The family tradition about this is fairly strong. The blacksmith named Beaton who came from Canada to Galena, Illinois, married Elizabeth Dwen, was the father of Matthew Beaton, moved to Fort Snelling in 1850, and died a few years later was Donald Beaton. The documentary evidence preserved by the family of his name is all secondary and dates from several decades after his death, but it doesn't seem likely that his widow, Elizabeth, or his son, Matthew, could have been wrong about his first name. And the name Donald Beaton is confirmed by Mabou Pioneers, apparently an independent source based on Canadian records. The brief entry for Donald Beaton mentions that he was a blacksmith, that he emigrated to Galena, and that his son, Matthew, "lives" in Galena. There is too much coincidence here for the entry in Mabou Pioneers to refer to anyone other than the Donald Beaton who is our ancestor. Still, Mabou Pioneers is a secondary source written about 100 years after Donald Beaton died and does not list its sources.
Recently, I have obtained primary documentary evidence that indicates that, for at least the last decade of his life, Donald Beaton was known as Daniel Beaton. In fact, I have yet to find a single primary document created during Mr. Beaton's lifetime that identifies him as Donald. The primary evidence is consistent, in Galena he was known as Daniel. And the evidence correlates too well to previously known facts of Donald Beaton's life for this to be a mistaken identity. Matthew Beaton's father was known as Daniel. The blacksmith working in Galena and at Fort Snelling was Daniel. There is no contemporary record of a Donald Beaton living in Galena or doing any of these things. There are several independently created primary documents of his name. Any one of these might be questioned, but all of them together seem virtually certain. The evidence found thus far includes:
1. A marriage record from Jo Daviess County preserved in the Illinois State Archives recording the marriage of Daniel Beton and Elizabeth Swann on November 5, 1844. At first glance this might look like the wrong record, but Elizabeth's maiden name has been recorded in a variety of quite different ways and Beton is just a variant of Beaton. There is no better fit among the marriage records in the state archives.
2. An entry in an online listing of vital statistics from Galena Newspapers, 1828-1850.
Estate Notice of Mathew Owen at Jo Daviess County by Edward Keogh and Daniel Beaton 3-6-1846.
"Mathew Owen" is probably Daniel Beaton's father-in-law. The date is about two weeks after his death on February 18, 1846. Daniel's son, Matthew, was born on the same date. See the page about the Dwen Family for more information about the many versions of the "Owen" name. I don't know who Edward Keogh is.
3. An entry in the 1847-48 Galena City Directory for: Beaton, Daniel, blacksmith at J Thompson's. There is no other Beaton or Beton listed.
4. The 1850 US census for Fort Snelling in Minnesota Territory lists:
Daniel Beaton, 33, male, blacksmith, owner of $400 worth of real estate, born in Canada
Elizabeth Beaton, wife, 25, female, born in Maryland
Mathias Beaton, 5, male
Catherine Beaton, 3, female
This census listing pretty much eliminates any chance that Daniel Beaton isn't Donald Beaton. There are just too many coincidences to make this a case of mistaken identity. Of course, there is no Donald Beaton at Fort Snelling or in Galena in the 1850 census.
5. Jo Daviess County, Illinois, probate records for Daniel Beaton. These records contain a number of documents all of which identify the desceased as Daniel Beaton who died in New Orleans on the 20th of July, 1852. He was survived by his wife, Elizabeth, and their children, Matthew, Catharine, and Annie.
I have been looking into this and am pretty much convinced that Donald Beaton used both Daniel and Donald. I posted this question on a Cape Breton Island message board and heard from several researchers that Donald and Daniel were commonly used interchangeably but that Daniel was rarely the actual given name. Dan was commonly used as a nickname for both Donald and Daniel. I have found many Donalds among the Beatons listed in Mabou Pioneers, but no Daniels. Also, Catherine Beaton, who grew up in Mabou, has informed me that when a Gaelic speaker pronounces Donald in Gaelic it sounds a lot like Daniel to a native English speaker.
Donald or Daniel Beaton
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The MacDonald Crest
This page last modified on Monday, November 26, 2007