Biography of J. Stewart McDonald
Erie County, OH Biographies





J. STEWART MCDONALD. One of the features of the Standard History of Erie County which will be generally appreciated is the interesting chapter on the Grange movement, prepared and contributed to the publication by J. Stewart McDonald. There is probably no better known and influential figure in the country life of Erie County than Mr. McDonald, who occupies a fine homestead near the Village of Huron. He has spent all his life in this section of Ohio, has for many years been a leader in the Patrons of Husbandry, and is credited with having accomplished more as an organizer and leader in the promotion of the Grange and in the maintenance and extension of its work in Erie and adjoining counties than any other individual.

He comes of very old Scotch ancestry. His grandfather, Rev. Daniel McDonald, was born in Connecticut, but of Scotch parentage. Becoming a minister in the Episcopal Church, he spent his life in that work. From Connecticut he finally moved to New York State, and was pastor of churches at Auburn and other communities. Rev. Daniel McDonald married Miss Phoebe Talmage, who was born near Cheshire, Connecticut. Several years after the death of her husband she came out to Norwalk, Ohio, and died in Huron County when a very old woman. She was devoted to the Episcopal Church and was a very active assistant to her husband in his ministerial service. She was the mother of the following sons: Alexander James, William T., Henry, James, Daniel and Andrew. Rev. Daniel McDonald, by a previous marriage to a sister of his first wife, had one son, Samuel Percy McDonald, who was a college graduate, as was also his half brother, William T., and both became men of prominence and influence. William T. McDonald was educated for a physician, graduated from Hobart College, but did not practice that profession long.

Alexander James McDonald, father of J. Stewart McDonald, was born in Cheshire, Connecticut, in 1814. He died a few days after casting his vote for James A. Garfield in 1880. After the election he started out to visit a sister of his mother in Cheshire, Connecticut, and died while on the way in the home of one of his cousins in Lyon, New York, very suddenly, passing away in the arms of his wife. In early youth he had accompanied his parents to New York State, grew up and received his education there, and then apprenticed himself to a wagonmaker in Schenectady, serving from the age of eighteen for three years, and each year his wages amounted to only $10, while he boarded himself, but at the expiration of the three years drew his entire $30 from his employer. During the early '30s he came out to Northern Ohio and located at Huron, where he took up the active work of his trade. He was one of the very capable mechanics of that early time, and made the repairs and also manufactured entire implements for a large community of farmers in that community. He conducted a successful enterprise and continued managing his shop at Huron until 1857. Selling out, he then bought a small tract of land about a mile and a half south of Huron in Huron Township, and turned his attention to farming. From time to time his land was increased until it comprised a fine estate, on which he erected a large modern and attractive home. This farm has been the scene of the agricultural activities of his son, J. Stewart. During the lifetime of the father the estate consisted of 162 acres, and is now the property of his son.

Born in Huron, December 14, 1852, J. Stewart McDonald has since the age of five lived on the old McDonald homestead. He grew up in these surroundings, acquired an education partly from books and partly from actual experience in the work of the woods and the field, and has thoroughly absorbed the spirit of the country and is one of the most sincere and earnest advocates of the attractiveness and wholesomeness of country life. Since the death of his father he has owned and operated a farm, and his own thrift and common sense ability have effected numerous improvements and have kept him constantly in view as one of the leaders in agricultural enterprise. His work has been that of a general farmer, and he is not only a student of the best methods of increasing soil production but also of those larger movements which so intimately affect the life of the farmer. He has also given considerable attention to the raising of fruit and vegetables.

Every movement that means better living conditions and a higher degree of intelligence and morality in the community has the ready support and cooperation of Mr. McDonald and his sterling wife. They are charter members of the Patrons of Husbandry, Huron Grange No. 1385, which was organized in 1892 with Mr. McDonald as the first master. He has held that office continuously for the past sixteen years, and the position has not only been one of honor but one of serious responsibility and effective leadership on the part of its possessor. Mr. McDonald is also a member of the Farmers' Institute. Thus there is probably no one better constituted as an authority to write upon the Grange movement in Erie County. Politically he has always acted with the republican party, and has rendered that great organization more than lip service. He has been for many years chairman of the township republican committee, and for six years served as township trustee, and for a long time was a member of the school board. Fraternally he is well known in Masonic circles in Erie County, belonging to Marks Lodge, F. & A. M., at Huron; Milan Chapter, R. A. M.; Sandusky Council, R. & S. M., and Sandusky Commandery of the Knights Templar. Mr. and Mrs. McDonald, by their marriage, have a daughter, Helen Marion, who, after graduating from the Huron High School, went to the Oberlin College and graduated from that institution in 1913, specializing in the department of physical culture and has made that her special field in educational work. She has been the director of athletics and physical culture in the Y. W. C. A., San Antonio, Texas. Mr. and Mrs. McDonald are active members of the Episcopal Church at Huron. This was the church of both his grandfather and father, and he has given it every expression of his religious nature and activity. The church was organized in 1827, and he is now one of the three senior wardens, and has held that post in the church for a number of years. His daughter is a member of the same religious faith.

From:
A Standard History of Erie County, Ohio
By: Hewson L. Peeke
Assisted by a Board of Advisory Editors
The Lewis Publishing Company Chicago and New York 1916


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