Alex McDonald – 58 years in Minnesota!

November 11, 2012

Alexander Thomas McDonald spent 58 years of  his life living in Minnesota. He came down before his parents, Archie and Mary,  in 1897 and  lived in Duluth, Minnesota for a while.  I found an Alex McDonald in the city directories in Duluth, but it is difficult to know if that really was him?

Alex McDonald

I shared about Alexander Thomas McDonald the youngest son of Archibald and Mary McDonald in several previous posts:

1.  Archibald and Mary McDonald’s Children, dated March 20, 2011.  This post has the wonderful family photograph of the McDonald’s except for Angus the oldest brother.

2.  Alexander Thomas McDonald, Fireman, dated August 7, 2010.  There are several photos in this post showing Alex in his fireman’s uniform.  The 2nd photograph has Keith sitting on his knee.

3.  Archie & Mary’s Children:  Alexander Thomas McDonald, dated March 31, 2010 in which I share the birth of Alex and his record from the St. Alphonsus Church records.

Alex apparently decided to become Naturalized and applied for his Certificate of Intention #175 on 30 January 1905:

State of Minnesota, County of Itasca, Alex T. McDonald, appeared in the District Court of the 15th Judicial District for the State of Minnesota.  He was born in Canada about the year 1872 and emigrated to the United States an landed at the Port of Sault Ste. Marie on or about the month of November 1897.  It is Bona fide his intention to become a Citizen of the United States and renounce forever all fidelity to the Queen of Great Britain..whereof he is a subject, signed Alex T. McDonald, 21 November, 1898, I.D. Rassmussan, Clerk.  This is a true copy signed January 30, 1905, I.D. Rasmussan, Clerk.

Certificate of Intention

Source:  Declaration of Intention of Alex. T. McDonald, #175, County of Itasca, State of Minnesota, copy given to the compiler by his nephew.

Certificate of Citizenship, United States of America, District Court Co. of Itasca, State of Minnesota, Naturalization of Alex T. McDonald, 23rd day of Feb, 1905, Seal of the said Court on the 23rd day of Feb 1905, I.D. Rassmussen Clerk.

Source:  Certificate of Citizenship, Alex T. McDonald, Itasca County, Minnesota.  copy given to the compiler by his nephew.

Koochiching had not yet been established as a county and was part of Itasca County things were slowly developing in northern Minnesota at this time and it was difficult to get around until the train came.

The Minnesota State Census indicates that Alex was living in International Falls in 1905. If the information is correct Alex migrated to International Falls by 1899:

Line 8, McDonald, A. T., male, age 31, white, born in Canada, both parents born in Canada, 8 years in Minnesota, 6 yrs in the enumeration district, laborer.

Minnesota census

Source:  1905 Minnesota State Census, Village of International Falls, Twp. of Koochiching, County of Itasca, State of Minnesota, line 8, Sht #2, enumerated on June 1-20, 1905 by Harvey Gale, Minnesota Historical Society in St. Paul.

Note: Minnesota State Census went online at Ancestry.com a couple of years after I had done my research at the FHL and the Minnesota Historical Society in St. Paul in the census.

The U. S. Federal Census for 1910 is very interesting because Alex was listed as the head of the household. I was expecting Archibald to be head based on family stories.

12/14 – McDonald, Alex, head X, male, white, 34 years old single, born in Canada and also his parents were born in Canada.  Lived in this country 12 years, naturalized.  Speaks English, is a teamster and operates a dray line.  Nellie, sister, female, white, 38 years old single, born in Canada and parents too, 10 years in this country and not naturalized, no occupation given.  Archie, father, male, white, 80 years old, married, 49 years, born in Canada, parents born in Scotland, in this country 8 years, naturalized, speaks English, no occupation.  Mary, mother, female, white, 76 years old, married 49 years, 5 children of which 4 are living, born in Canada, parents born in Scotland, in this country 8 years, speaks English, no occupation.  All can read and write.

