The Scottish American History Club Newsletter
MacLeish, a prominent 19th century Chicago merchant, was
born in Glasgow, Scotland, on June 18, 1838. By the age
of seventeen, Mr. MacLeish had completed a thorough
education that he put to use within various clerical
positions in Glasgow and London. He arrived in Chicago
in 1857 shortly after his sweetheart, Lillias Young,
moved to Chicago with her parents. Andrew MacLeish and
Lillias Young married two years later.
From his earliest days in Chicago, Andrew MacLeish
forged a career in retail dry goods. His first employer,
J. D. Sherman, was located at 130 Lake Street, the
principal retail street during that time. Desiring to
open his own store, MacLeish moved to Kewanee, Illinois.
Soon after, he determined his preference for Chicago and
returned, this time to the employ of J. B. Shay, another
Lake Street dry goods retailer. In 1865, he became
associated with Carson, Pirie, Scott & Co. that
operated, at that time, a dry goods wholesale business.
The partners were: Samuel Carson, John T. Pirie, George
Scott and Robert Scott.
MacLeish founded and managed the retail arm of Carson,
Pirie, Scott & Co. and with it designed the company’s
first retail store. The Great Chicago Fire of 1871
destroyed the original store, but MacLeish’ diligent
effort saved much of the inventory. He personally
directed the transfer of goods by employing whosoever he
could and paying whatever prices they demanded. After
the fire, the retail operations divided into two stores,
one on West 22nd street in Chicago and another on
Madison Street in Peoria. Sixteen years later, Carson,
Pirie, Scott & Co. purchased the State Street store of
Charles Gossage. The rest is Chicago retail history.
Andrew MacLeish also persevered within his personal
life. Two children were born of his marriage to Lillias
Young; Lily Agnes (Mrs. C. L. Day) and Blanche E. (Mrs.
C.K.G. Billings). Sadly, Lillias died one year after
their second child was born. The circumstances of her
death are unknown to us, as is the place of burial.
Andrew married a second time to Louise Little of
Chicago. One son, Bruce, was born to the union. The
local news-papers did not carry any information or an
obituary of her death.
MacLeish’ third wife, Martha Hillard, shared the rest of
his life. The daughter of a Congregationalist minister,
Martha hailed from an established New England family.
She was educated at Vassar through the generous
contributions of a bachelor uncle. After several years
of teaching school, Martha Hillard was invited back to
Vassar as an instructor. A strong educator, Martha left
Vassar and became the principal of Rockford Seminary in
Rockford, Illinois. Upon the school’s succession to
Rockford College, Martha became the first President.
The daughters of Andrew MacLeish, Lily and Blanche, had
attended Vassar during Martha’s tenure. A trip to
Chicago to visit Lily and Blanche resulted in Martha
meeting the girls’ father. Martha Hillard and Andrew
MacLeish were married in 1888; she was 18 years his
junior. Mr. MacLeish and Martha Hillard had four
children: Norman Hillard, Archibald, Kenneth and Ishbel
Marjoribanks, named after Lady Aberdeen, wife of the
Governor General of Canada. Norman was a well-known
Illinois artist. Archibald was a writer and Librarian of
Congress. Kenneth died in World War One. We are still
searching for Ishbel (Mrs. Alexander Sloan Campbell).
The original MacLeish home stood at 627 Adams St. After
his marriage to Martha Hillard, the couple purchased 17
acres at Glencoe and built a summer home. Over time, the
summer home became their permanent home. It was named
“Craigie Lea” after an old Scottish song. “The house, a
great three-story residence of brick and frame
construction with conical towers, dormers, and
high-pitched gables. The house contained more than 30
Mrs. MacLeish “reigned as chatelaine of Craigie Lea, she
engaged in religious and cultural activities that made
her one of the most esteemed women of Chicago and the
North Shore. Each year, on the lawn of Craigie Lea, she
presided at a garden fete that was one of the
outstanding annual events of social life on the North
Shore.” She served as president of the Chicago Woman’s
Club. Through her efforts, the Women’s American Foreign
Mission Baptist Society was formed. Martha was an
intimate friend of Jane Addams, the first American woman
to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, and helped her in the
establishment of Hull House, a Chicago home established
to improve the social condition of the underserved. Mrs.
Martha Hillard MacLeish died December 19, 1947 at the
age of 91.
Andrew MacLeish preceded Martha in death due to
complications of old age. He worked until one week
before his death on January 14, 1928, refusing to
release his responsibility with the Carson, Pirie, Scott
Company. “His career had paralleled the history of
business in Chicago and its steady rise.” Andrew
MacLeish is buried in Graceland cemetery.
Archibald MacLeish, in writing of his father, said: “My
father came from a very old country in the north and far
away, and he belonged to an old
strange race, the race older than any other. He did not
talk of his country but he sang bits of old songs with
words that he said no one could understand anymore.”
Pictured first: Andrew MacLeish
Pictured second: Martha Hillard MacLeish
Thou Bonnie Wood o’ Craigielea
Chorus: Thou bonnie wood o’ Craigielea,
Thou bonnie wood o’ Craigielea,
Near thee I’ve spent life’s early day,
And won my Mary’s heart in thee.
Verse 1: The broom, the brier, the birken bush,
Bloom bonnie o’er thy flowry lea;
And a’ the sweets that ane can wish,
Frae nature’s hand are strew’d on thee.
