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Elizabeth Graham Macdonald Webb Brown's Father
Orson Pratt Brown's Father-in-law

section header - chronology

Alexander Findlay Macdonald 1825-1903


Born: September 15, 1825 at Hamlet of Camas-Luinie, Glenelchaig, Kintail Parish, Scotland
March 21, 1903 at Nuevo Casas Grandes, Chihuahua, Mexico

Compiled by Lucy Brown Archer


1857 May 20

The 51st quorum of Seventy was organized at Springville, Utah Co. Utah with Alexander F. Macdonald, Noah T. Guyman, Lorenzo Johnson, Spicer W. Crandall, Abraham Day, and Hamilton H. Kerns as presidents.

1879 May 24


The steamship Wyoming sailed from Liverpool England with 170 Saints in the charge of Alexander F. Macdonald.  The company arrived at New York June 3rd, and at Salt Lake City June 11th.

1882 Dec 10


The Mormons who had located on Salt River, Maricopa, Arizona were organized as the Maricopa Stake of Zion by Apostles Erastus Snow and Moses Thatcher, with Alexander F. Macdonald as president and Henry C. Rogers and Charles I. Robson as his counselors.

1885 Jan 8


Alexander F. Macdonald, Christopher Layton, and John W. Campbell, arrived at Corralitos, Chihuahua, Mexico to rent or buy land on which to locate such families of Mormons as were electing to remain polygamists or wanted a new start in a new colony outside of the U.S.

1885 Jan 20


Alexander F. Macdonald and companions, Christopher Layton and John W. Campbell, returned to Corralitos, Chihuahua, Mexico from an exploring tour to some of the valleys lying on the east slope of the Sierra Madre Mountains and found several families of polygamy exiles who had arrived from the United States. Their plan was to rent or buy land on which to locate such families of Mormons as were electing to remain polygamists or wanted a new start in a new colony outside of the United States.

1885 Dec

Some of the Saints who had been encamped on the Casas Grandes River, Chihuahua, Mexico, located on the Peadres Verdes River near the present site of Colonia Juarez where lands had been purchased by the Church for settlement.

1898 Feb 23


Alexander F. Macdonald's wife, Agnes, was murdered by Mexicans at Colonia Garcia.

1903 March 21

Died of Bright's disease in Nuevo Casas Grandes, Chihuahua, Mexico in the Eldredge home


 three flags - Scotland, United States, Mexico

Aexander Findlay Macdonald - Man of Three Nations
by Taylor Macdonald

(This short sketch is a preview of a full-length biography currently being written.)

Alexander Findlay Macdonald lived nearly 78 years in three countries, approximately one-third of his life span respectively in Scotland, the United States, and Mexico. He was one of thousands of Scots who left their homeland in the 1800s to settle far-flung lands around the globe. However, he was different from most of his countrymen in that religion, not economics, was the motive for his emigration.

Scottish Highland Heritage

He was born on September 15, 1825 in the Scottish hamlet of Camas-Luinie (spelled Camusluinie in older records and pronounced "commus-lynee") located in one of the remotest spots of the Highlands. Camas-Luinie lies in the northern district of Glenelchaig in the parish of Kintail in the western portion of Ross-shire, near the west coast of Scotland where the Isle of Skye comes within a mile of the mainland.

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.

His people were poor, and although he descended from some distinguished lines, both locally and nationally, his immediate ancestors and family members were farmers, tailors, and illegal whisky distillers. His father was Duncan Macdonald, born in the Kintail hamlet of Carr, located on a hillside overlooking the ancient and storied Eilean Donan Castle, one of the most photographed castles in Scotland. About 1820, an epidemic in Carr caused most of its inhabitants to evacuate the village, and Duncan went with his older brother Farquhar over the mountain to Camas-Luinie, a village of Macraes, where they both married Macrae brides. Duncan married Margaret Macrae sometime in the early 1820s, and their first child Alexander Findlay Macdonald was born there, followed two years later by a daughter Isabella.

Move to Perth

Duncan and Margaret were desperately poor, and their ancestral Highland home offered no hope of improvement. So in 1829, the couple with their two small children moved to the Scottish city of Perth, about 35 miles north of the capital of Edinburgh. 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 two miles outside of Perth. 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.

The Macdonald family later moved to the center of Perth living in a narrow alley named Cutlog Vennel where Alexander and Isabella grew up. Duncan and Margaret apparently had ambitions for their dark-haired, dark-eyed son, and saw that he received a good education at King James VI Hospital School. The city dwellers of lowland Scotland looked down on the Highlanders flocking to the cities, and considered them uncivilized bumpkins. Alexander grew very tall and strong, and he and his father spent many hours punching and tussling so Alexander could learn to defend himself against those who thought themselves his betters.

