Alexander Thomas McDonald passes in 1955

November 22, 2012

I never met my great Uncle Alex.  He died with I was 7 years old and we did live quite a distance from each other.

Photo:  The following photograph is of Alexander visiting with his nephews, Keith is on the left and Gordon is in the middle.  This photo below is an interesting contrast between the photo of Keith as a little boy sitting on Alex’s knee for the Fireman’s conference in the post dated:  August 7, 2010 “Alexander Thomas McDonald, Fireman.”  Photo is probably circa 1930′s.  Keith was about 5 feet 5 inches so we can see that Alex was probably just a tad taller and solidly built.  The men may have been short but they were stocky in build.

Uncle Alex with Keith and Gordon

When I visited my cousin Mary, Alex’s niece, in 2000 and 2001 and she told me stories about Alexander.

Alex never married but he did have on occasion ladies he was fond of.  He used to go down to the Boston Cafe at the same time every day.  He was fond of Sadie Rule who worked there.  He also had fancy cars and use to take his girl Jean for drives. Jean was a nice lady. 

Sarah, her mother, used to have Alex over for Sunday dinners every week.  Alex lived with Mary for a time towards the end of his life when he started getting sick but he was too regimented a person and did not understand what life was like for a family.  Alex visited her in the hospital when she had her 2nd child and while he was sitting there he had a stroke (1952).  He died of pneumonia in 1955 with complications (throat cancer).”

In an article in the Fireman’s Centennial Book, International Falls, 1982 this appears:

“Gil” Louiseau retires 1982….Gil Louiseau retired from the International Falls fire department September 15, 1983 after serving 26 years…Gil’s wife Mary, is the former Mary McDonald, whose father Jack and Uncle Alex were early day fireman with the International Falls Fire Department. Uncle Alex served as relief driver and caretaker of the team of horses which were the only ‘horsepower’ the early day department had to haul the water wagon to fire locations within the city…”

Alex is mentioned on page 3 in the Volunteer Fireman listings of 1900-1992. On page 12 there is a photo of the horse team and both Alex and Jack are listed. On page 21 there is a picture of the firehouse were Alex was stationed.  

Falls Firemen 1917

Obituary found in the Daily Journal, International Falls, MN on November 4, 1955. This newspaper obituary notice was in the files of the Koochiching Public Library.

Alex McDonald, Falls Resident since 1904, Dies. Alex T. McDonald, 80, pioneer resident of International Falls, died late Thursday night at the Falls Nursing home, where he has made his home for several years. He had been confined to his bed for about a week. Born in Chichester, Que., November 25, 1874, he moved to Duluth in 1897. From there he came to International Falls in 1904 and has lived here since that time, except for a brief period spent in Western Canada. McDonald operated a dray line in the Falls for 11 years, and was city weighmaster from 1919 to 1947, a period of 28 years. He never married. A niece, Mrs. Gilbert Louiseau of the Falls, survives. Rosary service will be conducted at Green Mortuary Sunday evening at 8 o’clock. Requiem high mass at St. Thomas Catholic church is scheduled for 8:15 a.m. Monday. Interment will be in the family plot of St. Thomas cemetery. Funeral arrangements were made by Green Mortuary.

Alex’s death certificate states the following:

Alexander died at the County Nursing Home, 2 miles south of International Falls, Koochiching Co., Minnesota. Died Nov. 3, 1955, Male, white, never married, date of birth Nov. 25, 1874, age 80 years. City Weighmaster, ret’d, city employee. Born in Chichester, Quebec, Canada. Citizen of the USA. Father was Archibald McDonald and Mother was Mary McDonald. He did not serve in the US Armed forces, no SS#, informant was Mary C. Louiseau of Inter’l Falls. Died of pneumonia lober, 1.5 days. C. B. Will, M.D. Filed Nov. 22, 1955 by Registrar. Green Mortuary handled the arrangements.  Source:  Alexander T. McDonald, Certificate of Death #7718, Nov. 3, 1955 FHL#2139432.

Weighmaster definition: http://www.wisegeek.com/what-does-a-weighmaster-do.htm

Overview of the McDonald plot in St. Thomas Cemetery International Falls

Alex is buried with his father, mother, brother Jack and others in the family plot in the St. Thomas Cemetery in International Falls.  This cemetery is part of three cemeteries located east and south in the town of International Falls.  You will find a link on the right side of this blog to the Forest Hill Cemetery in International Falls where you will find a listing of burials for all three cemeteries.

