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The Scotch-Irish in America
Proceedings of the Third Congress at Louisville
Matthew T. Scott, Bloomington, Ill.


MATTHEW T. SCOTT, BLOOMINGTON, ILL.
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 day.

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 school gentleman.

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."


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