James E. McDonald
James E. McDonald was listed on the first Capitol maintenance staff as a "pipeman." McDonald was born in 1875 in Minnesota and gave his occupation as "steamfitter" in the 1905 Census. He married Myrtle Melrose in 1910 in St. Paul and they had two daughters, Marie (24 Sep 1915 - 16 Apr 1982) and Jean (or Gene) (b. 1919.) In the 1930 Census, McDonald said he was working as a stationary engineer for the State of Minnesota so he may have been working at the Capitol. Daughter Marie married Conrad Bettendorf and they had a son who they named James on Oct. 23, 1939.
Workers discovered McDonald's name and the date, 2-4-03, painted on a brick wall when they tore down the suspended and plaster ceilings on the third floor northwest wing of the Capitol during the 2014-2016 restoration of the building. Tom Olmscheid photographed the writing and provided the image to the Who Built Our Capitol? project, enabling the identification of McDonald as a worker on the original construction of the statehouse.
Residence from date: