Revisiting: Ronald (Ranald) and Janet McDonell – The Lundie Family Connection!

August 26, 2014

Today, I am revisiting one of the children of Alexander John McDonell and Rachel McPherson.  This child is Ronald McDonell (Ranald) who married Janet McDonell. According to Neil McGillis who found this blog, Janet, is a member of the Lundie McDonells.  It is a great day when you find connections.

I wrote about this couple in a past post dated September 29, 2011 and it was titled:

The Ronald McDonell & Janet McDonell Family.”

http://macdonellfamily.wordpress.com/2011/09/

Neil has kindly consented to my sharing the family chart he sent to me.  I  removed the last line of individuals below Catherine and Ed Gallagher because they are still living.

McDonell of Lundie Chart

McDonell of Lundie Chart

Janet was a child of John McDonell who married Flora McKinnon and also Flora W. McLellan (dau of Donald McLellan and Isabella McGillis).* The marriage to Flora took place about  January 1827 in Beckwith Twp.

Where is Beckwith Twp., it is in Lanark County, Ontario:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beckwith,_Ontario

This link is to the township site where they have some brochures and a book:

http://www.twp.beckwith.on.ca/history.aro

Beckwith: Irish and Scottish Identities in a Canadian Community. Looks like you can read some of this book here:  http://www.ourroots.ca/e/toc.aspx?id=6013 

To think I drove through the area in 2012 and stopped for gas in Carleton Place on my way to Hastings Co. I guess I should have dallied more in Lanark County, although I did enjoy Smith Falls and visited the Lanark County Genealogical Society. http://macdonellfamily.wordpress.com/2012/06/17/lanark-county-smith-falls-ontario/  I knew there was more there because of the references to Alexander MacDonald who lived in Sandpoint along the Ottawa river having been there in Lanark and then in Glengarry County and then up to the Arnprior area.  I just did not know how he fit in.  I will share more about that in a later post.

John McDonell then migrated to Horton Twp. which is in Renfrew County, Ontario and onto Chichester which is in Pontiac County, Quebec and he died in Sheenboro Twp. on 13 February 1861.  I visited this area in 2012 and wrote many posts about my adventure on this blog under the title of the Touring the Upper Ottawa….I was in Renfrew County quite a bit on my trip in 2012 and also in Sheenboro.

John is not listed on the tombstones at the Gravemarker gallery  nor in the written online transcript as being buried in the St. Paul De Hermit Roman Catholic Cemetery graveyard.  I have visited this cemetery in person in Sheenboro, Pontiac Co., Quebec and there are lots of empty spaces even though it is well-tended.

http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~klf69/sheenboro/index.htm

In reviewing the above chart, and the family pages I list below,  we see that  John and Flora McLellan had the following children:

1.  Donald b. 1827

2.  Angus b. 1829.  He married Ellen Kennedy, 8 January 1867.

3. ** Janet b. 1831.  She married first Ranald (Ronald) McDonald 1827 to 1862 and her 2nd marriage was to Thomas Poupore [Sr.]

4.  Alexander 1833 to 1885.  He married Johanna Walsh.  After his death she remarried to a Peter Langan.  He died about 1896. She died about 1913.

5.  Duncan married Isabella.

6.  Allan b. 1835 a deaf-mute

7. Betsy b. 1840, she married Francis Walsh in 1867.

8. Louisa b. 1843 married Donald McGillis

JohnMcDonell&Flora McLellan

If the chart is to confusing try this:  Janet&Ronald  Please be advised that charts and outlines are subject to change at any time.

Neil gave me a link to a family website and I have tried comparing the chart above with a family tree online at Rootsweb titled:   French, Scottish, Irish, German and English families of James and Deborah McDonald,* by James Allan McDonald compiler.  He has information on this line of McDonells/Macdonells and takes Janet’s lineage way back.

Here is the link to John McDonell on this tree and you can see that he is named John Mor MacDonell. Just click on his name and it will bring you to his individual page.

http://wc.rootsweb.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?op=REG&db=ranaldthecalf&id=I19362

I am still trying to read through this family tree and absorb it.  I am impressed with it but I am also a little wary of some of the sources. As I always say please verify the information yourself.

The above website at Rootsweb does not go into any detail about Flora McLellan.  You have to go back to the chart I have displayed above. It does list the children from John’s first marriage.

My information has Janet’s birth to be about 1833 so it makes sense that John married the second time to Flora McLellan before 1827.  If there is a record of that marriage, I would be glad to receive it.