Verse 2: Far ben thy dark green plantin’s shade,
The cushat croodles am’rously;
The mavis down thy bughted glade,
Gars echo ring frae ev’ry tree.
Verse 3: Awa’, ye thoughtless murd’ring gang,
Wha tear the nestlings ere they flee!
They’ll sing you yet a canty sang,
Then, O, in pity, let them be!
Verse 4: When winter blaws in sleety show’rs,
Frae aff the Norlan Hills sae hie,
He lightly skiffs thy bonnie bow’r,
As laith to harm a flow’r in thee.
Verse 5: Though fate should drag me south the lime,
Or o’er the wide Atlantic sea,
The happy hours I’ll ever min’,
That I in youth hae spent in thee.
The lyric was written by Robert Tannahill (1774-1810) of
The music was composed by James Barr
(1770-1836) of Tarbolton.
You can hear the
Daughters of Andrew MacLeish
Andrew MacLeish was the father of seven children, four
boys and three girls. The girls were named: Lily, born
1861, Blanche, born in 1864, and Ishbel Marjoribanks,
born in 1897. Lily married C. L. Day; Blanche married C.
K. G. Billings and Ishbel (correct spelling) married
Alexander Sloan Campbell. Let’s begin with the daughters
and in our next issue we will write about the sons.
Lily MacLeish Day died August 2, 1941 in
Presbyterian hospital. She was 80 years old and a
graduate of Vassar college. Her husband, Charles Lewis
Day, died in 1936. He had been an executive of the
Peoples Gas Light & Coke Company.
Mrs. Day was a charter member of the Women’s Athletic
club of Chicago and belonged to the Indian Hill Country
club. Her obituary states that “she leaves one daughter,
Mrs. Stanley K. Peirce of Glencoe, and one son, Lewis
Andrew Day of West Orange, N. J.” Funeral services were
held on August 4, 1941 in the Graceland cemetery chapel.
MacLeish Billings. The History Club has considered
the life of Blanche and there is some information about
her husband, C.K.G. Billings on the website. (See
Chicagoscots.net, look under Newsletters. It’s the July,
2009 issue.) Blanche was born in 1864, was also a
graduate of Vassar and married her husband in 1885. His
father gave them a fully furnished home at 470
Washington Boulevard. Her father gave them a beautiful
The Billings became extremely wealthy and when they died
in 1937, they left an estate of $13,046,801 after taxes.
Two children were born to the marriage but only one
survived, Mrs. William Halsey Vander Poel of New York.
Their son, Albert, died quite suddenly in 1926 at the
age of 31.
The Billings were involved in racing and their horse,
Omar Khayyam, won the Kentucky Derby in 1917. They often
traveled in a private railroad car built by the Pullman
Company. They owned a mansion and 50 acres of land on
the northern end of Manhattan Island, which they later
sold to John D. Rockefeller, Jr. After selling the
mansion, they took possession of a suite of 21 rooms at
the north corner of 5th Avenue and 63rd Street. They
also owned homes at Lake Geneva, Chicago, and Santa
The end of their fairy-tale life occurred at their home
in Santa Barbara in May 1937. They both died within
hours of each other, came back together on the same
train and were buried together in Graceland cemetery.
They had been married 52 years. The History Club has
visited their graves at least twice.
Marjoribanks MacLeish Campbell was born in Glencoe
on March 20, 1897. She died August 15, 1991 in
Minneapolis, Minnesota. We know she once lived in El
Paso County, Colorado and according to the 1930 census
she was single, owned a home valued at $20,000 and also
owned a radio. The census also listed two servants:
Katherine Mahoney and Agnes McTague. We also know that
in 1936, she married Alexander Sloan Campbell. Beyond
this, we know very little about the life of Ishbel
Marjoribanks MacLeish Campbell.
Pictured first: Blanch MacLeish Billings
Pictured second: Ishbel Marjoribanks MacLeish
From the Editor
The Scottish American History Club now has its own
web site at
http://chicagoscots.net. It is a work in progress but
does contain the dates of our meetings and various other
items of information. On the left side you will find a “blog
button.” I have been trying to post a new blog every
day but there is no guarantee that I will not miss a day
now and then. The Newsletters are posted and the growing
name list is also on the web site. Our site is connected
to our parent organization, The Illinois Saint Andrew’s
The History Club continues to meet monthly and you will
find those dates at
chicagscots.net. As the subjects become available
they will also be posted. On February 6, I will continue
my story of the Georgeson wing construction project. I
would like to tell the story of Heritage Hall which
contains our museum. There will also be comments about
Helen’s Garden, Uncle Pete and the Pollock Fountain, and
I have been asked to relate the story of the “Ghost of
the Scottish Home.” You will hear from one person who
has actually experienced the presence of the ghost.
Let me thank all the people involved in the publication
of our Newsletter. I do most of the research and the
preliminary writing. It then goes to Connie Gill who
rewrites the articles and makes them interesting. She
does a terrific job and is an excellent writer. Elaine
Moore then adds the pictures and formatting.
Finally, let me thank Robert Peterson who videos all of
our history sessions for future reference. Bob and his
daughter are there for every meeting and use the finest
equipment — all without charge. I would recommend Bob to
any of you who have need of a photographer. He is
thoroughly trained in the use of his equipment, which is
the best available. He can be reached by
If you need more information, call me at 630.629.4516 or send me an