After finishing his schooling, Alexander received training as a ship's carpenter and worked in the ship building industry in Perth. Though not as large as the Glasgow shipyards, Perth's location on the River Tay with easy access to the North Sea created a thriving ship industry. Alexander sailed on the maiden voyages of new vessels, making repairs and adjustments as needed. Some time in this era, he attended the University of Edinburgh, although he did not receive a degree. This was a remarkable achievement for someone from his lowly station in the class structure of British society. Alexander's education would serve him well throughout his life.

Life Changing Decision

The defining experience of Alexander F. Macdonald's life was his meeting missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormons. In November of 1846, Alexander and his ship mate David Ireland were paying court to two sisters, daughters of John and Christina Graham of Perth, and John Graham had invited the missionaries to his home on one of the evenings Alexander was visiting. Although not known to be a religious seeker before this time, Alexander was struck by the missionary's message of a modern prophet in America who had visions and translated scriptures from golden plates engraved by ancient prophets in pre-Columbian America and buried for centuries.

He wrote later that he was immediately convinced of the truth of the missionary's words, and sought to join the church through baptism. Although 21 and legally an adult, Alexander's father Duncan fiercely opposed his son's desires, and the missionaries advised him to wait. Always impatient and man of action, Alexander waited as long as he could and finally insisted on baptism in the River Tay on January 2, 1847. The missionaries asked him how his father would respond, and Alexander replied he would surely receive a beating. Alarmed, the missionaries cautioned him to not to strike his father no matter what happened.

A somber Alexander trudged through the streets of Perth, soaking wet from his baptism, entered the family home, and announced what he had done. His outraged father began raining blows on him, and since his six-foot-four-inch son did not return his punches, Duncan thought he was going too light. So he increased the strength and intensity of his blows, and still Alexander stood impassive, his arms hanging to his sides. Duncan finally stopped only because he was too exhausted to continue, and muttered angrily, "I hope that's enough."

It was indeed enough, for although Alexander had not struck his father, his anger had mounted mightily during the barrage. He left the house that night and immediately left on a voyage to the Maritime provinces of Canada where he sought out Mormons in Newcastle, New Brunswick. By the time he returned, tempers of both father and son had cooled, and Alexander became active in the local branch of the LDS Church in Perth. To his delight, Elizabeth Graham, the young woman he had been courting and in whose home he had met the missionaries, had also joined the LDS Church, although her father had expelled her from their home and she had gone to Edinburgh to live with a Mormon family [the Gibsons].

Alexander's First Mission

In 1850, Alexander was called on a full-time mission and set out on a preaching tour through the cities of eastern Scotland. During one of his visits to Perth, he and Elizabeth Graham (by then back in her family's home) became engaged, and a while later they were married. (Elizabeth's compelling personal story is told elsewhere on this web site.) During this period, Duncan Macdonald, and Alexander's sister Isabella joined the Church, as did most of Elizabeth Graham's family.

Alexander and Elizabeth went to live in Liverpool, England, the headquarters of the British Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, where Alexander's abilities were recognized and his missionary duties increased.

Immigration to America and Utah

In early 1854, Alexander, age 28, and Elizabeth Macdonald left Liverpool in a company of several hundred other European Mormons and sailed to the United States, arriving at the port of New Orleans and took a river steamboat up the Mississippi River to a staging area in Kansas. There they joined a wagon train and arrived in Salt Lake City on October 1, 1854. Alexander's father Duncan Macdonald accompanied them as did Elizabeth's mother and sister. (Margaret Macrae Macdonald had died in Glasgow in 1853, and John Graham had died earlier in Perth. Margaret Macdonald never joined the LDS Church.)

They rented rooms to live in, and Alexander immediately joined the religious and intellectual life of the city. He had already met many of the leaders and members of the Church in Scotland and England and was by no means a stranger. Along with others, he helped organize the Universal Scientific Society with the goal of holding educational, intellectual, and fine arts events.

During the first several years of their marriage, Elizabeth had suffered repeated miscarriages, and in England she had begun to despair of ever having children. However, she received a Priesthood blessing in Liverpool promising her children. In February of 1855, four months after their arrival in America, Elizabeth gave birth to a son, Alexander Findlay Macdonald, Jr. He was the first of eleven sons Elizabeth would eventually bear.

Springville, Utah

Soon after arriving in Utah, Alexander obtained employment in Springville, Utah, about 60 miles south of Salt Lake City. After the baby's birth, the family moved there, and the family made their home there for six or seven years. Alexander's abilities propelled him to positions of prominence, and he was elected mayor of the town and chosen a Counselor to Bishop Aaron Johnson.

The family built a home, Duncan married the widow Ann Leslie Thompson, also a Scottish immigrant, and the family appeared to settle into a peaceful pioneer existence. Alexander started a Springville branch of the Universal Scientific Society and gave lectures on history, current events, and the Indians. He also produced and acted in plays.

