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Manuscripts by Subject - Family / Local History - #11100

Title: Alexander McKenzie Family                                                        
Dates:   1889-1944

Collection Number: MSS 11100

Quantity: 2.75 feet, plus artifacts
Abstract: Papers consist of correspondence to Elva A. McKenzie (1856-1922) from Alexander McKenzie (1851-1922), miscellaneous correspondence to Alexander, Elva, Jeannette (1888-1979), Alexander Jr. and Thomas McKenzie, personal files, financial material, legal documents, newspaper clippings, photographs and several artifacts.

The collection consists of Elva McKenzie’s personal effects, which were acquired by her daughter Jeannette at the time of her death in 1922. Some of Jeannette’s personal correspondence and material, dating after her mothers’ death, is also in the collection. Personal material of Alexander McKenzie was likely left in the family apartments/home in New York City and Yonkers after his visits, and added to Elva’s paper in the family collection.
The book The Spoilers by Rex Beach (1905) was added to the collection from the State Archives publications. The gold mining scandal at Nome, AK, was the basis for the novel, which Beach witnessed firsthand. The villain Alec McNamara in the novel is based on Alexander McKenzie.

Provenance: The collection was donated by Joe Moltzen of Guilderland, NY, October 10, 2011. The collection was likely given to Joe Moltzen’s uncle, Frank Moltzen, by one of the relatives of Alexander McKenzie, probably Jeannette.

Property Rights: The State Historical Society of North Dakota owns the property rights to this collection.

Copyrights: Copyrights to this collection remain with the donor, publisher, author, or author's heirs. Researchers should consult the 1976 Copyright Act, Public Law 94-553, Title 17, U.S. Code or an archivist at this repository if clarification of copyright requirements is needed.

Access: This collection is open under the rules and regulations of the State Historical Society of North Dakota.   

Citation: Researchers are requested to cite the collection title, collection number, and the State Historical Society of North Dakota in all footnote and bibliographic references.

Transfer: The book The Spoilers, Rex Beach, 1905 was added to the collection in September 2011. Five artifacts were offered to the Museums Division in September 2011. A listing of these artifacts can be found in the collection case file.

Related Collections:       
Alexander McKenzie Papers (MSS 10042)
Janet Beltran Research Files (MSS 11088)
Burleigh County Court Estate Records (Series 41200, box 102)
Isaac Post Baker Papers (MSS 10062)
Edward G. Patterson Papers (MSS 10989)
Orin J. Libby Papers (MSS 10085)
Burleigh County Clerk of Court Civil Case Files (Series 40761)
Burleigh County Clerk of Court District Court Journal, 1874-1883 (Series 40763 Volume A)
Joseph W. Jackson Manuscript (MSS 10323).
Photograph Collection: 1952 (image 4796)
Photograph Collection: A2072
Photograph Collection: A2279
Photograph Collection: 0070 (image 169)
Photograph Collection: 0200-5x7-0938
Photograph Collection: 022-H-0140
Photograph Collection: 0070 (image 041)

Collection notes:  The collection is discussed in the article “Alex McKenzie Carried This Secret to His Grave: Daughter by Wife He Kept Hidden 32 Years Tells Story,” The Minneapolis Sunday Tribune 20 August 1922, p. 1: “Jeannette says a wedding license is among her mother’s personal effects, locked up in a safety deposit vault in the bank at Yonkers, awaiting probate of her mother’s will. Jeannette is executor of the will.”


Alexander McKenzie was born on April 3, either 1850 or 1851, to AnnaBelle (McCrea or McRae) and Alexander John McKenzie, probably in Ontario, Canada. Both parents were from Scotland, probably Kintail. Shortly after their arrival in Canada, Alexander’s father, a schoolteacher, died of tuberculosis at the new family home in Glencoe. His mother married Murdoch McRae (no relation to her parents) several years later. They had eight children in Beaverton, Ontario: John, Duncan, Farquhar, Donald, William, Katherine, Mary (Cook), and Jeanette McRae.

Alexander McKenzie made his way to Dakota Territory (DT) sometime in the 1860s. In the spring of 1867 he was part of a wagon train from St. Paul to Fort Rice under the command of Don Stevenson. By the early 1870s, McKenzie was working in Brainerd, MN, as a jailer. It was here that he probably met his first wife, Mary Ellen Hayes. He came to Fargo, DT, as a spikeman on the Northern Pacific Railroad and in 1872 was put in charge of the track laying from Fargo westward; it reached Bismarck in 1873. The panic of 1873 halted construction of the railroad tracks, and McKenzie settled in Bismarck. Soon after, he went into business as manufacturer of carbonated beverages.

In late December 1873 or early 1874, McKenzie was appointed Sheriff of Burleigh County. He was reelected four times until he retired from office in 1886. Also in 1874, McKenzie met George P. Flannery, lawyer, who taught him to write, and became a lifelong friend. When Bismarck was incorporated in 1875, McKenzie was elected Councilman for the Third Ward. On February 22 of that same year, he became a U.S. citizen. By 1882, McKenzie was serving as Deputy U.S. Marshal. He was also involved in real estate business in and around Bismarck. He purchased Northern Pacific land with Elijah Coffin in late 1882 and formed the McKenzie & Holmes Real Estate Company. In 1883 he and Governor Ordway organized the Capital National Bank of Bismarck. McKenzie served as director.

