The Scottish American History Club Newsletter
History Newsletter to
This is the last issue of the History Club Newsletter
that will be mailed to our membership. In this time of
financial stress, the Society needs to make every effort
to reduce costs. The plans are to have the newsletter
sent by email and posted on this web site. This will also depend on
available staff, since reductions are being made in that
area as well. If you would like to receive the
newsletter by e-mail and have not heard from us, please
send us your email address and we will add you to the
history newsletter list.
As this is being written, it is unclear if
the newsletter will survive or end after 15 years of
publication. Past issue are presently posted on this web
site. It is possible that those of you who will send in
the cost of mailings may continue to receive a mailed
copy, but that is unclear at the moment. My sincere
thanks to all of you who have enjoyed the stories over
the years. Of course, it would have been impossible
without Elaine’s help and interest.
At the Leadership Conference this year, I met Connie
Kurrelmeier and she volunteered to take this issue and
rewrite what became a very complicated story. She did a
great job and I appreciate her work. If the newsletter
continues in some form, Connie will continue to help.
She is presently writing her first novel.
You may continue to reach me by
telephone number is 630.629.4516.
Library and its Scottish Connections
“I desire the books and periodicals
selected with a view to create and sustain a healthy
moral and Christian sentiment in the community, and that
all nastiness and immorality be excluded. I do not mean
by this that there shall not be anything but hymn books
and sermons, but I mean that dirty French novels and all
skeptical trash and works of questionable moral tone
shall never be found in this library.”
A free public
library was but one of the legacies Chicagoan John Crerar provided for in his last will and testament. Born
in New York City of “Scotch parents” and attending the
Scotch Presbyterian Church, Crerar moved to Chicago in
1862 and worked in the railroad supply business where he
made his millions following the Civil War. An avid
reader, a deeply religious parishioner of the Second
Presbyterian Church in Chicago, and a member of the
Illinois Saint Andrew Society, he was known for being
more than a bachelor industrialist. He was also a
philanthropist. And upon his death in 1889, Crerar
continued his reputation of charitable giving in a
manner that represented all he held important.
* $2.5 million for a “free public library”
* $100,000 for a “colossal statue of Abraham Lincoln”
* $10,000 for the Illinois Saint Andrew Society
Pictured: John Crerar (1827-1889)
The Crerar Library
The history of libraries in Scotland
dates back to the 16th century when private and
subscription libraries were available to those who could
afford the fees. Throughout the 17th century, the common
person had greater access to books through newly founded
parish libraries; and like John Crerar’s request, the
collections were limited to books of acceptable
religious and moral content- an easier preference to
fulfill in the 17th century than in the 19th century
when industrialization was rapidly changing the
framework of the United States. Nevertheless, in the
forward looking wisdom of the founding
directors, the collections of the Library would be
limited to volumes relating to the sciences.
And so it
was that on the 6th floor of the Marshall Field
building at 87 Wabash Avenue, the Crerar Library was
founded. By its popularity, the collection soon outgrew
its space. A new location was chosen which required the
approval by State Legislature and ultimately by State
ballot. In 1904, Illinois voted overwhelmingly in favor
of the new site with 50,960 in favor and only 9,329
opposed. Familiar to most current day Chicagoans, the
land at issue was located between the Illinois Central
Railroad tracks and Michigan Avenue, between Monroe and
Madison - Grant Park. Why then is there no “turn of the
20th century” library at Grant Park? Unfortunately a law
suit soon followed the near unanimous ballot, and the
Illinois Supreme Court overruled the vote. What then
became of the Crerar Library? The Library expanded its
collections into the medical sciences as well as into
1920 - the Library moved to a newly constructed building
at Michigan Avenue. and Randolph, across from the
present day Chicago Cultural Center. The 11-story
building was designed by Holabird and Roche and opened
in 1920. Eventually, the Library again needed more space
and the building was sold to the George F. Harding
Museum who later sold it to a New York development firm.