Clash with a Federal Army

However, this quiet life did not continue. Rumors had circulated in the East that the Mormons were a subversive lot, dominated by a sinister cabal of leaders headed by Brigham Young. An army was dispatched to Utah to put down the alleged Mormon rebellion, and Utah was thrown into turmoil. By 1858, Johnston's Army had arrived and established Camp Floyd west of Utah Lake. In 1859, a federal judge opened court in the county seat at Provo, and Alexander Macdonald was called in to serve on a grand jury. However, that was just a ruse to deceive him, and as soon as he arrived at the court he was arrested along with a few other men. All those involved knew there was nothing to charge him with, and that the authorities merely wanted to intimidate him into implicating Brigham Young, their real goal, in several crimes. However, the federal authorities picked the wrong man in A. F. Macdonald. Although they kept him under armed guards 24 hours a day, most of the time with a cocked pistol held against his temple, Alexander resisted their efforts to lie or betray his leader. He knew that Brigham Young was not guilty of any crime other than espousing and leading an unusual and unpopular religion. Still they kept A. F. Macdonald imprisoned, and finally after a month, fearing the incensed citizenry of Utah Valley would rescue Macdonald by force, the authorities decided to transfer him to Camp Floyd. They tied him straddled to a cannon and hauled him for several days to the army headquarters. Army diarist Albert Tracy records:

Of our convoy of prisoners, one McDonald, stood not less than six feet three, and towered above the guard like a giant. . . . He strode with an air of martyr-like defiance, and seemed to be high in favor with the lookers on. The remaining prisoners were downcast, or, perhaps, dogged of manner, and seemed less confident.

Clearly, Alexander was not threatened although he was treated cruelly by his 7th Regiment captors. Thomas Ackley, another military officer recorded in his journal how Alexander Macdonald, sleeping in the guard house hall, exhausted after the long march from Provo, was nearly murdered by an imprisoned soldier. Walking into the room with his ball and chain, "One of these fellows let his iron ball drop, . . . intending for it to strike the Mormon in the head, and would have killed him had it not been that he threw up his arm to save himself, but broke his arm." (The diarist later identifies the injured man as Alexander Macdonald who was denied medical treatment for his broken arm.)

Ackley later expressed amusement at observing Macdonald and other prisoners working ". . . with large sacks of sand tied to them, others with large logs of wood strapped to their backs for punishment. . . . ."

Later Alexander was confined to small adobe room, barely large enough for him to stand, and with only a small pile of straw as bathroom facilities. A frantic Elizabeth tried to visit him and bring him bedding and food, but she was turned away. One of the officers had Macdonald brought to his quarters at night to secretly teach him the doctrines of Mormonism. Alexander later told his wife that the young captain believed the teachings but feared that joining the church would jeopardize his military career. Eventually the Army was embarrassed into releasing A.F. Macdonald (they had no charges against him, and it was unlawful for the military to hold civilian prisoners), and he returned to his wife and sons in Springville.

The Macdonalds and Polygamy

It was in Springville that Alexander and Elizabeth Macdonald entered the practice of plural marriage, when in 1856 Alexander married Sarah Johnson, a beautiful and refined Englishwoman. Later her relatives forcibly took her away to Nevada and forced her into a relationship there. She died young after giving birth to two children who also died.

Move to Provo, Utah

Church leaders had taken notice of the young Scottish convert, and Brigham Young called Alexander to move to Provo in the early 1860s to manage the Church's tithing office there. (This set the pattern for the remainder of Alexander's life in which calls from his leaders directed all his activities.) Paid largely in kind, the Latter-day Saints' tithing came in the form of potatoes, grain, butter, milk, eggs, hay, cattle, horses, and other goods. Storing, preserving, and distributing these goods was no small task and Alexander proved himself an able manager. The Saints of Provo had been working on building a tabernacle for over a decade, but the project languished and an impatient Brigham assigned Alexander Macdonald to take charge of completing the building which was soon finished and dedicated. Alexander spoke often in the new meetinghouse. He was also elected a city alderman.

In 1864 Alexander married two more wives, both Scottish-Agnes Aird and Elizabeth Atkinson (always called "Lizzie" in the family)-and in 1870 he married for the last time to Fannie Van Cott, daughter of LDS general authority John Van Cott and cousin of Apostles Parley P. Pratt and Orson Pratt. Alexander's first daughter, his ninth child, was born to Elizabeth Atkinson in 1865. She was named Margaret after her two grandmothers, and was called Maggie all her life.