In 1883, McKenzie took Sioux Chiefs Sitting Bull, Gall, Crazy Horse, and John Grass, as well as other people and materials to the territorial exhibit at the Minnesota State Fair. This successful display resulted in McKenzie’s assignment to finance and arrange another for the World’s Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition at New Orleans in 1884-1885. He put up twenty thousand dollars of his own money to finance the display. He assembled a traveling single railroad car show that exhibited ND products around the country, in cooperation with the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad, ending up at New Orleans as the exhibit.

In the 1900 United State Federal Census, McKenzie lists “capitalist” as his occupation. Throughout his lifetime he had many business interests all across North America, including, but not limited to: stockyards along the Northern Pacific line at Fargo, Jamestown and Mandan, ND, and Glendive, MT; mining interests in British Columbia, Canada; bond business, New York City; Cook Construction Company, contractors, MN; Cook Construction Company, Ltd., Canada; Cayunga Range iron mine, Cook, Donahue, & McKenzie Gloria Mining Co., manganese ore; Stiles Cattle Co., Standing Rock Reservation, ND; Bismarck Water Works, Bismarck, DT/ND; Todd Land Co., Tuttle Land Co., Bismarck, ND; gold mines, Nome, AK; the Bismarck Land Improvement Co.; and the Bismarck Trust Co.

McKenzie built the McKenzie Hotel which opened on January 1, 1911 on Main Street, Bismarck, after an 1898 fire destroyed many buildings. The ground level was partly occupied by the post office, and the second story was occupied by United States Courtroom and the office of the surveyor general. The hotel was eventually purchased by Edward Patterson, a friend of McKenzie’s, and renamed the Patterson Hotel in 1923.

McKenzie originally entered politics as a Democrat. He was elected one of the five delegates from DT to the Democratic National Convention at Cincinnati, OH. McKenzie was re-elected Sheriff on the Democratic ticket in 1880. Within the next two years, McKenzie switched parties and became a Republican. McKenzie became so influential in North Dakota politics that by 1883, he had been granted “freedom of the house” which allowed him to circulate through the house chambers. He was the lobbyist and political voice for the Northern Pacific in the early legislatures. He also lobbied the railroad companies for more trackage north of the Great Northern Line. He was intimately involved in ND and national politics until February 1908, when he announced that he would not accept another term as Republican National Committeeman.

McKenzie was appointed to the commission to relocate the capitol from Yankton in
1883. Railway interests pushed for Bismarck to be the new capitol, as that was the end of the Northern Pacific Railroad line. Bismarck was selected and the cornerstone ceremonies took place in 1883. McKenzie was involved in an unsuccessful attempt to move the Louisiana Lottery to North Dakota, 1889-1890.

Perhaps the most controversial event involving Alexander McKenzie was the scandal over gold mines in Nome, Alaska. Judge Alexander Noyes, the first judge in Nome, was a friend of McKenzie. Noyes appointed McKenzie the receiver of mines that already had owners. The pair took over the mines and began collecting the gold mined there. The owners protested, but Judge Noyes did not act. The case was taken up by a judge in San Francisco, and the owners of the mines sent lawyers to California, who returned to Alaska with orders to return the seized gold. Noyes and McKenzie refused to comply, and McKenzie was arrested and sentenced to a year in jail for contempt. He was released by a pardon from President William McKinley, and Noyes paid a small fine. Two of their staff members served prison sentences.

McKenzie married Mary Ellen Hayes in November 1873. Mary Ellen was born in NY soon after her parents emigrated from Ireland. The Hayes family was living in Brainerd, MN, in the early 1870s, when McKenzie had charge of the jail there. Alexander and Mary Ellen had three children: John Alexander, born August 28, 1875, died of diphtheria September 23, 1883, Bismarck; Mary Barbara (Foster), Westmount, Que., Canada, born about 1877, Bismarck and died in 1951; and Ann Caroline (McDonald), Regaud, Que., Canada, born May 1882, Bismarck, died in December 1949. The family lived in a house on Main Street, Bismarck until about 1884-1885 when they moved to a house on 5th Street.

In 1887, McKenzie moved the family to St. Paul and maintained a house there for his wife and two daughters, even though he was absent most of the time due to business. Alexander and Mary Ellen divorced or separated in 1887. Joseph W. Jackson wrote in his manuscript “Bismarck Boomer: The Amazing Career of Alexander McKenzie” that a McKenzie daughter from the first marriage claims that Alexander and Mary Ellen never divorced. Mary Ellen died on June 27, 1897, in St. Paul, MN. At the time of Mary Ellen’s death, Alexander was in New York City recuperating from a compound knee fracture suffered in an elevator accident in Bowling Green Building. He was disabled for two years and never fully recovered.

McKenzie married Elva (Ella) Adora Crapper. The exact date and location of their marriage is unknown. The 1900 United States Federal Census lists their marriage year as 1886, but both a transcript form the Register of Marriages in the city of Troy, NY, and their marriage certificate (in the collection) list August 13th, 1890 as the date of their marriage. On the transcript, the marriage is listed as Alexander’s first, his residence is listed as Toronto, Ontario, and his occupation is farmer. See the Scope and Content section of this document for more information on McKenzie’s marriage to Elva Crapper.

Elva was born in about 1856 in IA to Dr. Levi and Valeda (Brockway) Crapper. In 1860, she was living in Honey Creek, IA; by 1870 she was living in Taylor, Benton, IA. On December 8, 1874, Elva married David A. Tyler in Webster City, IA. They had two children, Frankie (born about 1875) and Louie (born November 1, 1879). Lewis (Louis) Tyler passed away in Multnomah County, OR, on March 23, 1954.

