Were Our Ancestors McDonald or McDannald?

Actually, both spellings were used.

In some cases our family name was McDannald. See the attached 1930 census and the zoom to the lines for our clan.

Our mother was 12 years old and it was the start of the depression. Gracie is listed as a laundress and widowed. She was paying $10 per month rent. Leota must have been living elsewhere in 1930 (see the attached photo of Leota – did she really have nine children?) The census enumerator did not make a mistake with the surname. The attached draft registration for Emory Herman McDannald bears his signature. See his gravestone photo. Note the spelling of his first name as both Emory and Emery.

Emery married Mary Ellen Sprague in 1902 in Kansas. She was 11 years older than him and had been married before. Her first husband, John Wesley Phillips, lived until 1951 and she apparently had five children by Phillips. Emery and Mary had two children (Leota and Little Afton who died at age 4). Mary died in 1911.

Emery married Gracie on November 22, 1913.

I suspect that Gracie probably believed Emery had died. It is troubling to know she was doing laundry for other people during the depression and our twelve-year-old mother was undoubtedly helping her.

The surname matter is further complicated. Emery’s father, James William McDannald, lived until 1927. “Black Jim”, as he was known, also used the name McDaniel and McDonald.

The fact that his grave states “McDannald” leads me to believe that was our family name since 1850 when Black Jim was born.

A photo of Emory’s brother, Nova Clarence, is attached.

What do you think?

1930 Census Jewell McDannald
1930 Census Jewell McDannald; our Mom was a McDannald
1940 Census Gracie divorced
1920 McDonald General Store
1920 Census McDonald, not McDonnald
1918 Draft Card Emory McDonald
Black Jim McDannald
1927 Black Jim McDannald Grave
1907 Little Afton McDannald
1911 Grandfather McDonald’s 1st wife
Grandfather McDonald’s Grave
Gracie Divorce event
Aunt Leota and Children
Nova McDonald brother of Emory

Whoa…….this is all new to me. The only part of it I remember is that “McDonald” when coming to America had many different spellings. Mom never mentioned any name change. I never heard that the family thought that our grandfather had died. Mom always told me that he had to do migrant work during the depression. He was away from home for years. Nancy confirmed that Poppy drove Mom and I to Missouri to see him at the end of his life. He was called Blackie by the family. I do remember that Mom told us she had dropped a heavy iron on her big toe when she was young. That could tie in to the laundry business. When I was first married to Les I did ironing for quite a few families. The extra money helped us out.

I agree with you that the name McDonald had different spellings, but usually it happened in different branches of a family or different generations. I’ve traced Emory’s ancestors back several generations and they are all McDannald. What I don’t understand is why he and Gracie would vary the spelling. The other issue is the change in marital status. Gracie was a widow in 1930 as I mentioned. See the attached indicating she was divorced in 1940 and perhaps earlier.

Another anomaly is the attached 1920 census with the name spelled McDonald and Emory’s occupation of Merchant of General Stores. The 1920 census was in Jackson Township in Sullivan County. Mom was 2 years old at that time.

I have a strong hunch that our McDannald ancestors came to America from Scotland in the 1700’s and may even be Scottish Nobility with the McDonald spelling. There is a missing link that I must run down first. More later…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.