In 1925 my widowed Grandmother Lillian Mae (Poor) MacDonald (1896-1980) would marry her second husband. This marriage to British born John Samuel Lea (1901-1965) in Dorchester, Massachusetts would bring into this world my own mother Joan Lois. Also in this union would be born my uncles John George “Buddy” Lea; Ralph Clarence Lea; Robert Edward “Bobby” Lea; and aunts Alice Mae (Lea) Campbell, and Phylis Hazel (Lea) Flaherty.
Lillian’s family in 1945. (Back tow) Alice, Ralph, Buddy, Joan. (Front row) Phylis, John, Lillian and Bobby.
I also had two other maternal Aunts Jessie Lillian (MacDonald) Nelson and Doris Frances (MacDonald) Fullerton. They were my my mothers half-sisters the daughters from my grandmothers first marriage.
My grandmother married at her parents home on 320 Central Avenue in Milton, Massachusetts on September 18, 1916 to a man slightly her junior – Daniel Archibald MacDonald. He was born at Malden, Massachusetts August 18, 1897 and lived with his mother and step father in Everett, Massachusetts. It was here in Everett they met somewhere between 1914 when my grandmother graduated Milton High School and 1916. As the story was related by Daniel’s younger sister my grandmother was babysitting her brother Harold Joseph Poor (1884-1938) children. She met their near neighbor “Archie” and they fell in love. After they were married they moved to North Reading, Massachusetts.
Lillian Mae Poor from her Milton High School Class of 1914.
Sadly their first daughter named Annabell MacDonald was a stillborn. She was buried at the tomb at the Park Street Cemetery in North Reading. Daniel registered for the draft in World War I but was never called into service. They would have two more daughters – my Aunt Jessie in 1918, and my Aunt Doris in 1919 while living on 23 Chicatawbut Street, Dorchester. Daniel worked as cook on board a boat in Boston. Perhaps it was there he contracted TB (tuberculosis). But this lovely romance and young family was struck again by the tragedy when Daniel aged twenty-three years old died April 5, 1921. My grandmother’s own father died on February 14 of that same year. Lillian would return to live at home with her mother and raise her daughters as best as she could. Four years later she would remarry to my grandfather and move to Toronto, Canada for a few years (where my mother was born). Lillian and John with their children would return to Massachusetts at the height of the Great Depression in August of 1930.
As a child I knew of Daniel. I remember the hand colored framedl photograph that hung in my Aunt Jessie’s bedroom in Ludlow, Massachusetts. She would look at the man she hardly knew and always admire how handsome he looked. I also knew Daniel’s sister who was always referred to as “Aunt Alice” to us. It was her copy of this photograph that I still own. I knew Daniel’s daughters my Aunts who I loved them very much. And I still know and love his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
In genealogy I feel it’s main purpose is to better keep the memory of our ancestors alive. Daniel Archibald MacDonald was not my grandfather, but he was the first love of my beloved grandmother – my “Nana”. The same lady whose stories captured my imagination and led me to pursue the hobby of genealogy. This hobby in turn would become my profession. I felt he needed to be remembered.
When he was buried in 1921 he was laid to rest in Greater Boston at Forest Hills Cemetery Forest Hills Cemetery in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. He was buried in a double deep grave with George E. Miller who died in 1870 (second grave from the left in this bottom photo). George was not out relative, but he was the grandfather of Harold Poor’s wife Mary Ella (Miller) Poor (1885-1931). Mary’s Aunt Isabella purchased the lot in 1885 at 3709 Fox Glove Path and had her own parents and siblings re-interred there. In 1913 Mary inherited the plot at Forest Hills. Mary allowed permission first in 1918 for her brother-in-law Horace Herbert Clews (husband of my grandmother’s sister Gertrude F. Poor), and then again in 1921 for her father-in-law Alexander L. Poor (1848-1921) and her young brother-in-law Daniel to be buried there that same year.
For whatever reason Daniel’s name was never carved on George Miller’s gravestone. Daniel was never forgotten by Lillian though. I remember being seven or eight years old visiting this plot with my mother and Nana. This would be the last time Nana would pay respects to her parents and her late husband Daniel. I returned to this plot over the years and always felt that I needed to complete what my Nana never had a chance to do.
It was last summer when the realization that Daniel and Lillian’s 100th wedding anniversary was fast approaching. All of Lillian’s children have passed away including both Jessie and Doris. It was an honor that my distant cousin Brian Poor being a living great-grandson of Mary Ella (Miller) Poor legally signed the plot over to me to become caretaker. No one can be buried in this full lot, but I still needed legal permission to have my idea come into reality. My next step was to reach out to my family. A few years ago I created a “The Poor(e) Lea Homestead” on Facebook. This allowed me to share photos and genealogical family stories with my cousins virtually. Now I asked for their financial assistance so a memorial for Daniel could become possible. Within a couple months all the money to clean and inscribe the gravestone for Daniel had arrived. Besides my own cousins, money from grandchildren of my grandmother’s siblings, and even a second cousin on my grandfather John Samuel Leas side helped out. I am so deeply grateful.
In May of 2017 the backside of the 1870 gravestone was cleaned and inscribed. Daniel Archibald MacDonald currently has living a living monument of both grandchildren and great-grandchildren. But he finally now has a permanent monument that hopefully later generations will someday visit. Daniel would have been 120 years old this month.
No one should ever be forgotten for ninety-six years. I did this to remember Daniel, but also for my grandmother – to remember her first true love. Now my Nana’s first husband shall never be forgotten to history.
With love from your “non-grandson” David.