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.

 


Some Sheenboro Families that migrated to Saskatchewan…

August 1, 2014

When I was traveling in the Upper Ottawa Valley on both the Ontario (Renfrew) and Quebec (Pontiac) sides in 2012,  a nice lady found and commented on this blog.  She was very enthusiastic and was involved with the Sheenboro history.  Unfortunately, I had already returned to my home and did not get a chance to meet her.  We have since them communicated via email and more.

She said she was related to everyone in Sheenboro, Pontiac Co., Quebec and she is very interested in the families, genealogy and the history of the people of the Upper Ottawa River including Sheenboro, Chichester and Chapeau on Allumette Island.  She had also visited many of the cemeteries and taken photos of them calling it her Stones and Bones tour.

Her name is Linda Berube Inch and she is on Facebook and Ancestry and is also the administrator of the Facebook group titled:  The League to Preserve Timmins Heritage.  Apparently a lot of people from the Sheenboro and Chichester area migrated to Timmins. If you are like me, Timmins is north of Sudbury, Ontario which is north of Toronto.  Linda has many photographs and interesting documents and information on this page so you might want to check it out.

She has graciously given me permission to share this photo which she presented on her Facebook page.

Sheenboro Families

Sheenboro Families

Unfortunately the photo is very difficult to read so with help from Linda this is what we came up with:

“Sheenboro natives who left Sheenboro (in order to) establish a new colony called Sennetville. The families that followed him (?) (were..) T.J. McGuire, James Devine, Thomas Burke, and Hugh Downey. Individuals (included) Simon Sullivan, Michael Hayes, Harold Hayes, Bridget Masterson, Angus MacDonald ( Ida Perreault) married Angus MacDonald and later returned to Sheenboro (Ida was born January 27 1883 and returned on July 12 1904. Jenny and M– Slattery became nuns out west. Margaret Meehan became a nurse in the west. The M Slattery could be Mary.”

I am particularly interested in Hugh Downey and his wife Theresa McDonell who was the daughter of John McDonell and Julia Elizabeth Lacour (Ricard/Tebeau/Thibault).  The Angus MacDonald mentioned married Ida Perrault and was a son of John and Julia.

John looks very promising as the brother of my great-grandfather Archibald McDonell who lived in Chichester and was the Culbute Lockmaster.

I have been trying to find more of Archibald’s siblings but have not been as successful as I have with his wife my great-grandmother Mary McDonell.  Yes she was a McDonell as well. This whole blog is about these families and the ones connected to them.

You will find past posts on this blog about Hugh Downey and Theresa and the others I have mentioned.  Here are several posts you may want to study. I am still trying to make sure the lineage is correct so if you have information please comment.  Just go to the side bar on this blog and you can search for them either in the Archives or in the Categories.

 The Migrations of the Downeys and MacDonalds, dated June 5, 2014

A Discovery:  Archie’s brother John McDonell, living next door in Sheen?, dated March 31, 2012.

 My curiosity being what it is, I tried to find information about this Sennetville Colony mentioned above but cannot bring up anything of significance online. The Archives of Saskatchewan has a very nice website devoted to settlement but no mention of this group of settlers at Sennetville:   http://www.saskarchives.com/sasksettlement/

UPDATE 8/1/2014 at 10:03 am – From the Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan we find the Irish Colony called Sinnett after the Fr John Sinnett :   http://esask.uregina.ca/entry/irish_settlements.html  Try Fr. Sinnett in Saskatchewan, Irish Settlements etc. in Google.  Very interesting. 

If you have any information about any of these families and their migrations, please contact us by leaving a comment on this blog, both Linda and I would  love to hear from you.

NOTE:  I have learned about the nature of Canadian research and after traveling in Ontario and Quebec that you need to increase your search area (geographically) for your ancestors.  They were a lot more mobile then we think and you just might find them in Ottawa or Montreal, or further out West or even into the USA like my family did in 1901.  Remember that the area of Sheenboro, Chichester, Waltham, Chapeau (Allumette Island) and Pembroke was a thriving mining, lumbering area when our ancestors were there but by 1900 it changed and now it is a sleepy neighborhood community. I know, I traveled it and you can read about my travels in the posts titled Tour/Touring of the Upper Ottawa Valley which includes Renfrew and Pontiac Counties.

UPDATES 8/3/2014: a book to check into:  The way things were…LeRoy and District Saskatchewan Centennial 1905-2005, Vol. #2 under Loyola School District #1910. The History of Loyola, it was the school in the hamlet of Sinnett. 


A 1848 Group Land Petition from Waltham, Sheen, Mansfield & Chichester

July 10, 2014

In 2012, when I traveled to Canada, I visited the Libraries and Archives in Ottawa for one day. Before I went, I of course studied the land petition indexes online at the Libraries and Archives website, and found a very interesting piece of documentation.

Upper Canada Land Petitions 1763-1865 Index:

  • Name:  Inhabitants of Waltham, Sheen, Mansfield & Chichester
  • Place:  Waltham, Sheen, Mansfield, Chichester
  • Year:   1848
  • Volume: 540A
  • Bundle: W4
  • Petition: 172
  • Microfilm: C-2964
  • Reference: RG 1 L3

From this information I pulled the microfilm while in the research room and took a look and photos.

