Scots Descendant in America
Part V - Biographies
Thomas C. MacMillan, LL.D.
IT is always interesting to follow the career of a
man who is equally successful in
many lines of endeavour, and who is able to apply himself with equal
enthusiasm in each sphere. The tendency of the times is toward
specialization, and it is rarely that we meet with such a well-rounded
character. No one can read the following brief record without being struck
with the impression Dr. MacMillan’s life has made upon all the community.
It should be an inspiration to everyone.
Thomas C. MacMillan was born in
Stranraer, Wigtownshire, Scotland, October 4, 1850, the son of James H.
and Susan Cumming MacMillan, and came to the United States with his
parents in 1857. He was educated in the Chicago public and high schools
and took a partial course in the old University of Chicago.
On his father ‘s side he is
descended from the same forbears as former Senator James McMillan of
Michigan, whose father came to America by way of Canada—hence the
difference in the spelling of the name. On his mother ‘s side, Sir John
Ross was a cousin of his mother ‘s mother. Rev. Hugh MacMillan, of Ettrick
Kirk, near. Selkirk, is a cousin; and others of the family are notable as
ministers, teachers, engineers, etc.
For twenty-four years Dr. MacMillan
was a newspaper reporter, correspondent and editor, serving with great
ability on the staff of the Chicago Inter-Ocean, 1873 to 1895.
Since December, 1895, he has been Clerk of the United States District
Court, Northern District of Illinois. Into this busy life he has crowded a
multiplicity of other activities,
he has pursued with untiring purpose, interesting
himself in everything that makes for the religious, educational, civic and
political betterment of the community.
He spent six useful years in the
Illinois State Legislature, serving in the House of Representatives,
1885-1889, and in the Senate, 1889-1891. He was a member of the committee
that drafted the Chicago Sanitary District Act and chairman of the State
Senate Committee on Waterways, which secured its passage. This bill was of
the greatest importance to the City of Chicago, as it opened the way for
the building of the great Drainage Canal. He was also chairman of the
State Senate Committee on World ‘s Fair, which granted $800,000
appropriation from the State for the Columbian Exposition; author of the
first Woman’s School Suffrage Act, passed by the Legislature in 1891; and
a member of the Chicago Charter Convention, the Cook County Board of
Education, 1879-1882, director of the Chicago Public Library, 1882-1887,
member of the Board of Managers Illinois State Reformatory, Pontiac, 1897,
and for four successive terms President of the LaGrange (Illinois) School
Board. He received degrees of M.A.; from Illinois College, 1885, and
LL.D., from Knox College, 1911.
Dr. MacMillan has always been an
ardent and faithful church worker, in local, international and mission
fields. He is a member of the LaGrange (Ill.) Congregational Church, and
is one of the most widely known laymen in that denomination. He was
Moderator of the Illinois State Congregational Association, 1899, first
President of the American Congregational Deaconess’ Association, First
Vice-President of the Third International Congregational Council,
Edinburgh, Scotland, 1908, and Moderator of the National Council of
Congregational Churches of the United States, 1907-1910. He is also
President of the Cook County Child Saving Conference, and a Corporate
Member of the American Board for Foreign Missions.
He is a member of the Chicago
Congregational Club—President, 1900-1901; the Illinois St. Andrew’s
Society—President, 1906-1908; the LaGrange Country Club, and many clubs
and societies connected with the Congregational Church. He was also First
President of the Patriotic Association, affiliated with the McClintock
Post, G. A. R., LaGrange, Ill.; First President of the Travellers’ Aid
Society of Illinois; and since its organization, Treasurer of the Central
Howard Association of Illinois.
Dr. MacMillan is a loyal son of the
dear old land, who loves its history, tradition, literature and most of
all the achievements of its children. His recreations are writing and
walking. The Psalms in meter, learned in boyhood ("double verse" and all),
his daily delight. "Ebenezer" has, all the way, been his thanksgiving.
Dr. MacMillan’s home is in LaGrange,
one of Chicago’s suburbs. He married, in Na-au-say, Ill., January 24,
1883, Mary C. Goudie, daughter of the late David and Jane Hunter Goudie,
natives of Ayrshire, Scotland. Their daughter is a graduate of Oberlin,
the elder son a graduate of, the younger a student in, the University of
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