John Mor MacDonell was born about 1781 in Scotland and lived in Glengarry Co., on the 6th Concession, Lochiel Twp. at about the date of 12 Jan. 1841. Unfortunately, there is no mention of the lot number but there is one listed for his brother Archibald as Lot 4 the north end of the sixth Concession in Lochiel Twp. for about 1845.  John died 7 February 1861 in Sheen Twp., Pontiac Co., Quebec.

The website does give children for John and the 1st Flora as follows:  Mary 1811, Nancy 1810 in Scotland, Penelope 1813 in Scotland, Christine 1817,  and Donald 1826.  They may be other children – see my chart just click to open which is not necessarily in birth order.

JohnMcDonell & Flora MacKinnon

 

The website goes on to give the parents of John Mor MacDonell

–Alexander (Lundi) MacDonell b. Abt 1754 in Knoydart, Scotland and he married Janet (Barrisdale) MacDonell b. 1763 in Knoydart, Scotland.  He died on 1 Jan. 1842 in the snows near Allumette Island.   Janet was born about 1763 in Knoydart and died 14 Jan. 1847 in Stark’s Corners, Clarendon Twp., Pontiac Co., Quebec.

 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knoydart

Neil mentioned a 1815 list of enrollees to which you will find a transcription of those that came on the ships the Dorothy, Baltic Merchant, and Atlas:   http://www.theshipslist.com/ships/passengerlists/edinburghindex.shtml  Alexander is featured in the list for the Baltic Merchant. Lucille H. Campey in her book: The Scottish Pioneers to Upper Canada, 1784 to 1855 Glengarry and Beyond, has a combined ship summary of this list on page. 191, Appendix 1, “General List of Settlers, Enrolled for Canada under the Government Regulations at Edinburgh, 1815,” [PRO CO 385/2 ff 3-26].   PRO stands for Public Records Office and CO is Colonial office.   I guess it means I have to go to England to see the list. HA!

Alexander’s father was:

– Roderick (Rauri) MacDonell U.E. and he married Mary Cameron and they had:

1.  Alexander – John’s father

2. Ronald MacDonell b. about 1768

3. Roderick (Rory Og) MacDonell

4. Angus Mor MacDoneld b. in Scotland

–Roderick’s father is Angus (Lundie) MacDonell U.E.L.  and he died in 1783 enroute to Glengary Co. from the Mohawk Valley of New York State.  There is more but you can enjoy the links I have given and do your own investigating.

There is still more digging and studying to do.  Did you notice mention of the Mohawk Valley in NY, well, I am absolutely fascinated by the history of that area. A surprise to come if all goes well on my trip.  The other is the initials of U.E. and U.E.L. I guess it is time to start studying Loyalists records and not just dabble.  Of course the references to Sheenboro and Allumette just make me happy!

Neil took it one more step further and referred me to Chart #13, page 724 of the work of Duncan Darby MacDonald of the MacDonald Research Centre in Brockville, Ontario.  I have mentioned Mr. MacDonald in past posts.  He has written many books on Glengarry history, church records and charts.  Unfortunately, he passed away several years ago.  However, you cannot do research in Glengarry or areas nearby without coming across his works.  It is now time to dig in to the charts and there are about 5 volumes of charts.

Fortunately, the book below is the book we can target.  It is very thick and a copy is at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.  I think it is very rare book and not many copies were published,  because I have not been able to purchase a copy for myself.  I do now that most of the estate went to Global Genealogy. They never did add more to this initial list of the titles.  http://globalgenealogy.com/globalgazette/gazed/gazed139.htm

Source;  Scotland’s Migratons to North America. Early Settlers to Upper Canada (Eastern Ontario) Stormont & Glengarry, a collection of genealogical charts by Duncan (Darby) MacDonald, Part-IV, 3rd Edition, 1993, ISBN O-921133-39-1.   

This book has many charts in it of many prominent families and Lundie MacDonells start on page 721 to 735, with mention of other charts to consult written on some of the pages.

Now when you search for Mr. MacDonald, he will be either Darby MacDonald, Duncan Darby MacDonald, William Harold and other variations of his name.

 


Eddie’s “Collection of Junk!”

April 25, 2013

My Aunt Eddie, Keith’s sister, had a journal book filled with memorabilia that was titled:

A Collection of Junk!

A Collection of Junk

A Collection of Junk

In the post dated January 3, 2013, Ronald’s Story Continues! Revisiting Grand Prairie, Alberta and mention of Albany, Oregon, I shared a little from the collection in that post about those locations.  I was surprised to find that they were in Albany, Oregon before heading for Cheney.  At some point I will have to find additional records to show that the McDonald family was there.

