Commissioner R. S. McDonald

May 15, 2010

Int'l Falls & Ft Francis

 

Keith’s father was commissioner for the city of International Falls. Miriam said in her notes about her brother Gordon, Keith’s older brother, “we have pictures of him campaigning for his father.” Unfortunately, I have never seen those photographs.  

“To end the isolation, reduce costs and provide better public service, residents of northern Itasca were now demanding a county of their own with easier access to the county seat. Following an aggressive campaign for voter support, leaders of the movement then petitioned for an election. The proposal for county division went on the ballot in the general election of Tuesday, Nov. 6, 1906, and carried by a resounding majority of 800. The votes were then canvassed in St. Paul and on Dec. 19 Gov. John A. Johnson issued the proclamation which created Koochiching with International Falls as the county seat.
 

While elated by the news, backers of the division movement postponed a public celebration because opponents were contesting the election. Finally the dispute was settled in court — in favor of the new county group — and a victory celebration took place March 6, 1907, in the Falls village hall. The village hall, built in 1904, served as county headquarters until the court-house was completed two years later. The initial county board appointed by Gov. Johnson consisted of R.S. McDonald, Hugh Mclntosh, Nels L. Olson, Fred Smith and Charles M. Bowman. Bowman, a resident of Big Falls, failed to qualify for office and didn’t serve.”  

from New County is Born, History of Koochiching County website, April 10, 2010.  See link to the History of Koochiching County on the right. 

There is an interesting explanation of events regarding the  appointment of Annie Shelland as Superintendent of Schools.   

“Annie Shelland..knew that she could walk to all schools in the 3,200 square-mile county.  Her appointment was opposed by only one commissioner, R.S. McDonald, who felt that no woman was capable of making the rounds to the schools. (pg. 128).” 

“Annie Shelland was opposed by R.S. McDonald of the county commission, because he did not believe that a woman would be capable of walking the distances under the conditions required of a county superintendent (of schools.) pg. 30.  Annie was appointed in January of 1907. “ 

These excerpts are taken from the book:  

Koochiching, Pioneering Along the Rainy River Frontier, by Hiram M. Drache, Interstate Printers & Publishers, Inc., 1983. 

Annie went on to prove R.S. wrong and had an exemplary career as Superintendent and contributed greatly to education in Minnesota.  She died in 1964 at the age of 85 years old.  I think she was hardy enough! 

The photo above is from the National Park Service proposal website for a Voyageurs National Park site.  There are many great photos of the area.  

http://www.nps.gov/history/history/online_books/voya/proposed/area.htm


Ronald S. McDonald – A Dam is Built!

May 10, 2010

Telegram!

 

Keith’s father Ronald received a telegram on January 24, 1905  from a C.J. Rockwood that indicated that the construction of the dam across the Rainy River could commence.  The telegram was presented in the Koochiching Press on the front page!   

Although I was unable to find information showing that R.S. was involved with plating the town of International Falls at the courthouse, I did find this comment in a manuscript titled:

 “Interesting Village History: Historical Review of This Issue Covers Matters of Importance from the time of original entry of the land.”  Copied from the International Falls Echo, January 5, 1906 and prepared by a Judge Berg for the Holler PTA in 1934.  

This manuscript was found at the Koochiching County Historical Society and it makes the following statement: 

 “During July 1904, R.S. McDonald arrived from Grand Rapids and commenced the work of clearing 240 acres of land that now constitutes the townsite.  Employment was given to many men in the work of clearing and stumping and grading streets.  The sale of business lots had been opened a month before and for a time it seemed that early power development was to make good the shortage financially caused by the slump in the business.  But suddenly came the news that the power promoters and the Canadian government had locked horns, and that everything was to be held up pending the results of the negotiations.  A telegram in January, 1905, to Mr. McDonald brought the glad news that the contract for the construction of the dam had been let to Maguire and Penninman….” 

The book: Koochiching, Pioneering Along the Rainy River Frontier, by Hiram M. Drache, Interstate Printers & Publishers, Inc., 1983 on page 93 makes this statement about R.S. 

 “Albert Enzman came to the area by virtue of being hired at the Duluth employment office in the fall of 1904.  He and about 25 others were brought to International Falls by R.S. McDonald, superintendent of the International Lumber Company. (pg. 93)” 

Google Books currently has a copy online of:  Hearings Before the Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce of the House of Representatives on H.R. 15444 – Extending the time for constructing a dam across the Rainy River.  

This book covers the testimony of the parties involved and goes on for many pages.  Ronald does not appear  in the pages but it does give background information on the events surrounding the building of the dam across the Rainy River which involved both the U.S. and Canadian governments and many business interests.  

