James C. McDonald
of Virginia, Tennessee & Ohio
With thanks to Scott Messinger and Bruce E. Warnock
The portrait below is based on family letters from 1909 supported by census and cemetery data as well as a number of biographies (several of them kindly transcribed by Scott Messinger) which can be seen in full on the McDonald biographies page. The information on Mary Ann Melvin and family comes from Bruce E. Warnock's website on the Melvin family.
JAMES McDONALD was born in Botetourt County, Virginia on 23 Sep 1776 to John I McDonald of Scotland. After the death of his mother he moved with his father and siblings to Tennessee around 1785 where his father bought the Old Daniel Boone farm on the Tennessee River.
James was married in Tennessee around 1800 to young Mary Ann Melvin who was born 4 Aug 1784 in Jefferson County, Virginia. Mary Ann was the daughter of Joseph Melvin (born about 1740) and his wife Hanna. Of Joseph and Hanna Melvin's seven children, five were born in Jefferson County, Virginia (James III b. c. 1775; Jane b. c. 1782; Wiliam b. 1784; Mary Ann b. 1784; Joseph b. 9 feb 1788) and the youngest two in Knob Creek, Washington County, Tennessee (Rhuba b. c. 1790; John b. 1799). Mary Ann's father, Joseph Melvin, died in Washington County, Tennessee in 1817.
According to a biography of James and Mary Ann's youngest son, Malay, published in 1887 in the Biographical and Historical Record of Ringgold and Decatur Counties, Iowa, James and Mary Ann moved to Kentucky immediately after marriage. They left Kentucky about 1806 for Ross County, Ohio in the area which was soon to become Madison County, Ohio on its formation in 1810.
I believe the timing of their move is explained by this land patent. It testifies that one thousand acres of land in Ohio were granted to "James McDonald and his heirs and assigns forever", signed by the President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, and the Secretary of State, James Madison, on Christmas eve of 1807. This land was originally part of military warrant No. 2418 to Thomas Seayres, a "Lieutenant in the War" (of independence, 1776) and the rights had been assigned (sold) first to Robert Means and then to James McDonald. The land was surveyed in 1804, and James and family would probably have been planning their move shortly after that date.
James and Mary Ann settled in Union Township, Madison County where they had a dozen children, but only seven grew to adulthood:
- Mary McDonald - b. 1801, married Benjamin Ferguson (Forgason) 20 Jun 1822, lived in Iowa
- George McDonald - b. 1803 in Tennessee, married Malinda Ferguson and had several children, second wife Mary - see below.
- Phebe McDonald - b. 1805, married Squire L. Ferguson 23 Dec 1825; later became Mrs. Luffburrough, lived in Iowa
- Elizabeth McDonald - b. 1808, married John Davis, lived near Califonia, Madison County, OH
- Charity McDonald - b. 1811, married 29 Aug 1830 to Walker Graham (Grayham) and lived in Indiana
- John McDonald - b. 1814, died unmarried 4 Jun 1841 (see below)
- Malay McDonald - b. 16 May 1823 in Madison County, Ohio, married Mary Ferguson - see page for Malay McDonald
Page 99 of the 1830 Federal Census of Union Township, Madison County, Ohio shows James and family with his eldest son George and family living nearby.
- James McDonald family: 6 people in total.
Males: 1 age 50 to 60 (James); 1 age 15 to 20 (John); 1 age 5 to 10 (Malay)
Females: 1 age 40 to 50 (Mary Ann); 1 age 20 to 30 (probably Elizabeth); 1 age 15 to 20 (Charity)
- George McDonald family: 4 people in total.
Males: 1 age 20 to 30 (George); 1 age 5 to 10; 1 under 5
Females: 1 age 20 to 30 (Malinda)
James was widowed on 11 Apr 1836 when Mary Ann died at the age of 52. She was buried in the Lower Glade Cemetery, Madison County, Ohio.
On 4 Sep 1850, the 1850 Federal Census of Union Township, Madison County, Ohio shows James McDonald as an elderly widower living with his niece Mary (McDonald) Rubert (daughter of James' brother John I McDonald) and her husband Andrew Rubert. James had amassed $2,500 worth of real estate.
- James McDonald, age 73, male, Farmer, born VA.
- Andrew Rubert, age 35, male, Farmer, born OH.
- Mary Rubert, age 22, female, (no occupation), born OH.
James McDonald died later that same year on 2 Dec 1850 and was laid to rest alongside his wife, Mary Ann (Melvin) McDonald in the Lower Glade Cemetery, Madison County, Ohio.
