An ugly report from Carleton Place appeared in the Ottawa Citizen, on Tuesday last, in which, the sudden death of Neil McDonald, of that town was announced to have taken place on the previous day. It was a pretty good: obituary notice, but the thing was that the obituary was not true and it caused sincere sorrow in the family.
Here is the obituary….
So one has to ask what was wrong with the Obituary…..
Did he not have Gastritis?
Gastritis is a condition that inflames the stomach lining (the mucosa), causing belly pain, indigestion (dyspepsia), bloating and nausea. It can lead to other problems. Gastritis can come on suddenly (acute) or gradually (chronic). Medications and dietary changes can reduce stomach acid and ease gastritis symptoms.
Did he not lose his right arm?
Was he not a teacher or a principal? I could not figure out what was wrong with the obituary at all.
By the mid-19th century, newspapers were regularly publishing death notices submitted by local funeral homes. Before the Linotype machine was invented in 1886, every printed letter in the newspaper had to be set by hand, so papers were short and obituaries were brief. With the automation of typesetting, newspapers expanded at the turn of the 20th century, and more space could be dedicated to death notices and obituaries. Like classified advertisements, newspapers charged a fee to publish obituaries and publishers quickly recognized that there was good money to be made from obituaries.When political activist Marcus Garvey suffered a stroke in 1940, a Chicago columnist wrote and published a premature obituary. When Garvey read the obituary, which described him as dying “broke, alone and unpopular,” he suffered a second stroke and died. Again, I have no idea what happened with Mr. McDonald’s obituary, but obviously someone knows to this day what happened — because bad news and complaints travel a long way.:)
One of the many family sagas of emigration to Ramsay township was that of the McDonald family which, after investigating other locations, chose land in the tenth concession of Ramsay north of the falls of Almonte. Long-lived members of this family included the father, John McDonald of the Isle of Mull, who came in 1821 with his wife, three sons and several daughters, and lived in Ramsay till he reached his hundredth year in 1857. His son Neil at the age of 100 had the distinction of living in three centuries before his death in 1901 at his Ramsay homestead.
The Almonte Gazette 1896
We have pleasure this week in giving space to the following sketch on the life of one of Lanark County’s hardy pioneers, who had his share of the trials and incidents to life hereabout in the 1820s and thirties, in the person of Mr. Neil McDonald, father of Mr. Lauchlin McDonald, 10th line of Ramsay (with whom the venerable gentleman resides) and grandfather of Bev. John A. McDonald of Whitnesy, Mr. Neil McDonald of Carleton Place High School, Mr. R. L. McDonald, principal of Almonte public school, and Mr. W. McDonald, student at Queen’s.
Neil McDonald was born at Loch Buy, Isle of Mull, on the west coast of Scotland, in the year 1800. He well remembers Waterloo, where many of his clansmen fought and bled. His father, John McDonald, although in comfortable circumstances, was led to emigrate to Canada to find homes for his sons. Accordingly, in June 1821, he with his family of three sons and five daughters, set sail from Oban in the ship, “ Duchess of Richmond,” and after an uneventful Crossing of five weeks landed at Quebec on the 2nd of August.
From Quebec they went by steam to Montreal, thence to Lachine by stage. Taking small boats they sailed up the Ottawa to Point Fortune, but failing to secure land to suit them, returned up the St. Lawrence and took a Durham boat to Prescott, intending to go to Little York, now Toronto. Meeting friends they were induced to go to Perth. They were conveyed to Perth by wagon, making that distance in three days.
Perth was then a small village having three taverns, two distilleries and three stores, with blacksmith, shoemaker and tailor shops. Applying to the late Col. Matheson for land, they were sent to Prospect in Lanark, Dalhousie and Sherbrooke Townships, but failing to find a suitable location, rented a farm in Drummond, twelve miles from Perth, from Duncan McNaughton, doing statute labour and paying taxes as rent. It was now fall, and after laying in a supply of provisions, they set to work to clear land.
After a hard winter’s work they got about 12 acres roughly cleared and set to work to plant it, using hoes. They were rewarded with a fine crop of corn, potatoes, and a little wheat and oats. This was all cut with sickles. In the summer of 1822, Neil and Lauchlin went to Ramsay and took up 400 acres of land for father and sons, being lots 22, 24 and 25, now owned by Lauchlin McDonald, John Arthur, Sr., and James Barker, Jr., on the 10th concession, and lot 19 on the 11th concession now owned by Michael Ryan.
The brothers cleared an acre of land on lot 22 and built a shanty near the 10th line. They planted potatoes on it, but the crop proved a failure, and they had but a few bushels. The following winter Neil, with his sister, Flora (afterwards Mrs. D. McNaughton, Drummond) worked on the new farm, and chopped ten acres. They carried hay on their backs a distance of two miles for their cow. In the fall of 1821, all but the parents and Laughlin were taken ill of fever, and Neil’s life was despaired of, but all recovered except Donald, who died about two years later from its effects.
The hard work and severe climate was fatal also to Lauchlin who died within a fortnight of Donald. The bodies of the two brothers were carried from Drummond, a distance of 22 miles, on the shoulders of friends and interred in the place which is now the family burial ground. The other members of the family moved down in May, bringing three cows and two pigs. The father and Neil put in about one acre -of potatoes and one of wheat, and had a good yield of both. They then logged the remainder of the clearing, burning a great many fine pines and oaks.
