Nellie (Ellen Elizabeth) McDonald thru the Years!

March 14, 2013

Nellie passed in May of 1947 which was 12 months before I was born.  I never knew her.  It is well-known in our family that she took on the task of raising R.S.’s children after Grace’s death in 1911. Grace’s death was described as “things were never the same.”

My dad, Keith, really didn’t talk about her much although she was probably the only mother that he remembered.  Grace Barclay McDonald, his real mother, had died in December of 1911 when he was only 18 months old.  Eddie, his sister mentioned she died right at Christmas.  I really had not realized that because Eddie would celebrate that holiday along with the others.

I felt I knew more about the McD’ side than I did my Mother’s side.  Dad didn’t talk specifics but I did know some family history.  Technically my family was a what his sister, Miriam, would often repeat,  “dour Scotsmen.”

The Caledonian Mercury has a posting on the meaning of the word “dour.”  http://caledonianmercury.com/2012/04/18/useful-scots-word-dour/0032435

Nellie and a mystery cat!

The picture above is one of my favorites of Nellie.  The dress is rather fancy so maybe this was some special day?  The one below has her holding another cat with different markings.  She seemed to prefer wearing dresses even when she worked.  This is the one connection with her that I find, our love of cats.

Nellie with another mystery cat!

Nellie is sort of an enigma to me regarding her personality.  She was held in esteem by her niece, Miriam.  Miriam said that Nellie gave her whole life to her and her siblings after Grace’s death.  She never married, nor had children of her own.

By 1920 she is with R.S. (Ronald)., her brother and his children, in Cheney, Washington.  About 1925 she would follow her brother to Spokane so that Keith, my dad, could go to Gonzaga High School and Eddie could go to nursing school.  The move to Yakima was to take place about 1937 and it would be her final migration.  Nellie and Ronald  where aging by then so they followed Miriam to Yakima were Miriam took up teaching.   Nellie would remain in Yakima for the rest of her life.

Nellie will be mentioned in future posts and pictures, I just felt it was important to focus in on her because she became the “mother” to my dad, Keith.

In studying the photos in my Dad’s collection and his sister Vivian’s, I see a woman, Nellie, who wasn’t afraid of work, who was determined, was probably religious, was friendly to others, loved cats, read the newspaper, joined her family in many picnics and fun things.  Even though they didn’t talk about her much, she is featured in many many photographs by herself and with the family.

Nellie off to Church, maybe?

The photo above is another one of Nellie that I like.  She looks a little impatient but I love the coat and the hat.  She was probably very neat and tidy no matter what she was doing.

It was Nellie who wrote the original family history charts in 1932 followed by Miriam, her niece redoing them.  Here are the post dates and titles that feature Nellie’s charts.  They are what I used to try to find my family in Quebec.  Go to the Archives on the right of this blog and find the dates that fit.

July 21, 2011 – Nellie’s Charts – Her Mother Mary McDonell’s Family.

June 17, 2011 – Nellie’s Charts – Her Father Archive McDonell’s Family

Here she is in a lovely white dress with a hat.

Nellie in Summer

We have seen that she liked cats but here she is seated next to a dog:

Nellie with dog

This next photograph is very puzzling.  I do not know the lady on the left.  Nellie and the lady’s dress is of the same print material, although the style is different.  I am assuming Nellie must have belonged to a club perhaps associated with the church?  There is another photo with Nellie in the same dress, but I do not recognize the people and they are dressed very fancy.  I love the hat with the flowers.  Nellie is on the right reaching over to adjust a tea-pot?

Nellie and a friend dress in similar prints

Nellie is in the same outfit in this photograph and a man I do not recognize is on the right.  It was definitely some special gathering.  The location is probably somewhere near Mt. Rainier.

Nellie in the same outfit not in correct orientation

Corrected photo - flipped it and now the can reads correctly.

Corrected photo – flipped it and now the can reads correctly.

Updated:  March 15, 2013:  A comment was made about the photos and the mountain not being correct and so I examined the printed coffee can words and sure enough I had this photo reversed in the orientation.  My Rainier mountain family expert pointed it out to me and I am glad to get this fixed.  It is very easy to get a photo out of orientation when you do not know the subject matter.  So I do try to look for letters or something in the photo to help.  I missed this one.

