The Scottish American History Club Newsletter
Scottish people have a lot of wonderful traits including
honesty, hard work, education, and advancing the
well-being of the human race. Many are attracted to the
legal, medical, and religious professions. All of these
professions contribute to the well-being of humanity as
a whole, not just to the Scottish population. They
almost have double vision, seeing the immediate needs
around them, but also looking forward into the future.
Consider the work of Scots in the field of medicine.
Medicine helps the entire human race, not just a
particular group. Doctors seek an immediate cure, but
they also look into the future to see prevention. For
the most part, early physicians in America, “many of
them of Scottish descent themselves” emigrated to
Scotland for their training.1 It is believed
that John Moultrie, Jr. (1729-98) was the “first native
American to receive a medical degree from Edinburgh
University.”2 It is well documented that
after being educated in Scotland
Samuel Bard established
the medical college at Columbia University.
In the comprehensive book The Mark of the Scot by
Duncan Bruce, there is a listing of the accomplishments
of Scottish physicians. Here are just a few that
describe their great value to the human race.
William Leishman - perfected a typhoid vaccine, 1913
Sir Ronald Ross - malaria fever, Nobel Prize winner
Sir Alexander Fleming - discoverer of penicillin in
1928 “...probably saved more human lives than any other
man.” 1945 Nobel Prize winner.
Samuel Guthrie - chloroform in 1831
Dr. Ephraim McDowell - performed “the world’s first
“ovariotomy” and he did it on the frontier.
Alexander Graham Bell, “was the first to publish the
idea of treating deep-seated cancers with radium.”
(Ibid, page 226)
Dr. Robert Guthrie - “...has saved thirty thousand
people from mental retardation and will continue to save
more. His test for PKU is given to all newborn infants
and costs about three cents.” (Ibid, page 227). Dr.
Guthrie died in 1995 refusing all royalties.
Two doctors have served as President of our Society: Dr.
John A. McGill and Dr. William Ferguson Dickson. We will
not soon forget Dr. Andrew Thomson, not only for his
contribution to the work of our Society but also his
contribution to the greater Chicago area, and he was our
Distinguished Citizen in 1993. Another Distinguished
Citizen was Dr. James Allan Campbell who was recognized
in 1975. Dr. Campbell was the chief architect of the
rise of Rush Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center to
national prominence. An enjoyable new book about his
life is now available.
I have often wondered about the statement in 1871 which
said that the Society wanted to build a “home and
hospital.” We know they later built a home, but what was
this vision for a hospital? Did others share that same
vision? In 1907, three Scottish American physicians
named Alexander A. Whamond, Fred G. Whamond and Joseph
Mills founded the Robert Burns Hospital at 3807 West
Washington Blvd. The hospital had a capacity of 25 beds.
These men and others said they wanted to build a
“practical and substantial memorial” to the Scottish
poet. The Chicago Daily Tribune, Nov. 1, 1913,
stated that the hospital was “designed to be free to the
poorer patients and especially to Scotchmen...” The
physicians served without pay. The provisional officers
were: Dr. J. H. Bates, Dr. Brydon, Robert Hill, Robert
Stuart and Robert Matheson. The attorney was Erskine
MacMillan. McNeal Hospital was founded by Dr. Albert
Hall and Dr. MacNeal, who also served the residents of
the Scottish Home. They served without remuneration.
John Crerar, a life member of the Illinois Saint Andrew
Society, was always a generous donor to our work.
However, his vision was greater. Like Andrew Carnegie,
he saw a greater community and a greater need. Crearer
left a fortune to our Society, but the bulk of his money
was given to the opening of a “free library.” Thomas C.
McMillan wrote: “He made the public his heir, and
erected a monument which will endure after marble has
crumbled to dust, and the fame of mere earthly deeds all
have faded from the memories of men.” His will provided
two and one half million dollars for the establishment
of a “free public library” which is now part of the
University of Chicago.
One of my favorite Chicago people is Joan Pinkerton. She
married William J. Chalmers in 1878. Five hundred
invitations to the wedding were mailed and 3,000 young
people arrived in horse drawn carriages. They were both
first generation American Scots. Her husband became the
president of Allis-Chalmers which in time became the
largest maker of mining machinery in the world. They
were often contributors to the Saint Andrew Society,
especially in 1910 when the first Scottish Home was
built and they continued their support for the next 30
Joan Pinkerton Chalmers was highly educated, attractive,
popular and with a temper inherited from her detective
father. She had this mysterious Scottish motivation that
caused her to look at the greater needs of her community
and beyond. In 1911, she established the County Home for
Convalescent Children. It was located on a working farm
of some 180 acres in DuPage County, near Wheaton. The
Home was available to any child who needed their help.
