April 6th, National Tartan Day!

April 6, 2010

Today is National Tartan day.  Celebrate the day in honor of those of Scottish descendant and their contributions to our nation and world.



For the Future:  http://www.tartanday.org/

Have a great day!

From postcard 1977

Records of the St. Alphonsus Church

March 23, 2010

Most of my research on Archie and Mary McDonald has centered on the records of the church in Chapeau.  The St. Alphonsus Catholic Church is located in Chapeau on the Isle Aux Allumette on the Upper Ottawa River.  It is in the Province of Quebec.   To find Chapeau you can locate Pembroke on a map in Ontario and run your finger to the right across and find the island and Chapeau is on the north side.

Many of the records have been microfilmed.  Those records are on file with the Family History Library  (FHL) in Salt Lake City.   They have them on their record search program which I don’t understand at the moment.  If that proves to confusing you can order them on microfilm from the Family History Library using these film numbers:

  1. #1029797 1846-1858, index of baptisms, marriages, burials
  2. #1029798 1859-1876,  baptisms, marriages, burials
  3. #1304675 1876-1899, baptisms, marriages, burials
  4. #2030662 1899-1914. baptisms, marriages, burials

I have found that I get a better feel for the records when I look at the films.  My local Family History Center has these films on permanent loan.  Otherwise you can order them and work with them.   I was studying Archie and Mary’s extended family looking for brothers and sisters in hopes of finding parents.  I was successful with Mary’s side but I am struggling with Archie’s.

Ancestry.com has Quebec church records on their website. It is under the Quebec Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection) 1621 to 1967.  The location to choose is Chapeau and the parish is the St. Alphonse.

The other option is a book compiled by Elaine Brown in March of 2000 that includes the cemetery inscriptions and burial records of the St. Alphonsus of Ligouri Church in Chapeau, Allumette Island, Pontiac Co., Quebec. She used the 4 FHL microfilms listed above as her sources and added the cemetery records.  She recorded only the deaths and the burials for her book but it has been an excellent source and help in addition to the films for my research. I have a copy of her book in my possession.  Here is a link to her website and this book.


Elaine writes in an email to the UOVGEN mailing list 1/2/2003:

“In my book, I show the 1,961 burials from 1846 to 1920 which are contained on the films (see above)…Since the present cemetery beside the church/school was likely not in use until 1857/1858, it could be that some of the burials by Fr. Lynch refer to the Church Point cemetery (earlier cemetery in the area).  The oldest death date on a tombstone that I recorded was in memory of Alexi Kennedy who died 1856 and his wife Marcella who died in 1851.  I suspect it was erected many years later.  It’s unfortunate but due to the ravages of time there were only 771 tombstones left for me to record.

Book Title:  Cemetery Inscriptions and Burial Records, St. Alphonsus of Liguori, Chapeau, Allumette Island, Pontiac Co., Quebec, compiled and published by Elaine Brown.

Actual pictures of tombstones in this cemetery were taken by Scott Naylor back in 2003 and are at Rootsweb.

UPDATE:  Scott Naylor pass last year at the end of 2011.  So this link I included here is now no longer being used. http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~snaylor/Allumett/AlphonOL/AlphonOL1.HTM

However, there is good news.  Mr. Naylor’s wonderful collection is now at the Quebec Gravemarker site:


Try this link as of 4/13/2013:


Just click on the county you are interested in and enjoy.

Things have really improved in Canadian genealogy.  I started back in 1998 and it was tough going.  I am very grateful for all the hard work done by many researchers in Canada and thank them for their time and efforts.

Genealogical Research in Koochiching Co.

March 16, 2010

Traveling to International Falls in 2000 and 2001 was to meet my cousin who was 87 years old.   I did spend a lot of wonderful hours with her and she told me great stories about the McDonald’s.  Now I was very new to genealogy back then but I was learning real fast.

On my first visit there in 2000, the Koochiching County Historical Society was closed for renovation.  So I learned a valuable lesson and that is to always call or email an archive or society before you go to verify hours and to make sure they are going to be open.

The second time I visited was June of 2001.  I wrote a nice letter to the Koochiching County Historical Society well in advance of my visit.  I was just learning about my family so I wrote as detailed a letter as I could at the time.  I had a lot of questions.  A few examples included my grandfather Ronald S. McDonald and his term(s) as Commissioner of the town.  I also asked about my great Uncle Jack McDonald and his time as mayor of the town.  This way when I arrived I would be able to jump right in and seek the information I needed.

The Director, at the time, had no interest in my research.  He led me to the basement of the society and I spent most of my time trying to make sense out of the mess.  He pretty much left me to fend for myself which I prefer but it was difficult to find things.   Frankly, I really don’t think he read my letter.   It was unfortunate.  I know that the Koochiching County Historical Society assists others in research for I have seen their references in other sources.  It didn’t stop me from digging further.

International Falls Public Library

What turned out to be a gold mine was the International Falls Public Library which was just down the street.  A librarian in that library had started a newspaper clipping file.  Among those files I found obituaries, other articles on my family and more.   Always check out the local library for you never know what you will find. Sometimes it is a good resource and other times it is not.   In this case it was great:  http://www.internationalfallslibrary.us/

Of course you have to stop in at the Koochiching County Courthouse which is right there on the town square.  I visited them for the birth records of my family and later for the deeds (land records).  This was my first time in a courthouse and it was a great experience.  They were all very helpful.  http://www.co.koochiching.mn.us/

While there I had learned that my great uncles, grandfather Ronald’s brothers, had been fireman.  So my hubby and I visited the local fire department there in International Falls which is also on the town square and had a wonderful time talking to the fireman.  They gave us coffee (hmm…maybe some cookies?) and a book on their history.  Of course my family is in that book.   http://www.ci.international-falls.mn.us/dp-fire.html   See new link below.

