Generation: C

George Mackay

Born: 1850 Died: 1895
Father: Andrew Mackay, II
Mother: Elspeth Murray

Agnes MacGowan


[Home] [Index] [Picture Index]

Moved to Renton, Missouri in 1884. Married to a nurse 1873. Stone mason. Mill foreman. Coal merchant. Farm manager. Died South America.

Esteemed a bit of a rolling stone at first. Worked in the Vale of Leven, probably in the Turkey Red industry. Married Agnes MacGowan there. Sailed alone to U.S.A., to Kansas City. Wife and children followed in instalments. Had various jobs as well as a good reputation in America. Head of a powerful family through marriage of a daughter of his to a Leininger. Many descendents of that name, the most famous being Rev. Louis Lee Leininger.

Rev. Louis Lee Leininger:

"George Mackay spoke Gaelic, the language of Northern Scotland, and English. A Scotch Highlander, he was born in Scotland on October 22, 1850, and died on March 14, 1898, on a farm owned by Judge Christman of Independence, Missouri. The farm was located in Jackson County, Missouri, about 2 1/2 miles north-east of Lee's Summit, on the old Independence-Lee's Summit road near Woods Chapel.

He lived as a lad with his father, Andrew Mackay (II) and mother, Elizabeth Murray Mackay (i.e. Elspeth), on a farm in the Highlands (Lonachuan. RLM). As a young man he served as an apprentice and became a stone-mason. At the time of his marriage he was a foreman in a textile mill in Renton. During his last years in Scotland he was a coal merchant at Renton, Dumbartonshire, and was married to Agnes McGowan about 1873.

In 1884 George decided to come to "America", the United States. He made the journey by himself in order to get located. He later sent for the family. Elizabeth, Annie and Daniel came with their mother. Andrew and Isabell came later. Agnes was taken to Canada by George's sister Catherine, who raised her and where she lived for the rest of her life, at London, Ontario. (Mrs. Toll. RLM).

George Mackay was first employed in America as a farm manager, by W.H. Moore. His second job was also as a farm manager for Albert Oldham, near Independence, Missouri. His early experience as a cattleman in Scotland led to his next employment at the Alderson Farm near Itam, Platt County, Missouri, where he served as a cattle herdsman. His fourth employment was for H.M. Vale as a herdsman for shorthorn cattle. His last employment was with Judge Christman as a farm manager on his beautiful Jackson County Farm.

He was a staunch Christian, a Scotch Presbyterian. He was a good student, including knowledge of the Bible. He loved to participate in the community debates on various subjects. In Scotland he was a participant in sports, chiefly bowling on the bowling greens of lawns. He won a pair of championship Bowls made of lignum vitae wood engraved with silver plates, a beautiful walnut mantel-clock with wooden works, and many other prizes. He was a croquet player of extra skill. He was a thorough workman, very particular, and carried the name of being thoroughly trustworthy.

George Mackay died of pneumonia and the complications of a bullet, lodged near to his heart, which was received in a pistol accident on the Oldham Farm some years before his death. He died March 14, 1898 (13 months before Louis Lee was born. RLM).

His remains were first buried at the Woods Chapel Cemetery, then about 1908 exhumed and re-interred in the Mackay Family Plot at the Lee's Summit Cemetery, then east of the city. The two daughters Stella May and Luttie Dicy were also removed at the same time and are laid to rest in the same plot."

(The Reverend Louis then describes George's wife in glowing terms). "Agnes McGowan. 1851-1929 - a good swimmer, gifted singer, 5 feet 2 inches, neat, refined, beautiful. Speech a blend of the North of England, old Anglican and Celtic dialect of the Lowlands, a practical nurse and doctor's aid, always busy. She died at the home of her daughter, Elisabeth Scruggs in Lee's Summit, January 7th 1929. (A widow for 31 years. RLM).

(My cousin Jessie Petterson, with her mother, Sarah Mackay Macdonald, visited the above Elisabeth Scruggs in the 1920s, by invitation, in Kansas City, and both were most kindly received, in a fortnight's stay. My other cousin, Helen Buchanan, thinks George Mackay was a bit of a lad, but produces no evidence. RLM).

(Anyway, that's the outline of the Reverend Louis' Scottish grandparents. I know nothing of his German grandparents. RLM).


One thing we will agree upon is that the Mackay men have been very fortunate in their mates. Take the situation in the year 1884 confronting Annie MacGowan of Renton who had married George Mackay (1850-1998) in about 1873 when he was 23 years of age. By 1884 George appears to have served some kind of apprenticeship (perhaps an unpaid farm-hand with his father at the croft, Lonachuan, just above Bonar Bridge). Then he became in turn a stone-mason, a foreman in a textile mill near Renton in the Vale of Leven, in the Turkey Red Industry, and finally a coal merchant!

