Frank and John McDonald were a pair of murderous cousins from Nova Scotia, Canada, responsible for several murders and other violent acts in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

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In 1880, Menominee was the lumber capital of the world and home to a rugged lot: lumberjacks --tough, crude men-- who worked hard during the week and raised hell on the weekends. Two of the lumberjacks were Frank and John McDonald. The McDonald cousins were from Nova Scotia, Canada, and had a reputation as bad men, particularly whenever they were drunk--which was all too frequent. The McDonald's regularly caused trouble at the lumber camp. On one occasion, Sheriff Julius Reprecht attempted to quash the disturbance, Frank McDonald, The younger of the two cousins, took offensive to the Sheriff's interference and pulverized the hapless man. Shortly after the beating, Deputy Sheriff Billy Kittson, a burly two-hundred pound man, arrested and jailed the McDonald's. They were tried, convicted and sentenced to one and a half years at the Jackson State Prison. They spent their time there uneventfully and were released early for good behavior. They returned to Menominee, where they resumed their old ways: working during the day and raising Cain at night. One night, the McDonald's began drinking at the Montreal House, a bar in Frenchtown. The bartender on duty was Norman Kittson, brother of the deputy sheriff who was responsible for the McDonald's incarceration. The McDonald's let Norman Kittson know that they were out to even the score with his brother. After a short stay at the Montreal House, the McDonald's paid a visit to the Three Chimneys House, a well-known house of prostitution. Fortuitously, the cousins ran across their old nemesis, Billy Kittson. The ladies immediately started to shower attention on the McDonald boys. This angered Kittson, and a melee ensued with Kittson hitting Frank McDonald over the head with a bottle and then leaving the Three Chimneys House. The vengeful McDonald's followed Kittson out towards the street, where John McDonald clubbed him with a large, heavy metal pipe. Not satisfied with dropping him to his knees, McDonald then plunged a six-inch knife into his back. Kittson's brother, Norman, witnessing the brawl, sped to his rescue, but was stabbed by McDonald. Billy Kittson, wounded and bleeding profusely, got back up into the fray to help his beleaguered brother. Norman pulled out a gun and shot Frank in the leg. Billy, both life and blood draining out of him, feebly staggered to the Montreal House, where he gasped his last breath and lifelessly fell over dead on the street. With the bloodbath now concluded, the McDonald's seized a nearby horse and buggy and went directly to Dr. P.T. Phillips, who attended their wounds. After receiving medical treatment, they immediately set out north for Cedar River. On the way they were arrested and jailed by David Barclay, the new Menominee sheriff. Judge Henry Nason attempted to have a court inquest the next day, but he wisely decided to forgo the proceeding when he learned the citizens of the community were in a rage over the murder the McDonald's had committed. Nason felt by delaying the inquest he would defuse a potentially explosive situation, a decision he would later regret. On Monday, the Mariette Eagle speculated on "serious threats of lynching the McDonald's", but the night passed without any further violence. But on Tuesday, it turned ugly. Local men gathered at the Forvilly House, a large hotel and saloon, and plied themselves with liquor. By evening, the drunken rabble decided that lynching the McDonald's, was the fastest and easiest way to get justice. Armed with liquor and self-righteousness, the angry vigilante band marched down the street, to the jail and demanded the McDonald's. When the rabid mob was denied the McDonald's, they grabbed a telephone pole, and cursing wildly, smashed open the entry door. After a brief scuffle, the deputies were subdued and the McDonald's forced out of the cell, and clubbed with an axe. With brute force they were taken out of the jail. A local priest, Father Heliard, unsuccessfully attempted to stop the mob; the members of the mob cursed and spat on the priest, then pushed him into the gutter. The lynch party tied one and of a rope to the McDonald's neck and the other to a horse-drawn buggy and then dragged them down Odgen Avenue. Then, the participants savagely jumped up and down on the defenseless bodies, ripping off flesh with their lumberjack boots. Pandemonium spread as a gathering crowd along the route, hurled rocks and garbage at the McDonald's, cursing all the way. When the bunch approached a intersection with a railroad crossing, they decided this was a good place to hang the McDonald's. The vigilantes hoisted up the two men onto a railroad crossing sign with ropes around their necks and then left the carnage of their handiwork for eager spectators to view.


  • 1880
    • Unspecified Date, Menominee, Michigan
      • Sheriff Julius Reprecht (beat by Frank; survived)
  • 1882
    • Unspecified Date, Menominee, Michigan
      • Unnamed girl (Raped by Frank)
    • Unspecified Date, Menominee, Michigan
      • Billy Kittson (bludgeoned, stabbed and beat by Frank)
      • Norman Kittson (Stabbed and beat by both brothers; survived)
    • Unspecified Date, Menominee Michigan
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