Scottish Highland Heritage
Kintail was (and still is) populated largely by Macraes, and was the ancestral homeland of this clan. Three of Alexander Macdonald's four grandparents were Macraes, and his Macrae ancestors had lived in Kintail and surrounding regions since the 1400s. His Macdonald ancestors came to Kintail in the 1700s, probably from the Lochaber district in Inverness-shire some 30 or 40 miles to the southeast.
|Eilean Donan Castle|
|Camas-Luinie, Kintail Parish, Ross & Cromarty, Scotland|
The Saints of Provo had been working on building a Tabernacle for over a decade, but the project languished and an impatient Brigham Young assigned Alexander Macdonald to take charge of completing the Provo Tabernacle - which was soon finished and dedicated under his direction. Alexander spoke often in the new meetinghouse.
On 20 May 1857 the 51st quorum of Seventy was organized at Springville, Utah with AF Macdonald, Noah T. Guyman, Lorenzo Johnson, Spicer W. Crandall, Abraham Day and Hamilton H Kerns as presidents. AF was a surveyor of the area and he served as mayor of Springville and as a Stake President.
Called to move to St. George – Stake Presidency, Mayor, build Temple
In St. George six more children were born, four of whom died there as infants or toddlers.
|St. George Temple|
Called on a Mission to Scotland
Alec paid a visit to his father's home area of Kintail and became acquainted with relatives there. Alexander himself spent several weeks there in August 1877, visiting and recording over 100 pages of invaluable genealogical data of hundreds of names and families of his relatives, data that formed the foundation of subsequent family genealogical research. Aaron Macdonald's journals paint a vivid picture of their missionary experiences in Scotland, including visits to their Aird, Graham, Macdonald, and Macrae relations.
Alexander arrived in December 1879 to find the colony with an array of problems among themselves and with the local Indians. Within hours of arriving in the Mesa area, several Indian chiefs visited the new Mormon leader with complaints which Alexander later learned had merit and needed attention. Alexander was always very interested in the Indians he encountered after he immigrated from Scotland to the American West. He had studied them and their cultures when he lived in Utah, and he continued that interest in Arizona. He did not neglect their spiritual welfare and called several people to labor as missionaries among the Indian people in Arizona, including his wife, Elizabeth Atkinson Macdonald.
He was called to serve as the first Stake President of the Maricopa Stake, and also was elected in 1883 as the first Mayor, where he provided the leadership to incorporate and form the first city charter. Fannie was the first town's postmistress.
As always, he plunged in to solve the problems and carry out the myriad activities required to develop raw land into a productive settlement and a rough frontier culture into some semblance of spiritual and cultural refinement. As he had done in Springville, Provo, and St. George, A.F. Macdonald set about surveying roads, canals, and ditches, and overseeing the construction projects. He built many buildings-houses, schools, churches, stores, barns. The street named BASELINE was his "baseline" measurement in surveying in the Valley of the Sun. The Macdonald family home was located a little south and west of the Mesa Temple, and the street "Macdonald" in downtown Mesa is named after him.
|Fannie Van Cott Macdonald with Lucy (top), Fannie and Byron|
Later at a conference in St. David, Arizona, because of the illness of apostle Brigham Young, Jr., Alexander was appointed to take his place. There he met with Apostle Moses Thatcher, who notified the Saints of the failure to find suitable lands in Sonora and told them that explorations would continue in Chihuahua with Alexander in charge.
Pacheco - Temple Hill Vision (Dream)
From LDS Church records: "January 15, 1885 John Campbell and Alexander F. Macdonald left Christopher Layton at Corralitos and they rode up the San Diego Trail and on westward about 15 miles to the Corrales Basin - - arriving about noon on the 3rd day (Jan 18, 1885). They intended to go on over the range into Sonora, Mexico. Upon arriving they prepared a meal under a cedar tree, among the willows, on the east side of the creek. After dinner President Macdonald (43 years old) lay down in the shade of the cedar tree and went to sleep, while John Campbell went scouting around the valley. Upon Campbell's return President Macdonald said, "This is the place...we have gone far enough. We will return to Corralitos."
