Marshall McDonald

Marshall McDonald (October 18, 1835 – September 1, 1895) was an American engineer , geologist , mineralogist , pisciculturist , and fisheries scientist . McDonald served as the commissioner of the United States Commission of Fish and Fisheries from 1888 until his death in 1895. He is best known for his inventions of a number of fish hatching devices and a fish ladder that enabled salmon and other migrating fish species to ascend the rapids of watercoursesresulting in an increased spawning ground. McDonald’s Administration of the US Fish and Wildlife Commission is one of the most controversial species in the United States. [1] [2]

Early life

McDonald was born on October 18, 1835 to Angus William McDonald and his wife, Leacy Anne Naylor, in Romney , Hampshire County , Virginia (now West Virginia ). [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7]McDonald was the sixth and fourth son of Angus and Leacy Anne McDonald. [7] He was named for the Marshall family, many of whom were friends of his father. [7] The McDonald’s raised Their nine children, five consistant en sounds and oven daughters, in a log dwelling in Romney owned by Leacy Anne’s father, William Naylor. [8]The structure Currently Known as the Davis History House, remains standing at icts original site at the corner of Main and Bolton Streets and reserves as a museum mainted by the Hampshire County Public Library. [8] McDonald’s father was a prominent community leader in Romney and served on the board of trustees of Romney Academy , [9] [10] an academy that is likely to succeed at its successor institution, the Romney Classical Institute . [6] [11] Following the death of his mother, McDonald’s father sold the Naylor family’s home in 1849 and moved to Hannibal , Missouriin the 1850s only to return to Virginia a few years later marrying his second wife, Cornelia Peake . [8] McDonald and his family were still residing in the United States Census 1850 . [12] McDonald’s and his siblings are present in their Missouri. [8]

Education and early academic career

From 1854 to 1855, McDonald’s studied natural history under Spencer Fullerton Baird at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC [4] [13] McDonald entered the third class of the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington , Virginia in 1855, [6] [11] [14] where Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson was one of his professors. [1] [2] During the 1858-1859 academic year , McDonald attended the University of Virginia in Charlottesville . [6] [11]McDonald resumed his studies at the Virginia Military Institute and graduated from this institution in July 1860. [2] [5] [6] [11] [13] [15] McDonald served as an Assistant Professor in Chemistry under Jackson at the Virginia Military Institute from Fall 1860 until the outbreak of the American Civil War in April 1861 [6] [11] [16] and taught intermittently throughout the course of the war. [1] [17] [18]

Military career in the American Civil War

McDonald joined the Confederate States Army on April 27, 1861 and was commissioned as a Lieutenant and engineer officer. [1] Then he served as general inspector of the staff of his teacher, Lieutenant General Stonewall Jackson. [6] [16] McDonald later served as staff officer for Major General Martin Luther Smith and as an engineer officer for Lieutenant General John C. Pemberton after being transferred to New Orleans . [15] [16] [18]

McDonald’s raised in this log dwelling in Romney , Virginia (now West Virginia ). Known as the Davis History House, McDonald’s family home serves as an American Civil War Museum maintained by the Hampshire County Public Library.

While serving as chief engineer under Pemberton, McDonald was taken as a prisoner of war by the Union Army at Vicksburg , Mississippi in 1863. [15] [16] During the war, McDonald’s and other cadet trainers returned to the Virginia Military Institute to instruct pupils while on word or recovering from injuries. [16] [17] In 1864 while McDonald Was one word, [15] one de son students, John Sergeant Wise , recounted of HAVING McDonald as a professor: Marshall McDonald hobbles in to the point With His crutch at the problems on the black -Board, Until, he can once more dot With His Sword Towards “the looming bastion fringed with fire.” ‘ [17] Of the professors at the institute During the war, Wise remarked, “they taught with a zest and freshness as we Seldom see. ” [17]

McDonald further Top Was Promoted to the rank of Major in command of engineers on the staff of General Braxton Bragg and Was to be Promoted to the ranks of Colonel and Brigadier General When the war ended. [6] [13] [15] [18] While serving as an officer in an engineer corps, McDonald saw “much active service.” [11] McDonald’s and his four brothers served with distinction in the Confederate States Army, but only three of his brothers survived the war. [8] McDonald’s father was one of the first Hampshire County residents to volunteer to fight for the Confederacy in 1861 and was commissioned as colonel in command of the7th Virginia Cavalry Regiment . [8] [18] McDonald’s father died in Richmond , Virginia in 1864. [8] [18]