Provo Raid on the Macdonald Home

In 1870, U.S. soldiers stationed west of Provo, raided the Macdonald home and vandalized it because he would not sell them alcohol he carried in his store on Center Street. Alexander stocked the liquor for medical treatment, and knew the soldiers were buying it for recreational purposes. The soldiers found liquor elsewhere and, drunk, decided to take revenge on Macdonald, who was absent from the home. They terrorized his wives and children and sacked the entire lower floor, breaking out all doors and windows and scattering bedding, dishes, and furniture in the street. Called the "Provo Raid" by the local newspapers, the event enraged the citizens and embarrassed the military authorities. Alexander accepted their apologies and reparations.

Macdonald Burial Plot in Provo Cemetery

Four of Elizabeth Graham Macdonald's younger sons died in Provo and were buried in the Provo Cemetery where Alexander placed a large obelisk to mark their graves. Elizabeth's eleventh and youngest son died in Nephi, Utah, while the family was traveling to St. George, and he was also buried in the family plot in Provo. Agnes Aird Macdonald and Elizabeth Atkinson Macdonald both gave birth to daughters who died as infants in Provo. By 1872, Alexander Macdonald had fathered 18 children. By the time the family was finally settled in St. George in 1872, eleven healthy children filled the Macdonald households. (In addition to the five sons of Elizabeth Graham, Elizabeth herself is buried in the family plot at Provo, along with the two infant daughters of Agnes Aird and Elizabeth Atkinson.

Call to St. George

In the early 1870s, Brigham Young called Alexander Macdonald to take charge of the tithing office in St. George in far southwest Utah. Construction had just begun on a large temple there, and most of the Church's tithes were flowing there to support the huge building effort. Alexander moved his large family to St. George in stages, and bought homes and property in Middleton, Utah, next to St. George.

In Utah's Dixie, Alexander Macdonald's was called to the stake presidency and was elected mayor of the city. He, his wives, and his older sons worked vigorously to build the temple and to improve their own personal situations, and Alexander was involved in many civic and commercial projects. However, Alexander retained his property in Provo and told Brigham Young he wished to return there to live when the temple was completed. Brigham agreed.

The Macdonald family prospered in St. George, and his older sons grew to young manhood. His aged father Duncan who had loved his son and followed him to America, died in St. George on September 12, 1876. His widow Ann Leslie Thompson Macdonald moved back to Springville to her children. In St. George six more children were born, four of whom died there as infants or toddlers. (The author's grandfather, Byron Van Cott Macdonald, was born September 14, 1877, three months after Alexander F. Macdonald left for his mission in Scotland.)

Alexander probably anticipated the completion of the St. George in early 1877 so he could move back to Provo. But Brigham Young had other plans in mind, and during the dedication services of Temple, the Church president announced from the pulpit that A.F. Macdonald and two of his sons were called to Scotland on a mission. The family took the news in stride, and the wives set about to support themselves and the missionaries. All were enured to hard work, and no end to it was in sight.

Alexander did not forget the purpose of the temple, however, and performed some of the first ordinances there, including some of first vicarious endowments for the dead in this dispensation.

Mission to Scotland

In 1877, A. F. Macdonald left with his sons Alec (Alexander F., Jr.) and Aaron for Scotland, traveling eastward by train, an improvement over the ox-drawn wagon Alexander had driven 23 years earlier.

In Scotland, Alexander was made president of the Glasgow Conference,, and he attacked his work vigorously as he did every task. In later years, Andrew Duthie, a Scottish convert of that era who had settled with the Macdonalds in the Mexican colonies, commented that when Alexander and his two stalwart sons arrived, the Scottish saints were somewhat awe-struck by the towering threesome. "They looked like the gods!" he told Colonia Juarez resident W. Ernest Young.

Alec (A.F. McDonald, Jr.) 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 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.

Bound for Arizona

Alec McDonald (A.F.'s eldest son preferred this spelling of his surname) returned from the mission after a year, and Alexander and Aaron returned the summer of 1879. They planned their return to Provo when they got back to Utah. However, Brigham Young had died while they were away, and senior Apostle John Taylor now led the Church. Not long after Alexander reported his mission to President Taylor, he was surprised to learn that he, Alexander, was called to go to Arizona to assume leadership of the settlement there known as the Salt River Mission, present day Mesa, a few miles east of Phoenix.

Ever obedient, Alexander took his families and began the move to Arizona. They arrived in December 1879 to find to colony with an array of problems among themselves and with the local Indians. Within hours of arriving in Mesa, several Indian chiefs visited the new Mormon leader with complaints which Alexander later learned had merit.

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 their building. He built many buildings-houses, schools, churches, stores, barns-and, when the city was incorporated he was elected mayor. In addition, when a formal stake was organized, he was appointed stake president.

