The Scottish American History Club Newsletter
Ethel Forgan Serves in France - 1918
Forgan was the only daughter of David and Agnes Forgan.
Her father was born in St. Andrews, Scotland on April
16, 1862. Mr. Forgan was the President of the National
City Bank of Chicago and was very involved in the work
of the Illinois Saint Andrews Society. He and Agnes had
five children: Robert Russell, Marion, Ethel, David and
Our story centers around their daughter Ethel and a
young man named Vernon Booth. Vernon was born in
Chicago, but at the time of our story his parents, Mr.
and Mrs. W. Vernon Booth, were living in New York City.
Vernon was a graduate of Harvard and the New York Law
School. In 1918, he was living in New York and
practicing law. We do not know how the couple met, but
we presume it was in Chicago.
Ethel Forgan and two other young ladies volunteered for
duty in France to aid the wounded. Ethel and Helen
Farwell and her sister Sarah would work under the
supervision of Mrs. Benjamin Lathrop. The three girls
had been active in the Bandbox Shop which sent its
proceeds to help the fatherless children of France. They
were also “excellent motorists.” Ethel left for New York
accompanied by her parents on February 3, 1918. The two
Farwell sisters were accompanied to New York by their
mother, Mrs. Grace Farwell. the Chicago Daily Tribune
on February 22, 1918, reported that “all three had
arrived in Paris and were engaged in the work of the
American Fund for the French wounded.”
Vernon Booth was a cousin of P. D. Armor III, John
Lester Armor and Patrick A. Valentine, Jr. Their mother
was the widow of Philip D. Armor, Jr. and after his
death married Patrick A. Valentine. (Those of you who
attend the History Club meetings will recognize those
names.) Vernon Booth had volunteered for the French
Aviation Corp in 1917, after being rejected by the
American Air Force. He and Ethel Forgan were married in
Paris during the month of May in 1918.
Lieutenant Booth was a war hero. He shot down three
German aircraft and on June 25, 1918, while flying over
enemy territory, he was attacked by German war planes.
His plane was set on fire but that fire was extinguished
as his plane fell. A “poisoned bullet” shattered his
leg, but he was able to land his plane in “no man’s
land.” “He had the presence of mind, despite severe
burns, to extinguish the fire and land between the lines
forty yards from the enemy trenches. He set fire again
to his plane and regained the French lines through a
heavy barrage of machine gun fire.”
Lt. Booth was taken, interestingly enough, to the Scotch
Woman’s Hospital located northeast of Paris, where he
remained until he died. A single cablegram brought the
message to Mr. and Mrs. David R. Forgan, who lived at
1112 Greenwood Blvd., Evanston, Illinois. It simply said
“Vernon died today.” The same telegram came to his aunt,
Mrs. Patrick Valentine of 8 - 69th St. and to his
parents at 14 East 69th St.
Vernon Booth was awarded the French Croix de Guerre with
palms and the Military Medal, the highest honors given
in France for bravery. It is not known where he was
buried or when his wife, Mrs. Ethel Forgan Booth,
returned to the United States.
It is known that on December 26, 1929, Mrs. Vernon Booth
married Philip Lyndon Dodge of New York City and after
the wedding they lived at 111 East 88th Street.
Mrs. Fernando Jones
Students of early Chicago history will know the name
Fernando Jones. He founded an abstract company which,
after the great fire of 1871, became Chicago Title and
Trust Company. He arrived in Chicago with his father at
the age of 15 in 1835.
Jane G. Jones was a Scottish girl whose maiden name was
Grahame, and whose Clan Chief was James Grahame, Duke of
Montrose. She came to Chicago with her parents when she
was ten years old and in 1853 married Fernando Jones.
They had two children.
For more than 50 years, she was identified with the
progressive movement in Chicago, especially as they
related to women’s rights. Her obituary states that she
was the founder of the Twentieth Century Club and the
Women’s and Children’s Hospital. “Mrs. Jones had the
personal friendship of many notable figures of the last
century. It is said to have been partly because of her
appeals that General Grant wrote his memoirs.” She died
December 7, 1905. Her husband died November 8, 1911.
buried at Oakwoods on the south side of Chicago.
Mr. and Mrs. Fernando Jones lived in a three-story
red-brick house at 1834 Prairie Ave. It was located
directly across from the home of Marshall Field. Their
home was included in Old Chicago Houses by John
Drury, page 31. They often lived abroad, but when they
were home, their house became a gathering place for
early Chicago citizens who had attained wealth and
status. It was magnificently furnished.
Those of you in the History Club will remember that
Fernando Jones evidently knew
David Kennison and helped to establish his grave in
Pictured: Fernando Jones house
The newspaper headlines read “Fernando Jones’ Domestic
44 years: Jessie Smith Dies.”
The date is January 14, 1913. Ms. Smith had been born 64
years earlier in Edinburgh, Scotland and came to Chicago
as a young girl to join her brother John who was a stone
cutter. In 1869, Mrs. Jones had employed her and she had
remained for forty-four years. The paper states:
“Probably no woman in her time in Chicago has such a
record of continuous service.” When Mr. and Mrs. Jones
traveled abroad, she was entrusted with the care of
After Fernando Jones died in 1911, the family kept the
home open and allowed Jessie Smith to remain there.
