Alexander John and Ellen McPherson McDonell a possible marriage!

June 17, 2014

There is a marriage of an Alexander McDonell to a Nellie McPherson in the records of the St. Andrews parish registers for a St. Raphael marriage?  These two people are my 2nd great grandfather provided I have the lineage correct.  I will address that issue in future posts.

There are certain things about this marriage that make me think it might be them:

1.  The use of the name “Nellie.”  My Aunt Nellie’s formal name is Ellen Elizabeth.

2.  The fact that Nellie’s mother is named Rachel.  If I have the ancestry correct great-grandmother Mary’s sister was named Rachel.

3.  The date of the marriage is about right for the children of Alexander and Ellen McPherson.

4.  The names are John, Duncan and McDonell and McPherson and Cameron.

Marriage of Alexander and Nellie

Marriage of Alexander and Nellie

“The ninth day of July one thousand eight hundred and twenty two Alexander McDonell son of John McDonell and of Mary Cameron of the Parish of St. Raphael, & Nelly McPherson daughter of the late John McPherson and of Rachael McDonell also the Parish of Saint Raphael, after two proclamations of banns and the dispensation of the third, and also the Dispensation of consanguinity in the fourth degree, no other dispensation being granted, and no other impediment being know, were joined in marriage by me the undersigned Priest and Vicar of the said St. Raphael in presence of Alexander McDonell and of Duncan McDonell and several other witnesses. Alexander McDonell Duncan McDonell.  Signed J. MacDonald Pr.”

Source:  1802 to 1835 St. Andrew’s West, Co. Stormont, Ontario, Registre photo. at la paroisee per P. Crossbie) 16 decembre 1960, page 308, Drouin Collection at Ancestry.

What does 4th degree of consanguinity mean?  Here are links that might help to explain it.  I am pondering it myself.

http://www.dads.state.tx.us/handbooks/appendix/29.htm

http://www.mec.mo.gov/webdocs/pdf/misc/relationshipchart.pdf

At this point I am not sure how to proceed but it probably means that I need to dig into probate/estate to prove my theory and find a family history and a lot more.


Jean’s Birthday Celebration 1924

December 5, 2013

The gossip column in the local newspaper is so much fun to read.  Here we find a little excerpt about Jean’s birthday celebration in 1924.  Her actual birthday was June 30th.

July 4, 1924 Jean's birthday party

July 4, 1924 Jean’s birthday party

It reads:  “In honor of Jean McDonald’s birthday a picnic was held at Fish Lake Saturday.  Those present were the Misses Nellie McDonald, Jean McDonald, Edna McDonald, Harriette Murphy, Doris Ryker and Velma Ryker.”  Cheney Free Press 7/4/1924.

The next photo was taken in 1927 and although it is not from the actual date above,  I thought it was fun.  On the left you find Vivian, then Miriam, Aunt Nellie and then Jean.

Vivian, Miriam, Aunt Nellie, & Jean 1927

Vivian, Miriam, Aunt Nellie, & Jean 1927


McKanna and McDonald Wedding 1924

May 23, 2013

My father’s family didn’t have a lot of money, so this wedding of Vivian’s must have been a great affair for them.  I wish I could have been there but my father, Keith, was only 14 years old at the time.  It was going to be another 16+ years before he met my mother and 7 years till my birth.

Again, there is another article in the Cheney Free Press dated July 4, 1924 about the marriage.  Most of my family kept a low profile and so this is very amazing that this marriage was written up three times in the newspaper.  Apparently the event was also a local happening.

Vivian and Hilary's wedding 1924

Vivian and Hilary’s wedding 1924

Vivian’s is stated as the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. R.S. McDonald.  Grace, Vivian’s mother had died in 1911, so this is either a  tribute to her memory or a formality of the time.  Vivian was 9 years old at the time of her mother’s death.  She knew her mother quite well and probably felt her loss greatly.  R.S. had been a widower for a good 13 years by the time of his oldest child’s and daughter’s wedding.

The Wedding party and guests 1924

The Wedding party and guests 1924

The wedding guests and wedding party gather.  Left to right:  Justine ? (maybe the friend of Vivian’s?). R.S. McDonald (father of the bridge), Leola Vivian (bride) are next.  Behind Vivian peeking out is probably Rev. Lyon’s.   Brother Gordon is way in the back with a thick head of hair.  Next to Vivian on the right is Hilary McKanna (groom). Behind Hilary is an unknown girl. Nellie in the middle in the back.  She is Vivian’s, aunt and sister to R.S.  The man to the right of Hilary is unknown.  Miriam (bridesmaid and sister) is next. Eddie (sister) is to the left behind Miriam.  To Miriam’s right and behind her is another unknown girl and further to her right is an unknown woman.  Sister Jean has her hand on the back of the unknown woman. Missing is brother Keith who is probably taking the picture?  Everyone looks happy.