Source:  1910 U.S. Federal Census, Alex McDonald & Others, International Falls, Koochiching Co., Minnesota, SD#8, ED#92, enumerated April 15, 1910, National Archives, Pacific NW Region, Seattle, WA.

Jack and brother Alex in International Falls

Here Alex is buying lots 9 and 10 in block 53 in International Falls.  At this point I have no way to verify if this is the house that the family said was built by Archie?

Deed Record G pg. 38, The Koochiching Co. and Alexander T. McDonald on the 17th day of Sept. 1908 at 1 p.m.  Frank S. Spang, Register of Deeds.  On the 15th of April 1907 Alexander paid $500 for lots 9 and 10 in block 53 of International Falls.  Instrument no. C 327.

Source:  Deed Record Book G, pg. 38, Alexander T. McDonald, #C327, Koochiching County, Minnesota, from the Koochiching County Courthouse Call #38 C No. 327, September 14, 1908, 1 pm.

Alex later sold the lots on March 8, 1920 at 9 am to John McGivney for $2600.00, #25889, No. 39, pg. 121.

In the 1920 U.S. Federal Census Alex is rooming with another person:

Line 95, 4th and Second St., X/60/91, McDonald, Alex, Head, renting, male, white, age 46, single, years of immigration and naturalization unclear, not in school as of 1919, able to read and write, born in Canada, parents both born in Canada, native tongue English, able to speak English, occupation Driver, Fire Barn, working.  Line 96 at same address as Alex. Thomas, Arthur, boarder, male, mulatto, age 50, single, not in school as of 1919, able to read and write, born in Kansas, parents both in Kentucky, janitor, bank, working.

Source:  1920 U.S. Federal Census, City of International Falls, Co. of Koochiching, Minnesota, SD#8, ED#52, Ward #3, Vol. 41, pg. 4, Ancestry.com.

In review, things had changed greatly for Alex.  His sister Nellie was with Ronald (R.S.) helping with raising the six children in Cheney, Washington.  Archibald and Mary and both passed 8-9 years earlier.  John (Jack) his brother had a family and daughter to raise even though they were in the same city and lived not far from each other.

R.S. and brother Alex in Cheney 1924

During the 1920’s Alex headed west and visited his brother R.S. and sister Nellie.  He attended the wedding of his niece Vivian to Hilary McKanna in 1924.  Year’s later Vivian would ask her uncle to sign and affidavit to help her establish her birth date and location so she could obtain social security.  These two events will be covered in future posts.

The 1930 U.S. Census reveals that Alex is still in International Falls

Line 46, Alexander T. McDonald at City Hall #356, 460 under head lodger, Rents, personal property $20.00, he does not live on a farm, Male, White, 56 years old, Single, parents are Canadian-English and so is he. He immigrated to the U.S. in 1897 and is naturalized. His occupation is fireman at the City Fire Dept.. He is not a veteran. Alexander has listed under his name Bert Budde and Henry LeBlanc. I am familiar with these names and they are also listed as fireman with the City Fire Dept.

Source:  1930 U.S. Federal Census, International Falls, Koochiching Twp., and County, Dist #20, ED#36-20, SD #2, Sht #21A #139, dated April 16, 1930, Ancestry.com.


Jack McDonald succumbs – 1949

October 11, 2012

3rd version: Jack with his sibling and nieces

Here is another photograph like the ones I featured in the last post.  This time Jack has a straw hat on and he is standing in between his two siblings.

LtoR: Vivian, Nellie, Jack, R.S., Miriam.  If you study the photo and focus on Jack and R.S. you can see some resemblance.

Jack gave me quite a challenge regarding his death.  I could not find any evidence of his passing in the International Falls records.  I finally figured it out.  The reason was he died in Moose Lake, Carlton Co., Minnesota on the 11th of December 1949.

