NAME, Years Elected to City Council

John Archibald MacDonald (1849-1915) served 1889-1890, and 1891-1892.


Republican, Citizens'1


J.A.C. MacDonald, as he was frequently referred to, was one of the first young men on City Council: he was only 40 when he was elected. He was born in Scotland and came to New York in 1864. He arrived in California the following year, and worked for his Uncle at a store in San Francisco. He then moved to Oakland and picked up his future trade, plumbing, under Robert Daziel of Daziel & Moller. He apprenticed for several years, then worked as a journeyman, and opened his own business in 1875. He built a store at 18th and Telegraph then moved to Tulare county for 2 years to try his hand at farming. He returned for good in 1887. 

In 1875 MacDonald married Mary Cavasso, brother of Rene J. Cavasso. They had three children.2 They lived at 413 20th Street.3

In City Council, his priorities were public improvements, especially if they were paid for by taxes/bonds.

MacDonald was a member of the Old Guard (also called the National Guard in another source). He was a member of the Volunteer Fire Department before it became a paid department.4

MacDonald died in a car accident, perhaps making him the first member of City Council to die this way. Ironically, he was driving to officiate at a funeral when he swerved out of the way of another car. His skull was fractured and he died within hours. R.H. Cavasso was riding in the car and was seriously hurt.5

In 1890, MacDonald killed a rattlesnake near his home. It had nine rattles and a button.6






  1. "OAKLAND NEWS." San Francisco Chronicle: Mar 8, 1889.
  2. The Bay of San Francisco. Lewis Publishing Company, 1892.
  3. "TWO PINNED UNDER AUTO; ONE DEAD." San Francisco Chronicle: Nov 1, 1915.
  4. The Bay of San Francisco.
  6. "THE EASTERN SHORE." Daily Alta California: Oct 14, 1890.