rose Institute, and then by various individual owners.” In 1998 the home was on the Heights Heritage Tour and contained “classic contemporary furnishings by Charles Rennie Mackintosh….” The house has been totally remodeled and restored to its original conditions with many additions. The present owner is not identified.

In 1930, the president of the Saint  Andrew’s Scottish Benevolent Society was John J. MacEwen with William Peters and Ringland Andrews serving as vice presidents. Hector Fraser was the treasurer. Members of the Board of Trustees were: Frank Crockett, D. C. Noble, George Y. Farmer, William T. Angus, Alex Dunbar, B. C. Campbell, William Young and C. E. Duerr. The Society met the first Friday of each month at the Pythiuan Temple, 919 Huron Road, Cleveland, Ohio. Additional information about the Benevolent Society or the individuals mentioned would be greatly appreciated.

Pictured:  Braeburn House, Scottish Old Folks Home, Cleveland, OH

Anniversary Dinner - 1895

The fiftieth Anniversary Dinner was held on December 1, 1895, in “the great banquet hall of the Auditorium Hotel which was filled to capacity.” John Joseph Badenoch as president of the Society opened the meeting. R. F. Pettibone served as the Toastmaster. He introduced ex-governor James E. Campbell of Ohio who spoke highly of President Grover Cleveland. Mr. Campbell was a personal friend of the President and a strong supporter of Mr. Cleveland and his administration. Governor Altgeld of Illinois was also on the program and he was not favorably impressed with Mr. Cleveland and apparently said so.

The Chicago Tribune reports that members of the Society resented the Governor’s remarks and expressed their displeasure by “hissing that for a moment interrupted his speaking.” It goes on to say that “By his side several distinguished officials of the British Government, stared amazed at the indecorum of the State executive.”

The 160th Anniversary of the Illinois Saint Andrew Society will be held on Saturday, November 19th, 2005. It will be held in the Gold Coast Ballroom of the Drake Hotel in downtown Chicago.

Since neither the Governor of Illinois nor the ex-Governor of Ohio will be in attendance, we assume there will be no hissing. It will be the same great evening that thousands of Scots have enjoyed since 1845.

Pictured:  John Joseph Badenoch

Miscellaneous Notes

August 3, 1923 - “Through the influence of Mr. Allen H. Stewart of 30 N. Michigan Ave., Mrs. T. C. Butz of Highland Park, has presented a fine thoroughbred English bulldog to the Scottish Home. The dog is from the Strathway Kennels owned by Mr. Stewart in Highland Park, Illinois.

November 17, 1923 - Mrs. Isabella Hope, a resident of the Scottish Old People’s Home for twenty years, celebrated her 84th birthday. Mrs. Hope was admitted to the Home on Bryant Avenue in July 1905, and came with 14 others to the new home in Riverside in November 1910. She is the only one of that number now living.

March 30, 1925 - A Zenith radio was given to the Home by Charles E. Bradley of the Asmus Bradley Company at 208 W. Monroe Street, Chicago, IL. Installation amounted to $60.00 and the radio is “fully equipped with a loud speaker and the old people spend many pleasant hours listening in.”

October 1979 - The Scottish Home owned a 1962 checker cab used to transport residents. It was replaced by a 12-passenger bus purchased from Ray Madden Ford in Downers Grove, Il. The cost was $9,000.00 and the money came from the Edmund McGibbon Recreational Fund. Mr. McGibbon was president of the Society in 1960.

November 20, 1984 - The addition to the Scottish Home named “The Shetlands” was dedicated at the Fall meeting of the Society.  President R. Bruce Graham presided, Rev. Wayland McGlathery gave the invocation, Lois McCullagh, chairperson of the fund-raising committee, gave a short review of the new building. Peter Georgeson, read the poem “The Shetlands” written by John Sinclair who was a relative of Mr. Georgeson’s grandfather. The poem was framed and now hangs in the Shetlands addition.

Pictured:  Bulldog at the entrance of Scottish Home

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