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Mini Bios of People of Scots Descent
Biography of William MACDONALD

This file was submitted by Vivian Brinker, E-mail address: <VIVIANB@RAVEN.CCC.CC.KS.US>

The submitter does not have a connection to the subject of this sketch.

The History of West Virginia, Old and New
Published 1923, The American Historical Society, Inc.,
Chicago and New York, Volume II.
pg. 181

WILLIAM MACDONALD. One of the distinguished members of the legal profession practicing at the bar of Mineral County is William MacDonald, of Keyser, who fully lives up to the highest ideals of his calling in both professional and private life. He is one of those who early found the work for which he was best fitted, and his practice before state and federal courts of West Virginia and her neighboring sister commonwealths has been effective in establishing his ability to litigate in all cases with marked

William MacDonald was not born in the United States, but under a  flag representing freedom and democracy, as he came into the world  at Stellarton, Nova Scotia, Canada, October 19, 1865. His father  had emigrated to Nova Scotia at the commencement of his career from Dunbartonshire, Scotland, and there was actively engaged as an official in extensive coal-mining operations. He was a Norman MacDonald, and was born at Netherton, Scotland, June 15, 1836. He was reared amid the environment of farm life, and was but sparingly educated, yet sufficiently for his needs through life. When but a youth he entered the mines located near his birthplace, and in them acquired the experience which made him an expert miner and equipped him for superintending mines in which work he was engaged in both Canada and the United States.

It was after locating at Stellarton that Norman MacDonald made the acquaintance of Elizabeth Wilson, who became his wife. She was also of Scotch birth, and died at Harrisburg, Illinois, when their son William MacDonald was nine years old, in 1874. Mr. MacDonald took an important part in the operations in the Illinois coal field until December, 1874, moving then to Maryland and establishing his home at Lonaconing, where he continued his connection with mining until 1882, when he crossed the Potomac River into West Virginia and settling permanently in Mineral County. There he was engaged in superintending mining operations until his retirement. His death occurred at Keyser, May 19, 1908. Four children were born to him and his wife, namely: William, whose name heads this review; Mrs. Isabella Grimes, who resides in Mineral County; James Wilson, who died a few years ago; and one who died young.

William MacDonald has lived in West Virginia since August, 1882. He did not profit much from his attendance at the public schools, because he went with his father into the mines before he reached his eleventh year, and worked in and about coal diggings until in September, 1893, when he began to carry out a long-cherished ambition to prepare himself for the profession of the law, and during that month entered the University of West Virginia. He had read borrowed text-books on law for a year and a half before he entered the university, and had accomplished considerable without a coach or guide to aid him in mastering any of the many intricascies of the science. However, such was his perseverance and natural ability, and as he was well-read and grounded in the rudiments of the law when he commenced his course, he was able to carry on his work creditably in the classroom, finishing the prescribed course of two years in one year and graduating in June, 1894, tenth in a class of twenty-three, among whom were Clark W. May, later attorney general of West Virginia, Judge J.C. McWhorter, Judge Warren B. Kittle, of Philippi, West Virginia, and others who have since become attorneys of note in the several communities in which they located.

Mr. MacDonald was admitted to practice at Keyser, September 4, 1894, and on October 8th, following, he established himself in this city and began the practice of a profession which has brought him conspicuously before the public in several states as an able advocate at the bar. His first law suit was tried on the present site of his law office, in a justice court, and he began his practice in the office of the late William C. Clayton, one of the most distinguished lawyers of West Virginia. He has always practice alone, and for a score of years has taken part as counsel on one side or the other of of the more important, first-class litigation in Mineral County. In addition to a large local practice Mr. MacDonald has had cases in the state courts of Maryland and Virginia, the Federal Court at Baltimore, Maryland, and the State and Federal Courts of West Virginia.

In politics Mr. MacDonald is a well known democrat, and commenced his record as a voter in 1888, when he supported Grover Cleveland for the presidency of the United States, and he has stoutly maintained his loyalty to his party ever since. He has responded to the call of his party to bear some of the the burden and expense of campaign work, and was a member of the Second Congressional District Democratic Committee, and treasurer of the campaign of Col. Thomas B. Davis when the latter was sent to Congress from the Second District. He was chairman of the Mineral County Prohibition Committee when the constitutional amendment for national prohibition was submitted to the voters, and rejoiced in the positive victory that was given the amendment by the ballots cast by Mineral County citizens. Mr. MacDonald was city attorney of Keyser for a number of years and served as a member of the school board when the present high school building was erected.

William MacDonald married at Keyser, West Virginia, November 20, 1900,  Miss Nancy J. Lauck, a daughter of Joseph B. Lauck, and aunt of Hon. W. Jett Lauck, a leading labor statistician and a scholarly man of Washington, D.C., appointed on important commissions by President Wilson during the World war, and an authority on labor problems. Mrs. MacDonald was born at Huntington, West Virginia, but grew to womanhood at Keyser, where her father spent many years. Mr. and Mrs. MacDonald became the parents of the following children: Kenneth, who died May 25, 1917, on his twelfth birthday; and Janet, who is a student in the Keyser High School.

During the late war William MacDonald served as one of the zealous supporters of the administration policies. he took part as one of the "Four-Minute" speakers in the campaigns in behalf of all of the drives; assisted many of the drafted men in filling out their questionnaires, and was a member of the Interstate Young Men's Christian Association Committee, and as such had the approval on the expenditures of all monies for educational purposes by that organization in West Virginia after the close of the war, and is still a member of that committee. While the above were the chief duties he so cheerfully performed, he was identified with many others, and did not shirk any responsibility, no matter what personal sacrifice might be entailed. His relation to the church is that of his membership with the Presbyterian congregation at Keyser, and he has had a voice in its spiritual leadership as an  elder for some years, and in its finances as treasurer for nineteen years. For seventeen years he has been secretary of its Sabbath school, and has been its superintendent for some years.

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