The next photo has Nellie holding something in her hand.  If you zoom in you find a cigarette in a holder? She smoked cigarettes?  I do love the clothesline however which is very tidy.  The lady peeking out from behind is unknown to me.  (To enlarge the photo, click on it and then use your back button to return to this blog or close a tab.)

Nellie and a friend

Here brother and sister, R.S. (Ronald) and Nellie, work the wood pile:

Nellie & R.S. Work the Wood Pile

A little over the fence gossip.  I think this photo is wonderful.

A little over the fence gossip – Nellie and the Neighbor


R.S. McDonald Family Settles in Cheney, WA – 1920

February 14, 2013

Events did not go well for R.S. McDonald since he left International Falls, Minnesota. He lost his general store in Grand Prairie, Alberta.  The family lore says that his partner gambled it away.  It looks like he might have headed to Albany, Oregon for a while according to his daughter Eddie.  He was indicted in a court case involving land fraud in Koochiching County, Minnesota.

Somehow he found his way to Cheney, Spokane County, Washington by 1919 according to his traveling card from the Knights of Columbus.

Cheney is located southwest of the city of Spokane.  Highway I90 takes you right by the town. You can take 904 into Cheney.  Here is an article on Cheney, Washington from Wikipedia with a map attached.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cheney,_Washington

R.S.McDonald Family 1922

R.S.McDonald Family 1922

Photo:  LtoR:  Back row – Jean, Gordon, Eddie. Middle Row:  R.S. (Ronald), Miriam, Vivian and Nellie (sister to Ronald).  Front and center my dad, Keith Barclay John MacDonald.

The 1920 U.S. Federal Census lists them all:

Seventh, 314, 30, 32, McDonald, Ronald, S. Head, R, M, W, 54, Widow, 85, nA 93 or 98, yes, yes, Canada, English, father born in Canada, mother born in Canada, English, yes, Lumberman is crossed out and none is written in. McDonald, Nellie E., Sister, F, W, 49, S 1900 Al,  yes, yes, Canada, English, father born in Canada, mother born in Canada, English, none. McDonald Vivian L., daughter, F, W, 17, S, yes, yes, yes, Minnesota. McDonald Gordon R G, son, M, W, 15, S, yes, yes, yes, Minnesota. McDonald Miriam A, daughter, F, W, 13, S, yes, yes, yes, Minnesota. McDonald Edna L, daughter, F, W, 12, S, yes, yes, yes, Minnesota, McDonald Jean L E, daughter, F, W, 11, S, yes, yes, yes, Minnesota, McDonald Keith B.J., son, M, W, 9, S, yes, yes, yes, Minnesota. 

Source:  Ronald S. McDonald Family, 1920 U.S. Federal Census, Cheney, Spokane Co., Washington, SD#5, ED#117, Sht No. 2A (8251), West Cheney Twp., Cheney, a city of the third class, Enumerated on 6 January 1920, by  G.H. Host. 

Why did R.S. head for Cheney?  Well I think it was because his children were growing up.  Vivian was getting ready to graduate from high school for she was turning 18 in May of 1920.  Gordon was getting close, he had two more years to go. Miriam was soon to follow, then Eddie and Jean.  Keith was still in grammar school and wouldn’t graduate till about 1925.  There might have been an economic issue in that R.S. was looking for work in the lumber industry in the Spokane area.

Cheney had the normal school which we know today as the Eastern Washington University.  Vivian, Miriam and Jean would take the career path and become teachers.  Gordon and Eddie would take a few years in Normal school but their paths would go in a different direction.  Gordon would teach for a short time and end up at Boeing in Seattle. Eddie would eventually go into nursing.  Keith he was headed for a mechanics career that would take him to becoming an airplane mechanic.

The Normal Schoo

The Normal School

All of the children attended Cheney High School except Keith. He would go to Gonzaga in Spokane which was both a high school and a college all in one at that time.  Wikipedia has another article that can shed light on this bit of confusion of two types of curriculum in one location.  Gonzaga Preparatory School was in the basement of the Gonzaga University as the article explains.  When I was researching my father, I had to go to the Special Collections at the Gonzaga University to get the history of this prep school and find out more about my dad’s involvement.   This particular genealogical research trip took place in 2002.


A Scandal in Koochiching County circa 1918!

January 19, 2013

Koochiching County, Minnesota’s north boundary touches the Canadian border.

Koochiching broke off from Itasca County and became its own county in 1906.  Keith’s father, Ronald (R.S.) was there to help plat the town of International Falls and at one point he was acounty commissioner.

