McDonald Family of Logan County

The McDonald Family of Logan County, WV

The History of West Virginia, Old and New
and West Virginia Biography
Volume II Biographical, Page 550-551
The American Historical Society, Inc.,
Chicago and New York
Published 1923

MCDONALD FAMILY. Among the pioneer families in the southern part of the state perhaps no one group has shown greater unity in purpose and enterprise than the McDonalds of Logan County. As the name indicates, they are of Scotch ancestry, and they have manifested the Scotch traits of thrift and forehanded judgment in holding on to and developing lands and other interests that came to them by inheritance. Of the present generation two of the prominent members are Bruce McDonald, of Logan, and Millard McDonald, of Mallory, and their father, William Wallace McDonald, is also a prominent figure in the article that follows.

It was before the Revolutionary war that the first members of this family appeared in this region of Virginia. They settled on Tom’s Creek in Montgomery County. The ancestor of the family now under consideration was Edward McDonald, who settled and purchased a large tract on Clear Fork of Guyan in that part of Virginia now Wyoming County, West Virginia. He located there about 1787, purchased part of the Gordon and Cloyd survey on Huff’s Creek, and these lands are still in the possession of the McDonald family. Edward McDonald developed a farm and was extensively engaged in the live stock business in that pioneer epoch. All the McDonalds of the present have been hard workers.

Joseph McDonald, a son of Edward, lived to the age of eighty years. He was the father of William Wallace McDonald, who was born at the old home place in Wyoming County, April 1, 1817. In 1844 he moved to the month of Huff’s Creek, where he first purchased a farm and later acquired 14,000 acres of land, still retained by his descendants and now owned by the W. W. McDonald Land Company, which was incorporated in 1913 to handle this and other property interests. Individual members of the family have added large tracts to this original holding. A large part of these lands were under laid with valuable deposits of coal, and some of the principal coal operations in this part of state are on the McDonald property. These include the Standard Island Creek operations at Taplin, the Logan Mining Company’s operations at Earling, the Mallory Coal Company on and at the mouth of Huff’s Creek, the Logan-Elkhorn Coal Corporation, the Long-Flame Coal Company.

William Wallace McDonald died at his home place on Huff’s Creek, August 15, 1902. He had to teach himself, but was thoroughly well educated and a student and a thinker all his life. As a young man he taught a number of schools in Wyoming County. His brother Isaac had inherited the old homestead, and while William Wallace had some financial assistance from his father, he was, generally speaking, the architect of his own destiny. He went in for high grade live stock, and at one time owned a fine herd of Durham cattle. He was a liberal supporter of the Methodist Church, and his home was always open to the Methodist ministers. He was a democrat, was in sympathy with the South at the time of the Civil war, and at one time was taken prisoner by Northern troops, but soon released.

The first wife of William Wallace McDonald was Minerva Dingess, a sister of John and Guy Dingess. Guy Dingess lived below Logan in Guyan Valley. By the first marriage there were two children. Charles L, died at the old home in 1888, at the age of forty-one. His sister, Mary A., lives with her son, Warren Perry, and is the widow of Oliver Perry, who died in 1895.

The second wife of William Wallace McDonald was Parthena Scaggs. She was born in Montgomery County, and died at the old home in 1873. She was the mother of the following children: Millard, who is mentioned in later paragraphs; Bruce; Bilton, who is unmarried, lives at Logan and is president of the W. W. McDonald Land Company; Wayne, born in 1864, who was a merchant and timber man and died in 1900; Ann Brook, born in 1866, died in California in 1908, and was the wife of C. M. Turley, of Boone County, now deceased; Miriam Alice, born in 1868, is the wife of John Robinson, a farmer of Cambria, Virginia; Marshall, born in 1872, died in 1901.

Bruce McDonald, the second son, was born at the mouth of Huff’s Creek, February 8, 1860. He and his brother Bilton attended the free schools of their neighborhood, and after getting all the education they could there they each taught one term of school. Then, in quest of further education, they walked overland to Athens, Mercer County, where they attended a term of school at Old Concord Church, a school taught by Captain French, and out of which has since been developed the Concord State Normal.

After the close of the term they walked home and taught another term of school at a salary of $18 a month. Following this they left home to attend school again, and this time they traveled by rafts down the Guyan River to its mouth, went by train to Hinton and thence walked to the Concord School. After the second term at Concord the brothers continued teaching for several years. In the fall of 1885 Bruce and Bilton entered the National Normal University at Lebanon, Ohio, and remained there at their studies for about one year. In 1887 Bilton was elected superintendent of schools for Logan County, but on account of ill health was unable to fill out the term and his brother Bruce took his place. Many people in this section of West Virginia recall Bruce McDonald as a capable teacher in various localities. At one time he taught in the Town of Logan. He and Martin Jones were teachers of the two-room school conducted in a frame building that stood on the present site of the splendid high school at Logan. Bruce McDonald’s first official position was as a member of the school board in the Triadelphia District.

Later, in 1904, he was elected a member of the Legislature, and served until 1908, and was a member of the committees on mines and mining and education. He was a commissioner of the County Court from 1912 to 1919, and the last six years president of the court. For six years he was associated in partnership with his brother Millard in the mercantile business at the mouth of Huff’s Creek. They dealt in a large range of commodities, including ginseng and timber, which they rafted down the river to market. On leaving Huffs Creek Bruce McDonald moved to Taplin, where he lived and continued in business for fifteen years. He brought his goods up the Guyan River on a push boat, and at the same time sent large quantities of timber down the stream by rafts.

Bruce McDonald became a resident of the City of Logan in 1912. He and the other heirs in 1913 incorporated the 14,000- acre estate of their father as the W. W. McDonald Land Company, Incorporated, of which Bilton is president, Bruce, vice president, and S. E. McDonald, a son of Millard, secretary and treasurer. Bruce McDonald is one of the organizers and is vice president of the Guyan Valley Bank, and is a member of the board of directors of the First National Bank. He is a steward and trustee of the First Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and has helped to build several churches. Fraternally he is affiliated with the Masonic Lodge and Chapter, West Virginia Consistory No. 1 of the Scottish Rite at Wheeling, and Beni-Kedem Temple of the Mystic Shrine at Charleston. He also belongs to the Elks and is a democrat. Mr. McDonald is unmarried.

Millard McDonald, the oldest son of his father’s second marriage, acquired his education in the home schools and as a young man he married Vicia Buchanan, daughter of John Buchanan. She was born near Matewan on Big Sandy. They have four living children: S. Elmer, who is secretary of the W. W. McDonald Land Company, is a director of the First National Bank of Logan and president of the Merchants and Miners Bank; Lillie May, wife of H. H. Oakley, who is associated with the Guyan Supply Company of Logan; Nora, wife of W . D. Phipps, of the Logan Mercantile Company; and Mabel, wife of Dr. C. B. Morris, a dentist of Stollings in Logan County.

Millard McDonald and wife are Methodists, and he is a member of the board of stewards in his home church and, like his father and brother, has assisted actively in church building. Millard McDonald was born in 1858. For four years he was a merchant on Huff’s Creek and for many years has continued his operations as a stock dealer.

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