FIREMAN BOOK:  “Proud Traditions: A History in Words and Photos of International Falls – Fire Fighters 1900-1994 – Protecting Life and Property.”

This booklet is compiled from newspaper articles from the various International Falls newspapers and lots of contributors like the Koochiching County Historical Society.

The sky was menacing as I recall in 2001 and there was a threat of a twister on the radio at the time, yet we still went out and had dinner.  We went to  the Spot Fire Restaurant for dinner.  This restaurant had a museum of fireman memorabilia, photos and actual restored fire trucks.  My great uncles were listed on the wall there.  We had a nice chat and tour with the owner.  The food was delicious!  The website seems to be gone.  I hope it is still there?

Don’t forget to check out the visitors information center in a city you are visiting.  They have a lot of good information, maps and more to help you with getting around and familiar with an area:  City of International Falls http://www.ci.international-falls.mn.us/sv-information.html  


I have great memories of International Falls and my time there.

Clan Donald

February 8, 2010

As you have probably realized my Dad’s family is of Scottish origin and all Mc*Donalds are sons of Donald or members of the Clan Donald.  The link to Clan Donald is not working on 4/13/2013. 

There is a lineage of Somerled that shows all the lines coming down from him. You might what to run a Google search on this subject to get several choices and watch for the sourcing.

My father’s ancestors came to Canada and settled in Ontario and Quebec.  My father’s sister Miriam thought that we are probably of the Glengarry Branch of MacDonells.  Wikipedia has an interesting article about this branch of the Clan Donald at:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clan_Donald

ElectricScotland.com has a great deal of information on Scottish clans.  This link is to Clan MacDonell of Glengarry: http://www.electricscotland.com/webclans/m/macdonn2.html

At this same site they reference The Glengarry Branch of the MacDonells: http://www.electricscotland.com/webclans/m/macdonald/glengary.html.

One could spend hours reading about Scottish clans and clan history and for that matter about the history of Scotland.  I have certainly given it a try but have only scratched the surface. You might try these suggestions that I have listed below for Scottish history.  At least  these authors have tried to make it a little easier to follow the course of historical events.  Other books have been a little hard to wade through.  They are by no means the only possibilities.  Oh, be prepared, Scotland was at war a great deal of the time!

Book Suggestions:

“The History of Scotland,” by Peter and Fiona Somerset Fry, first published by Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd.  in 1982 and reprinted 1992, 1993, 1995, 1996 and 1996.

“Scotland, A Concise History,” Revised Edition by Fitroy MacLean, Thames and Hudson, 1970 and 1993.   This book has lots of illustrations and for someone like me who is visual it was great.

To understand Scottish History however, you have to understand the Kings and Queens of Scotland and England:

“The Kings and Queens of England and Scotland” by Plantagenet Somerset Fry, Doring, Kindersley, Ltd., 1990.  Again a lot of great pictures and illustrations to help you understand it all.  They include charts of the family lines.

Our Specific Scottish origins

It has not been proven that we are members of this branch of Clan Donald – MacDonell of Glengarry.  The actual ancestors who came over from Scotland to Canada have not yet been discovered at the time of this writing. Aunt Miriam states in her notes that these ancestors probably came to Canada around the late 1700 or early 1800’s.  It actually might have been earlier.

Family History, by Miriam McDonald

The research I have done has gone back to my father Keith’s grandparents Archibald and Mary McDonell.  Anything further back is still being slowly pieced together.  I probably have found Alexander Ban MacDonald in the 1861 census with his daughter Mary.  Roy, however, is a real mystery.  The research location is Canada, specifically Ontario and Quebec, in the early 1800′s and it has been slow going in the records.  Canadian genealogical research has changed so much in the last 10 years since I started working on the MacDonald line back in 1998.  I went and looked at the Canadian census using a microfilm reader  at a Family History Center near me and now it is online at Ancestry.  So it means I will have to revisit some of the research and freshen up.  I will discuss Roy and Alexander Ban and what I found in the research at a later time.

Clan Donald and DNA Study

At the Clan Donald website, I discovered as I was poking around for this post, that they are conducting a DNA test using the Y or male side.  I would like to get my brother to participate because he is the last of the MacDonald line in our family.  His descendants are female and they have children.  We will see if I cannot convince him to participate.   I planted a seed a couple of days ago and he is considering it. My sister and I did not have children.  We specialize in the 4 legged furry type.   Clan Donald is doing the male line.  So it would be a good thing if my brother did give it a go!

I am not an expert on this topic of DNA and its uses for genealogy; however, I have seen that it can really clarify many family lines.  A client of, mine has lineage back to Jamestown.  The surname is Graves and they have been conducting a DNA study and making some headway on the family.  If you are curious go to this website,  The Graves Family Association (update 4/13/2013 – their link is broken on this day.

Regarding the lineage of MacDonalds and its many forms, go to the The Clan Donald website which has good information on the study and DNA.


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