The Scottish American History Club Newsletter
Fort McCoy, Wisconsin
A friend of mine is a Major in the U.S. Army Reserves
and has recently been assigned to active duty at Fort
Sheridan and Fort McCoy. Since I had never heard of Ft.
McCoy, I did some research and here is what I found. Ft.
McCoy is located on some 60,000 acres in West Central
Wisconsin. Its “primary mission is to underpin readiness
of the force by serving as a training center and support
site for power projection missions.” In the 1930s it was
a Civilian Conservation Center and also housed 15,000
Cuban refugees in the 1980s.
Fort is named for Major General Robert Bruce McCoy who
died in 1926 at the age of 58. With a name like that
there must be a Scottish connection. It took some
research to find the reference but in 1971 an article
appeared in the Chicago Tribune that shed light
on the subject.
General McCoy’s great-grandfather was John McCoy who
participated in the Stuart Rebellion of 1745. That
rebellion failed as most of you know and many of the
captured Scottish soldiers were exiled to the new world.
John McCoy was brought to America as an impressed sailor
in Lord Howe’s fleet. In New York’s harbor, he jumped
overboard, swam ashore and joined Washington’s army.
Later he also served in the War of 1812. The newspaper
gave no references for their story. Perhaps, our readers
in Wisconsin can give us more information.
“General McCoy was a lawyer, soldier, judge and a
politician. He was also a debater, an athlete and the
business manager of the first high school newspaper.” He
is also said to have been the assistant secretary of the
Board of World Fair Managers in Chicago in 1893. In
1895, he enlisted in the Third Wisconsin Volunteer
Infantry and fought at Puerto Rico during the
Spanish-American War. Enlisting again in World War I,
his unit was sent to France and soon he was in command
of the 128th infantry and fought at Chateau, Thierry,
Juvigny and the Argonne. He was awarded numerous honors
and medals by the French government especially for his
capture of Romagne in the Argonne.
After the war, he ran for governor and was elected Mayor
of Sparta several times. Three-thousand mourners
attended his funeral. General McCoy was the father of
six sons and a daughter. He married Lillian Riege of
Platteville in 1893. She died in an automobile accident
in 1910. “McCoy outlived his father by less than a year.
The father, Bruce E. McCoy, a Civil War veteran, died in
his sleep at 96.” I am sure there is much more to the
story. Some descendants are probably still living in the
Sparta area. Additional information would be
More information on
Fort McCoy is available on their website.
Highwood is located in Lake County, some 24 miles north
of the Loop. It is a residential community with lovely
homes and fine restaurants. It sits on the Skokie ravine
and is the highest point between Chicago and Milwaukee.
The town was founded in 1868 by William Wallace Everts
who was a Chicago civic leader and a famous educator. He
also had a Scottish heritage. Dr. Everts was born in
Granville, New York, March 13, 1814. He graduated from
what is now Madison University in 1837 and was pastor of
numerous churches. He spent 20 years as the pastor of
the First Baptist Church in Chicago, and he was actively
engaged in founding the University of Chicago and the
Baptist Theological Seminary. “Everts Park, in the heart
of downtown Highwood, has been named in the founder’s
honor.” Highwood is just one of many towns and cities in
Illinois that have a Scottish heritage or a Scottish
My thanks to David Forlow for this information.
Witherspoon was born in Scotland in 1723 and he received
his divinity degree in 1743. He was an outspoken
champion of religious liberty and the popular rights of
He came with his family to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,
and then on to Princeton, New Jersey, to assume the
presidency of Princeton University (then called the
College of New Jersey). He held this important
educational post until his death in 1794. During the
period of his work in his new home in America, the Rev.
Dr. John Witherspoon gained great fame and honor as an
extraordinary leader. He helped unify the American
Presbyterian Church and advocated a “common sense”
education philosophy. As a delegate to the 1776
Continental Congress, he signed the Declaration of
Independence (the only active clergyman to do so) and
continued to serve in the Congress until 1782. At
various times, he served also in the New Jersey
What quality of leader and educator was Dr. Witherspoon?