Lower Glade Cemetery, Madison County, Ohio
Dec 2, 1850
Aged 74 Yrs
Mar 14, 1836
Aged 54 Yrs
8 Months 1 day
James and Mary Ann's unmarried son John lies with them: IN
Age 26 yrs
6 mo. &
George G. McDonald, 1803 - 1883
George G. McDonald was the eldest son born to James and Mary Ann (Melvin) McDonald. He was born on Christmas Day 1803, when the family still lived in Tennessee, and was raised on his father's farm in Union Township, Madison County, Ohio. On 22 Dec 1825 George married Malinda Ferguson (Forgeson) of Franklin County, Ohio. She was born 23 Dec 1805 in Lexington, Kentucky. They lived with George's parents on the farm in Union for three years until George bought a 385 acre farm in Deer Creek where the couple raised their own family. The couple had thirteen children, though few outlived their parents and only Mary Ann outlived her father. The ones we know of are:
- James - b. 15 May 1829, died 10 Aug 1850 (age 21), buried in Oak Hill Cemetery
- Mary Ann - b. c. 1831, married Judge Fulton of Columbus, Ohio
- Thomas - b. 4 Aug 1832, died 30 Aug 1870, buried in Oak Hill Cemetery
- John - b. 4 Jul 1834, d. 14 May 1836 (age 1), buried in the Lower Glade Cemetery
- infant daughter - b. 17 Jul 1837, buried in the Lower Glade Cemetery
- infant son - buried in the Lower Glade Cemetery
- Charity - b. 22 Jun 1842, d. 23 Apr 1853 (age 10), buried in Oak Hill Cemetery
George G. McDonald
from 1883 biography
George was on his farm on 18 Jul 1850 at the time of the 1850 Federal Census of Deer Creek Township, Madison County, Ohio. He was living with his wife Malinda (also known as Belinda) and children and had real estate valued at $6,000. George and Malinda had already buried three infants in the Lower Glade family burial ground.
- George McDonald, age 46, male, Farmer, born Tennessee.
- Belinda McDonald, age 45, female, (no occupation), born Kentucky
- James McDonald, age 21, male, Clerk, born Ohio
- Mary A. McDonald, age 19, female, (no occupation), born Ohio
- Thomas McDonald, age 17, male, (no occupation), born Ohio
- Charity McDonald, age 7, female, (no occupation), born Ohio
- James Wagoner, age 11, male, (no occupation), born Ohio
son of George G. &
died May 14th 1836
aged 1 year 2 mo
& 23 days
George G. & Belinda
July 17th 1837
son of George G. &
The 1860 Federal Census of Deer Creek was taken on 14th July 1860, and shows the family sadly reduced to George and his son Thomas. George's wife Malinda had died just a few months earlier, on 8 Mar 1860 and was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery.
Name Age Sex Colour Age Occupation Personal
Birthplace 592 632 George G. McDonalds 56 M 76 Farmer $24,600 $2,000 Tennessee Thomas McDonalds 27 M 76 Farmer $1,600 $800 Ohio
In 1878 George gave his original farm to his daughter (presumably Mary A. McDonald), and although he still owned a further 288 acres of farmland he retired from active farming and moved to London, Madison County, Ohio. By the time of the 1880 census, he was found there with his second wife Mary and a 21 year old nephew, William Fergenson (probably his first wife Malinda Ferguson's brother's son).
Name Relation Marital
Gender Race Age Birthplace Occupation Father's
Geo. G. McDonald Self Married Male White 76 TN Retired farmer TN TN Mary McDonald Wife Married Female White 63 KY Keeping House MD KY William Fergenson Nephew Single Male White 21 OH OH OH
George G. McDonald lies buried in Oak Hill Cemetery, Madison County with both his wives:
4 Jul 1834 - 14 May 1836
(Buried in the Lower Glade Cemetery)
4 Aug 1832 - 30 Aug 1870
George G. McDonald
25 Dec 1803 - 28 May 1883
George's first wife, Malinda,
and second wife, Mary:
BORN Dec 23, 1805
DIED Mar 8, 1860
BORN May 27, 1817
DIED Oct 1, 1903
George and Malinda's
10 year old daughter
Charity, and 21 year old
son James lie with them
in Oak Hill Cemetery:
BORN May 15, 1829
DIED Aug 10, 1850
BORN Jun 22, 1842
DIED Apr 23, 1853
For further reading on James McDonald and family, see the McDonald biographies page for the original texts of various biographies including his father John I McDonald and his son Malay McDonald in which he is mentioned.
Other Family Pages
- Main McDonald page
- Thomas McDonald, born 1774
- Malay McDonald, born 1823 (son of James C. McDonald)
- John McDonald III, born 1803 (son of John II McDonald)
- McDonald Biographies: citations from county history books
- McDonald Obituaries: from old newspapers
- Annemarie's Dutch family: the Bruinsma, De Vet and De Leeuw families of Friesland, The Netherlands.
email to Annemarie Bruinsma Hanlon / Copyright © 2004 - 2009 / Last updated 27 Feb 2010