Alex’s tombstone in St. Thomas Cemetery

NOTE:  Much to my frustration Alex’s birth is inconsistent and different dates are given on his tombstone, his death certificate, obit and from the St. Alphonsus Church records.  This is not unusual.  The question is which one is more reliable.  I think I lean toward the St. Alphonsus church records because the parents were alive at that time and knew the priest. The priest is still not directly involved in the actual birth but closer to the actual event. The parents are the ones who know the actual dates of birth but over time even they can forget.

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It is now time to behind International Falls and refocus on  R.S. (Ronald), my grandfather and his movements.  Remember that Ronald (R.S. ) left International Falls about 1915 and headed up to Grand Prairie, Alberta where he  established a store but lost it because a partner gambled it away.  The loss of the store was not the end of my grandfather’s troubles.  He was involved in a court case regarding about land in Koochiching County and I will share that in the next post.


Alex McDonald – 58 years in Minnesota!

November 11, 2012

Alexander Thomas McDonald spent 58 years of  his life living in Minnesota. He came down before his parents, Archie and Mary,  in 1897 and  lived in Duluth, Minnesota for a while.  I found an Alex McDonald in the city directories in Duluth, but it is difficult to know if that really was him?

Alex McDonald

I shared about Alexander Thomas McDonald the youngest son of Archibald and Mary McDonald in several previous posts:

1.  Archibald and Mary McDonald’s Children, dated March 20, 2011.  This post has the wonderful family photograph of the McDonald’s except for Angus the oldest brother.

2.  Alexander Thomas McDonald, Fireman, dated August 7, 2010.  There are several photos in this post showing Alex in his fireman’s uniform.  The 2nd photograph has Keith sitting on his knee.

3.  Archie & Mary’s Children:  Alexander Thomas McDonald, dated March 31, 2010 in which I share the birth of Alex and his record from the St. Alphonsus Church records.

Alex apparently decided to become Naturalized and applied for his Certificate of Intention #175 on 30 January 1905:

State of Minnesota, County of Itasca, Alex T. McDonald, appeared in the District Court of the 15th Judicial District for the State of Minnesota.  He was born in Canada about the year 1872 and emigrated to the United States an landed at the Port of Sault Ste. Marie on or about the month of November 1897.  It is Bona fide his intention to become a Citizen of the United States and renounce forever all fidelity to the Queen of Great Britain..whereof he is a subject, signed Alex T. McDonald, 21 November, 1898, I.D. Rassmussan, Clerk.  This is a true copy signed January 30, 1905, I.D. Rasmussan, Clerk.

Certificate of Intention

Source:  Declaration of Intention of Alex. T. McDonald, #175, County of Itasca, State of Minnesota, copy given to the compiler by his nephew.

Certificate of Citizenship, United States of America, District Court Co. of Itasca, State of Minnesota, Naturalization of Alex T. McDonald, 23rd day of Feb, 1905, Seal of the said Court on the 23rd day of Feb 1905, I.D. Rassmussen Clerk.

Source:  Certificate of Citizenship, Alex T. McDonald, Itasca County, Minnesota.  copy given to the compiler by his nephew.

Koochiching had not yet been established as a county and was part of Itasca County things were slowly developing in northern Minnesota at this time and it was difficult to get around until the train came.

The Minnesota State Census indicates that Alex was living in International Falls in 1905. If the information is correct Alex migrated to International Falls by 1899:

Line 8, McDonald, A. T., male, age 31, white, born in Canada, both parents born in Canada, 8 years in Minnesota, 6 yrs in the enumeration district, laborer.

Minnesota census

Source:  1905 Minnesota State Census, Village of International Falls, Twp. of Koochiching, County of Itasca, State of Minnesota, line 8, Sht #2, enumerated on June 1-20, 1905 by Harvey Gale, Minnesota Historical Society in St. Paul.

Note: Minnesota State Census went online at Ancestry.com a couple of years after I had done my research at the FHL and the Minnesota Historical Society in St. Paul in the census.

The U. S. Federal Census for 1910 is very interesting because Alex was listed as the head of the household. I was expecting Archibald to be head based on family stories.

