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

January 5, 2012

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

When did the move take place?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Or the Drouin Collection at Ancestry.com

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

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

Miriam's Notes on Archie and Mary

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

Beltrami Courthouse in Bemidji


The Migration to Minnesota Begins for the McDonell’s!

December 23, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One of the Naturalization papers for Ronald McDonald

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

My Aunt Miriam wrote the following about her father: 

Ronald McDonald Mini Bio

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

Alexander John McDonell & Ellen McPherson’s Family

August 5, 2011

Alexander John McDonell and Ellen McPherson are the great great grandparents of Keith.  They are his grandmother Mary’s father and mother.

Alexander John has been discussed in past posts.  He appears in the 1861 Canadian Census for Pontiac County, Quebec with several of his children: Mary, Rachel, Duncan and Finley.  In this census it states that he was born in Upper Canada (Ontario) and that he was 66 years old which means he was born about 1795.  This census also implies that Ellen, his wife, died before 1861 for she is not listed with the family?

The burial location of Alexander John McDonell and his wife Ellen McPherson is not known at this time.  They do not seem to appear in the St. Alphonsus church records.

Based on Nellie’s and Miriam’s charts featured in past post, they had the following children:

1.  Alexander McDonell was a hotel keeper and was born before 1825.  He married Margaret (Maggie) MacDonald and they had three children:  John, Winnifred and Duncan.  He does not seem to appear in the St. Alphonsus Church Records and the Canadian census for1851 and 1861 does not list him or Maggie for the Pontiac County area??

2.  Ronald McDonell was born about 1825 and died 15 Sep 1862 in the St. Alphonsus Church Cemetery and is buried in the church cemetery.  He married 28 June 1852 (St. Alphonsus Church records) Janet who was born about 1833 in Upper Canada.  They had 6 children.  In a future post this couple will be further discussed.

3.  John McDonell born about 1825 and died 22 January 1860 and is buried in the St. Alphonsus Church cemetery. He married Christiana on 7 October 1848 in Chapeau.   John and Christiana (Christy) didn’t have any children recorded in the St. Alphonsus Church records even though they were married 12 years before his death.  Marriage Source:  Quebec Baptisms, Marriages and Burial Index, St. Alphonsus Church Records, #M10, FHL#1029797 and also at Ancestry.com under the Drouin Collection.  A search of the 1851 and 1861 census does not reveal a John or Christiana in the Pontiac area?

4.  Hugh McDonell was born about 1834 in Upper Canada but his death is unknown.  He married 24 May 1858 (St. Alphonsus Church Records) to Ellen.  Ellen was born about 1835 in Lower Canada and died 20 June 1920 and is buried in the St. Alponsus Church Cemetery.  They had 5 children.  This couple will be featured in a later post.

5.  Catherine (Kitty) McDonell  was born about 1835.  She married a John Fraser 7 October 1855 (St. Alphonsus Church Records)  and they had three children:  William, Ella and Lincoln.  Ella married a Fred Fielder.  Again Canadian census information does not give much information on this family.  John’s parents were John Frazer and Mary Kennedy.  Marriage Source:  Quebec Baptisms, Marriages and Burial Index, St. Alphonsus Church Records, #M7, FHL#1029797 and also at Ancestry.com under the Drouin Collection.

6.  Jennette (Jennie) Catherine McDonell was born about 1836 and died 2 September 1916 buried on the 4th of September in the St. Alphonsus Church Cemetery.  Jennette’s story is very interesting.  She first married Angus John McDonald (Big Angus) and after his death she remarried to Thomas Payne.  Jennette will be discussed further in a future post.

7.  Rachel McDonell was born about 1838 in Lower Canada and died 8 January 1881.  She is buried in the St. Alphonsus Church Cemetery.  Rachel was listed in the 1861 census with her sister Mary and father Alexander.  Apparently Rachel did not marry.  Burial Source:  Quebec Baptisms, Marriages and Burial Index, St. Alphonsus Church Records, #1328, FHL#1029797 and also at Ancestry.com under the Drouin Collection.

8.  Mary Elizabeth McDonell, Keith’s grandmother.  Mary and Archibald are featured in many posts of this blog.

9.  Duncan McDonell was born about 1842 in Lower Canada (Quebec) and died 6 May 1910 and is buried in the St. Alphonsus Church Cemetery.  He married Elizabeth Sauve the 27th of February 1865 according to the St. Alphonsus Church records.  They had maybe 15 children?  Duncan and his family will be further discussed in a future post.

