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Scots and Scots Descendant in America
Part V - Biographies
Samuel Elliot


ELLIOTT is an old border name, and its bearers have been prominent since the sixteenth century in every walk of life, and send an Elliott" was the call when any difficult problem agitated the government. Hence, the great part played by the Elliott family in British Colonial affairs, and the notable men who have borne the name in the United States from the earliest times.

Samuel Elliott was born seventy-two years ago in Annandale, Dumfriesshire, the fourth son of John and Jean Johnstone Elliott, where and in the adjoining counties of Roxburgh and Selkirk, the Elliotts and the Johnstones have been well-known for generations. One of twelve children, he received a liberal education, and when not quite twenty left home for the United States. His first engagement in New York was with the old house of Harper & Bros., where he acquired a general knowledge of the publishing business, and in his spare hours exercised his hand at reporting and writing for New York newspapers.

In the year 1870, he removed to Chicago, to accept a responsible position with the large publishing house of S. C. Griggs & Co., where he remained until the great fire of 1871 laid the city in ashes. Meanwhile, he took up the study of law and also the scientific and actuarial side of life insurance, writing on these and kindred subjects for various Chicago journals. About this time the proprietors of The Spectator, then a newly established magazine devoted to the interests of insurance, sought the services of Mr. Elliott, and on the removal of its main office to New York, he assumed the sole management in Chicago.

When, in 1873, the Daily Graphic. the first daily illustrated newspaper ever published, was started in New York, he was invited to join in the undertaking, and for upwards of seven years was associate manager of the Graphic Company. Soon after retiring from that position he became actively interested in mining operations in Mexico and in railway construction and various other projects in the State of Washington, and has devoted the main part of his business career to those lines. In 1884, he acquired a proprietary interest in The Spectator, which has long been recognized as the most successful and influential insurance journal published, while The Spectator Company, of which Mr. Elliott was successively Treasurer. Vice-President and for twenty years President, has earned a world-wide reputation as publishers of standard insurance text-books and insurance literature of every kind. On relinquishing the presidency of the company, he disposed of his interest in the business to his associates, but still continues a member of the Board of Directors.

Mr. Elliott has been actively associated with many philanthropic and educational movements both in Scotland and America. As Chairman of the American Executive Committee, in 1906, he organized and directed the movement in the United States which raised a large proportion of the money for the purchase of Carlyle’s House, Chelsea, London, and has been a member of the Carlyle House Memorial Trust since its foundation. When it was proposed to endow a chair of Scottish History in the University of Glasgow, he promptly organized an American Committee, through which a generous contribution was secured toward its foundation. A characteristic benefaction was Mr. Elliott’s gift of $2,500 to found the Laurence Hutton Prize Fund at Princeton University. Mr. Hutton, who was of Scotch descent, for nearly half a century filled a unique place in the literary and social life of New York, and rounded out his career as a lecturer on English literature in Princeton. Endeared to everyone who knew him, Laurence Hutton was the intimate friend of Mr. Elliott, who by the unusual act of providing a scholarship to another ‘s memory has paid a tribute at the same time to Scotch worth, and to the noblest sentiment of friendship.

Mr. Elliott, in 1908, was elected President of the Glasgow-Dumfriesshire Society, an old association composed of distinguished men of Border ancestry residing mainly in Glasgow, and of which he has been a life member for many years. He is a life member of the St. Andrew’s Society of New York, and for a number of years served as Vice-President and a Manager. He is also a life member of the American Geographical Society, the American Museum of Natural History, and of the New York Zoological Society. He is a member of the New York Chamber of Commerce, the Metropolitan Museum of Art; also of the Metropolitan Club, the Grolier Club, the Players’ Club, and the Pilgrims of America.

Mr. Elliott has for more than twenty years occupied apartments on Fifth Avenue, New York, where he is surrounded by a choice collection of rare books and many other treasures. He has a large circle of friends, both in this country and abroad, usually spending the summer months in Scotland or elsewhere in Europe. A few years ago he made a journey around the world, which forms one of the most interesting and stirring experiences of his life. Though a loyal Scotchman, Mr. Elliott has long been a naturalized citizen of the United States.


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