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.


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.


Brother Gordy!

July 9, 2010

Grace and Ronald welcomed their first son Gordon who was born on the 3rd of May, 1904 in Grand Rapids, Itasca Co., Minnesota.  He followed Vivian.    

His full formal name is:  Ronald Gordon George McDonald

Baby Gordon 1904

I always knew him as Uncle Gordy! Miriam, his sister, wrote about her brother… 

Gordon was bright. Good in math and learned his Geometry…Gordon had the same genius mechanical ability as other McDonalds and so did Keith.  We have pictures of him campaigning for his father….” 

As I remember him, Gordon was a quiet man but very intense.  He would visit his younger brother Keith in the years to follow and they would talk for hours in the basement of our house while my dad worked on his engines or fixed the car.    

Gordon & The Public School

I love this photo of my Uncle! The frown and the suspenders holding up his pants!  The location is International Falls and the building behind might be a school or the courthouse.  The Alexander Baker school was not built-in 1913 and this building is much earlier.  

I can just see Gordy running freely about International Falls.  I wish I had thought to ask him questions about the family but I was too young and shy.  I will talk about what I do know of my Uncle Gordy in future posts.  I have a few very interesting stories about him, unfortunately not enough.    

The photos of Gordon campaigning for Ronald, his father, have gone missing.  I am assuming the campaigning was for Ronald’s position as commissioner?  I suppose I could try the newspaper to see if I could find anything in International Falls but that would be slogging work!  It is a thought?


“A Collection of Junk!”

June 25, 2010

Keith’s sister Eddie had a scrapbook which she titled:  “A Collection of Junk!” In that scrapbook were many things that young girls collect and treasure.  It does say in the front that the “book belongs to Jean,” and in the back it says:  “The property of Edna L. MacDonald, Cheney, WA , USA.”  Most of it is filled with memorabilia with Eddie’s name on it.  I wonder what the story was that tipped the scale to Eddie.  It is just an old ledger book repurposed, a bit worse for wear with things falling out of it and missing items.  There are items from each of the siblings in this scrapbook.    

One item was a picture of a Geisha and at the bottom is the name “Vivian.”  Written below the picture is says that Vivian had colored this in grade school.  It places it about 1907 – 1908.  

Geisha, by Vivian

 

I think it is a very good job at staying in the lines.  I am wondering if Vivian traced it and then colored it?


Vivian’s Baby Book!

June 16, 2010

The Baby Book that Grace authored covers a short period of time in the family life of Ronald and Grace.  It takes place in the 1900′s and covers the events revolving around the life of their first child Leola Vivian.  

You might not think that a Baby Book would be of value genealogically but if you don’t have personal information like this then all you have are facts and that can be a little stiff.  Fortunately, this book does give some wonderful information and tidbits.  

I tried to make a PDF and upload it in total but it was too big and caused problems.  So I will feature a page and give a summary of some of the highlights.  

This Baby Book was published as a book with forms designed to be filled out and on the 1st page it gives the name of the author as Maud Humphrey published by the Frederick A. Stokes Company, New York, 1898. 

  • Baby’s Name and parents – see page to right

    Name: Leola Vivian

     

  • First Outing date and with Incidents

Baby Vivian had her first buggy ride on the 23rd of May when she was baptized .  Her godparents Miss Mary Clemmins and Alex T. McDonald attending with her mother and father she went to sleep.  She had her first ride in her buggy or cab when she was six weeks old.  Grandma Barclay and her Mama wheeled her and Mamma wheeled her cab off the side-walk and the wind blew the covers away.   

  • Weight at various years
  • First Gifts and who gave them, also interesting information 

Received from Grandma Barclay on the 18th of May a pair of knitted booties.  Received from Mrs.John R. Donahue a little kimono jacket and on the 3rd of July 1902 from Grandma & ____ McDonald a little knitted jacket. From Aunt Nellie McDonald two pairs of stockings. From Aunt Sarah McDonald a pair of shoes and from Mrs. Geo. McCrea silver baby spoons.  From Grandma Barclay ___day of June three dollars in gold.  From her god-mother Oct. 6th a pair of little white shoes and stockings. 

  • First Tooth
  • First Laugh

Baby’s first laugh was heard by Mamma and Grandma Barclay on the sixth day of August in the year 1902 when Baby was two months and twenty-four old.  It sounded like she was choking but the second attempt was more successful 

  • First Creeping
  • First Step – gives dates and age of Vivian, Witnesses
  • First Short Clothes which again talks about Grandma Barclay

Baby was dressed in short clothes for the first time on the sixth day of September in the year 1902, at the age of three months and twenty-four days.  Mama made her little dress and trimmed it with lace made by Grandma Barclay some eight years before.  She wore little crocheted booties also made by Grandma Barclay. 