10.  Finlay McDonell was born about 1845 in Lower Canada (Quebec).  Nothing more is know about him.  It is possible he migrated further south into Ontario.  Note:  If the census was dated 1861 and he was born 1845 that means that the mother Ellen may have died between these dates?

The Canadian 1861 Census for Rachel states that she was born in Lower Canada.  Duncan and Finlay are indicated as being born in Lower Canada.  Mary McDonell (Keith’s grandmother) gives Upper Canada as her birthplace.  The information I have places her year of birth at 1840.  Her sister Rachel’s birth year is suspect?  Still this implies that the family moved or migrated about 1840 to the Chapeau, Chichester area?

In summary the sources are

More research needs to be done and more sources checked for each of these families such as a land, probate, newspapers, histories and more.  Maybe a trip to Canada is in the future!!!

Clarification:  I refer to Wikipedia’s articles on Upper Canada and Lower Canada to explain these political divisions and the time they were in existence in Canada. So there might be some confusion about birth location such as Duncan and Finlay because it then becomes Canada West and Canada East.  (See link to Upper Canada) Also understand the settlement pattern was very different then and not as expanded and developed as today.  “Upper Canada existed from 26 December 1791 to 10 February 1841 and generally comprised present-day Southern Ontario.”


Nellie’s Charts – Her Mother Mary McDonell’s Family!

July 21, 2011

Ronald’s sister Nellie prepared the family genealogy in 1932 almost 20 years after the death of her parents Archibald and Mary McDonell.  Nellie (Ellen Elizabeth) had not been to Canada since 1901 when she immigrated with her parents and brother John (Jack) to Minnesota.  So when you see these charts you will be amazed for her grand-niece thinks she did a wonderful job and the family is truly indebted to her for her efforts.

Nellie prepared a long piece of paper with the family descendants for both Archie’s family on the left and Mary’s on the right.  This piece of paper was too big to store without creasing it so it was scanned into the computer in 3 sections and gently separated into two. 

Some time after Nellie had prepared this chart her niece Miriam rewrote it creating two charts one for Archie’s side and one for Mary’s side of the family.  There are minor differences between the charts. 

So we started with Keith’s grandfather Archie’s side of the family presenting the chart by featuring it in the post dated June 17, 2011 and titled Nellie’s Charts: Her Father Archie McDonell’s Family.   In the following posts dated June 30, 2011 A Mystery - Roy Macdonnell and July 8, 2011 Glengarry in Ontario etc. there was a discussion about Archibald’s origins and family.

Now we will feature Keith’s grandmother Mary McDonell’s side of the family. 

Click on the chart below and it should open up larger for you to read.  Remember to hit the back arow to return to this post. 

If you are a descendant of Alexander John McDonald and Ellen McPherson please copy and enjoy but remember credit goes to Nellie McDonell (first chart) and Miriam her niece (second chart). 

Alex. Ban McDonell Family Chart

Miriam's Version of Alex Ban Chart

The research on the McDonell family has been based on these charts and so far on Mary’s side of the family the names listed and families can be traced in the Canadian census well into the 1900′s and probably beyond.   The challenge is the spelling of the name McDonell/McDonald which can vary greatly.

The focus of the research has been on tracing Keith’s grandparents Archibald and Mary and their life journey.  In future posts the siblings of Mary will be discussed as best we can.

Archie and Mary left the area of Chichester and Chapeau in 1901 and migrated to Bemidji, Beltrami Co., Minnesota, to be with their children.  The family story is that the children of Archie and Mary felt they were getting to old and convinced them to migrate to the United States.

The St. Alphonsus Church has many of these families listed in their records of marriages, deaths and baptisms.  There are films at the Family History Library for this church and the registers are on Ancestry.com.   See the post dated March 23, 2010 Records of the St. Alphonsus Church for more information.

The book compiled by Elaine Brown on the St. Alphonsus cemetery located at this church also lists many of these individuals.  http://www.personainternet.com/etbrown/alphonse.htm

If you are descended from any one of these families by all means say at least “hello” by leaving a comment or contacting me through the compiler page listed at the top of this blog.


Glengarry in Ontario, Canada – Origins of Archibald McDonell?

July 8, 2011

Keith’s sister Miriam writes that Archibald went back to his birth location before he migrated to Minnesota from Canada in 1901.  This information has been shared before but it is worth repeating here:

Archibald & Glengarry, Ontario

Unfortunately, Glengarry, Ontario changed in size over the years so Archibald’s birth location could be very difficult to pin down.  His death certificate from Minnesota didn’t reveal any names for his parents.  No obituary was found in the International Falls newspaper at his death in 1912. 

