TABLE OF CONTENTS
McDonald Family Papers
Manuscript Collection: MC087
James A. McDonald, Sr., son of John S. McDonald and Charlotte Collins, was born October 29, 1830, in Rankin County, Mississippi. In 1852 John and Charlotte McDonald and their four sons, William, John, James, and Charles, emigrated to DeWitt County, Texas, settling near Price's Creek Settlement, present day Thomaston. In 1854, John McDonald died. Soon after, James bought out the interests of his mother and brothers in the estate of his father. In 1858 James returned to Mississippi and married Judith Ann John Ferguson on December 7th. The couple made their home in DeWitt County for the next 54 years.
James enlisted in Co. A. of Wallers Battalion of Texas Cavalry May 15, 1862. While her husband served in the Confederate Army, Ann managed the ranching and agriculture interests of the family and raised two small children. James returned home on May 5, 1865, riding the same horse he had ridden off on three years earlier. Neither man nor horse had been wounded although both saw action in Louisiana during the Civil War.
James engaged in ranching and farming and was active in church and education affairs in DeWitt County. After the death of his wife in 1912, he moved to San Antonio where he died at his daughter's home in 1920.
James and Ann McDonald had eight children: Mary E. "Mollie," James A. McDonald, Jr., Sarah Ann, John William, George E., Charles F., and Joseph Benjamin.
Financial records, correspondence, legal records, printed material, and creative works document the family of James A. McDonald, Sr. for a ninety-year span (1848-1938) in DeWitt County, Texas. Financial documents (228) form the bulk of the McDonald Family Papers. Tax receipts (80) of James A. McDonald, Sr. (1856-1905) and James A. McDonald, Jr. (1880-1904) record the changes brought by the Civil War and the family ties to the land in DeWitt and Victoria Counties. Statements of account (54), receipts (68), bills of lading and bills of sale (1850-1891) document not only the purchases and sales of the family but also illuminate the transactions of businesses during the nineteenth century in DeWitt County. Promissory notes (16) record financial transactions. Of interest is a promissory note (1861) for the hire of "Negro Boy Jim" for $200 plus 4 sets of clothes, 1 hat, 2 pairs of shoes, and a blanket. Two memorandum books (1882-1885) kept by Ann McDonald as treasurer of the Thomaston Ladies Society indicate the members may have operated a small business by manufacturing and selling clothing and loaning money. Three Confederate certificates of exchange and bonds document the impact of the precarious state of the economy on individuals in 1864. The bulk of the correspondence (1857-1886) is related to the financial affairs of James A. McDonald, Sr. Of interest is an 1854 letter to John McDonald concerning the payment of notes in Mississippi. Legal documents (9) include a land patent, James A. McDonald, Sr.'s Amnesty Oath (1865) and Oath of Allegiance (1867), a brand registered to James A. McDonald, Jr. (1883), and the exclusive rights for 17 years to patent an "Improvement for Destroying the Cutting Ant" (1875). Printed materials include newspaper clippings and a guest ticket for the 1928 Democratic Convention held in Houston. Two dimity lace patterns illustrate the fine handwork young girls were expected to master in their preparation for adulthood.
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Copyright has not been assigned to the San Jacinto Museum of History. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Library Director. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the San Jacinto Museum of History as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the researcher.
[Identification of Item], McDonald Family Papers, MC087, San Jacinto Museum of History, Houston, Texas.
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. W. A. McDonald, May 31, 1945.
Processed by Sarah Canby Jackson, 2003.