She involved the people of Chicago including: Mrs.
Lolita Armour, Mitchell Wilder, James A. Patton, Laura
Shedd Schweppe, Mrs. Anna M. Raymond and others. It was
a very successful venture with a dairy in full
operations. This Home in 1927 became a part of the
University of Chicago Clinic who later moved the
operation to Chicago and then sold the land to Wheaton
If I could replay my historical research for the last 15
years, I would make several lists. One of those lists
would include all of the people who gave their valuable
possessions to the various institutions in Chicago. The
Art Institute received many of these gifts. For
instance, Mr. and Mrs. Chalmers gave a valuable
collection of war medals. On the death of Philip Armour
Jr., his valuable library and many pieces of art were
given to the Art Institute. I have read of many others
who gave to the Field Museum and the Newberry Library.
Why would people give their valuable collections away?
There can be just one reason - a desire to serve the
greater community. Is that a Scottish trait? It may just
1Scottish & Scotch-Irish Contributions to
Early American Life & Culture, by William C.
Lehmann, page 68
2 Ibid. page 70
Pictured first: Samuel Bard
Pictured second: John Crerar
Pictured third: Joan Pinkerton Chalmers
Dr. Will J. Cameron
Dr. Cameron was born in Canada and was a member of the
Illinois Saint Andrew Society. He was the president of
the Cameron Surgical Specialty Co. The newspaper
indicates that he was a surgeon. He is listed in
“Stopping at the Stevens” among the distinguished guests
for the 1929 St. Andrew’s banquet. He is described as a
“noted explorer and hunter.” I have been unable to find
an obituary for Dr. Cameron
An article in the Chicago Daily Tribune dated May
30, 1928, reports that Dr. Cameron and two others were
leaving on an expedition to the “unexplored regions of
the Kalahari desert in the center of the South African
continent.” Dr. D. C. Ernest Cadle, of the Colorado
Museum of National History at Denver, and Prof. Richard
Mannen of the University of Texas were the other members
of the party. Their mission was to study a primitive
race believed to inhabit the area “in the hope of
gleaning new facts concerning the ancestry of man.” They
spent a year and half in Africa and returned with sixty
head of game. There are two pictures of Dr. Cameron in
the Chicago Daily Tribune, January 6, 1929.
I believe someone on our mailing list is related to Dr.
Cameron and I would request that they get in touch with
See a 1928
Time Magazine article here.
Pictured: Will J. Cameron, unknown child and
The Stevens Hotel
The Stevens Hotel, now the Chicago Hilton and Towers,
published a magazine called “Stopping at the Stevens”
and, in our historical files, we have Vol. 6, No. 122,
dated November 30, 1929. The issue features the
Society’s annual dinner and has pictures of the
following persons: David R. Forgan, Luke Grant, and
Robert Black. Also pictured were the entertainers for
the dinner, Cameron MacLean and Muriel M. Kyle.
It was interesting to see the picture of Luke Grant in
the Stevens magazine. He appears to be a small man with
round, dark glasses. Mr. Grant served as the publicity
manager for the Chicago Rapid Transit Company. He died
suddenly in Stuart, Florida, and his funeral was held
December 5, 1930. He was buried in Elmwood Cemetery. As
a memorial to Mr. Grant and to celebrate the 172nd
birthday of Robert Burns, eleven members of the Illinois
Saint Andrew Society laid a wreath at the Burn’s
monument in Garfield Park. The Chicago Daily Tribune
shows a picture of the men and the monument. John T.
Cunningham presided and the following men attended:
Robert Falconer, Robert Eadie, Dr. Robert W. Hall,
Donald Fraser, Robert Black, Samuel Hutcheson, Thomas
Catto, John F. Holmes, Dr. W. F. Dickson and William
At the Stevens you could rent a portable radio for $1.50
per day. The Grand Ballroom was advertised as the
“largest ballroom in the world” measuring 169x85 with a
capacity of 4,000 people. The hotel also contained a
bowling alley, library, five cigar stands, and a Western
Union telegraph office.
