Category Archives: McDonald


In the autumn of 1929, the crash of the American stock market started a period that we now call the Great Depression, which lasted for about a decade and challenged the survival of ordinary Americans.

My parents told many stories about growing up during that time. In my Dad’s family, many of those stories expressed admiration for his mother, Loula Richardson Alexander, and her ceaseless hard work, determination, and inventiveness.

In 1930 Frank and Loula Alexander moved their family of nine children, including one new-born, from a house in the town of Vass, N. C., to a farm nearby, on Union Church Road. Loula went into action. She ordered baby chicks that were delivered by mail in a box with air holes, a hundred at a time. She put paper, sand and boards in a corner of the living room to make a warm home for the chicks while Frank built a brooder house. Eventually she would have five buildings for the purpose of raising chickens, about 500 birds at the peak of her business.

Sometime prior to 1933, the Moore County Home Demonstration Clubs started a farmer’s market in Southern Pines to sell produce to Northern women who had winter homes in Southern Pines and Pinehurst. The market was in a basement, on a side street near the depot in Southern Pines, “on the Pinehurst side.” It was an open room with stepped shelves for merchandise. Each of twenty female vendors had a booth. Loula sold butter, eggs, baked goods, and vegetables. She had a flower garden and sold cut flowers. She also sold canned peaches from the family’s orchard of about 40 peach trees, two varieties.

A curb market commitee established rules about the cleanliness and quality of the produce, and set the prices. Sellers were required to sell at the same prices as local merchants, their one advantage being that they were not required to add sales tax.

The income helped rural women with living expenses, as well as children’s clothing, college tuition, and better health care. One of Loula’s most cherished goals was to send her oldest daughter, Willie, to Duke University.

Total sales for the vendors from Dec. 1, 1932-Nov. 1, 1933 were $3,093.28, worth about $65,833.03 in 2022. If Loula had received an equal 1/20 share of that, $154.66, she received, in 2022 numbers, the equivalent of about $3,277.00 for 12 months’ work. Hopefully, her extra hard work netted her more than that, but even in 1933, the compensation must have seemed a little thin.

Nevertheless, an anonymous woman wrote a letter to the editor of the local newspaper, on the subject of the budget for a county home demonstration agent. She said:

“The curb market alone has brought over three thousand dollars into the Moore county farm homes. It seems to me that we need this kind of work as never before.”

Sellers continued to grow produce into fall and winter to sell at the market. They were motivated to improve their farming practices so as to compete with other sellers. An article about the market in the local newspaper mentioned that “Fresh eggs are at a premium…”

First Loula sold eggs at the market, then she discovered she could sell fryers. When the chickens were 8-12 weeks old, they became frying size, about two to two and a half pounds. At that point, she could identify the sex. The boxes of baby chicks contained about an equal number of males and females. If the pullets (young hens) were good layers she kept them to produce eggs, while other hens became fryers. She would sell 3-4 dozen hens per week at the curb market. She learned to caponize young roosters from the Moore County Agricultural Extension agent, and she sold the capons for baking. They would grow larger than the hens, and she sold a lot of them for Thanksgiving dinners.

Dr. Earl Wayne Hunter, a dentist from south Sanford, near Highway One, owned Dr. Hunter’s Hatchery, another market for Loula, as he bought fertilized eggs. She could tell with a candle if an egg contained a chicken embryo.

Loula’s children were very much involved in her business. Several of them described coming home from school on Friday afternoon and immediately joining their mother in preparing chickens for the market. Loula did the slaughtering herself, and the children helped to remove feathers, etc. Their mother would set out alone very early on Saturday morning with her merchandise and come home later with treats they couldn’t produce on the farm, like Jello.

In spite of Loula’s diligence and obvious contribution to the family income, the 1940 census taker described her occupation, just like many wives of the time, with a blank line and checked that she was “engaged in home housework,” and further indicated that she earned no income. Incredible.

When Loula passed away, age 51, in 1943, World War II was in force. She had two married daughters, two sons in the Army, one son in college—soon to be in the Marine Corps, and three younger children living at home. Sadly, she had lost one son to illness in 1935. Her husband, Frank Alexander, was diagnosed with lung cancer and passed away only a year and a half later.