Here are past posts about R.S. McDonald and his involvement with International Falls.  You can go to the archive box on the right of this blog and search for May 2010.

  • May 15, 2010 “Commissioner R.S. McDonald
  • May 10, 2010 “Ronald S. McDonald – A Dam is Built!”
  • May 2, 2010 “Ronald S. McDonald or known as just R.S.”

My hubby and I have visited International Falls on several occasions in 2000 and 2001 enjoying the sights and doing genealogical research.

My cousin was born and lived there but passed in 2007, at the age of 94.  I met her when she was 87.  She was one of the reasons I went there to visit.  She was the daughter of John (Jack) and Sarah McDonald, Ronald’s brother and sister-in-law. She was my father, Keith’s, cousin.  I have shared in this blog several of Mary’s stories about her father and mother.  She didn’t have any stories to tell me about my family because she was about 3-4 years old when Ronald left International Falls and was too young to know them.

The first time we went to International Falls (2000)we flew from Minneapolis in an airplane with propellers and 3 seats – 1 on one side and two on the other.  I remember thinking as we flew over the wild landscape below:  “This is your fault Dad.”  Remember, my father, Keith was born in International Falls.  See the post dated March 13, 2010 “A Baptism In International Falls!”

If memory serves the plane landed in Grand Rapids, MN and then continued it journey to International Falls.  I spent the flight looking out the window and studying the landscape as we flew over and was fascinated by it.  The plane’s altitude was not the usual 32,000 feet.  It seemed we were very close to the ground.  I mostly saw trees, water and some open land.  It looked very wild to me.

The airport in International Falls was very small.  We exited the plane by walking down the steep stairs and across the field to the terminal.  It was interesting to see my hubby try to make car rental arrangements.

At the Falls International Airport there is a photograph of the airport with the airplane on the ground.  It is just like I remember:  http://www.internationalfallsairport.com/the-airport/  After visiting International Falls we headed south to Bemidji, Pine River and Brainerd and end the trip in Minneapolis.

The second time we visited in 2001,  we drove up to International Falls from Minneapolis.  Our route took us to Brainerd, to Pine River, through Walker, to Bemidji, passed Blackduck and then onto International Falls.  From International Falls we drove to Grand Rapids down Highway 71 and then we went east on Hwy 2.  From Grand Rapids, we headed over to the eastern side of Minnesota through Cloquet and Willow River and back to Minneapolis.  These were places that Ronald (R.S.) and Grace knew and lived.

Black Duck Park

Black Duck Park

On both occasions we have driven Highway 71.  The road is very very straight and there are no changes in altitude.  The two books I refer to below, written by Drache, were being read at the time and I know I read one of them as we drove along.

International Falls is a cool city.  I enjoyed my visits there.  Everything is easy to find and get too.  The second time were were there a big storm was brewing and someone was mentioning twisters.  I thought it was great but my hubby was not too excited and kept rushing me to the motel, as if that would help if one came.

You can go across the border over the bridge between the two big lumber companies and visit Fort Francis which is in Canada.  How much of International Falls my Dad, Keith, remembered is hard to say for he was born in March 1910 and left there when he was about 5 or 6 years old.

So, I do have some idea of what the county of Koochiching is like and some familiarity with International Falls.  The idea that my grandfather got caught up in a court case about land fraud seems amazing to me.  I am not saying he was innocent just very interesting and I wish I had more information about the events.  I have tried to piece together as much as possible but have not yet looked at court records.  So I have more do to on this subject.

Here is what I have found out so far:

If you want to learn about the region of Koochiching you need to read this book:  “Koochiching, Pioneering, Along the Rainy River Frontier,” by Hiram M. Drache, The Interstate Printers and Publishers Inc., 1983.  It has photographs which are very interesting.  I particularly like the Falls before and after the dam was built.  I also like pictures of the logging activities.  Mr. Drache wrote a very detailed book.

If you want to know more about the land issues in the area, you might want to read this booklet about the peat or muskeg swamps in the area.  At the time R.S. was there they were trying to do “ditching.” The idea was to drain the land for farming.  This booklet is at Google Books.

Bulletin Volumes 16-17 Minnesota Geological Survey, Bulletin No. 16 The Peat Deposits of Minnesota,” by E.K. Soper, United States Geological Survey, United State Bureau of Mines, University of Minnesota, 1919. page 172 “Koochiching County.”