Only one child was born in Mesa, Lucy Lavinia, to his wife Fannie Van Cott. Tragedy struck again however, when in 1883 an epidemic of small pox swept through the Mormon settlement and killed Alexander and Fannie's son John V. Macdonald, age 11. The next summer, 24-year-old Aaron J. Macdonald, perhaps one of A.F.'s most promising children, died also, leaving a young widow and infant son. Alexander and his wives pressed on in their duties.

Mexico-The Final Phase

Almost as soon as A.F. Macdonald arrived in Arizona, he was instructed by the Church leaders to begin explorations for Mormon colony sites in northern Mexico. Brigham Young had always looked to the far north (Canada) and the far south (Mexico) as logical and natural extensions of Mormon settlement. Alexander traveled often to Sonora and Chihuahua, the bordering Mexican states with exploring expeditions.

It was not until 1884 that settlement in Mexico became urgent, however. The United States government had become progressively more determined to eradicate Mormon polygamy, and the federal marshals in Arizona were particularly diligent. A.F. Macdonald and other LDS leaders spent much of their time in federal custody or hiding to avoid arrest. They felt their marriage practices were their religious prerogatives and deemed federal opposition to be religious persecution. God had commanded them to practice plural marriage, and they felt it their duty to oppose the government. Church efforts to maintain the legality of plural marriage had preoccupied the leaders during the preceding decades.

In January 1885, A.F. Macdonald left Mesa, by Church assignment, to find a place in Mexico to settle the hundreds of Mormons refugees fleeing the polygamy prosecutions. He and others found tracts of land, and over the next several years, nine towns were founded in Chihuahua and Sonora. Alexander settled in Colonia Juarez at first, and in the early 1890s, he also built a home in Colonia Garcia, some 35 miles away up in the Sierra Madre Mountains.

The colonization had two organizations, ecclesiastical and economic. The church organization, officially the Mexican Mission, was headed by Elder George Teasdale, one of the Twelve Apostles, with Alexander F. Macdonald as First Counselor, and Henry Eyring as Second Counselor. The economic organization was called the Mexican Colonization and Agricultural Company, headed by John Henry Smith, one of the Apostles in Utah. A.F. Macdonald was named General Manager, and was the director of land matters in Mexico.

His responsibilities required that he travel often to Utah and Mexico City, and other places. 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. Of course, 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. In fact, she had A.F.'s last child, Flora Hermosa, in Mexico in 1888.

Stilling longing to live in Provo, Utah, Alexander felt he had sacrificed all his personal desires to answer the call of those he believed to be true prophets and apostles of Jesus Christ. He was not merely colonizing the West, a grand enough concept in itself, rather he was building the very Kingdom of God on the earth as he felt The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to be.

He was deeply wounded, therefore, to learn that some of his fellow colonists in Mexico had sent a letter to Church leaders in Salt Lake City complaining of his work in Mexico regarding land distribution and other issues. They went so far as to request his removal from office. Three apostles (Brigham Young, Jr., John Henry Smith, and Francis M. Lyman) were sent over a two-year period to investigate the matter, and all three reported that Macdonald had made difficult decisions, but, in their estimation, he had made the right decisions. Macdonald was vindicated. But he was also offended, and partly because of that and partly because Colonia Garcia needed settlers, he moved there. It was a remote settlement up in a mountain valley 35 miles by rough road from Colonia Juarez, and he built a log cabin to live in. He was still living in that cabin when he died in 1903. 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, comfortable homes, farms, orchards, stores, and other holdings where he could have lived 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.

He continued through the last decade of the nineteenth century to buy new tracts of lands for future Mormon settlements. He traveled often to Utah and Arizona on Church business. He attended the dedication of the great Salt Lake temple in April 1893, and was part of a sacred prayer circle with the Church's First Presidency, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and other general authorities and invited leaders. He engaged in a prodigious amount of temple work for his ancestors and relatives, and is considered one of the great early genealogists of the Church when little or no Church assistance was available in gathering names and conducting genealogical research.

Murder of Agnes Aird Macdonald

On February 23, 1898, while Alexander was away on a conference trip, a trusted employee burglarized his home in Colonia Garcia and murdered his wife Agnes Aird, age 59. He was shocked and returned immediately. Agnes's son James was living in Garcia, and her other two sons, Wallace and George, came from Arizona to hunt down her killer. They were warned by an Apostle to give up their search or they would lose their lives. Much folklore arose over the death of Agnes Macdonald, but the facts have been carefully researched and are now largely known. The final fate of her murderer, Teófilo Parra, are, however, still unclear. With Agnes's deaths, Elizabeth "Lizzie" Atkinson Macdonald left her home near Mesa, Arizona, and went to Garcia to be with her husband. She also cared for the four children of her daughter Elizabeth ("Bessie") when Bessie died in 1903.

