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John Alexander McDonald (1867-)
Born at Chatham, Ont., moved to Bay City with parents in 1868..

1915 History. (Added Nov., 2008.)

History of Michigan, Vol. II, by Charles Moore, 1915


Since 1868, for forty-five years, the name McDonald has been identified with the grain milling and elevator business at Bay City. This fact speaks well of the family integrity and permanence, and there is no name in the city more entitled to the respect and esteem paid than that of McDonald. John A. McDonald, after some experience in the flour mills operated by his father, finally got into the grain elevator and the bean trade, and at the present time, besides the large plant in Bay City, he operates elevators in various locations in this vicinity. Mr. McDonald is one of the leading business men and public-spirited citizens of Bay City.

John Alexander McDonald was born at Chatham, Ontario, November 30, 1867, a son of John Naughton and Mary (Warren) McDonald. The mother was a daughter of Charles Warren of Cold Spring, New York, whose ancestry goes back in direct line to General Warren, the patriot here at Bunker Hill, who lost his life in that first important engagement after the opening of hostilities between the American colonies and Great Britain. The senior John McDonald early in life took up the trade of miller, and in 1868 brought his wife and family to Bay City. He was of some means, and for the time considered well-to-do. In Bay City he built a flour mill at the corner of First and North Water streets that being the <>first flour mill in Bay City. The industry was inaugurated under most adverse conditions. During the late sixties wheat sold as high as three dollars a bushel, and thereafter began to decline steadily until the price reached about as low a point as had been known with the past half century. The senior John McDonald operated his mills at Bay City for a period of thirty years. In 1872 the mills were totally destroyed by fire, causing a large financial loss and severe handicap to the business. He rebuilt the plant, and in later years there came another heavy loss by fire. In 1898, thirty years from his beginning, he retired from active business cares, leaving a record of substantial success and prominence in the community. John McDonald was one of the organizers of the First Presbyterian church of Bay City, a trustee, and always an active worker in the denomination. His death occurred when sixty-four years old in Bay City in 1903, and his wife passed away March 27, 1913. They are both interred at Elm Lawn Cemetery. John McDonald was a member of the board of education of Bay City for many years, was always willing to sacrifice his personal interests in behalf of the community welfare, and was in politics a regular Democrat, but in 1896 voted for McKinley and sound money. Fraternally he was affiliated with the Mason Order. There six children, two of whom are deceased, and those living are: William Archibald McDonald, a prominent lumberman at Seattle, Washington; Margaret, wife of John A. Stewart, the present county clerk of Bay county; Annie, wife of Albert H. Morley, a well-known banker at Saginaw.

John A. McDonald was educated in the Bay City public schools, also attended the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, and when nineteen years of age began his experience in his fatherís mill. His association with his father in the well-known industry, established in 1868, continued until the latterís retirement, and then changed and broadened his operations, starting a modest way in the wholesale grain and bean business at Bay City. Under his shrewd and active management the business has grown to be the largest bean picking plant in the state. It requires the service of the two hundred employees to conduct the enterprise. The elevator and warehouse and other equipments are located in an ideal situation on the Arbor Avenue and the Michigan Central Railroad. Adequate shipping facilities, side-tracks, and all the modern machinery have been installed, and the entire business is conducted along modern lines. Mr. McDonald possesses the ability of the born business man, is keen in his perceptions of opportunities, through a long number of years has made his word as good as his bond in dealing with producers and business men generally, is quick to act on his judgment, and his success can be credited entirely to his own efforts. Personally he probably has as many friends as any other business man in Bay City, and is a quick-witted, genial gentleman, enjoys a joke, even at his own expense, and his hearty laugh and cordial manner goes a long way in facilitating his business relations. The central plant of his business at Bay City covers a space of one hundred by two hundred feet.

Mr. McDonald is also largely interested in real estate in Bay City. His greatest desire is to own and operate a model farm, and aside form his regular business, he is enthusiastic on model scientific farming. He and his family reside in a pleasant home at 1101 Fifty Street in Bay City. In politics he is both Independent and Progressive, and he and his family worship in the Presbyterian church. June 29, 1892, at Utica, New York, Mr. McDonald married Miss Caroline Tomkins, of Utica, a daughter of Dr. H. H. And Cynthia (Tompkins) Tompkins. The parent, through of the same name, were not related. Her father was for many years a prominent physician at Utica. Mr. and Mrs. McDonald have two children, Helen and Marian McDonald. Mr. McDonald is a member of the Bay City Boat Club, but he and his family usually spend their vacations in travel.

Related Pages/Notes

Related Pages:
McDonald, John N.
People Referenced
McDonald, Annie (sister)
McDonald, John A. (subject)
McDonald, John N. (father)
McDonald, Helen (dau.)
McDonald, Margaret (sister)
McDonald, Marian (son)
McDonald, Wm. A. (bro.)
Mckinley, Pres.
Morely, Albert H.
Steward, John A.
Tomkins, Caroline (wife)
Tomkins, Cynthia
Tomkins, H.H. Dr.
Warren, Charles
Warren, Gen.
Warren, Mary (mother)
Subjects Referenced
American colonies
Ann Arbor, MI
Bay City, MI
- Elm Lawn Cemetery
- First Presbyteran Ch.
- Flower mill
- Michigan Central RR
Bay Co., MI
Chatham, Ont.
Cold Spings, NY
Great Britain
Seattle, WA
Univ. of Michigan
Utica, NY
WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.