This Holabird and Roche designed building was demolished
in 1981 so that a 41-story office building could be
constructed. Its unusual “sharply shaped summit” is
recognizable to most Chicagoans, especially at
1962 - the Library moved into another new building on
the campus of the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT).
The new building was designed by architect Walter Netsch,
well known for his design of the chapel at the U.S. Air
Force Academy in Colorado Springs. The Crerar Library
was a 92,000 square foot facility “with a pleasing
modern aesthetic inspired by Miles van der Rohe.”
Interestingly, Mr. Netsch was married to our present
life member and Distinguished Citizen, Dawn Clark Netsch.
Another interesting connection is that IIT’s predecessor
was the Armour Institute of Technology founded in 1890
with a gift of one million dollars from Philip Danforth
Armour. Mr. Armour was a member of the Illinois St.
Andrew’s Society and was said to have been its most
1984 - The Crerar library moved to its current
distinguished home on the campus of the University of
Chicago, not far from the Midway of the World’s Fair in
1893. John Crerar’s legacy created a collection of texts
ranging from the classics of Galileo and Newton, to rare
works by researchers in the fields of medicine, science,
and technology. Now combined under one roof with the
extensive sciences collections of the University of
Chicago, the John Crerar Library lives on. . . absent
any “dirty French novels.”
A $10,000 Bequeath to the
Illinois Saint Andrew Societyiety
Even today, a gift of $10,000 to the
Illinois St. Andrews Society could be used for great
purpose. If a current day member wished a challenge,
however, to match John Crerar’s 1886 bequeath to the
ISAS it would require a donation today of approximately
$230,000. What is more, the entire 1886 bequeath was
distributed to the poor.
John Crerar never forgot his childhood
roots and also bequeathed $25,000 to the Scotch
Presbyterian Church he attended in New York. Having
never married, he returned to rest aside his parents in
Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York. Though in
birth and death his name is written in New York, John
Crerar’s legacy lives strong in Chicago.
The Colossal Statue of
That the John Crerar Library would never
have a home in Grant Park may have to the 1904 voters
been a slap in the face. They could not have envisioned
that Grant Park would some day be a venue for huge
concerts and cultural fairs, and never would they have
imagined that the first African American President Elect
would celebrate his victory in front of thousands of
people, modern day residents that must have stood on the
ground that the Crerar Library would have shared.
Nor, I suspect, would John Crerar have ever
expected when he left $100,000 for the sculpting of a
statue of Abraham Lincoln, the president that ended
slavery in the United States, that his statue would bear
stoic witness to great historical moments.
The bronze edifice is the last work of
sculptor Augustus St. Gaudens who died in 1907. The
first four years of the life of the Lincoln Statue was
spent in the basement of the Metropolitan Museum of Art
in New York City. The statue was then displayed in
different cities of the United States while “the South
Park board fought over the right to place it in Grant
Park.” It was finally brought to Chicago in 1916 and for
the next 10 years was “stored in a shed in Washington
Two sets of trustees died unable to erect
the Statue. The third group, led by William Louderback,
was successful in obtaining approval to place the
monument in Grant Park. Stanford White, a noted
architect, designed the architectural setting for the
monument. White was a member of the firm McKim, Mead &
White, all of whom were Scottish Americans and we have
written about them often.
Finally, on May 31, 1926, forty years after
John Crerar’s bequeath, the “Sitting” Lincoln Statue was
unveiled in Grant Park just east of Van Buren street.
“In the center of the semicircular seat,
153 feet in diameter, which forms the setting for the
statue, rises a monolithic pedestal of granite
supporting the bronze figure of Lincoln, which faces the
south. The pedestal rests on a raised platform with
granite steps leading to it.”
Serious, with open arms, the statue well
represents a time of great change and two great men -
Abraham Lincoln and John Crerar. (In Lincoln Park one can
find the “Standing” Lincoln statue, also sculpted by St.
That John Crerar passed
unwed and childless would often be deemed an unfortunate
situation. Whether he, by affection, adopted the loyalty
of equally well-regarded individuals or they adopted
him, there appeared no lack of ongoing devotion to Mr.
