By Sam Eichner, GazeboNews reporter
Many Lake Foresters are aware of the simple yes or no question Scottish voters will face on September 18, the resultant outcome of which will either see Scotland resolutely declare independence from the U.K. or remain under its wing.
Fewer, however, are aware of the integral role Scots played in the establishment of Lake Forest around the turn of the 20th century.
“They weren’t the majority of the residents,” said Scottish-born Lake Bluff resident David Forlow, an active member of the Illinois’ St. Andrew Society, “but they were the backbone.”
Lake Forest, Forlow said, was founded by Presbyterians who, seeking refuge from the hotbed of vice and sin that was 19th century Chicago, found a quieter home in the country up north. These settlers bought much of the land on the east side of Lake Forest with the intention of building a planned community, which would include a school for boys as well as a college (now known as Lake Forest College).
The Presbyterian Church is the national church of Scotland, and many members of this specific church were either native born or first-generation Scots.
Vestiges of Lake Forest’s Scottish roots are visible today. Take a stroll around Lake Forest College, and you’ll notice that a number of the campus buildings — like Stuart Commons, Patterson Lodge, and Reid Hall — are named after prominent area Scots. Onwentsia and Deerpath? Both courses were designed by Scots. And then there’s Lake Forest Open Lands’ annual Bagpipes and Bonfire event, whose mass pipe band and kilted skydivers are about as Scottish as it gets; though the celebration only officially dates back to 1988, Forlow said it originated decades earlier, when old Scots up and down Green Bay Road would converge upon Shaw Prairie to pass around some booze and light a bonfire. (The 27th Annual Bagpipes & Bonfire is on September 28 from 4 to 7 p.m. at Middlefork Farm Nature Preserve in Lake Forest.)
As for the “Say Yes”/”No Thanks” issue, Forlow said he has cousins in Scotland who fall on both sides; while he doesn’t feel right telling his countrymen how to vote, he believes the referendum will ultimately fail in a close vote.
At least one Chicago Scot, however, is openly hoping for a different outcome; Jack Crombie, who owns the Scottish pub Duke Of Perth, wrote in an e-mail to GazeboNews: “A free people with a proud history, their own legal and education systems, a clearly different attitude towards the place of a man in society, and with their own national aspirations–I for one hope that they seize this incredible and rare opportunity.”
As of Sunday evening, The Guardian suggested that the referendum was too close to call. Yet, though the state of Scotland is uncertain, Lake Forest can rest easy: a piece of the country will remain here — in the schools, events, and institutions — no matter what the result.
Below are just a handful of the over 2,000 photos Forlow and others collected for a documentary, “Scots In Lake Forest,” which will be presented at the Scottish American History Museum in Chicago next month.
“If someone didn’t save or scan the information, who knows what would’ve happened with it,” Forlow said of the project. “We’re proud of our heritage.”
Neil Campbell, who served as Lake Forest City Manager, is pictured with Ian Campbell, the Duke of Argyll, during a visit to Scotland.
Neil Campbell, his wife, daughter and 6-week old granddaughter.
A newspaper clipping showing Lake Forest’s Alex Pirie being awarded the Ryder Cup. Pirie was the first golf pro at Old Elm Golf Course. (As far as Forlow knows, he bears no relation to the department store, Carson Pirie Scott.)
John J. Murdock, who lived in Lake Bluff and ran Keith Vaudeville Theaters, which later merged with Joseph Kennedy’s movie studio to become RKO Pictures.
William Marshall, at Onwentsia Golf Club, circa 1897. Marshall was Onwentsia’s first golf pro, and finished just a few storkes behind fellow Scot Alex Smith in the U.S. Open. (He bears no relation to the department store, Marshall Fields.)
The Marshall’s family photo.
William Marshall, circa 1910, who built the first ever house on Attridge Road in Lake Forest.
The 19th Annual Meeting for the Professional Golfers’ Association of America, of which Alex Pirie was elected president.
Forlow said Scottish-born George Findlay, shown above with a bull, and his uncle James Anderson imported the first ever registered herd of Angus cattle to the U.S. from Aberdeenshire, Scotland. When the cattle got to Lake Forest, they were first kept where the CVS is today on Western Avenue.
Findlay then ran the XIT ranch in Texas, which covered three million acres, and later became president of the first bank in Lake Forest. Anderson founded the second bank in town, and the two banks eventually merged.
The big red brick building at the corner of Deer Path and Western avenues, where Walgreens is housed, is the Anderson Building named for James. His grandson was Stanley Anderson, a name well known in Lake Forest and Lake Bluff. He designed Lake Forest High School, Lake Forest Hospital, much of downtown Lake Forest, some of downtown Lake Bluff and dozens of big homes in both towns.
Yes that’s an ostrich, and it’s one of Forlow’s favorite photos of the 2,000 that he and others collected for the documentary. The ostrich’s passenger is Donald Roderick McLennan, founder of Marsh & McLennan — today, a multibillion dollar company. Donald built Stornoway House on Lake Road (now Wrigley’s house). The McLennan family was from Stornoway, Scotland, hence the home’s name. His grandson Rev. Scotty McLennan is the basis for the Rev. Scotty character in the Doonesbury comic strip, who wears a “bunnet”–a Scottish tartan.
All photos shared by David Forlow of Lake Bluff.