When McKenzie met Elva, she was Elva Stewart Tyler (it is unclear where the Stewart came from) working as a school teacher in Bismarck. Alexander and Elva had three children: Jeannette Elva McKenzie, born June 29, 1888; Alexander John “Sandy,” probably born July 16, 1889; and Thomas Oakes “Tom,” probably born about 1891 or 1892. The locations of their births are difficult to determine. Alexander McKenzie Jr.’s birthplace is listed as Canada in the 1900 and 1910 US Federal Censuses, but listed as NY in the 1930 US Census and on his World War I registration card.

Jeanette graduated from Cornell in 1914 and was involved in the movement for women’s suffrage in NY. She went on to study architecture. Jeannette was a resident of Englewood Cliffs, NJ, she died in November 1979. Alexander Jr. was a small partner with a NY importing house. He attended Lehigh University. Thomas had a real estate business in Yonkers. He graduated as a mechanical engineer from Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, and during WWI served as a radio operator, stationed at Princeton. Alexander was married twice, had a son and daughter from his first marriage, and daughters Miriam Miller (West Milford, NJ) and Lois Skeans (PA) from his second. Tom married Dorothy (maiden name unknown), but they divorced in Volusia, FL, in 1942.

The family had several servants. Among them were Mary Cunningham and Bessie Cruickshank. Mary Cunningham probably lived with the McKenzie family in NY from the late 1890s until her death in 1903 (see box 2, folder 32). Bessie Cruickshank, a Scottish immigrant, lived with them as they moved within New York City, and eventually in Yonkers.

Alexander McKenzie had many residences throughout his lifetime, including 6th and Main Street, Bismarck; 5th Street, Bismarck; Clarendon Hotel, Quebec, Canada; Merchants Hotel, St. Paul; Ashland Avenue and Grotto Street, Minnesota Club, St. Joseph’s Hospital, St. Paul, MN; New York City, Nome, AK; jail, Oakland, CA; Prescott, AZ; Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Montreal, Quebec, Canada; Winters 1920-1922 spent in FL, CA, or AZ.

Elva A. McKenzie died May 23, 1922, and Alexander McKenzie died less than a month later, on June 22, 1922, in Ramsay County, MN. Alexander was buried next to his son John at St. Mary’s cemetery in Bismarck. A large tombstone at the grave was dedicated December 28, 1922. McKenzie’s second marriage was revealed to many for the first time upon the filing for probate of McKenzie’s will. According to The New York Times, his estate was valued at $900,000. Other sources claim $1,000,000 or more. McKenzie left a bequest of $50,000 each to Elva, Jeannette, Alexander J. and Thomas McKenzie, some to George Flannery, executor of his estate, and some to his half-siblings in Canada. The rest was left to daughters Anna and Mary. A copy and transcript of a will from 1900 are in the collection, although they bequeath much different sums to Jeannette, Alexander and Thomas than the will that was used in the estate settlement, dated February 5, 1918 (A copy of this will is located in the “Alexander McKenzie” vertical file, SHSND). 

“‘A Flagrant Outrage’: James McLaughlin, Indian Country, and Illegal Bison Hunting,” Richmond L. Clow, North Dakota History 71, no. 3 & 4 (2004): 2-18.
“Alex McKenzie Carried This Secret to His Grave. Daughter by Wife He Kept Hidden 32 Years Tells Story,” Minneapolis Sunday Tribune 20 August 1922: 1.
“Alexander M’Kenzie Long time N. D. Political Boss,” Fargo Forum 8 April 1922.
Alexander McKenzie Papers. MSS 11100. State Historical Society of North Dakota, Bismarck, North Dakota.
“Alexander McKenzie,” Jeannette McKenzie, The National Cyclopedia Vol. 32 (1945): 92-93.
“Alexander McKenzie – Master Politician,” Bismarck Capital 8 November 1960: 8.
“Alexander McKenzie and the Politics of Bossism,” Robert P. Wilkins. The North Dakota
Political Tradition Thomas W. Howard (ed) 1981: 3-39.
Burleigh County Court Estate Records (Series 41200, box 102)
“Business of M’Kenzie is Detailed Here: George P. Flannery Declares on Stand His Residence Was in St. Paul,” Bismarck Tribune, 20 May 1924: p.1.
Joseph W. Jackson Manuscript. MSS 10323. State Historical Society of North Dakota, Bismarck, North Dakota.
“Marker to Alex McKenzie Will Be Dedicated Today,” Fargo Forum, 28 December 1938: 2.
North Dakota Centennial Blue Book: 47.
“Usher L. Burdick’s Early Political Career in North Dakota and the Rise of the Nonpartisan
League,” Edward C. Blackorby, North Dakota History 67, no. 3 (2000): 2-23.
“Will of Dakota ‘Boss’ Reveals Marriage: Alexander McKenzie had Wedded Second Time and Left a Family in Yonkers,” The New York Times 30 June 1922.
“Yonkers Heirs Interpose: May Contest Will of Alexander McKenzie, who Left $900,000,” The New York Times, 27 July 1922.
                Canadian Passenger Lists, 1865-1935.
                Florida Divorce Index, 1927-2001.
                Iowa Marriages, 1851-1900.
                Iowa State Census Collection.
                Minnesota Death Index.
                Minnesota Territorial and State Censuses, 1849-1905.
                Oregon Death Index, 1903-98.
                Social Security Death Index.
                United States Federal Censuses (1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920 and 1930).
                United States Passport Applications, 1795-1925.
                Washington State and Territorial Censuses, 1857-1892.
                World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918.


