The Scottish American History Club Newsletter
An immigrant Scottish family finds
In October 1923, a man by the name of George Sivewright
emigrated from Glasgow, Scotland to the United States
with his wife and five children. The oldest girl, with
long black hair was seventeen. The youngest boy was
five. George Sivewright brought letters of introduction
from Neilson, Shaw & MacGregor where he had been
employed as a buyer in the Hosiery and Glove Department
for nearly seven years. Like so many others arriving in
Chicago, he found immediate employment at Marshall
Field’s. The family lived at 59th and Michigan Avenue.
Eleven months later, September 4, 1924, this loving
father was dead from cancer.
The family had no money and no burial plot. Someone
notified the Saint Andrew Society and under the
direction of Dr. William Ferguson Dickson, who was
President at the time, the family was offered assistance
with the funeral and burial. Arrangements were made at
Rosehill Cemetery and Rev. James McLagan, Society
chaplain, performed the service. The oldest girl, Betty
would later recall seeing an open hole in the ground and
a deep sense of embarrassment that the family needed
charity for the funeral. Neither the mother, nor any of
the children ever returned to Rosehill.
The mother never worked, but the rent was always paid.
There was always food with enough for the neighbors. The
children all finished school. The oldest son, Joseph,
would obtain a job as a bellhop at the Stevens Hotel,
where the Society held its Annual Dinner on St. Andrew’s
Day. Joseph would later attend Northwestern University.
He was said to be an excellent math student. Thirty-five
years later, he was a senior vice president with the
Hilton Hotel Corporation. How did all this happen with
no apparent family income? One wonders about the
continued role of our Society but the records are silent
and Betty Priest, the oldest child, didn’t know.
At 18 Betty joined the Daughters of Scotia and began
attending events at the Scottish Home. Scots on the
South side of Chicago would regularly charter a bus and
visit the Home on special occasions, especially the
annual picnic. Betty, would later say that some inner
urge was present to repay the Society, but she never
understood why until later. She participated in Tag Days
where women would stand on street corners in Chicago and
raise money for the Scottish Home. When she retired in
1969, she became a full time volunteer at the Home. She
served eight years as the President of the Ladies
Auxiliary and was also a member of the Home Committee.
In 1979 she was honored as Clanswoman of the Year, the
highest honor our Society pays to its volunteers. In
1993, at the age of 92, she became a resident of the
One day, she visited my office and told me her story and
said that she and her brother David would like to visit
Rosehill where the father was buried. We made immediate
arrangements to go and after so many years the two of
them returned for the first time to visit their father’s
grave. At the 1995 Anniversary Dinner, Betty Priest,
95 years old, allowed “George Anderson” to publicly tell
her story for the first time.
This is only one of a thousand stories that illustrate
the work of our Society since its beginnings on December
1, 1845. The charitable work continues.
Saint Andrew’s Society has earned, and deserves,
your support as a charitable institution.
Pictured first: Betty and Joseph Sivewright as
Pictured second: Betty Priest, Wayne Rethford and
David Sivewright at Rosehill
An immigrant Scottish boy finds
Joseph Sivewright was the older brother of Betty Priest whose story
is told in this issue. He died in January 1981, and his
obituary was printed in the Cincinnati Post Times
Star. Please note that like his sister, Betty
Priest, Joseph also repaid his debt because it says he
was “a friend to those in need...”
“Joseph Sivewright, hotel manager, baseball fan and a
friend to those in need, died Thursday at Naples
Community Hospital, Naples, Florida. Mr. Sivewright, 67,
was an assistant vice-president of the Hilton Hotels
Corporation and managed Cincinnati’s Netherland Hilton
from August 1963 and Terrace Hilton from November 1964
until January 1968. An avid Reds fan, Mr. Sivewright
continued to attend games even after leaving Cincinnati.