Carlton Co. at Moose Lake in the State Hospital. Residence was Koochiching Co., International Falls, 983 Sixth St. Length of stay in the hospital 9 mos, 8 days. Full name: John A. McDonald, male, white, married. Spouse Sarah McDonald, her age 76, Dated of his birth Jan. 14, 1869, he was 80 years 10 mos and 27 days. occupation: Janitor. Born in Chichester, Quebec, Canada. Father’s name Archibald McDonald, born in Canada. Mother maiden name Sarah McDonald born in Canada. Funeral Director – James F. Morine, Duluth, MN. Died December 11, 1949 – arteriosclerosis and senility etc.

Source:  Death Certificate, John A. McDonald, #1983, Reg. No. 155, Moose Lake, Carlton Co., Minnesota, Dec. 11, 1949, State of Minnesota Vital Statistics, Minnesota Historical Society Death Certificates.

Note:  The date given for his birth is Jan 14, 1869.  The St. Alphonsus Church records have January 3, 1869?  They also have Sarah as his mother and it should be Mary.  His tombstone reads 1870.  His death certificate gives the Jan 14th date.  Also the number for the house he lived in might be a little off.

John A. 1870 to 1949

There is an obituary article from the The Daily Journal of International Falls, dated December 12, 1949. It reads:

“John A. McDonald, 903 Sixth street, one-time mayor of International Falls and a resident of the community since 1904, died Sunday at the age of 70. He passed away at an out-of-town hospital after an illness of more than two years. Time and place of funeral services will be announced in a later issue of the Journal. The Green Mortuary will be in charge. Familiarly known as “Jack,” Mr. McDonald served one two-year term as major from 1922 to 1924. Prior to being elected to the No. 1 office in the municipality he represented Ward III on the city council for four years. He was also one of the first members of the Falls fire department and maintained an active interest in the organization until he resigned in 1941 because of his health. Mr. McDonald was well-known to thousands of children whom he encountered in his work as fireman-engineer at Alexander Baker school. He joined the school custodian staff in 1913, shortly after the AB building was constructed. Upon his retirement in 1945 he had 32 years of school service to his credit. Born in Chapeau, Quebec, Jan. 14, 1869, Mr. McDonald emigrated to the United States as a young man in 1901 and settled in Bemidji. The same year he was married to Miss Sarah M. Burns, who survives. The couple moved to International Falls in 1904 and Mr. McDonald soon established a dray line, which he operated until 1913. In the latter years he joined the school building staff. Surviving, in addition to his widow, are a daughter, Mrs. Gilbert (Mary) Louiseau, and a brother, Alex, both of International Falls.”

This obituary notice really gives a great overview of Jack’s life.

He is buried with his family in the Forest Hill Cemetery which includes the St. Thomas Cemetery.  The burial site is dominated by this large tombstone with McDonald on it. If I recall, I was told by the family, that Jack and Archie bought the plot and had this stone installed.

McDonald Tombstone


Jack McDonald becomes Mayor!

August 31, 2012

I visited with my cousin Mary in 2000 and 2001 and she shared several stories of her father. 

She told me that he was Mayor of International Falls for a period of approximately 2 years (1922-1924).   He was talked into it by several of the town “big shots.” Prior to his service as major, he served on the city council.  He was very active in the politics of the city. 

Jack and Sarah’s home was located on 6th street on the southwest corner and was a familiar place in town.  People would come by  to visit with Jack and “Ms. McDonald” as they called Sarah, Mary’s mother.  Sarah set a good table. John Archibald McDonald was best known as “Jack” to his family and friends.

Mary described her dad with a great deal of affection. He was a kind man and always knew the right thing to say and do. She couldn’t wait to get home from school to see and talk to her dad.

Jack visits his siblings!

Photo:  Jack is on the left and here he is visiting with two of his siblings.  Nellie is in the middle and Ronald (R.S.) is on the right.   

2nd photo: Miriam, Jack, Vivian, Nellie and R.S.

Photo:  This is another version of the photo above and this time we include Jack’s niece Miriam on the left, Jack, Vivian another of Jack’s nieces, Nellie and Ronald (R.S.) He is the father of Miriam and Vivian.  The date is 1938. 

