?M A R I L Y N ! ! !
Sorry to keep you waiting. How are you? Most of that material you sent regarding Captain McDonald is probably in a landfill somewhere in Jefferson, St. John or St. James Parish, Louisiana so I have to rely on memory, which presents no major problem most of the time. I've usually got about 96% recall. Occasionally, I'm like the guy that said, "There are two sure indications of approaching old age. The first is loss of memory but I can't remember the other."
I'm single again. I run around with this ol' girl. My favorite, she's usually first in line when I open my door. For this, I've nicknamed her "Eenie". The next three in line I call "Meeny", "Miney" and "Moe". I spend a lot of time with Eenie but I'm working my way down the line. I'll get to all the others eventually.
Like most women, Eenie lies about her age. She tells everyone she’s 29 but she's really 34 (she recently opened her purse to pay for lunch - my kinda woman - and I got a peek at her driver's license). She’d easily pass for 25.
I went for a check-up. I told my doctor about Eenie. He says, "That’s quite an age difference, how often do you . . . . ?" I told him, "Almost every day." (Okay, I'll admit I held out a little. I didn’t fully explain that "Almost every day" actually means almost on Monday, almost on Tuesday, almost on Wednesday . . . . . )
Then he says, "That kind of exertion can be dangerous; it’s been known to cause a heart attack. Very often a fatal one." So I told him, "If she dies, she dies."
I well remember researching Captain Robert McDonald. I contacted the cemetery several times but they have little beyond the scantiest burial information. I was unable to determine whether he ever married. He retired in 1886 at the mandatory age of 64, a ripe age for marriage but it was common then, especially for disabled Civil War veterans, to marry younger women, mainly to have someone on hand to care for them (the women, most of whom outlived their veteran husbands, were then eligible for widows' pensions).
I seem to recall you mentioning you once contacted San Francisco public records attempting to get information. You'll note he was living in Eden in June of 1900. Eden is in Hayward Township, Alameda County. San Francisco is in San Francisco County (actually, both are coterminus although politically separate - pretty much like New Orleans and Orleans Parish in Louisiana). Since he died less than a year later, it's quite possible he was still living in Eden. If you haven't already, you might check with Alameda County records. Oakland is the County Seat. You can get the address from the Reference Desk of your local public library.
Some time ago, you inquired as to the possibility of a military funeral. Probably not. The medal was then only beginning to gain the prominence it now enjoys (sometimes I feel it's just another thing we've elevated to a status far above what it actually deserves). If there was, in fact, a special ceremony, it would more likely have been due to his being a retired commissioned officer.
As I recall, Ray Collins gave me his burial site years ago. Ray and McDonald had a few things in common. About a hundred years apart. They were both "mustangs" and falsified their respective ages - howbeit conversely - at enlistment. Ray falsified his age to join the Army around 1935. He served with 17th Airborne Division in World War II; got a field commission and retired from the Army as a captain in 1960. He then joined the VA and retired in 1980 or so. He was Director of Memorial Affairs when he retired (he designed the distinctive grave marker for Medal of Honor awardees in 1976).
Ray's "thing" was locating gravesites of deceased Medal of Honor winners. After retiring from the VA, in over a little more than twenty years, he located and marked about a thousand or so graves. Those who won their medals prior to World War I he located their respective gravesites through pension records at the Archives in D.C. He lived in Arlington and went over to the Archives several times a week. We worked together, developing and sharing information - a couple thousand miles apart - for years. He did look-ups for me at the Archives and saved me a fortune in research costs over the years. He was a great guy and I sure miss him.
Our mutual friend - yours and mine - in D.C. has apparently gone out of business. I can relate to that. These days, everybody with a copy of Stanton and a handful of websites is an "expert" and it seems there's an ever-increasing number of those who, like our "friend" "Captain" Mark S. Rooney, have what's commonly called the "welfare mentality" or subscribe to what I call "Roosevelt's Legacy" - something akin to "YOU devote YOUR time and resources to providing ME with what I want or need so I can squander MY resources on SOMETHING ELSE!"
Sometimes I feel like the Ol' Hooker who, with the advent of the "Free Love" Movement back in the '60's, had to retire because she couldn't compete with all the young flippies who were giving it away.
Speaking of Rooney. I gave him instructions how to file an action in Federal Court. Also the address of his IRS District Office and instructions on how to file an IRS Form 211 (I worked with IRS for years - I emphasize "with" and not "for" - I helped them get rid of all the stuff they steal). Haven't heard a word from him since. I still don't know what he was a "captain" of. Probably another "wannabe" or re-enactment nut. Nothing personal but a lot of these types really get carried away. I’ve always wondered where the hell they were when a war was going on and they had a chance to do it for real.
