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 William Alexander MacKay

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William Alexander MacKay

  • Birth 12 Aug 1850 Carroll County, Illinois, USA
  • Death 7 Apr 1915 Madison, Lake County, South Dakota, USA
  • Burial Mount Carroll, Carroll County, Illinois, USA
  • Memorial ID 68685217

William Alexander MacKay was born in rural Carroll County, Illinois on the thriving farm owned by his proud Scottish father. He was one of at least 10 children born to his German mother. In this large, hard-working family, he was especially close to his brothers, Daniel and Henry, and attended the University of Illinois with them, all graduating in 1876. He returned home and took a teaching position in the county. He married Clara G. Shirk in 1881 and they welcomed son Jesse John in 1882 and daughter Zella in 1885. Clara fell ill, and died in 1889. William decided that the adventurous life of a railroad employee appealed to him and he traveled widely through Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, and other places, but it was the new state of South Dakota that caught his eye. The Great Dakota Boom of gold rushes, infrastructure development, and commercial opportunities sounded sweet. So, in 1894, he married Olive Winifred Whittredge of Minneapolis and disembarked permanently in Madison, South Dakota, near the new lines of the Great Northern Railroad. He learned the banking business as a cashier at the First National Bank there and the loan business through employment with MH Daly. Then, with his brother Daniel as a partner, established the MacKay Brothers Banking House where he eventually became president of the successful institution. He still loved traveling even into his later years, and visited South America and Europe, but also reached exotic destinations in China, Japan, and the Hawaiian islands.

Two obituaries exist for William, both from Madison, South Dakota:

Passed away last evening--
Body to be taken to Mt. Carroll, Ill.
W. A. Mackay, who has been confined to the house since early in the winter, and who has been lingering near death's door for several days, passed peacefully away at 8:30 last evening. The deceased had passed through a siege of fever from which he did not seem to recover, and it was finally decided that the seat of the trouble was in the kidneys. Realizing that he might not recover, Mr. Mackay made disposition of his property some weeks ago, yet he cherished hope to near the end that he would pull through, and remarked to his attendants that he wanted to get out with the opening of Spring.... He is survived by his widow and son Jesse Mackay, of this city, a daughter, Mrs. Zella Joiner of Polo, Ill., two brothers, D. F. Mackay, of this city, Henry Mackay, an attorney of Mt. Carroll, and three sisters, Miss Mary Mackay of Mt. Carroll, Mrs. Charles Weston of Hot Springs, Nebr., Mrs. Katherine Peabody of Kent, Wash. A short funeral service will be conducted by Rev. McKibbin at the home at 8:30 in the morning and the body will be taken on the early passenger to Mt. Carroll, Ill., for burial in the Mackay family plot. The banks of the city will not open in the morning until after the leaving of the train out of respect to the deceased.
A post mortem held on the body last evening by the doctors of the city disclosed the fact that Mr. Mackay's sickness was due to a disorder of the kidneys.

DEATH OF A BANKER: William A. Mackay passed away at the family home last evening
William A. Mackay died at the family home on East Ninth Street at 8:30 o'clock last evening after an illness extending over several months. D. F. Mackay of this city states that in young manhood his brother suffered a siege of typhoid fever which left him with weak kidneys from which he suffered more or less ever after. Early in December last year, he suffered a second attack of typhoid fever which was successfully combatted by his physicians, but his kidneys were reinfected and from this disease death resulted. Deceased is survived by widow, one son, J. J. Mackay of this city, one daughter, Mrs. Zella Joiner of Polo, Ill., two brothers, D. F. Mackay of this city and Henry Mackay of Mt. Carroll, Ill., two sisters, Mrs. Helen Weston and Miss Mary Mackay of Mt. Carroll, Ill. The former sister was with her brother during the greater part of his illness and at the time of his death. A third brother, Daniel Mackay, who visited his brothers in this city a number of times, died at Mt. Carroll a few weeks ago. A short funeral service conducted by the Rev. C. McKibbin of the Presbyterian church will be held at the home at 8 a. m. tomorrow after which the remains will be removed to the depot and taken to Mt. Carrol, Ill., the boyhood home of the deceased banker for burial. As a mark of respect, the banks of the city will not open at the usual hour tomorrow morning, but remain closed until after the departure of the train bearing the remains of their associate.

Sources for this biography include:

-- THE ALUMNI RECORD OF THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS, pp. 91-92, edited by James Herbert Kelley, 1913, University of Illinois Press, Urbana-Champaign, Illinois
-- MADISON DAILY SENTINEL, 8 April 1915, Madison, South Dakota
-- MADISON DAILY LEADER, 8 April 1915, Madison, South Dakota
-- THE SEMI-CENTENNIAL ALUMNI RECORD OF THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS, edited by Franklin W. Scott, 1918, University of Illinois Press, Urbana-Champaign, Illinois
-- Janet Reasoner.

Family Members


Aug. 12, 1850
Apr. 7, 1915

  • Maintained by: PerseidsGirl
  • Originally Created by: Janet Reasoner
  • Added: 20 Apr 2011
  • Find A Grave Memorial 68685217
  • PerseidsGirl
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for William Alexander MacKay (12 Aug 1850–7 Apr 1915), Find A Grave Memorial no. 68685217, citing Oakville Cemetery, Mount Carroll, Carroll County, Illinois, USA ; Maintained by PerseidsGirl (contributor 47740091) .