Copyright 2022 by Glenda Alexander.  All rights reserved.


Interviews with Lewey Alexander Sr., Robert L. Alexander, Patsy Alexander Rodgers, and Willie Alexander Carr.

1940 U. S. Census, McNeill’s Township, Moore County, N. C., E. D. 69-13, p. 11A; West Sanford, Lee County, N. C. ED 53-7, sheet 7B.

The Pilot, newspaper, Vass, Aberdeen, & Southern Pines: Friday, Mar. 28, 1930, p. 9; 29 April, 1932, p. 2.; Nov. 17, 1933, Edition 1, pp. 4-5; December 29, 1939, p. 4.

USD Inflation,, accessed 20 Feb. 2022.

A Mill Family’s Losses in 1918

Boy workers in a N. C. cotton mill. The white specks on their clothing are cotton lint.

I wrote earlier, in “Victim of a Pandemic,” about a World War I soldier who lost his life to the influenza pandemic of 1918. His mother, Margaret McDonald Hicks, had a brother, Neill Archibald McDonald, who lost three children and a daughter-in-law to that pandemic.

Margaret and Neill grew up in the Sandhills region of North Carolina. Their grandfather, Angus McDonald, came from the Western Isles of Scotland to North Carolina near the end of the 1700’s. He came to this country speaking Scots Gaelic, the language his family continued to use at home through his grandchildren’s generation. Neill and his siblings spoke fluent Gaelic, and the language died out with their generation in the first half of the twentieth century.

As a young man, Neill left his home in the Sandhills and traveled to New Orleans, where, in 1897, he met and married Marie Gottschalk, whose family came from Germany. Neill and Marie moved back to his home in Moore County, N. C., and around 1912, they moved on to High Point, N. C., a growing mill town. There, Neill found work at the brand new Highland Cotton Mills and a home in the mill village.

Neill worked at Highland until his retirement in the 1930’s. Marie gave birth to at least thirteen children, one of whom died as an infant. The other twelve children were all Highland Cotton Mill employees, as were their spouses and children.

Early cotton mills are notorious for having employed children, for very low wages. The census of 1920 and 1930 reports children in the family as young as age 15 working in the mill. However, the children probably went to work at much earlier ages.

During the pandemic of 1918, three of Neill and Marie’s children died of influenza. The youngest was Wilbert, age 9, described on his death certificate as a mill worker, as were his brothers John, age 16, and Frederick, 18. Annie McDonald, the 20-year-old wife of their oldest brother, Ughie, was taken by the virus as well. She, too, was a HIghland Cotton Mill employee.

Those four family members, as well as several others, were buried at the Springfield Friends Meeting, near the village. No stones marked their graves, but the Friends kept careful records of the burials in their cemetery.

Copyright 2020 by Glenda Alexander.  All Rights Reserved.


U. S. Federal Census reports for 1910, 1920, 1930, and 1940, including Supplemental Questions, 1940.

Miller, Ernest H., High Point, N.C. City Directory, 1923-1924,  (Piedmont Directory Co., 1923.)  accessed online at, Wilson Special Collections Library, UNC-Chapel Hill; p. 236.

Hills High Point City Directory, 1938, 1939, 1949 (Richmond, Va.: Hill Publishing Co.) accessed online at

Louisiana Marriages, 1718-1925, database on-line at  Original marriage records from the Clerk of the Court, St. Tammany Parrish, La.

North Carolina Death Certificates, database online at, original records from North Carolina State Archives; Raleigh, N. C.

Brenda G. Haworth, Ed., Springfield Friends Cemetery:  1780-2017, Guilford County, High Point, N. C., (2017:  Springfield Memorial Association, High Point, N. C.) p. 141.

Jacquelyn Dowd Hall, Like a Family: The Making of a Southern Cotton Mill World, (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1987)

Lewis Wickes Hine, photograph of boy workers in a cotton mill, 1908, digital image, Library of Congress.