The Alexander McKenzie Family Papers date from 1889 to 1944 and occupy 2.75 cubic feet. The papers are divided into six Series: Correspondence, Personal Files, Legal documents, Financial Documents, Printed Material, and Photographs. Artifacts with the collection were removed and offered to the Museums Division in September 2011.

Series I, Correspondence, 1889-1944, contains four Subseries: Correspondence to Elva from Alexander McKenzie, Correspondence to Alexander McKenzie, Correspondence to Elva McKenzie, and Correspondence to McKenzie children.

Subseries I, Correspondence to Elva from Alexander McKenzie, is the most complete in the Series. This Subseries comprises the bulk of the entire collection, and contains 335 letters, 3 telegrams, and 273 envelopes. Some years contain more letters than others, and every year except 1916 contains one or more letters. This Suberies is one of the most valuable parts of the collection for researchers, because it provides insight into McKenzie’s personal and business life, written with the utmost confidence to his wife. From reading the letters, it is clear that Elva was a confidant for Alexander, whose interest in and knowledge of politics made her a valuable correspondent. Although business matters are often generalized in the letters and the letters contain references to conversations the couple had about business dealings, this Correspondence Subseries tells a lot about McKenzie’s travels and activities for a fairly long period of time, from 1889-1917. Since no datebook of McKenzie’s is known to exist, these letters are perhaps the only means to track his whereabouts during this period.

In addition to being a record of McKenzie’s business and travels, the correspondence details who McKenzie was as a human being. The ups and downs of his married life, concern for his children and family’s welfare, legal dealings, children of his first marriage, politics, sickness and health, legal issues and friends are discussed honestly and with varying emotion. Although the letters often are short and follow a typical pattern: telling Elva where he is, where he will be, explaining if and when he can visit, discussing finances, and hoping that she and the children are well, not every letter follows this pattern.

Perhaps the most historically significant span of correspondence is from about 1900 to 1902, when McKenzie was in Nome, AK, then imprisoned in Oakland, CA, and finally released after being pardoned by President McKinley. This is perhaps the most blatant example of McKenzie’s ability to pull political strings behind the scenes. When juxtaposing his firsthand accounts of the events with newspaper reports of the time about: treatment and health while in the jail, legal maneuvering, and the process that it took to gain a pardon, it becomes clear that the newspapers did not always have the full story, and that sources beyond newspaper reports are required for a truly dynamic historical record.

Another valuable aspect of this volume of correspondence is that gaps in dates and events in Alexander’s life can be examined. Sources surrounding Alexander’s life like newspaper accounts, biographies, census records, and even legal documents often have discrepancies. For example, the 1900 United States Federal Census lists Jeannette’s birthday as June 1888, which is correct. Most census records date Alexander Jr. and Thomas’ birth years as the early 1890s (1892 and 1894), but in a letter to Elva dated September 27, 1889, McKenzie closes with the words “God bless you & the children from your husband…”  Again on October 19, 1890, he writes “…will leave their about the 3 of Nov for to see you and the babies…” While these tidbits do not tell exactly when Alexander Jr. and Thomas were born, they suggest that earlier dates for the birth of Alexander Jr. are more probable than dates after the two 1890 letters.

Another issue that is raised in the letter previously quoted from September 27, 1889, is the year of Alexander and Elva McKenzie’s marriage. The collection contains a marriage certificate dated August 13, 1890, but Alexander was already signing at least the one letter “your husband” before that date. Perhaps one of the few sources that do not list 1890 as the year of their marriage is the 1900 U.S. Federal Census for Elva McKenzie. That census lists the year of their marriage as 1886. Interestingly, Alexander McKenzie also shows up in that 1900 U.S. Federal Census as widowed, living in Bismarck with his two daughters from his first marriage.

The possibility that Elva and Alexander were married in 1886, or at least before 1890, calls into question the year of the divorce from his first wife, Mary Ellen, which is virtually always cited as 1887. It also raises the question of whether they were divorced at all. This is just one example of the mystery surrounding Alexander McKenzie’s life and the necessity of primary sources to help researchers discern true facts about the man. Indeed, his impact in politics and business is far easier to trace than facts from his personal life, even though he was notoriously a behind-the-scenes “string puller” in politics and often in business.

Subseries II, Correspondence to Alexander McKenzie, 1890-1922, includes 56 letters and 10 telegrams. While this Subseries is clearly less substantial in size than Subseries I, it still contains important business and political correspondence. The strongest part of the subseries is correspondence from 1892. About 30 of the 56 letters discuss politics surrounding the 1892 election and Republican National Convention in Minneapolis, MN. The rest of the letters in the Subseries are political, personal or related to business, real estate, or financial matters. There are gaps in the correspondence, with no letters for the years 1893-1895 or 1901.

Correspondents to Alexander McKenzie in this series include: Edouard [Edward] Brandus, C. W. Butts, H. Cahen [Lazard Cahen], Lymon R. Casey, George B. Clifford, Elijah Coffin, Mrs. S. S. Delano, Frank Donnelly, Andrew Geyer, John P. Gray, L. N. Griffin, Melvin Grigsby, Gilbert W. Haggart, Mrs. John Hamer, Dennis Hannifin, Henry Clay Hansbrough, Chas. E. Herron, James J. Hill, L. W. Hill, Edmund Alexander Hughes, W. R. T. Johnston, Charles B. Lamborn, J. C. McKendry, Anna McKenzie, Mary McKenzie, John S. McLain, Louis Melvin Maus, John Megins, Geo. W. Newton, Edward Patterson, Edwin L. Sanborn, Darwin R. Streeter, B. H. Sullivan, J. Swan, H. H. Trowbridge, George H. Vose and John Yegen. Several of the correspondents’ signatures were illegible. Many of these individuals were prominent politicians or businessmen.