To find a John and Sara McDonell in the Glengarry area of Ontario or for that matter a Roy Macdonell,  is like finding a needle in a haystack because of all the John McDonell/Macdonell/McDonald etc. spellings.

Keith’s sister Miriam was guessing about our MacDonell heritage.  She did do some research and here are some of her thoughts as she tried to understand the Scottish clan system:

Re: MacDonell

Miriam writes more on the Clan System:

The Clan System and more...

Miriam references Prebble.  This is a book by John Prebble titled “The Highland Clearances,” published by Penquin Books in 1963 and again in 1969.  Her niece found copies in a Scottish store in Annapolis, Maryland on a little road trip years ago. They also had Prebble’s “Glencoe” published first in 1966 and again in 1969. 

The Michael Fullar book was a little harder to come by but a copy was secured as well.  It is really called:  “Your Scottish Clan Heritage.” This large book was published in 1973.  It is almost like a coffee table book with big pages and wonderful photographs and maps. 

Miriam didn’t stop there and continues with yet more Notes:

Notes - The First Use of MacDonell...

Again she refers back to Michael Fullar’s book and to John Prebble’s “The Highland Clearances.”  She even tries to identify Scottish words and their meanings.

Miriam did her best and for that the family is grateful.  The origins of Archibald McDonell are still unknown but then genealogical research is never done. 

There were many forces that sent the people of Scotland to North America and beyond.  Since Miriam did her research back in the 1970′s and 1980′s more books have been written on this subject of the Highland Clearances and immigration of the Scots to Canada and for that matter to the Colonies and later the United States.  It is a big subject and would take years to study.   

Here are a few titles that might be of value in learning about the settlement of Canada by the Scots:

“A History of Glengarry,” by Royce MacGillivray and Ewan Ross, Mika Publishing Co., Belleville, Ontario 1979.

“The People of Glengarry, Highlanders in Transition, 1745-1820,” by Marianne McLean, McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1991.

“A Dance Called America, The Scottish Highlands the United States and Canada,” by James Hunter, Mainstream Publishing, 1994

“The Highland Scots of North Carolina, 1732-1776, by Duane Meyer, University of North Carolina, 1957 and again in 1961. 

I have found the books by Lucille Campey to be very informative.  Here are a few of her book titles:

“The Scottish Pioneers of Upper Canada 1785-1855, Glengarry & Beyond,” Lucille H. Campey, Natural Heritage Books, 2005

“Fast Sailing and Copper-Bottomed Boats, Aberdeen Sailing Ships and the Emigrant Scots They Carried to Canada 1774-1853, Lucille H. Campey, Natural Heritage Books, 2002

“An Unstoppable Force, The Scottish Exodus to Canada,” Lucille H. Campey, Natural Heritage Books, 2008. 

Ms. Campey has a website:  http://www.scotstocanada.com/ She also has her books listed in more detail at her website.  She has added some lists of ships that came to Canada. 

Miriam did not mention another event and that was the subject of Loyalists.  That is a whole other topic.  Just be advised that a great many Scots who lived in the Colonies were loyalists and ended up in Canada after the American Revolution.  They came from North Carolina, New York and other locations and settled in places like New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island and of course Glengarry in Ontario, Canada.

“Research Guide to Loyalist Ancestors, A Directory to Archives, Manuscripts, Published and Electronic Sources, by Paul J. Bunnell, F.A.C.G., U.E., Heritage Books, 2006.  Paul is a frequent vendor at major conferences like NGS, FGS and others.  Very nice man easy to talk to. 

Here are a couple of genealogical research strategy books for Canada:

“Finding Your Canadian Ancestors, A Beginner’s Guide,” by Sherry Irvine and Dave Obee.  Ancestry Publishing 2007.  I attended a lecture by Dave at a local genealogical society conference and Sherry is well known in APG which I am a member of.  Here is his website:  http://www.bunnellgenealogybooks.citymaker.com/page/page/994036.htm

“In Search of Your Canadian Roots, Tracing Your Family Tree in Canada, by Angus Baxter, 3rd Edition, Genealogical Publishing Co., 1999.  This is getting a little old but it was a classic in its time. Since 1999 the Internet has opened up a lot in Canadian research. 

Hint:  Click on Miriam’s notes above and they will get bigger, remember to use the back button to return to this post.


A Mystery – Roy Macdonnell?

June 30, 2011

In the last post Nellie and Miriam’s Archibald McDonald chart was featured but it raised questions about the parentage of Archibald. 

Miriam's version - Roy???