Think of this: Six of his students served in the
Continental Congress, 39 served in the House of
Representatives, 21 served in the U.S. Senate, 12 became
state governors, and one (James Madison, Class of 1771)
became President of the United States of America. John
Witherspoon well exemplifies our Presbyterian emphasis
on education and public service. We are honored to
memorialize his witness to Christ and His Church.
Submitted by Rev. Dr. Randall Saxon, United
Presbyterian Church of Peoria, Peoria, Illinois
The Gammie Family
James Gammie was raised on a farm on the banks of the
Spey. He later moved to Glasgow, Scotland and became a
coachman with a firm of undertakers. He and his wife had
six boys and their desire was to see that each son
learned a trade. In 1910, Jimmy, one of the sons,
announced he was going to America to earn his fortune.
In a short time they all came including the parents. The
sons all became successful.
Alec Gammie, the plumber, became the head of a plumbing,
heating and air-conditioning company. Jimmie, the first
to make the move to America, became the superintendent
of all the pattern shops for American Steel Foundries.
Eddie, became vice-president of the Victor Gasket
Company and George became President of Illinois Brick.
His company made 700,000 bricks every day. John was
knighted for his work in World War II. He “was a top man
in New York with our Ministry of War Transport” and was
an advisor on shipping to General Eisenhower. When
John’s wife died in 1959, “three full admirals attended
Gammie was a bricklayer and became the superintendent of
buildings for the International Harvester organization.
One of his early projects was the old Chicago Stadium
where he served as the masonry foreman. In those days
the bricklayers made 75 cents an hour. Mr. and Mrs.
Gammie were avid hockey fans. They saw the first game
played by the Blackhawks, December 18, 1929, and from
1966 until 1981, they saw every home game. They took a
cruise to Hawaii in 1961, but when they heard a news
report that the Blackhawks had defeated the Montreal
Canadians and were in the finals, they immediately left
the ship and flew home to see the team win the Stanley
Cup. When Bob Gammie came to America in 1912, he was
supposed to sail on the Titanic, but his sister’s
boyfriend worked on another ship so he changed his
plans. He and his wife would later make three trips
around the world.
Robert Gammie said in 1979: “It’s not the same crowds
going to hockey games. Used to be mostly businessmen -
all dressed up with coats and ties. Now, you have all
those roughnecks dressed like bums and out for a fight.”
Robert Gammie died Aug. 26, 1987 in Estes Park, Colorado
and is buried in the Clarendon Hills Cemetery, Clarendon
Hill, Illinois. How could members of the same family
become so successful? Alec Gammie, gave the answer in
1959: “We came out here and we came to work. We just got
busy and we didn’t waste our time on drinking and that
sort of thing.”
Gregg Gammie, a life member of the Illinois Saint Andrew
Society and the History Club, brought this information
to our June meeting. There is much more about the
involvement of the Gammie family in the Scottish Home
and the Society. Some of their stories we have covered
General W. H. L. Wallace
Hervey Lamme Wallace was born July 8, 1821, in Urbana,
Ohio. He was educated at the Rock Springs Seminary in
Mount Morris, Illinois and he had planned to study law
with Abraham Lincoln in Springfield. Instead, he joined
a practice in Ottawa, Illinois. He married Martha Ann
Dickey and was granted his law license in 1846. That
same year, he joined the 1st Illinois Infantry as a
private. He participated in the Mexican-American War and
was at the Battle of Buena Vista.
When the Civil War began, Wallace joined the 11th
Illinois again as a private. He quickly rose through the
ranks and at the Battle of Fort Donelson in 1862, he
commanded a brigade under General John A. McClernand who
served under General Grant. His troops saved the day at
Donelson even though the 11th Illinois lost nearly
two-thirds of its men. For his service at Fort Donelson
he was appointed a brigadier general. His next battle
was at Shiloh, where he commanded a division and
withstood six hours of assaults next to the famous
Hornet’s Nest or Sunken Road.
