An Unexpected Tragedy!

July 18, 2010

It was close to the Christmas of 1911 and Grace was pregnant with her 8th child.  Something went wrong.  She had the baby prematurely.  The baby Grace Elizabeth died on December 22, 1911. Grace died the following day on December 23, 1911.  

The family was stunned! Her daughter Eddie said:  “It was never the same.” 

Grace McDonald 1910

The stories that have come down say that Grace was not to have any more children, implying that she was not a strong person.  I don’t believe it!  My research tells me that Grace was just like her father, smart, strong-willed and determined.  

The photo is of Grace McDonald about 1910 and from a cousin who shared a photo album with me. 

Her death certificate from the Minnesota Historical Society #6079 reads:   

“Grace Barclay McDonald, DOD: December 23, 1911, Born April 10, 1882, age 30 yrs. 7 mos. 23 days, Occupation: Housewife, Birthplace: Pine River, MN, Father: Geo. A. Barclay, Born: Hartford, CT, Mother: Ammeria Barclay, Born in Aringo, Iowa, Signed by R.S. McDonald of International Falls.  Cause of Death: pneumonia, lobar complicating pregnancy at about six and one half months. Signed by Mary Ghostley, MD. At place of death 4 days, disease contacted at house in Intern’l Falls. Apparently Grace died at the Northern Minn. Hospital.” 

Grace Amarilla Barclay McDonald died of pneumonia complicated by a premature birth.  There were no antibiotics in those days.  Granted she had given birth to 8 children from 1898 to 1911, two of them did not survive.  As you can see the death certificate has a few strange comments like Grace’s mother is written as “Ammeria” when it is really Ammarilla/Amarilla.  The town where Ammeria was born is written as “Aringo, Iowa.”  I think they mean Maringo, Iowa Co., Iowa.  When the informant fills out a death certificate it is easy to make errors in times of grief.

The children were as follows:  Vivian was 9 years old, Gordon was 7 years old, Miriam was 5 years old, Eddie was 4 and Jean was 3 and Keith was at 18 months.  Keith probably didn’t have any memories of his mother.  He never talked about her.  I am sure the impact of her death was felt by the others and that is what affected my father Keith.  I do believe that it changed their father Ronald forever.  

Grand Rapids Obituary 

“Mrs. R.S. McDonald Dead – Mrs. R.S. McDonald, for many years a resident of Grand Rapids died at International Falls on Saturday morning, Dec. 23. An attack of pneumonia, during the ravages of which a child was born was the cause of her death causing also the death of the child. The funeral services were held at Holy Apostles church on Tuesday, Dec. 26th, at 10 o’clock and were largely attended, the mother and child occupying the one casket. Mrs. McDonald was formerly Miss Grace Barclay. She was born at Pine River, Minn. and had lived in this vicinity all her life, and she leaves a host of friends who mourn over her death. She is survived by her husband and six small children, the oldest a girl of about nine years, and her mother, Mrs. Dawes of Pine River. Mr. and Mrs. McDonald came to Grand Rapids in the autumn of 1898 and lived here from that time until the latter part of 1904, when they took up their residence at International Falls, where Ronald is general superintendent for the International Lumber company. During their six years of residence here Mrs. McDonald endeared herself into the hearts of all our townspeople and although it is more than seven years ago since she left here the news of her death has cast a shadow of gloom in the hearts of her many friends here. Many a woman’s handkerchief in Grand Rapids has been moistened with tears by the sad news of her death and it’s hard for them to realize that the news is really true. The most heartfelt sympathies of this community are extended to the stricken husband in his hour of bereavement.” 

Grand Rapids Examiner, no date given.”

 

Holly Apostle Church 1906

  Obituary Notice Intern’l Falls

Death of Mrs. R.S. McDonald – It was with great sorrow that the residents of the city learned of the sudden and unexpected death of Mrs. Ronald S. McDonald, last Saturday morning. While many knew that she had been in the hospital a few days suffering with pneumonia, none realized that she was critically ill and the news of her death cast a deep gloom over the city where she had lived so long and was so well-known and universally beloved. Her remains together with those of the baby that was prematurely born during her short illness were removed to the library of the home where they remained until the funeral which took place at 10 o’clock last Tuesday morning from the Catholic church, of which she was a faithful member, appropriate services being touchingly conducting by her pastor, Rev. Father Kileen followed by interment in the city cemetery in the presence of a large number of sorrowing friends. Mrs. McDonald’s maiden name was Grace A. Barclay, she was born at Pine River, April 2nd, 1882 and was married to Supt. R.S. McDonald of the International Lumber Co., in 1898, who survives her together with their six small children and her mother Mrs. A. Dawes of Pine River. Deceased was a devoted wife, and a loving mother and during her almost seven years residence here has won for herself and family many good friends.

CARD OF THANKS – We hereby wish to express to our many friends and acquaintances our heartfelt, gratitude for the sympathy they expressed and the many kindnesses they showed to the children and ourselves during the recent sad bereavement, caused by the death of Mrs. R.S. McDonald – R.S. McDonald, Mrs. A. Daws. International Falls newspaper, no date given.”  

Keith’s mother Grace was only 29 years old at her death.  Officially her birth was 10 April 1882 and her death was 23 December 1911.  The first obituary from Grand Rapids was found among her daughter Miriam’s things in an envelope carefully saved.  The 2nd obituary notice was from the International Falls Press dated December 28, 1911 under Local News 3rd column over.


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