Miriam, Keith’s sister, writes in her notes that her father Ronald was born in Chapeau, Quebec in 1866. His parents were Archibald and Mary MacDonell. Ronald learned about the lumber business growing up on the Upper Ottawa River and came to Minnesota where he started working for the Backus & Brooks Lumber Co.
Grand Rapids, Minnesota was not very big in the early 1900′s and according to the public librarian, via an email to me, there was no business school at that time. It is more likely that R.S. got his business education in either Duluth or Minneapolis.
Miriam goes on to say that Ronald knew how to cruise, to survey and to build logging roads. As a superintendent he would have been very involved in setting up lumber camps and getting the lumber out.
At the end of the notes she writes: “He surveyed and platted International Falls.”
All of the previous comments are true. However, the statement about the plating is still be to be proven. In order to determine the truth of this family story I made a visit to the Koochiching County Courthouse in 2001. A study of the plat maps for the city did not reveal any evidence that Ronald was involved. His name was not on the maps.
A time line of events for the history of International Falls is needed:
“Although the International Falls area was well-known to explorers, missionaries and voyagers as early as the 1600s, it was not until April 1895 the community was platted by a teacher and preacher L. A. Ogaard for the Koochiching Company and named the community Koochiching. The word “Koochiching” comes from either Ojibwe word Gojijiing or Cree Kocicīhk, both meaning “at the place of inlets,” referring to the neighboring Rainy Lake and River. The European inhabitants gave the names Rainy Lake and Rainy River to the nearby bodies of water because of the mist-like rain present at the falls where the lake flowed into the river.
On August 10, 1901, the village was incorporated and two years later its name was changed to International Falls in recognition of the river’s role as a border between the United States and Canada. It was incorporated as a city in 1909.”
From Wikipedia the free encyclopedia online April 3, 2010.
More detail is provided by the book: History of Koochiching County, published by the Koochiching County Historical Society in 1983, pg. 35.
So did Ronald or R.S., take part in plating a city? It is not clear that he did but there is a possibility that he was greatly involved in many affairs of the city of International Falls as we shall see in future posts.