Apparently the inhabitants of the whole community at that time in 1848, banded together and signed a petition for a land patent.  I share this because I am trying to get back as far as possible in the Chichester, Chapeau, Sheen area with the inhabitants.

Unfortunately, the microfilm is dark, fuzzy and difficult to read and interpret.  It looks like there were two letters submitted and a decision by the council for 3 shilllings.

Here as at least one of them with the list of the petitioners and again I did my best:

Inhabitants petition 1848

Inhabitants petition 1848 – a portion of one of the letters written in the file

To his Excellency the Right and Honorable ___ Everts of Elgin and _____Governor General of the British North America……

In Council.  The petition of the undersigned settlers of the Township of Sheen county of Ottawa Canada East Hunbley Heweth. 

That your petitioners generally, recently migrated from Great Britain and Ireland, that from the great depression in the Lumber trade, the partial and in many cases total failure of the potatoe crop, has plaud your petitioners with their large, and helpless families, into circumstances from which, many years of prosperity will not essace from their recollection.

That the land we now occupy has been surveyed during the past winter – the ___ discription of  soil in which it has pleased Providence to cast our lot, and the peculiar circumstances of our situation, in this remote section of the Province, combined with the fact that all the merchandable timber has, from time to time, been taken away, by lumbermen, and others, under our possessing of little value.  

That our petitioners would therefore suggest, and pray for a reduction in the price of land, your petitioners are of the opinion  3 k p acre is the utmost value of that which they ___and under the  made favorably circumstances, the utmost they will be able to pay.  And as in duly bound, your petitioners will even pray. 

I transcribed these names to the best of my ability but I could be incorrect.  Some names might be French and I am not familiar with them and the person who transcribed the names didn’t spell well. I am particularly interested in the Ronald Roy McDonald.

  • 1. James W. Juston
  • 2. Daniel Ferguson
  • 3. Patrick [   ] Flinn
  • 4. John Murray
  • 5. Alex McGilverey
  • 6. Jonathan Perrault
  • 7.  Thomas Maher
  • 8.  Edward Rennick
  • 9.  __________________
  • 10. Ronald Roy McDonald
  • 11.  Tim Crinaw
  • 12. H….S. __________
  • 13. David Ferguson
  • 14. ________
  • 15. John Ferguson
  • 16. John Downee
  • 17. Richard Hayes
  • 18. _____ Levine
  • 19. Thomas Harington
  • 20. Ra___Oatchern
  • 21. John Ferguson
  • 22. John McCormick
  • 23.  David Ferguson
  • 24. John Sturis
  • 25. Charles Hutchison
  • 26. John Wall or Sewll
  • 27. Mathe Ryng
  • 28. Peter Costille
  • 29. Gory ____
  • 30. Ritchard Mackey
  • 31. John Walch____
  • 32. James ____
  • 33. Patrick Kelly
  • 34. Richard O’Brien
  • 35. _______
  • 36. George Mc___
  • 37. Edward Kelly
  • 38. Rutt Bray
  • 39. William ____________
  • 40. Patrick Matheson
  • 41. Michl Michelson
  • 42. James Walker
  • 43. Samuel Hutchinson
  • 44. Patrick Kelly
  • 45. Thomas Kelly

If you would like a copy of this file, leave a comment and we can make arrangements for me to send you one.  It will be difficult to read.  On the other hand, if you know of this petition and have a better transcription I would be very interested.  Thanks.


Alexander John and Ellen McPherson McDonell a possible marriage!

June 17, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marriage of Alexander and Nellie

Marriage of Alexander and Nellie

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

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

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

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

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

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


The Migrations of Downeys and MacDonalds…

June 5, 2014

Before I launch into sharing about my dad, Keith’s, growing up and learning the craft of airplane mechanic in the Army Air Corp, I want to go back in time and share additional information that has come to light about his Mac/McDonald family.

This blog has brought me many wonderful experiences and among them are meeting new cousins and interested readers.  It has also increased my knowledge of researching in Canada. I have learned that I have to extend my search areas to a much larger view.

Two families that migrated where the Hugh and Theresa Downey family and the Ambrose and Mary Jane (McCarthy) MacDonald family.  They left Sheenboro and Chichester in Pontiac County, Quebec and headed for Saskatchewan.  They are buried in the St. Patrick’s Catholic Cemetery near Leroy.

Ambrose MacDonald was a son of Duncan and Elizabeth (Sauvé)McDonell.  I wrote about Duncan and Elizabeth’s family in this post on this blog: “Duncan McDonell and Elizabeth Sauvé,” November 10, 2011.  My cousins and I are still working on figuring out their children so don’t assume it is completely correct.

Ambrose would be a nephew of my great-grandmother Mary McDonell who married Archibald McDonell, yes they were both McDonells.  Duncan would be Mary’s brother if the lineage is correct.  I will discuss that tangle in a later post.  It appears that Duncan Darby MacDonald who did a lot of research on families in Glengarry, Ontario and my Aunt Nellie have a different take on the lineage in the family?