There are approximately one million acres of wet or swamp lands in Koochiching County, and most of this area is covered with from 2 to 20 feet of peat.  The average depth of the peat in the county is about 7 feet, and there are at least 750,000 acres of muskeg swamps over which the peat will average 7 feet thick. 

There are several types of peat bogs in the county, but by far the commonest is a typical muskeg swamp, forested with tamarack, or spruce, or both.  

So why am I interesting in peat and muskeg swamps, well read on…

The second book is:  “Taming the Wilderness, The Northern Border Country 1910-1939,” by Hiram M. Drache, Interstate Publishers, Inc., 1992.  Mr. Drache writes:

“Chapter IX The Unyielding Wilderness – Much of the Northern Border Country was not attractive to settlers who were interested in farming.  Except for those who cut the trees and left, the homesteaders soon realized the futility of their efforts.  The tree-covered muskeg virtually prohibited farming and travel in the area.  To overcome the obstacles and provide the proper environment for agriculture, it was necessary to drain the land to provide roads. 

Mr. Drache goes on and on for pages about the ditching problems in the area.

“These problems were compounded as land was abandoned once the timber was gone and were intensified by corruption among those involved in ditching, road construction, and financing on the local level. Illegal activity in 1916 involving as much as $200,000 in public funds caused Governor J.A.A. Burnquist to suspend County Auditor L.H. Slocum and three county commissioners – R.S. McDonald, William Harrigan, and Harold Royem…The Rev. Thomas Howard headed a group of over 100 citizens who held a mass meeting before the commissioners, asking them to explain what they had done to bring about the suspension of county officials.  The group approved the governor’s action and passed a resolution condemning the actions of the Northwestern Construction Company, which had received funds improperly for work on State Highway No. 5, 9, 20, and 24 and had abandoned the jobs prior to completion…Commissioners McDonald, Harrigan and Royem stood trial for knowingly letting county bonds be sold at a 5 percent discount.  The investigation produced 13 indictments against Slocum; 5 against G.A. Elder, a broker; and 2 against R.S. McDonald.  The case against Slocum was dismissed for lack of evidence.  This undermined the county’s chance of a major recovery, because it was believed that this was the strongest case it had against any of the accused.  The verdicts totaled $64,744.22 of which slightly over $15,000.00 eventually was paid.  There was little hope of collecting any additional amounts, because most of the individuals being sued were not financially “responsible.”  pg. 247.

The Footnotes at the end of the chapter are also interesting, pg. 262:

…transcript of testimony on Case #21,492, January 19, 1917 County of Koochiching vs. George A. Elder, et. al.

Note:  The case number did not show up at the Minnesota Historical Society in 2007 but I believe they do have these cases now?

This reference in the Bibliography might be interesting to see:

 Bibliography pg. 349:  County of Koochiching vs. George A. Elder, Commercial Investment Co., John Nuveen & Co., R.S. McDonald, William Durrin, Harold Royem, and L. H. Slocum, Defendants.  Transcript of Testimony of Trial at Brainerd, District Court, 15th Judicial District, commenced January 17, 1919.  

The International Falls Press and Border Budget report on Thursday June 13, 1918 several articles about the county investigation (Vol. 12, No. 17). In the article on the left “Fake Reports on Cost and Result of Investigation,” my grandfather’s name appears four times.

Land Troubles in Koochiching 1918

Land Troubles in Koochiching 1918

Here is the continuation of the front page county investigation which overlaps some of the first photograph:

Land problems Koochiching lower page

Land problems Koochiching lower page

I found this online just recently:  The Bemidji Daily Pioneer, 1904-1972, Sept. 9, 1916 page 8, Image 8, Library of Congress, Chronicling America. Provided by the Minnesota Historical Society.  Has an article “Governor Promises Full Inquiry into Koochiching Affairs – More Officials of Koochiching County Removed by Gov. Burnquist.”  The article is on the front page last column and page 8 not page 4 as it says at the bottom.

I also found this tip at Google books referring to State cases?

The Executive Documents of the State of Minnesota for the Year, Forty-Seventh Annual Report of the Commissioner of Insurance of the State of Minnesota to his Excellency the Governor, Part I 1918, Syndicate Printing Co., Attorney General, pg. 21, District Courts of Minnesota, Criminal Cases:

915 State vs. Slocum.  Auditing and allowing a fraudulent claim against Koochiching County. Found guilty. Paid $2,000.00 fine.

