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.


Eddie and Jean Celebrate High School Graduation 1925!

April 17, 2014

Graduating from high school is a big deal.  I remember mine.  There was something like 600 students. Roosevelt High School in Seattle was a big school. Eddie and Jean’s was quite a bit smaller which made it probably a very wonderful experience.  They certainly had fun.

Both sisters entered into the Normal School at Cheney after high school.  Jean was on the track of becoming a teacher. She would head for Hammond, Carter Co., Montana and teach there from 1 July 1926 to 30 June 1927.

Eddie was only at the Normal School a short time and she changed course. The whole McDonald family made the move from Cheney to Spokane about 1926.  I believe it was because my father Keith could be near Gonzaga High School and take their mechanical course.  At that time Gonzaga was a high school and college all in one.

Eddie was on a course to attend Sacred Heart Nursing School in Spokane.  I will share her memorabilia from that time in her life in the next posts.

Here are some photos of Jean and Eddie taken in 1925 and I think they are their family graduation pictures.  They are a little later by a few days from the graduation ceremonies.

Eddie by the house with the Ivy 1925

Eddie by the house with the Ivy 1925

Eddie and Jean near the same ivy.  I was unable to locate this house in Cheney and was told a lot of houses had been torn down and new ones built. There are no city directories for Cheney from 1920 to 1925 so I was not able to figure out where they lived while they were in Cheney.

This does say May 31, 1925 Eddie and Jean

This does say May 31, 1925, Eddie and Jean

Jean is so serious.

Jean May 31, 1925

Jean May 31, 1925


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


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