  • First Shoes which has an outline of the shoes and description
  • First Christmas, date and Gifts given and Incidents

Baby’s first Christmas was December 25, 1903. She received from Grandma Barclay a gold nice chain, a doll, three large marbles a rubber ball from Mama and Papa a box of blocks, a little book and a new coat from Grandma and Grandpa McDonald, a pair of shoes.  Two cashimen dresses. Aunt Sarah a cup. 

  • First Word – mentions saying Papa and Mamma

Baby’s first word was “Papa.”  It was spoken on the twenty-fifth day of December in the year 1903 when Baby was 6 months and seventeen days old and in the hearing of Mama and Grandma Barclay.  Her Papa was away and after she had called “da-a” number of times she said “Papa” three time and them tried to say Mama. 

  • First Birthday, date and gifts given
  • First Appearance at Table with date and incidents
  • A letter from Grandma Dawes (Formerly Grandma Barclay, she remarried at this time).
  • First Lock of Hair – with a sample well-preserved
  • First Valentine, given by Grandma Barclay
  • Height for 5 years
  • Baby’s first Photograph – see previous post at the top.
  • First Day of Worship – St. Joseph’s Catholic Church with incidents
  • Important Events which has a lot of great information on the family and goes on for several pages giving names, dates and locations they visited.  Vivian started to talk and say more things like “poor baby,” when she was sick and cut a tooth.  Ronald left them for a month and Vivian didn’t recognize him when her returned. 
  • More Important Events and her the last baby’s name is written on the last page.  The last page reads:  Gone but not forgotten, Grace A. McDonald Beloved wife of R.S. McDonald, Born April 10, 1882, Died Dec. 22, 1911.

The original of this Baby Book is in the possession of my cousin.  I have scanned the pages in black and white and transcribed it into Word to preserve it for the future.   Now if I could only figure out who Aunt Sarah McDonald may be?


Darling Vivian!

June 5, 2010

 

Baby Vivian 1901

 

While Ronald was working for the lumber company in International Falls his children were growing up.  They must have been proud parents for Grace authored a baby book for her daughter Leola Vivian.  

Vivian was Keith’s older sister.  Vivian was the 2nd child, the first did not survive.  Vivian was born on May 12, 1902 in Grand Rapids, Minnesota.  She was 8 years older than her baby brother Keith.  

Vivian’s baby picture, featured above, is a rare photo.  I have very few of the early years of Keith’s siblings.  If you look close you see Grace’s handwriting next to the photo.  This scrapbook page is from a project that I did that celebrates the lives of my dad’s siblings, my aunts and uncles.  

This is not the only baby photo of Vivian there is an earlier one.  On the pages of the Baby book is an imprinted photo.  This photo burned onto the facing page.   The actual photo is missing.  The impression photo is very light in color and faded but the image was there.  

Grace also preserved a lock of her daughter’s hair in this baby book and it was still intact.  

Vivian has been included in photographs with her siblings in past posts and she is always the tallest one in those photos.  In real life she was a tiny person coming in at 4 feet 11 inches as an adult.  She had a strong spirit. 

The following pictures are of Vivian as a little girl.  They are amazing.  

Vivian 1904

 

Darling Vivian

 

Vivian 1905

 

Grace celebrated her daughter by writing in and filling out a preprinted baby book.  As far as I know, this is the only one that she created for her 6 children.  The original of this book is in the possession of my cousin Grace’s great-granddaughter.  A photocopy was taken of the book and a transcription was also done to preserve the information contained.  I will share more from the baby book in the next post.  It is a brief view into family life for my grandparents.


Grace Barclay McDonald

May 29, 2010
Keith’s mother Grace was busy raising a family while her husband Ronald (R.S.) was involved with the lumber business and politics in the town of International Falls. 

Grace about 1896

 

This photo is of Grace as a young girl and it is this young girl that my grandfather Ronald fell in love with and met somewhere in Minnesota.  Maybe it was when he visited her father in Pine River to talk about lumber? Maybe it was on the train to St. Paul/Minneapolis where she attended school?  Miriam her daughter didn’t seem to know the story of how they met or even the date of the marriage as was reflected in her notes that she sent me.  

Ronald and Grace were married in September of 1898 and eventually settled in International Falls with their family.  I wrote about the marriage in my post dated February 20, 2010.  

Grace Barclay

 

Keith’s cousin Mary McDonald Louiseau told me when I visited her in 2000, that Grace liked to read so the library at their home was filled with books.  There is no date on this oval photo of Grace.  