12/14 – McDonald, Alex, head X, male, white, 34 years old single, born in Canada and also his parents were born in Canada.  Lived in this country 12 years, naturalized.  Speaks English, is a teamster and operates a dray line.  Nellie, sister, female, white, 38 years old single, born in Canada and parents too, 10 years in this country and not naturalized, no occupation given.  Archie, father, male, white, 80 years old, married, 49 years, born in Canada, parents born in Scotland, in this country 8 years, naturalized, speaks English, no occupation.  Mary, mother, female, white, 76 years old, married 49 years, 5 children of which 4 are living, born in Canada, parents born in Scotland, in this country 8 years, speaks English, no occupation.  All can read and write.

Source:  1910 U.S. Federal Census, Alex McDonald & Others, International Falls, Koochiching Co., Minnesota, SD#8, ED#92, enumerated April 15, 1910, National Archives, Pacific NW Region, Seattle, WA.

Jack and brother Alex in International Falls

Here Alex is buying lots 9 and 10 in block 53 in International Falls.  At this point I have no way to verify if this is the house that the family said was built by Archie?

Deed Record G pg. 38, The Koochiching Co. and Alexander T. McDonald on the 17th day of Sept. 1908 at 1 p.m.  Frank S. Spang, Register of Deeds.  On the 15th of April 1907 Alexander paid $500 for lots 9 and 10 in block 53 of International Falls.  Instrument no. C 327.

Source:  Deed Record Book G, pg. 38, Alexander T. McDonald, #C327, Koochiching County, Minnesota, from the Koochiching County Courthouse Call #38 C No. 327, September 14, 1908, 1 pm.

Alex later sold the lots on March 8, 1920 at 9 am to John McGivney for $2600.00, #25889, No. 39, pg. 121.

In the 1920 U.S. Federal Census Alex is rooming with another person:

Line 95, 4th and Second St., X/60/91, McDonald, Alex, Head, renting, male, white, age 46, single, years of immigration and naturalization unclear, not in school as of 1919, able to read and write, born in Canada, parents both born in Canada, native tongue English, able to speak English, occupation Driver, Fire Barn, working.  Line 96 at same address as Alex. Thomas, Arthur, boarder, male, mulatto, age 50, single, not in school as of 1919, able to read and write, born in Kansas, parents both in Kentucky, janitor, bank, working.

Source:  1920 U.S. Federal Census, City of International Falls, Co. of Koochiching, Minnesota, SD#8, ED#52, Ward #3, Vol. 41, pg. 4, Ancestry.com.

In review, things had changed greatly for Alex.  His sister Nellie was with Ronald (R.S.) helping with raising the six children in Cheney, Washington.  Archibald and Mary and both passed 8-9 years earlier.  John (Jack) his brother had a family and daughter to raise even though they were in the same city and lived not far from each other.

R.S. and brother Alex in Cheney 1924

During the 1920′s Alex headed west and visited his brother R.S. and sister Nellie.  He attended the wedding of his niece Vivian to Hilary McKanna in 1924.  Year’s later Vivian would ask her uncle to sign and affidavit to help her establish her birth date and location so she could obtain social security.  These two events will be covered in future posts.

The 1930 U.S. Census reveals that Alex is still in International Falls

Line 46, Alexander T. McDonald at City Hall #356, 460 under head lodger, Rents, personal property $20.00, he does not live on a farm, Male, White, 56 years old, Single, parents are Canadian-English and so is he. He immigrated to the U.S. in 1897 and is naturalized. His occupation is fireman at the City Fire Dept.. He is not a veteran. Alexander has listed under his name Bert Budde and Henry LeBlanc. I am familiar with these names and they are also listed as fireman with the City Fire Dept.

Source:  1930 U.S. Federal Census, International Falls, Koochiching Twp., and County, Dist #20, ED#36-20, SD #2, Sht #21A #139, dated April 16, 1930, Ancestry.com.


Jack McDonald succumbs – 1949

October 11, 2012

3rd version: Jack with his sibling and nieces

Here is another photograph like the ones I featured in the last post.  This time Jack has a straw hat on and he is standing in between his two siblings.

LtoR: Vivian, Nellie, Jack, R.S., Miriam.  If you study the photo and focus on Jack and R.S. you can see some resemblance.