Crerar after his death.
One such example is Norman Williams, the first president
of the Crerar Library. (I believe that Mr. Williams was
of Scottish descent but that could not be determined as
fact.) A graduate of Yale University in 1896 and
referred to as one of "Chicago's best known
Capitalists," detailed information is not exactly easily
found on Mr. Williams and the Tribune did not
even publish an obituary.
What is available is the newspaper reported detail of
personal events of his life that led up to the final
unveiling of the "sitting" Lincoln Statue in Grant
The date was July 3, 1902. The headlines in the
Chicago Tribune read, "Two come Home Engaged." The
article announces "Miss Joan Chalmers and Norman
Williams, Jr. to wed," and further explains that Miss
Joan Chalmers had been traveling in Europe with her
mother for several months and somewhere they were joined
by Norman Williams, Jr. The three returned to this
country on the steamship Pennsylvania where they
were met by Joan's father.
Shortly "thereafter came the statement of the betrothal,
which has been expected for some time by the more
intimate friends of the young people." To be
All quotes reference Chicago Tribune.
Some time ago, Don Campbell and I met
“Tink” Campbell for breakfast at his club, the Racquet
Club of Chicago. Calvin Arthur Campbell, Jr., better
known as “Tink,” is a great Scot and a fine host. He is
retired and presently serves on our Board of Governors
and was the Society’s Distinguished Citizen in 1996.
His father, Calvin Arthur Campbell, was
also called “Tink.” Both Father and Son knew that anyone
who called them “Calvin” was most certainly a stranger.
Calvin Arthur Campbell was General Counsel and a
Director of Dow Chemical Company. He and the president
of the company, Dr. Willard H. Dow, were close personal
friends. The two men had attended together and graduated
in chemical engineering from the University of Michigan.
On March 31, 1949, Dr. Dow, Martha his
wife, Tink Campbell, and Alta his wife, boarded the “two
motored company plane” for a flight to Boston. The
foursome was traveling to attend an address by Winston
Churchill at MIT. Near London, Ontario, Canada, the
plane was “struck by lashing rain” and attempted to make
an emergency landing in a field where it crashed on
impact. The only survivor was Calvin A. Campbell, our
“Tink’s” father. His mother Alta Campbell, Mr. & Mrs.
Dow, and the two pilots; A. J. Bowie and Fred Clements
were all killed. “Tink” was 14 years of age.
After breakfast, Tink and I walked across
the street to visit the church he and his wife often
attend during the Summer months. The
(located at 1424 N. Dearborn) is now more than 100 years
old and has a lot of Scottish history. Our Scottish
families living on the “Gold Coast” have often attended
this church and many had their funeral services there.
Tink pointed out to me the beautiful
stained glass window that in 1927 was donated by Mrs.
William J. (Pinkerton) Chalmers. Joan Pinkerton Chalmers
was the daughter of Alan Pinkerton, the
(We told the story of Joan Pinkerton and William J.
Chalmers in our
Spring 2007, issue of the History Club
The colorful glass was donated in memorial
of Mrs. Chalmers’ two children. The daughter, Mrs. Joan
Chalmers Williams and the son, Major Thomas Stuart
Chalmers died within eight days of each other in 1923.
After visiting Chrysostom Church, we
walked over to the Pump Room in the Ambassador East
Hotel and looked at all the pictures of celebrities who
had visited this famous room in the past.
The Scottish connections abound throughout
Chicago and we can all find experiences, whether tragic
or happy, to bind us in common. The Campbells, the
Chalmers, the Pinkertons, the Williams and as you read
on, John Crerar, are intertwined in a web of great
The Racquet Club of Chicago is located
at 1365 N. Dearborn St. It was built in the early 1920's
and is a well-maintained, beautiful building with much
Pictured first: Alta Koch Campbell
Pictured second: Stained glass window donated by
Joan Pinkerton Chalmers