The Scottish American History Club Newsletter
A Monument to Sir Walter Scott
On September 17, 1871, the Chicago Tribune
reported on a meeting at the home of Dr. John D. M.
Carr. Dr. Carr was the President of the Scott Centenary
Celebration Union and the first meeting was held at his
residence on West Madison Street. On display was the
original design of the Scott monument in Edinburgh,
Scotland. Architect C. M. Kemp was paid $20,000 in 1812
to design the monument. Upon his death, his heirs became
owners of the design and they had it “beautifully
framed.” They were willing to allow one monument to be
erected in America without any cost for the use of the
The design was first mailed to John Walker of Staten
Island giving New York City the first opportunity to
erect the monument. However, they had already erected a
monument to Sir Walter Scott and thus did not qualify to
use the design. Chicago was the next choice and so the
framed design was sent to Dr. Carr.
Dr. John Carr served as the chairman, and several
members of the Illinois Saint Andrew Society
participated in the “Scott Centenary Celebration”
notably, General John McArthur, Carlyle Mason, and
Robert Clark. It was General McArthur who suggested that
if the celebration created a surplus, it could be used
to erect a monument to Scott. The banquet was held at
the Tremont hotel.
A surplus was created from the banquet and all citizens
of Chicago were invited to subscribe and at the same
time indicate where they would like to have the monument
placed. Since the monument in Edinburgh had often been
described “as the finest monument in the world,” it was
believed that Chicago would receive much acclaim if the
project could be completed. The design was to be in the
office of Dr. Carr for at least one week, beginning
September 17, 1871, where citizens could call and
examine it. His office was located in the McVicker
Theater Building. In 1871, Dr. John D.M. Carr was
elected an honorary member of the Illinois Saint Andrew
Society. He died November 29, 1882.
In early October, Chicago was destroyed by fire
including the McVicker Theater Building. It is unclear
if the monument design escaped destruction. If the
design only remained on display for one week, it is
quite possible that it had been returned. Perhaps
someone in Scotland knows the answer to this question.
After the fire, the issue of a monument to Sir Walter
Scott was not raised again in Chicago. At the turn of
the century, interest focused on a monument to Robert
Burns instead of Scott.
In doing some research about the Great Fire, I came
across an interesting article. It is especially relevant
since we have just celebrated the one year anniversary
of Katrina and the destruction of New Orleans. The
lumbermen of Chicago held a meeting on February 20, 1872
to talk about the Federal tax on materials imported and
used in the construction of buildings in Chicago after
the fire. It was their feeling that the tax should be
withdrawn, at least temporarily. They passed the
following resolution which is interesting when you
compare it to our attitudes today:
“Resolved, That the citizens of Chicago do not ask any
donation from the General Government to enable them to
rebuild their burned homes and places of business, but
respectfully represent that the Government should obtain
the revenue from the profits and prosperity of the
country, and not from its losses and calamities; and,
inasmuch as the property destroyed in the unparalleled
conflagration of the 7th, 8th and 9th of October
last...we hold that it is unjust to require the payment
of these taxes...” No donation from the General
Government, “they intend to rebuild their city...!” How
much we have changed as a nation. Fifty-two lumbermen
signed the resolution which was sent to The Honorable
John A. Logan, United States Senator from Illinois. By
1893, the city was rebuilt without the help of the
“General Government,” and Chicago would host the World’s
The monument to Robert Burns also became a reality and
now stands in Garfield Park. It was dedicated one
hundred years ago, August 25, 1906.
State Street Stores to Change
It was announced recently that the Marshall Field stores
has changed their name to Macy’s and that Carson Pirie
Scott on State Street will close. Both stores have in
the past been closely allied with the Scottish community
and the Scottish Home. Many of our Scottish immigrants
found employment in these stores when they arrived in
James Simpson, born in Glasgow, Scotland, was elected
Marshall Field & Company in 1923. At the
time, the company was the largest merchandising
establishment of its kind in the world. At the same
time, Mr. Simpson was a member of the Board of Governors
of the Scottish Old People’s Home. After the Scottish
Home burned in 1917 all the furniture for the new home
was purchased from Marshall Field’s and at least one
piece of that furniture still exists and is in the Hall
of Fame area of the Scottish Home.