Temple Hill in the background with Pacheco River
Lucy Macdonald Bluth said that her father had told the family that he had a dream and in vision had seen a small Temple on that hill. He knew that from that point the light of the gospel would be taken throughout Mexico with leadership from the Colonies. M.F. Trejo, a Mexican national and friend of AF Macdonald, was the man who translated the Book of Mormon into Spanish - and the promise of the Book of Mormon being taken to the Lamanites flourished - and continues going strong throughout our generations.
From LDS Church records: "Saturday, January 18, 1885 a party was organized with Francis M. Lyman as president of the company, Apostle Teasdale as Captain and Recorder - and GC Richardson captain of the guard. Isaac Turley was called as Comissary, Alonso Farnsworth and Edmond Richardson called as Cooks, MM Sanders and Israel Call as Packers - and AF Macdonald and Jesse N. Smith as Committee. Passing the Piedras Verdes river they camped at Cave Valley, July 23rd. At noon the next day we killed three deer in the Corrales Basin and camped on the bluff of the west side of the valley where we hoisted the American Flag at half-mast in honor of the 24th of July (Pioneer Day). Ten men and eighteen animals were in the party."
"Ten years later at Casas Grandes Apostle Francis M. Lyman met AL Farnsworth and told him to go and locate the ground where he, Lyman, had hoisted the Flag, and to mark the tree that the Flag was on and write the names of the ten men on it - - asking people to perceive it. I did this." (AL Farnsworth Salt Lake record) Apostle Lyman asked Edward Stevenson, one of the seven Presidents of the Seventy, to dedicate the ground at that spot and to preserve a record of it. The two men located the spot and did as they were assigned.
Settling in Colonia Juarez - Relocation - Miracle of Water
Alexander's patience and negotiating skills were finally rewarded with the purchase of 200,000 acres of land in the valleys near Casas Grandes and in the mountains to the southwest. The lands were secured and titles were established for “Colonia Diaz,” named for Porfirio Diaz, “Colonia Juarez,” named for Benito Juarez, and “Colonia Pacheco,” honoring their benefactor, the governor of Chihuahua.
On New Year's day, 1887, a party of settlers drove up in their wagons and carriages to dedicate the new town site. The sun shone brightly, and the day was sufficiently warm that an outdoor meeting was not unpleasant. The services commenced at 11:00 a.m., with Elder Erastus Show, of the Council of the Twelve, conducting and Elder Moses Thatcher offered the dedicatory prayer. He petitioned the Lord that every hard feeling might be banished from the minds of the Saints. Miraculously, an earthquake came and opened up springs and the river then had sufficient water for the community of Colonia Juarez!
Alexander chose three lots on the main street of Colonia Juarez and after liquidating his property in Mesa, Arizona, he built comfortable homes on two of them for his wives, Agnes and Fannie. He was the first to use concrete in building homes in Mexico. He sold the third lot to John C. Harper with the condition to build a hotel on it.
Fannie records that she and her two children, Byron and Lucy, travelled by train in June of 1887 from Mesa, Arizona to El Paso, Texas - and from there into Mexico by team and wagon. Fannie was 35 years old. She was adept at making candies and raising vegetables which were sold to purchase needed commodities. She was also the postmistress in Colonia Juarez, running the mail our of her home.
His responsibilities required that he travel often to Utah and Mexico City, and other places. Also, when the Juarez Stake was organized on 8 December 1895, Alexander was called as the first Stake Patriarch, serving under Anthony W. Ivins as Stake President.
With prolonged absences, his wives and families carried on their homes without him, yet when he did make an appearance in one of his homes, he naturally assumed the role of husband and father, in short, the patriarch. This created tensions because the families were used to operating without him, and it sometimes resulted in strained family relationships.
By this time, most of his children from Elizabeth, Agnes, and Lizzie were grown or nearly so, and were scattered throughout Utah and Arizona. His wife Fannie, however, was much younger, and was still bearing children. She had A.F.'s last child, Flora Hermosa, in Mexico in 1888.
Moving to Colonia Garcia
Colonia Garcia was a remote settlement up in a mountain valley, and he built a simple log cabin to live in. He still owned that simple cabin when he died. One wonders if he every contemplated the irony of his life-he had the skills to acquire wealth which he had demonstrated over and over. In Provo, St. George, and Mesa he still owned beautiful homes, farms, orchards, stores, and other holdings where he could live in comfort and security. Yet he felt he was living for a higher cause, and when his son Wallace wrote him that he was now old and could move back to Mesa and live comfortably, Alexander fairly thundered his response that he was doing as he had been called to do by his Priesthood leaders, and he was not ready or willing to retire.
