Tara Beery, Board Member of the Highland County Historical Society, recently self-published “‘My Very Dear Sam:’ A Biography of the Scott Family and an Exploration of Hillsboro Society 1880-1885. Based on letters written by members of the Scott family, Beery researched people, places and events in the 1880s and shared his findings to paint a vivid picture of life in Hillsboro during that time. period focusing on William Scott, his wife Elizabeth and their children. Jeanne and Samuel.
Originally, Beery said she started working on the project to get more information about the people Elizabeth Scott mentioned in her letters.
“I collect Hillsboro artifacts and Hillsboro related items,” Beery said. “A few years ago I was able to purchase a series of letters that Elizabeth Scott wrote to her son Samuel. They lasted from 1880 to 1885. It was really interesting for me. I couldn’t figure out who a lot of people were, so I started to research.
According to Beery, Elizabeth “gossiped a lot about the townspeople,” talking about a man getting drunk in Paris or a couple secretly marrying and then divorcing later.
“I looked for who all the people were, and it just got more and more interesting,” Beery said. “We have surprising depth for our ancestors in Hillsboro.”
Beery said she uses local history books, such as those written by Elsie Ayres, and other local resources, as well as researching online databases such as Ancestry.com and journals.com. Beery compiled his research in book form, sharing all the Scott family letters in his possession and then annotating them.
“I copied the letters directly, so I have the actual letters in the book, and then I highlighted any names, places or events that I could find information about,” Beery said. “Then, after the letter, I talk about people or events. ”
The resulting book is one that she believes will be a good resource for local historians as it shares information about personality traits and events in the life of the Scott family.
“The book begins with a story of the Scott family, which consists of four people and a woman the son married,” Beery said. “They also have a very interesting story, I think.”
Patriarch of the Scott family, William, was orphaned at the age of 9, Beery said, but later became a successful lawyer.
“He had a wealthy benefactor who helped him and established himself,” she said.
Scott started the “family business” – which Beery said was primarily investments – while working as a banker and lawyer.
“He made most of their money by lending money, buying and selling land and being an entrepreneur,” Beery said.
While the Scots were certainly wealthy in their own right, Beery joked that their wealth was pale compared to that of William’s wife Elizabeth’s family.
“His father was the richest man in Columbus,” Beery said. “His brother became the first millionaire to live in Columbus. When he died in the 1890s, it was worth the equivalent of $ 250 million today. Her children were married in royalty.
“The Scott family was wealthy by Hillsboro standards, but to the rest of the family, they were underground cousins in the countryside. The rest of the family were wealthy in every way.
Elizabeth was well known in the community as a member of various social groups, as well as participating in the first march of the local Women’s Christian Temperance Union movement. She was also appreciated in the community for her “extremely charitable” character and Beery said that when Elizabeth died she was the subject of three front page press articles commemorating her.
“Most people, even though they’re really important in Hillsboro, it’s wild – they’re barely mentioned when they’re dead,” Beery said of his research. “There will be an obituary, but she has three. Everyone was mourning her loss because she was so generous.
Despite their mother’s generosity to community members, Beery said her children apparently did not follow her example. Her daughter, Jane, was worth the modern equivalent of $ 10 million when she died, and she never married or had children.
“We don’t know anything about Jane Scott except that she hasn’t spent her money,” Beery said. “She’s a mystery.”
On the other hand, Beery has plenty of stories to tell about the Scott’s son Samuel Parsons Scott, whom she found “interesting” although he doesn’t sound too likable.
According to Beery, Samuel attended the University of Miami and became a lawyer, but suffered from hay fever and “really played that.” Beery said he would travel to different areas, using his hay fever as an excuse.
“His mother begged him to do something with his life in a few letters,” Beery said.
In the 1880s Samuel was forced to take over the family business, eventually becoming president of First National Bank in Hillsboro. When the bank went bankrupt in 1896, things got “pretty ugly,” Beery said.
“In the end, Samuel Scott was made responsible for a lot of money he had to pay to the bank’s creditors,” she said. “He didn’t take it well. He kind of cut himself off from society and entered his studies.
“He had published newspaper articles in the early 1880s, mainly on trips he had made to Spain. He then wrote a book on the history of Spain. It was fairly well received. After his bank closed, he wrote another book.