The 1938 date means that the family was still in Spokane because Vivian is there and she lived east in Opportunity with her husband Hilary.  It also could have been taken in Yakima were Ronald and Nellie moved to be with Miriam who was teaching school in Yakima.  These are my father Keith’s family:  his sisters, uncle, aunt and father.

Jack was often fond of joking that he was “only the janitor of the school.”  Jack actually helped to build the Alexander Baker school and then he took on the task of caring for the boiler there. He would get up and go to work in the early morning to turn the boiler on to heat the school for the little children who attended. 

http://www.businessupnorth.com/nl_1209_2.shtml

International Falls is considered one of the coldest cities in the U.S., so Jack’s service was probably very much appreciated.

The Alexander Baker School 2001

Earlier in his residence in International Falls, he ran a dray service sharing the work with his brother Alex.  In a small town like International Falls the inhabitants frequently had several jobs to support the family.

International Falls 1st City Directory

Page 64 features McDonald Dray & Transfer, Alex McDonald propr. 1107 6th st. Tel 51. McDonald, Alex, propr McDonald Dray & Transfer, 1107 6th st. Tel 51.

McDonald John A. janitor Alexander Baker School, 903 6th st, Te. 286. On pg. 19 it reads, McDonald Ellen, civil servant, 421 1st st., McDonald John, lab, 221 Nelson St.

Source:  First Annual Directory, International Falls and Additions Rainier, Minnesota and  Fort Francis, Ontario.  Landgraf & York Publishers, International Falls, MN, 1917-18, pg. 64 and pg. 19. Koochiching County Library.

NOTE: What is a Dray line.  It has not been easy to get a good description or explanation of this type of occupation.  Dray refers to a wagon draw by either horses or oxen and here is the best that I could do. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wagon 

Here is page 9 of the International Falls City Directory:

Page 9 of the International Falls City Directory

Notes about page 9:  There are several McDonalds listed.  Ellen McDonald is in civil service.  Is this Nellie?  It this is her then this means that she may not have gone with her brother R.S. till much later? I have not been able to get enough information on Nellie’s activities and when she actually took up the task of caring for R.S.’s children. 

John is listed as a laborer.  There is also an Arthur and Malcolm McDonald who are unknown to me? R.S. is not listed which would be correct. He left about 1915 for Grand Prairie, Alberta.  There is no Alex which is odd.

Here we see Jack and Sarah living in International Falls in the 1910 census:

22/24 McDonald, John, head, 46 yrs. old, married 8 years. Born in Canada (L), parents the same. 8 years a citizen, Speaks English. Teamster of a dray line, employed. Sarah, wife, 46, married 8 years. Born in Canada (L), parents born in Canada (L). In the US 8 years, speaks English no profession.

Source:  John A. McDonald Family, 1910 U.S. Federal Census, International Falls, Koochiching Co., Minnesota, SD#8, ED 92, Sht# 2-A, April 15 or 16, 1910, by [     ].

Jack, Sarah and their daughter appear in the 1920 U.S. Federal Census.  Apparently they did apply and became naturalized in 1909.  Acording to Ancestry.com they are on a list of naturalizations held at the Iron Range Research Center.  I will have to put this on the To Do List.

Line 48, 903/463/457, McDonald, John, Head, home owned, mortgage, male, white, age 50, married, immigrated to US 1902, naturalized in 1909, not at school in 1919, able to read and write, born in Canada, parents born in Canada, mother tongue English, janitor, school, working. McDonald, Sarah, wife, female, white, 45 yrs old, married, immigrated 1902 naturalized in 1909, born in Canada, not in school in 1919, able to read and write, parents both born in Ireland, native tongue English, able to speak English, no occupation. McDonald, daughter, female, white, 7 years old, single, able to read and write, born in Minnesota, able to speak English, no occupation.

Source: John McDonald Family, 1920 U.S. Federal Census, International Falls, Koochiching Co., Minnesota, SD&ED 53, Ward 3, Sht. #23A, enumerated January 28, 1920.

Jack served with the International Falls fire department.