It is unclear to me if the wedding took place at the Catholic Church in Cheney or at the house you see in the following pictures. One of the articles states it was held at the home of the bride.  Vivian was religious so I lean toward the church.  There were about seven photographs with the date of 1924 written on them.  I see the similarities in the clothing of all that leads me to believe these are related photographs.

This photograph has the date of June 24, 1924 on it.  The wedding was on the 25th.  Maybe these two photos presented below show them getting ready to get the license the day before the main event?  Someone, in the background,  is trying to keep the dog under control.  My father, Keith, mentioned he had a dog when he was a kid that he name Tony.  I wonder if that is Tony?

Hilary, Vivian and R.S. pose June 24, 1924

Hilary, Vivian and R.S. pose June 24, 1924

In the photograph that follows, we find R.S. (father of the bride) and Gordon (brother of the bride) looking very handsome in their suits. This photo looks like they are getting ready for some event or heading to the church?

Gordon & R.S. Looking ready for the Wedding.

Gordon & R.S. Looking ready for the Wedding.

This may be the wedding party.

Guy, Vivian, Hilary and Miriam 1924

Guy, Vivian, Hilary and Miriam 1924

I do not know who Guy is.  It must have been written on the back of the photo.   He does not look like the man in the group photo above.

Another view of the party and he appears again.

Guy, Miriam, Vivian and Hilary 1924

Guy, Miriam, Vivian and Hilary 1924

Miriam sent Vivian’s photograph scrapbook to Mickey (Robert) McKanna years ago and when I visited with Mickey he was kind to loan it to me.  I made copies and scanned a great may of the photographs.  I did return the scrapbook to Mickey. Mickey is the son of Philip and Kathleen McKanna.  Philip is Hilary’s brother.  I will post more on the McKanna’s in future posts.

Note:  There is a very good blog that shares information about the McKanna family.  http://willisgene.wordpress.com/  I also have it listed in my right side panel of this blog under Families History Websites of Interest.


Local Cheney Maid Weds!

May 11, 2013

In 1924, my Aunt Vivian got married.  It apparently was a big event in the lives of the McDonald family.

My Aunt Eddie celebrated her sister’s marriage with several items saved in her “Collection of Junk.”  Eddie had an article about the wedding and even wrote down the menu.

Cheney Maid Weds Yakima Man.

Cheney Maid Weds Yakima Man.

Menu:  Fruit Cocktail, Friksee’ Chicken, Mash Potatoes, Jello Salad, Buttered Peas, Cucumber Pickles, Olives, Peach Pickles, Ice Cream, Chocolate Cake, Wedding Cake and Coffee.

The cake looked delicious:

Vivian and Hilary's Wedding Cake

Vivian and Hilary’s Wedding Cake

On another piece of paper Eddie wrote down the names of those who attended:

The Wedding Guests and Party

The Wedding Guests and Party

It reads with my clarifications:

 June 25, 1924, Cheney, Washington, St. Rose of Lima Church, by Rev. John E. Lyons.

Those present:

R.S. McDonald (Father of the Bride)

Nellie McDonald (Aunt)

Elizabeth Willis

Robert Willis

Francis McKanna (Phil’s daughter?)

Phil McKanna (Hilary’s brother?)

Rev. Lyons

Justine Toff

Gordon McDonald (brother)

Miriam McDonald (sister)

Edna McDonald (sister)

Jean McDonald (sister)

Keith McDonald (brother)

Vivian McDonald (The Bride)

Hilary M. McKanna (The Groom)

The Cheney Free Press (dated 7/4/1924) under Local Happenings second column, pretty much confirms the guest list leaving out some of her siblings.

Local Gossip about the wedding

Local Gossip about the wedding

Note:  I am assuming that the newspaper article with the picture of Vivian and titled “Cheney Maid Weds…” came from the Cheney Free Press where I found other articles referencing the event.  I did not have a lot of time to search this newspaper when I visited the Eastern Washington University library microfilm collection of newspapers to confirm this fact.


School Census for Cheney, Washington

March 28, 2013

I know that Vivian, Gordon, Miriam, Eddie and Jean all went to Cheney High School but not my father Keith, he went to Gonzaga which was a combination college and high school located in Spokane.

HistoryLink.org has a short article about the Normal School

http://www.historylink.org/index.cfm?DisplayPage=output.cfm&file_id=8246

In 2002 when I went to Spokane to do research on my Dad and his family, I went to the Spokane Public Library and tried to find city directories for Cheney among the collection of the Eastern Washington Genealogical Society.  City directories usually cover a large city.  As the city grows more areas are listed in what are called suburban directories.  I was unable to located any city directories that covered Cheney from 1920 to 1925.  I did find Spokane directories and thoroughly studied them. I was trying to find the address for the house they lived in Cheney but was unsuccessful.

