Descendants of Robert (1818-1876) and Mary (née McMullen) (1830-1895) MacDonald:
Robert and Mary’s first son was Robert Jr. (born 1853) and their last son was William (born 1869).
In 2016, Robert Jr’s great-grandchildren and William’s grandson met for the first time! (Whereas Robert, Jr. and his descendants stayed in Rhode Island, William moved his young family to New York. Over the years, the generations lost contact with each other. However, Robert Jr’s great-grandson, Douglas, while doing genealogical research had found a grandson of William!) Present at this initial MacDonald/Macdonald gathering were Douglas, Deardra, Spencer and Dawn who are descendants of Robert Jr. and their cousin Robert (Bob), a descendant of William. (The following photos of this historic meeting are the work of Deardra, Robert Jr’s great-granddaughter.)
Explanation of cousin Robert’s Name Change:
William’s first son, Robert, changed the uppercase “D” in Donald to lower case “d“. William’s descendants become Macdonalds and no longer MacDonalds. Cousin Robert’s email to website author “When my father was in college at Wesleyan University in Connecticut there was another Robert MacDonald and, because their records were always being confused my dad went to court and had his name legally changed to Macdonald. My sister, therefore, should be shown as Janet Macdonald (not Janet MacDonald). Also, at the end of your note you show me as Robert Stevenson MacDonald which, again should be Macdonald.”
Cousin Robert, An Author:
The MacDonald siblings were impressed to realize their second cousin once removed, Robert S. Macdonald is the author of two novels “Moptop and the SERGEANT” and “WINGS in the CLOUDS”. Although fiction, cousin Robert’s life provided the setting for these novels. Cousins in New England, California, Georgia as well as Florida are now busy reading the novels and learning of their cousin’s creative writing skills. His life experiences and observations, especially his service in WWII, form a good backdrop for his novels. For instance, although the novel “Moptop and the SERGEANT” is fiction, chapter 6 is non-fiction in that this chapter has his WWII experience. (This web site author finds both novels “a good read” and especially likes the fact that the female lead characters in both novels are really strong, capable and successful women.)
Naming of first and second son in the Scottish tradition:
According to researcher Teresa MacKenzie of the McCulloch House Museum and Genealogy Centre in Pictou, Nova Scotia, the Scottish tradition has the first son always named after the father and the second son always named after the grandfather.
Following in this tradition, William, the last son of Robert, Sr., named his first son Robert who in turn named his first son Robert. This son Robert is the Macdonald cousin in the 2016 “meet and greet” cousins gathering. Following the Scottish tradition, he named his first son Robert and his second son William.
Milton Earl’s ancestry did not continue to follow this Scottish tradition. Whereas Robert (Sr.) named his first son Robert, this Robert, Jr. named his first son Joseph Robert. (Joseph is the name of Robert Jr.’s younger brother, the second son born to Robert and Mary (McMullen) MacDonald. “Could this possibly be because Robert, Jr.’s grandfather’s name was Joseph?” asks Nova Scotia researcher Teresa MacKenzie. “Where did the name Joseph come from?” asks the researcher. Joseph Robert, Milton Earl’s father, did not name his first son Robert or Joseph. (However, he did name his second son, Robert.) There have been no other sons named Robert in the latest three generations of this MacDonald line.
Value of Oral Tradition:
This web site author and a number of her siblings have been doing genealogical research in Nova Scotia to find the birth records of their ancestor, Robert (born 1818). However, cousin Robert’s email sheds some convincing evidence on the reason we find no information on Robert (born 1818) and Mary (née McMullen) MacDonald in Pictou, Nova Scotia. Cousin Robert emails: “As to “Scotland Robert” or “Pictou Robert” I know that my grandfather told me that his FATHER was born in Scotland and came to Pictou when he was about 14 years old which would have been 1832. His family supposedly left Scotland because of the highland clearances. At one time I found my grandfather on the 1870 U.S. Census as a one year old (which would be right for he was born in 1869) and it listed his father as Robert born in Scotland and his mother as Mary born in Ireland.”
In chapter 15 of his “memoirs writings” Cousin Robert in 2011 writes about his grandfather William: “Grandpa was a first generation American. His mother, Mary McMullins, came to Pictou, Nova Scotia from Ireland during the potato famine in that country. His father, Robert MacDonald came to Pictou from the highlands of Scotland during what was called the “highland clearances” when the landlords put all the tenant farmers off the land so sheep could be raised there. Both came to Pictou as children and they met there, grew up there and eventually married and migrated down into New England where they had many children. Pictou was a shipbuilding small city at that time and that’s where my great grandfather worked. …”
Vaughn, Spencer, Walton, and MacDonald Press, Hemet, California 92544 Copyright © 2016 by Heather D. MacDonald
MacDonald and McMullen descendants, if you have any additional information on Milton MacDonald’s ancestral line please add a comment to this web site and the web site author will add this to the site. Thanks! (Contact Us-on upper right side of page)