A Flash back to 1910 Falls Fire Dept banquet

The original newspaper article was cut off but it is probably the International Falls Daily Journal, 4/8/1949 – North Country Album – Early Day Photos of Your Centennial Year Scrap Book.

Jack is the J.A. McDonald they list. (Click on the photo and it will appear in a bigger size, then hit your back button to come back to this blog.)


Archie and Mary McDonell say goodbye to Chichester and head for Bemidji!

January 5, 2012

Archie was about 63 years old in 1901 and Mary, his wife, was about 61.   The story in my father Keith’s family, as told by his sister Miriam, is the sons of Archie and Mary decided it was time for their parents to retire from the farm.  As I have discussed in a past post Archie’s position as lock master had ended in the middle 1890’s.  Remember Ronald and Alex had already made the move to Minnesota and their older brother Angus he was gone, although I believe he came back and his daughter Helena Mary was born there 19 August 1897?  John (Jack) was quoted in later years as saying to his daughter Mary:  ” We (Sarah and Jack) didn’t like all of the king and queen stuff still going on in Canada.”   So the decision to immigrate to Minnesota was made for whatever reason or reasons. 

When did the move take place?

In the 1901 Canadian census for Chichester, Pontiac County, Quebec we find Mary and Archie still living in the area along with their son John (Jack).  

McDonald, Archie, farmer, 63 years old. Birth date is October [5,] 1837. Place of birth is Canada, which is written over with Quebec. Racial origin is given as Scottish, nationality is Canadian. Religion is Catholic. He can read, write and speaks English. His mother tongue is English. McDonald, Mary, birth date is March 13 , 1840, 60 years old. McDonald, John birth date is June 16, 1872, he is 28 years old. 

Source:  1901 Canadian Census, Chichester, Pontiac Co., Quebec CC Film #T6538, 1800 Pontiac, pg. 116. 

Note:  The birth year of John is questionable in this census.  His baptismal record has 3 June 1869 as indicated in the St. Alphonsus Church Records. 

The other interesting fact is that Ellen (Nellie) their daughter is not in this census?  We see that Alexander is also missing along with Ronald and Angus.  I cannot find Ellen, Ronald nor Angus in either the Canadian or U.S. Census in 1901 or 1900.  I have looked everywhere and have given it several tries based on what I know of their lives at the time. 

John (Jack stayed) was highly motivated to stay a little longer because he was about to get married to Sarah Maria Burns.  The 1901 Canadian census was supposed to be enumerated on March 31, 1901 and completed within a month.  Their marriage took place in August of 1901.  I wonder if this event is in the newspaper there?

pg. 356 #6916 McDonald, John Archibald (Archibald McDonald & Mary McDonald) 8/20/1901 to Sarah Burns (Geo.Burns & Cath. McMahon).

Source:  Marriage Due Comte De Pontiac 1836 -1973, pg. 356 #6916, Pub. No. 26, Editions Bergerson & Fils Engr., Montreal, P.Q. FHL#971.4215.K29.  Other versions are on CD-Rom

Or the Drouin Collection at Ancestry.com

Source:  Ancestry.com, Quebec Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection) 1621-1967 database, Chapeau, Parish, St. Alphonse, Pontiac County, Quebec.  Registres Photographies  Aug Greffe De Campbell’s Bay, No. 17,  20 August 1901.

What this means is the family didn’t leave Chichester, Pontiac County, Quebec until after this marriage took place.  Again, I refer you to Keith’s sister Miriam’s notes about Archibald and Mary and the family which I have shared before in a past post on Archibald.  (Click on the image to make it bigger and remember to hit the back button to return to this post. 

Miriam's Notes on Archie and Mary

 
Archibald, as the notes reads, went to Glengarry, Ontario where he grew up to visit after 40 years and had forgotten his Gaelic.  He was the youngest of seven children – five boys and two girls.  Miriam goes onto to say that the sons made the decision to move their parents. 
 
