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Scots and 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, which 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 Chicago.


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