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 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.)


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.


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