Realizing some years ago
how little effort had been made to preserve the records of the McDonald
family, since the first member of it came to this country in 1746, and
discovering—as I searched further into the matter—what an honorable and
generous measure each generation had contributed to the history of the
country, I determined to do what I could to rescue from obscurity, and
put in some permanent form, a record of those men who had been so busy
doing things that no time had been found to write them up.
Little of the data
preserved in family and personal papers had escaped the ravages of time,
to say nothing of two wars; hence I found myself much restricted along
those lines. But a persistent following up of every clue, Ied finally to
the unearthing of much that was hitherto unknown of their distinguished
ancestor, by the descendants of the original Angus, who came here in
Strange to say, I found
in the Library of the State historical Society of Wisconsin, more
valuable and reliable information of his early activities in the French
and Indian wars, than anywhere else. And I am much indebted to Dr.
Reuben G. Thwaite, Librarian, for his assistance and courtesy in
furnishing much that was not procurable elsewhere. I also found in
`'American Archives" many references to his life and work.
It has always been the
commonly received belief among the majority of his descendents, that he
would have entered the Revolutionary army, but for his untimely death
soon after the beginning of hostilities; his hesitation at first,
resulting from a disinclination to serve under a man who had had no
military experience, but Washington's great anxiety to have him in the
field, as shown by his letter to him from Morristown, N. J., would, most
likely, have resulted in his assignment to another command, had he
lived. McDonald's lack of a knowledge of "wire-pulling," had, in all
probability, a good deal to do with "the parson's" betting ahead of him.
Angus McDonald had been
trained, like his forebears to service in the field, and had been an
officer in the battle of Culloden, though but eighteen years of age.
Macaulay says of his ancestors: "As military men the McDonalds have ever
supported their high renown; the names of those distinguishing
themselves, being truly far too numerous to mention, and had they been
only as wise and prudent as they were brave and generous, there would
never have been another clan equal to it."
A record of a more recent
date, preserved in "Coyner's Diary," who served as Captain under Ashby,
in the war between the States, furnishes additional testimony to their
soldierly qualities. It has this to say:
"The McDonald that Ashby
followed and the McDonalds who followed Ashby were alike brave and
gallant soldiers, and stand beside the noblest names on the pages of
I have no doubt that some
errors will be found but I have taken every pains to verify my
statements, when given as facts. I have found my work most engrossing
and interesting and close it with regret, for I shall miss the
companionship of those whose activities I have recounted in the
following pages. They have seemed very real and near to me.
FLORA MCDONALD WILLIAMS.