In 1902 Joseph F. Smith, then President of the Mormon Church, was visiting the Macdonald home in Colonia Garcia. A.F. Macdonald provided his comfortable red velvet house slippers to the visiting president, and young Marguerite (granddaughter, and daughter of Bessie) was unhappy at seeing someone else with her Grandpa's slippers on, scolded President Smith, saying, "Off trodes shun," which translated means, "Take off Grandpa's shoes!"
Fannie Van Cott stayed in her home in Colonia Juarez where she raised her three surviving children of the five she bore. She wanted her children to be well educated and she supported herself by running the post office. In September 1921 Fannie moved to Colonia Dublan after her youngest daughter Flora (who was married to Loren Taylor) died, leaving 3 young children. Fannie cared for these grandchildren until Loren was married to a widow, LaVetta Cluff Lunt (mother of LaRee Lunt Bluth and Ora Lunt Bluth). After Loren remarried Fannie moved in with her daughter Lucy and Lucy's husband Oscar Emmanuel Bluth. Fannie died at 80 years oldl on the 21st of December 1930 and was buried next to her husband and daughter, Flora, in the Colonia Dublan cemetery.
Alexander F. Macdonald's Wives and Children
Elizabeth Graham married 20 May 1851 in Scotland (11 sons)
Sarah Johnson married 20 Jan 1856 in Springville, Utah (no children) (she left)
Agnes Aird married 20 Oct 1864 in Salt Lake City (6 children)
Elizabeth (lizzie) Atkinson married 20 Oct 1864 in Salt Lake City (4 children)
Fannie Van Cott married 1 Aug 1870 in Salt Lake City (5 children)
The following charts give a summary of the children of A.F. Macdonald from each of his wives.
|Alexander F., Jr.||12 Feb 1855||Salt Lake City, Utah||5 Feb 1916||Goldfield, Nevada||60|
|Graham Duncan||3 Jul 1856||Springville, Utah||27 Feb 1908||Kanab, Utah||51|
|Joseph Booth||23 Dec 1857||Springville, Utah||16 Jan 1942||St. George, Utah||84|
|Aaron Johnson||12 Jul 1859||Springville, Utah||5 Jul 1884||Mesa, Arizona||24|
|Samuel Whitney||16 Nov 1860||Springville, Utah||20 Oct 1868||Provo, Utah||7|
|Israel Hope||25 Sep 1862||Springville, Utah||3 Apr 1865||Provo, Utah||2|
|Heber Chase||4 Jul 1864||Provo, Utah||12 Jul 1903||Prescott, Arizona||39|
|Macrae||4 Feb 1866||Provo, Utah||1902||Kanab, Utah||36|
|Brigham Alma||19 Feb 1868||Provo, Utah||16 Apr 1869||Provo, Utah||1|
|Smith||12 Jan 1870||Provo, Utah||12 Jan 1870||Provo, Utah||0|
|Abraham Owen||3 Apr 1871||Provo, Utah||1 Nov 1872||Nephi, Utah||1|
|Wallace Aird||4 Sep 1865||Provo, Utah||3 Jul 1952||San Diego, Calif.||86|
|Agnes||19 Feb 1868||Provo, Utah||6 Sep 1869||Provo, Utah||1|
|George Aird||9 Feb 1870||Provo, Utah||12 Nov 1931||Phoenix, Arizona||61|
|James Alexander||29 Nov 1871||Provo, Utah||17 Dec 1940||Mesa, Arizona||69|
|Arthur Aird (twin)||19 Sep 1873||St. George, Utah||2 Nov 1873||St. George, Utah||6 wks|
|Flora (twin)||19 Sep 1873||St. George, Utah||19 Sep 1873||St. George, Utah||0|
|Margaret Atkinson||29 Oct 1865||Provo, Utah||14 Jun 1935||Mesa, Arizona||69|
|Annetta||24 Jun 1867||Provo, Utah||7 Jun 1868||Provo, Utah||1|
|Elizabeth Graham||27 Aug 1874||St. George, Utah||23 Oct 1904||Colonia Morelos, Sonora, Mexico||30|
|Maude Atkinson||27 Aug 1876||St. George, Utah||5 Jul 1878||St. George, Utah||2|
|John Van Cott||3 Mar 1872||Provo, Utah||Aug 1883||Mesa, Arizona||11|
|Scott Van Cott||1 Dec 1874||St. George, Utah||1 Feb 1875||St. George, Utah||2 mos.|
|Byron Van Cott||14 Sep 1877||St. George, Utah||20 Jun 1953||El Paso, Texas||75|
|Lucy Lavinia||24 Nov 1884||Mesa, Arizona||22 Jul 1949||Phoenix, Arizona||64|
|Flora Hermosa||22 Apr 1888||Colonia Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico||12 Sep 1921||Colonia. Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico||33|
Letter from Alexander F. Macdonald - May 25, 1879
President William Budge,