The next winter his sister, Belle, followed her brothers to -the grave. His sister Sarah, had been married in the preceding April to Mr. A. Cameron of Beekwith, father of Mr. R. Cameron of this town. Flora was married in the fall of 1824 to Mr. D, McNaughton of Drummond, leaving Neil alone with his father and mother. In June of that year they carried a barrel of flour from Morphy’s Falls (now Carleton Place), a distance of twelve miles. This was one of the heaviest tasks of his life.
In December of 1825, he, in company with “Big Neil McKillop” set out to purchase a yoke of oxen and some sheep. They spent fifteen days travelling, going as far as Cornwall and spending the nights sleeping by the firesides of hospitable settlers. In the same year about four hundred Irishmen from Ballygiblin arrived and camped in the neighbourhood. Many of them took up land, but the rest remained and -became the terror of the country. Finally the militia had to be called out to keep the peace, and one of the rebels was shot in an attempt to restore order.
When Neil first came to Ramsay, Almonte was called Shepherd’s Falls after a young Scotsman named Shepherd, who had erected the frame of a sawmill, but who at that time was in gaol (jail) for debt. This and a small shanty uninhabited, were the only buildings erected. Shepherd’s property was purchased by Mr. Boyce, a Yankee from Brockville, who divided the land between his son and his son in law, Daniel Shipman. His son started a carding mill, and D. Shipman completed the, sawmill and married a McLean, near Carleton Place, and after a happy married life of nineteen years she died, leaving a family of -two sons and five daughters Isabel (Mrs. Alex. Bayne of Carleton Place); Lauchlin, living on the homestead; Margaret (Mrs. James Cowan of Pakenham); Catherine (Mrs. Stephen Dickson of Calabogie); and John, Flora and Mary, deceased.
The old gentleman is stil quite hearty, although during the past ftew years he has become almost blind. His mental faculties are quite clear. He takes great pleasure in recounting the varied experiences of his long life. His grip is still hearty, and he has all the appearances of completing his century as his, father did, who lived to be one hundred years of age. We trust he may.
Are there ghosts? Well that depends- within the sight of the Peace Tower there is a famous haunted house well designed and well maintained and the family just treats it a as a family retainer and somewhat harmless. But here is a Canadian ghost story that has travelled through the ages.
The McDonalds built their home on a plot of land in Wallaceburg, Ontario desired by a woman known as the old woman in the Long Low Log house. When McDonald refused to sell his land to the woman and her three children, the paranormal activity began. Between 1830 and 1840 bullets would shoot through the home’s windows before dropping harmlessly to the floor, the sound of marching men could be heard in the house, pots and pans would dance in the air and balls of fire would erupt in the house.
The ghost was exorcised by the local clergy and for good measure a medicine man was summoned also for extra measure. An enterprising Yankee was passing by and he said nailing a horseshoe above the door and for his trouble he was arrested on the spot for witchcraft. That 5 minute ordeal took 6 months to straighten out while our American friend languished in jail. One year later in 1830 things got worse and fires began to break out all over the house- over 50 outbreaks in one day alone. So cooking anything was out of the question but the demon just moved his fires out to the barn. Finally a fire broke in the home that was so bad the family barely escaped with their lives.
By this time the McDonald family figured they were under the spell of some witch and there are two plausible endings to this story so choose one. Most of the local folks offered different interpretations. Some say it was because of sacred native grave sites tampered with out of anger- and some said people just drank too darn much.
The McDonald’s employed the services of the famous Dr. John Troyer. Apparently the lost souls were getting tired at this point and said one more fire, and then the house would be at peace.
2. However, at the advice of a 15-year-old girl called Jane with supposed mystical powers, McDonald moulded a silver bullet and shot a goose with a black head that had evaded him on his farm. His bullet connected with the goose’s wing and it escaped into nearby reeds.
McDonald then went to the Long Low Log house and found the old woman who wanted to buy his land. She was sitting on her front porch in her rocking chair with a broken arm! From the time that the bird was shot and the old woman was wounded, no spiritual manifestations were ever heard of at the McDonald farm and peace again fell on the Baldoon….
Family pictures, no matter who or what they are can give us an insight to the past. The backgrounds of photos especially give us a great glimpse to once was. Photographic images serve as powerful records of people, events, and places. They evoke ideas or emotions in ways that words alone cannot.
Lanark Archives looks for information to research family roots and to learn more about where their ancestors lived. Local historians and genealogists, families, church groups and school children use the Archives.
Every picture tells a story
The following is a few pictures from the gallery of old photographs of the McDonald family.
Every research project has a starting point, and in this case, that point begins with Alfred McDonald and his wife Esther Lancaster. On their website, you’ll learn more about their story and other related branches of the family.
If you are looking for other family history documents or information, please visit The McDonalds website.
John Joseph Lancaster (center) – Carleton Place – 1914
John Joseph Lancaster with Graham Lusher – in Carleton Place – undated
John Lancaster in Carleton Place in 1918 – father of Esther Lancaster (McDonald)