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.


Sarah M. (Burns) McDonald passes!

October 25, 2012

Sarah’s Tombstone

Jack had died in December of 1949 and Sarah, his wife, followed just shy of two years.  They are both buried in the St. Thomas Cemetery in International Falls.  This cemetery is part of the Forest Lawn Cemetery and there is a link to it under Minnesota Links on the right side of this blog.  They have the burials online.

Jack and Sarah appear in the 1930 U.S. Census living in International Falls, Koochiching County,  Minnesota with their daughter Mary C. McDonald.  It was Mary who cared for both of them at the end of their lives.

John and Sarah McDonald 1930 Census

Sixth Street, line 6, 903, 247, 271, McDonald, John A. Head, 0, $3000., M, W, 60, M. 32, no, yes, Canada English, Father and Mother Canada-English, English, 00, 43, 1901, NA, yes, Janitor, Public School, 6×44, w, yes, no. McDonald, Sarah, wife – H, F, W, 56, M, 28, no, yes, Canada-English, Father Northern Ireland, Mother Irish Free State, English, 00, 43, 1901, NA, yes, none. McDonald, Mary C., daughter, F, W, 17, S, yes, yes, Minnesota, Parents Canada-English, 64, 43 0, yes, none.

Source:  John McDonald Family, 1930 U.S. Federal Census, International Falls, Koochiching Co., Minnesota, Third (Part of) Block No. 56  lines 1-5, Block no. 55 lines 6 to 50. RD#36-21, SD#2, Sht #13A (154), enumerated April 11, 1930, Carl. V. Linsten.

Ten years later they are still a family of three:

Sixth Street, Line 56, 903, 49, 0, 2500, no, McDonald, John A., Head, M, W, 71, M, no, 4, Canada-English, NA, same house, blank for parents, yes – - – -, 60, Janitor, Public High School, GW, 52, 1800, no. McDonald, Sarah, wife, F, W, 65, M, no, 5, Canada-English, NA same house, blank for parents, no, no, no, no. H, o , o, no. McDonald, Mary, daughter, F, W, 27, S, no, H-4, Minnesota, same house, blank for parents, yes – - -, Bookkeeper, County Treasurer’s office, GW, 52, 932, no.

Source:  John A. McDonald Family, 1940 U.S. Federal Census, International Falls, Koochiching Co., Minnesota, Ward #3, SD# 12, ED# 36-198, Sht# 2B, enumerated on April 4, 1940, Dorothy P. Barkovic.

Here is the Death certificate for Sarah.

Sarah’s Death Certificate

Sarah was a resident for 50 years in International Falls, MN, died at the Falls Memorial Hospital, lived at 903 6th St., died Oct 25, 1951, female, white, widowed, date of birth Feb 18, 1874, age 77 yrs., housekeeper, owns own home, born in Canada, citizen of the USA. Father George Burns, mother Katherine Burns, spouse John A. McDonald #4201. Did not serve in armed forces, no SS#, informant was the Memorial Hospital in International Falls. Died of congestive heart failure and coronary sclerosis, no autopsy. Burial on Oct 27, 1951 at St. Thomas Cemetery in International Falls, MN, filed Oct. 27, 1951. Handled by Green Mortuary, International Falls, MN.

Source:  Sarah McDonald, Certificate of Death #7429, Oct. 25, 1951, Minnesota Department of Health, Division of Vital Statistics, FHL#2139363. 

Appearing in The Daily Journal, International Falls, Friday, October 26, 1951 is an article about Sarah.

Sarah Burns McDonald “Mrs. McDonald”

Sarah McDonald, City Resident Since 1904, Dies. Mrs. Sarah MacDonald, a resident of International Falls since 1904, died late Thursday in Memorial hospital following a year of illness. She was 77. Death was attributed to heart ailment. The deceased was the widow of J.A. (Jack) McDonald, one-time mayor of the Falls. One daughter,  Mrs. Gilbert (Mary) Louiseau —-Sixth St. survives. Funeral services are set for 8 am Saturday in St. Thomas church with Fr. Edward Lamontagne officiating. Interment will be in St. Thomas cemetery. The Rosary will be recited at 8 pm today in the Green Mortuary chapel. Mrs. McDonald, the former Sarah Burns, was born Feb. 18, 1874 in eastern Canada and moved to the United States immediately following her marriage in 1901. The couple lived in Bemidji before moving to the Border City. The late husband of the deceased served as mayor of International Falls from 1922-24 and was long active in municipal and fire department affairs. He was employed as engineer-custodian of Alexander Baker school for 32 years. Mr. McDonald died Dec. 11, 1949.