Once again the Era of Backus article at the History of Koochiching County Website has great photographs of the building of the dam before and after, and the lumber companies at that time.  Here is the direct link to this article:  

http://www.co.koochiching.mn.us/history/Hist02.htm 

This information is also found in the book:  History of Koochiching County, published by the Koochiching County Historical Society in 1983, pages 11 to 13. You can find a copy in the Reading Room of the Minnesota Historical Society in St. Paul.


Ronald S. McDonald or known as just R.S.

May 2, 2010

Miriam, Keith’s sister, writes in her notes that her father Ronald was born in Chapeau, Quebec in 1866.  His parents were Archibald and Mary MacDonell.  Ronald learned about the lumber business growing up on the Upper Ottawa River and came to Minnesota where he started working for the Backus & Brooks Lumber Co. 

Grand Rapids, Minnesota was not very big in the early 1900’s and according to the public librarian, via an email to me,  there was no business school at that time.  It is more likely that R.S. got his business education in either Duluth or Minneapolis. 

Miriam goes on to say that Ronald knew how to cruise, to survey and to build logging roads.  As a superintendent he would have been very involved in setting up lumber camps and getting the lumber out.  

At the end of the notes she writes:  “He surveyed and platted International Falls.”

All of the previous comments are true.  However, the statement about the plating is still be to be proven.  In order to determine the truth of this family story I made a visit to the Koochiching County Courthouse in 2001.  A study of the plat maps for the city did not reveal any evidence that Ronald was involved.  His name was not on the maps. 

A time line of events for the history of International Falls is needed:

“Although the International Falls area was well-known to explorers, missionaries and voyagers as early as the 1600s, it was not until April 1895 the community was platted by a teacher and preacher L. A. Ogaard for the Koochiching Company and named the community Koochiching. The word “Koochiching” comes from either Ojibwe word Gojijiing or Cree Kocicīhk, both meaning “at the place of inlets,” referring to the neighboring Rainy Lake and River. The European inhabitants gave the names Rainy Lake and Rainy River to the nearby bodies of water because of the mist-like rain present at the falls where the lake flowed into the river.

On August 10, 1901, the village was incorporated and two years later its name was changed to International Falls in recognition of the river’s role as a border between the United States and Canada. It was incorporated as a city in 1909.”

From Wikipedia the free encyclopedia online April 3, 2010.  

More detail is provided by the book:  History of Koochiching County, published by the Koochiching County Historical Society in 1983, pg. 35.

So did Ronald or R.S., take part in plating a city?  It is not clear that he did but there is a possibility that he was greatly involved in many affairs of the city of International Falls as we shall see in future posts.


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.


Miriam’s Birth and Baptism

April 17, 2010

Miriam, sister to Keith, wrote the family history notes which have been of great help in researching the family.  It is only fitting to celebrate her life.  Miriam was born January 15, 1906 and was probably baptized shortly after at the catholic church in International Falls. 

Vivian, Gordon and baby Miriam

This photograph shows three of the McDonald children.  Vivian (Leola Vivian)  is the little girl holding her baby sister Miriam (Miriam Audrey) in her arms.  The little boy to her right is Gordon (Ronald Gordon). 

Grace their mother was pregnant with Miriam when another event took place in her life.  Grace’s Uncle Alexander Barclay, brother to her father George Angus Barclay, died on December 7, 1905 at the Rochester Hospital in Olmsted Co., Minnesota.  Grace started the probate process for his estate.  She could not attend the court sessions because she was “indisposed” and she could not travel after the birth.  Alexander’s estate file has contributed a great deal of information on the Barclay family which I am currently blogging about in The Barclays of Pine River http://barclayspineriver.wordpress.com/.


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.


Grandmother Mary McDonell

April 3, 2010

Mary McDonell abt 1911

This picture is of Keith’s grandmother Mary McDonell holding a baby.  On the photo is written 1911.  This means that the baby is probably my father, Keith.  Unfortunately he is looking away so we cannot see his face.  He would be about a year old.  It would be in International Falls because Mary came with her family from Canada in 1901. 

The real pleasure is studying my great-grandmother in her long dark skirt.  Her wonderful face.  She is intently looking at the photographer.  There is snow on the ground and she is out in the weather without a coat.  I take that to mean she was hardy person or it was a warm day.  

This photo was among Keith’s photo collection so it probably did have some meaning to him.  I love it for this is one of two photos of her that I have.  The first one was the formal portrait of the family shown in an earlier post.  

This photo is a little more of her personality.  My Aunt Eddie, Mary’s granddaughter and sister to Keith told me one day of an older lady who lived upstairs in their house and smoked a pipe.  I believe that lady to be Mary.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 32 other followers

%d bloggers like this: