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California Genealogy and History Archives

San Bernardino County and Riverside County


T. C. MCDONALD, a prosperous orange grower at Rialto and a deputy sheriff in San Bernardino County, has spent the greater part of his life in frontier scenes and activities. He spent three years in the navy, including the period of the Spanish-American war. He grew up on the ranch and range in Kansas, and has been more or less identified with California for thirty years.

Mr. McDonald was born at Maquoketa, Iowa, December 3, 1869, son of R. H. and Jennie (Sweesy) McDonald. His father was a farmer and stockman, and in 1872 took his family to the Kansas frontier, where they lived on a cattle ranch. T. C. McDonald was the second of four children, the oldest being Charles, and the two youngest were Lucia and Lulu, twins. T. C. McDonald had a common school education, and his earliest recollections were of a ranch in Western Kansas. In 1886, at the age of sixteen, he left home and came out to California, reaching San Bernardino with only fifty cents in money. He arrived in town in the morning, and in the afternoon had found employment on the range, for which his previous experience well qualified him. In 1887 he entered the service of the old cattle firm of Knight and Metcalf, and remained with them seven years. On leaving the cattle business in 1893 he became a stage driver over one of the first improved roads to Big Bear Lake. He drove stage for Copely & Hogstrat, and at this time Gus Knight's hotel was the only building in Bear Valley except the caretaker's cabin at the dam. During the great railway strike of 1894, when all train service was suspended, Mr. McDonald's stage was taken from the mountain service and for eight days he drove between San Bernardino and Los Angeles. At that time he was also deputized as a guard on passenger trains through the Cajon Pass. Following this experience he did some ranching at Santa Barbara, and in August, 1896, enlisted as an ordinary seaman in the United States Navy. He served three years and seven months, and was given an honorable discharge. He was first on the U. S. S. Philadelphia and later transferred to the Baltimore. At the outbreak of the Spanish-American war, after the Maine was blown up, the Baltimore was in harbor at Honolulu, where it took on 1400 tons of coal and sailed for Hong Kong. After nine days of fine weather the ship was hit by a typhoon and in eleven hours driven 600 miles out of its course. The Baltimore reached Yokohama out of coal, and after coaling it went to Hong Kong, arriving April 22, 1898. The Baltimore steamed, directly into dry dock, where it was scraped and painted, and then transferred forty tons of ammunition to a sister ship and took on 1200 tons of coal and 75 tons of provisions. The Baltimore steamed out of the harbor on April 24th, before the news had been officially communicated of the declaration of war against Spain. The Baltimore was part of Admiral Dewey's fleet and was in the battle of Manila Bay. Later Mr. McDonald was transferred to Dewey's flagship, the Olympia, and on returning to the United States the ship made a leisurely voyage through to the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean, he and his comrades having privilege of leaving at many of the most famous ports and cities of the world.

On being released from the navy Mr. McDonald went back to Kansas and in 1907 came to Rialto, California, and bought twenty acres in the city limits, located at the corner of Cactus and Merrill avenues. Here he has developed one of the profitable orange groves of this section. He still owns the larger part of the land, but the Pacific Electric Depot is located on a portion of his former holdings.

Mr. McDonald is a prominent republican in San Bernardino County and has held a number of offices of trust. He was elected a constable in 1918, also city marshal of Rialto, and is a deputy under Sheriff Walter Shay. His fellow citizens admire his sturdy fearlessness and courage and resourcefulness in every emergency. He is affiliated with San Bernardino Lodge No. 348, F. and A. M., and is a member of the Scottish Rite Consistory at Wichita, Kansas. In 1906 Mr. McDonald married Miss Vida Williams, a native of Alabama and a daughter of William and Ada Williams, of a prominent family of that state. Mrs. McDonald graduated from high school in Kansas and is well known socially in Rialto.


History of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties 
By: John Brown, Jr., Editor for San Bernardino County 
And James Boyd, Editor for Riverside County 
With selected biography of actors and witnesses of the period 
of growth and achievement.
Volume III, the Western Historical Association, 1922, 
The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, ILL

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011