Jack gave me quite a challenge regarding his death.  I could not find any evidence of his passing in the International Falls records.  I finally figured it out.  The reason was he died in Moose Lake, Carlton Co., Minnesota on the 11th of December 1949.

Carlton Co. at Moose Lake in the State Hospital. Residence was Koochiching Co., International Falls, 983 Sixth St. Length of stay in the hospital 9 mos, 8 days. Full name: John A. McDonald, male, white, married. Spouse Sarah McDonald, her age 76, Dated of his birth Jan. 14, 1869, he was 80 years 10 mos and 27 days. occupation: Janitor. Born in Chichester, Quebec, Canada. Father’s name Archibald McDonald, born in Canada. Mother maiden name Sarah McDonald born in Canada. Funeral Director – James F. Morine, Duluth, MN. Died December 11, 1949 – arteriosclerosis and senility etc.

Source:  Death Certificate, John A. McDonald, #1983, Reg. No. 155, Moose Lake, Carlton Co., Minnesota, Dec. 11, 1949, State of Minnesota Vital Statistics, Minnesota Historical Society Death Certificates.

Note:  The date given for his birth is Jan 14, 1869.  The St. Alphonsus Church records have January 3, 1869?  They also have Sarah as his mother and it should be Mary.  His tombstone reads 1870.  His death certificate gives the Jan 14th date.  Also the number for the house he lived in might be a little off.

John A. 1870 to 1949

There is an obituary article from the The Daily Journal of International Falls, dated December 12, 1949. It reads:

“John A. McDonald, 903 Sixth street, one-time mayor of International Falls and a resident of the community since 1904, died Sunday at the age of 70. He passed away at an out-of-town hospital after an illness of more than two years. Time and place of funeral services will be announced in a later issue of the Journal. The Green Mortuary will be in charge. Familiarly known as “Jack,” Mr. McDonald served one two-year term as major from 1922 to 1924. Prior to being elected to the No. 1 office in the municipality he represented Ward III on the city council for four years. He was also one of the first members of the Falls fire department and maintained an active interest in the organization until he resigned in 1941 because of his health. Mr. McDonald was well-known to thousands of children whom he encountered in his work as fireman-engineer at Alexander Baker school. He joined the school custodian staff in 1913, shortly after the AB building was constructed. Upon his retirement in 1945 he had 32 years of school service to his credit. Born in Chapeau, Quebec, Jan. 14, 1869, Mr. McDonald emigrated to the United States as a young man in 1901 and settled in Bemidji. The same year he was married to Miss Sarah M. Burns, who survives. The couple moved to International Falls in 1904 and Mr. McDonald soon established a dray line, which he operated until 1913. In the latter years he joined the school building staff. Surviving, in addition to his widow, are a daughter, Mrs. Gilbert (Mary) Louiseau, and a brother, Alex, both of International Falls.”

This obituary notice really gives a great overview of Jack’s life.

He is buried with his family in the Forest Hill Cemetery which includes the St. Thomas Cemetery.  The burial site is dominated by this large tombstone with McDonald on it. If I recall, I was told by the family, that Jack and Archie bought the plot and had this stone installed.

McDonald Tombstone


Archie and Mary McDonell say goodbye to Chichester and head for Bemidji!

January 5, 2012

Archie was about 63 years old in 1901 and Mary, his wife, was about 61.   The story in my father Keith’s family, as told by his sister Miriam, is the sons of Archie and Mary decided it was time for their parents to retire from the farm.  As I have discussed in a past post Archie’s position as lock master had ended in the middle 1890′s.  Remember Ronald and Alex had already made the move to Minnesota and their older brother Angus he was gone, although I believe he came back and his daughter Helena Mary was born there 19 August 1897?  John (Jack) was quoted in later years as saying to his daughter Mary:  ” We (Sarah and Jack) didn’t like all of the king and queen stuff still going on in Canada.”   So the decision to immigrate to Minnesota was made for whatever reason or reasons. 

When did the move take place?

In the 1901 Canadian census for Chichester, Pontiac County, Quebec we find Mary and Archie still living in the area along with their son John (Jack).  

