Ronald S. McDonald or known as just R.S.

May 2, 2010

Miriam, Keith’s sister, writes in her notes that her father Ronald was born in Chapeau, Quebec in 1866.  His parents were Archibald and Mary MacDonell.  Ronald learned about the lumber business growing up on the Upper Ottawa River and came to Minnesota where he started working for the Backus & Brooks Lumber Co. 

Grand Rapids, Minnesota was not very big in the early 1900’s and according to the public librarian, via an email to me,  there was no business school at that time.  It is more likely that R.S. got his business education in either Duluth or Minneapolis. 

Miriam goes on to say that Ronald knew how to cruise, to survey and to build logging roads.  As a superintendent he would have been very involved in setting up lumber camps and getting the lumber out.  

At the end of the notes she writes:  “He surveyed and platted International Falls.”

All of the previous comments are true.  However, the statement about the plating is still be to be proven.  In order to determine the truth of this family story I made a visit to the Koochiching County Courthouse in 2001.  A study of the plat maps for the city did not reveal any evidence that Ronald was involved.  His name was not on the maps. 

A time line of events for the history of International Falls is needed:

“Although the International Falls area was well-known to explorers, missionaries and voyagers as early as the 1600s, it was not until April 1895 the community was platted by a teacher and preacher L. A. Ogaard for the Koochiching Company and named the community Koochiching. The word “Koochiching” comes from either Ojibwe word Gojijiing or Cree Kocicīhk, both meaning “at the place of inlets,” referring to the neighboring Rainy Lake and River. The European inhabitants gave the names Rainy Lake and Rainy River to the nearby bodies of water because of the mist-like rain present at the falls where the lake flowed into the river.

On August 10, 1901, the village was incorporated and two years later its name was changed to International Falls in recognition of the river’s role as a border between the United States and Canada. It was incorporated as a city in 1909.”

From Wikipedia the free encyclopedia online April 3, 2010.  

More detail is provided by the book:  History of Koochiching County, published by the Koochiching County Historical Society in 1983, pg. 35.

So did Ronald or R.S., take part in plating a city?  It is not clear that he did but there is a possibility that he was greatly involved in many affairs of the city of International Falls as we shall see in future posts.


Keith and Gordon – Two Brothers

April 24, 2010

Gordon and Keith

Keith had a great relationship with his older brother Gordon.  In this photo Gordon is standing proud and holding firmly to his little brother’s hand.  Keith is next to him on the elephant with a happy face.  This photo of the McDonald brothers was probably taken about 1911 in International Falls.  Gordon was born 1904 and Keith was born in 1910 to Ronald and Grace McDonald.  There was 6 years difference in their ages.


Miriam’s Birth and Baptism

April 17, 2010

Miriam, sister to Keith, wrote the family history notes which have been of great help in researching the family.  It is only fitting to celebrate her life.  Miriam was born January 15, 1906 and was probably baptized shortly after at the catholic church in International Falls. 

Vivian, Gordon and baby Miriam

This photograph shows three of the McDonald children.  Vivian (Leola Vivian)  is the little girl holding her baby sister Miriam (Miriam Audrey) in her arms.  The little boy to her right is Gordon (Ronald Gordon). 

Grace their mother was pregnant with Miriam when another event took place in her life.  Grace’s Uncle Alexander Barclay, brother to her father George Angus Barclay, died on December 7, 1905 at the Rochester Hospital in Olmsted Co., Minnesota.  Grace started the probate process for his estate.  She could not attend the court sessions because she was “indisposed” and she could not travel after the birth.  Alexander’s estate file has contributed a great deal of information on the Barclay family which I am currently blogging about in The Barclays of Pine River http://barclayspineriver.wordpress.com/.


Ronald and Grace: Family Life!

April 11, 2010

Life was good for Ronald and Grace McDonald’s family during the first 10 years they spent in International Falls.   

1910 U.S. Federal Census

 

 The 1910 U.S. Federal Census for International Falls, Koochiching Co., Minnesota shows Keith’s complete family.  It lists his parents Ronald age 46 and Grace age 28, married 12 years. This places their marriage in 1898.  Grace had 7 children of which 6 are living.  It lists all his siblings:  Vivian age 8, Gordon age 6, Miriam spelled Marian age 4, Edna age 3, Laura age 2 and last Keith who is just a baby at 1/12 years old.  All are born in Minnesota except Ronald who was born in Canada.  

McDonald Children circa late 1910

 

This photo was probably taken in late 1910 or early 1911.  There isn’t any snow on the ground but the McDonald children are dressed in fancy outfits and in heavy coats.   The children are left to right:  Jean (Laurie Jean) , Eddie, Miriam, Gordon and Vivian.  Keith is the one on the ground in front of Gordon.   