Victim of a Pandemic



Grave stone of Neill Abner Curtis Hicks, 1897-1918

There is an old Scottish cemetery in the Sandhills of North Carolina, where the oldest grave is dated 1796. Many people buried there were from the Western Isles of Scotland, including Jura and Skye. They spoke Gaelic.  Most of the graves have the names Ferguson and McDonald on them. The last monument was a tribute to a soldier who fell in World War I, not from an enemy bullet, but from a virus, during the 1918 Influenza Pandemic.

My aunt, Willie Alexander Carr, told me of walking to the cemetery with her mother, Loula Richardson Alexander, when Willie was seven years old. They went down a lane and through the woods near the Alexanders’ farm, balancing on a log to cross the creek. They were visiting the grave of Loula’s first cousin, Curtis Hicks.

The Hicks family lived in the township of Greenwood, in Moore County, North Carolina. Abner Hicks and Margaret McDonald married in 1890, and by 1902, they had five children. Then they lost their sixth child as an infant, and two years later, after the birth of twins, Margaret died. Her babies, a boy and a girl, died soon after. Their graves were all placed beside Margaret’s parents in the old cemetery.

In 1911, Abner remarried, to Flora Ann Yow, a neighbor. My father remembered her as “Aunt Flora Ann,” beloved by the family for her kindness to her step-children.

The fourth child of Abner and Margaret, Curtis, was twenty-one when young men were drafted for the Great War. His draft card described him as dark haired and blue eyed. He worked for a local farmer, Angus Cameron, who owned a saw mill. Curtis registered in June of 1918 and left his home for Fort Jackson in August.

Curtis was assigned to Camp Sevier, built in 1917 near Greenville, S. C., to train soldiers for the war. By the Armistice in November 1918, 80,000 soldiers had passed through the large camp. In September of 1918, the first influenza case appeared in the camp hospital, and it opened a floodgate.

The epidemic developed so rapidly that facilities and staff were expanded and taxed to the limit. When the hospital filled up, the Red Cross and Y. M. C. A. buildings, the schoolhouse, a theater, mess halls, and tents became hospital wards. Medical officers were joined by civilian, professional, and practical nurses in tending to a total of 6,000 patients.

Personnel used many precautions, isolating patients with hanging sheets and screens. Doctors, nurses, and attendants wore masks and gowns. Patients with pneumonia were placed in separate wards. Disposable cups and plates were used and burned afterward.

Curtis Hicks was one of the unfortunate soldiers who developed pneumonia, which caused his lungs to hemorrhage and quickly caused his death. Three hundred and forty soldiers died, a death rate over 5% in the camp. He died on October 4, only a few months after his induction into the Army. By November 11, the epidemic, as well as the war, was effectively over.

Curtis was buried near his mother and his grandfather, John Finlayson McDonald. Willie and Loula visited the grave when fresh soil was still mounded over it. Woods now cover the acre of old family graves, and real estate development has slowly surrounded it.

Copyright 2020 by Glenda Alexander. All rights reserved.



Willie D. Richardson, cousin of Curtis Hicks, WWI

1900 U. S. Census, McNeill’s Tshp., Moore County, N. C., p. 169; NARA Microfilm T623-1207; 1910 U. S. Census, McNeill’s Tshp., Moore County, N. C., p. 193; NARA Microfilm T624-1119; 1920 U. S. Census, Vass, Moore County, N. C., E. D. 92, p. 21B; NARA Microfilm T625-1300; accessed on

North Carolina, Marriage Records, 1741-2011 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2015. Original data: North Carolina County Registers of Deeds. Microfilm. Record Group 048. North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, NC.

U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2005.;

South Carolina Death Records, 1821-1955 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2008. Original data: South Carolina. South Carolina death records. Columbia, SC, USA: South Carolina Department of Archives and History.

Influenza Outbreak of 1918-1919, by Steve Case, revised by Lisa Gregory, 2010, NC Government and Heritage Library, Accessed 7 March 2020.

U.S., Lists of Men Ordered to Report to Local Board for Military Duty, 1917–1918 [database on-line]. Original data: War Department, Office of the Provost Marshal General, Selective Service System, 1917– 07/15/1919. National Archives at College Park. College Park, Maryland.