In 1895, LDS Church authorities organized the Mexican Mission into the Juarez Stake. Anthony W. Ivins, an able man from St. George, was called to be president, with Henry Eyring and Helaman Pratt as counselors. Alexander F. Macdonald, then over 70 years of age, was ordained a Patriarch and also called as president of the High Priests Quorum, fitting duties indeed for a proven and seasoned veteran. He continued on the board of directors of the Mexican Colonization and Agricultural Company, and made frequent trips to Utah for meetings and temple work. He also traveled about the colonies in Mexico giving patriarchal blessings.

Lizzie continued to live in Colonia Garcia while Fannie maintained a home in Colonia Juarez. Through the 1890s, Alexander's health began to decline. He suffered from Bright's Disease, a term that now covers dozens of kidney and urinary tract illnesses. In the late winter and early spring of 1903, his condition worsened, and he went to El Paso, Texas, seeking medical help. The doctors told him there was nothing they could do, that they could only put him in the hospital to await death. He decided he would go home to die, and got on the train with Lizzie. By the time they got to the station in Nuevo Casas Grandes, the main train station used by the Mormon colonists, Alexander was nearly comatose. Lizzie helped him off the train and kind strangers helped get him to the home of the Elldredge family, Americans living in the area. They put him to bed, and after recovering partial consciousness for a few moments, the venerable old Scotsman died. It was March 21, 1903.

Lizzie immediately contacted Church authorities in Colonia Dublan, the Mormon town only two miles away. They came and took the remains to Dublan where they dressed him appropriately and held the funeral. He was buried in the Dublan Cemetery, although he never lived there. He had expressed his desire to be taken to Provo for burial, so the Young brothers who dug his grave, bricked the sides so the casket could be retrieved later. His body was never taken to Provo and remains to this day in Dublan Cemetery.

Elizabeth Graham lived for another fourteen years and died in St. George on July 11, 1917. She was buried in the family plot in Provo. Six of her eleven sons grew to adulthood, however all but one died before she did.

Elizabeth "Lizzie" Atkinson stayed in the log cabin home in Colonia Garcia with her four grandchildren until the Exodus of 1912 when she went to Lehi, Arizona, where she died ten years later on February 4, 1922. She was buried in Mesa City Cemetery. She had four daughters, two of whom died as infants, and one who died as a young mother of four.

Fannie Van Cott stayed in her home in Colonia Juarez where she raised her three surviving children of the five she bore. In her later years she moved in with her daughter Lucy Macdonald Bluth in Colonia Dublan, where she died on December 21, 1930, and was buried near her husband in the Dublan Cemetery.

Alexander F. Macdonald was the father of 26 children, 14 of whom grew to adulthood. Two of the 14 (Heber and George) had children but no grandchildren, so their lines have died out. The posterity of the twelve other children is estimated to number around 3,500 people today.

The Buried Trunk

Alexander kept his papers, letters, records and diaries in a large trunk which he carried from place to place as he moved around. It was in his home in Colonia Garcia when he died in 1903. His wife Lizzie took care of it until 1912, the time of the great Exodus of all nine Mormon towns in Mexico. Thinking she would only be gone a few days, Lizzie had the trunk buried near the Colonia Garcia home. However, she never returned and the trunk remains buried in an unknown place in Colonia Garcia to this day.

Alexander F. Macdonald's Wives and Children

A.F. Macdonald married five women, and had children with four of them:

Elizabeth Graham married 20 May 1851 in Scotland (11 sons)

Sarah Johnson married 20 Jan 1856 in Springville, Utah (no children)

Agnes Aird married 20 Oct 1864 in Salt Lake City (6 children)

Elizabeth 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 marriage to Sarah Johnson was short and she had no children with Alexander. Members of her family took her forcibly to Nevada where she married another man. She had two daughters in Nevada, and she and the children died soon after. Very little is known about her except that she was tall, blonde, beautiful, and was born in 1839 in Liverpool, England.

Twenty-six children were born to the other wives. Of these 26 children, twelve died before reaching adulthood. The 14 who grew to maturity all married and had children, however, two of them --Heber C. and George A.--had children but no grandchildren, so their lines ended.

The following charts give a summary of the children of A.F. Macdonald and his wives.

Children of Elizabeth Graham Macdonald

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

Children of Agnes Aird Macdonald

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

Children of Elizabeth Atkinson Macdonald

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

Children of Fannie Van Cott Macdonald

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


PAF - Archer files = Orson Pratt Brown + (3) Elizabeth Graham Macdonald Webb < Alexander Findlay Macdonald + Elizabeth Atkinson.



A short sketch preview of a full-length biography currently being written by Taylor Macdonald. Contact Taylor Macdonald by e-mail at taylormacdonald2002@yahoo.com

See also: "Personal Recollections of A.F. Macdonald" by Nelle Spilsbury Hatch (written at the request of his granddaughter, Marguerite B. Shill. Pages 1-5.