In preparation for the arrival of Archibald and Mary in Bemidji, their son Ronald (R.S.) and Grace, his wife, (Keith’s parents and my grandparents) bought a house right next to Lake Bemidji.  I had the good fortune to view and tour the house that my family lived in when I visited Bemidji in 2001.  The owner at that time, a very nice lady kindly gave me a tour.  They were renovating the home at the time.  The house is north of the Lake Watch Bed and Breakfast (may not be there anymore) where I stayed in 2000 when we passed through the first time.  The address is 1101 Lakeside Blvd., Bemidji, Beltrami Co., Minnesota.   I do have a photo of the house and remember the inside well.  It was several stories with an enclosed porch and had these old steep stairs to the upper floor. 
 
Ronald and Grace purchased the house from a Wm. Dibble on 29 January 1901.  I found this deed at the Beltrami County Courthouse in Bemidji.  They would not let me see the originals, so I looked at the film using the machine they had in the Registrar of Deeds office.  I will go into further detail on this deed in another post.   Since I cannot find my grandparents in the 1900 U.S. census, this deed is significant in that is places my grandparents, Ronald and Grace in Bemidji in the early part of the 1900’s.

Beltrami Courthouse in Bemidji


Ronald S. and his brother Angus Strike out on their Own!

December 16, 2011

It is time to turn back to Archibald and Mary McDonell’s family, Keith, my father’s grandparents and my greats.  The past posts have described what is known about their respective siblings and parents at this time. More research will be done and a trip to Ontario and Quebec is in the near future see the new page added at the top of this blog. 

Meanwhile let’s return to Archie and Mary’s family in Chichester in 1881.  In the post dated June 1, 2011 “McDonell Family in 1881,” the census for that year was discussed and described. The family was all together including Alexander the youngest.  It was not too last long.  The son’s were growing up and about to leave the “nest.”

It is not clear when Ronald or his older brother Angus left home and headed out on their own.  Jack (John), their brother told his daughter that “Angus, left.”  A typical response for my McDonald’s are people of few words. 

In 1881 Ronald was 14 years old and Angus was 16 years old.  So if we use the age of 18 or 20 as a clue to figure out their movements we could probably guess they left home about 1885 or 1886? 

In any event, neither Ronald nor Angus appear in the Canadian 1891 census with the family in Chichester, Pontiac County, Quebec, 7th April, 1891, pg. 4, Ancestry.com

Line 13, [ ] 16, McDonald, Archy, M,  60 years old, M, born Ont. and the place of birth of his father and mother are Ont., Lockmaster, can read and write.  McDonald, Mary, F, age 57, M, Wife, born Ont. , father born Ont, mother born Scotland, can read and write.  McDonell, John, M, age 22, S, born Quebec, Labourer.  McDonell, Ellen, F, age 20, D. M  age 18, S.  Children born Quebec.

No sign of Ronald, Keith’s father, nor his uncle Angus.  Since the 1890 U.S. Federal Census suffered destruction in a fire, we cannot determine if they headed to the United States by that time.  Ronald’s trail is picked up in the 1895 Minnesota State census.   As for Angus he doesn’t appear until much later in the 1910 U.S. Federal Census for Seattle, King County, Washington!! There are some interesting stories about Angus that I will share in a later posts.  I have reason to believe that Angus moved back and forth across the Canadian border on several occasions as we will see. 

It is about now that we see the spelling of the last name change from “McDonell” to “McDonald.”

 


Nellie’s Charts – Her Mother Mary McDonell’s Family!

July 21, 2011

Ronald’s sister Nellie prepared the family genealogy in 1932 almost 20 years after the death of her parents Archibald and Mary McDonell.  Nellie (Ellen Elizabeth) had not been to Canada since 1901 when she immigrated with her parents and brother John (Jack) to Minnesota.  So when you see these charts you will be amazed for her grand-niece thinks she did a wonderful job and the family is truly indebted to her for her efforts.

Nellie prepared a long piece of paper with the family descendants for both Archie’s family on the left and Mary’s on the right.  This piece of paper was too big to store without creasing it so it was scanned into the computer in 3 sections and gently separated into two. 