According to Beery, Samuel had “a huge library” with around 8,000 volumes, because academia was his apparent passion.
“It was at a time that books weren’t cheap,” Beery added.
Beery said that Samuel wrote another history of Spain, set at a different time than his previous work, and then began to translate “the old law”, such as Roman and Byzantine law, which no one ‘had translated before.
“These are boring, boring stuff,” Beery said. “It was not very well received. He didn’t seem to care. Some of his works were considered “not too bad”, and others were judged harshly, that he had not made a good enough translation.
“The translation they were toughest about was called ‘The Civil Law’, and it was 17 volumes. It was a huge undertaking that no one else would do, but he did. He just liked it.
Although Samuel Scott has had a long career – with both high points and very low moments – Beery said he was perhaps best known for writing a “hateful will” with harsh words against his wife. (also named Elizabeth).
“He got married when he was older, but it didn’t go well, maybe because his bank went bankrupt six months after his marriage,” she said. “It’s a difficult start. In his will there is a famous line [about his wife] that “because of the insults, the outrages, the cruelty, the disgrace and the humiliation which she constantly and without reason, during all my life, piled on me, she absolutely does not deserve my generosity “.
Beery said Samuel was worth the equivalent of $ 17 million when he died, but left the majority of his estate to Thomas Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia.
“The reason was a chance encounter with one of their former students who had apparently ‘cured’ his hay fever,” Beery said. “It was like going up and burning the nasal cavities.
“Samuel used his ‘hay fever’ as an excuse not to work. His mom took good care of him. Then, when he’s forced to come home because his father can’t handle the money anymore, all of a sudden he is “healed”, right before he comes back to Hillsboro.
Beery said Samuel’s wife eventually got the multi-million dollar equivalent and continued to live in the Scott House until his death in the 1940s, dividing her time between this residence and a house in Columbus. However, since Samuel and his wife did not have children, Beery said that “no one is left of their branch” of Scott’s family tree. This is partly why she wanted to deepen the history of their family.
“There have been incorrect impressions of them,” Beery said of the Scott family. “Everyone knows Maison Scott – and rightly so – but I wanted to know who these people were. They delivered.
“I love them. I think I would have hated Samuel a little in real life, but it’s wonderful to research and read about him. It’s one thing that’s great about the history of Hillsboro. name I was able to find information about had a good story.
The book “‘My Very Dear Sam'” contains “just over 150 pages,” and in addition to the Scott family, Beery said there were entries on other notable residents of Hillsboro. This includes information about Reverend George Beecher – nephew of author Harriet Beecher Stowe – and Caspar Collins, a Native American killed soldier who became the namesake of Casper, Wyoming. However, Beery said he found “good stories” about many people, even those called “servants” in the letters.
For Pioneer Day, Beery said she will be doing various jobs throughout the day as a volunteer for the Historical Society, but she looks forward to speaking to anyone who wants to learn more about the Scots during the event.
“The connection with the book and Pioneer Day is mainly to give a good story of the Scott family,” Beery said. “I don’t claim to have it perfect, but it’s more comprehensive than any other Hillsboro history book.
“I’d love to tell people about it or debate – how much of a jerk was Samuel? Did his wife deserve it?
Limited copies of the Scott de Beery family biography are available at the Highland House Museum for $ 20, with the proceeds going to the Historical Society.
In addition to the history of the Scott family, Beery has previously self-published a booklet on Civil War store maps, also provided to the Historical Society.
“They were little tokens that looked like pennies issued during the Civil War,” Beery said. “People were accumulating coins and there was no reliable paper money, so some companies just started to release coins. I have discussed the companies that issue tokens.
Currently, Beery is also working on the story of Dr TW Roberds, a doctor from Belfast who served as Highland County coroner, based on a log of his coroner’s cases. She said she also began researching Hillsboro Women’s Colleges in the mid-1800s and early 1900s for another project.
“It’s just fascinating, the depth of character and experience of the Hillsboro natives,” Beery said.
For more information on Pioneer Day, visit: https://highlandcountypress.com/Content/In-The-News/In-The-News/Article/Highland-County-Historical-Society-announces- return-of-Pioneer- Day-event-August-14/2/20/69841.