Ranald MacDonald Historical Marker - Toroda, WA
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member T0SHEA
N 48° 56.115 W 118° 45.267
11U E 371510 N 5421742
Quick Description: Recognized as the first English teacher in Japan, Ranald MacDonald lead an interesting, and sometimes exciting, life as sailor, gold miner, writer, explorer, and teacher.
Location: Washington, United States
Date Posted: 7/3/2016 1:40:10 PM
Waymark Code: WMRKA8
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member bluesnote
Views: 1

Long Description:
Though there is an historical marker at the gravesite, this marker is about a mile down Kettle River Road from the cemetery. The Eagle Scout Project of Scout Nathan Agent, it was placed in 2015 as a replacement marker for one first placed in 2000.

Born February 3, 1824 in Fort George, which later became Astoria, Oregon, Ranald abandoned the life of a banker to become a sailor. While sailing near Japan he convinced his captain to set him adrift so he could go ashore and investigate the country which, at that time, was closed to the outside world. Captured, interrogated and put under house arrest, he began teaching English to several Japanese.

Well liked by his captors, he was able to aid in negotiating a treaty between the Japanese and Admiral Perry, thereby opening Japan to the west.

After leaving Japan Ranald spent many years in the gold fields of Australia and Canada before returning to the U.S where he claimed 156 acres of land near Fort Covile, WA at the age of 60. In 1894 Ranald died at the home of a niece, Jenny Nelson Lynch, in her cabin above the little mining town of Toroda, WA. He was buried in the Indian Cemetery there and later a 10 foot square area around his grave was declared Ranald MacDonald State Park, the smallest in the state of Washington.

A small part of the story of Ranald MacDonald can be read below.

Ranald MacDonald Burial Site

Recognized by many as Japan’s first English teacher, Ranald MacDonald was buried in an Indian Cemetery on the east side of Customs Road, on a hill that overlooks the Kettle River below. His grave site is the smallest state park in Washington State.

PIC Ten and a half miles from Curlew, Washington in a small graveyard overlooking the Kettle River, lies the remains of Ranald MacDonald, who was a sailor, a gold miner, a writer, an explorer, and (briefly) a teacher. Relatively unknown to the citizens of his own country, MacDonald is fondly remembered by the Japanese for the role he played in helping them learn more about the English language and Western culture.

Ranald MacDonald was born February 3, 1824 in Fort George (Astoria, Oregon). He was the oldest son of Archibald MacDonald, a Hudson’s Bay Company clerk, and Chinook Princess Raven (Koale’zoa). After his mother died, his mother’s sister cared for the young MacDonald at the Chinook Concomly lodge. He rejoined his father upon his father’s marriage to a frontier woman named Jane Klyne.

When young, he was educated by his father. He received his formal education at Ball Academy at Fort Vancouver in Oregon and completed his education at the Red River Academy in Winnipeg. At 15 he accepted an apprenticeship at a bank in Ontario, but abandoned his apprenticeship to become a sailor.

In 1845, MacDonald signed on to the whaling ship, Plymouth, and served as a harpooner and a navigator. Long fascinated by little-known Japan, in 1848 MacDonald struck a bargain with the ship’s captain. In exchange for MacDonald’s whaling profits, MacDonald asked to be given a small boat and put to sea near Japan’s shoreline. MacDonald understood that he was risking death or imprisonment by defying the Imperial Japanese edict which denied foreign access to Japan, but he was reportedly curious to learn if there was any ancestral relationship between the Japanese and his own Native American relatives.

In June 1848 he set out alone for the coast of Japan. Before making land, he partially swamped his boat in the hopes of convincing the Japanese that he was a castaway. On July 1, 1848, he was rescued by Ainu fisherman on Rishiri Island near the shores of Hokaido, Japan. He was taken captive by the Japanese and ultimately transported to Nagasaki where he stood trial. When questioned by his captors, MacDonald claimed to be the victim of a shipwreck and claimed to have peaceful intentions. Officials accepted MacDonald’s story and sentenced him to house arrest for his illegal entry into Japan.

Well treated by his captors, MacDonald was put to work teaching them English. For the next seven months, he shared his language and culture with fourteen Japanese students, including Moriyama, the translator who helped MacDonald negotiate his trial and later helped negotiate a trade agreement between Japan’s government and Admiral Perry, which helped open Japan to the West.
Read on at Ferry County Attractions

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Name of Eagle Scout: Nathan Agent

Project Completion Date: 1/1/2015

Troop Number: 61

Troop Location: Republic, WA

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