Return to Virginia Military Institute

Following the war in 1865, McDonald returned to the Virginia Military Institute where he was appointed professor of the rank of colonel instructing and serving as chair of the subject of chemistry, geology , mineralogy , and metallurgy . [2] [6] [11] [18] [19] McDonald Was appointed by the Board of Directors to replace Col. Gilham got flesh of the subjects of chemistry, mineralogy, and geology, Who HAD in turn-been appointed to replace George Washington Custis Lee the previous year. [6] [20] [21] Upon the return of the Virginia Military Institute, McDonald established the institution’s first museum.[21] During the 1867-1868 academic year, McDonald’s was further subdivided as reading halls were being completed within theMcDonald’s retaining the subjects of mineralogy, geology, and metallurgy. [20] McDonald’s colleagues among the faculty included Superintendent Francis Henney Smith and ProfessorsMatthew Maury Fountain , Scott Shipp , John Mercer Brooke , and George Washington Lee Custis. [20] Toward the end of his tenure at the Virginia Military Institute, McDonald’s occupied the chair of geology and mining engineering . [11]

An illustration of General Francis Henney Smith addressing the faculty of the Virginia Military Institute , including McDonald, in the institution of restoration following the American Civil War .

In 1875, McDonald developed an interest in fish farming and became a director of the Virginia state fish hatchery at Wytheville . [13] He was appointed Fish Commissioner of Virginia shortly thereafter. [4] [6] [13] McDonald’s invented the fish that was named for him. [4] In 1877, McDonald’s was commissioned by Virginia to conduct a survey of mineral resources within the James River basin, the findings of which were reported to the Virginia General Assembly in 1879. [13]McDonald continued to instruct the Virginia Military Institute until 1879, when he was invited by his teacher Spencer Fullerton Baird to a position at the United States Commission of Fish and Fisheries . [1] [4] [6] [18] McDonald accepted the position with the Fish Commission and submitted his resignation from the Virginia Fish Commission to Governor of Virginia , Fitzhugh Lee . [6]

United States Fish Commission

The United States Fish Commission is a member of the United States Fish Commission where he was a special agent under Baird and responsible for compiling and publishing 1880 United States Census . [11] [18] Following the census, he then served as Superintendent of the Shad Hatcheries of the Potomac River . [11] McDonald’s was responsible for the distribution of “young fishes” and “food-fishes” and later served as Chief of the Fish Culture Division. [4] [11] In 1885, McDonald was appointed Chief Commissioner Commissioner of the Fish Commission. [1]He continues to be President of the United States President Grover Cleveland in January 1888 to replace Dr. George Brown Goode as the Commissioner of Fish and Fisheries. [1] [2] [4] [11] [18] [22] Brown had been one of the following Fish Baird’s death. [11] McDonald took his oath of office on February 18, 1888. [18] His appointment was well recognized as an “excellent” choice due to the breadth of his experience, organizational and leadership abilities, and sense of duty and responsibility to American people. [4]McDonald was also viewed as one of the most accomplished fish culturists in the United States at the time of his appointment. [4] As Commissioner Fish McDonald INITIALLY Was paid $ 5,000 per annum [13] and HAD At His disposal three yachts and fishing 22 stations to conduct research and carry out the committee’s efforts. [2]

McDonald’s awarded medals (pictured)from international fishery exhibitions at Berlinand London and from the Society of Acclimation in Paris for his inventions and improvements in the field of fish farming.

As Fish Commissioner, one of McDonald’s most important works to undertake a biological and physical survey of American fisheries and fish culture. [23] McDonald believed the first step towards building “a comprehensive knowledge of the conditions of greatest productivity” of American fisheries, which McDonald termed “aquatic pastorage.” [23] McDonald also initiated controversial changes in the Fish Commission imposing a bureaucratic structure inspired by his previous military career and solidifying the commission’s emphasis on fish culture. [22]

In 1893, McDonald warned Oregon governor Penny Sylvester of “the disastrous outlook for the future of the salmon fisheries of the Columbia .” [24]

