Traveling to International Falls in 2000 and 2001 was to meet my cousin who was 87 years old. I did spend a lot of wonderful hours with her and she told me great stories about the McDonald’s. Now I was very new to genealogy back then but I was learning real fast.
On my first visit there in 2000, the Koochiching County Historical Society was closed for renovation. So I learned a valuable lesson and that is to always call or email an archive or society before you go to verify hours and to make sure they are going to be open.
The second time I visited was June of 2001. I wrote a nice letter to the Koochiching County Historical Society well in advance of my visit. I was just learning about my family so I wrote as detailed a letter as I could at the time. I had a lot of questions. A few examples included my grandfather Ronald S. McDonald and his term(s) as Commissioner of the town. I also asked about my great Uncle Jack McDonald and his time as mayor of the town. This way when I arrived I would be able to jump right in and seek the information I needed.
The Director, at the time, had no interest in my research. He led me to the basement of the society and I spent most of my time trying to make sense out of the mess. He pretty much left me to fend for myself which I prefer but it was difficult to find things. Frankly, I really don’t think he read my letter. It was unfortunate. I know that the Koochiching County Historical Society assists others in research for I have seen their references in other sources. It didn’t stop me from digging further.
What turned out to be a gold mine was the International Falls Public Library which was just down the street. A librarian in that library had started a newspaper clipping file. Among those files I found obituaries, other articles on my family and more. Always check out the local library for you never know what you will find. Sometimes it is a good resource and other times it is not. In this case it was great: http://www.internationalfallslibrary.us/
Of course you have to stop in at the Koochiching County Courthouse which is right there on the town square. I visited them for the birth records of my family and later for the deeds (land records). This was my first time in a courthouse and it was a great experience. They were all very helpful. http://www.co.koochiching.mn.us/
While there I had learned that my great uncles, grandfather Ronald’s brothers, had been fireman. So my hubby and I visited the local fire department there in International Falls which is also on the town square and had a wonderful time talking to the fireman. They gave us coffee (hmm…maybe some cookies?) and a book on their history. Of course my family is in that book.
http://www.ci.international-falls.mn.us/dp-fire.html See new link below.
FIREMAN BOOK: “Proud Traditions: A History in Words and Photos of International Falls – Fire Fighters 1900-1994 – Protecting Life and Property.”
This booklet is compiled from newspaper articles from the various International Falls newspapers and lots of contributors like the Koochiching County Historical Society.
The sky was menacing as I recall in 2001 and there was a threat of a twister on the radio at the time, yet we still went out and had dinner. We went to the Spot Fire Restaurant for dinner. This restaurant had a museum of fireman memorabilia, photos and actual restored fire trucks. My great uncles were listed on the wall there. We had a nice chat and tour with the owner. The food was delicious! The website seems to be gone. I hope it is still there?
Don’t forget to check out the visitors information center in a city you are visiting. They have a lot of good information, maps and more to help you with getting around and familiar with an area: City of International Falls
I have great memories of International Falls and my time there.