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Commemorative Biographical Record of the County of Kent, Ontario
James R. MacDonald


Was long one of the most active and prosperous farmers of Orford township.  County of Kent.  He was born in 1837 at Utica, New York, and died on the present homestead on Concession 8. Lot 15, June 1st, 1902, aged sixty-five years.  His remains rest in the Gosnell cemetery.

The parents of the late James R. McDonald were William and Margaret (Faulkner) McDonald, of Inverness, Scotland, who came to the United States first, and in 1837 located in the County of Kent.  They took up 100 acres of land in Howard township, and there the father died in 1868, aged 73 years and the mother in 1878, at the same age.  They were buried in the cemetery at Ridgetown.  Both were loyal in their devotion to the faith of their fathers, the Presbyterian religion.  They were the parents of the following children:  Donald and John, both deceased; Isabel, widow of Alexander McKinzie, of Howard township; Robert, a retired farmer of Howard township; broughton, a retired farmer of Ridgetown; and William, James R., Hugh and Alexander, all deceased. 

On October 13th, 1856, James R. McDonald married Ellen R. Gosness, and children as follows were born to this marriage:  Ellen R. who married John Spence, of Turtle Mountain, Manitoba, and has one child, Nellie; Miss Margaret, at home; John B., a farmer in ORford, who married Catherine Murphy, and has four children, Lillie, Anna, Nellie and James; William, also a farmer of Orford, who married Maggie Young, and has one child, Ernest; Naomi, wife of Geore Simmpson, a farmer in Manitoba; Bertha, deceased, wife of John Maxwell; Ellathea, a school eacher in Manitoba, now the wife of Albert Dobbyn, a farmer of Melita, Manitoba; James A., a school teacher in Manitoba, who married Alice Beatle; Ezra, who married Annie Blum, of Orford township; and Florence, at home.  Mrs. Ellen R. Gosness) McDonald was born July 15th, 1839, in ORford township, daughter of James and Ann Gosnell, and a sister of Lawrence J. Gosness.

James R. McDonald remained with his parents on their farm until he was 18 years of age.  He then learned the carpenter’s trade, and worked at the same until his marriage, after which he resumed farming.  A few years were spent in Howard township, and then he moved to a farm in ORford township, living there until he came to the present family home in 1871.  It is difficult to realize, as one views the fine improvements and the high state of cultivation to which the land has been brought, that as late as 1871 it was nothing but a wilderness.  Its present condition is a speaking testimony to the energy and industry of Mr. McDonald.  His handsome brick residence was erected in1886.  He was a man of progressive ideas, and was one of the first in his locality to introduce natural gas into his fine home ofr heating and lighting.  It has been in use for five years, Mr. McDonald believing in making use of modern methods to make life comfortable.  The family belong to the Methodist Church.  In politics he was a Reformer.  He is sadly missed in the home circle, as well as by hundreds of warm personal friends.

p.189 – 190


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