A visit to the Washington State Archives on the Eastern Washington University campus opened the door to the use of School census.  My genealogy buddy had told me about them and found some good information for her search elsewhere in the state.

Census of Children, Spokane County, WA 1922

Portion of Census of Children, Spokane County, WA 1922

SOURCE:  Census of Children between 4/5 & 21 years, residing in School District #20, Spokane Co., Washington, May 1920-1926, Washington State Archives, Eastern Branch, Eastern Washington University, Cheney, WA.

1920: Vivian McDonald is listed as parent and signs:
Children listed: Vivian McDonald, Birth: May 12, 1902, Female, 32 wks at school, PO Address: Cheney, WA.
Gordon McDonald, May 3, 1904, male, 32 wks, Cheney, WA
Miriam McDonald, Jan. 15, 1906, female, 32 wks., Cheney, WA
Edna McDonald, Mar 28, 1907, female, 32 wks., Cheney, WA
Jean McDonald, June 30, 1909, female, 32 wks, Cheney, WA
Keith McDonald, Mar 28, 1910, male, 32 wks, Cheney, WA (date is wrong)

1922: R.S. McDonald is parent, Nellie signs
Vivian, Gordon, Miriam, Edna same as above

1923: Nellie is parent and signs as well. Vivian is not listed as doing any weeks at school, Gordon and Miriam did 36 while Edna, Jean and Keith did  35 weeks at school. The rest of the information is the same.

1924: Nellie is parent and signs
Vivian is not listed. Gordon, Miriam, Edna, Jean and Keith are listed with the same birth dates. Gordon is teaching at Big Timber, MT. with no weeks at school. Miriam and the rest did 36 weeks. Miriam is at “Normal.” Edna and Jean are in the 11th grade and Keith is in the 7th.

1925: Nellie is parent and signs
Both Vivian and Gordon are not listed. Mariam is at Normal, Edna and Jean are in 12th grade and Keith is in the 8th. All have done 36 weeks.

1926: R.S. McDonald is parent and signs
Vivian and Gordon are not listed. Miriam is listed as teaching, Edna has no school but is in Spokane. Jean is at Cheney with 36 weeks and Keith is in Spokane with 36 weeks.

These school census really shows the progression of Dad’s siblings lives during a short period of time from 1920 to 1926.  It gives the birth dates and that is good if you don’t have that information.  However, be careful they can be incorrect.

What is on these school census:  Names of Parents or Guardians, Names of the children, Date of birth, sex, no. of weeks at school, Address, signature.

Unfortunately, it does not give an address where they lived while they were in Cheney, WA.  So I have not been successful with the city directories nor the school census to find an address but I have learned a little about the movements of the McDonald children.

Cheney High School 1912

Cheney High School 1912

There was a society in Cheney that I visited called the Tillicum Society and I talked with a nice lady who told me that a great many of the houses in Cheney had been torn down.  This was disappointing news.  She also told me that the Cheney High School yearbooks also didn’t survive which would have been so wonderful to see if the McDonald children were in them.

I was given a handwritten name list of the Cheney High 1920-1925 graduates from the principal who was not identified. It was eight pages long.  I get the feeling this was from his memory.  It is missing Vivian.  Keith didn’t go to Cheney High School, he went to Gonzaga.  I was not given permission to publish but I am sure they would be helpful if you called them.  See link below.

1920:  no one listed from my family

1921:  Listed Gordon McDonald

1922:  Listed Marian McDonald

1923:  no one was listed from my family

1924:  no one was listed from my family

1925:  McDonald Edna, McDonald Jean

By the way I believe the Tillicum Society is now the Cheney Historical Museum:  http://www.cheneymuseum.org/index.html

Note:  The Photo of the Cheney High School was on a notecard given to me by the lady who helped me at the society.  Please go to their website if you had family in Cheney and  support them.

My Aunt Eddie, Keith’s older sister, is going to help us learn a little about what life was like for the McDonald children during Cheney High School years and a little more.  She had a journal book she filled with memorabilia from about 1915 to 1925.  She called it a “Collection of Junk.”


Family Recipe Friday: A Recipe from the Past – Nellie’s Creation

March 15, 2013

Here is a fun item given to me by a cousin who is a descendant of my dad’s sister Jean.  It is a recipe that was a favorite of Nellie’s.  My cousin added ice cream, chocolate or carmel sauce and all kinds of tasty bites to it.  I have not yet taken the time to make the recipe but it does sound delicious and I do love chocolate. Enjoy!

Nellie's Cake Recipe ca 1890

Nellie’s Cake Recipe ca 1890


Nellie (Ellen Elizabeth) McDonald thru the Years!