The journal/ scrapbook is now 92+ years old.  It smelled musty, the pages had discolored, items were missing leaving blank spaces, things had fallen out and been stuffed back inside.  The scrapbook was filled with mementos of school, places, friendship, club activities, high school parties, graduations, and political leanings.  It was just a scrapbook using a cash journal for its home.

The journal's outside

The journal’s outside

Apparently this “Collection” was first owned by her sister Jean whose name was written in the back of the book, but most of the stuff in the book was about Eddie’s life experiences.

Jean claims ownership in the back of the journal

Jean claims ownership in the back of the journal

Eddie claimed ownership on page 67:

Eddie's claim to ownership in the front of the book

Eddie’s claim to ownership in the front of the book

Here is a picture of Eddie probably sometime around about 1918 give or take a few years.

Eddie at a young age

Eddie at a young age

This is an example of what the pages looked like in her journal scrapbook:

A example of a page of the journal.

An example of a page of the journal.

As I studied the items I began to see more categories or rather groupings of the information.  Eddie wrote notes describing the item but some items were missing or miss filed so I was not able to identify all.  Eddie didn’t necessarily put the memorabilia in date order and she mixed them up.

These are some of the groupings I came up with:

        • Basketball
        • Cooking Class or rather domestic science
        • Friendship
        • Gift from Grandma
        • Gordon
        • Grade School
        • Grammar book
        • Grand Prairie
        • Halloween
        • Holidays
        • Keith
        • Letters from Other Schools
        • Miriam
        • Movies & News
        • Newspaper Editor
        • Nurses School
        • Oddities and Missing things
        • Plays & Things
        • Politics and News
        • Pretty Things
        • Religion
        • School Memories
        • Stories Written
        • The Tea Room
        • Vivian

The journal covers several locations like Grand Prairie, Alberta, Albany, Oregon; Spokane, Washington; Cheney, Washington, and even a little of Seattle.

In the posts that follow, reference to Eddie’s “Collection of Junk” will appear on occasion or when it adds to the information that I already have about that topic or person.  We will start with her older sister Vivian.


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.”


A Scandal in Koochiching County circa 1918!

January 19, 2013

Koochiching County, Minnesota’s north boundary touches the Canadian border.

Koochiching broke off from Itasca County and became its own county in 1906.  Keith’s father, Ronald (R.S.) was there to help plat the town of International Falls and at one point he was acounty commissioner.

Here are past posts about R.S. McDonald and his involvement with International Falls.  You can go to the archive box on the right of this blog and search for May 2010.

  • May 15, 2010 “Commissioner R.S. McDonald
  • May 10, 2010 “Ronald S. McDonald – A Dam is Built!”
  • May 2, 2010 “Ronald S. McDonald or known as just R.S.”

My hubby and I have visited International Falls on several occasions in 2000 and 2001 enjoying the sights and doing genealogical research.

My cousin was born and lived there but passed in 2007, at the age of 94.  I met her when she was 87.  She was one of the reasons I went there to visit.  She was the daughter of John (Jack) and Sarah McDonald, Ronald’s brother and sister-in-law. She was my father, Keith’s, cousin.  I have shared in this blog several of Mary’s stories about her father and mother.  She didn’t have any stories to tell me about my family because she was about 3-4 years old when Ronald left International Falls and was too young to know them.

The first time we went to International Falls (2000)we flew from Minneapolis in an airplane with propellers and 3 seats – 1 on one side and two on the other.  I remember thinking as we flew over the wild landscape below:  “This is your fault Dad.”  Remember, my father, Keith was born in International Falls.  See the post dated March 13, 2010 “A Baptism In International Falls!”

If memory serves the plane landed in Grand Rapids, MN and then continued it journey to International Falls.  I spent the flight looking out the window and studying the landscape as we flew over and was fascinated by it.  The plane’s altitude was not the usual 32,000 feet.  It seemed we were very close to the ground.  I mostly saw trees, water and some open land.  It looked very wild to me.

The airport in International Falls was very small.  We exited the plane by walking down the steep stairs and across the field to the terminal.  It was interesting to see my hubby try to make car rental arrangements.

At the Falls International Airport there is a photograph of the airport with the airplane on the ground.  It is just like I remember:  http://www.internationalfallsairport.com/the-airport/  After visiting International Falls we headed south to Bemidji, Pine River and Brainerd and end the trip in Minneapolis.

The second time we visited in 2001,  we drove up to International Falls from Minneapolis.  Our route took us to Brainerd, to Pine River, through Walker, to Bemidji, passed Blackduck and then onto International Falls.  From International Falls we drove to Grand Rapids down Highway 71 and then we went east on Hwy 2.  From Grand Rapids, we headed over to the eastern side of Minnesota through Cloquet and Willow River and back to Minneapolis.  These were places that Ronald (R.S.) and Grace knew and lived.

