Thursday, May 29, 2014


 Father of Alexander Findlay Macdonald
Duncan Macdonald

Duncan Macdonald was born in the mid 1790’s in the Kintail hamlet of Carr which is located on a hillside overlooking the ancient and Eilean Donan Castle, which is now unoccupied and in ruins.  His father was Alexander Macdonald, a tailor, and his mother was Ann Macrae.  He was one of five children all born at Carr.  (FamilySearch records need to have children added.)

In his teens, about 1820, an epidemic in Carr caused most of its inhabitants to die and the others evacuated the village.  Duncan went with his older brother, Farquhar, over the mountain north a few miles to the village of Camusluinie in the northern Kintail district of Glenelchaig. There they settled and each married a Macrae girl – sometime in the early 1820’s.  Duncan's wife was Margaret Macrae, a descendant of Macraes who had lived in this area for centuries. Duncan was a Protestant (Church of Scotland), and Margaret was a Roman Catholic.
Eilean Donan Castle
Duncan supported himself operating a whisky still and as a day laborer.  A son, Alexander Findlay Macdonald, was born in Camusluinie on 15 Sep 1825, and a daughter, Isabella, was born there two years later. Both son and daughter's christening are recorded in the Kintail Parish Register. 

Duncan and Margaret were desperately poor, and their ancestral home in the highlands offered no hope of improvement.  Seeking employment, the couple with their two small children moved to the Scottish city of Perth, about 35 miles north of the capital of Edinburgh, in 1829. Relatives had preceded them and probably helped them get settled.  Duncan found work operating a beetling mill (part of Scotland's textile industry) at Ruthven Mill (Ruthven Mill's name was later changed to Shepherd's Mill.) Duncan performed the beetling and printing operations.   

The family made their home in the mill itself, and there in 1831 Margaret gave birth to twin daughters, Ann and Margaret, who both died soon after birth.  Later the family moved to the center of Perth and settled in Cutlog Vennel (they appear in the 1841 census).  Duncan continued in the milling trade.

The Macdonald family later moved to the center of Perth living in a narrow alley named Cutlog Vennel where Alexander and Isabella grew up.  
Cutlog Vennel, Perth
Because the city dwellers of lowland Scotland looked down on the Highlanders who were flocking to the cities and considered them uncivilized,  Duncan wanted to provide a good education for his children.  Duncan and Margaret had ambitions for their dark-haired, dark-eyed son, and saw that he received a good education at King James VI Hospital School.  Their sacrifices to do that certainly paid off in their son, Alexander’s future life, for his education prepared him with leadership qualities that opened opportunities that truly blessed the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, as well as his future generations of children and grandchildren.

King James VI Hospital School 

On January 2, 1847, Duncan's son was baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and at first Duncan was furious, beat him, and the heartbroken Alexander left home to work on the seas. Duncan later forgave his son, and he and his daughter Isabella later joined the church.  His wife Margaret did not.  

When Alexander went to serve a church mission in 1850, Duncan, Margaret, and Isabella moved to Glasgow where Margaret died in 1853. 

In 1854 Duncan immigrated to Utah with his son Alexander and Alexander's wife Elizabeth Graham. They sailed on the ship John M. Wood, debarking in New Orleans. They took river steamers up the Mississippi River, and crossed the plains, arriving October 1, 1854.  

The family members all settled in Springville, Utah, where Duncan later married a Scottish widow, Ann Thomson Leslie. 

Duncan and his new wife moved to St. George, Utah, when Brigham Young called Alexander to go there to lead in finishing the St. George Temple.  Duncan, his son, and many grandsons all worked on the temple until its completion. 

Duncan saw his son become a great leader and was undoubtedly very proud of him.  Duncan died September 12, 1876 in St. George, Washington County, Utah and is buried in St. George cemetery near many family members.


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