Grahame Jones, their son who lived in New York, would
occasionally return to visit; but now, with the death of
Jessie Smith, the home would be closed. Several years
before, she and her brother had bought a lot in Rosehill Cemetery and she was laid to rest beside him.
Joan Pinkerton Chalmers
Pinkerton was a first generation Scottish woman whose
father had been born in the Gorbals of Glasgow. She was
by all accounts: strong willed, educated, attractive and
full of energy. When she and William J. Chalmers fell in
love and wanted to get married, her father, the famous
detective, was furious. This was the only living
daughter of the great detective and he apparently
thought she would remain in the home forever. After a
tumultuous period of time, part of which Joan spent in
New York City with her brother, permission was finally
given and wedding plans were finalized.
They were married on October 21, 1878 in the Third
Presbyterian Church located at Monroe St. and Ogden Ave.
in Chicago. Five hundred invitations were issued but
more than 3,000 people, mostly young, arrived for the
wedding. The Chicago Tribune reported that, “The
galleries, the seats, and the floor - every available
space was taken. A large number stood upon the seats,
much to the disgust of the church trustees.” Outside,
the streets were jammed with horses and carriages for
blocks around. “There was never such a wedding in
1911, Joan Chalmers established the Convalescent Home
for Crippled Children near Wheaton, Illinois. This home
was to perpetuate the memory of her crippled sister
Isabelle. She involved people with influence and money
in this effort and once took 200 people on a special
train to see her work out in the country. The main
building was designed by Howard Van Doren Shaw and the
school building was a gift from John G. Shedd and named
in honor of his daughter, Laura. James A. Patten built
the hospital and J. Ogden Armour paid for a “special
skilled teacher” who helped with special instruction.
The 90 acres of land had been donated by R.W. Sears and
the farm and dairy was supervised by B. M. Winston. The
nursing department was supported by Mrs. C. H.
McCormick, Sr. In 1927, the Home was taken over by the
University of Chicago and in 1948, it was sold to
Wheaton College who operates an academy on the property.
is not enough space to fully recount the life of Joan
Chalmers. She was one of the undisputed social leaders
of Chicago and involved in everything that happened in
her city. Apparently, her wedding dress is now in the
possession of the Chicago History Museum. It has been
modeled at least twice, once in 1934 and again in 1937.
Upon her death, many of her paintings, etchings and a
valuable collection of war medals were given to the Art
The Chalmers were liberal supporters of the Scottish
Home when it was founded in 1910.
Joan Pinkerton had two children, a son Major Thomas
Stuart Chalmers and a daughter Mrs. Joan Chalmers
Williams. Thomas died on March 26, 1923 and Joan died
April 3, 1923 - just eight days apart. In honor of their
children, Mr. & Mrs. Chalmers placed a magnificent
St. Chrysostom’s Protestant Episcopal Church located
at 1424 N. Dearborn Street. The window was designed and
executed by Charles J. Connick of Boston.
The Chalmers family plot is located in Graceland
Pictured first: Joan Pinkerton
Pictured second: Convalescent Home for Crippled
Children, Wheaton, Illinois
Pictured third: Joan Pinkerton's 1878 wedding
dress as modeled in 1934
From the Editor
This edition of our newsletter is devoted to some of the
Scottish women who left their imprint on Chicago
history. The culture of their day was that men and women
would have separate organizations and this was true in
almost every organization. It may seem strange today,
but was perfectly acceptable and normal for their time.
The public influence of women who began to join with men
in common enterprises began sometime in the 1890s.
Perhaps it all began with Bertha Palmer and her work
with the Columbian Exhibition of 1893. At any rate, by
1891, men and women in the Scottish community were
working together to build the Robert Burns Memorial in
Garfield Park. In fact, Helen Fairgrieve Lonie was
serving as the Assistant Secretary to the Burns Memorial
and Monument Association of Illinois. There is a picture
of this group in the museum and out of the 30
individuals shown, six are women.
strongest of these women was surely Mrs. R. Ballantine.
She is always referred to by her married name and it is
not quite clear who she was. In 1903, Mrs. Ballantine
visited the sculptor in Edinburgh and arranged to have
the monument completed and paid for on the installment
plan. Without this effort, the statue may never have
been completed. Other women in the picture are: Mrs. M.
Strong; Mrs. R. MacWatt; Mrs. W. A. Barclay; Mrs.
Fairweather; and Miss Helen F. Lonie. There is also a
picture of the Ladies’ Auxiliary Burns Memorial and
Monument Association and there are 29 ladies shown. At
the dedication itself, Mrs. Kate Campbell Saunders,
elocutionist, gave a select reading of Burns poetry.
Women were admitted to our Saint Andrew’s Day
celebration in 1917 by world-renowned banker James B.
Forgan who also forbade the drinking of alcohol. The
first women were admitted as members in the Society in
1964, and our first woman president was Nancy Strolle in
Pictured: Mrs. R. Ballantine