MATTHEW T. SCOTT,
CONTRIBUTED BY HON. A. E. STEVENSON, OF BLOOMINGTON, ILL.
Matthew T. Scott, a member
of the Scotch-Irish Society, died at his home, in Bloomington, Ill., May
21, 1891. Ho was born in Lexington, Ky., February 24, 1828; was the fourth
son of the late Matthew T. Scott, Sr., for many years President of the
Northern Bank of Kentucky, and one of the most eminent financiers of his
The Scott family was of
Scotch-Irish stock, and emigrated to this country in colonial times,
settling first in Now Jersey. They were a prolific race, and their
descendants became scattered in the surrounding States. It is from a
Pennsylvania branch that the subject of this paper came. His ancestors and
relatives of the Revolutionary generation showed the love of liberty and
manly spirit which is characteristic of the Scotch-Irish race, by serving
in the continental armies during the war for independence. The later
generations have, wherever found, occupied the highest social positions,
and been distinguished for force of character and integrity, and for
ability in the professions or business they followed.
Mr. Scott himself was a
noble representative of the vigorous intellect, the sterling moral
qualities, and the manly, generous, self-reliant nature which seems to be
hereditary in the Scotch-Irish people, from which his family sprung.
Mr. Scott was descended
from the old Covenantor hero, Robert Scott, a member of the Lower House of
the old Scottish Parliament—who lived in the latter part of the tenth
century, and fought at tho battle of Bothwell Briggs for the covenant and
the crown. He subsequently opposed the union of the crowns, in consequence
of the ignoring of the Scottish crown and name in the new Parliament of
Great Britain. For this offense, he with others of the two Houses of the
old Parliament, suffered in the Tower of London, with risk of their heads,
until released by an amnesty of George I. when he was brought over from
Hanover to take the throne as a descendant of the Stuarts. Robert Scott
and his friend, the Earl of Belhaven, a member of the Upper House of the
old Parliament, emigrated in disgust to the north of Ireland.
John Scott, the eldest son
of the old Covenanter exile, emigrated to Pennsylvania; and his oldest
son, Matthew, married at Carlisle, Pa., Betsy Thompson, daughter of
William Thompson, who was commissioned colonel in the revolutionary army
June 25, 1775, and promoted brigadier-general March 1, 1776.
The subject of this sketch
was educated at Center College, Kentucky, graduating from that institution
in 1846. He soon after removed to Illinois, and by judicious investments
and prudent business management laid the foundation for subsequent
success. At the time of his death he was one of the largest landed
proprietors in the State. In his early manhood he foresaw, as did few of
his cotemporaries, the great future of Illinois. He was the proprietor of
the village of Chenoa (a name synonymous with Kentucky), in Central
Illinois, and its present prosperity is in a large measure due to his
foresight and liberality.
In the highest sense Mr.
Scott was a man of integrity; in the loftiest sense a man of personal
honor. Faithful to every obligation, he was incapable of an ignoble act.
He was eminently a just man, possessing in a marked degree the sturdy
characteristics of his Scotch-Irish ancestors. His principle in action
was: "For justice, all place a temple, and all season, summer." Courteous
to all with whom he came in contact, he was the highest type of the old
Declining the nomination
tendered him by his party for Congress, he chose the quiet of homo rather
than the turmoil of political life. He was profoundly interested, however,
in public affairs, and in his advocacy of what he believed the right "he
took counsel ever of his courage, never of his fears."
Mr. Scott was the founder
and for many years the proprietor of the Bulletin, the leading Democratic
paper of Central Illinois. He was one of the originators, the chief
promoter, and principal owner of the extensive coal mines of Bloomington,
to which that city is largely indebted for its present prosperity.
A discriminating friend
says of him: "During a series of years it was ray fortune to be thrown
into the most intimate association with Matthew T. Scott. As memory
recalls the unclouded brotherhood in which we walked, the many aspects in
which his strong and ardent spirit disclosed itself, I am impressed afresh
with the robustness and vigor of his nature, with the tenderness and
fidelity of his loving heart. By nature and habit he was a man of affairs,
By nature and habit he was a man of an abounding wealth of affection. The
yearning for love was as constant a characteristic as was that redundant
vitality of brain which required the stimulus of large business interests.
"No burden of care and no
strain of fatigue wore adequate to weigh down and repress the tides of
sweet and tender affection which were ever flowing spontaneously from the
full and inexhaustible spring within his bosom. No point in his character
differentiated him in a more striking way from numbers of men whom I have
known, than the union—singular in its degree and constancy —of rugged
strength with depth and sweetness of affection. The interplay of these
forces was continuous, their fires always aglow, their light and warmth
irradiating all his waking hours.
"Another marked feature was
his utter hatred of all duplicity. He hated a lie as an embodied deviltry.
He never met with illegitimate pretension without an instinctive impulse
to unmask it, to pursue it, to stone it out of existence. The intensity of
this feeling often gave to his countenance and speech an aspect of
austerity which might easily be mistaken for unkindness, yet the world
would be a far safer place to live in if more of this heaven-born fire
dwelt in the souls of the children of men.
"Mr. Scott was a man of
scholarly tastes, and possessed a very rare gift for the mastery of
languages. Had his whole time and strength been given from his youth to
that department of study, he would have made one of our most erudite
linguists. Or he would have made a superb statistician. Or once more, as a
working member of the Senate of the United States he would on all
questions of finance have risen to deserved eminence.
"He rises now before my
vision in the prime of his manhood, as one of the most robust, vitalized,
brotherly, and generous men that I have known on this earth."
Mr. Scott was married in
May, 1859, to Miss Julia Green, daughter of Rev. Lewis W. Green, D.D.,
President of Center College, Kentucky. His was indeed a happy marriage;
his home was the abode of refinement and generous hospitality. Many who in
the years gone by have been guests at his fireside have heard with sorrow
that he is no more. Mr. Scott was a devoted member and steadfast supporter
of the Second Presbyterian Church of the city of Bloomington, and the
trusted friend and counselor of its pastor, Rev. Dr. Dinsmore.
Leaving a stainless record,
he passed to his grave followed in sorrow by almost the entire community
with whom his lot had been east. He sleeps in the beautiful cemetery near
the city he loved, his grave covered with flowers by those to whom he had
in life been a friend and benefactor. Courageous in life, for him death
had no terrors.
"Without a sigh, a feature
changed, or a shaded smile, he gave his hand to the stern messenger, and
as a glad child seeks its father's arms, went home."