I looked at earlier (and later) census records to see what I could find out
about James. In 1860 there is a James McDonald (a single man) born Ireland
in 1830 living in Ottumwa, IA with a family named "Coyldon" who are Irish.
James is working as a laborer. This may or may not be your guy.
I tried to find a record of a possible application for a widow's Civil War
pension since Mary was a widow sometime before 1910. No luck with that.
He probably was in the Civil War, and if that was him in Ottumwa, IA, in
1860, then I'd guess he was in an Iowa unit -- but he would have been past
30 when he enlisted and none of the men listed for Iowa were that old.
Illinois, unfortunately, did not record the ages of their enlistees, or at
doesn't have it.
I found "Jams" (sic) McDonald age 47 in Iowa in 1880 (b. Ireland in 1833)
He's married to Mary (age 25) and they have a daughter named Grace whose age
looks like "4" and a 10-month-old son named Levi. Mary was born in New
In 1900, they are in Monona, and the family has grown:
James McDonald 70
Mary McDonald 50
Levi J. McDonald 20 (all children born in Iowa)
Ardan McDonald 16
Willie McDonald 13
Frank McDonald 11
(Maybe Grace was married by 1900.)
Mary says she has given birth to 7 children, 6 of whom are living.
This census says he was born "about 1830" and immigrated in 1850.
Says he has been in the U.S. for 50 years and that he has NOT been
naturalized. On this census, the info given was that while he was b. in
Ireland, his father was b. in England and his mother in Ireland. The
earlier census said both parents were b. Ireland. He has been married for
In 1910, Mary's a widow, and "Francis" and "William" are
with her, as
well as her mother, Elizabeth Carver, age 86.
In 1920, Mary's still a widow and "Frank" and "Willie" are
her, doing farming. BTW -- I was interested to see that one of my Surber
relatives was living not far away from them.
Couldn't find Mary in 1930. But you probably have all that.
Haven't helped you at all. If I think of some other place to look for
the pension app. (in case Mary filed) I'll look for it. I used to have
access to this through Ancestry but can't seem to locate it now.
Best of luck. Maybe somebody else can find more about James' service.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Bonnie McDonald" <bonniemcd(a)sbcglobal.net>
Sent: Monday, February 19, 2007 3:24 PM
Subject: Re: [IA-CIVIL-WAR] James McDonald
Thanks Juanita, Pat and Jeanne for your quick
responses. At this point I only have his obit which
stated he enlisted at Altoona (I don't know if that
should have been Altona in Knox Co, IL). Of course, it
could have been a typo on the state, and maybe they
meant Altoona, IA. I queried the IL Civil War list and
someone suggested that book as a source. They thought
the book or film might be available through FHL, so I
will try that next if nothing turns up on this list.
James' middle name was Sumner. As far as I know he was
only married the one time, to Mary Carver. I don't
know yet if she applied for a pension or not. The
somewhat common name makes him slightly hard to find.
I have not found him in the 1860 census yet, although
there are a couple of possiblilities. The family story
has him coming to the USA in about 1841, possibly as a
stowaway. He may have worked in the steel mills of NY
and/or PA for a few years and then had a wagon
business. What I have on him prior to the 1870s is
mainly based on family history and very sketchy. I do
appreciate your taking the time to help me.
--- Jeanne Surber <surberj(a)earthlink.net> wrote:
> Bonnie, what Illinois county did he enlist from? I
> can't seem to
> findAltoona, IL, although I know it existed & maybe
> still does? I have
> access to a rather extensive Civil War database and
> if you can give me more
> info I might be able to find answers to some of your
> questions. Did he have
> a middle name/initial? Do you know if his wife
> applied for a pension?
> Anything you can tell us might help.
> Jeanne S.
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