Certain families have played an integral part in the growth and progression of Jackson Parish. In an effort to acknowledge some of our “first families” the Jackson Parish Journal is pleased to present an ongoing series entitled “Pillars of the Parish”. Today – The McDonald Family
It is only fitting to begin with this family whose ancestors were one of the first settlers in northeast Louisiana and has been a major part of the fabric of Jackson Parish for over 170 years.
In 1850, William Baston McDonald and family, shown in banner above, settled in what was called Rochester in the northeastern part of the parish. This is where his son, W.C. McDonald, was born on January 18, 1850. He would later move to Jonesboro on January 2nd, 1902, the year the town first became an incorporated community. Upon arriving McDonald built the first store ever opened in Jonesboro, a wooden frame structure that measured about 30 feet across by 60 feet deep.
Several year later McDonald moved his general mercantile store into a brick building that he had built that was located where old timers from the area will remember as the old Scroggins Pharmacy located on Main Street.
McDonald was heavily involved in early politics for the parish as well becoming the parish representative to the state legislature for many years. It was his efforts in introducing a bill that instrumental in having the parish seat and courthouse moved from Vernon to Jonesboro.
The “first family” pioneer was also one of the organizers of the Jackson Parish Bank, which is the oldest financial institution in Jonesboro and Jackson Parish. McDonald was a member of the first board of directors and served as director of the bank for many years the same position that W. C. “Woody” McDonald Jr. holds today.
Another member of the McDonald family, Dr. C. S. McDonald, was recognized in 1961 for his contribution to the community by having the Recreation Department building named in his honor. His sons Guy, Ray, Hoye and Haze are also remembered for their achievements on the gridiron during the founding years of the football team at Jonesboro High School.
One can’t forget the contributions of “Mr. Billy” McDonald either who worked at the Jackson Parish Bank for 55 years and had three daughters Roseann McDonald Alexander, Robin McDonald Toms and Melinda McDonald Hebert. Ross McDonald was a brother to Wilbur. His son Dan graduated from Jonesboro-Hodge and went on to become a member of the Louisiana Sports and Jackson Sports Hall of Fame after a stellar career as a renowned sports journalist, information director and media specialist.
Several other members of the McDonald family tree are also still heavily involved with the bank, including Woody’s son, Michael and grandson, Drew Maxwell, continuing the family tradition that is now nearing 120 years of service to the community.
From being one of the very first to call Jackson Parish home, to still today being an integral part of the present and future of the parish, the McDonalds are truly a “Pillar of the Community.”
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