Fish hatching innovations

Throughout his tenure at the Fish Commission, McDonald invented and designed a number of innovative fish hatching apparatuses and appliances. [25] McDonald’s Most prominent apparatus Was a fish ladder That enabled salmon and other migrating fish species to ascend the rapids of watercourses, THUS Increasing the extent of Their spawning grounds. [1] [2] [18] [26] In 1871, McDonald’s devised “automatic hatching jars” which revolutionized the field of fish farming and the United States Fish Commission, several state commissions, and commissions in Europe and Japan. . [4] [13] [18]The hatching jar apparatus enabled the “vast extension” of the propagation of shad in the 1880s and 1890s and rendered the work of the Fish Commission commercially feasible. [4] In 1880, he conceived a cod box that produced the tidal motion necessary for the hatching of floating eggs . [25] McDonald further Top perfected His design of the cod box in 1888. [25] In the winter of 1883 McDonald Developed a tidal apparatus for the hatching of floating halibut eggs and other marine species of Those. [4]The vast production and distribution of fish eggs by the Fish Commission was made possible by the use of this tidal apparatus. [4] Through the use of this apparatus, the process of hatching eggs was made cheaper and the fish farming output capacity of the commission. [4]

Awards and honors

Prior to his appointment as a Fish Commissioner, McDonald’s has been awarded gold medals and diplomas from international fishery exhibitions at Berlin and London and a silver medal from the Acclimation Society in Paris for his inventions and improvements in the field of fish farming. [4] [13] [18] In addition, he received a “special medal” from the Acclimation Society for a fish ladder for the Vienna River in southwestern France . [4] [13]

Later life and death

McDonald’s Row House at 1514 R Street, Northwest in the Logan Circleneighborhood of Washington, DCwhere he resided until his death in 1895.

At the time de son Application submission to the Sons of the American Revolution in 1890 McDonald Was Residing at 1514 R Street Northwest in what is now Known as the Logan Circle neighborhood of Washington, DC [3] After Suffering from tuberculosis for Several months , [4] [26] McDonald traveled to the Adirondack Mountains with his wife in the early summer of 1895 seeking to benefit from the region’s “health-giving air.” [26] McDonald’s condition began to deteriorate and returned to his home in Washington, DC where he died on Sunday morning, September 1, 1895. [2] [4][26] McDonald’s Nannie in Lot 432 East at Oak Hill Cemetery in Washington’s Georgetown neighborhood. [27]

McDonald was a member of the Protestant Episcopal Church and served as a vestryman at Lee Chapel , which was partly instrumental in building. [28]


In his Forest and Stream magazine following McDonald’s death in 1895, Charles Hallock recounted “the record of [McDonald’s] administration is an honorable one by the death of Commissioner McDonald the country loses a public officer who has served faithfully honestly and well.” [4] “The closing of his life is a loss to fish culture and to the public interests.” [4] Marcus Benjamin , in his remembrance of McDonald’s for the District of Columbia Sons of the American Revolution, remarked: “His articles and reports on the fishing industries of the world are of great interest and their efforts in the oyster have resulted in much good. ” [18]Benjamin further stated, “McDonald’s has been always kind and generous to a fault, and his tread and affairs have been remunerated in his long line of military ancestry.” [18]


McDonald married Mary Eliza McCormick (October 18, 1840 – February 8, 1934 [29] [30] ), daughter of Colonel Francis McCormick and his wife Rose Mortimer Ellzey, on December 17, 1867 at her family’s estate “Frankford” near Berryville in Clarke County , Virginia. [29] [31] Mary was born on October 18, 1840 at “Weehaw” in Clarke County and was educated at Richmond Seminary. [29] McDonald and his wife had four children, two of whom survived to adulthood: [29]

  • Mary McDonald (born and died March 1869, Lexington, Virginia) [29]
  • Rose Mortimer Ellzey McDonald Skoggs (November 23, 1871, Lexington, Virginia – 1953, Berryville, Virginia) [29]
  • Angus McDonald (May 28, 1873, Lexington, Virginia – January 17, 1905, Milner , Idaho ) [29] [32]
  • Nannie Frank McDonald (January 17, 1883, Washington, DC – April 10, 1886, Washington, DC) [29]


