These are some excerpts taken from the book
"Fair is the Place" about early Cape Breton life.
Notes for RANALD MACDONALD:
Most of what follows is taken from "Fair Is The Place", by Mildred and
John Colin MacDonald of Judique, Nova Scotia.
Ranald MacDonald (Pioneer) was born on Eilean Shona, Scotland, on the
Baillie farm there. He was the son of James of Baillie and he followed
his father and brother Alasdair to Canada about 1796. Ranald was
probably married when he emigrated but his wife's name is unknown, and
unfortunately, nothing more is known of her. When Ranald came out to
Nova Scotia, he was more than likely accompanied by his wife and also by
his brother, Donald Ban. They probably landed at Pictou and then made
their way to the Arisaig area of Antigonish County where they would have
met up with other brother Alasdair (1730 - 1820's) and his family. No
doubt, their father James was either dying or already dead when they
arrived, so this must have saddened them. In 1798, Ranald and his family
crossed over to Long Point, Cape Breton, where he took up 180 acres just
south of his brother Alasdair's grant. Ranald's name and his son James
both appear in the 1818 census of Cape Breton.
In the years that followed their initial settlement, the "Clann Sheumais"
MacDonalds of Judique (named for James of Baille) developed a reputation
as strong fighters. Their men were considered proud and because they
were so often of such massive stature, they were rarely challenged
Notes for RANALD MACDONALD:
Ranald was of the first generation of our ancestors to be born in
Canada. When his generation came of age, there was no place left along
the shore to establish their homestead, so they were forced to clear the
lands in the back and build their homes there. So it was that Ranald and
Sarah settled in Rear Centennial where, it is believed, they built their
house in the 1820's. Ranald took over the property originally granted to
his brother James. Their house was built all of wood and there wasn't an
iron nail used in its construction. The house never know the luxury of
running water or electricity. There was not even a water pump in the
kitchen. Water had to be drawn from the well outside.
At some point in time, Ranald gave a half of his land to his son John
and the other half to son Joe and they, in turn, raised their own
families next door to each other along the Centennial Road.
Ranald and Sarah had seven children, four boys and three girls. Sarah
was born in Scotland in 1812 and was listed as a widow at age 59 in the
1871 census and head of house.
27. RANALD MACDONALD (JOHN, RANALD,
RANALD, JAMES OF
BAILLIE, DONALD MÓR, ALAISDAIR,
IAIN OG, IAIN
was born 1872 in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, and died July 10, 1938 in
Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. He married MARY JANE CHISOLM January 10, 1909
in St Paul's Church, Dorchester, Mass., daughter of ALLAN CHISOLM and
Notes for RANALD MACDONALD:
fishing to farming and so he tried to spend most of his time in pursuit
of the former. As a result, most of the farm chores were left to Mary
Jane, the children, and an occasional hired hand. Ranny, not unlike many
other men from the rear, would leave his home on Sunday night and not
return until Saturday evening. He would walk the five miles or so to the
shore where he had a shack equipped with a bed and a stove. He would
take with him provisions for a week's stay. He fished mostly for
lobsters from a dory in the waters in and around St. George's Bay.
Ranald, his wife, Mary Jane, and their family were the last of their
people to work the farm in Rear Centennial. Life on the farm had been
extremely harsh and difficult but because everybody around them lived
under the same conditions, the difficulties of everyday life were hardly
considered unusual. The farm was self-sustaining and, in spite of the
long, severe winters, there was usually ample food and wool to feed and
clothe a large family.
Mary Jane didn't leave the property for good until sometime in the
mid-sixties. By this time, most of the people had stopped farming for
their livelihood and had moved into newer homes with modern conveniences
closer to the main road, (Route 19).
One of the first ancestors to emigrate to
the United States below.
(JOHN, RANALD, RANALD, JAMES OF BAILLIE, DONALD MÓR,
ALAISDAIR, RUAIRI, ALAISDAIR, IAIN OG, IAIN MUIDEARTACH,
ALAISDAIR) was born 1874 in Centennial, CB, NS, and died February 7,
1944 in Portsmouth, NH. She married JAMES (SHEMAN GOUL) MACDONALD May
10, 1893 in Immaculate Conception Church, Portsmouth, NH, son of DOUGALD
MACDONALD and CATHERINE MACDONALD.
Notes for MARIAH MACDONALD:
Mariah MacDonald m.
James MacDonald on May 10th, 1893 at the Church of the Immaculate
Conception, Portsmouth, N. H. She was one of at least eight children
(four boys and four girls) born to John MacDonald and Catherine
MacEachern. She was born in the house believed to have been built by her
grandfather Ranald in the early 1820's. Her father was a farmer as were
all their neighbours and their house was located on the Centennial Road
between her uncle Joe's place on the south (her cousin, Mary Jess
O'Brien's family), and the MacInnis farm (more cousins) to the north.
Her husband, James, was known by his Gaelic nickname, "Sheman Goul"
(i.e., Jimmy, son of Dougald). He was the grandson of Peter and Margaret
MacDonald and the oldest of at least twelve children born to Dougald and
Katherine MacDonald of Creignish Rear and they lived on a farm at the
northeast quadrant of the crossroads in the Rear. However, when the
Empire census was taken in 1891, James was listed as a fisherman while
all his siblings were enumerated as farmers. James was the first of his
family to emigrate to the States. Local tradition has it that he
captained a fishing boat out of Gloucester, Mass. We know that his
brother Roderick (Rory) settled in Gloucester and he had at least one
son, Douglas, who visited Portsmouth a number of times. His brother, Dan
H., (the sixth son and eighth child), remained in the Rear and ran a
grocery store and post office at the crossroads.
According to Ann MacDonald Burke, Mariah's niece and daughter of Ranald,
James went off to the States to find work. When he was established, he
sent home for his young bride to be, Mariah, who was then nineteen years
old. They lived most of their years together at 30 Burkitt Street just a
few houses away from her sister, "Katie Bill" O'Brien. He died in N. H.
in December, 1943; she in early February, 1944.
Notes for JAMES (SHEMAN
James MacDonald m. Mariah MacDonald da. of John (Ranald) MacDonald and
Catherine MacEachern of Rear Centennial. (See pg. 399 Fair Is The Place
by Mildred and John Colin MacDonald). James was the only one of his
family listed as a fisherman. Local oral tradition has it that James
captained a fishing boat out of Gloucester, Massachusetts and when he
had enough money settled in Portsmouth, New Hampshire where he married
Mariah and raised his family. See also Notes on Mariah MacDonald.
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