920 State vs. George A. Elder. Auditing and allowing fraudulent bills to be paid out of county funds.  Found guilty. Fine $5,000.00

917 State vs. R.S.  McDonald, Indicted. Auditing and allowing fraudulent bills to be paid out of county funds.  Koochiching county.  Party left country.  Extradition requested. 

Again, I have a lot more research to do on these court cases.  It would be interesting to see what they reveal about R.S. and his involvement and the final outcome for Keith’s dad.


Ronald’s story Continues! Revisiting Grand Prairie, Alberta and mention of Albany, Oregon

January 3, 2013
Keith and his sisters

Keith and his sisters

It is time to pick up my grandfather’s story and follow his migrations. The post dated October 5, 2010, “R.S. McDonald Leaves International Fall, left Ronald or R.S. on his way to Grand Prairie, Alberta, Canada.

The photograph above has July 4, 1916 written in the top left corner.  These are R.S.’s children.  The back row going left to right, we see  Miriam and Eddie.  The front row, from the left, is Jean and Keith.  They do not look happy and I do not recognize the house but then it is somewhat obscured.  Their older brother Gordon and sister Vivian are missing.  If the 1916 census (see below) was enumerated on June 1, 1916 then we have a mystery as to where Keith and his sisters were living when this photo was taken? Where they still in International Falls or somewhere else?

The time is about 1915-1916.  Ronald (R.S.) sold the house in International Falls, which he shared with my grandmother Grace. Remember, Grace had died in 1911 from pneumonia and child-birth complications.  See the posted dated July 18, 2010 “An Unexpected Tragedy!”

Why my grandfather left International Falls and headed back to Canada is unknown.  He had six children to care for and maybe the lumber industry was starting to wind down in International Falls and he would soon be out of work.  In any event his reasons are unknown.  To me grandfather’s decision to leave International Falls was a major one and set in motion events that led him eventually to Washington State where Keith his son took up residence and adopted it as his home.

A Quarry Lease appears among papers that his daughter Jean must have had in her possession and it ended up with her granddaughter who gave it to me.

Source:  Quarry Lease, #569, File #13764 Indenture February 22, 1915, #31282, in possession of the compiler.

Ronald Sanfield McDonald, of International Fall, in the State of Minnesota, USA, Lumberman ……does grant that certain parcel or tract of land situate, lying and being in the Province of Alberta, and comprising that portion lying to the West of Smoky River of the South East quarter of Section 17, in Township 71, Range 2, West to the 6th Meridian, containing an area of 28.60 acres more or less….lessee for the term of twenty-one years to be computed from the 22 day of February 1915.  Signed by a J.E. Gibson, the Deputy of the Minister of the Interior [     ], Ronald Sanfield McDonald Lessee and William V. Kane Witness.

I am not familiar with Canadian land descriptions which are probably similar the U.S., but it would be very interesting to pinpoint and identify this land in light of the 1916 Canadian census information given below.  This lease is months before the sale of the house on Riverside Drive in International Falls, Minnesota, which took place at the end of December 1915 which I feature in the post I mention above in the first sentence.

R.S. and his son Gordon appear in the 1916 Canadian Census in Edmonton, Alberta.  I was not able to find Nellie, his sister, and the other children. This census only covers Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.

Source:  1916 Canadian Census, Bezanson, Edmonton, Alberta, District #37, SSD#25, ED #25, 71/2/W6 Meridian, pg. 1.

line 23, 10/10 McDonald, R.S, twp 71, 2, 6, Bezanson, Head, M, W, age 46, born Ont., Roman Catholic, — Canadian, origin unreadable, yes, yes, —yes, yes, general merchant, E. general store. McDonald, Gordon, son, m. S, age 12, born US, Roman Catholic, 1916, Canadian, origin unreadable, yes, no — yes, yes, no occupation,

The location of Bezanson given in the census transcription, seems to be between Grand Prairie and Edmonton.  Apparently Ronald and Gordon had gone ahead to get things ready for the rest of the family.  It may be why Gordon does not appear in the photograph above?

There is evidence that his children:  Vivian, Gordon, Miriam, Eddie, Jean and Keith all went with him to Grand Prairie.  As I have mentioned before, they didn’t talk about the experience.  By the time I was born, they were all in their late 30′s and early 40′s so these past topics were over and done and I am sure it didn’t even occur to them to talk about them.