McDonald, Archie, farmer, 63 years old. Birth date is October [5,] 1837. Place of birth is Canada, which is written over with Quebec. Racial origin is given as Scottish, nationality is Canadian. Religion is Catholic. He can read, write and speaks English. His mother tongue is English. McDonald, Mary, birth date is March 13 , 1840, 60 years old. McDonald, John birth date is June 16, 1872, he is 28 years old. 

Source:  1901 Canadian Census, Chichester, Pontiac Co., Quebec CC Film #T6538, 1800 Pontiac, pg. 116. 

Note:  The birth year of John is questionable in this census.  His baptismal record has 3 June 1869 as indicated in the St. Alphonsus Church Records. 

The other interesting fact is that Ellen (Nellie) their daughter is not in this census?  We see that Alexander is also missing along with Ronald and Angus.  I cannot find Ellen, Ronald nor Angus in either the Canadian or U.S. Census in 1901 or 1900.  I have looked everywhere and have given it several tries based on what I know of their lives at the time. 

John (Jack stayed) was highly motivated to stay a little longer because he was about to get married to Sarah Maria Burns.  The 1901 Canadian census was supposed to be enumerated on March 31, 1901 and completed within a month.  Their marriage took place in August of 1901.  I wonder if this event is in the newspaper there?

pg. 356 #6916 McDonald, John Archibald (Archibald McDonald & Mary McDonald) 8/20/1901 to Sarah Burns (Geo.Burns & Cath. McMahon).

Source:  Marriage Due Comte De Pontiac 1836 -1973, pg. 356 #6916, Pub. No. 26, Editions Bergerson & Fils Engr., Montreal, P.Q. FHL#971.4215.K29.  Other versions are on CD-Rom

Or the Drouin Collection at Ancestry.com

Source:  Ancestry.com, Quebec Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection) 1621-1967 database, Chapeau, Parish, St. Alphonse, Pontiac County, Quebec.  Registres Photographies  Aug Greffe De Campbell’s Bay, No. 17,  20 August 1901.

What this means is the family didn’t leave Chichester, Pontiac County, Quebec until after this marriage took place.  Again, I refer you to Keith’s sister Miriam’s notes about Archibald and Mary and the family which I have shared before in a past post on Archibald.  (Click on the image to make it bigger and remember to hit the back button to return to this post. 

Miriam's Notes on Archie and Mary

 
Archibald, as the notes reads, went to Glengarry, Ontario where he grew up to visit after 40 years and had forgotten his Gaelic.  He was the youngest of seven children – five boys and two girls.  Miriam goes onto to say that the sons made the decision to move their parents. 
 
In preparation for the arrival of Archibald and Mary in Bemidji, their son Ronald (R.S.) and Grace, his wife, (Keith’s parents and my grandparents) bought a house right next to Lake Bemidji.  I had the good fortune to view and tour the house that my family lived in when I visited Bemidji in 2001.  The owner at that time, a very nice lady kindly gave me a tour.  They were renovating the home at the time.  The house is north of the Lake Watch Bed and Breakfast (may not be there anymore) where I stayed in 2000 when we passed through the first time.  The address is 1101 Lakeside Blvd., Bemidji, Beltrami Co., Minnesota.   I do have a photo of the house and remember the inside well.  It was several stories with an enclosed porch and had these old steep stairs to the upper floor. 
 
Ronald and Grace purchased the house from a Wm. Dibble on 29 January 1901.  I found this deed at the Beltrami County Courthouse in Bemidji.  They would not let me see the originals, so I looked at the film using the machine they had in the Registrar of Deeds office.  I will go into further detail on this deed in another post.   Since I cannot find my grandparents in the 1900 U.S. census, this deed is significant in that is places my grandparents, Ronald and Grace in Bemidji in the early part of the 1900′s.

Beltrami Courthouse in Bemidji


The Migration to Minnesota Begins for the McDonell’s!

December 23, 2011

Ronald S. McDonald, Keith’s father and my grandfather, appears in the Minnesota State Census for the year 1895.  He is living in Hennepin County, Minnesota.  He has been living in Minnesota for 4 years.  This may mean he might have left home right before the Canadian census for 1891 was enumerated?  He would have been 25 years old by that time and probably wanting to strike out on his own.  

McDonald, Ronald, age 29, male, white, born in Canada, 4 yrs in state, 4 years in dist, Lumberman, 12 mos. employed, parents of foreign birth – yes, yes, was not enumerated before – no. Source:  Minnesota State Census 1895, Minneapolis, Hennepin County, pg. 7.  Ancestry.com.

