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WESTERN UNION TELEGRAPH COMPANY

W2520 TO DR. CALVIN BROOKS MCQUESTEN from James Chisholm
Mar 7 1888
To: Dr. Calvin Brooks McQuesten New York
From: Hamilton

Isaac Died This Morning. Come At Once.1

[Signed] James Chisholm23


1 Isaac's death was attributed to alcohol and a sleeping draught. Mary found him unconscious in the library about midnight and Dr. Mullin was summoned. Although he regained consciousness for a brief time he did not survive. There were many rumours circulating at the time, especially since the death was accompanied by bankruptcy, but whether it was suicide or accident is impossible to establish, and he was given an elaborate and honourable funeral. There were conflicting reports as to the cause of death. The Globe obituary, March 8, 1888 stated:

Your reporter was walking with the deceased gentleman last evening and he was in the best of health and spirits and spoke freely of the future and of his increasing law business. The deceased was taken ill at his home about midnight, and although two physicians were in constant attendance upon him, he never rallied, but died about 9 o'clock this morning. Death is attributed to disease of the heart.

The identity of the "reporter" is unknown. Dr. Fletcher, in his sermon at MacNab Street Presbyterian Church on March 12, 1888, stated: "During his illness--for it is not generally known, he suffered from congestion of the lungs--he spoke to his pastor affectionately and earnestly of spiritual things."

We have discovered a rather poignant indication of Isaac's preoccupation with death and suicide in a book of his entitled: Responsibility in Mental Illness (London, 1874). The book is neatly underlined, presumably by Isaac. One passage so highlighted reads, "let him then suppose it to be no dream, but conceive himself to be overwhelmed by the horrible nightmare day after day, and to be, as he surely would be, incapable of the hope of relief; what cry would then suffice to express his agony and despair save the cry of supreme agony, "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?"--what act save an act of suicide? (240). (This passage came to light when Whitehern's library was being sorted and packaged to be sent out for deacidification and buffering).

For more on Isaac's dependency on alcohol and various medications and stimulants, see W2511, W-MCP2-4.029. For information of the treatment of drug addiction between 1883-1990 see Box 15-007.


2 James Chisholm (1858-1944), Isaac's junior law partner, handled Isaac's estate and tried to salvage what he could from the bankruptcy that resulted from Isaac's involvement in the mill at Hespeler (W2652). He also assisted Mary with any legal matters (Best 5). He managed to preserve a few investments, the home, "Whitehern," and the Bold Street Houses, which were badly in need of repair but were rented out several years later when they could be repaired (W4425). Isaac had had the forethought to place Whitehern in trust for Mary. When the estate was settled, Isaac's assets were $9,000, and his liabilities $900,000. His brother Calvin's losses were $80,000, and even the estate of Mary's father had been depleted (he died in 1887).

For the future, Mary's income would be approximately $1700 per year, with which she had to maintain Whitehern and raise her six children, who were between the ages of thirteen and two when Isaac died (W4544).

Chisholm also gave some financial assistance to Tom for his university education ($100) mentioned once only. He also became a mentor for Tom, and took him in as a junior law partner in 1909 (W4544, W6458). In 1928, when Chisholm was seventy years old, he gave Mary a substantial gift of money, see W-MCP2-4.089 (DHB3.33).

Chisholm married Anne M. Stewart in 1889, she died of tuberculosis in 1890. They had no children and he never remarried. He devoted his life to law, the MacNab Church, where he was treasurer for 25 years, the Liberal party and the 91st Highlanders (Argyll and Sutherland). He and his partner Alexander Logie (W4759) (and others) had worked relentlessly between 1880 and 1903 to establish the Highland Regiment in which they served during WWI. He was a member of the Scottish Rite. Chisholm lived at 77 Claremont Dr. and became a Hamilton character, seen daily, an "amazingly alert soldierly figure with his cane, swinging along" to the Hamilton Club or to the Armories (DHB3.28-DHB3.33, W2520, W1644, W1656, W2511, W2711, W4385, W4415, W4479, W4535, W4544, W4549, W4601, W4744, W4759, W4803, W4835, W4977, W5142, W5313, W5636, W5691, W5788, W5794, W5876, W5908, W5932, W6028, W6135, W6458, W6495, W6460, W6630, W6660, W6726, W6769, W6801, W6898, W6905, W7085, W7103, W8212, W9180).