Eddie’s Postcard – Collection of Junk

Daughter Eddie (Edna Lorraine) had a scrapbook titled “Collection of Junk.”  Various items from her experience and time in the Grand Prairie area survived.  The postcard above was one of those items.  There was no writing on the backside.

The next item was a drawing:

A drawing by Clara Dahl 1918.

There was a comment made by Eddie but the item it refers to has disappeared or is the one I feature below.  This scrapbook had many things missing and loose that had lost their home.  It reads: Holy Card given me by Miss Kindervater, an invalid who once intended to be a nun. Grand Prairie, Alberta, Canada 1918.  I am not sure if the card featured below is the one Eddie refers to.  The backside has various religious notations followed by Christmas well wishes.  It is just the kind of thing a potential “nun” might have?

Eddie’s memories 1918

Is this the one Eddie is referring too?

Is this the one Eddie is referring too?

img654

In the scrapbook is a grammar book from Eddie’s grade school days but she the name of the school written on the end page is difficult to read.  Click on the photo below and it will get bigger.  To return to this blog either close your tab or click your back button.  I cannot make out the handwriting.   If someone recognizes the name, please leave a comment.  It could be a school in Albany, Oregon (see the comments below) not in Grand Prairie?

Back page of the grammar book.

Back page of the grammar book.

Miriam sent me some notes about each of her siblings and in one of those notes she talked about her brother Gordon.  I share only a portion here but will go deeper when I post about Gordon, my uncle, in the future.  In the first sentences she mentions that Gordon was in grade school in Grand Prairie.

Comments about Gordon

Comments about Gordon

It is possible that R.S. did not go directly to Cheney, Washington after they left Grand Prairie because Eddie writes in her Grammar book that she started the booklet in Albany, Oregon and kept it “for no particular reason.”   This is a fairly recent discovery about the migrations of Keith’s family.  It means that I might be able to find them in Oregon and further pin down their experience.  The entry photo below is dated 1919.  This means that after they left Grand Prairie they headed to Oregon and then to Cheney, Washington?

Front cover of the grammar book of Eddie's

Front cover of the grammar book of Eddie’s

Eddie's comments about the grammar book

Eddie’s comments about the grammar book

An entry showing Albany, Oregon in 1919.

An entry showing Albany, Oregon in 1919.


Alexander Thomas McDonald passes in 1955

November 22, 2012

I never met my great Uncle Alex.  He died with I was 7 years old and we did live quite a distance from each other.

Photo:  The following photograph is of Alexander visiting with his nephews, Keith is on the left and Gordon is in the middle.  This photo below is an interesting contrast between the photo of Keith as a little boy sitting on Alex’s knee for the Fireman’s conference in the post dated:  August 7, 2010 “Alexander Thomas McDonald, Fireman.”  Photo is probably circa 1930′s.  Keith was about 5 feet 5 inches so we can see that Alex was probably just a tad taller and solidly built.  The men may have been short but they were stocky in build.

Uncle Alex with Keith and Gordon

When I visited my cousin Mary, Alex’s niece, in 2000 and 2001 and she told me stories about Alexander.

Alex never married but he did have on occasion ladies he was fond of.  He used to go down to the Boston Cafe at the same time every day.  He was fond of Sadie Rule who worked there.  He also had fancy cars and use to take his girl Jean for drives. Jean was a nice lady. 

Sarah, her mother, used to have Alex over for Sunday dinners every week.  Alex lived with Mary for a time towards the end of his life when he started getting sick but he was too regimented a person and did not understand what life was like for a family.  Alex visited her in the hospital when she had her 2nd child and while he was sitting there he had a stroke (1952).  He died of pneumonia in 1955 with complications (throat cancer).”

In an article in the Fireman’s Centennial Book, International Falls, 1982 this appears:

“Gil” Louiseau retires 1982….Gil Louiseau retired from the International Falls fire department September 15, 1983 after serving 26 years…Gil’s wife Mary, is the former Mary McDonald, whose father Jack and Uncle Alex were early day fireman with the International Falls Fire Department. Uncle Alex served as relief driver and caretaker of the team of horses which were the only ‘horsepower’ the early day department had to haul the water wagon to fire locations within the city…”

Alex is mentioned on page 3 in the Volunteer Fireman listings of 1900-1992. On page 12 there is a photo of the horse team and both Alex and Jack are listed. On page 21 there is a picture of the firehouse were Alex was stationed.  