I do not remember what was the state of employment in that industry in the 80s. Doubtless swift changes were occurring in the Vale. The future was uncertain. A Murray uncle, John, had been killed in a works accident at Dalquhurn, near Renton, in 1852, and his three (or more) Murray cousins born in the Vale had left for the City or the Colonies.

Anyway, he was either ambitious or restless or wanted a change.

When he left Renton for America in 1884, he left six children with Annie MacGowan. She was tough, and came from a tough place. "The Red Row", Renton, was known for its wild behaviour, and prided itself on the number of decorations it won during World War I. What to do about the wife and six children? Had he saved a wee bit of money to keep them going until he got a job in America? Very probably.

Later in 1884 Annie took the 10 and 8 year old girls and her month or two old baby to The States, doubtless by the cheapest boat. She handed over her 2 year old daughter, Agnes, to an aunt of the child, namely Catherine Mackay (1854-1898) then aged 30. We do not know Catherine's marital state then. I wonder if she was a spinster. Our family bible here records Catherine's birth on 24th September 1854, her baptism on 1st October 1854, and late, in a different handwriting, "Catherine, the Youngest daughter died 25th December 1898, age 44, at Woodstock, Canada, America". Nothing else. William F. Toll says that Catherine did marry a man named William Murray, but the date is uncertain and the place unknown.

What of the two remaining children? These were Isabel age 6, and Andrew age 4. According to Leininger "they came later to the States and joined their parents. Isabel was then six years old". This would fix the year as 1884 or 1885.

Now this is the point where the amateur genealogist gets into deep water, maybe. He should be able to assess the reliability of his sources, but that is often impossible.

My first cousin, Jessie Petterson, daughter of Sarah Mackay Macdonald, my aunt, visited Kansas City in the 1920s. She met both Isabel and "Daniel". (This must be an error for Andrew). Isabel told Jessie Petterson that when her parents emigrated to America they had not enough money to take Isabel and Andrew with them. So they were sent to Lonachuan, at Bonar Bridge for a time. Isabel remembered clearly my Aunt Sarah, who was then keeping house for her own parents at Bonar. This would be before Aunt Sarah's marriage, which did not take place until 1891.

Isabel then said that when her parents had got enough money together they sent for Isabel and Andrew. Isabel remembered landing with Andrew in New York, both with tags round them, with names and addresses and destination, and going by train to Kansas City.

Another first cousin of mine, who was born perhaps in 1889, and therefore can have only second hand knowledge of these events, speaks of George Mackay's older sister, namely Margaret, the cripple, (1847-1930s) at Lonachuan, looking after two young mischiefs at Bonar. She said 2 boys, but it must have been a boy and his sister, namely Isabel and Andrew. "She sent them precipitately back where they belonged, namely to U.S.A. for they were wee de'ils wanting parental control".

What does all this amount to? Well, we have all had young mischiefs staying with us for varied periods, and sometimes they were our very own. Or our own's own. And not much difference between them as far as I remember!

Annie MacGowan of Red Renton had not been long in America before she was producing again, a family for George, six additional, making a total of twelve. The tenth and eleventh, produced when Agnes as 40 and 43, died early, but the last, born when Agnes was 44 lived for 64 years. Among the latter six was a Noah Mackay, which confirms Jessie Petterson's memory about biblical names.

George Mackay, the father, died of pneumonia at the age of 48. Agnes, the tough one, survived him for 31 years as a widow.

And little Agnes who at perhaps the age of two years had gone to Canada with her Aunt Catherine Mackay did not know for some years that she had living brothers and sisters in the United States. "She was happy to know of her family and when grown visited frequently and joyously the family in Lee's Summit, likewise some of them made trips to London (Ontario). Agnes, at the age of 20, on October 1, 1902, married Fred Toll at London, Ontario. He was a conductor on the Canadian Pacific Railway for 35 years. They had three sons, and with one of them I am in communication, namely William F. Toll, of 640 Emery Street, London, Ontario.

Genealogy does not seem to have been a fashionable subject to pursue in the last century, except for a few rather unusual people who preserved all their correspondence in boxes, never opened until years after their deaths. Some of these have given us fascinating glimpses of life.

George Mackay seems to have isolated himself from all his brothers and sisters, except Catherine in Canada. He could not guess that Margaret, his elder, congenitally crippled sister (a very fine generous spinster) would survive to the 1930s. Nor that his brother Andrew would die in the Gold rush in Queensland in 1878. (I have made two errors there. He would know! RLM). Was he in touch with his two brothers who were doing well in New Zealand? And what about his four other brothers and sisters?

We have quite a few 'loners' in the family!

I do wish that William Toll could tell us something more about his elusive grandmother, Catherine, who died so young. Catherine has always been a favoured name in the family (Another error here! Catherine was the "acting grandmother" and certainly a good one. RLM).

[Home] [Index] [Picture Index]