In 1890, McDonald applied for and acquired membership in the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution through the branch of the District of Columbia. [3] [5 [5 [5 [5 [5] He was qualified for membership by his great-grandfather, Colonel Angus McDonald , who served in the French and Indian War , Dunmore’s War , and the American Revolutionary War after immigrating to the Thirteen Colonies from Inverness , Scotland following his battle after the Battle of Culloden . [3] [5]Colonel Angus McDonald was appointed by General George Washington to serve as a Lieutenant Colonel in command of Virginia’s revolutionary forces. [5] He also served on various revolutionary issues throughout the war. [5] McDonald aussi qualified for membership through His descent from His great-grandfather, William Sanford of Hampshire County, Virginia, and through His great-great-grandfather, William McGuire of Frederick County , Virginia, both, of Whom served as commissioned officers in Virginia revolutionary forces. [3] [5] McDonald was formally elected to the society on January 27, 1890. [5]


  • McDonald, Marshall; Virginia Military Institute (1879). Semi-annual Report of the Superintendent of the Virginia Military Institute: Enclosing the Report of a Geological and Mineral Examination of a Portion of the James River Iron-belt . RE Frayser, Superintendent Public Printer.
  • McDonald, Marshall; United States Commission of Fish and Fisheries (1889). Report of Operations at the Wytheville Station, Virginia, from January 1, 1885 to June 30, 1887 . Washington, DC : United States Government Printing Office .
  • McDonald, Marshall; United States Commission of Fish and Fisheries (1895). Bulletin of the United States Fish Commission, Volume XIV, for 1894 . Washington, DC : United States Government Printing Office .


  1. ^ Jump up to:i Blume 2011 , p. 315.
  2. ^ Jump up to:i Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle 1896 , p. 99.
  3. ^ Jump up to:e National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution (1890), Sons of the American Revolution Membership Applications: Marshall McDonald , Louisville , Kentucky : National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution , retrieved May 1, 2012
  4. ^ Jump up to:t Bruette 1895 , p. 200.
  5. ^ Jump up to:h Benjamin 1897 , p. 35.
  6. ^ Jump up to:m Leslie 1888 , p. 419.
  7. ^ Jump up to:c Williams 1911 , p. 218.
  8. ^ Jump up to:g Munske & Kerns 2004 , p. 183.
  9. Jump up^ Virginia General Assembly 1839, p. 131.
  10. Jump up^ Morrison 1917, p. 152.
  11. ^ Jump up to:m Moore 1895 , p. 1043.
  12. Jump up^ National Archives and Records Administration (1850), 1850 United States Federal Census, Year: 1850; Census Place: District 24, Hampshire, Virginia; Roll: M432_948; Page: 176A; Image: 355. , 1850 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2009. Images reproduced by FamilySearch. , retrieved May 1, 2012
  13. ^ Jump up to:j “Col. Marshall McDonald, Newly Appointed Fish Commissioner.” , The Meriden Daily Republican , January 28, 1888 , retrieved May 1, 2012
  14. Jump up^ Williams 1911, p. 219.
  15. ^ Jump up to:e Davis 1992 , p. 323.
  16. ^ Jump up to:e Williams 1911 , p. 222.
  17. ^ Jump up to:d Wise 1882 , p. 19.
  18. ^ Jump up to:n o Benjamin 1897, p. 36.
  19. Jump up^ Virginia Military Institute 1869, p. 13.
  20. ^ Jump up to:c Smith 1890
  21. ^ Jump up to:b Williams 1911 , p. 227.
  22. ^ Jump up to:b Taylor 2001 , p. 83.
  23. ^ Jump up to:b Moore 1895 , p. 1042.
  24. Jump up^ Taylor 2001, p. 3.
  25. ^ Jump up to:c Bowers 1902 , p. 317.
  26. ^ Jump up to:d “Death of Marshall McDonald, The US Fish Commissioner Dies After Long Suffering from Pulmonary Disease.” , The New York Times , September 2, 1895 , retrieved May 1, 2012
  27. Jump up^ “Oak Hill Cemetery: Burials in East Lot 432” (PDF) . Georgetown ,Washington, DC : Oak Hill Cemetery . Retrieved May 1, 2012 .
  28. Jump up^ Williams 1911, p. 235.
  29. ^ Jump up to:h McIlhany 1903 , pp. 153-154.
  30. Jump up^ Cut 1952, p. 13.
  31. Jump up^ Williams 1911, p. 229.
  32. Jump up^ Williams 1911, p. 238.

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