Sandy “Salt” MacDonald, North Earltown

Among the arrivals in the great migration of 1831/32 was an Alexander MacDonald,  his wife Annie MacLeod and their young family.

Alexander, or Sandy,  was born in 1791 at Altindown in the Parish of Clyne and was the son of John MacDonald and Janet Fraser.   Altindown no longer exists but seems to have been a pre- clearance settlement on the coastal plains near the Clyne church.   Annie was the daughter of Hugh MacLeod and Janet Sutherland of Urachyle,  a settlement in mid Strathbrora from whence came several families to Earltown.

Subsequent to their marriage,  the couple settled in the village of Brora.   According to the Old Parish Register,  he was a saltmaker.  Saltmakers of that era trapped tidal water in the mud flats and allowed the water to naturally evaporate for a short period before finishing the process by boiling it down.   The finished product would be shipped off to the cities in the south.

Annie’s siblings, who may have been crofting at the time,  chose to emigrate to Nova Scotia in 1831.  Like many before, they decided to go to Pictou rather than the preferred destination of Oxford County, Ontario.   Her brother John settled at Braeshore near Pictou while the rest ventured to Earltown to join former friends and acquaintances.   Annie’s sister Ellen,  (George MacKenzie),  settled on the ridge beside the MacKenzie Cemetery, and Mary, (Hector Sutherland),  bought a farm at Balfron.

Annie and Alexander cleared a farm on the Church Road near its junction with the Matheson Brook Road.  It had been a popular winter campground of the Mi’kmaw for generations and the tradition continued well after European settlement.   Alex did not last long in the new world.  He died in the spring of 1837 at the age of 46.   Of their seven known children,   Margaret married John MacLeod of Urachyle and The Falls,  Janet married John MacKay “Black” at Balfron,  Hugh married Christena Sutherland “Square” and settled at Balmoral,  Alex died in the Klondike,  John married first to Eliza Campbell and secondly to Christena MacKay “Marroch” at Balfron,  Betsy married a Grant at Scotch Hill and George remained on the home farm.  He married Betsy Murray “Bonesetter” from The Falls.

One comment on “Sandy “Salt” MacDonald, North Earltown

  1. hachilles133 says:

    Thank you for publishing this article! Alexander & Annie MacDonald are my great, great, great grandparents. I visited the Brora Heritage Center in Sept & was able to confirm with them that Altindown was a pre-clearance town – located in what is the north end of the current golf course. The book “Place Names of CLyne, Loth & Golspie” by Frank MacLennan has the town listed as “Allt an Donn” . The Ordnance Survey location is listed as NC 907 045. The book notes that the there are many spellings for the same location – some phonetic & others Gaelic. Also, I found “Uracoil” (Ordnance Survey location NC820 103) which I believe is what you have listed as Urachyle. Hope this info is useful. Thank you again for the article!

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