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A Day at the Beach, circa 1910

I knew my Oklahoma great-grandparents. Both sets were alive and kicking until I was in high school so they were real people to me. My Florida great-grandparents, however seem so long ago. They were older than my Oklahoma great-grandparents, they died before I was born, but I think more importantly, that side of the family is in Florida. I didn’t grow up hearing stories about them. To me they are just names on a family tree. So here they are. Olive Mae Wink and Donald Graham McKay.

Olive and Donald McKay, on AmericanSaga

Ollie and Donald McKay about 1910

Both were born in Whiteside County, Illinois. Donald in 1869 and Ollie, as she was known, in 1870.  They married in 1890, about the time my other great-grandparents were born. According to the History of Whiteside County, Illinois, Donald previously taught school and had been in the life insurance business. In 1908, however, he had purchased land and was farming.

He didn’t stay a farmer long. He made some trips to Florida and soon he packed everyone into the Model T and moved. He was in real estate now.

By this time they had five kids: known to me as Aunt Iva, b. 1892; Aunt Mildred, b. 1896; Aunt Gertie, 1899; Uncle Donald, b. 1902; and Grandma, Kathryn, called Kat, b. 1905.

McKay 4

Couple at far right: Donald & Ollie McKay, at the beach with friends. About 1910, Florida.

I think they were in Jacksonville for a short time, but very soon they were homesteading in Kissimmee.

McKay 3

Donald & Ollie Wink McKay homestead in Florida. McKay family gathered in the front yard.

I wonder if they made the move in one of those cars. My brother said Aunt Gertie told him during the trip–that must have taken forever–they stayed for a while in Georgia to make adjustments to the car. Adjustments as in they had to get new axles made?!!

Roads in the south were the width of the wagons that hauled a bale of cotton. Which was not the same width as roads in the north. But they weren’t roads as we know them, for the most part they were ruts in the dirt. So the wheels of the car had to fit in those ruts or it was very rough traveling, if you could use the road at all.

The McKays moved from Kissimmee to Orlando between 1921, when Aunt Gertie married there and 1927 when Grandma married in Orlando. Donald was ahead of the Florida real estate boom of the 1920s, but unfortunately he couldn’t get out before it crashed. At one time he owned the land that Disney World now occupies. In 1926 real estate prices crashed in Florida. Donald was going broke. And then the stock market crashed in 1929 which must have compounded whatever trouble he was having.

Donald G. McKay died in a hunting accident in September 10, 1930. He was 61 years old. The story is he was climbing through a fence and the gun went off. Hunting accident is the official cause of death listed on his death certificate, but the family generally believed it to be a suicide.

In high school I learned there were many suicides due to the 1929 stock market crash, but I had no idea there was likely one in my family.

Jan

P.S. While I have no idea who the photographer was, the photos came from descendants of one of Olive’s older sisters, Axaphia Wink Kennedy. Her son DeWitt was friends with his McKay cousins, Aunt Gertie in particular and they stayed in touch for a while after the move. He went to Florida to visit about 1911. Years later, his daughter Jayne came across the pictures and assembled them into an album. She emailed me a copy and these are the only images I have of my great grandparents, Ollie and Donald McKay. Thanks, Jayne!

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Posted by on July 13, 2017 in McKay

 

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