March 14, 2013

Nellie passed in May of 1947 which was 12 months before I was born.  I never knew her.  It is well-known in our family that she took on the task of raising R.S.’s children after Grace’s death in 1911. Grace’s death was described as “things were never the same.”

My dad, Keith, really didn’t talk about her much although she was probably the only mother that he remembered.  Grace Barclay McDonald, his real mother, had died in December of 1911 when he was only 18 months old.  Eddie, his sister mentioned she died right at Christmas.  I really had not realized that because Eddie would celebrate that holiday along with the others.

I felt I knew more about the McD’ side than I did my Mother’s side.  Dad didn’t talk specifics but I did know some family history.  Technically my family was a what his sister, Miriam, would often repeat,  “dour Scotsmen.”

The Caledonian Mercury has a posting on the meaning of the word “dour.”  http://caledonianmercury.com/2012/04/18/useful-scots-word-dour/0032435

Nellie and a mystery cat!

The picture above is one of my favorites of Nellie.  The dress is rather fancy so maybe this was some special day?  The one below has her holding another cat with different markings.  She seemed to prefer wearing dresses even when she worked.  This is the one connection with her that I find, our love of cats.

Nellie with another mystery cat!

Nellie is sort of an enigma to me regarding her personality.  She was held in esteem by her niece, Miriam.  Miriam said that Nellie gave her whole life to her and her siblings after Grace’s death.  She never married, nor had children of her own.

By 1920 she is with R.S. (Ronald)., her brother and his children, in Cheney, Washington.  About 1925 she would follow her brother to Spokane so that Keith, my dad, could go to Gonzaga High School and Eddie could go to nursing school.  The move to Yakima was to take place about 1937 and it would be her final migration.  Nellie and Ronald  where aging by then so they followed Miriam to Yakima were Miriam took up teaching.   Nellie would remain in Yakima for the rest of her life.

Nellie will be mentioned in future posts and pictures, I just felt it was important to focus in on her because she became the “mother” to my dad, Keith.

In studying the photos in my Dad’s collection and his sister Vivian’s, I see a woman, Nellie, who wasn’t afraid of work, who was determined, was probably religious, was friendly to others, loved cats, read the newspaper, joined her family in many picnics and fun things.  Even though they didn’t talk about her much, she is featured in many many photographs by herself and with the family.

Nellie off to Church, maybe?

The photo above is another one of Nellie that I like.  She looks a little impatient but I love the coat and the hat.  She was probably very neat and tidy no matter what she was doing.

It was Nellie who wrote the original family history charts in 1932 followed by Miriam, her niece redoing them.  Here are the post dates and titles that feature Nellie’s charts.  They are what I used to try to find my family in Quebec.  Go to the Archives on the right of this blog and find the dates that fit.

July 21, 2011 – Nellie’s Charts – Her Mother Mary McDonell’s Family.

June 17, 2011 – Nellie’s Charts – Her Father Archive McDonell’s Family

Here she is in a lovely white dress with a hat.

Nellie in Summer

We have seen that she liked cats but here she is seated next to a dog:

Nellie with dog

This next photograph is very puzzling.  I do not know the lady on the left.  Nellie and the lady’s dress is of the same print material, although the style is different.  I am assuming Nellie must have belonged to a club perhaps associated with the church?  There is another photo with Nellie in the same dress, but I do not recognize the people and they are dressed very fancy.  I love the hat with the flowers.  Nellie is on the right reaching over to adjust a tea-pot?

Nellie and a friend dress in similar prints

Nellie is in the same outfit in this photograph and a man I do not recognize is on the right.  It was definitely some special gathering.  The location is probably somewhere near Mt. Rainier.

Nellie in the same outfit not in correct orientation

Corrected photo - flipped it and now the can reads correctly.

Corrected photo – flipped it and now the can reads correctly.

Updated:  March 15, 2013:  A comment was made about the photos and the mountain not being correct and so I examined the printed coffee can words and sure enough I had this photo reversed in the orientation.  My Rainier mountain family expert pointed it out to me and I am glad to get this fixed.  It is very easy to get a photo out of orientation when you do not know the subject matter.  So I do try to look for letters or something in the photo to help.  I missed this one.

The next photo has Nellie holding something in her hand.  If you zoom in you find a cigarette in a holder? She smoked cigarettes?  I do love the clothesline however which is very tidy.  The lady peeking out from behind is unknown to me.  (To enlarge the photo, click on it and then use your back button to return to this blog or close a tab.)

Nellie and a friend

Here brother and sister, R.S. (Ronald) and Nellie, work the wood pile:

Nellie & R.S. Work the Wood Pile

A little over the fence gossip.  I think this photo is wonderful.

A little over the fence gossip – Nellie and the Neighbor


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