Archie & Mary’s Children: Alexander Thomas McDonald

March 31, 2011

Archie and Mary McDonell welcomed their seventh child Alexander Thomas McDonell. 

He was born 2nd December 1872 in Chichester and baptized the 17th of December 1872 at the St. Alphonsus Church in Chapeau. 

Alexander's Birth Record

Source:  Baptism, Marriage and Burial Index, St. Alphonsus Church, 1846-1920 FHL# B131, #1029798.  Also on Ancestry.com under the Drouin Collection. 

Alexander, or better known as “Alex,” lived a long life passing away at 82 years old in International Falls and he is buried next to his older brother John (Jack) and his parents.  Alex never married but family lore states that he had several girlfriends, liked fancy cars and smoked big cigars.

Uncle Alex

Alex is featured with his nephew Keith in his fireman uniform in the posted dated:  August 7, 2010.


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. 

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!


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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