This web site is an on line offering containing the documentation of the ancestors of James McDonald and Sarah Ferguson, born in 1802, who immigrated to Nauvoo, Illinois from Belfast, Ireland in 1844. Our primary source materials are the 1929 family history research of Emma Cluff, the research of Eunice Young, and Ila Fisher Maughan’s 1964 book entitled James McDonald Sarah Ferguson, Their Progenitors and Their Posterity". We will continue to add to these sources new information on the history of our verified McDonald ancestors such as the recently discovered documentation of the 5 June 1812 death of Moses McDonald in Greenock, Scotland found independently by Larry C. McDonald, Jack McDonald, and Stephen McDonald. New discoveries about James & Sarah Ferguson McDonald's neighbors' in Nauvoo and a petition signed by James McDonald to the Nauvoo City Council provide details of their Nauvoo experience under "Lay of the Land". We live in an exciting time. The Internet provides, literally at our fingertips, information that our parents could only obtain by hiring a professional genealogist in Great Britain. And I am grateful for my son, Heath McDonald who's computer web site programing skills made this site possible. The tartan background is the main tartan associated with Clan Donald, the world wide organization of our surname and its various spellings.
The 2008 launching of the LDS Church’s New Family Search web site revealed that many descendants of James McDonald and Sarah Ferguson (and others who thought they were) have submitted information to the LDS Church regarding our ancestors. New Family Search has allowed everyone to see these submissions with the intent that sharing information would decrease duplication of effort. It also revealed names, and entire lines , that have been linked with our ancestors without the appropriate primary source documentation. The most common resources listed are other family members' family group sheets submitted to the LDS Church 50 years ago. Ancestors.com lists over two million duplicate submissions. Some of them claim to trace back to Adam. There are currently 134 different McDonald family pedigrees that have been combined into one. The problem with adding names to New Family Tree based upon conjecture or supposition is that it conveys the false impression our family history was completed generations ago. McDonald family history research is far from complete. There is much yet to be done and new discoveries have been made, but only by disregarding some of the undocumented research. The new Family Tree program has helped stem the flood of inaccurate information that plagued New FamilySearch, but more oversight and documentation is imperative to protect the integrity of validated research. If a change is made it should include a primary source (birth, marriage, or death record). Through the Internet anyone can join in the search from their own computer. The purpose of this web site is to share the original documentation and inspire the descendants of James McDonald and Sarah Ferguson to continue the search for our ancestors.
An amazing example of recent on-line research discovering significant documents about our ancestors is a recent source document just added July 2016 to Family Tree concerning Moses McDonald's 1811 conviction for housebreaking. We now know of an 1886 history of "Old Greenock" which quoted an article in "The Advertiser" published 16th September 1812, just 4 months after Moses McDonald was convicted & executed for housebreaking. Moses McDonald plead "not guilty" while John Grey plead guilty and was "transported" (or removed to a British colony such as Australia). Within 4 months of Moses' execution the store owner, James Jelly, and his wife were convicted of fraud for falsely reporting their store had been broken into. Their punishment was again "transportation". Unfortunately the conviction of the store owner came 4 months too late for Moses McDonald. His descendants deserve to know he was unjustly convicted. Click on this link to read pages 217-221 about Moses McDonald's conviction and the store owners' conviction.
Clicking on a brown, underlined word either in the text or within the topics next to our ancestors' photos, will connect you to another page or pages within this web site or in a few cases to a related web site. To return to the original page just click the back arrow at the top left. Digital (electronic) copies of the original documents on this web site may be copied to your computer by right mouse clicking on a document or photo and then clicking save. The documents may then be enlarged so you may focus on a particular part or read the document from your computer easier than printing a paper copy (and you save a tree).
We welcome the submission of additional documentation, web site links, diaries, and letters to be published on this site so we may all be on the same path discovering our common ancestors. Email submissions to