This is what Sarah’s daughter said about her mother when I visited her in 2000:

Her mother came from Pembroke, Ontario, Canada. She remembers going back to visit her grandmother Catherine who lived in a big brick house in Pembroke with her son whom Mary called “Uncle George.” Mary said that George was wealthy. Sarah was very social and she kept a good home and always had help around the house. Sarah was known as Mrs. McDonald, probably a gesture of respect. Her mother would cook and set a nice table. Jack and Sarah’s home was a social place for the town, people were always coming over and stopping by.

The spelling of Sarah’s middle name was shown as “Mariah” in the Koochiching County Courthouse records.

Sarah was a member of a very well-known and large family in the Pembroke,  Renfrew County, Ontario and Chichester, Chapeau areas of Pontiac County in Quebec.  They were the Burns family and my friend and almost cousin Elaine Burns Brown has featured them on her website at:  http://www.personainternet.com/etbrown/  I also have this under my links specifically:  Family History Websites of Interest on the right side of this blog.  I highly recommend that you go there and study her website it covers Burns, Hughes, Somerville, Gentle and also McDonald and more.


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


Mary McDonell Passes!

September 19, 2010

No sooner did Archibald pass than Keith lost his grandmother Mary.  I found a death certificate at the Family History Library on Film #2138530.  She passed on 8 September, 1913 #6084. 

Mary McDonald 1834 to 1913

Mary Elizabeth McDonald died in International Falls, Koochiching Co., Minnesota, died on Sept 8th 1913, female, white, widowed, date of birth March 13, 1834, 79 yrs, 5 mos, 25 days.  Housewife, born in Canada.  Father’s name Alex McDonald born in Scotland, mother Mary McPherson, born in Scotland.  Informant was Nellie McDonald, International Falls.  Filed Sept 10, 1913.  Died of old age, signed by Robt. Monahau M.D.  Burial International Falls, MN on Sept 10, 1913.  

This time the informant was Nellie (Elizabeth Ellen) her daughter and Nellie seemed to know more about the family and who Mary’s parents were.  Nellie lists them as Alex McDonald and he was born in Scotland.  The mother is Mary McPherson but other records have the name as Ellen.  The doctor might be spelled “Monahan.” 

Fortunately the International Falls Press newspaper had an obituary notice for Mary, published on 11 September 1913, pg. 2.  Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul. 

Mrs. McDonald Passed Away 

On Monday night last Mrs. Mary McDonald quietly passed away at the home of her son Mr. R.S. McDonald where she has resided since the death of her husband, Mr. Alex McDonald about a year ago.  Mrs. McDonald has been gradually failing for the past few months and finally passed away in her sleep at the good ripe old  age of 79 years.  She was a good woman, of large and good family, true to her church, and people and helpful to all with whom she came in contact.  She is survived by five of her children Angus, who lives in Seattle, Wash. Ronald, S., Alex, John and Miss Nellie who reside in this city.  The funeral services were conducted at the Catholic church by her pastor Rev. Fr. Killeen yesterday and her remains were interred in the local cemetery by the side of her husband. 

As usual obituary notices are helpful and can have mistakes.  They list her husband as Alex and his name was Archibald.  

Mary is next to Archibald in the St. Thomas Cemetery which is part of the Forest Hill Cemetery grouping.  She resides with him in the plot with the large monument towering above.  She also has a simple stone plaque: 

Mary's Final Resting Place

The dates given for Mary are 1834 to 1913.  The obituary notice mentions her large family and this is true as we will come to learn in future posts. 

Keith’s father Ronald had lost his wife and now both of his parents.  It must have been hard times for the family.


Jack McDonald & Sarah Maria Burns!

August 17, 2010

Jack McDonald

Jack McDonald, brother to Ronald and Uncle to Keith, made his home in International Falls and lived a long life there.  His formal name was John Archibald but everyone called him “Jack.”  The photo of Jack was taken in his daughter’s home where she had it resting gently again a lamp in the living room.

On the 20 of August 1901 he married Sarah Maria Burns in Chapeau, Pontiac County, Quebec.  Sarah was part of a very large family that settled in the Chichester/Chapeau area on the Upper Ottawa River.  You can learn more about the Burns family and its connections at this website: http://www.personainternet.com/etbrown/ You can explore more of the website and other surnames.  Click on the Byrns/Burns link and you will go to the detailed pages on the family with photos: http://www.personainternet.com/etbrown/burns.htm  You will find the McDonald’s link. 

