Rueben H. Nelson
Comments and Notes
Jennewein-Murthly Castle Slides and Prints

The 8 slides and 5 prints forewarded herewith are copies of ones taken by J. Leonard Jennewein of Dakota Weslyian University, Mitchell, So. Dak. and his daughter, Sylvia, during a visit to Scotland in July, 1965.

The views are of Murthly Castle, the surrounding grounds in Birnam Wood on the slopes of Birnam Hill, which lies on the south bank of the River Tay. These estates lie in the entail of Murthly and Grandtully in central Scotland. The castle is the ancestral home of the Stewart and Drummond families and was the home of Sir William Drummond Stewart who figured in the history of the Far West from about 1832 to 1842. It was to Murthly Castle he retired with a tremendous collection of animals and artifacts secured during his American travels. On at least one extended trip he employed as his personal artist, Alfred Jacob Miller, who traveled with Sir William in the field and who went to Murthly Castle in 1839 to execute several huge oil paintings from his field notes, sketches, and water colors. This assignment occupied his time into 1841. In addition, Sir William brought over to serve as Gamekeeper for the American animals, his French-Indian hunting companion, the Mountain Man, Antoine Clement, who thus became the celebrated Mountain man in kilts! This Antoine Clement later returned to the Far West and is supposed to have been present at the shooting of Bear's Rib or Bear Ribs near Fort Pierre. In fact the dying Chief is supposed to have slid out of the saddle into the arms of Clement, his friend, and to have died in Clement's arms. Antoine Clement is also considered to be the common ancestor of the large Indian family called "Claymore," many members of which have been leaders in thier communities both on and off the reservations.

Leland Case was once very much interested in the story of Bear's Rib, who was named Chief of all the Sioux by "White Hat" Harney. On one of Mr. Case's visits to Huron, So. Dak. I arranged for him to have a long interview John Claymore with whom I was very friendly. John, the most Indian looking of Indians, had been a successful businessman for over 30 years in So. Dak. As early as 1917 he was running a bank at Broadland, So. Dak. within a hundred miles of where some of the last Indian fighting had taken place only 27 years before. I have not heard from John in some 10 years now, so I suppose, that he must have passed over. I regret the loss of contact for I had a few very fine trips with him into the "Indian country" in the years from 1947 through 1953. John Claymore's father was one of the Indian leaders sentenced to be hung for the Little Crow Uprising, however his sentence was one of those commuted by President Lincoln. John as youngman knew all the oldtimers, like the Riggs', Dr. Eastman, Doane Robinson, Basil Claymore, etc.

But, now to the slides and prints----

Slide #1

Print #1 J. Leonard Jennewein at the back gate to Murthly Castle.

Slide #2 Groundkeeper's Cottage. It was through the occupant of this cottage that Sylvia was able to mannuver admission at least to the rear area, after Leonard had been unable to gain entry through the front gate. This area is apparently also called Birnam Wood.

Slide #3 Drive-way leading to the grounds immediately to the rear of the castle.

Slide #4 Another drive-way leading off from the one shown in #3. This leads to the park like areas where the Far West animal s were displayed. It was with these animals that Antoine Clement was to work when he came in 1838 or 39 to Grandtully to range in Birnam Wood on the slopes of Birnam Hill--- a Mountain Man in kilts coursing the southern bank of the River Tay in the Scotish Highlands Gad! What a picture that must have been!

Slide #5

Print #2 Murthly Castle! At least the back yard!

Slide #6

Print #3 One of the two ornately carved "buffalo chairs" located in a side room just off from the main hall. These chairs are claimed to be decorated with the actual horns, hoofs, and part of the hides of two of the buffalo that Sir William brought from America. Even Clement's knowledge could not help them to survive in the strange enviornment.

Slide #7

Print #4 One of the large oil paintings hanging in the main hall of the castle. According to Jennewein's daughter there were several of these large paintings. It is my understanding that they are supposed to be Alfred Jacob Miller originals, painted during his residence at the Castle from 1839 on into 1841.