Office of Medical History: Office of the Surgeon General, “Extracts from Reports Relative to Influenza, Pneumonia, and Respiratory Diseases,” April 4, 2003, (continued)%20CAMP%20SEVIER%20BASE%20HOSPITAL%20REPORT, accessed March 9, 2020.

Grave monument in McDonald-Ferguson family cemetery, off County Road 1825, approx. .4 mile from Highway 1, just north of Crains Creek, Moore County. Visit to cemetery and photographs taken March 29, 2002.

Interviews with Willie Alexander Carr and Lewey G. Alexander, Sr., by the author, April 1, 2002.

If my great-grandmothers were alive today…

Post Script to my post on great grandmothers–

I love what KristenLynn Writes on her blog:

“If our Great-Grandmothers would’ve had Facebook and Twitter when they were young mothers…”

This is hilarious…mostly.  “#roughtimes”

My grandmother Loula & her sister, Pearl, when they were young mothers.

Copyright 2018 by Glenda Alexander.  All rights reserved.

International Women’s Day: Honoring My Great-Grandmothers

This is a quilt honoring my four great-grandmothers.

Left:  Martha Frances White Johnson (1862-1933) claimed Native American ancestry, and her maternal grandmother was said to have come from the Powhatan Reservation.

Right:  Margaret Matilda Stillwell Alexander (1847-1931) was an identical twin. She startled the neighbors at her sister’s funeral. Her husband was also a twin.

Top:  Mary Arabella McDonald Richardson (1867-1935) was the grand-daughter of immigrants from the Western Isles of Scotland. She loved to walk on her land in the Sandhills.

Bottom:  Margaret Jane Willey Oakley (1858-1934) gathered wild herbs for a living and ran the farm after her husband’s death. Her six children were all boys.


Copyright 2018 by Glenda Alexander.  All rights reserved.


Moore County, North Carolina has one of the largest populations of Highland Scottish descendants in the U.S.A.  About 150,000 Scottish people emigrated to America between 1600 and 1776, and North Carolina had the largest number of Highland settlers in America.  Between 1739 and 1776 about 50,000 Highlanders came to the the Cape Fear River Valley for relief from economic and political repression.  Remnants of the Highland culture survive in local names, liberally sprinkled with Mc’s, the suffix which meant “son of” in Gaelic, in numerous Presbyterian churches, and place names like Caledonia, Cameron, and Aberdeen.

Last week, I was in Aberdeen, driving along Bethesda Road, also called N. C. Highway 5.  I was surprised to pass under a large archway with large letters reading “Bethesda Cemetery.”  Immediately in view was an old white wood frame church, Bethesda Presbyterian, with a large cemetery on either side of the road.  I then drove under a matching archway and was back in residential territory.  I had to go back for a closer look.  I immediately recognized the McDonald and Patterson names in the oldest part of the Cemetery, and I saw that many of them were born in Scotland in the 1700’s.  Back at home, I found many of their names in Highland Scots Pattersons of North Carolina, by Alex Patterson, a volume you can find in most libraries in the state.

Because of the frequent naming of offspring for their parents and grandparents, the many  Duncans, Malcolms, Anguses, Daniels, and Archibalds, as well as Marys, Margarets, Floras and Jennets have made the McDonalds and Pattersons two of my greatest challenges in searching out the family history.  Read the stones in the cemetery, and you will see.


David Dodson, The Original Scots Colonists of Early America: 1612-1783, (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1989;)  Douglas F. Kelly, Carolina Scots: An Historical and Genealogical Study of Over 100 Years of Emigration. (Dillon SC: 1739 Publications, 1998) pp. 79, 81, 209-211; Alex M. Patterson, Highland Scots Pattersons of North Carolina and Related Families. (Raleigh: Contemporary Lithographers, Inc., 1979;) Glenda Alexander, “John Finlayson McDonald & Jennet Isabella Patterson and the McDonald Family Cemetery, Crains Creek,”

Copyright 2018 by Glenda Alexander.  All Rights Reserved.