Some time after Nellie had prepared this chart her niece Miriam rewrote it creating two charts one for Archie’s side and one for Mary’s side of the family.  There are minor differences between the charts. 

So we started with Keith’s grandfather Archie’s side of the family presenting the chart by featuring it in the post dated June 17, 2011 and titled Nellie’s Charts: Her Father Archie McDonell’s Family.   In the following posts dated June 30, 2011 A Mystery – Roy Macdonnell and July 8, 2011 Glengarry in Ontario etc. there was a discussion about Archibald’s origins and family.

Now we will feature Keith’s grandmother Mary McDonell’s side of the family. 

Click on the chart below and it should open up larger for you to read.  Remember to hit the back arow to return to this post. 

If you are a descendant of Alexander John McDonald and Ellen McPherson please copy and enjoy but remember credit goes to Nellie McDonell (first chart) and Miriam her niece (second chart). 

Alex. Ban McDonell Family Chart

Miriam's Version of Alex Ban Chart

The research on the McDonell family has been based on these charts and so far on Mary’s side of the family the names listed and families can be traced in the Canadian census well into the 1900’s and probably beyond.   The challenge is the spelling of the name McDonell/McDonald which can vary greatly.

The focus of the research has been on tracing Keith’s grandparents Archibald and Mary and their life journey.  In future posts the siblings of Mary will be discussed as best we can.

Archie and Mary left the area of Chichester and Chapeau in 1901 and migrated to Bemidji, Beltrami Co., Minnesota, to be with their children.  The family story is that the children of Archie and Mary felt they were getting to old and convinced them to migrate to the United States.

The St. Alphonsus Church has many of these families listed in their records of marriages, deaths and baptisms.  There are films at the Family History Library for this church and the registers are on Ancestry.com.   See the post dated March 23, 2010 Records of the St. Alphonsus Church for more information.

The book compiled by Elaine Brown on the St. Alphonsus cemetery located at this church also lists many of these individuals.  http://www.personainternet.com/etbrown/alphonse.htm

If you are descended from any one of these families by all means say at least “hello” by leaving a comment or contacting me through the compiler page listed at the top of this blog.


McDonell Family in 1881!

June 1, 2011

The year is 1881 and Archibald McDonell’s family is still prospering. 

Archie, Mary, Angus, Ronald, John, Ellen and Alexander are all alive and living in the Chichester area.  Unfortunately, no baby George is mentioned in this census.

Source:  1881 Canadian Census, Chichester, Pontiac Co., Quebec. Dist. 98 (Chapeau Village) Canadian Film #T13226, pg. 23.

Line 3 to 9: 82/85 McDonell, Archibald, Male, age 45, born Ontario, Catholic, Scotch, Lock Master, Married.  McDonell, Mary, female, age 42, born in O, Catholic, Scotch, Married. McDonald, Angus, male, age 16, born Quebec, Catholic, Scotch.  McDonell, Ronald, male, age 14, born Quebec, Catholic, Scotch.  McDonell, John, male, age 11, born Quebec, Catholic, Scotch.  McDonald, Ellen, female, age 9, born Quebec, Catholic, Scotch. McDonell, Alexander, male, age 7, born Quebec, Catholic, Scotch.  All children going to school.

This is the only time that all of the family are listed together as a whole in the Canadian census, after this the children begin leaving home.

There is an interesting piece of information on this census.  Archie is listed as the Lock Master.  There will be more on that topic in the next post.


Archie & Mary’s children: Ellen Elizabeth McDonald

March 10, 2011

Ellen was her formal name but she was always called “Nellie.”  She was Keith’s aunt by family structure but probably more like the “only” mother he knew for he was 18 months old when his mother Grace died.  Nellie is somewhat of a mystery to me, her grand niece, but she did love cats so we do have something in common! 

Nellie and a Cat!

Born on th 26th of November 1870 in Chichester, she was baptized the same day.  She was the only girl out of 7 boys born to Archie and Mary.

Nellie's Baptismal Record

Source:  Baptism, Marriage and Burial Index, St. Alphonsus Church, 1846-1920 FHL# B11b, #1029797.  Also on Ancestry.com under the Drouin Collection. 