Black Duck Park

Black Duck Park

On both occasions we have driven Highway 71.  The road is very very straight and there are no changes in altitude.  The two books I refer to below, written by Drache, were being read at the time and I know I read one of them as we drove along.

International Falls is a cool city.  I enjoyed my visits there.  Everything is easy to find and get too.  The second time were were there a big storm was brewing and someone was mentioning twisters.  I thought it was great but my hubby was not too excited and kept rushing me to the motel, as if that would help if one came.

You can go across the border over the bridge between the two big lumber companies and visit Fort Francis which is in Canada.  How much of International Falls my Dad, Keith, remembered is hard to say for he was born in March 1910 and left there when he was about 5 or 6 years old.

So, I do have some idea of what the county of Koochiching is like and some familiarity with International Falls.  The idea that my grandfather got caught up in a court case about land fraud seems amazing to me.  I am not saying he was innocent just very interesting and I wish I had more information about the events.  I have tried to piece together as much as possible but have not yet looked at court records.  So I have more do to on this subject.

Here is what I have found out so far:

If you want to learn about the region of Koochiching you need to read this book:  “Koochiching, Pioneering, Along the Rainy River Frontier,” by Hiram M. Drache, The Interstate Printers and Publishers Inc., 1983.  It has photographs which are very interesting.  I particularly like the Falls before and after the dam was built.  I also like pictures of the logging activities.  Mr. Drache wrote a very detailed book.

If you want to know more about the land issues in the area, you might want to read this booklet about the peat or muskeg swamps in the area.  At the time R.S. was there they were trying to do “ditching.” The idea was to drain the land for farming.  This booklet is at Google Books.

Bulletin Volumes 16-17 Minnesota Geological Survey, Bulletin No. 16 The Peat Deposits of Minnesota,” by E.K. Soper, United States Geological Survey, United State Bureau of Mines, University of Minnesota, 1919. page 172 “Koochiching County.”

There are approximately one million acres of wet or swamp lands in Koochiching County, and most of this area is covered with from 2 to 20 feet of peat.  The average depth of the peat in the county is about 7 feet, and there are at least 750,000 acres of muskeg swamps over which the peat will average 7 feet thick. 

There are several types of peat bogs in the county, but by far the commonest is a typical muskeg swamp, forested with tamarack, or spruce, or both.  

So why am I interesting in peat and muskeg swamps, well read on…

The second book is:  “Taming the Wilderness, The Northern Border Country 1910-1939,” by Hiram M. Drache, Interstate Publishers, Inc., 1992.  Mr. Drache writes:

“Chapter IX The Unyielding Wilderness – Much of the Northern Border Country was not attractive to settlers who were interested in farming.  Except for those who cut the trees and left, the homesteaders soon realized the futility of their efforts.  The tree-covered muskeg virtually prohibited farming and travel in the area.  To overcome the obstacles and provide the proper environment for agriculture, it was necessary to drain the land to provide roads. 

Mr. Drache goes on and on for pages about the ditching problems in the area.

“These problems were compounded as land was abandoned once the timber was gone and were intensified by corruption among those involved in ditching, road construction, and financing on the local level. Illegal activity in 1916 involving as much as $200,000 in public funds caused Governor J.A.A. Burnquist to suspend County Auditor L.H. Slocum and three county commissioners – R.S. McDonald, William Harrigan, and Harold Royem…The Rev. Thomas Howard headed a group of over 100 citizens who held a mass meeting before the commissioners, asking them to explain what they had done to bring about the suspension of county officials.  The group approved the governor’s action and passed a resolution condemning the actions of the Northwestern Construction Company, which had received funds improperly for work on State Highway No. 5, 9, 20, and 24 and had abandoned the jobs prior to completion…Commissioners McDonald, Harrigan and Royem stood trial for knowingly letting county bonds be sold at a 5 percent discount.  The investigation produced 13 indictments against Slocum; 5 against G.A. Elder, a broker; and 2 against R.S. McDonald.  The case against Slocum was dismissed for lack of evidence.  This undermined the county’s chance of a major recovery, because it was believed that this was the strongest case it had against any of the accused.  The verdicts totaled $64,744.22 of which slightly over $15,000.00 eventually was paid.  There was little hope of collecting any additional amounts, because most of the individuals being sued were not financially “responsible.”  pg. 247.