Comparison with the illustrations in De Voto's "Across the Wide Missouri" is good. The two central figures look like Miller's sketches of Sir William, or Captain Stewart as he was commonly called, and of Antoine Clement.

It was unfortunte that Jennewein did not have adequate lighting equipement with him for the job at hand. It is even more unfortunate that I only once talked about this incident with Leonard and then very briefly. He was never able to send me the long letter that he was planning. I am unaware of the existence of detailed notes, but knowing Leonard, I would not be surprised if notes do come to light someday.

The misfortune is compounded when one considers that it now appears possible that there might be some qusetion about just which paintings these are. Sylvia tells me that her father seemed very excited about the paintings at the time, but she can recall nothing definite about his remarks. While there were other paintings which were photographed, only this one "came out".

Sylvia recalls that the present "Laird", as Jennewein called him, mentioned that the paintings had never been photographed before. My reason for "wonering out loud" is that DeVoto, both in his text and in his detailed notes relating the final chapter of his "Across the Wide Missouri" at least creates the impression that the Miller oils painted at Murthly Castle were "scattered" after Sir William's death in 1871. DeVoto seems to go to some pains to report the 1947 location of these paintings without ever indicating that any of them remained in the castle. DeVoto states that after Sir William's death the paintings and other personal property were inherited by his adopted son, Francis Nichols Stewart (also known as Francis Rice Nichols), and that the paintings were sold under his name.

Of course, Sir Archibald Douglas Stewart, who inherited the estates and the title, could have bought some of the Miller oils, but if he did, it is odd that De Voto did not mention it.

So, we have a question--- of what are Slide #7 an Print #4 pictures?

It certainly looks like a Miller-- the details of the two central figures that compare most favorably with the plates in De Voto's book showing Miller's detailed sketches of Sir William's and Antoine's heads.

Slide #8

Print #5 The current (1965) "Laird" of Grandtully with Jennewein.

According to Leonard's daughter, Sylvia, who took the picture, the old gentleman, a bachelor and the last of his line, is quite deaf, and somewhat of a recluse who as a rule discourages visitors. It is claimed that once a year he goes into a nearby city, rents a hotel and fulfills his social obligations by entertaining at the hotel for a month, after which he returns to Birnam Wood and will have no visitors.

Here again-- no firm information. Who is this man? Is he the son, the grandson, or some other relative of Sir Archibald Douglas Stewart, Sir William's younger brother, who in 1871 inherited the entail of Murthly and Grandtully, the title, and the estates?

He certainly is a fine figure of a man. Notice how precisely controlled, yet somehow at ease, he stands in his kilts. Jennewein's daughter told me that while he seemed to be a "crusty" old fellow, he was very gracious.

It was while the Jenneweins were talking with the Groundskeeper in the back of the castle that the "Laird" made his appearance. At first at a window, then a little later he came outside. After some difficulty due to his deafness, the old gentleman became aware that they were from the American West. At this he seemed to become interested particularily when he found that they knew a great deal about the Far Western journeys of Sir William. He at last invited them into the main hall and into the side room in which were located the "buffalo chairs".

Well, there you have the extent of my notes and comments. This may all be "old hat" to you. If it is I am sorry for having wasted your time. On the other hand if you have any information about Murthly Castle and the Miller paintings, I would like to hear about it.

Again, the neophyte with his questions---

1. Did you know Bernard DeVoto personally?

Was he an interesting conversationalist?

It is my understanding the DeVoto wrote "western stories" under another name-- was it Peter Dawson?

2. Do you know Milton Lott? I note that in writing "Dance Back the Buffalo" he used, with your permission, some material from your book "When the Tree Flowered".

Has he written other material on the West?

3. Do you know if Leland Case ever wrote anything more on Bear Ribs?