Copright 2001 www.OrsonPrattBrown.org



To SEARCH THIS SITE: Use the Google.com search engine
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... Easter 1986 through October 2005


... Published December 2007:
By Erold C. Wiscombe

... Published March 2009:
(unfortunately the publisher incorrectly changed the photo
and spelling of Phebe Abbott Brown Fife's name
after it was proofed by this author)
Researched and Compiled by
Erold C. Wiscombe

... Published 2012:
"Finding Refuge in El Paso"
By Fred E. Woods [ISBN: 978-1-4621-1153-4]
Includes O.P Brown's activities as Special Church Agent in El Paso
and the Juarez Stake Relief Committee Minutes of 1912.

...Published 2012:
"Colonia Morelos: Un ejemplo de ética mormona
junto al río Bavispe (1900-1912)"
By Irene Ríos Figueroa [ISBN: 978-607-7775-27-0]
Includes O.P. Brown's works as Bishop of Morelos. Written in Spanish.

...Published 2014:
"The Diaries of Anthony W. Ivins 1875 - 1932"
By Elizabeth Oberdick Anderson [ISBN: 978-156085-226-1]
Mentions O.P. Brown more than 30 times as Ivins' companion.

... To be Published Soon:

Send Comments and Information to: 




... Lily Gonzalez Brown 80th Birthday Party-Reunion
July 14, 2007 in American Fork, Utah

...Gustavo Brown Family Reunion in October 2007

Send Additions and Information to:


...... Wives and 35 Children Photo Chart
...... Chronology
...... Photo Gallery of OPB
...... Letters


...... Biographical Sketch of the Life Orson Pratt Brown
...... History of Orson Pratt Brown by Orson P. Brown
...... Journal & Reminiscences of Capt. Orson P. Brown
...... Memories of Orson P. Brown by C. Weiler Brown
...... Orson Pratt Brown by "Hattie" Critchlow Jensen
...... Orson Pratt Brown by Nelle Spilsbury Hatch
...... Orson Pratt Brown by W. Ayrd Macdonald

- Captain James Brown 1801-1863

...... Wives and 29 / 43 Children Photo Chart
...... Captain James Brown's Letters & Journal
...... Brown Family Memorabilia
...... Mormon Battalion 1846-1847
...... Brown's Fort ~ then Brownsville, Utah
...... Chronology of Captain James Brown

