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. 

Mary McDonell Passes!

September 19, 2010

No sooner did Archibald pass than Keith lost his grandmother Mary.  I found a death certificate at the Family History Library on Film #2138530.  She passed on 8 September, 1913 #6084. 

Mary McDonald 1834 to 1913

Mary Elizabeth McDonald died in International Falls, Koochiching Co., Minnesota, died on Sept 8th 1913, female, white, widowed, date of birth March 13, 1834, 79 yrs, 5 mos, 25 days.  Housewife, born in Canada.  Father’s name Alex McDonald born in Scotland, mother Mary McPherson, born in Scotland.  Informant was Nellie McDonald, International Falls.  Filed Sept 10, 1913.  Died of old age, signed by Robt. Monahau M.D.  Burial International Falls, MN on Sept 10, 1913.  

This time the informant was Nellie (Elizabeth Ellen) her daughter and Nellie seemed to know more about the family and who Mary’s parents were.  Nellie lists them as Alex McDonald and he was born in Scotland.  The mother is Mary McPherson but other records have the name as Ellen.  The doctor might be spelled “Monahan.” 

Fortunately the International Falls Press newspaper had an obituary notice for Mary, published on 11 September 1913, pg. 2.  Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul. 

Mrs. McDonald Passed Away 

On Monday night last Mrs. Mary McDonald quietly passed away at the home of her son Mr. R.S. McDonald where she has resided since the death of her husband, Mr. Alex McDonald about a year ago.  Mrs. McDonald has been gradually failing for the past few months and finally passed away in her sleep at the good ripe old  age of 79 years.  She was a good woman, of large and good family, true to her church, and people and helpful to all with whom she came in contact.  She is survived by five of her children Angus, who lives in Seattle, Wash. Ronald, S., Alex, John and Miss Nellie who reside in this city.  The funeral services were conducted at the Catholic church by her pastor Rev. Fr. Killeen yesterday and her remains were interred in the local cemetery by the side of her husband. 

As usual obituary notices are helpful and can have mistakes.  They list her husband as Alex and his name was Archibald.  

Mary is next to Archibald in the St. Thomas Cemetery which is part of the Forest Hill Cemetery grouping.  She resides with him in the plot with the large monument towering above.  She also has a simple stone plaque: 

Mary's Final Resting Place

The dates given for Mary are 1834 to 1913.  The obituary notice mentions her large family and this is true as we will come to learn in future posts. 

Keith’s father Ronald had lost his wife and now both of his parents.  It must have been hard times for the family.


Archibald McDonald Dies Peacefully in His Sleep!

September 8, 2010

Archibald McDonald/McDonell

Keith was only 2 years old when his grandfather Archibald McDonald passed.  Archie went to bed one night and the next morning it was discovered that he had peacefully died in the night.  

The International Falls newspaper was studied for an obituary notice but none was found.  The Rainy River newspapers were also searched and failed to reveal anything about his death.  The Koochiching County Courthouse clerk of the court for probate was contacted to see if their was an estate file but none was found. 

The Minnesota Historical Society has death certificates via their online index and at the society library.  I found this at the Family History Library on film #2138519, dated April 18, 1912.  

Archibald McDonald died in International Falls, Koochiching Co., Minnesota on April 18, 1912. Male, white, married. Date of birth not known but the year 1829 was entered, about 83 yrs old. Occupation: carpenter, was born in the Province of Quebec, name of father unknown, believed he was born in Scotland, name of mother and her birthplace unknown. The informant was Alex McDonald, of International Falls, Minnesota. Filed April 20, 1912. Died of old age, patient went to bed in good health and was found dead in early morning. Mary C. Ghostley MD, April 20, 1912, International Falls. Buried in International Falls, April 20, 1912. 

Apparently his youngest son Alexander didn’t know much about his father’s origins or who the parents where.  There is a lot of confusion about Archie’s birth location.  Keith’s sister Miriam gives the date as 1827.  Alexander writes that he was about 83 years of age which would mean he was born in 1829.  The 1901 census for Canada gives 1837.  The exact birth and location have not been verified.

McDonald Tombstone

Archibald is buried in the St. Thomas Cemetery which is part of the Forest Hill Cemetery in International Falls.  The large McDonald monument marks the spot of the cemetery plot.  Archie’s tombstone is further defined by a simple plaque with his name.  He rests next to his wife, sons and daughter-in-law Grace. 