Falls Firemen 1917

Obituary found in the Daily Journal, International Falls, MN on November 4, 1955. This newspaper obituary notice was in the files of the Koochiching Public Library.

Alex McDonald, Falls Resident since 1904, Dies. Alex T. McDonald, 80, pioneer resident of International Falls, died late Thursday night at the Falls Nursing home, where he has made his home for several years. He had been confined to his bed for about a week. Born in Chichester, Que., November 25, 1874, he moved to Duluth in 1897. From there he came to International Falls in 1904 and has lived here since that time, except for a brief period spent in Western Canada. McDonald operated a dray line in the Falls for 11 years, and was city weighmaster from 1919 to 1947, a period of 28 years. He never married. A niece, Mrs. Gilbert Louiseau of the Falls, survives. Rosary service will be conducted at Green Mortuary Sunday evening at 8 o’clock. Requiem high mass at St. Thomas Catholic church is scheduled for 8:15 a.m. Monday. Interment will be in the family plot of St. Thomas cemetery. Funeral arrangements were made by Green Mortuary.

Alex’s death certificate states the following:

Alexander died at the County Nursing Home, 2 miles south of International Falls, Koochiching Co., Minnesota. Died Nov. 3, 1955, Male, white, never married, date of birth Nov. 25, 1874, age 80 years. City Weighmaster, ret’d, city employee. Born in Chichester, Quebec, Canada. Citizen of the USA. Father was Archibald McDonald and Mother was Mary McDonald. He did not serve in the US Armed forces, no SS#, informant was Mary C. Louiseau of Inter’l Falls. Died of pneumonia lober, 1.5 days. C. B. Will, M.D. Filed Nov. 22, 1955 by Registrar. Green Mortuary handled the arrangements.  Source:  Alexander T. McDonald, Certificate of Death #7718, Nov. 3, 1955 FHL#2139432.

Weighmaster definition: http://www.wisegeek.com/what-does-a-weighmaster-do.htm

Overview of the McDonald plot in St. Thomas Cemetery International Falls

Alex is buried with his father, mother, brother Jack and others in the family plot in the St. Thomas Cemetery in International Falls.  This cemetery is part of three cemeteries located east and south in the town of International Falls.  You will find a link on the right side of this blog to the Forest Hill Cemetery in International Falls where you will find a listing of burials for all three cemeteries.

Alex’s tombstone in St. Thomas Cemetery

NOTE:  Much to my frustration Alex’s birth is inconsistent and different dates are given on his tombstone, his death certificate, obit and from the St. Alphonsus Church records.  This is not unusual.  The question is which one is more reliable.  I think I lean toward the St. Alphonsus church records because the parents were alive at that time and knew the priest. The priest is still not directly involved in the actual birth but closer to the actual event. The parents are the ones who know the actual dates of birth but over time even they can forget.

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It is now time to behind International Falls and refocus on  R.S. (Ronald), my grandfather and his movements.  Remember that Ronald (R.S. ) left International Falls about 1915 and headed up to Grand Prairie, Alberta where he  established a store but lost it because a partner gambled it away.  The loss of the store was not the end of my grandfather’s troubles.  He was involved in a court case regarding about land in Koochiching County and I will share that in the next post.


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.).


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.


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.


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.


A Baptism In International Falls!

March 13, 2010

Keith Baptism

The St. Thomas Catholic Church in International Falls has baptimal records on file.  I obtained one for my cousin when she mentioned she didn’t have it.  My dad also had a baptimal document from this church and parish in his papers. 

  • The Birth and Baptism Record names him as Keith Barclay John.  My understanding is that the third name is the baptismal name. 
  • His parents’ names are given as Ronald MacDonald (note surname spelling) and Grace Barclay. 
  • The place of birth is International Falls, Minn.
  • The date of birth is March 13, 1910 and the date of baptism is April 1, 1910. 
  • The Godfather is John Ryan and Godmother was a Carrie Bacon.  I do not know these names. 
  • The priest baptizing him was P. [J.] Killeen.  It was signed May 7th, 1940 but I cannot make out the handwriting of the final signature.   A seal is embossed on the lower left corner.

St. Thomas Catholic Church, International Falls, MN

The spire from this church can be seen from many directions.  It is made of stone and is very beautiful to see from many angles.  This picture was taken in 2000.


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