There are several possibilities regarding Archie’s father and his mother! 

Who is this Roy? Who is Alex Ban Cameron’s daughter?

1.  The first thought is the St. Alphonsus Church records are correct and John and Sarah McDonell are Archie’s parents.

Miriam's version - Roy???

2.  Another possibility is that Nellie didn’t really know and made a guess about her father’s parents.  She did not have the St. Alphonsus Church record of the marriage of Archibald and Mary McDonell.

3. If  John is Archie’s father, it could be John is his real name while “Roy” is a nickname or he is “John Roy” or “Roy John.”  Keith’s family used nicknames and middle names to identify family members.

4.  Since Nellie wrote out these charts in 1932 years after Archie’s death, she could not check with him to verifying information and we could be missing a generation and Roy is Archie’s grandfather and therefore Nellie’s great-grandfather.  John and Sara are her grandparents on her father’s side. 

One thing is clear finding Archie’s family in the Chichester area has been very difficult. 

A burial location for his parents in the area of Chapeau and Chichester has not been found but more research into the cemetery records of the area is needed. 

So far making a connection to even sisters and brothers has yielded little results.  The Canadian census microfilm for the area of Chapeau, Allumette and for that matter Pontiac County, Quebec  have been searched several times and nothing has been discovered to make a connection to Archie.

If the chart is correct and Archie is the youngest of the siblings in this family, then he probably would need to strike out on his own for the inheritance would have passed to his oldest brother?  The laws of inheritance for Canada in the early 1800′s follow the British rules for inheritance.    The lands in the Glengarry area of Ontario had already been divided up and settled by the time Archie reached manhood and even earlier. 

Here is a list of the children of Roy Macdonnell and Alex Ban Cameron’s daughter – see chart in the last post for reference and more details: 

1.  Ronald married a Williams.  He was a farmer.

2.  John married Julia (fr) Tebeau and was a shoemaker.  The chart lists descendants.

3.  Kitty was a spinster and a weaver.

4.  Angus was a blacksmith and married unknown and the chart lists descendants.

5.  Duncan a farmer and married unknown but has descendants.

6. Sarah married a Murphy and went to Denver, CO. 

7.  Archibald – the father of Ronald and grandfather of Keith and Miriam.

The St. Alphonsus Catholic church record states John and Sara McDonell are Archie’s parents.  See the post dated December 3, 2010 “McDonell and McDonell Marriage!”

Let us review Miriam’s notes:

MacDonalds

Miriam writes that she believes Roy Macdonell and Alexander John MacDonald arrived in Canada by 1800.  However when we review the 1861 Canadian Census in my post dated November 11, 2010 “Mary McDonell, Archie’s Future Bride – 1861!” In this post we find a Alexander John living in Chichester with Rachel, Mary and Duncan all living next to Archibald in the 1861 Census.  The census states that Alexander John was born in Upper Canada in 1795.  Upper Canada refers to Ontario not Quebec.   This means that at least one of the parents of Mary and Archie was born in Canada, not Scotland, and we go back even further in time looking for family in Canada.

Miriam goes on to write about her grandfather Archibald and that he grew up in Glengarry, Ontario (See the notes above and study the 2nd paragraph. Click to make it larger and use the back button to return).

Here is a link to the Glengarry GenWeb http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~onglenga/

All the census for Canada 1861 to 1901 show that Archie was born in Canada.  His birth date and location vary with different census, death, burial and other information as much as 5-10 years.  So progress on this side of the family has been slow.

Archibald’s wife Mary McDonell’s side of the chart, which will be featured in a future post, is a treasure filled with families that have lived in the Chichester, Chapeau area and can be traced down to the early 1900′s and further through the St. Alphonsus Church records and in census.


Nellie’s Charts – Her Father Archie McDonell’s Family

June 17, 2011
In a past post about Nellie (Ellen) McDonell, it was mentioned that there was a McDonell/McDonald descendants chart that Nellie created about 1932. This chart was in the possession of her niece Miriam, sister to Keith, until about 1967 when it was shared with Keith’s youngest daughter. This chart is actually a long piece of paper with both families written on it.  Archie’s family is on the left side and Mary’s on the right.  It was gently separated into two pages in order to scan it into the computer.(Click the chart to make it bigger and use the back button to return to the post).   
Archibald McDonell’s Family Chart by Nellie McDonald

Archibald died in 1912 about 20 years before Nellie created this chart which was about 1932.  This means she could not ask him for clarification.  Other documentation found indicate that the children of Archie really didn’t know as much about Archie’s side of the family as they did about their mother Mary’s. 