Houston McBain, president of the Illinois Saint Andrew
Society in 1963, was also the president of Marshall
Field’s. He went to work at Marshall Field & Company
when he was 20 years old and when he was elected
president in 1943, he was the youngest president in the
company’s history. His accomplishments would fill an
entire newsletter and then some. Someday, we will devote
an issue to Mr. McBain of McBain who was also the 21st
hereditary chief of the Clan McBain. Mr. McBain died in
1977 at the age of 75. There will never be another
Marshall Field & Company.
Few companies are as strongly associated with Chicago as
the department store of Carson Pirie Scott and Company.
In 1904, two businessmen from Germany, Leopold
Schlesinger and Daniel Mayer, sold their interest in the
department store that stood at the corner of State and
Madison for more than thirty years to Carson Pirie Scott
and Company. But the Scottish roots of the company are
John T. Pirie was born in Scotland in 1837. He left his
homeland to work in his uncle’s dry-goods store in
Ireland at the age of 15. There he met another young
man, Samuel Carson. They decided to move to Belfast to
try their hand at bigger plans. They didn’t stay in
Belfast long, however, for they soon learned of a
flourishing business in the thriving Illinois river town
of Peru. They decided to emigrate to America, and in
1855 they established a store in nearby LaSalle,
Illinois. They prospered and soon opened up other
Looking for better and bigger opportunities, they
directed their attention to the rough-and-ready frontier
town of Chicago. George and Robert Scott had already
operated the downstate outlets. Soon they too came to
Chicago, and the firm of Carson Pirie Scott and Company
The success of the firm was due largely to the business
acumen and solid determination of a somber Scotsman
Andrew MacLeish. Born in Glasgow in June 1838,
Andrew MacLeish was the second son of Archibald
MacLeish. The family originally hailed from Lochwinnoch
in the Scottish Highlands.
MacLeish arrived in Chicago when he was eighteen with a
fellow Scot named Edward Couper. On their first evening
in the rough town, they enjoyed a walk out to the
boundless prairie at Union Park.
MacLeish worked for numerous dry-goods stores without
much success until 1867, when Samuel Carson invited him
to Carson and Pirie, a wholesaler, as a junior partner.
His assignment? To develop a retail store in Chicago.
With MacLeish at the helm as the new store’s founder and
manager, business blossomed. By the mid-1870s, the newly
named Carson Pirie Scott and Company had become one of
the city’s leading department stores.
Years later, more than 120 Carson executives gathered on
the eighth floor of the store to honor Bruce MacLeish,
the 74-year-old chairman as he completed his fiftieth
year with the company that was founded by his father,
Andrew, in 1867. A young Scottish American dancer,
Margaret Baikie, played the pipes.
Archibald MacLeish, Andrew’s famous poet son, later
described his father as a reserved man who spoke very
"My father came from a very old country in the north and
far away, and he belonged to an old strange race, the
race older than any other. He did not talk of his
country but he sang bits of old songs with words that he
said no one could understand any more.
When his parents moved to Glencoe, Illinois, in 1889,
they named their home Craigie Lea, after the words to a
Taken from The Scots of Chicago,
Pages 94 and 95
More history on Marshall Field & Co., can be found on
Encyclopedia of Chicago history.
Pictured first: The clock outside the Marshall Field
Pictured second: Houston McBain
Pictured third: Entrance to Carson, Pirie,
In the last issue, I mentioned Mary Scott, who is buried
at Forest Home Cemetery and her headstone simply says,
“Born in Scotland.” I now have a death certificate which
gives a little more information.