Grace in the Snow

 

Here Grace is sweeping the snow?  Not sure why, but I enjoy the look which reminds me of her daughter Eddie.  I like the contrast in the pictures of my father’s mother and my grandmother.  I have very little information about her.  I think these photos start to show a little of her personality.  In this snow photo she is in a rather shabby dress.  For some reason I think she was pregnant at this time? I do not know the year this snow photo was taken. 

Grace and her children Jan 1911

 

In this picture Grace looks lovely and happy.  Written on the photo is the year 1911.  Left to right:  in the back row is Vivian,  Gordon, and Grace.  In the front row is Miriam, Eddie, Jean and then baby Keith, main star of this blog.  Grace is holding Keith, my dad, close.  If you look closely you can see that Miriam and Eddie’s hair is cut like a boy’s hair cut.  I am wondering if there was a lice problem? 

I have had the good fortune to know all of these siblings of my father Keith.  They were very much a part of my life.  The only one I never knew was Grace for she died very young as you will see.  

I have another blog that I am writing that covers Grace Barclay McDonald’s parents and ancestors.  It is called the “Barclays of Pine River, The Lives of George and Amarilla Barclay.”  You will find it at: http://barclayspineriver.wordpress.com/  Grace’s ancestry goes back to the Mayflower through Grace’s grandparents Elizabeth Keller Spracklin and Daniel Dair/Dare Spracklin.  I will eventually talk more about Grace’s earlier years in that blog up till she meets Ronald (R.S.).


Time Capsule Opened 2006!

May 21, 2010

The website for the Koochiching County History had Board Minutes dated July 11, 2006 where they opened a time capsule in 2006 revealing many articles of the history of the area and photographs.  It is very exciting to see that R.S. McDonald is listed as one of the photographs among many.  See the links to the right for a link to the History of Koochiching History.

I do not know what photograph was used but here is one that was given to me by my cousin a descendant of Ronald and Grace. It was contained in an oval silver frame.

Ronald Sandfield McDonald

This photo was probably taken some time around early 1900′s.  Keith’s father, R.S. was very handsome, dressed impeccably all his life and had a wonderful mustache till he shaved it off in the early 20′s.


Commissioner R. S. McDonald

May 15, 2010

Int'l Falls & Ft Francis

 

Keith’s father was commissioner for the city of International Falls. Miriam said in her notes about her brother Gordon, Keith’s older brother, “we have pictures of him campaigning for his father.” Unfortunately, I have never seen those photographs.  

“To end the isolation, reduce costs and provide better public service, residents of northern Itasca were now demanding a county of their own with easier access to the county seat. Following an aggressive campaign for voter support, leaders of the movement then petitioned for an election. The proposal for county division went on the ballot in the general election of Tuesday, Nov. 6, 1906, and carried by a resounding majority of 800. The votes were then canvassed in St. Paul and on Dec. 19 Gov. John A. Johnson issued the proclamation which created Koochiching with International Falls as the county seat.
 

While elated by the news, backers of the division movement postponed a public celebration because opponents were contesting the election. Finally the dispute was settled in court — in favor of the new county group — and a victory celebration took place March 6, 1907, in the Falls village hall. The village hall, built in 1904, served as county headquarters until the court-house was completed two years later. The initial county board appointed by Gov. Johnson consisted of R.S. McDonald, Hugh Mclntosh, Nels L. Olson, Fred Smith and Charles M. Bowman. Bowman, a resident of Big Falls, failed to qualify for office and didn’t serve.”  

from New County is Born, History of Koochiching County website, April 10, 2010.  See link to the History of Koochiching County on the right. 

There is an interesting explanation of events regarding the  appointment of Annie Shelland as Superintendent of Schools.   

“Annie Shelland..knew that she could walk to all schools in the 3,200 square-mile county.  Her appointment was opposed by only one commissioner, R.S. McDonald, who felt that no woman was capable of making the rounds to the schools. (pg. 128).” 

“Annie Shelland was opposed by R.S. McDonald of the county commission, because he did not believe that a woman would be capable of walking the distances under the conditions required of a county superintendent (of schools.) pg. 30.  Annie was appointed in January of 1907. “ 

These excerpts are taken from the book:  

Koochiching, Pioneering Along the Rainy River Frontier, by Hiram M. Drache, Interstate Printers & Publishers, Inc., 1983. 

Annie went on to prove R.S. wrong and had an exemplary career as Superintendent and contributed greatly to education in Minnesota.  She died in 1964 at the age of 85 years old.  I think she was hardy enough! 

The photo above is from the National Park Service proposal website for a Voyageurs National Park site.  There are many great photos of the area.  

http://www.nps.gov/history/history/online_books/voya/proposed/area.htm


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