Saturday, September 17, 2011

Surname Saturday: McDonald Family in Dane County, Wisconsin, mid-1800s

In the 1850s many of the towns in southern Dane County, Wisconsin, were home to a number of Scots families.  When my Great-great-grandfather James Peter McPherson brought his family to  the area, one of the first families he met was that of John McDonald.  In 1850, according to the Federal census,  the McDonald family lived in Middleton, Dane county, Wisconsin, and  included:
John, age 60,
Jenet, age 45,
Margaret, age 21,
Daniel, age 11,
Isabella, age 14,
Anne, age 11.

James P. McPherson was a tailor in New York City from 1842 until his trek to Wisconsin in April 1850, and in the first few years of his life in Wisconsin, he made clothes for friends and acquaintances.  According to the diary of James P. McPherson, on the June day that he removed the splinter from Isabella's foot, he also "measured John and D. McDonald for pants.  From that time forward, J.P. often mentioned McDonald; they went to Madison, attended meetings, and in general kept in contact until McDonald's death.  John and Janet McDonald are buried in Verona Cemetery, as are the McPhersons.

These folks of Springdale and the surrounding area have become almost neighbors to me, as they were to my gg-grandfather James Peter McPherson.  If there any  kin of John and Janet McDonald out there in my readerdom, I would like to hear from you, and to learn more about their lives and family in the States, as well as Scotland.

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© Joan Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications


  1. These family connections are so important especially in those pioneering days. I do hope you find someone who is kin to "your" McDonalds.

  2. Sometimes I long for the "neighorliness" of the old days. There was a real need for neighbors to help each other--and in the process really close long-term friendships flourished.

  3. Cass & Sheryl, Thanks for reading and your comments. I am finding a wonderful closeness to these old neighbors of my gggrandparents -- my neighbors and friends, and I figuratively waive as I come across their names in one source or another.

  4. John and Janet McLachlan McDonald are my great great great great grandparents! Their son John married Isabella Hope. John and Isabella's daughter Janett married my great great grandfather William Henry Fry. I would love to share information with you!

    1. Geraldine, I would love to share information with you. As I said, my gggrandfather J.P.McPherson often mentioned the McDonalds. From reading the diary, I surmise that the John and/or Jenet knew the McPhersons prior to their arrival in Wisconsin -- probably either in New York City and/or Scotland. J.P. was born in Dundee, Scotland. Do you have information where John and Jenet were born? When they came to America? Other family members?

      Great hearing from you and hope to have many conversations in the future. Also, my email address is at the upper right corner of this blog.