In addition to research, I’ve for years devoted time and resources to exposing "wannabes" and other types of phonies; mostly Medal of Honor imposters. A while back, about the time the law was amended (Title 18 U.S.C., Chapter 33, §704) to stiffen penalties for unauthorized wear of military awards, etc., one of the first test cases prosecuted was a "wannabe" named Manley from Florida. For years he passed himself off as a Vietnam Medal of Honor winner. Incredibly bold, he was for years a regular guest at functions held at military intallations near his home. Mainly, Forts Benning and Stewart.
He'd show up in dress blues (marine corps), wearing a Medal of Honor and an incredible array of other decorations and awards. During an event at Benning - his last as it turned out - he said something that made Bob Nett suspicious (Nett won the medal in the Pacific during World War II). Nett contacted me and I confirmed that Manley was an imposter.
(The above may sound odd but most legitimate holders of the medal actually know very little about the medal. Jack Lucas, a native of North Carolina, once e-mailed me asking why Southerners weren’t eligible for the medal during the Civil War. At first, I thought he was pulling my leg but when I realized he was serious I explained it was simply because, at that time, they were the ENEMY! Another, Forrest Vosler, was unaware his name had been listed incorrectly [and is still so]. He had never read the official list - or even his own citation. Ever.)
Speaking of "wannabes." I haven't been posting here for some time. Last month, one of my "spies" informed me of suspicions about one of the regular contributors here. This guy, "David R. Berry", began posting a few years ago and, initially, seemed knowlegeable and capable enough. His "researh" has gotten thinner over the years. He parades around wearing a full-size Army Pathfinder Badge, which looks ridiculous on the lapel of a blazer or suit jacket - claims some veterans' association, re-enactment group (or whatever) "awarded" it to him for doing research for them for 25 years. The badge was created in the 1960's to identify the wearer as a graduate of the Pathfinder Course. The only legal conferring authority is the Commandant of The Infantry School at Fort Benning. Period.
Since shortly after the Vietnam War ended, there's been an increasing number of individuals, veterans and non-veterans alike, wearing unauthorized awards, insignia, etc., mainly to either embellish their service or to imply military service that never occurred. This apparently increased to a point where authorities considered strict legislative action necessary. Under 18 U.S.C. §704, criminal penalties may now be imposed. Upon enactment, enforcement was assigned to Thomas A. Cottone, Jr., a Special Agent of the Newark, New Jersey Field Office of the FBI.
Just recently, Cottone attended a funeral in New York State. Some character attended wearing an array of military awards. Suspicious, Cottone arrested the guy.
He's now awaiting trial, facing a fine of up to $100,000 or 12 months confinement or BOTH. Seems like a heavy price to pay for showing off; trying to impress a lot of people who don't care one way or another. (One of my earliest and most profound life lessons, from my Great-grandfather, my Grandfather and my Dad - each of whom I knew personally - is that it's ridiculous to show off, because most, if not all, of those you're trying to impress are themselves too busy showing off to notice.)
I assume Sterner is the "Medal of Honor researcher" you referred to. He appeared out of nowhere a few years ago - no one had ever heard of him. He promptly declared himself the "formost authority on the Medal of Honor" or some such, set up his website and has been shamelessly pirating and plagiarizing ever since. Most of the info relating to Medal of Honor winners at that 'site has been taken, verbatim, from a two-volume set put together several years ago by Ray Collins, George Lang, Jerry White, myself and a bunch of others, from information developed over many years by the above as well as Ed Murphy, Bruce Jacobs and many, many more.
I'm going to close and get this off to you. I'm fully retired now. I travel a lot. I'm really forunate. Most, in the course of their professional lives, have resources but don't have the time to really enjoy anything. When they retire it's the opposite. Somehow I've managed to achieve just the right balance.
Let me know if there's anything you need. I'll be happy to accomodate. I seem to recall McDonald was born at or near Glasgow, Edinburgh or Aberdeen. They're all seaports so it may be maybe he immigrated from one of those. Also, I'll have someone send files on your cousin Eugene Hand or I'll give you instructions on how to order them yourself. A while back I found a stack of of files several people requested but didn't claim and threw them out.
Again, keep in touch and don't hesitate to contact me if you need anything.