Subseries III, Correspondence to Elva McKenzie, 1898-1920, contains 16 letters. This Subseries sheds light on Elva McKenzie’s life outside of her marriage. The letters are from friends Effie W. Ruddman, Leonard Imboden, Caroline Takamine, and Fanny G. Villard (Helen Francis Garrison); business and legal associates Edwin L. Sanborn, C. C. Bolet (President and General Manager, Atlantida Banana and Rubber Co.), Henry B. Twombly, Hubert B. Church, and Horace Comfort; and from her sons Alexander Jr. (Sandy), Louis Tyler and Thomas.

Several of these correspondents are quite notable people, although the actual correspondence is not in depth. The Caroline Takamine who wrote to Elva may have been the wife of chemist Jokichi Takamine. Fanny G. Villard was a pacifist and suffragette, who led a parade of 1200 women down Fifth Avenue in NY on August 29, 1914 to protest the First World War. She was involved in the move for suffrage in NY, a member of the Woman’s Peace Party, who helped establish the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, and was a founding member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The letter from Villard briefly describes her association with McKenzie in the NY suffrage movement. Several correspondents were prominent lawyers and businessmen.

The correspondence from Elva’s son Louis helps decipher her life before meeting and marrying Alexander McKenzie. The first of two letters from Louis, 1907, is a reply to his mother after having not seen her for over twenty years. He cryptically describes relations between Elva and her first husband David A. Tyler and her reasons for leaving the family. It is unclear exactly why or when she left the family and came to Bismarck, but evidence of the existence of Elva’s first family fills in some gaps about her early life.

Subseries IV, Correspondence to McKenzie children, 1907-1944, includes 21 letters to Jeannette, Alexander Jr. and Thomas. Most of the letters are to Jeannette and include correspondence from half-uncles and aunts Duncan McRay, Mrs. Mary Cook and Jeanette McRae; from half-cousin Julia McRae; half-sister Ann McKenzie; staff at The National Cyclopedia of American Biography regarding a biography of her father which was published in volume 32 (1945); correspondence to the Oklahoma and New Jersey Secretaries of State about the Central Trust Company and Atlantida Banana Rubber Company, respectively; and the “Suffragette Alphabet” (mailing), which Jeannette helped write. The years 1922-1926 are fairly complete and are mostly from relatives regarding her parents’ death. Several of the letters from relatives, including the letter dated November 13, 1925 from her Aunt Jeanette, provide insight into Alexander McKenzie’s early years and his family from his mother’s second marriage in Canada.

The Subseries contains a letter to Jeannette, Alexander Jr. and Thomas from their half-brother Lou following his visit to NY. In the letter, Lou refers to a photograph, probably of their mother, that the four were trying to identify. The photograph was not located with the collection. He refers to property and a business prospect at Mount Hood. Also in the Subseries are two letters to Alexander McKenzie Jr. One is from members of the senior class of F. and M. Academy in Lancaster, PA, February 6, 1907, and the other is about developed film to be picked up, February 21, 1907.

Series II. Personal files, 1890s-1940s, includes miscellaneous material filed into the following Subseries: Elva McKenzie, Jeannette and Alexander McKenzie Jr., Mary Cunningham and Miscellaneous. The Elva McKenzie Subseries dates from about 1908 to 1914, with mostly undated material. The Subseries contains an undated letter to Alexander McKenzie; a handwritten suffragette quote used in the suffrage movement in the United Kingdom, ca. 1908: “For the long workday For the taxes we pay For the laws we obey We want something to say”; an undated women’s suffrage speech, ca 1914; undated drawing from E. F. Hoeppmer (sp.?) for Elva; and undated poetry.

The Jeannette and Alexander McKenzie Jr. Subseries, 1890s-1940s, is mostly comprised of Jeannette’s material, including  various drafts of the “Suffragette Alphabet,” ca. 1910 (published version copyright 1911); a program for “Citizenship Day,” New York State League of Women Voters, March 7, 1924; and notes for biographical sketch of Alexander McKenzie Sr., ca. 1940s. Alexander Jr.’s material includes a notebook from school, ca. 1890s, and an address/date book from 1903-1904. The notebook was pasted over with newspaper clippings from about 1900-1902, so the notebook dates before then. The news clippings were photocopied and are located in a folder in Series V (box 2, folder 41).

The Mary Cunningham Subseries dates from 1903 and includes a receipt for her grave in Cavalry Cemetery, NY, August 26, 1903, and a receipt from undertaker Dr. C. D. Fitzpatrick, NY, August 28, 1903. Cunningham was a servant for the McKenzie family in New York City, probably until the late 1890s until her death in 1903. She appears as “Mary Cummings,” age 25, with the Alexander and Elva McKenzie family on the 1900 United States Census.

The Miscellaneous Subseries includes odds and ends from the collection, mostly undated. The Subseries specifically includes a recipe for orange flower skin food, notes, calculations, unsigned letters, business cards, fact sheets for various businesses, report on the San Joaquin Mines (1902), stamps, and a handwritten copy of the poem “Dearie, Dear One” by Alexander Wilson, are all located in this Subseries. The exact owner of each is not clear, but most items were created by or belonged to McKenzie family members.

