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. 

Brother Gordy!

July 9, 2010

Grace and Ronald welcomed their first son Gordon who was born on the 3rd of May, 1904 in Grand Rapids, Itasca Co., Minnesota.  He followed Vivian.    

His full formal name is:  Ronald Gordon George McDonald

Baby Gordon 1904

I always knew him as Uncle Gordy! Miriam, his sister, wrote about her brother… 

Gordon was bright. Good in math and learned his Geometry…Gordon had the same genius mechanical ability as other McDonalds and so did Keith.  We have pictures of him campaigning for his father….” 

As I remember him, Gordon was a quiet man but very intense.  He would visit his younger brother Keith in the years to follow and they would talk for hours in the basement of our house while my dad worked on his engines or fixed the car.    

Gordon & The Public School

I love this photo of my Uncle! The frown and the suspenders holding up his pants!  The location is International Falls and the building behind might be a school or the courthouse.  The Alexander Baker school was not built-in 1913 and this building is much earlier.  

I can just see Gordy running freely about International Falls.  I wish I had thought to ask him questions about the family but I was too young and shy.  I will talk about what I do know of my Uncle Gordy in future posts.  I have a few very interesting stories about him, unfortunately not enough.    

The photos of Gordon campaigning for Ronald, his father, have gone missing.  I am assuming the campaigning was for Ronald’s position as commissioner?  I suppose I could try the newspaper to see if I could find anything in International Falls but that would be slogging work!  It is a thought?


Grace Barclay McDonald

May 29, 2010
Keith’s mother Grace was busy raising a family while her husband Ronald (R.S.) was involved with the lumber business and politics in the town of International Falls. 

Grace about 1896

 

This photo is of Grace as a young girl and it is this young girl that my grandfather Ronald fell in love with and met somewhere in Minnesota.  Maybe it was when he visited her father in Pine River to talk about lumber? Maybe it was on the train to St. Paul/Minneapolis where she attended school?  Miriam her daughter didn’t seem to know the story of how they met or even the date of the marriage as was reflected in her notes that she sent me.  

Ronald and Grace were married in September of 1898 and eventually settled in International Falls with their family.  I wrote about the marriage in my post dated February 20, 2010.  

Grace Barclay

 

Keith’s cousin Mary McDonald Louiseau told me when I visited her in 2000, that Grace liked to read so the library at their home was filled with books.  There is no date on this oval photo of Grace.  

Grace in the Snow

 

Here Grace is sweeping the snow?  Not sure why, but I enjoy the look which reminds me of her daughter Eddie.  I like the contrast in the pictures of my father’s mother and my grandmother.  I have very little information about her.  I think these photos start to show a little of her personality.  In this snow photo she is in a rather shabby dress.  For some reason I think she was pregnant at this time? I do not know the year this snow photo was taken. 

Grace and her children Jan 1911

 

In this picture Grace looks lovely and happy.  Written on the photo is the year 1911.  Left to right:  in the back row is Vivian,  Gordon, and Grace.  In the front row is Miriam, Eddie, Jean and then baby Keith, main star of this blog.  Grace is holding Keith, my dad, close.  If you look closely you can see that Miriam and Eddie’s hair is cut like a boy’s hair cut.  I am wondering if there was a lice problem? 

I have had the good fortune to know all of these siblings of my father Keith.  They were very much a part of my life.  The only one I never knew was Grace for she died very young as you will see.  

I have another blog that I am writing that covers Grace Barclay McDonald’s parents and ancestors.  It is called the “Barclays of Pine River, The Lives of George and Amarilla Barclay.”  You will find it at: http://barclayspineriver.wordpress.com/  Grace’s ancestry goes back to the Mayflower through Grace’s grandparents Elizabeth Keller Spracklin and Daniel Dair/Dare Spracklin.  I will eventually talk more about Grace’s earlier years in that blog up till she meets Ronald (R.S.).


Commissioner R. S. McDonald

May 15, 2010

Int'l Falls & Ft Francis

 

Keith’s father was commissioner for the city of International Falls. Miriam said in her notes about her brother Gordon, Keith’s older brother, “we have pictures of him campaigning for his father.” Unfortunately, I have never seen those photographs.  

“To end the isolation, reduce costs and provide better public service, residents of northern Itasca were now demanding a county of their own with easier access to the county seat. Following an aggressive campaign for voter support, leaders of the movement then petitioned for an election. The proposal for county division went on the ballot in the general election of Tuesday, Nov. 6, 1906, and carried by a resounding majority of 800. The votes were then canvassed in St. Paul and on Dec. 19 Gov. John A. Johnson issued the proclamation which created Koochiching with International Falls as the county seat.
 

