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McDonald was preceded by a town named Celia, which was located three miles east of the present location. It had been platted by H. B. Franklin and there was a lot of interest in the new town. However, the Lincoln Land Company and the Chicago, Burlington, & Quincy Railroad had laid tracks a half-mile north of Celia and wanted the town to be moved to a new location.
The new town was platted on June 7, 1888 by the Lincoln Land Company, but the office of Register of Deeds shows that the document was filed on January 7, 1889; sales of lots began after that. The town was named after R. L. McDonald, a homesteader who had land and gave some to the town. Most of the buildings in Celia were moved to McDonald, including a restaurant and the Mercantile Store, but there were some who chose not to relocate. McDonald became a trading center for the western part of the county, but did not grow much bigger beyond the peak boom years of 1906-1907.
The ethnicity of its settlers is unknown.
Hayden, Ruth Kelley. "The Time That Was: The Courageous Acts and Accounts of Rawlins County, Kansas, 1875-1915". H.F.Davis Memorial Library, Colby Community College, Colby, KS, 1973.
"History of Rawlins County, Kansas". Rawlins County Genealogical Society, 1988.
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