Note:  The counties around the area of the twin cities in Minnesota are Ramsey (St. Paul) and Hennepin (Minneapolis) so you do have to pay attention when doing research or check the documents for both counties.

Apparently, Ronald or better known as R.S. decided to become naturalized.  Naturalization is not easy to find in the early years before about 1906 when they changed the laws.  It is usually in the court where the person applied.  I made an educated guess and wrote to the court in Hennepin county and was very lucky. 

1. A.R. McPherson swears that he knows Ronald S. McDonald and that he has resided in the country for over 5 years and one year past and is of good moral character. Followed by Ronald S. McDonald swearing allegiance to the United States and the State of Minnesota and renounces his allegiance to the King of Great Britain. Ronald S. McDonald is granted citizenship and it is Signed by David T Simpson, Judge District Court, Dec. 16, 1901.

2. Second document stating that Ronald S. McDonald had appeared on the 15th Day of October in 1894 and made his declaration of intention at that time to become a citizen of the United States. Signed by the Clerk of the Court (unreadable) and the Deputy of the Court on Dec. 16, 1901.

Source: State of Minnesota Fourth Judicial District, Hennepin County, Minnesota #341-6, December 16, 1901, Witnessed by A. R. McPherson and signed by the Clerk of the court (unreadable).

One of the Naturalization papers for Ronald McDonald

This helps to place Keith’s father in the United States and Minnesota in and before October 1894 or earlier. 

My Aunt Miriam wrote the following about her father: 

Ronald McDonald Mini Bio

 
R.S. did know and worked for E. W. Backus the “last of the lumber barons.”  In the papers of the Minnesota Historical Society I was unable to find any actual employment records for my grandfather in E. W.’s files.  E. W. Backus can be Googled and you will find information about him.  I found many manuscripts and articles at the Koochiching County Historical Society. 
 
An email to the librarian at Grand Rapids, Minnesota inquiring about schools of the type mentioned in my Aunt Miriam’s notes informed me that the town was too small to support a school of this type.  So this means R.S. probably attended in one of several locations like Duluth, Minneapolis, or St. Paul which would make more sense for the time period. 
 
Brother Alexander was shortly to follow and from documentation it looks like he came into Minnesota about 1897 and was living probably in Duluth.   Single individuals are hard to pin down in the census and in city directories. 

Ronald S. and his brother Angus Strike out on their Own!

December 16, 2011

It is time to turn back to Archibald and Mary McDonell’s family, Keith, my father’s grandparents and my greats.  The past posts have described what is known about their respective siblings and parents at this time. More research will be done and a trip to Ontario and Quebec is in the near future see the new page added at the top of this blog. 

Meanwhile let’s return to Archie and Mary’s family in Chichester in 1881.  In the post dated June 1, 2011 “McDonell Family in 1881,” the census for that year was discussed and described. The family was all together including Alexander the youngest.  It was not too last long.  The son’s were growing up and about to leave the “nest.”

It is not clear when Ronald or his older brother Angus left home and headed out on their own.  Jack (John), their brother told his daughter that “Angus, left.”  A typical response for my McDonald’s are people of few words. 

In 1881 Ronald was 14 years old and Angus was 16 years old.  So if we use the age of 18 or 20 as a clue to figure out their movements we could probably guess they left home about 1885 or 1886? 

In any event, neither Ronald nor Angus appear in the Canadian 1891 census with the family in Chichester, Pontiac County, Quebec, 7th April, 1891, pg. 4, Ancestry.com

Line 13, [ ] 16, McDonald, Archy, M,  60 years old, M, born Ont. and the place of birth of his father and mother are Ont., Lockmaster, can read and write.  McDonald, Mary, F, age 57, M, Wife, born Ont. , father born Ont, mother born Scotland, can read and write.  McDonell, John, M, age 22, S, born Quebec, Labourer.  McDonell, Ellen, F, age 20, D. M  age 18, S.  Children born Quebec.

No sign of Ronald, Keith’s father, nor his uncle Angus.  Since the 1890 U.S. Federal Census suffered destruction in a fire, we cannot determine if they headed to the United States by that time.  Ronald’s trail is picked up in the 1895 Minnesota State census.   As for Angus he doesn’t appear until much later in the 1910 U.S. Federal Census for Seattle, King County, Washington!! There are some interesting stories about Angus that I will share in a later posts.  I have reason to believe that Angus moved back and forth across the Canadian border on several occasions as we will see. 

It is about now that we see the spelling of the last name change from “McDonell” to “McDonald.”

 


McDonell Family in 1881!

June 1, 2011

The year is 1881 and Archibald McDonell’s family is still prospering. 

Archie, Mary, Angus, Ronald, John, Ellen and Alexander are all alive and living in the Chichester area.  Unfortunately, no baby George is mentioned in this census.

Source:  1881 Canadian Census, Chichester, Pontiac Co., Quebec. Dist. 98 (Chapeau Village) Canadian Film #T13226, pg. 23.

Line 3 to 9: 82/85 McDonell, Archibald, Male, age 45, born Ontario, Catholic, Scotch, Lock Master, Married.  McDonell, Mary, female, age 42, born in O, Catholic, Scotch, Married. McDonald, Angus, male, age 16, born Quebec, Catholic, Scotch.  McDonell, Ronald, male, age 14, born Quebec, Catholic, Scotch.  McDonell, John, male, age 11, born Quebec, Catholic, Scotch.  McDonald, Ellen, female, age 9, born Quebec, Catholic, Scotch. McDonell, Alexander, male, age 7, born Quebec, Catholic, Scotch.  All children going to school.

This is the only time that all of the family are listed together as a whole in the Canadian census, after this the children begin leaving home.

There is an interesting piece of information on this census.  Archie is listed as the Lock Master.  There will be more on that topic in the next post.


Archie & Mary’s Children: Alexander Thomas McDonald

March 31, 2011

Archie and Mary McDonell welcomed their seventh child Alexander Thomas McDonell. 

He was born 2nd December 1872 in Chichester and baptized the 17th of December 1872 at the St. Alphonsus Church in Chapeau. 

Alexander's Birth Record

Source:  Baptism, Marriage and Burial Index, St. Alphonsus Church, 1846-1920 FHL# B131, #1029798.  Also on Ancestry.com under the Drouin Collection. 

Alexander, or better known as “Alex,” lived a long life passing away at 82 years old in International Falls and he is buried next to his older brother John (Jack) and his parents.  Alex never married but family lore states that he had several girlfriends, liked fancy cars and smoked big cigars.

Uncle Alex

Alex is featured with his nephew Keith in his fireman uniform in the posted dated:  August 7, 2010.


R.S. McDonald Leaves International Falls!

October 5, 2010

Papa 1910

What made Keith’s father R. S. (Ronald) decide to leave International Falls is sort of a mystery?  He left International Falls for Grand Prairie, Alberta, Canada and opened a store.   

Life was never the same after Grace’s death 1911, so maybe R.S. just felt there was nothing in International Falls to keep him there.  In addition the loss of both his parents may have been another factor.  Archie passed in 1912 and then Mary in 1913.  Maybe he felt it was just too much for him.  His two brother’s John (Jack) and Alex still lived in International Falls and continued to do so until their deaths decades later.    

Nellie (Elizabeth Ellen), his sister, also lived in International Falls with the parents and her brother Alex.  Nellie was to play and important part in the lives of R.S.’s (Ronald’s) children.  It is unclear if she went with him to Grande Prairie or stayed behind in International Falls.  At some point she does join her older brother to help him raise the children.   

The house on Riverside drive and land had been purchased in 1907 and the family and lived there since.  Here is the description of that purchase:  

Purchased by deed lots eleven (11) and twelve (12) in block forty-six (46)  in Koochiching County from the Koochiching Company, based out of Iowa) on 1 st of April 1907 (except taxes of 1905 and 1906 if any) for $1500.00.  Witnesses present were Washington Gray and F.B. Parsons.  Representatives of the Koochiching Company were Wm. F. Brooks and C. J. Rockwood.  It was filed for record on the 22nd of April 1908, at 10 o’clock a.m. and signed by Frank. [S] Lang Register of Deeds by J.A. Crouse Deputy.  Page 24, Deed Record (E crossed out and replaced) G, Instrument #2431.  Frank E. Lang was the Registrar of Deeds and J.A. Crouse was the Deputy at the recording of the deed on 22nd of April, 1908.   