His family’s apartment in the Netherland Hilton was a
sports headquarters and after-game congregating spot for
ballplayers, managers and sports writers. Pat Harmon,
sports columnist for The Post, interviewed Leo
Durocher, Jim Murray, Fred Chaus, Larry MacPhail, Bill
Veeck, Bill Shoemaker and many others in Mr.
Sivewright’s apartment and would use his friend’s
typewriter after every opening baseball game.
“Mr. Sivewright helped many friends through difficult
times. After the death of one friend, he and his French
wife, Olliette, took the new widow into their home and
helped her through the months of grief. Born in Glasgow,
Scotland, Mr. Sivewright came to this country when he
was 12 years old. At 15, he found a job as a bellhop at
the Stevens Hotel, now the Conrad Hilton, in Chicago. A
mathematics whiz and respected for his knowledge of the
hotel business, he rose to general manager and then
transferred to the Hilton corporate office in 1950 as
assistant to the executive vice-president. He became an
assistant vice-president in 1955.
“After leaving Cincinnati, Mr. Sivewright managed the
Hilton Inn in New Orleans and then became
south-south-west division vice-president for Hilton
Hotels. He had lived in Naples for 13 years. Mr.
Sivewright leaves his wife, Olliette, and two sons,
Richard J. of Louisville and Baron of Naples. Services
will be at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Pittman Funeral Home,
850 Sixth Ave., Naples.”
Additional information was obtained from his obituary in
the Naples paper. He lived at 2080 Sheepshead Drive in
Naples and had been retired three years. Rev. Larry G.
Smellie, rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
officiated with burial in Memorial Gardens Cemetery,
After writing the above article, I began to wonder if
any of the descendants were still alive. A search of the
white pages in Naples did not show any listing for Baron
and the same for Richard J. in Louisville. So, I
purchased the services of a program called Intelius
which showed a Richard J. living in Port Charlotte, Fl.
I called the number listed and found that it was indeed
the son of Joseph Sivewright. We had a conversation
lasting at least an hour. He is retired after serving as
a vice-president of Kentucky Fried Chicken. He and his
wife of 50 years have four children who are all quite
successful and live in various parts of the United
States. We will continue to exchange information.
A Scottish immigrant drowns in the
The story of Alexander Fraser has occupied my mind for
many years. The haunting letter from his parents written
to George Anderson has long been a prized possession.
Who was Alexander and how did he drown? Was it a warm
September day swimming with friends in the Chicago
river? The ability to search the Chicago Tribune
using ProQuest, would bring the answer. However, after
many hours of searching, I found nothing. I decided to
search using the word “coroner” and there was the story.
The newspaper had misspelled his last name! Alexander is
buried in the Old Grounds.
The date is September 6, 1870 and the Tribune
reports: “About 1 o’clock yesterday Alexander Frazer,
who was employed on the tug-boat Messenger, in
endeavoring to step from a boat lying alongside the
Messenger to the latter, missed his footing, fell into
the river and was drowned. The body was recovered and
the Coroner held an inquest. A verdict of ‘accidental
drowning’ was rendered by the jury. The deceased was
about 30 years of age, and has a family residing
somewhere near New Rochelle, Illinois.” Here is the
|Mr. George Anderson
Chairman Board of Managers
Illinois St. Andrews’ Society
We received your kind and sympathizing note,
informing and condoling with us at the awful,
sudden and untimely death of our son on the 7th
day of September, by drowning. While the news,
so sudden and unexpected to us, has almost
broken our hearts, yet we are consoled in our
great grief by the kindness your Society has
shown to our poor boy in having him decently
buried in the Society’s grounds.
May the blessing of Almighty God be with you in
your Charitable and
Benevolent Institution for this kindness to us
and to our son, a stranger in a strange land.
Please, Sir, convey to your Society our undying
thanks, and those of our family; and we hope
that your Society will prosper in all its
If there are any letters or papers of
Alexander’s in your hands, please be so kind as
to forward them to us, with the amount spent by
the Society on our Son’s funeral and it will be
promptly forwarded. And now may God bless you
and the Society with which you are connected, in
your work of love and mercy, and make you a
blessing to the poor and needy, is the sincere
Alexander & Margaret Fraser
No. 464 Dumbarton Road
Glasgow, September 30, 1870
Rosehill is a Victorian-era cemetery on the North side
of Chicago. It is the third largest cemetery in the
world and the largest non-sectarian cemetery in Chicago.
It has a long and continuing history with the Illinois
Saint Andrew Society and our members. Rosehill was
established in 1859 by Major John H. Kinzie and William
B. Ogden. The Society purchased the “old grounds” in
1858 a full year before the cemetery was open. This may
have been due to the influence of John Kinzie or William
Saunders, both of Scottish heritage, or, perhaps, they
bought at a reduced rate!
The Society owns two large plots of land. The “Old
Grounds” are located near the entrance in section D.
This prime location indicates that they purchased early
in the process. The first burial appears to be Robert
Osborne who died, Oct. 10, 1861. Sixty-three people
appear to be buried in this area. The largest section is
called the “New Ground” and is located in Section 5.
This section was purchased in 1871. 403 people are
buried in Section 5. The last burial was Jessie A.
Watson, a resident of the Scottish Home who died October
7, 1982. In total the Society owns 602 lots of which 444
Seventeen presidents of the Illinois Saint Andrew
Society are buried at Rosehill. We will not be able to
visit all the graves on our tour in July, but all their
graves have been located and visited numerous times. Gus
Noble and I made our last visit to each of them in 2005.
This list will be included in the tour notebook, as well
as those who are buried in the Society plots.
“Rosehill Cemetery is the sacred resting place for the
largest number of Civil War soldiers and veterans in the
Midwest.” Six drummer boys, including Frank McLean,
three buglers, three chaplains and three nurses all of
whom served in the Civil War are buried here. One of the
nurses was Marion McClintock.
Other familiar Scots in our history at Rosehill are:
John L. Beveridge, General John McArthur
William Harrison Fetridge,
William Bryce Mundie,
Maclaughlan and John Williamson (see
Index) all lie at peace
in this beautiful cemetery.
Pictured: Betty and David Priest and Wayne Rethford
From the Editor
I hope many of you will go with us on our tour of
Rosehill Cemetery. The plot in Section D was the first
property owned by the Society. It was an effort to
fulfill their mission that no deserving Scot would ever
be buried in a Potter’s field. It was a major
undertaking, but for almost a hundred years, they
labored to fulfill this pledge. There was always a
Cemetery Committee which reported at each meeting to the
Board of Governors. The cemetery committee was composed
of some of the most important people in our history.
Through the years they tried various ways to mark the
graves, but none were very successful. They purchased a
contract for perpetual care and carefully watched over
the property. Realizing that the original plot would not
be large enough to meet their needs, they purchased the
large plot in Section 5 in 1871. I am told that the
Saint Andrew Society is the largest land owner, with the
exception of the cemetery itself.
It is my privilege to serve on the Rosehill Cemetery
Reserve Fund. When the cemetery opened each person
purchasing a grave was required to place a certain
amount of money into the Reserve Fund. The interest from
this fund was to be used for upkeep and beautification
of the cemetery. Society member, Jim Alexander, serves
as the Chairman of this fund, as did his father and his
grandfather before him. We meet at the cemetery several
times each year and decide how the interest money is to
be spent. Lately, the money has been spent in the
Mausoleum which is the largest in Chicago. Learn more
about Rosehill’s great Scottish heritage on July 21.
Mark your calendar for History Club meetings
July — No meeting
July 21 — Rosehill Cemetery tour
August — No Meeting
September 8 — Early leaders of our society
October 6 — The Columbian Exposition of 1893
November 3 — Scots in the world of business
December — No meeting