Keith Barclay John MacDonald, father, grandfather and his love of Airplanes….

April 9, 2015

This blog was named for Keith, my dad, and his love of airplanes.  The gray background surrounding the posts is a reminder of him.  He would wear steel-gray cotton trousers with cuffs and dance around the living room to the records he played on our stereo. Sometimes he would grab me and twirl me around.

The time has come to share about Keith’s life.  Keith, my dad, was born in International Falls, Minnesota in 1910. Being younger than his siblings he went to high school at Gonzaga in Spokane.  He spent his school years from 1925 to 1929 at Gonzaga participating in several different sports and taking the mechanics course.  After graduation Keith would enlist at various times in the National Guard, the Army, and Air Corp. All this happening during the 1930’s and during the Great Depression.  While in the military he would learn about airplane mechanics. Keith would eventually become employed as a U.S. Air Force Inspector at Boeing.  He was also an inventor and a little bit of a political activist in his later years.  He would eventually make Seattle his home met his further bride, marry and raise a family.

Here is a review of the posts I have written on this blog about Keith’s early years.

Keith’s Parents: Ronald and Grace’s Marriage!,” dated February 20, 2010

Ronald and Grace McDonald

Ronald and Grace McDonald, Keith’s parents

Ronald and Grace’s Children,” dated February 27, 2010

McDonald Children circa late 1910

McDonald Children circa late 1910

A Baptism in International Falls,” dated March 13, 2010.

Keith's baptism

Keith’s baptism

Riverside Drive, International Falls,” dated March 30, 2010

Keith and brother Gordy about 1911

Keith and brother Gordy about 1911

Ronald and Grace: Family Life!” dated April 11, 2010

Ronald and Grace's children: Vivian, Gordy, Miriam holding Keith, Eddie scowling and Jean

Ronald and Grace’s children: Vivian, Gordy, Miriam holding Keith, Eddie scowling and Jean – Keith is the little boy in the middle.

Keith was born on the 13th of March, 1910 to Ronald S. McDonald and Grace Amarilla Barclay.  He was the sixth child of this couple and second son.  His siblings were: Leola Vivian (1902), Ronald Gordon (Gordy – 1904), Miriam Audrey (1906), Edna Lorraine (Eddie – 1907), Laurie Jean (1908) and Keith (1910).  There were two babies that did not survive. One was born before Vivian and is buried in the family plot in Brainerd.  The other baby girl was born after Keith and named Grace Elizabeth. She is buried with her mother in International Falls.

The 1910 U.S. Federal census is the only census where all of the family of Ronald and Grace McDonald is listed. Keith is 1/12 of age.  He barely made it into this census.

Line 21, 59/70, McDonald, Ronald S., head, male, white, 46, married, 12 yrs., born Canada, parents both born in Canada, working, can read and write, owns house. McDonald, Grace, wife, female, white, 28, married 12 yrs, 7 children born, 6 living, born in Minnesota, father born in Connecticut, mother born in Iowa, speaks English, no occupation, reads, writes and speaks English. McDonald, Vivian, daughter, female, white, 8 yrs., born in Minnesota, no occupation, speaks, writes and reads. McDonald, Gordon, son, male, white, 6 yrs., born in Minnesota, no occupation, speaks, writes and reads. McDonald, Marian, daughter, female, white, age 4, born in Minnesota, no occupation. McDonald, Edna, daughter, female, white, age 3, born in Minnesota. McDonald, Laura, daughter, female, white, age 2, born in Minnesota, no occupation. McDonald, Keith, son, male, white, 1/12 age.

Source: 1910 U.S. Census, International Falls, Koochiching Co., Minnesota, April 15/16, 1910, FHL#1374720 ED 92, SD 8, Sht#4A, pg. 7499.

I have written about Ronald and Grace McDonald in past posts on this blog. Ronald was born in 1866 in Chichester, Quebec to Archibald and Mary McDonell.  I have shared a great deal about Archie and Mary McDonell, Keith’s grandparents, on this blog in search of their story and their ancestors.

Unfortunately Keith’s mother Grace died of pneumonia after giving birth to Grace Elizabeth, about 18 months after he was born.  I doubt he knew his mother.  This tragedy even affected me for it changed the family.  I shared about the loss of Grace in the following post.

An Unexpected Tragedy!,” dated July 18, 2010

About five years later, Ronald left International Falls and took the children to Grand Prairie, Alberta where he had a store. Keith, was only about 5 years old when they left Minnesota. How much my Dad remembered of his birth town, I do not know.

R.S. McDonald Leaves International Falls!” dated October 5, 2010

The Store in Grand Prairie

The Store in Grand Prairie

Ronald’s story Continues! Revisiting Grand Prairie, Alberta and mention of Albany, Oregon,” dated January 3, 2013.