Series III, Legal Documents, 1890-1922, consists primarily of legal documents belonging to
Alexander and Elva McKenzie, but also contains one document of Jeannette McKenzie. The document of Jeannette McKenzie’s is a statement that Ambrose Tighe would be representing her in the settlement of the estate of Alexander McKenzie, September 27, 1922. The legal documents of Alexander and Elva McKenzie include a marriage certificate, back and outside wrapping of the marriage certificate (with the handwritten words “to be opened by no one but Mr. or Mrs. McKenzie”), and a transcript of Alexander and Elva McKenzie’s marriage record, probably for the estate hearing, dated August 11, 1922.

The legal document of Elva McKenzie’s is a land sale agreement between Elva and William S. Driver, dated March 24, 1906. Legal documents of Alexander McKenzie’s include a quit-claim deed between Northern Pacific Railroad Company and McKenzie, June 29, 1892; a quit-claim deed between McKenzie and Timothy W. Griffin/Arthur Van Horn of Bismarck (unsigned), July 2, 1892; a statement of Laughlin D. McLean that C. L. Vawter tried to induce him to testify against Arthur H. Noyes and O. A. S. Frost in the Contempt Proceedings, February 1, 1902; and typed and handwritten copies of Alexander McKenzie’s “handwritten will” dated December 19, 1900. The handwritten copy of the will was probably created sometime in 1903 based on the calendar the document is written on.

Series IV, Financial documents, 1889-1923, includes three Subseries: Alexander McKenzie, Elva McKenzie and Jeannette Alexander Jr. and Thomas McKenzie. Subseries I, Alexander McKenzie  Financial Documents, dates from 1889 to 1922 and includes checks, receipts, correspondence, statements, and balance sheets. A run of cashed checks dating from 1891, mostly made out to cash or himself, adds up to the tens of thousands of dollars, evidence of McKenzie’s vast wealth. Subseries II, Elva McKenzie Financial Documents, contains checks, receipts, correspondence, statements, balance sheets, wax-sealed envelopes, and an account book, dating from 1898-1914. The final Subseries, McKenzie Children Financial Documents, 1911-1923, includes checks, receipts, statements, an account book, balance sheets, wax-sealed envelopes, and a statement of Alexander Jr.’s inheritance.  

Series V, Printed material, ca. 1890s-1920s, includes newspaper clippings and a copy of the novel The Spoilers by Rex Beach, which is an account of the Nome, AK, gold mining scandal. Beach witnessed the scandal firsthand and based the villain Alex McNamara on Alexander McKenzie. There are three folders of newspaper clippings in the Series, a general folder of clippings that were scattered throughout the collection, a folder of clippings that Jeannette McKenzie collected and used for the biography of her father, written for The National Cyclopedia of American Biography Volume 32, 1945, and a folder of photocopied news clippings from Alexander Jr.’s (Sandy’s) notebook (box 2, folder 31). The primary subject of all the newspaper clippings is the Nome, AK, gold ordeal, although they also include articles about McKenzie’s life, business and politics. 

Series VI, Photographs, ca. 1889-1920s, includes five photographs in fairly good condition. There are gaps in the series, as it does not contain photographs of important family members that are prominent in the rest of the collection. Of the portraits/photographs of family members in this series, only one of four is identified.

Image 11100-03-01 is a portrait of a boy, taken before 1900, an albumen print mounted on a standard-sized cabinet card. The cabinet card is from the studio of T. M. (Thomas M.) Swem, 419 Wabasha Street, Saint Paul, Minnesota, and dates from 1888-1893 (probably 1890). The portrait could have been taken before or after 1889-1890 and pasted onto the cabinet card from that time period (1889-1890). Although not identified on the photograph or card, the subject of the portrait could be John Alexander McKenzie (August 28, 1875-September 23, 1883), Alexander John “Sandy” McKenzie Jr. (probably born July 16, 1889), or Thomas Oakes McKenzie (probably born in 1891 or 1892). There is reason to believe that the photograph could also be of Alexander McKenzie, Sr. because there is a reference to a photograph of him in a letter to Jeannette McKenzie from her aunt (Alexander McKenzie’s half-sister) Mary (McCrae) Cook, June 7, 1923. Descriptions of Alexander McKenzie’s physical appearance in Joseph W. Jackson’s manuscript “Bismarck Boomer: The Amazing Career of Alexander McKenzie” also suggest that the photograph might be of Alexander Sr.

Image 11100-03-02 is of a young woman in hiking clothing in a rural area. The subject might be Jeannette McKenzie at summer camp, 1912. Handwritten on the back of the photograph is: “up at summer camp 1912. Not very good looking but surely comfortable on long hikes.” The image could also be of a McRae relative in Canada.

The only identified image is 11100-03-03, Jennie, daughter of Catherine, Alexander McKenzie Sr.’s half-sister in Beaverton, Ontario, Canada. Jennie is with their dog, Laddie, ca. summer 1925. The photograph was removed from a letter to Jeannette McKenzie from Jeanette McRae dated November 13, 1925. The identification of Jennie and description of the image is in this letter box 2, folder 27). Image 11100-03-04 is a post card of a large, unidentified house, in an unknown location.

Finally,11100-03-05 is a portrait of a young man, ca. 1930s. The image is probably of Alexander Sandy), but it might be of Thomas McKenzie. The photo was located in Sandy’s math notebook from school, on which newspaper clippings were later pasted. The journal is in box 2, folder 31 and the clippings from the journal were photocopied and added to box 2, folder 41.