Archibald's individual stone

As you can see the tombstone has 1835 to 1912 for his lifespan.  

The origins of Archibald are shrouded in mystery at this time.  I do know that he lived for many years in the area of Chichester and Chapeau, Quebec on the Upper Ottawa River from 1861 to 1901 when he immigrated to the U.S with his children.  We will visit those years in a couple of posts.


Jack McDonald & Sarah Maria Burns!

August 17, 2010

Jack McDonald

Jack McDonald, brother to Ronald and Uncle to Keith, made his home in International Falls and lived a long life there.  His formal name was John Archibald but everyone called him “Jack.”  The photo of Jack was taken in his daughter’s home where she had it resting gently again a lamp in the living room.

On the 20 of August 1901 he married Sarah Maria Burns in Chapeau, Pontiac County, Quebec.  Sarah was part of a very large family that settled in the Chichester/Chapeau area on the Upper Ottawa River.  You can learn more about the Burns family and its connections at this website: http://www.personainternet.com/etbrown/ You can explore more of the website and other surnames.  Click on the Byrns/Burns link and you will go to the detailed pages on the family with photos: http://www.personainternet.com/etbrown/burns.htm  You will find the McDonald’s link. 

He migrated with his wife and his parents to Bemidji, Beltrami County, Minnesota shortly after his marriage.  Jack and Sarah spent about 4 years in Bemidji before they moved permanently in 1905 to International Falls.  It is possible they had a child, maybe two, while living there and they did not survive.

Sarah and Jack McDonald - Int'l Falls

John (Jack) and Sarah McDonald’s children:

1.  George Archibald/Alexander who was born February 28, 1907 and died on March 2, 1907.  This information was taken from the birth register at the Koochiching County Courthouse in International Falls in 2000.

2.  There is a baby buried in the family plot at the cemetery in International Falls named Emma Loretta born September 3, 1911 and died that following October 16, 1911. 

3.  Mary Catherine Genofevan McDonald was born 3 January 1913 in International Falls and died in 2007 in Otter Tail Co., Minnesota.  Mary is buried next to her husband Gilbert Louiseau in the McDonald plot in the St. Thomas Cemetery that is a part of the Forest Hill Cemetery group in International Falls. Mary was 94 years old and I was very lucky to have known her.  Mary and Gil had 3 children who are living and grandchildren. 

Daughter Mary

Jack and Sarah made a good life for themselves in International Falls.  Jack became well-respected in the town and ran for political office.  There home was frequented by many friends.  He was responsible for keeping the children warm and seeing that the boiler at the Alexander Baker School had warmed the building before school began.  Jack was also a volunteer fireman with the International Falls fire department along with his brother Alex.


Alexander Thomas McDonald, Fireman

August 7, 2010

Keith had pictures in his photo collection of his Uncle Alexander, younger brother to his father Ronald.  Alex was in a uniform in two of them.     

Alexander in Uniform

This photo (above) was a puzzle.  I didn’t know what the uniform represented.  I was to learn from a cousin that Alex was a fireman with the International Falls fire department in the early years.  Alex is the one in the middle.  I do not know the names of the two men that are on either side of him.  The photo was taken on main street in International Falls and when I was there I scouted out the location.  Some signs are still there and you can see about where they stood.    

Alex with Keith on His Knee

In this 2nd photo, Uncle Alex is seated with two children on his knees.  He and the other man are in the same uniforms.  The one on the left knee is Keith, Alex’s nephew, and the little girl on the right is unknown.  The little boy standing to Alex’s left and the man standing behind him in uniform are also unknown.    

This is one of my favorite photos of my father Keith when he was a child.  He would have loved the fire house, the horses and all the activity like the parades and visiting with his Uncle at his work.   

Mary, Alex’s niece, knew him very well and describes his work as a fireman. She told me this story back in 2000 when I visited her and her family in International Falls:    

 “Alex was a fireman and he lived at the fire station. This was back in the days when they used horses to draw the fire truck. The horses were so well-trained that when the fire whistle blew they would go stand ready to receive the harnesses that just seemed to fall in place on them. The fire house had two big doors out front and behind that was an area for the stalls to keep the horses in and then behind that were bunk beds where the men would take turns sleeping. The firehouse is up from the Ace Hardware store in International Falls. It is now a converted apartment house and has aluminum siding on it. His fellow firemen were Bill Keenan and Bert Budde. If I can remember there were two teams of horses.”   