The Footnotes at the end of the chapter are also interesting, pg. 262:

…transcript of testimony on Case #21,492, January 19, 1917 County of Koochiching vs. George A. Elder, et. al.

Note:  The case number did not show up at the Minnesota Historical Society in 2007 but I believe they do have these cases now?

This reference in the Bibliography might be interesting to see:

 Bibliography pg. 349:  County of Koochiching vs. George A. Elder, Commercial Investment Co., John Nuveen & Co., R.S. McDonald, William Durrin, Harold Royem, and L. H. Slocum, Defendants.  Transcript of Testimony of Trial at Brainerd, District Court, 15th Judicial District, commenced January 17, 1919.  

The International Falls Press and Border Budget report on Thursday June 13, 1918 several articles about the county investigation (Vol. 12, No. 17). In the article on the left “Fake Reports on Cost and Result of Investigation,” my grandfather’s name appears four times.

Land Troubles in Koochiching 1918

Land Troubles in Koochiching 1918

Here is the continuation of the front page county investigation which overlaps some of the first photograph:

Land problems Koochiching lower page

Land problems Koochiching lower page

I found this online just recently:  The Bemidji Daily Pioneer, 1904-1972, Sept. 9, 1916 page 8, Image 8, Library of Congress, Chronicling America. Provided by the Minnesota Historical Society.  Has an article “Governor Promises Full Inquiry into Koochiching Affairs – More Officials of Koochiching County Removed by Gov. Burnquist.”  The article is on the front page last column and page 8 not page 4 as it says at the bottom.

I also found this tip at Google books referring to State cases?

The Executive Documents of the State of Minnesota for the Year, Forty-Seventh Annual Report of the Commissioner of Insurance of the State of Minnesota to his Excellency the Governor, Part I 1918, Syndicate Printing Co., Attorney General, pg. 21, District Courts of Minnesota, Criminal Cases:

915 State vs. Slocum.  Auditing and allowing a fraudulent claim against Koochiching County. Found guilty. Paid $2,000.00 fine.

920 State vs. George A. Elder. Auditing and allowing fraudulent bills to be paid out of county funds.  Found guilty. Fine $5,000.00

917 State vs. R.S.  McDonald, Indicted. Auditing and allowing fraudulent bills to be paid out of county funds.  Koochiching county.  Party left country.  Extradition requested. 

Again, I have a lot more research to do on these court cases.  It would be interesting to see what they reveal about R.S. and his involvement and the final outcome for Keith’s dad.


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.


In Reflection: My Trip to Ontario and Quebec!

June 30, 2012

Well, my trip was completed on June 9, 2012 and it has taken me three weeks to post all that I wanted to post about this trip to Ontario and Quebec. I can’t believe I did 2117 miles. 

It was a good trip, hard, complicated and very satisfying.  As always I can think of things I should have done and didn’t, photographs I wish I had taken and more.  I have learned a lot and saw many amazing places. 

I would like to thank all my followers for their support, it is greatly appreciated.  A big thank you to all the wonderful people I met along the way and their help and support. 

As usual I put my binder together of this trip with my collection of maps and pamphlets and sources.  

My next goal is to get the links to archives and more up on my side panel. 

Uploading more of the cemetery photos I took might take a little while because I need to identify get them ready.

UPDATE 7/19/2012:  I have uploaded the additional cemetery photos to the appropriate cemetery posting.  Go to the side bar of this blog and look at Categories and seek out the CEMETERIES and pick one you would like to look at.  The link is either in the middle or at the bottom to my Picasa Web Albums. 

Of course, I need to review my research and the sources I studied.  I will let you know if there is anything really great that I found. 

I need to post on my other blogs.  So this blog is back on schedule where I post about every two weeks. 

St. Lawrence River – 1000 Island Drive

Here are some AH Moments during the trip:

1.  Walking into the Pontiac Archive in Shawville.

2.  Seeing Allumette Island from Pembroke’s marina for the first time.

3.  Looking out across land in Chichester Township at Auberge Norfolk in Nicabeau.

4.  Standing before the St. Alphonsus church in Chapeau and looking back from the bridge to Chichester and seeing the spire in the distance.

5.  The Ottawa River and its many moods especially the Culbute Channel and from Calumet Island.

6.  St. Andrews Church in St. Andrews West for the first time.

7.  St. Raphael’s Ruins.

8.  Kirkhill and the two spires of the two churches in the distance.

8.  The Rideau Canal in the early morning in Smith Falls.

10.  The 1000 Island Drive along the St. Lawrence

11.  The St. Lawrence in the morning next to the Monte Carlo Motel in Cornwall.

I could go on but I think that is a nice list.


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