While elated by the news, backers of the division movement postponed a public celebration because opponents were contesting the election. Finally the dispute was settled in court — in favor of the new county group — and a victory celebration took place March 6, 1907, in the Falls village hall. The village hall, built in 1904, served as county headquarters until the court-house was completed two years later. The initial county board appointed by Gov. Johnson consisted of R.S. McDonald, Hugh Mclntosh, Nels L. Olson, Fred Smith and Charles M. Bowman. Bowman, a resident of Big Falls, failed to qualify for office and didn’t serve.”  

from New County is Born, History of Koochiching County website, April 10, 2010.  See link to the History of Koochiching County on the right. 

There is an interesting explanation of events regarding the  appointment of Annie Shelland as Superintendent of Schools.   

“Annie Shelland..knew that she could walk to all schools in the 3,200 square-mile county.  Her appointment was opposed by only one commissioner, R.S. McDonald, who felt that no woman was capable of making the rounds to the schools. (pg. 128).” 

“Annie Shelland was opposed by R.S. McDonald of the county commission, because he did not believe that a woman would be capable of walking the distances under the conditions required of a county superintendent (of schools.) pg. 30.  Annie was appointed in January of 1907. “ 

These excerpts are taken from the book:  

Koochiching, Pioneering Along the Rainy River Frontier, by Hiram M. Drache, Interstate Printers & Publishers, Inc., 1983. 

Annie went on to prove R.S. wrong and had an exemplary career as Superintendent and contributed greatly to education in Minnesota.  She died in 1964 at the age of 85 years old.  I think she was hardy enough! 

The photo above is from the National Park Service proposal website for a Voyageurs National Park site.  There are many great photos of the area.  

http://www.nps.gov/history/history/online_books/voya/proposed/area.htm


Keith and Gordon – Two Brothers

April 24, 2010

Gordon and Keith

Keith had a great relationship with his older brother Gordon.  In this photo Gordon is standing proud and holding firmly to his little brother’s hand.  Keith is next to him on the elephant with a happy face.  This photo of the McDonald brothers was probably taken about 1911 in International Falls.  Gordon was born 1904 and Keith was born in 1910 to Ronald and Grace McDonald.  There was 6 years difference in their ages.


Miriam’s Birth and Baptism

April 17, 2010

Miriam, sister to Keith, wrote the family history notes which have been of great help in researching the family.  It is only fitting to celebrate her life.  Miriam was born January 15, 1906 and was probably baptized shortly after at the catholic church in International Falls. 

Vivian, Gordon and baby Miriam

This photograph shows three of the McDonald children.  Vivian (Leola Vivian)  is the little girl holding her baby sister Miriam (Miriam Audrey) in her arms.  The little boy to her right is Gordon (Ronald Gordon). 

Grace their mother was pregnant with Miriam when another event took place in her life.  Grace’s Uncle Alexander Barclay, brother to her father George Angus Barclay, died on December 7, 1905 at the Rochester Hospital in Olmsted Co., Minnesota.  Grace started the probate process for his estate.  She could not attend the court sessions because she was “indisposed” and she could not travel after the birth.  Alexander’s estate file has contributed a great deal of information on the Barclay family which I am currently blogging about in The Barclays of Pine River http://barclayspineriver.wordpress.com/.


Ronald and Grace: Family Life!

April 11, 2010

Life was good for Ronald and Grace McDonald’s family during the first 10 years they spent in International Falls.   

1910 U.S. Federal Census

 

 The 1910 U.S. Federal Census for International Falls, Koochiching Co., Minnesota shows Keith’s complete family.  It lists his parents Ronald age 46 and Grace age 28, married 12 years. This places their marriage in 1898.  Grace had 7 children of which 6 are living.  It lists all his siblings:  Vivian age 8, Gordon age 6, Miriam spelled Marian age 4, Edna age 3, Laura age 2 and last Keith who is just a baby at 1/12 years old.  All are born in Minnesota except Ronald who was born in Canada.  

McDonald Children circa late 1910

 

This photo was probably taken in late 1910 or early 1911.  There isn’t any snow on the ground but the McDonald children are dressed in fancy outfits and in heavy coats.   The children are left to right:  Jean (Laurie Jean) , Eddie, Miriam, Gordon and Vivian.  Keith is the one on the ground in front of Gordon.   

Keith, Jean, Eddie

 

Another photo of Keith shows him on the left.  His sister Jean seems to be holding him carefully while he is intently looking at the camera.  Jean is so cute in this photo.  Eddie is on the right in a fancy dress with a hat and coat. It is hard to see her face. I love how her hands are clasped.  I wonder if this was regular clothing or dress up that Eddie is wearing?  The hat is very fancy.  This photo was probably taken in 1911.   

These photos are those postcard photos that were popular back then.  You can flip them over an address them and write notes on them.  Unfortunately nothing was written on the backs of these two photos.   

I think the handwriting of their names was done by their mother Grace.


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