Alex also participated in the 1910 Fireman’s convention and again in 1917 he participated in the Fireman’s Line Up and Parade in International Falls.   

I learned a lot about my grandfather’s family through the stories told by my cousin Mary and her family back in 2000 and again in 2001.  I am very grateful for the time I spent with them.


A Family’s Sad Times!

July 26, 2010

Grace McDonald

Keith’s mother Grace was laid to rest with her baby daughter, Grace Elizabeth in the St. Thomas Cemetery December 26, 1911.    

The photo of Grace was damaged and almost burned in a fire.  I do not have a creation date.  It was in her daughter Jean’s scrapbook loaned to me by my cousin, a great-granddaughter of Grace’s.    

This cemetery is actually several cemeteries grouped together: American Legion, Forest Hill Cemetery and St. Thomas Cemetery.  Now I know why I have confusing information about my family and where they are buried.   

The link below is to these cemeteries.  There is a map of the entire grouping of cemeteries and then a link a to a map to show the location of the cemetery near the town of International Falls.  The cemeteries are southeast of town. On the top right is a “Find a Loved One” search feature.  All this is new and was not there when I visited in 2000 and 2001. If you Google this cemetery you need to use the Forest Hill name to find it:  

http://foresthillcemeteryifalls.com/index.php    

There is a family plot in the cemetery, dominated by a large monument with the name McDonald inscribed (see posted dated Feb. 6, 2010).  My cousin Mary McDonald Louiseau told me that it was probably purchased by Archibald McDonald and his son Jack.  The McDonald family plot is in Section E in the St. Thomas Cemetery to the east.  You cannot miss the large monument.    

Grace is not alone in this plot.  She shares it with Archibald McDonald and Mary McDonald, Keith’s grandparents.  Their sons and Ronald’s brothers:  John (Jack) and his wife Sarah Burns McDonald.  Another brother Alexander McDonald.  Gil and Mary McDonald Louiseau are also buried in this plot.  Mary was John (Jack)’s and Sarah’s daughter.  There is a Baby Emma also John (Jack) and Sarah’s child.  The unnamed baby is Grace Elizabeth.     

As the daughter of Keith, I visited International Falls and have stood at the graveside of my grandmother and the others and documented this cemetery.   There is the main stone.    

Grace's Tombstone

  There is another stone above Grace’s:    

Additional Stone

 The baby is buried with her. It reads    

“We long for the touch of the vanished hand     

or the sound of voice that is still.”     

The notation in the Koochiching County Courthouse Vital records notes the child as “Babe McDonald.” Later I learned from Vivian’s (oldest daughter) baby book featured in a previous post, June 6, 2010, on the last pages that the child was named “Grace Elizabeth.”    

Ronald apparently was absent from his duties as Commissioner at this time for an article appears on the front page of the International Falls Press December 28, 1911, “Commissioner Proceedings.”  It is just below the arrow on the page.    

Ronald Absent 1911

One day I was talking to my Aunt Eddie (Ronald and Grace’s daughter) and she mentioned that Grace died at Christmas and it did not have the same meaning to her.  Eddie was very young when it happened.  She was born in  March of 1907 which means she was 4 plus years old and it is difficult to say if she remembered her mother?  Baby brother Keith of course was only 18 months old!


An Unexpected Tragedy!

July 18, 2010

It was close to the Christmas of 1911 and Grace was pregnant with her 8th child.  Something went wrong.  She had the baby prematurely.  The baby Grace Elizabeth died on December 22, 1911. Grace died the following day on December 23, 1911.  

The family was stunned! Her daughter Eddie said:  “It was never the same.” 

Grace McDonald 1910

The stories that have come down say that Grace was not to have any more children, implying that she was not a strong person.  I don’t believe it!  My research tells me that Grace was just like her father, smart, strong-willed and determined.  

The photo is of Grace McDonald about 1910 and from a cousin who shared a photo album with me. 

Her death certificate from the Minnesota Historical Society #6079 reads:   

“Grace Barclay McDonald, DOD: December 23, 1911, Born April 10, 1882, age 30 yrs. 7 mos. 23 days, Occupation: Housewife, Birthplace: Pine River, MN, Father: Geo. A. Barclay, Born: Hartford, CT, Mother: Ammeria Barclay, Born in Aringo, Iowa, Signed by R.S. McDonald of International Falls.  Cause of Death: pneumonia, lobar complicating pregnancy at about six and one half months. Signed by Mary Ghostley, MD. At place of death 4 days, disease contacted at house in Intern’l Falls. Apparently Grace died at the Northern Minn. Hospital.” 