Dear Brother,--As you are aware we left the Mersey on Saturday afternoon, May 24th, the weather being all that could be desired. The sea was dead smooth, and everything else going right; the Saints all felt in the best of spirits. Everybody enjoyed the walk on the upper deck of the Wyoming for a short time, and then came the call for dinner. So far as I could judge ample justice was done to this meal by both young and old; but in answer to a question I put to one of the stewards I received the reply, "I don't think, Sir, we shall have so many to dinner tomorrow." It did not take me long to arrive at the conclusion that the steward meant that many would be absent from the table through seasickness.
The ship is traveling well. There is a strong headwind against us, but the vessel is well down in the water, and her splendid machinery is driving us along very steadily. Up to present time (3:30) there is not the slightest sign of seasickness. Old and young are in good spirits, and all feel pleased that the Lord has opened the way of their emancipation from Babylon.
About 4 o'clock, just after the purser had got the tickets all satisfactorily checked, the president of the company (A. [Alexander] F. Macdonald) called the Saints below and intimated that it was necessary they should meet together to perfect the organization of the company. The meeting was opened by singing and prayer. This over, President [Alexander] Macdonald addressed the company, remarking that as they were now fairly started on their voyage, it was necessary to prepare for what was before them. He then expressed the pleasure he felt at meeting so many of the Saints under the present circumstances, and went on to counsel them to bear with one another on the journey, to help those who were sick, and otherwise to put any matters in order which might require attention. He then stated that he had that morning, at a meeting of the elders held shortly before the vessel sailed, been unanimously appointed president of the company, with Brother Jacob Scharrer as his first and brother Joseph E. Cowley as his second counselor and Elder J. Bull, Jr., as chaplain. The whole of the above was put to the meeting and unanimously sustained. Arrangements were then made as to the time when meetings should be held, and as an adjunct to these, Brother S. [Samuel] L. Adams was appointed chorister, with power to elect others to assist him in the singing. Brother William J. B. Carter was elected as captain of the guard, with power to call others to assist him when necessary. Brother J. [Joseph] E. Cowley briefly addressed the Saints, counseling them to follow the instructions of the president. President Macdonald stated that Brother John Irvine had been appointed to act as clerk to the company, and concluded by explaining that Elder Orson Pratt would have liked to have been present at the departure of the Saints that morning, but owing to his being so busily engaged at present he had to forego that pleasure. However, Elder Pratt had instructed President Budge to tell the Saints from him that while the Lord had promised to preserve them, which he most assuredly would do, all his promises were conditional that unless they lived in a right way before the Lord, they were not entitled to be the recipients of the blessings promised. The meeting then concluded. Benediction by Elder W. J. B. Carter.
8 p.m. The Saints were called together for prayers, and shortly afterwards nearly all had retired. Weather still fine. Strong head wind, but no sea.
Sunday Morning, 5 o'clock. All well. Only one or two slight cases of sickness.
8 a.m. Arrived off Queenstown. Morning fine, and all the people seem hearty and busy at breakfast. Not only is there no sickness on board, but the appearance of the weather seems to indicate that this state of things will continue some time longer. All well.
A. [Alexander] F. Macdonald, President,Jacob Scharrer, Counselor,J. [Joseph] E. Cowley, Counselor,John Irvine, Clerk. [p.343]