Nellie lived to the age of 76 and is buried next to her brother Ronald in the Calvary Cemetery in Yakima, Washington. 

Nellie never married instead she took on the task of helping raise Ronald’s six children after the death of his wife Grace in 1911.  Exactly when she joined Ronald to take on this task is not clear. Miriam implies it was right after Grace’s death but that might not be exactly true? 

Her niece Miriam held her in high esteem (click on the photo and it will get bigger for easier reading):

Nellie's Story by Miriam

Nellie also provided descendant charts of both of her parents Archie and Mary that Miriam passed on to her niece.  These charts will be featured in later posts.  These charts are the basis of the McDonell/McDonald research.


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. 

Archibald and Mary McDonald’s Children

March 20, 2010

McDonald Family 1905

This picture shows Keith’s grandparents and his aunt, uncles and father, Archibald and Mary McDonald’s family.  Starting on the left we have Nellie, Mary (seated), Jack, Archibald (seated), Ronald and Alex (seated).  Keith’s father is Ronald the one standing on the right next and behind Archibald. There is one person missing from this photo.  The oldest son Angus. 

Mary and Archibald actually had eight (8) children.  Five (5) children survived and lived to have full lives.  Two had descendants.  Jack had a daughter and Ronald and Grace had the 8 children listed in a previous post dated February 27, 2010. 

Their children were born in Chichester, Pontiac Co., Quebec.  Their births and baptisms are recorded in the St. Alphonsus Catholic Church registers in Chapeau, Pontiac Co., Quebec. 

The Children of Archibald and Mary McDonald are as follows.

1.  John McDonald born 10 December 1861, baptized 12 December 1861.  This baby must have died before 1871 for he is not listed on the 1871 Canadian census.  A death record nor burial location has been found at this time.

2.  John Alexander McDonald born 18 April 1863, baptized 26 April 1863 and died probably before 1871 for he is also not listed on the 1871 Canadian census.  This child’s death record and burial location has also not been found at this time.

3.  Angus Lawrence McDonald born 6 August 1864, baptized 13 August 1864.  He died 2 May 1931 in Seattle, King County, Washington of pneumonia, He is buried in the Calvary Cemetery in Seattle with other family members. Angus is listed as “Agnes” in the records.

4.  Ronald Sandfield McDonald born 22 July 1866, baptized the 26 July 1866. Keith’s father died on the 24 of July 1947 in Yakima, Yakima County, Washington of old age. He is buried in the Calvary Cemetery in Yakima, Washington with other members of the family.

5.  John Archibald McDonald (Jack) was born 3 June 1869, baptized 14 June 1869.  He died on 11 December 1949 in Moose Lake, Koochiching County, Minnesota of old age.  He is buried in the St. Thomas Cemetery (Forest Hill) in International Falls, Koochiching County, Minnesota with other family members.

6.  Ellen Elizabeth McDonald (Nellie) was born 26 November 1870, baptized the 26 November 1870.  She died on the 8th of May, 1947 in Yakima, Yakima County, Washington of old age.  She is buried next to her brother Ronald in the Calvary Cemetery in Yakima and with other family members. 

7.  Alexander Thomas McDonald was born 2 December 1872 and baptized the 17 December 1872.  He died the 3rd of November 1955 in International Falls, Koochiching Co., Minnesota.  He is buried next to his brother Jack in the St. Thomas Cemetery (Forest Hill) in International Falls, Minnesota. 

8.  George James McDonald was born 22 July 1878, baptized 27 July 1878 and must have died before the 1881 Canadian census for he does not appear with the rest of the family.  A death record and burial location have not yet been found. 

I will give more details about the records of the St. Alphonsus Catholic Church in another post.  This church is located in Chapeau, Pontiac Co., Quebec.  It is across the Ottawa River from Pembroke which is in Ontario. 

Here is information on the Catholic Diocese of Pembroke: http://pembrokediocese.com/web/english/directory/index.shtml


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