He migrated with his wife and his parents to Bemidji, Beltrami County, Minnesota shortly after his marriage.  Jack and Sarah spent about 4 years in Bemidji before they moved permanently in 1905 to International Falls.  It is possible they had a child, maybe two, while living there and they did not survive.

Sarah and Jack McDonald - Int'l Falls

John (Jack) and Sarah McDonald’s children:

1.  George Archibald/Alexander who was born February 28, 1907 and died on March 2, 1907.  This information was taken from the birth register at the Koochiching County Courthouse in International Falls in 2000.

2.  There is a baby buried in the family plot at the cemetery in International Falls named Emma Loretta born September 3, 1911 and died that following October 16, 1911. 

3.  Mary Catherine Genofevan McDonald was born 3 January 1913 in International Falls and died in 2007 in Otter Tail Co., Minnesota.  Mary is buried next to her husband Gilbert Louiseau in the McDonald plot in the St. Thomas Cemetery that is a part of the Forest Hill Cemetery group in International Falls. Mary was 94 years old and I was very lucky to have known her.  Mary and Gil had 3 children who are living and grandchildren. 

Daughter Mary

Jack and Sarah made a good life for themselves in International Falls.  Jack became well-respected in the town and ran for political office.  There home was frequented by many friends.  He was responsible for keeping the children warm and seeing that the boiler at the Alexander Baker School had warmed the building before school began.  Jack was also a volunteer fireman with the International Falls fire department along with his brother Alex.


A Family’s Sad Times!

July 26, 2010

Grace McDonald

Keith’s mother Grace was laid to rest with her baby daughter, Grace Elizabeth in the St. Thomas Cemetery December 26, 1911.    

The photo of Grace was damaged and almost burned in a fire.  I do not have a creation date.  It was in her daughter Jean’s scrapbook loaned to me by my cousin, a great-granddaughter of Grace’s.    

This cemetery is actually several cemeteries grouped together: American Legion, Forest Hill Cemetery and St. Thomas Cemetery.  Now I know why I have confusing information about my family and where they are buried.   

The link below is to these cemeteries.  There is a map of the entire grouping of cemeteries and then a link a to a map to show the location of the cemetery near the town of International Falls.  The cemeteries are southeast of town. On the top right is a “Find a Loved One” search feature.  All this is new and was not there when I visited in 2000 and 2001. If you Google this cemetery you need to use the Forest Hill name to find it:  

http://foresthillcemeteryifalls.com/index.php    

There is a family plot in the cemetery, dominated by a large monument with the name McDonald inscribed (see posted dated Feb. 6, 2010).  My cousin Mary McDonald Louiseau told me that it was probably purchased by Archibald McDonald and his son Jack.  The McDonald family plot is in Section E in the St. Thomas Cemetery to the east.  You cannot miss the large monument.    

Grace is not alone in this plot.  She shares it with Archibald McDonald and Mary McDonald, Keith’s grandparents.  Their sons and Ronald’s brothers:  John (Jack) and his wife Sarah Burns McDonald.  Another brother Alexander McDonald.  Gil and Mary McDonald Louiseau are also buried in this plot.  Mary was John (Jack)’s and Sarah’s daughter.  There is a Baby Emma also John (Jack) and Sarah’s child.  The unnamed baby is Grace Elizabeth.     

As the daughter of Keith, I visited International Falls and have stood at the graveside of my grandmother and the others and documented this cemetery.   There is the main stone.    

Grace's Tombstone

  There is another stone above Grace’s:    

Additional Stone

 The baby is buried with her. It reads    

“We long for the touch of the vanished hand     

or the sound of voice that is still.”     

The notation in the Koochiching County Courthouse Vital records notes the child as “Babe McDonald.” Later I learned from Vivian’s (oldest daughter) baby book featured in a previous post, June 6, 2010, on the last pages that the child was named “Grace Elizabeth.”    

Ronald apparently was absent from his duties as Commissioner at this time for an article appears on the front page of the International Falls Press December 28, 1911, “Commissioner Proceedings.”  It is just below the arrow on the page.    

Ronald Absent 1911

One day I was talking to my Aunt Eddie (Ronald and Grace’s daughter) and she mentioned that Grace died at Christmas and it did not have the same meaning to her.  Eddie was very young when it happened.  She was born in  March of 1907 which means she was 4 plus years old and it is difficult to say if she remembered her mother?  Baby brother Keith of course was only 18 months old!


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