Series I.                Correspondence, 1889-1944, Boxes 1-2

Consists of correspondence of members of the Alexander and Elva McKenzie family, arranged into the four following subseries, each of which are arranged chronologically: Correspondence to Elva from Alexander McKenzie (1889-1917), Correspondence to Alexander McKenzie (1890-1922), Correspondence to Elva McKenzie (1901-1920), and Correspondence to McKenzie children (Jeannette, Alexander Jr. and Thomas) (1907-1944).

Series II.               Personal files, 1890s-1940s, Box 2
The Personal Files Series is divided into four Subseries: Elva McKenzie, Jeannette and Alexander McKenzie Jr., Mary Cunningham and Miscellaneous. The Series contains a variety of miscellaneous material, pertaining either to individuals, or to the McKenzie family. Material in the Series includes: writings, quotations, poetry, drawings, a program, draft biographical sketch, school notebook, date book, funeral records, recipe, business cards, business fact sheets or flyers, and stamps.

Series III.             Legal documents, 1890-1922, Box 2

Consists of legal documents of Alexander, Elva and Jeannette McKenzie, including statements, a marriage certificate with wrapping, transcript of marriage record, quit claim deeds, will, and land sale agreement.
Series IV.             Financial documents, 1889-1923, Box 2

Consists of three Subseries: Alexander McKenzie Financial Documents, Elva McKenzie Financial Documents and McKenzie Children Financial Documents. As a whole, the Series contains checks, receipts, correspondence, statements, balance sheets, wax-sealed envelopes, and account books.  

Series V.              Printed material, ca. 1890s-1920s, Box 2

Consists of newspaper clippings and the book The Spoilers by Rex Beach (1905).

Series VI.             Photographs, ca. 1889-1920s, Box 3
Consists of five photographs, including four photographs and portraits that are probably McKenzie family members or relatives. The identified photograph is of Jennie, Alexander McKenzie Sr.’s half-niece, in Beaverton, Ontario, Canada, 1925. The remaining three unidentified photographs might be of Alexander McKenzie Sr., Jeannette, Alexander Jr., Thomas, John A. or McRae relatives in Canada. They date from ca. 1889 to the 1920s. The fifth photograph is a post card of a large unidentified house, location and date unknown.


Series I.                Correspondence
                Subseries I.         Correspondence to Elva from Alexander McKenzie
Box 1:
1 Correspondence to Elva from Alexander McKenzie, 1889 (1 letter, no envelope)
2 Correspondence to Elva from Alexander McKenzie, 1890 (2 letters, 2 envelopes)
3 Correspondence to Elva from Alexander McKenzie, 1891 (2 letters, 1 envelope)
4 Correspondence to Elva from Alexander McKenzie, January-August 1892 (4 letters, 3 envelopes)
5 Correspondence to Elva from Alexander McKenzie, September-December 1892 (6 letters, 5 envelopes)
6 Correspondence to Elva from Alexander McKenzie, 1893 (5 letters, 2 envelopes)
7 Correspondence to Elva from Alexander McKenzie, January-April 1894 (7 letters, 4 envelopes)
8 Correspondence to Elva from Alexander McKenzie, May-August 1894 (5 letters, 2 envelopes)
9 Correspondence to Elva from Alexander McKenzie, September-December 1894 (4 letters, 2 envelopes)
10 Correspondence to Elva from Alexander McKenzie, January-June 1895 (8 letters, 3 envelopes)
11 Correspondence to Elva from Alexander McKenzie, July-August 1895 (10 letters, 7 envelopes)
12 Correspondence to Elva from Alexander McKenzie, September-December 1895 (6 letters, 4 envelopes)
13 Correspondence to Elva from Alexander McKenzie, January-May 1896 (10 letters, 9 envelopes)
14 Correspondence to Elva from Alexander McKenzie, June-December 1896 (8 letters, 5 envelopes)
15 Correspondence to Elva from Alexander McKenzie, January-March 1897 (10 letters, 8 envelopes)
16 Correspondence to Elva from Alexander McKenzie, April-May 1897 (7 letters, 6 envelopes)
17 Correspondence to Elva from Alexander McKenzie, June 1897 (7 letters, 1 telegram, 7 envelopes)
18 Correspondence to Elva from Alexander McKenzie, July 1897 (7 letters, 7 envelopes)
19 Correspondence to Elva from Alexander McKenzie, August 1897 (7 letters, 6 envelopes)
20 Correspondence to Elva from Alexander McKenzie, September-December 1897 (4 letters, 2 envelopes)
21 Correspondence to Elva from Alexander McKenzie, January-May 1898 (12 letters, 12 envelopes)
22 Correspondence to Elva from Alexander McKenzie, June 1898 (6 letters, 6 envelopes)
23 Correspondence to Elva from Alexander McKenzie, July 1898 (6 letters, 6 envelopes)
24 Correspondence to Elva from Alexander McKenzie, August-September 1898 (10 letters, 10 envelopes)
25 Correspondence to Elva from Alexander McKenzie, October-December 1898 (4 letters, 4 envelopes)
26 Correspondence to Elva from Alexander McKenzie, January-April 1899 (7 letters, 2 telegrams, 7 envelopes)
27 Correspondence to Elva from Alexander McKenzie, July-December 1899 (10 letters, 9 envelopes)
28 Correspondence to Elva from Alexander McKenzie, January-February 1900 (7 letters, 7 envelopes)
29 Correspondence to Elva from Alexander McKenzie, March-May 1900 (7 letters, 7 envelopes)
30 Correspondence to Elva from Alexander McKenzie, June-December 1900 (5 letters, 5 envelopes)
31 Correspondence to Elva from Alexander McKenzie, January-April 1901 (6 letters, 3 envelopes)
32 Correspondence to Elva from Alexander McKenzie, May-August 1901 (10 letters, 8 envelopes)              
33 Correspondence to Elva from Alexander McKenzie, September-December 1901 (7 letters, 6 envelopes)
34 Correspondence to Elva from Alexander McKenzie, January-March 1902 (8 letters, 8 envelopes)
35 Correspondence to Elva from Alexander McKenzie, April-May 1902 (8 letters, 8 envelopes)
36 Correspondence to Elva from Alexander McKenzie, June-December 1902 (8 letters, 8 envelopes)

