Biography of Alexander T. McDonald
Buchanan County, IA Biographies





ALEXANDER T. McDONALD.
Many of the business enterprises in Independence and a number of movements for the welfare of the community along lines of civic progress owe much of their success to the efforts of Alexander T. McDonald, who is one of the most prominent men of Buchanan county. He was for many years a merchant of Independence, but has now retired from active business, although he is still interested in a number of concerns. The marked success which he has achieved has been due entirely to his own initiative and business acumen, as he began life without capital or the aid of influential friends. Although he has accomplished much and has been an important figure in many lines of activity in his county, he is quiet, unassuming, approachable and affable.

Mr. McDonald was born in Manilla, Ontario, Canada, on the nth of March, 1850, a son of Donald and Ann (Edwards) McDonald. His father was born in Canada in 1825, his parents being Archibald and Flora McDonald, natives of the highlands of Scotland, where their marriage occurred. They emigrated to Canada in 1820 and the father operated a farm near Toronto, Canada, where he passed away when about seventy years of age, and his wife died when about seventy five. They were members of the United Presbyterian church in good standing.

Donald McDonald, the father of our subject, was reared upon the home farm and educated in the schools of the neighborhood. His marriage occurred in Canada and he continued to reside in that country for some time afterward, but subsequently removed to the United States, arriving in Buchanan county, Iowa, in 1875. He purchased one hundred and sixty acres of land in Byron township and began the improvement of his farm, which he operated for a number of years. He eventually sold the place, however, and removed to Independence, living retired until his death, which occurred in 1898 when he was seventy three years of age. He was a member of the Presbyterian church and his political allegiance was given to the republican party His wife was born in London, England, but accompanied her parents, Edward and Ann (Ashton) Edwards, to Canada when but a child. Both her father and mother were also natives of England. The former was a farmer and was also engaged in the banking business and accumulated a considerable fortune. He died in 1847 when but forty eight years of age and his widow survived for many years, dying in 1880 when eighty years of age. They were both members of the Church of England. The mother of our subject was reared and educated in Canada and is still living at the age of eighty eight years, making her home in Independence. Her church membership is with the Presbyterian denomination. By her marriage she became the mother of seven children, namely: Alexander T., the subject of this review; Flora, the wife of Walter Thompson, a farmer living in Byron township; Edward, of Seattle, Washington, government pure food and drug commissioner for Washington and Oregon; John, who previous to his death in 1911 was a merchant of Tacoma, Washington; Richard, who is engaged in the mercantile business in Tacoma; and Elizabeth and Sarah, both living with their mother in Independence.

Alexander T. McDonald passed his boyhood under the parental roof and was educated in the public schools. In 1872, when a young man of twenty two years, he came to Independence and engaged in the mercantile business in partnership with his uncle, Thomas Edwards, this association being continued for about twenty years. The firm operated a branch store at Brandon which Mr. McDonald managed, and they also had another branch at Oelwein, Iowa. Mr. Edwards eventually sold his interest in the business to James M. Romig and Mr. McDonald continued as a partner of Mr. Romig for a number of years, but he finally sold his interest in the enterprise to Mr. Romig and then engaged in the wholesale glove and mitten business. He was associated in that undertaking with James A. Wells under the name of the McDonald Glove Company. This concern carried on business for about eight years but in 1907 was sold out to Wells Keagy & Company. The McDonald Company had about five traveling men upon the road and sold their product in Iowa, Minnesota and the Dakotas. Mr. McDonald was highly successful both as a merchant and manufacturer, as he conducted all of his business dealings upon the principle of fairness and justice to all, and his name stood for a high standard of commercial ethics. He also at one time owned an interest in his brother's store in Tacoma. He has invested heavily in land and owns about nine hundred and sixty acres of land in Dickey county, North Dakota, a part of which is improved and which he rents. He also holds title to about three thousand acres in Martin county, North Carolina, which he expects to put upon the market in small tracts. Until 1914 he was the owner of one hundred and sixty acres of land in Buchanan county, but a short time ago he sold it, receiving one hundred and fifty dollars per acre. He has a half interest in two store buildings in Independence and is one of the most substantial citizens of the place.

Mr. McDonald was united in marriage on the 17th of September, 1882, to Miss Clara Romig, a native of Wisconsin, born November 13, 1856, and a daughter of Isaac and Elizabeth Romig. Her father was born in 1814. The family came to Iowa at an early day in the history of the state and settled in Brandon, where Mr. Romig engaged in farming and also in mercantile business until his death, which occurred on the 13th of May, 1887 His wife survived for eight years, dying June 25, 1895. Mr. and Mrs. McDonald have no children of their own but adopted his brother John's daughter, Nellie, when she was but a small child and reared her as their own. She is now the wife of Perry J. Miller, a real estate man of Independence.

Mr. McDonald is a republican but has never been willing to accept local office. He was, however, for a number of years one of the board of trustees of the Hospital for the Insane, which is located at Independence, being appointed to that office by the state legislature. Fraternally he belongs to Independence Lodge, No. 87, A. F. & A. M.; Aholiab Chapter, No. 21, R. A. M.; and Kenneth Commandery, No. 32, K. T. Both he and his wife are consistent members of the Presbyterian church. In addition to his business connections previously mentioned, he is a stockholder and director of the Commercial State Bank of this city and was also for a time engaged in the manufacture of lumber here and was likewise interested in a number of the early business enterprises of Independence. He has done a great deal toward developing the commercial and industrial life of the county and has been associated in business with many people. It is much to his credit that his dealings have been invariably straightforward and honorable and all those who have been brought in contact with him hold him in the highest esteem and respect.

From:
History of Bachanan County, Iowa
And its People
By Harry Church and Katharyn J. Chappell
Vol II
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
Chicago 1914


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