The sale:  

Deed of Sale Lots 11 and 12

 On December 31st of 1915 the same lots eleven (11) and twelve (12) of block forty-six (46) of International Falls, Minnesota were sold to a M.E. Withrow for Six thousand ($6000.00).  The witnesses were W. V. Kane and M. Frank.  It was signed by W. V. Kane as Notary.  Deed Record 28, Koochiching Co., Minnesota, Instrument #23431, pg. 6.  Frank E. Lang was again the Registrar of Deeds at the recording of the deed on 1 Jan, 1916.   

So from 1916 to approximately 1919 Ronald and family were probably living in Grande Prairie, Alberta until his partner gambled away the store and all was lost according to family lore.     

Below is a picture of the store:  McDonald Land and Trading Company, The Store of Quality – Hardware, Furniture, Groceries, Shoes, Clothing, Dry Goods and more…   

McDonald Store

R.S. (Ronald) apparently had partners:  E.E. Petersen, Papa and Henry Otto are written on the photograph below.  In very light writing is the words:  Smokey Point.   

The Three Partners

Keith and his siblings didn’t talk much about their experiences in Grand Prairie, Alberta.  The only piece of information comes from sister Miriam who comments briefly in her notes about her brother Gordon:   

Gordon was bright. Good in math.  Learned his geometry in grade 8 in Grande Prairie, Alta.    

Memorabilia in the form of a postcard appears in sister Eddie’s “Pile of Junk” book:   

Grand Prairie - Postcard

More research needs to be done on this period of time from 1916 to 1920 in deeds, mortgages, school records and newspapers in the Grand Prairie area to see if more information comes to light on this vague time in Keith’s siblings and father’s life.    

The next time we find R.S. (Ronald) he is in living in Cheney, Spokane Co., Washington in 1920.  The children are with him and his sister Nellie is there as well.    

Before we study that part of Keith’s family history let us go back further in time to learn about the origins of the McDonald’s and where they came from in Canada. 

Photo at beginning:  Ronald appears in a full length fur coat and the photo is dated 1910.  Although it is five years before he leaves International Falls, I think it is apparent that Ronald was not unprepared for heading north deeper into Canada. 

Alexander Thomas McDonald, Fireman

August 7, 2010

Keith had pictures in his photo collection of his Uncle Alexander, younger brother to his father Ronald.  Alex was in a uniform in two of them.     

Alexander in Uniform

This photo (above) was a puzzle.  I didn’t know what the uniform represented.  I was to learn from a cousin that Alex was a fireman with the International Falls fire department in the early years.  Alex is the one in the middle.  I do not know the names of the two men that are on either side of him.  The photo was taken on main street in International Falls and when I was there I scouted out the location.  Some signs are still there and you can see about where they stood.    

Alex with Keith on His Knee

In this 2nd photo, Uncle Alex is seated with two children on his knees.  He and the other man are in the same uniforms.  The one on the left knee is Keith, Alex’s nephew, and the little girl on the right is unknown.  The little boy standing to Alex’s left and the man standing behind him in uniform are also unknown.    

This is one of my favorite photos of my father Keith when he was a child.  He would have loved the fire house, the horses and all the activity like the parades and visiting with his Uncle at his work.   

Mary, Alex’s niece, knew him very well and describes his work as a fireman. She told me this story back in 2000 when I visited her and her family in International Falls:    

 “Alex was a fireman and he lived at the fire station. This was back in the days when they used horses to draw the fire truck. The horses were so well-trained that when the fire whistle blew they would go stand ready to receive the harnesses that just seemed to fall in place on them. The fire house had two big doors out front and behind that was an area for the stalls to keep the horses in and then behind that were bunk beds where the men would take turns sleeping. The firehouse is up from the Ace Hardware store in International Falls. It is now a converted apartment house and has aluminum siding on it. His fellow firemen were Bill Keenan and Bert Budde. If I can remember there were two teams of horses.”   

Alex also participated in the 1910 Fireman’s convention and again in 1917 he participated in the Fireman’s Line Up and Parade in International Falls.   

I learned a lot about my grandfather’s family through the stories told by my cousin Mary and her family back in 2000 and again in 2001.  I am very grateful for the time I spent with them.


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