Grace Amarilla Barclay McDonald died of pneumonia complicated by a premature birth.  There were no antibiotics in those days.  Granted she had given birth to 8 children from 1898 to 1911, two of them did not survive.  As you can see the death certificate has a few strange comments like Grace’s mother is written as “Ammeria” when it is really Ammarilla/Amarilla.  The town where Ammeria was born is written as “Aringo, Iowa.”  I think they mean Maringo, Iowa Co., Iowa.  When the informant fills out a death certificate it is easy to make errors in times of grief.

The children were as follows:  Vivian was 9 years old, Gordon was 7 years old, Miriam was 5 years old, Eddie was 4 and Jean was 3 and Keith was at 18 months.  Keith probably didn’t have any memories of his mother.  He never talked about her.  I am sure the impact of her death was felt by the others and that is what affected my father Keith.  I do believe that it changed their father Ronald forever.  

Grand Rapids Obituary 

“Mrs. R.S. McDonald Dead – Mrs. R.S. McDonald, for many years a resident of Grand Rapids died at International Falls on Saturday morning, Dec. 23. An attack of pneumonia, during the ravages of which a child was born was the cause of her death causing also the death of the child. The funeral services were held at Holy Apostles church on Tuesday, Dec. 26th, at 10 o’clock and were largely attended, the mother and child occupying the one casket. Mrs. McDonald was formerly Miss Grace Barclay. She was born at Pine River, Minn. and had lived in this vicinity all her life, and she leaves a host of friends who mourn over her death. She is survived by her husband and six small children, the oldest a girl of about nine years, and her mother, Mrs. Dawes of Pine River. Mr. and Mrs. McDonald came to Grand Rapids in the autumn of 1898 and lived here from that time until the latter part of 1904, when they took up their residence at International Falls, where Ronald is general superintendent for the International Lumber company. During their six years of residence here Mrs. McDonald endeared herself into the hearts of all our townspeople and although it is more than seven years ago since she left here the news of her death has cast a shadow of gloom in the hearts of her many friends here. Many a woman’s handkerchief in Grand Rapids has been moistened with tears by the sad news of her death and it’s hard for them to realize that the news is really true. The most heartfelt sympathies of this community are extended to the stricken husband in his hour of bereavement.” 

Grand Rapids Examiner, no date given.”

 

Holly Apostle Church 1906

  Obituary Notice Intern’l Falls

Death of Mrs. R.S. McDonald – It was with great sorrow that the residents of the city learned of the sudden and unexpected death of Mrs. Ronald S. McDonald, last Saturday morning. While many knew that she had been in the hospital a few days suffering with pneumonia, none realized that she was critically ill and the news of her death cast a deep gloom over the city where she had lived so long and was so well-known and universally beloved. Her remains together with those of the baby that was prematurely born during her short illness were removed to the library of the home where they remained until the funeral which took place at 10 o’clock last Tuesday morning from the Catholic church, of which she was a faithful member, appropriate services being touchingly conducting by her pastor, Rev. Father Kileen followed by interment in the city cemetery in the presence of a large number of sorrowing friends. Mrs. McDonald’s maiden name was Grace A. Barclay, she was born at Pine River, April 2nd, 1882 and was married to Supt. R.S. McDonald of the International Lumber Co., in 1898, who survives her together with their six small children and her mother Mrs. A. Dawes of Pine River. Deceased was a devoted wife, and a loving mother and during her almost seven years residence here has won for herself and family many good friends.

CARD OF THANKS – We hereby wish to express to our many friends and acquaintances our heartfelt, gratitude for the sympathy they expressed and the many kindnesses they showed to the children and ourselves during the recent sad bereavement, caused by the death of Mrs. R.S. McDonald – R.S. McDonald, Mrs. A. Daws. International Falls newspaper, no date given.”  

Keith’s mother Grace was only 29 years old at her death.  Officially her birth was 10 April 1882 and her death was 23 December 1911.  The first obituary from Grand Rapids was found among her daughter Miriam’s things in an envelope carefully saved.  The 2nd obituary notice was from the International Falls Press dated December 28, 1911 under Local News 3rd column over.


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