Switching over to the other side of the family, to Archibald’s side, I was able to determine with help from another cousin that the John McDonell who lived in Sheenboro and was married to Julia with the many last names was Archibald’s brother.  His daughter Theresa married a Hugh Downey and they migrated to Leroy, Saskatchewan.  Of course, I need to do further research to establish this relationship.

I wrote about this in my post for this blog dated March 31, 2012, “A Discovery: Archie’s brother John McDonell, living next door in Sheen.”

Today, I would like to share with you photographs taken by a descendant of Ambrose who has given me permission to share.  These are from the St. Patrick Catholic Cemetery near Leroy, Saskatchewan:

First, the Ambrose and Mary Jane MacDonald family:

St. Patrick Catholic Cemetery, Leroy, Saskatchewan

St. Patrick Catholic Cemetery, Leroy, Saskatchewan

Ambrose and Mary J.

Ambrose and Mary J.

Children of Ambrose and Mary

Children of Ambrose and Mary

Francis George MacDonald 1916 to 1916

Francis George MacDonald 1916 to 1916

Clarence MacDonald 1918 to 1920

Clarence MacDonald 1918 to 1920

Lorena MacDonald 1923 to 1925

Lorena MacDonald 1923 to 1925

UPDATE 6/27/2014:  I have been informed that Leo Clarence MacDonald is buried in Leroy at the Holy Rosary Catholic Cemetery, Leroy, SK. This cemetery is right in the town of Leroy. Go here for more information on this cemetery:

  http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~cansacem/leroy_rosary.html

Leo Clarence MacDonald 1921 to 1990.

Leo Clarence MacDonald 1921 to 1990.

Next is the Hugh and Theresa (McDonell) Downey family in St. Patrick Cemetery are:

Hugh Downey Feb. 23, 1869 to May 12, 1945.

Hugh Downey Feb. 23, 1869 to May 12, 1945.

Theresa Downey Nov. 19, 1868 to Nov. 19, 1938

Theresa Downey Nov. 19, 1868 to Nov. 19, 1938

Joseph Bonaface MacDonald 1903 to 1957

Joseph Boniface MacDonald
1903 to 1957

I was having trouble finding this cemetery on Find A Grave but I will go back and study it later.  They want you to use Saint not St. and it can get confusing.  Now what I need are obituaries for these people.

I did find this cemetery at the Saskatchewan Cemeteries Project:

http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~cansacem/leroy_patricks.html

Again, thanks to my cousin for taking and sharing these photos, it is so very cool!


Nellie McDonald becomes caretaker of Grace’s children!

March 1, 2013

Nellie or rather Ellen Elizabeth McDonald migrated with her parents from Chichester in 1900/1901 and lived with them in Bemidji till they moved to International Falls in 1905. She was living with her parents and brother Alexander in 1910 per the U.S. Federal census.

At the end of December 1911 Grace, the mother of Keith and his siblings, died of pneumonia and the effects of childbirth see the post dated July 18, 2010 “An Unexpected Tragedyhttp://macdonellfamily.wordpress.com/?s=Tragedy. Nellie became their caretaker.

Nellie on the porch

Nellie on the porch

Just exactly when Nellie joined her brother Ronald in bringing up his six children is unclear.  I have not been able to track her clearly from 1910 to 1920.  I cannot tell if she was with him in Grand Prairie, Alberta.   I  think Nellie did not became the caretaker of the children till just before 1920 but I might be incorrect.  Until I find more information that can pinpoint when Nellie was with them I will have to speculate.  Her niece Miriam implied that she took over right after their mother Grace died, but so far the facts are not agreeing.

Miriam writes that they all moved to the Riverside Drive house after Grace’s death which implies Nellie was involved from 1912 onward? ( Just click on the photo and it will open up for you, remember to hit your back button or close a tab to return to this blog.)

Miriam’s Notes about Nellie!

The parents of Nellie and R.S. where Archie (1912) and Mary (1913) who were living in 1911 when Grace passed, so Nellie would probably not leave them because they were aging.  According to the above paragraph they moved into the Riverside Drive house and that would make sense.

I did find Gordon and R.S. in the Edmonton, Alberta 1916 census.  I did a thorough search of the Canadian 1916 census to try to find  Nellie with the rest of the children but I was unable to locate her or them.

An Ellen McDonald appears in the International Falls city directory of 1917-1918.  This person was a civil servant on 421 1st St., pg. 19.  I ponder if that is her?

I do know for sure that by January 1920, Nellie had joined the family and from 1920 to her death in May of 1947 in Yakima, Washington, she lived with her brother Ronald (R.S.) and followed him wherever he went from that point on.

Her niece, Miriam, held Nellie in high esteem and wrote that she deserved a place in heaven for taking on the momentous task of raising six children that were not her own. Miriam was apparently Nellie’s favorite.

As far as I can recall none of my aunts, my uncle, nor my father talked about Nellie much.  There could be reasons for that.  It may have made them sad, or it was a long time ago.

NOTE:  Please don’t be like me and not ask questions, I wish I had regarding Nellie and the family.


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.


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