This chart seems less complete than the one for Mary which will be featured in a future post.  If you will remember Archie’s death certificate in 1912 (See posted dated September 8, 2010) showed that his youngest son Alexander didn’t know the names of Archie’s parents and therefore did not record them on the death record. 

A PUZZLE?  Who are Archie’s father and mother?  What happened to his siblings?

In the posted dated December 3, 2010 Archie and Mary were married in 1861 and it listed Archie’s parents as John and Sara McDonell.  Archie does appear in the 1861 Census and it was discussed in the posted dated October 20, 2010.   (To find these posts as reference see the right side archive section).

Take a close look at this chart by clicking it and you will see that the father’s name is “Roy Macdonell” not John?   Notice that the spelling of McDonald changes to Macdonell. 

Focusing in On Roy Macdonell

It reads “Roy Macdonell – Cameron (White Alex)??

We now add Miriam’s (Nellie’s niece) version of this chart:

Miriam's McDonald's version of Archie's Family

Let’s see what Miriam writes for Archie’s father:

Miriam's version - Roy???

Miriam writes “Roy Macdonell - Alex Ban Cameron’s daughter?”

If you study both charts you will see that there is very little difference between them.  Miriam’s handwriting is easy to recognize but it took awhile before it became clear that Nellie had done the original version. 

These charts have been in the possession of Keith’s youngest daughter since about 1967.  They have used as the foundation in building the McDonald family history.  

If you make a copy of these two charts, and use them in your research please give Nellie McDonald and Miriam McDonald credit for their work and in preserving them for future generations to use. 

Nellie McDonald at a picnic

Miriam visits her brother Keith - circa 1950's

So we are left with a mystery?

Who is this Roy Macdonell?  Who is Alex Ban Cameron’s daughter? 

Are John and Sara Archie’s parents as the St. Alphonsus records suggest? If so where did they live? 

The research into Archibald McDonell/McDonald’s past to find his family has been very slow going.  In the next post the origins of Archibald McDonell will be expanded on.  Miriam, his granddaughter suggests that Archie came from Glengarry, Ontario.

NOTE:  If you see any names or family groupings in this chart that are familiar and think you might be a cousin, please contact the writer of this post immediately by writing a comment or following the information in the Compiler page listed above next to home under the picture.  Love to hear from you!

The Children of Archie & Mary: Ronald S. McDonell

February 17, 2011

Keith’s father Ronald Sandfield McDonell was born in Chichester on 22 July 1866 and baptized at the St. Alphonsus Church in Chapeau on 26 July 1866. 

Ronald's Baptismal Record

Source:  Baptism, Marriage and Burial Index, St. Alphonsus Church, 1846-1920 FHL# B70, #1029797.  Also on Ancestry.com under the Drouin Collection. 

Keith had in his possession the actual Baptismal Certificate from the St. Alphonsus Church for Ronald, his father.  It reads:

Source:  St. Alphonsus Church, Chapeau, Quebec, Birth and Baptism Record: “On the Twenty sith of July one thousand eight hundred and sixty-one. We the undersigned baptized Ronald McDonald born on the twenty-second instant of the lawful marriage of Archibald McDonald and Mary McDonald of Allumette Island.  The sponsors were Edward Smith and Jeanette McDonald, Signed James C. Lynch, PO.  True copy Chapeau, Que. January 16, 1940, A. Me Renaud, PP.

We return to Miriam’s notes to review what she had to say about her father Ronald.  This was featured in an earlier post dated May 2, 2010.  I do point out that there probably wasn’t a business school in Grand Rapids because it was too small at the time.  It is more likely Ronald attended the school in Duluth. 

Miriam's Notes on her Father

The spelling of Ronald’s middle name as been done in a variety of ways:  Sandfield, Sanfield. 

John Sandfield Macdonald was the Premier of Ontario at the time Archibald was living in the Chapeau/Chichester area.  According to Miriam, Ronald was named after this man.   The interesting thing in Keith’s family is that his uncle Angus gave a son the name Loren Sandfield McDonald.  Family lore says that Ronald was frequently referred to with the nickname of “Sandy.”  His grandson also was nicknamed “Sandy” and some of the family have trouble thinking of him with his more formal name.  Apparently this man, John Sandfield Macdonald, was greatly esteemed.

To determine if we were related to this family a search for Mr. Macdonald’s origins and connections was conducted and it just doesn’t appear to be there.  However, you never know.  The internet is filled with information about Mr. Macdonald.  Wikipedia has a brief article about John Sandfield Macdonald:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Sandfield_Macdonald


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?


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