Scots who put up the money
to develop the American West
notes from an exhibition at the Cowan Institute: Penicuik Town Hall 14+21 January 2006
CHARLES COWAN: Penicuik
papermaker in later life
-his nephew founded Scottish American
In July 1867 William John Menzies
(Alexander Cowan’s eldest grandson) took his uncle Charles Cowan the
Penicuik papermaker to America. Menzies had been there before, during the Civil War in
1864, and he wanted his uncle to see the sights and all the opportunities for
trading and investment.
The Cunarder SS Cuba
Setting off from Liverpool in the Cunard steamship Cuba, they passed safely through the drifting icebergs off
the fog-bound coast of Nova Scotia, spent a few hours at Halifax, and disembarked at Boston. From there they travelled by rail to New York where
they stayed at the Clarendon Hotel, visited the “magnificent” new Central Park,
the public buildings and the great charitable institutions, looked at Butler’s papermills at nearby Paterson, spent a charming day in the
Long Island campagne and took an overnight rail trip to Washington, where
they left their calling cards for President Johnson at the White House.
New York's Central Park –a wonder to behold
Then on to Philadelphia, back
to Massachusetts to visit the many papermills around
Springfield on the vast Connecticut river then up the Hudson in a huge
“floating palace” with hundreds of sleeping berths, to Saratoga Springs and on
to Niagara, Hamilton, Detroit and Chicago, returning via Green Bay, Marquette
and Sault St Marie, Toronto, Montreal and Quebec. They saw the sights, met the
merchants, looked at the transport and trading, checked out the opportunities.
Thanks to the genius of William
Thomson (Lord Kelvin), the transatlantic telegraph was in its first
successful year of operation. The United States and Canada were booming, fuelled by the speed of communications.
The benefits for business were enormous. This trip, and later ones, led William Menzies to start the Scottish American Investment
Company in 1873, mainly to finance the great railroads being pushed out
from Chicago and the Midwest towards the Pacific.
John Cowan of Beeslack,
Penicuik papermaker and SAINTS investor
So successful were these Scottish American
investments, placed by John Stewart Kennedy, Menzies’
Scots-born agent in New York, that the Clydesdale Bank joined in to trade the City
unsaleable US railroad stocks using Kennedy’s undoubted expertise.
Agent for SAINTS and the
Clydesdale Bank in New
Kennedy’s magic touch helped to recoup the banks heavy losses and render a tidy
profit. Connected only by trust and the
telegraph, these Scots on both sides of the Atlantic funded the railroads that opened up the West: the
Great Northern, the Northern Pacific, the Chicago, Milwaukee & St Paul, the St Paul, Minneapolis & Manitoba, and the Canadian
Quite a few Midlothian folk emigrated to join Scottish American projects. Thomas
Young, son of the man who built the Cowans’
gasworks at Valleyfield, took his new wife from Loanhead
across the Atlantic. They settled
in Emmetsburgh, Iowa – a new Edinburgh beyond the Mississippi – to build
houses for the Scottish American Land Company there in 1881. Running the land company in Emmetsburgh were sons of Alexander
Peddie the Edinburgh physician and John
Dick Peddie the Edinburgh architect.
Clara Anderson enjoying a game with her
physician husband Alexander Peddie.
Tom Young, Mary Struthers and their first children in Emmetsburgh:
great-granddaughter came to the Cowan Institute last year.
Back in New York, the commissions from William
J Menzies and the Clydesdale Bank helped John
Stewart Kennedy to build up a fortune of 2 million dollars by 1882, and 67 million
by his death in 1909. It was a fortune
he reinvested in the future by massive bequests to a string of charities, the
New York Public Library, the New York Presbyterian Hospital, to Columbia and Glasgow Universities and to African-American and Ottoman-American
causes. He had no children.
Saul Engelbourg and Leonard Bushkoff: “The Man Who Found the Money: John Stewart
Kennedy and the Financing of the Western Railroads” was published in East Lansing USA by Michigan State University Press, 1996.
Clydesdale In Penicuik
HOME KOSMOID HOME
Helena Independent :Helena, Montana : July 20,
CRYSTAL GAZER'S PREDICTION FAILS
TOWN SHE DOOMS IS NOT
Emmetsburg, Iowa, July 19 -(By
Associated Press)- Madame Garcia,
crystal gazer, who is credited with the predictions of President Harding's
election and death, as well as the recent southern California earthquake,
guessed wrong when she set Friday and Saturday as the date for the destruction
of Emmetsburg, Iowa. The town is still here tonight.
A number of families left their homes over
the two day period and numerous farmers are said to have refused to come here
to trade yesterday, but aside from the loss to business men, and some evidence
of jumpiness on the part of nervous citizens, nothing has happened.
The prediction, said to have originated in
published here by a local newspaper last week.
Clydesdale In Penicuik
HOME KOSMOID HOME
< next one up
NUMBER 90 of the 1
most visited KOSMOID& MAKERSwebpages