Keith and his sisters in Grand Prairie July 4, 1916

Keith and his sisters in Grand Prairie July 4, 1916

I don’t think that going to Grand Prairie was a happy memory in my Dad’s life. As you can see from the photo they all look unhappy. After Ronald lost the store to his partner’s gambling he must have headed to Albany, Oregon. Various comments Eddie writes in her Collection of Junk indicate that they were in Oregon for at least a year.

By 1920 Keith and his family were living in Cheney, Washington and it is this part of the history of the family that is closer to me through their stories and comments.  Aunt Nellie was with the family and was now helping Ronald in taking care of the children.  It is not clear exactly when Ronald’s sister joined him, but she is there as of 1920.

R.S. McDonald Family Settles in Cheney, WA -1920,” dated February 14, 2013.

R.S. McDonald Family circa 1922

R.S. McDonald Family circa 1922:  R.S., Jean, Gordon, Eddie, Miriam, Vivian, Nellie and Keith

Keith is the boy in the very front – right in the middle of the picture.


McKanna and McDonald Wedding 1924

May 23, 2013

My father’s family didn’t have a lot of money, so this wedding of Vivian’s must have been a great affair for them.  I wish I could have been there but my father, Keith, was only 14 years old at the time.  It was going to be another 16+ years before he met my mother and 7 years till my birth.

Again, there is another article in the Cheney Free Press dated July 4, 1924 about the marriage.  Most of my family kept a low profile and so this is very amazing that this marriage was written up three times in the newspaper.  Apparently the event was also a local happening.

Vivian and Hilary's wedding 1924

Vivian and Hilary’s wedding 1924

Vivian’s is stated as the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. R.S. McDonald.  Grace, Vivian’s mother had died in 1911, so this is either a  tribute to her memory or a formality of the time.  Vivian was 9 years old at the time of her mother’s death.  She knew her mother quite well and probably felt her loss greatly.  R.S. had been a widower for a good 13 years by the time of his oldest child’s and daughter’s wedding.

The Wedding party and guests 1924

The Wedding party and guests 1924

The wedding guests and wedding party gather.  Left to right:  Justine ? (maybe the friend of Vivian’s?). R.S. McDonald (father of the bridge), Leola Vivian (bride) are next.  Behind Vivian peeking out is probably Rev. Lyon’s.   Brother Gordon is way in the back with a thick head of hair.  Next to Vivian on the right is Hilary McKanna (groom). Behind Hilary is an unknown girl. Nellie in the middle in the back.  She is Vivian’s, aunt and sister to R.S.  The man to the right of Hilary is unknown.  Miriam (bridesmaid and sister) is next. Eddie (sister) is to the left behind Miriam.  To Miriam’s right and behind her is another unknown girl and further to her right is an unknown woman.  Sister Jean has her hand on the back of the unknown woman. Missing is brother Keith who is probably taking the picture?  Everyone looks happy.

It is unclear to me if the wedding took place at the Catholic Church in Cheney or at the house you see in the following pictures. One of the articles states it was held at the home of the bride.  Vivian was religious so I lean toward the church.  There were about seven photographs with the date of 1924 written on them.  I see the similarities in the clothing of all that leads me to believe these are related photographs.

This photograph has the date of June 24, 1924 on it.  The wedding was on the 25th.  Maybe these two photos presented below show them getting ready to get the license the day before the main event?  Someone, in the background,  is trying to keep the dog under control.  My father, Keith, mentioned he had a dog when he was a kid that he name Tony.  I wonder if that is Tony?

Hilary, Vivian and R.S. pose June 24, 1924

Hilary, Vivian and R.S. pose June 24, 1924

In the photograph that follows, we find R.S. (father of the bride) and Gordon (brother of the bride) looking very handsome in their suits. This photo looks like they are getting ready for some event or heading to the church?

Gordon & R.S. Looking ready for the Wedding.

Gordon & R.S. Looking ready for the Wedding.

This may be the wedding party.

Guy, Vivian, Hilary and Miriam 1924

Guy, Vivian, Hilary and Miriam 1924

I do not know who Guy is.  It must have been written on the back of the photo.   He does not look like the man in the group photo above.

Another view of the party and he appears again.

Guy, Miriam, Vivian and Hilary 1924

Guy, Miriam, Vivian and Hilary 1924

Miriam sent Vivian’s photograph scrapbook to Mickey (Robert) McKanna years ago and when I visited with Mickey he was kind to loan it to me.  I made copies and scanned a great may of the photographs.  I did return the scrapbook to Mickey. Mickey is the son of Philip and Kathleen McKanna.  Philip is Hilary’s brother.  I will post more on the McKanna’s in future posts.

Note:  There is a very good blog that shares information about the McKanna family.  http://willisgene.wordpress.com/  I also have it listed in my right side panel of this blog under Families History Websites of Interest.


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