John Alston was president of the Society in 1855-1856
and again in 1891-1892 at the age of seventy. He was a
prominent manufacturer of paints and oils and was the
oldest merchant in Chicago at the time of his death. He
was born in Glasgow in 1811 and died in 1889 at the age
of 78. He is buried at Rosehill cemetery, Section P, Lot
39. Thirteen people are buried in the family plot and
seven are under the age of twenty-one. A search of the
newspapers did not reveal any more information about the
persons buried in the plot. In 1896, the paper announces
the marriage of his granddaughter, Miss Helen Lyon
Alston to Mr. William Losee Bennett.
In doing research for this article, I came across an
article in the Chicago Daily Tribune, dated March
1, 1927, with the headlines “Ford’s Lincoln Memorial to
Get Abe’s Furniture.” It goes on to report that the
drawing room furniture that once belonged to Mrs.
Mary Todd Lincoln was being sold to Henry Ford. “He will use them
in connection with his plan to reproduce a facsimile of
the old Lincoln homestead at Springfield, Illinois” I am
not sure what that means, because it appears to have
never been constructed. But here is the most interesting
paragraph in this story.
“Mrs. Lincoln, after the tragic death of her husband,
lived in Chicago with the Alston family, who were old
friends. In 1867, she sold her house-hold effects, and
John Alston bought her parlor suite.” Somehow the
furniture was in the hands of C. L. Benedict of Perth,
Ontario, “who has had it for a number of years.” It was
sold to Henry Ford for $5,000.
Throughout its history, the Scottish Home has had many
pets. There have been canaries, a parrot, and farm
animals, but most of all dogs. You know the story of the
two dogs living at the Home in 1917 when the tragic fire
occurred. They lived in the basement where the fire
began and alerted Mrs. Cora Cummings to the danger. Topsy
survived, but McDougal died in the fire.
The last dog to live permanently at the Home was
Chelsea, a pedigreed Labrador Retriever. Chelsea
belonged to a veterinarian and she was trained to obey
all commands. In fact, Chelsea, would report to the
office when called on the intercom system. She came to
live at the Home in August, 1989 and died at the age of
13, April 2, 1996.
Her ashes were placed in the memorial garden.
Lawrence Leslie was a resident of the Scottish Home from
1917 until his death in 1928. He was born in the
Shetland Islands on January 15, 1837, and he was 91
years of age at the time of his death. After his arrival
in Chicago, he worked for the Illinois Central railroad.
We assume he was never married and was survived by a
sister, Mrs. George Stout of Joliet.
Every day Mr. Leslie walked to the post office in
Riverside to get the daily mail and stop at the local
news stand. He never missed a day regardless of the
weather from his entrance into the Home in 1917 until
the Friday before his death in 1928.
The Riverside News reported: “His daily trip to
the village gave him an opportunity to widen the circle
of his friends. Among the staff of the local post office
and those he met at the L. M. Lies news depot, he had
many friends. He considered his daily trip a duty and
regardless of weather he made the journey of better than
a mile each way, walking the distance with a firm step
despite his ninety and more years.”
The Friday before his death while putting on his coat to
make his daily trip, “he was stopped by Mrs. Cummings,
matron of the Home, because she knew that he was too ill
to make the journey.” Throughout the day, Mr. Leslie had
run a high fever, and died on Saturday afternoon. “His
death was a sad event for the thirty-five fellow members
of the Home, as he was well liked by all of them and his
passing was mourned by everyone.”
The funeral service was held at Abram’s funeral chapel
in Berwyn and was conducted by the Rev. James McLagan,
Chaplin of the Society. Interment was in Mount Greenwood
Hear Ye! Hear Ye!
The History Club usually meets the first Saturday of
each month, except December, July and August. The museum
opens at 9:00 a.m. and the presentation begins at 10:00
a.m. lasting approximately one hour.
November 3, 2008—“Merchants of Chicago” In this session,
we will primarily consider the histories of Carson,
Pirie, Scott and Marshall Field. These two companies and
others had a great impact on the Scottish community. You
will enjoy the stories.
Contributions to the work of the History Club and the
Scottish American Museum may be made to the Illinois
Saint Andrew Society and designated for the Donald A. Campbell,
History and Museum Fund. Donations are tax deductible as
permitted by law. I would also remind all of our readers
that your contribution of $10 per year will be greatly
Pictured: Marshall Field Clock