Box 2:
1 Correspondence to Elva from Alexander McKenzie, 1903 (9 letters, 8 envelopes)
2 Correspondence to Elva from Alexander McKenzie, 1904 (9 letters, 7 envelopes)
3 Correspondence to Elva from Alexander McKenzie, 1905 (9 letters, 8 envelopes)
4 Correspondence to Elva from Alexander McKenzie, 1906 (6 letters, 6 envelopes)
5 Correspondence to Elva from Alexander McKenzie, 1907 (3 letters, 3 envelopes)
6 Correspondence to Elva from Alexander McKenzie, 1908 (6 letters, 5 envelopes)
7 Correspondence to Elva from Alexander McKenzie, 1909 (7 letters, 5 envelopes)
8 Correspondence to Elva from Alexander McKenzie, 1910 (5 letters, 4 envelopes)
9 Correspondence to Elva from Alexander McKenzie, 1911 (2 letters, 2 envelopes)
10 Correspondence to Elva from Alexander McKenzie, 1912 (3 letters, 3 envelopes)
11 Correspondence to Elva from Alexander McKenzie, 1913 (5 letters, 3 envelopes)
12 Correspondence to Elva from Alexander McKenzie, 1914-1915 (2 letters, 2 envelopes)
13 Correspondence to Elva from Alexander McKenzie, 1917 (2 letters, 2 envelopes)
14 Correspondence to Elva from Alexander McKenzie, undated (26 letters, 2 fragments and one loose page)
15 Correspondence to Elva from Alexander McKenzie, empty envelopes, 1895-1912 (16 envelopes)

Subseries II.       To Alexander McKenzie
16 Correspondence to Alexander McKenzie, 1890-1891  (3 letters)
17 Correspondence to Alexander McKenzie, May 1892   (1 letter)
18 Correspondence to Alexander McKenzie, June 10-25, 1892 (7 letters)
19 Correspondence to Alexander McKenzie, June 26-30, 1892 (8 letters and 1 telegram)
20 Correspondence to Alexander McKenzie, July 1-6, 1892 (7 letters and 1 telegram)
21 Correspondence to Alexander McKenzie, July 7-18, 1892  (7 letters and 1 telegram)
22 Correspondence to Alexander McKenzie, 1896-1900  (10 letters/notes and 1 telegram)
23 Correspondence to Alexander McKenzie, 1902-1903 (5 letters)
24 Correspondence to and from Alexander McKenzie, 1904-1922 & n.d.  (8 letters, 6 telegrams)

Subseries III.      To Elva McKenzie
25 Correspondence to Elva McKenzie, 1901-1906  (7 letters)
26 Correspondence to Elva McKenzie, 1907-1920 & n.d. (9 letters)

Subseries IV.      To McKenzie children
27 Correspondence to Jeannette McKenzie, ca. 1916-1925  (7 letters)
28 Correspondence to and from Jeannette McKenzie, 1926-1944  (11 letters)
29 Correspondence to Jeannette, Alexander and/or Thomas McKenzie, 1907 & 1927

Series II.               Personal files
Subseries I.         Elva McKenzie
30 Elva McKenzie Personal File, ca. 1908-1914 and n.d.                        

Subseries II.       Jeannette and Alexander McKenzie Jr.
31 Jeannette and Alexander McKenzie Jr. Personal File, 1903-1940s
Subseries III.      Mary Cunningham
32 Mary Cunningham Personal File, 1903
Subseries IV.      Miscellaneous
33 Miscellaneous, 1902 and n.d.
Series III.             Legal Documents
34 Legal documents, 1890-1922
Series IV.             Financial Documents
Subseries I.         Alexander McKenzie Financial Documents
35 Alexander McKenzie Sr. financial documents, 1889-1922

Subseries II.       Elva McKenzie Financial Documents
36 Elva McKenzie financial documents, 1898-1914
Subseries III.      McKenzie Children Financial Documents
37 Jeannette, Alexander Jr. and Thomas McKenzie financial documents, 1911-1923
Series V.              Printed material, ca 1890s-1920s
38 The Spoilers, Rex Beach, 1905
39 Newspaper clippings, bulk 1900-1902
40 News clippings, sources for biography of Alexander McKenzie by Jeannette McKenzie in The National Cyclopedia of American Biography Volume 32, 1945
41 News clippings, photocopies from Sandy’s notebook (notebook is in box 2, folder 31)

Series VI.             Photographs

Box 3:
11100-03-01        Portrait of a boy, before 1900
11100-03-02        Might be Jeannette McKenzie at summer camp, 1912
11100-03-03        Jennie, daughter of Catherine, Alexander McKenzie Sr.’s half-sister in Beaverton, Ontario, Canada
11100-03-04        Post card of a large, unidentified house, location unknown
11100-03-05        Portrait of a young man, ca. 1930s

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