Friday, October 31, 2014

The Founding of the Homeplace - The Henry McDonald Family Story

The Founding of the Homeplace

The Henry McDonald Family Story

From the short story collection:

Part V:

Centennial Family Bios 

Henry McDonald Family Story

This Henry McDonald Family Story was written for the American Centennial by Alex McDonald. It is based on information shared by members and descendants of Henry and Laura McDonald, one of the four founding families of the settlement in 1833 of the valley now known as Oak Creek Township.

Henry McDonald (1801-1872) was born in Kentucky as was his wife, Laura Wallace (1801- 1848). They married in 1821 and removed to the Big Piney River region of south central Missouri where Henry was employed in the logging business. Their first son, Harry, was born there in July 1822. In the late spring of 1833, the three members of the McDonald family joined a group of settlers migrating into the Oak Creek valley several miles to the east southeast.

Henry had sought out this particular valley because it had a good water source and the best land in this region, in his view. He wanted to be an independent farmer. That was his goal. From the moment that Henry and Laura arrived in this valley, Henry was totally dedicated to making the most of this opportunity that he had helped create. Laura and their oldest son, Harry, worked hard to support that family goal.

In July, 1838, sixteen years to the month after her first son, Laura (Wallace) McDonald gave birth to a second son, Daniel.

Early in their time in the valley, Henry saw that being the one, along with his son Harry, to make regular trips back to the lumber camps from whence they had come, to bring staples, supplies and continuing news of the outside world, would be a specific task they could perform while still meeting all of their farming goals. In fact, it would enhance them by providing them with some ‘control’ over what was obtained and made available to the folks, their friends, neighbors, and relatives, here in the valley. In early 1843, Henry McDonald won the first postal mail contract to the new Oak Springs post office from the lumber camps. Their good work allowed them to continue the service until the war suspended postal service.

Laura, his wife, was a Wallace, supposedly descended from Sir William Wallace the famous Scotsman. She was an avid reader and had inherited her family book collection. Her favorite book was “The Scottish Chiefs,” published in 1809, about Sir William Wallace that her father had purchased just before his untimely death and gave to her as one of his last wishes. She treasured it, reading it several times, and using it as a text from which her sons would also know ‘their heritage.’

Laura had difficulty with her pregnancies, and only had two sons, Harry, and several years later, Daniel. She died in May 1848 at age 47 when Daniel was just 10 years old. Laura McDonald was buried on a small rise along the south edge of their property that became known as the McDonald Cemetery; it later was expanded to become the Oak Creek Township Cemetery. Later, Henry was buried next to his wife.

Henry McDonald (1801 - Mar 1872)
Laura Wallace (1801-May 1848)

They had children:
Harry McDonald (11 Jul 1822-  )
Daniel McDonald (1838-  )

Harry McDonald (11 Jul 1822-  )
married in 1842
Sarah Baldridge (1822-  )

They had children:
Caroline McDonald (2 Aug 1843-  )
Thomas McDonald (1845-1862)
Patrick McDonald (1847-??)
Alex McDonald (1849-  )
Mahala McDonald (1852-  )
Rebecca McDonald (1855-  )

Daniel McDonald (1838-  )
married in Jun 1859
Jane Truesdale (1837-  )

They had one son:
William McDonald (31 Jan 1864-  )

Harry married Sarah Baldridge in 1842, when each were 20. Many assumed they would marry earlier, but they felt it was important to reach this stage of maturity before they wed. They had lived and worked closely together as youngsters since the settlement began in 1833 and knew each other for some time before that. An early connection was the chickens that were first her responsibility. As early as that first year, when Henry and Harry brought back a new coop of chickens on one of their trips back to the lumber camp, they became Harry’s responsibility, as well, and she shared the knowledge she had gained to help him be successful with the new batch. Over those early years, they were quite successful in growing their chicken flocks, both individually, and collectively for the benefit of everyone in the valley.

Harry and Sarah were still living with Henry and Laura when Laura became ill and died. Daniel was only 10 years old at the time. Sarah became, essentially, the “lady of the house.”

Whereas Laura had difficulties with pregnancies, Sarah did not. She had a daughter, Caroline in 1843; sons, Thomas in 1845, Patrick in 1847, Alex in 1849; followed by daughters Mahala, in 1852, and Rebecca, in 1855.

Daniel McDonald married Jane Truesdale in June 1859 and they lived in the Truesdale farm house as her parents had moved to a new home in Oak Springs.

Daniel worked with his grandfather, father and brother on the farm in the early years, and also assisted his older brother, Harry, with the freight business.

Daniel joined the union army along side Lewis Truesdale. They served together in Colonel Patton’s regiment throughout the war. They were among the first to return to the valley after the war ended.

Jane and Daniel had a son, William, in 1864. From an early age, William was a leader, encouraged by his mother to always do the best he could in every activity he pursued.

After the war, Daniel was in charge of the Oak Springs Freight Line Stations of the Weston - McDonald Freight Line with regular runs, eventually in three directions, to Houston to the west, Salem to the north, and Eminence to the south.

Henry McDonald died in March 1872 and was buried beside his wife in the McDonald Cemetery.

To be continued... next Friday.

Now in Print Edition and on Kindle, as well. Kindleunlimited read for free.


May we each have a Homeplace, if only in our hearts!

Dr. Bill ;-)

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