His division was finally surrounded and he ordered a
retreat. Many of his men escaped, but he fell mortally
wounded on the battlefield. The next day the area was
regained by Union troops and Wallace was found barely
alive. He was then taken to General Grant’s
headquarters. His wife, who had arrived the day before
the battle, was at his side for the next three days
before he died. General Grant praised Wallace in 1868 as
“the equal of the best, if not the very best, of the
Volunteer Generals at the date of his death.”
body was brought back to Ottawa on a special train from
Cairo, Illinois. The body was in the charge of his
father-in-law, Colonel T. Lyle Dickey and his brother,
Major M. H. R. Wallace, both of the 4th Illinois
Cavalry. His grieving wife was also on the train and
perhaps his horse, Prince. His body was met at the train
by two brigades in the charge of Captain Simpson. As the
procession moved slowly, the “Court House bell
mournfully tolled its sad notes for the departed.” His
body lay in state in the Supreme Court room where a
guard of honor stood constant watch. The funeral was
held at the Episcopal Church.
On a recent trip to Ottawa, I had opportunity to see the
Appellate Court Building, the Episcopal Church and the
home of General Wallace. His home is located on a bluff
on Lincoln Road. It is now a private residence but a
marker does designate the house. General Wallace is
buried on the property, although nothing could be
observed from the street. Wikipedia says that his “war
horse, Prince, is buried next to the General he carried
into battle at Shiloh.” This could not be confirmed from
another source. Traveller, the beloved war horse of
Robert E. Lee is buried near him on the campus of
Washington & Lee University, so it would not be unusual.
Soldiers were allowed to return home with their horses.
Mrs. Wallace made a trip to Europe in 1872 and brought
back a “memorial window for the Episcopal Church, which
cost $1,000 in Dresden.” She died in 1889 and is buried
in the family cemetery on Lincoln Road.
One child, a daughter named Isabel, survived and
published a book in 1909 called “Life and Letters of
General W. H. L. Wallace.” It is available from the
Southern Illinois University Press and on the Internet.
A free download is also available
Pictured first: W.H.L. Wallace
Pictured second: Home of W.H.L. Wallace
Scottish Information from the Internet
Ben Johnson visited Scotland in 1618. He made fun
of the Scots and was sentenced to having his nose cut
metal detector was invented by Alexander Graham
Thomas Lord Cochrane was a Vice Admiral in the
Chilean Navy, he defeated the Spaniards dressed in full
Peter Pan, the boy who never grew up, was written by
J. M. Barrie.
Cassidy had a Scottish mother, Ann Campbell
John Paul Jones is the only man to hold an
officer’s rank in the British, American and Russian
On March 13 and 14, 1941, 300 German aircraft
attacked factories along the Clyde river and killed
George Pinkerton, a Scot flying a Spitfire, shot
down the first German plane over the Forth bridge.
Helmut Pohle, the German pilot, was flying a JU88.
Edinburgh University Library is the largest
academic library in Europe.
The 71st Highland Light Infantry fired the last
shot in the Battle of Waterloo.
James Patterson, who was the sole owner of the
National Cash Register Company, gave free medical
care to his workers and installed a cafeteria in his
factory. He was the first ever to reward his employees
for ideas that improved operations.
Peter Cooper, better known for his locomotive
“Tom Thumb” developed the first gelatin desert, or
David Brewster, born in Jedburgh, Scotland,
kaleidoscope in 1816.
Joseph Henry developed the basic principles of
the telegraph which was put to more practical use by
Samuel F. B. Morse eleven years later.
Alexander Bain, born in Watten, Scotland,
developed a clock operated by electricity in 1840.
Pictured: Butch Cassidy (Robert LeRoy Parker)