International Falls and the Rainy River!

March 10, 2010

Learning about an ancestral location is fun.  So here is a little bit about one of the places in my families history.

International Falls lies on the banks of the Rainy River.  My family settled there.  The Rainy River follows the international boundary line between the United States and Canada.  This city is at the very top of the State of Minnesota.  If you stand on the United States side and look across, you see the lights from Canadian homes and businesses.

Rainy River

Here is a link to a map of the town:

http://www.rainylake.org/annual_attractions_map.pdf.

International Falls was first a part of Itasca County up to 1906 when it came under Koochiching County.

Smokey Bear

I traveled to International Falls twice so I know a tiny bit about the area.  I visited there in 2000 and then again 2001. I went there to learn more about my dad’s family, the McDonald’s and to meet my cousin Mary McDonald Louiseau. Mary was 87 years old at the time. She was my grandfather Ronald’s niece and a cousin to Keith. Her father was Jack McDonald brother to Ronald.  The photos are from those trips.

International Falls is famous for being the coldest city in the United States.  They have a giant thermometer in the town square to keep track of the temperature.

Here is a link to some Google images of International Falls:

http://www.ci.international-falls.mn.us/photogallery.html.

http://www.ci.international-falls.mn.us/index.aspx

Wikipedia gives a nice description of the city at:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Falls,_Minnesota

There are two huge Lumber mills that sit on the banks of the Rainy River. You drive across this very narrow 2 lane bridge to get to the Canadian side which is named Fort Francis. Don’t forget that Canadian money!  I am sure the crossing requires more identification then it did back in 2000.  So be prepared!  Some time in the early 1900′s they built up the river and made a dam across it.

The website of Koochiching County has a section on history and nice article on E. W. Backus the “last of the lumber barons.”  Keith’s father, Ronald, worked for this man in the early 1900′s per family history.  Ronald was a lumberman. In this article there is a picture of E. W. and other pictures that show the river, lumber mill and more.

http://www.co.koochiching.mn.us/history/Hist02.htm

Learning about the history of ancestral locations is challenging but rewarding.  See the link for the home page to the Koochiching County history pages to the right under “Favorites” where you will find more history about the area.


Ronald and Grace’s Children

February 27, 2010

Evergreen Cemetery

 

Keith was the youngest son of Ronald and Grace McDonald.  There were eight children born to Ronald and Grace.  Keith was the 7th child.  

The first child born did not survive and even the sex and name are unknown.  It is buried in an unmarked grave at the Evergreen Cemetery  in Brainerd, Crow Wing Co., Minnesota under the name “R.S McDonald’s child.” The baby shares the space with it’s grandfather George A. Barclay, grandmother Ammarilla Spracklin and their son George Alexander, brother to Grace. I discovered this child when I obtained burial records from the Evergreen Cemetery.  They have a directory of the dead which was not online years ago.  The photo above is the cemetery and specifically the Barclay grave area.      

McDonald Children about 1915

 

According to the writing on the back of this photo of the McDonald children, Keith is responsible for using a pin to poke out the eyes on his face! In order from left to right:  Keith, Jean, Eddie, Miriam, Gordon and Vivian. The birth order is reversed in this photo.  Vivian was the oldest and Keith the youngest.  

The Children of Grace and Ronald S. McDonald:    

1. Infant McDonald born and died on the same day of 29 August 1899.   

2. Leola Vivian.  Vivian was born on 12 May, 1902 in Grand Rapids, Itasca Co., Minnesota.   

3. Gordy was their first-born son.  His formal name was Ronald Gordon and he is sometimes confused with his father. Gordon was born on the 3 of May, 1904 also in Grand Rapids, Itasca Co., Minnesota.   

Sometime after Gordy’s birth, Ronald and Grace moved to International Falls, Minnesota.   I have not been able to pin down the actual location where they lived in Grand Rapids, Itasca Co., Minnesota. Grace and Ronald do appear in the 1905 Minnesota State Census in International Falls, so the move was made by then.  Itasca was a very large county and Koochiching was carved out of it about 1906.     

 McDonald Children born in International Falls:     

 4. Miriam Audrey followed on 15 January, 1906 and was born in International Falls, Koochiching County, Minnesota.  Miriam was the one who planted the seed that started me on the family genealogy.   

 5. Eddie was next. Her formal name was Edna Lorraine and she was born 28 March 1907. 

 6. Laurie Jean was born 30 June,1908.     

 7. Next was Keith Barclay John the youngest and 2nd son born 13 March, 1910.  This man is the one that this blog is dedicated to. 

  8. The last child was Grace Elizabeth born Dec 1911 who died the day before her mother and is buried with her in the cemetery in International Falls, Koochiching Co., Minnesota. 

Death Certificate Grace Elizabeth

 

The sources are a variety of documents like newspaper announcements, letters, a baby book, my Aunt Miriam’s notes, death certificates for some of them, on-line death indexes, etc.


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