See Box 10-002 for an newpaper article commemorating his life and achievements. The article, written after his death in 1944, was likely published in the Hamilton Spectator.


3 Four more telegrams were sent by parties who had received notification of Isaac's death and were likely responding to requests for their presence to act as pallbearers. All dated March 8, 1888. Two were from the CANADIAN PACIFIC RAILWAY COMPANY TELEGRAPH CO. and two from THE GREAT NORTH WESTERN TELEGRAPH COMPANY OF CANADA

[TELEGRAM NO. 1]
Terms and Conditions --All Messages are received by this Company for transmission, subject to the terms and conditions printed on their Blank form No.2, which terms and conditions have been agreed to by the sender of the following message. This is an unrepeated message, and is delivered by request of the sender under these conditions.
No. 10 sent by Lon Recd by R Check 23 paid
Time 1100 March 8th 1888, From Toronto, Ont. 8
To James Chrisholm
Convey to Mrs. McQueston assurance of my sincere sympathy in her loss & say I will be present tomorrow and act as desired
J Alex Mackenzie



[TELEGRAM NO. 2] No.9 Sent by WN Recd by R Check 6 paid
Time 1100 8th 1888
From Toronto Ont 8
To Jas Chisholm
31 James St
Will come tomorrow with deep regret
WN & Vandersmissen



[TELEGRAM NO. 3]
THE GREAT NORTH WESTERN TELEGRAPH COMPANY OF CANADA
Operating the lines of the Montreal Dominion and Manitoba Telegraph Companies This Company transmits and delivers messages only on conditions limiting its liability, which have been assented to by the sender of the following message. Errors can be guarded against only by repeating a message back to the sending station for comparison, and the Company will not hold itself liable for errors or delays in transmission or delivery of unrepeated messages, beyond the amount of tolls paid thereon, nor in any case. This is an unrepeated message, and is delivered by request of the sender, under the conditions named above.
H.P. DWIGHT, General Manager ERASTUS WIMAN, President
Money orders by telegraph between principal telegraph offices in Canada and the United States
TELEGRAM
to: Mrs Buchanan
No. 45 Check 3.3 pd
95 James ST, South
Recd No From: B Sent by: U Recd by: N Time: 1120
Mch 8 1888
rom: Pittsburg Pa 8
Am shocked to hear of Issac McQueston [sic]sudden death please have a nice floral emblem sent from harris & me and assure Miss McQueston of our sincere sympathy regret we cannot attend funeral.
J.L. Buchanan

[TELEGRAM NO. 4] THE GREAT NORTH WESTERN TELEGRAPH COMPANY OF CANADA Operating the lines of the Montreal Dominion and Manitoba Telegraph Companies
This Company transmits and delivers messages only on conditions limiting its liability, which have been assented to by the sender of the following message. Errors can be guarded against only by repeating a message back to the sending station for comparison, and the Company will not hold itself liable for errors or delays in transmission or delivery of unrepeated messages, beyond the amount of tolls paid thereon, nor in any case. This is an unrepeated message, and is delivered by request of the sender, under the conditions named above.
H.P. DWIGHT, General Manager, ERASTUS WIMAN, President
Money orders by telegraph between principal telegraph offices in Canada and the United States
TELEGRAM
To: James Chisholm No. 16 Check 20 Pd, Barrister
Recd No: 23 From: N Sent by: Ag Recd by: W Time: 1030
Mch 8 1888, From: Toronto Ont 8
I shall be with you on Friday please convey to Miss McQuesten our sympathy for her in her bereavement
C. Dickson




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Copyright 2002 Whitehern Historic House and Garden
The development of this website was directed by Mary Anderson, Ph.D. and Janelle Baldwin, M.A.
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