Margaret Price MacDonald was born in New
Concord, Muskingum County, Ohio on October 22, 1845. She grew up in New
Concord, and attended Muskingum College for three years. In 1863, the
MacDonald family moved to Mount Pleasant, Iowa. While residing in Mount
Pleasant, she completed college at Mount Pleasant Female Seminary,
graduating in 1868. She educated herself in the French language by
living for a time with a French-Canadian family. She taught the family
English, and learned their language in return. She began her teaching
career in Iowa’s public schools and then was hired by Iowa State as
Preceptress and Instructor in English and French. She began her work at
the college in the Spring of 1871.
From the time she joined the Iowa State
community, Margaret MacDonald made an impact on those around her.
College President William Beardshear described her classroom work:
Her teaching was characterized by the completest thoroughness—a thoroughness that entered into the smaller
details and accuracies which determine the perfection of scholarship and
the integrity of learning.
English Professor W.H. Wynn recalled his
colleague’s good advice:
When I first entered upon my work here,
I found her department lying closely contiguous to my own, and had
frequent occasion to carry my perplexities, and plans, and classroom
complications to her, and I never found her judgment at fault.
Students, too, were fond of Miss
MacDonald. The student newspaper said of her:
She was very
successful as a teacher and was loved for her devotion and tact in the
varied duties she was called upon to perform.
During her years as a faculty member,
she was also a help to her family in Mount Pleasant. She assisted her
parents in paying off their farm, and provided for the education of her
four younger siblings.
James and Mary MacDonald’s 50th
Wedding Anniversary. Front row, left to right: Mary Grumman
MacDonald, Margaret MacDonald Stanton, James MacDonald. Back
row: Florence MacDonald Wishard, Mary MacDonald Knapp, Edwin
MacDonald, Anna MacDonald Waugh, Janet MacDonald Chipman, 1893.
Taken on the steps of The Maples. Photograph from Stanton,
Edgar W. III, The Trek of James MacDonald. Live Oak,
California : The Author, 1989.