Keith, Jean, Eddie

 

Another photo of Keith shows him on the left.  His sister Jean seems to be holding him carefully while he is intently looking at the camera.  Jean is so cute in this photo.  Eddie is on the right in a fancy dress with a hat and coat. It is hard to see her face. I love how her hands are clasped.  I wonder if this was regular clothing or dress up that Eddie is wearing?  The hat is very fancy.  This photo was probably taken in 1911.   

These photos are those postcard photos that were popular back then.  You can flip them over an address them and write notes on them.  Unfortunately nothing was written on the backs of these two photos.   

I think the handwriting of their names was done by their mother Grace.


Grandmother Mary McDonell

April 3, 2010

Mary McDonell abt 1911

This picture is of Keith’s grandmother Mary McDonell holding a baby.  On the photo is written 1911.  This means that the baby is probably my father, Keith.  Unfortunately he is looking away so we cannot see his face.  He would be about a year old.  It would be in International Falls because Mary came with her family from Canada in 1901. 

The real pleasure is studying my great-grandmother in her long dark skirt.  Her wonderful face.  She is intently looking at the photographer.  There is snow on the ground and she is out in the weather without a coat.  I take that to mean she was hardy person or it was a warm day.  

This photo was among Keith’s photo collection so it probably did have some meaning to him.  I love it for this is one of two photos of her that I have.  The first one was the formal portrait of the family shown in an earlier post.  

This photo is a little more of her personality.  My Aunt Eddie, Mary’s granddaughter and sister to Keith told me one day of an older lady who lived upstairs in their house and smoked a pipe.  I believe that lady to be Mary.


Riverside Drive, International Falls!

March 30, 2010

Keith at the Window

Ronald and Grace lived in a house on Riverside drive in International Falls.  It was supposedly the fancier part of town.  The house still stands having been turned into apartments.  It is situated very close to the Rainy River which is just across the street behind a stand of bushes.  You can pick your way to a break in them so you can climb down to the beach.  The house  is just across from the lumber mill.  It is probably very altered from what it looked like back then.    

Ronald and Graces Home circa 1905-1915

When I visited International Falls in 2000 and 2001, I visualized my father Keith running and playing in the town and along the banks of the Rainey River but it slowly dawned on me that he might not have remembered the town that much.  He was only there for the first 5-6 years of his life.  My memories of my childhood go back only to about age 4.  So I wonder just how much my father remembered as I walked the banks of the Rainy River. 

Keith by Window, Riverside Drive

In these two photos of my father he is by the window of their house. You can see a little of the interior of the house.  I was told that  Ronald built this house.  I have not been able to prove that family story.


McDonald’s Settle in International Falls!

March 27, 2010

By 1905, Keith’s family had migrated to International Falls and settled down.  The whole McDonald family made the move from Bemidji, in Beltrami Co., Minnesota to International Falls, Itasca County, Minnesota by 1905 or shortly thereafter.   

The 1905 Minnesota State Census shows Ronald age 37 and Grace age 24, Keith’s parents, along with two of their older children:  Vivian age 3 and Gordon age 1. They are living in the Village of International Falls, township of Koochiching, sheet 7, enumerated on 1, June, 1905 by Harvey Gale.  Ronald’s occupation is lumberman. 

R.S. McDonald Family 1905 Minnesota

Ronald’s parents, Archie and Mary were still residing in the Village of Bemidji according to the Minnesota State Census of 1905.  Their daughter Nellie (Ellen Elizabeth) is with them.  Their ages are listed as 70 for Archie and 68 for Mary, Sheet No. 39. Nellie is 30 years old and a housekeeper.  All of them give 3 years 9 months in residence in Bemidji this means they came from Canada about 1901. Do these ages work?  They are close but this means Archie was born in 1835 and Mary was 1837.  They are a little older than other information I have gathered.  Nellie is actually younger by 5 years than her baptismal record.  

Archie, Mary and Nellie, Bemidji 1905

Ronald’s brother Jack (John ) age 36 and his wife Sarah Burns McDonald age 31 were listed in the Village of International Falls by 1905 in the Minnesota State Census.  They are on Sheet #2.  Sarah is Irish in descent.  

John and Sarah, International Falls 1905

 Alexander their other brother was probably there as well but the census is a little confusing for 1905 for Alexander.  There is a listing for an A. T. McDonald age 30 working as a laborer living alone in International Falls.  His name is Alexander Thomas, so the initials work.  Also he states he has been in Minnesota 8 years which is about right for his coming to the area.  

1905 Minnesota Census Alex

The Minnesota State Census can be found online at Ancestry.com (or through your library version).  The Family History Library (FHL) also has it on microfilm they have 1836 -1905. It was taken in the middle of the decade so it is a nice addition to the U.S. Federal Census which is taken at the beginning of the decade. The 1905 is restricted and obtained at the Access window at the FHL so bring an id with you.


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