Don MacAskill and Emma Tapley MacAskill

by Sharon McConnel

"Father Donald Angus MacAskill, born March 10, 1845, in Nova Scotia; mother Emma Augusta Tapley, born January 5, 1852, in Brunswick; married in Forest City, Maine, on November 12, 1872, minister, Rev. E. S. French" - so reads my mother's worn family history notebook, writing of her father's parents, and so began my MacAskill family history quest.

Forest City straddles the international border formed by the Saint Croix River, known locally simply as "The Stream." As the name indicates, it was a logging town. The Methodist Church was on the U.S. side, the Baptist Church on the Canadian side.

The year before their marriage, in the 1871 census, twenty-six year old Donald MacAskill was counted in Munro's Point, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, in the household of Angus MacAskill. Fifty-two year old Angus listed his place of birth as Scotland, his occupation as farmer and fisherman, his religion as United Presbyterian. In the same household were Christy, also 52 years, also born in Scotland, also United Presbyterian; Sarah age 24; Mary age 19; Angus age 13; John age 8; all born in Nova Scotia. The tombstone inscription at Goose Cove Cemetery which reads

Angus MacAskill, Native of Harris, Scotland, who came to this country in 1828.
Died at Munros Point, St Anns 21 May 1894 age 76 yrs
Wife Christina MacLeod 14 July 1886 age 70 yrs

In the 1871 census Emma Tapley was counted as a servant in the John Cunliff household, in Woodstock Parrish, Carlton County, Brunswick. Internet family trees list her parents as Osmond Tapley and Amelia Stockers. These two names, Osmond and Amelia, will be repeated in the naming of the children of Emma and Donald. After Amelia died in 1858, Emma's father Osmond married Mary Martha Bond and John Cunliff, his daughter's employer in 1871, was a witness to that marriage.

The young couple, Donald and Emma, were living in Maine when their daughter Mary was born October 1873. They were in Augusta, Kennebec County, in July 1875 when daughter Christine was born.

In the later 1870's, they moved their young family to the mining boom town of Eureka in eastern Nevada. The transcontinental Central Pacific Railroad, completed in 1869, ran next to the Humbolt River, eighty miles to the north. A narrow-gauge spur line, the Eureka Palisade Railroad, opened October 1875, connecting Eureka, "The Pittsburgh of the West," with the main line, twenty-some miles west of Elko. What the trip west was like with the two small girls, we can only imagine. Eureka's population had reached almost 9000 by 1878 and it was second only to Virginia City. It was a boom town, complete with an opera house, saloons, restaurants, dance halls, and union halls. Sitting at 6,500 feet on the west slope of the Diamond Mountains, the temperatures quickly drops at night. Indeed, when we visited there the first of October 2002, it had snowed earlier in the day.

Don and Emma's third daughter Amelia was born in Eureka in January 1879 and their first son was Neil Angus born April 1880.

In the 1880 census, Don's occupation was listed as refinery worker and he was counted in a household with three other men, on a page with other similar households. Emma was counted several pages later on a page predominated by households headed by "mothers" with children. Emma herself was five doors from the shopkeeper and six from the school teacher. Presumably the job demands or distance were such that the refinery workers were unable to return to their homes at night. The average mine worker worked twelve to fifteen hours a day for three dollars a day.

Other MacAskills were counted in Nevada on the 1880 census. John McCaskill, age 33, single, born in Nova Scotia, was counted at Pine Station the tent community on the railroad line between Eureka and Palisade, in Eureka County. John McAskill, age 36, b. in Nova Scotia, a blacksmith, was counted in Washoe County, on the Nevada-California border, with his twenty year old wife Linda and their two year old daughter Birdy. Whether these men were related to Donald is not known at this time.

In the next decade three more children completed the family - Mabel born May 1881; Agnes Ruth, April 1886; and Donald Osmond "Dan," March 1891.

By 1890 only 1600 people were left in Eureka. The boom days were over, mining was bust and the miners moved on. Yet MacAskills remained.

In July 1893, Christy, Don and Emma's second born, married James Herbert "Bob" Morcom in Washoe County. Since that is across the state from Eureka and the residence of John and Linda McAskill, one can not help but wonder if there was a family connection. A year later their daughter Pearl was born in Eureka. Morcoms second daughter Ruby was born October 1897, in the Idaho mining community of Delamar in Owyhee County.

The next daughter to marry was Mary in August 1897 and she wed Fred B. Turner in Elko. Their son Fred W. was born the following fall, a second son Donald two years later.

The Eureka Palisade railroad which connected Eureka to the outside world was now running sporadically. In June 1900 Don and Emma were enumerated in Eureka County, in Ruby Hill precinct, two miles southwest of Eureka. Donald and son Neil were working as miners. Unmarried daughters Amelia and Mabel were still at home as were fourteen-year old Agnes and nine-year old Donald, "Dan."

Amelia married Arthur Donald Sego November 1901 in Eureka and Mabel married John B. McKenney the following spring in Elko. Both Sego and McKenney worked the mines in Cortez, Nevada, northwest of Eureka.

Sometime in late 1901 or early 1902, after roughly twenty-five years in Eureka, and in their mid-fifties, Don and Emma moved north over 300 miles to the mining town of Pearl, Idaho, in the southwest corner of what was then Boise County. Pearl is two thousand feet lower in elevation than Eureka, along Willow Creek, with a population of around 240 people. Pearl was not as large as Eureka, but it was thriving. There was a mercantile store, a drug store, post office, barber shop, butcher and slaughter house, several boarding houses, school, at least two saloons and a community water system that serviced this community tucked in the foothills. Boise City was about twenty miles away, Emmett, on the Payette River bank, closer, and Caldwell about thirty miles. Several freighters traveled the Willow Creek road regularly. Don found work at the Black Pearl. Mary MacAskill Turner, her husband Fred W. and their two small sons, moved to Pearl in 1901. Whether they moved before her parents or at the same time is not known.

By 1903 both McKenneys and Segos had also moved to Pearl. By the time of the 1910 census, daughter Christy Morcom, her husband Bob, and their children had also joined the rest of the family in Pearl.

In August 1915 Donald Angus MacAskill died in Pearl. He was survived by his wife Emma, sons Neil and Donald, daughters Mary Turner, Amelia "Millie" Sego, Mabel McKenney, and Agnes Ruth, who later married Paul Richard Whitaker. His daughter Christine "Christy" Morcom had died five years earlier. Twenty-six grandchildren would reach adulthood. His two sons, his sons-in-law and many of his grandsons worked in the mines of Warren and Atlanta, Idaho, as well as Pearl, Silver City and Delamar; and also in Butte, Montana. Emma Tapley MacAskill, his widow, died January 1936. They are both buried in Pearl. See Pearl Cemetery for tombstone photographs.

this article first appeared in the "MacAskill Sept Society Newsletter," Volumne IV, Number 4, Winter 2007.

The Story of Pearl    |     Pearl 1902

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