- Phebe Abbott Brown Fife 1831-1915

- Colonel William Nicol Fife - Stepfather 1831-1915


- James Brown of Rowan County, N.C. 1757-1823

- Mary Williams of Rowan County, N.C. 1760-1832

- Stephen Joseph Abbott of, PA 1804-1843

- Abigail Smith of Williamson, N.Y. 1806-1889

- John Fife of Tulliallan, Scotland 1807-1874

- Mary Meek Nicol, Carseridge, Scotland 1809-1850 


- Martha "Mattie" Diana Romney Brown 1870-1943

- Jane "Jennie" Bodily Galbraith Brown 1879-1944

- Elizabeth Graham MacDonald Webb Brown 1874-1904

- Eliza Skousen Brown Abbott Burk 1882-1958

- Angela Maria Gavaldón Brown 1919-1967


- (Martha) Carrie Brown (child) 1888-1890

- (Martha) Orson Pratt Brown, Jr. (child) 1890-1892

- (Martha) Ray Romney Brown 1892-1945

- (Martha) Clyde Romney Brown 1893-1948

- (Martha) Miles Romney Brown 1897-1974

- (Martha) Dewey B. Brown 1898-1954

- (Martha) Vera Brown Foster Liddell Ray 1901-1975

- (Martha) Anthony Morelos Brown 1904-1970

- (Martha) Phoebe Brown Chido Gardiner 1906-1973

- (Martha) Orson Juarez Brown 1908-1981

- (Jane) Ronald Galbraith Brown 1898-1969

- (Jane) Grant "Duke" Galbraith Brown 1899-1992

- (Jane) Martha Elizabeth Brown Leach Moore 1901-1972

- (Jane) Pratt Orson Galbraith Brown 1905-1960

- (Jane) William Galbraith Brown (child) 1905-1912

- (Jane) Thomas Patrick Porfirio Diaz Brown 1907-1978

- (Jane) Emma Jean Galbraith Brown Hamilton 1909-1980

- (Elizabeth) (New born female) Webb 1893-1893

- (Elizabeth) Elizabeth Webb Brown Jones 1895-1982

- (Elizabeth) Marguerite Webb Brown Shill 1897-1991

- (Elizabeth) Donald MacDonald Brown 1902-1971

- (Elizabeth) James Duncan Brown 1904-1943

- (Eliza) Gwen Skousen Brown Erickson Klein 1903-1991

- (Eliza) Anna Skousen Brown Petrie Encke 1905-2001

- (Eliza) Otis Pratt Skousen Brown 1907-1987

- (Eliza) Orson Erastus Skousen Brown (infant) 1909-1910

- (Eliza) Francisco Madera Skousen Brown 1911-1912

- (Eliza) Elizabeth Skousen Brown Howell 1914-1999

- (Angela) Silvestre Gustavo Brown 1919-

- (Angela) Bertha Erma Elizabeth Brown 1922-1979

- (Angela) Pauly Gabaldón Brown 1924-1998

- (Angela) Aaron Aron Saul Brown 1925

- (Angela) Mary Angela Brown Hayden Green 1927

- (Angela) Heber Jedediah Brown (infant) 1936-1936

- (Angela) Martha Gabaldón Brown Gardner 1940


- Stephen Abbott Brown 1851-1853

- Phoebe Adelaide Brown Snyder 1855-1930

- Cynthia Abigail Fife Layton 1867-1943

- (New born female) Fife 1870-1870

- (Toddler female) Fife 1871-1872


- (Martha Stephens) John Martin Brown 1824-1888

(Martha Stephens) Alexander Brown 1826-1910

(Martha Stephens) Jesse Stowell Brown 1828-1905

- (Martha Stephens) Nancy Brown Davis Sanford 1830-1895

(Martha Stephens) Daniel Brown 1832-1864

(Martha Stephens) James Moorhead Brown 1834-1924

(Martha Stephens) William Brown 1836-1904

(Martha Stephens) Benjamin Franklin Brown 1838-1863

(Martha Stephens) Moroni Brown 1838-1916

- (Susan Foutz) Alma Foutz Brown (infant) 1842-1842

- (Esther Jones) August Brown (infant) 1843-1843

- (Esther Jones) Augusta Brown (infant) 1843-1843

- (Esther Jones) Amasa Lyman Brown (infant) 1845-1845

- (Esther Jones) Alice D. Brown Leech 1846-1865

- (Esther Jones) Esther Ellen Brown Dee 1849-1893

- (Sarah Steadwell) James Harvey Brown 1846-1912

- (Mary McRee) George David Black 1841-1913

- (Mary McRee) Mary Eliza Brown Critchlow1847-1903

- (Mary McRee) Margaret Brown 1849-1855

- (Mary McRee) Mary Brown Edwards Leonard 1852-1930

- (Mary McRee) Joseph Smith Brown 1856-1903

- (Mary McRee) Josephine Vilate Brown Newman 1858-1917

- (Phebe Abbott) Stephen Abbott Brown (child) 1851-1853

- (Phebe Abbott) Phoebe Adelaide Brown 1855-1930

- (Cecelia Cornu) Charles David Brown 1856-1926

- (Cecelia Cornu) James Fredrick Brown 1859-1923

- (Lavinia Mitchell) Sarah Brown c. 1857-

- (Lavinia Mitchell) Augustus Hezekiah Brown c. 1859


- (Diane Davis) Sarah Jane Fife White 1855-1932

- (Diane Davis) William Wilson Fife 1857-1897

- (Diane Davis) Diana Fife Farr 1859-1904

- (Diane Davis) John Daniel Fife 1863-1944

- (Diane Davis) Walter Thompson Fife 1866-1827

- (Diane Davis) Agnes Ann "Aggie" Fife 1869-1891

- (Diane Davis ) Emma Fife (child) 1871-1874

- (Diane Davis) Robert Nicol Fife (infant) 1873-1874

- (Diane Davis) Barnard Fife (infant) 1881-1881

- (Cynthia Abbott) Mary Lucina Fife Hutchins 1868-1950

- (Cynthia Abbott) Child Fife (infant) 1869-1869

- (Cynthia Abbott) David Nicol Fife 1871-1924

- (Cynthia Abbott) Joseph Stephen Fife (child) 1873-1878

- (Cynthia Abbott) James Abbott Fife (infant) 1877-1878


- (Diana) Caroline Lambourne 18461979

- (Diana)  Miles Park Romney 1843-1904

- (Jane) Emma Sarah Bodily 1858-1935

- (Jane) William Wilkie Galbraith 1838-1898

- (Elizabeth) Alexander F. Macdonald 1825-1903

- (Elizabeth) Elizabeth Atkinson 1841-1922

- (Eliza) Anne Kirstine Hansen 1845-1916

- (Eliza) James Niels Skousen 1828-1912

- (Angela) Maria Durán de Holguin 1876-1955

- (Angela) José Tomás Gabaldón 1874-1915












Contact Us:
Orson Pratt Brown Family Organization
P.O. Box 980111
Park City, Utah 84098-0111