When Mary Scott died on May 12, 1899, she was 55 years
of age. She was married and her occupation was
“housewife.” She lived at 259 Harrison Street and the
cause of death was “organic heart disease.” Apparently
no obituary was printed in the paper.
Those of you who have been attending the History Club
meetings the first Saturday of each month will recognize
the name Maxwell Edgar. Born in Scotland, he came to
Chicago in 1880. He was the individual who sued the
officers of the Saint Andrew Society for mismanagement.
Maxwell Edgar was finally admitted to the State Hospital
in Elgin where he died from staff abuse in 1917. In
spite of his actions, the Society came to his aid
financially as he sought treatment for his mental
problems. He is buried in an unmarked grave in the Bluff
City Cemetery of Elgin, Illinois.
We had wondered about his wife, Jeannie, who was a
graduate of the Conservatory of Paris and had often
played for Scottish events. Now that we have a death
certificate, we know that she died at the age of 71 and
lived at 5331 Kenmore Ave. Her father’s name was
Alexander Weil and she was born in Alsace, France.
Jeannie Maxwell was cremated at Graceland, the ashes
delivered to the undertaker. We would assume that her
niece, Fernande Combet, who lived at the same address,
was the final recipient. So ends an interesting story
about two individuals and their interaction with our
Pictured: State Hospital, Elgin, IL
Do you ever wonder what happens to a person’s military
medals? A person dies, and at some point the family is
no longer interested in keeping them. Where do they go?
The Scottish American History Club in November will look
at the lives of several of our members who participated
in various wars, especially the Civil War.
We have several items in our museum from the Civil War,
but no medals. I have yet to make contact with Fiona
Calder, but I understand she will donate her father’s
medals to the museum. He fought in France during WWI.
Do others of you have medals and pictures that you would
like to donate before they are lost, stolen or sold? If
so, please let us know.
Scottish American Museum
Our museum is open every day by appointment, but it will
be open to the public the first Saturday of each month
(except July, August and December), from 9:00 a.m. until
12 noon. A PowerPoint presentation will be given on each
of these Saturdays at
10:00 a.m. Please check our website for the exact dates.
October 7, 2006 - Scottish sufferers and the fire of
1871. You will hear a little known description of the
Great Fire written by a member of the Illinois Saint
Andrew Society. See a list of the “Scottish sufferers”
and who responded to their cry for help.
November 4, 2006 - Chicago Scots in the Civil War. We
will feature the lives and stories of the Scots who
fought and died. The sword of Colonel George Mason
carried at Shiloh, from the June Steele collection, will
be on display.
January 6, 2007 - The unveiling of the Burns Monument in
Garfield Park. Scottish organizations struggled to
cooperate in the raising of money and the placement of
the Burns statue in Chicago. Hear about the great
celebration when it was finally dedicated.
Boy’s Healthful Attire is the Kilt
article was published in a newspaper called the Inter-Ocean on October 16, 1904. Mr. J. Cantlie gave
an address in London in which he stated that the "most
healthy form of attire for boys was the kilt." Too
often, he said, “mothers want their little boys to look
like little men and so they dress them in middy’s
costume" but such tight fitting clothes are detrimental
to their health. "Nothing in the way of dress better
developed the all important physical blessings of health
and strength than the kilted skirt. It gives warmth to
the loins most conductive to the strength of future
Mr. Cantile went on to state that boys dressed in Eton
suits and tight fitting collars do not stand the same
chance for good health as boys in loose fitting
garments. As an example, he points to the Highlands
where children who wear kilts are "invariably strong,
and turn out to be strong men." Look at the Scotch
regiments, he said: "No stronger or finer set of men
exists throughout the service." He declares that this
strength is due to the fact that many of these soldiers
wore kilts in their youth which gave "their limbs full
scope to develop."
I am not sure if this idea still prevails in our modern