McIver Family

The William McIver family has made a very important favorable contribution to the history of Lowry for over a hundred years. William came to Lowry before the turn of the twentieth century from Scotland. He built the large home on the corner of Aurora Avenue and Cherry Street NE Quadrant. He also built McIver’s Department Store on the corner of Florence Avenue and Cherry Street NW Quadrant. This was a two-story brick building with a full basement with living quarters on the second floor, providing housing for many people through the years. The department store provided just about everything that was needed by a family at the time: groceries, cookies in bulk, containers with glass hinged lids lined the counter with a dozen different kinds of cookies, dry goods, and clothing for the whole family. If they didn’t have the exact size, you would grow into it. Shoes if they were too small could be stretched. They had yard goods on bolts for sewing garments. Bananas were hung from the ceiling with a pulley and rope. The bunch of bananas was hung just as they grow on the tree, only upside down. They were shipped in a wicker-type basket and occasionally a snake would survive in the container. A hook knife was used to supply the customer with as many as he or she wanted.

The store was managed for years by Donnie Dingwall . He also came from Scotland. He would bark like a dog from behind a display case when kids were in the store — a very realistic sound! Donnie was an excellent merchant and promoter. They sold Lee Overalls and were awarded a huge pair of blue Lee Overalls that they displayed on a messenger from the store to the bank across the street. The overalls hung from this messenger in the middle of the street; however, the wind caught the huge garment and tore the brick parapet corner extension off and the overalls were on the ground. That ended that promotion. Donnie sold Northrup King seed corn. They dressed turkeys in the basement one year bringing the live turkeys in through the south basement window and the finished product out through the same opening. The turkeys were killed by cutting their throats after first being hit on the head with a night stick. They were scalded and the feathers removed. That was the finished product. The viscera was left with the bird. McIver’s Store also bought live poultry in a garage-type building on William’s property. They bartered eggs and poultry for groceries. If the value of the bartered transaction was in favor of the customer, the transaction was equalized with McIver’s Department Store Chips. These were pressed aluminum coins with the value and McIver’s Department Store stamped into them. These Chips were essentially the same size as US Mint coins. Other merchants in town occasionally accepted these Chips as legal tender. Donnie lived for many years in a room at the McIver home until in the late 30’s when he married Elsie. They had one child, John. They moved to California after the war and sold their home to Iver and Lillian Femrite. The store continued to operate with William’s daughter, Mary, managing and later with her husband Howard.

In the thirties during the depression they had sold more Nash’s Coffee in the area and had the privilege of giving away a new Chevrolet car by a drawing of customers. Florence Dahl won the car. The store was terminated in 1971 and was used by Daniel and Paul McIver in their dairy supply business.

To clarify some of these jottings, the lineage of the William McIver family is as follows:

William and Isabella
    Jenny and spouse William Haigh
        Offspring: John, Phillip, Ruth and Priscilla
    Eleanor, a single lady
    Margaret, a single lady — aka Maggie
    Mary and spouse Howard Lysen
    George and spouse Maude
        Offspring: Mary
    John and spouse Janet
        Offspring: David, Margaret and Carol
    Bertrand and spouse Gertrude
        Offspring: Bertrand, Daniel, Paul, Beth and Jessie

The family of William and Isabell (MacIntosh) McIver had seven offspring: three sons and four daughters.

Daughter Jenny, who was married to William Haigh, an itinerant preacher of the Plymouth Brethern faith. They had four children: John, who became a coach and pedagogue. Phillip died during high school. They had two daughters: Ruth and Pricilla.The family lived in Duluth for many years and lived in Lowry a short time purchasing the home from Jenny’s brother, Dr. Bert McIver.

Son George and wife Maude, lived on the farm west of Lowry. They had one daughter, Mary. George and his younger brother John farmed the land raising purebred shorthorn cattle, which they displayed at County and State Fairs. They had two houses on the farmstead, the second being built when John married Janet. They have three offspring: David and his wife Marilyn -- they live on the farm -- and daughters Margaret and Carol. .

Daughter Margaret was a faithful employee of the Lowry State Bank for many years. She never married.

Daughter Mary was manager of McIver’s Department Stroe for many years. She was married to Howard Lysen in the 30s. Howard joined the Assembly of Plymouth Brethern after a remarkable change in life styles.

Daughter Eleanor was Dr. McIver’s assistant, x-ray and lab technician, record keeper, receptionist and janitor when he began practicing in Lowry. She never married.

Son Bertrand began training to be a medical doctor before World War I but joined the Army before becoming an MD. He served in France with the medics. After returning and regrouping for a couple of years, he continued his medical training at the University of Minnesota and graduated. He did his internship at St. Lukes Hospital in Duluth, the home of sister Jenny. Here, he met and married Gertrude Johnson, an RN at the hospital. After completing his internship he returned to Lowry and joined the practice of Dr. L.L. Gibbon who had just moved into his new clinic. Dr. Gibbon died of a stroke in 1930 and Dr. Bert purchased the clinic as well as the his house across the street. In1941, he purchased the farm northeast of Lowry from Ed Benson. He operated the farm for several years with the help of a herdsman, Carl Johnson. Carl lived in the house on the property to the west now occupied by his grandson Greg and Becky McIver. Dr. Bert and Gertrude had five children:

Son Bertrand II and wife Clara own a home on Florence Avenue and they live here in the summer and winter in Florida and various places. They have no children.

Daniel and Geri lived in NE Ben Wade Township or NW Reno Township. They have five children: Beth, Janice, David, Jean and Mary.

Paul and Ruth live in the home of Dr. Bert obtained when he purchased the Ed Benson Farm. Paul and Ruth have three children: Greg, Steven and Timothy.

There were two daughters: Jessie and Beth.

The McIver family was one of the prime movers of the Lowry Assembly of the Plymouth Brethren Mission. William was the Patriarch of the group and Isabella the Matriach. They conducted year around Sunday School classes every Sunday. William would walk at 9:00 A.M. every Sunday morning from his home carrying a black leather container with his books to direct the service and Sunday School. They also had a service every Wednesday night and Sunday night prayer meetings. If the weather was inclement in the winter it was held in William and Isabella’s living room.

The Lowry Assembly of the Plymouth Brethrern seemed to be headquarters for their church. They always did all the head work for the annual Bible Conference of the Plymouth Brethren, which was held every summer for many years in Lowry. People came from many places in the United States and Canada. Sleeping accommodations were provided in many places -- one being the school building where many slept on the floor. The people were fed in the basement of the Gospel Hall. The food was prepared in a kitchen that was constructed on the west side of the Gospel Hall. The cooks were Florence Dahl and Olga Dingwall.

The McIver’s staffed the year round Sunday School along with others. Even Dr. Bert was able to participate on occasion. Dr. Bert was such a compassionate, caring and devoted physician, making house calls at any hour -- fair or foul weather. He owned a Plymouth vehicle that had special 18-inch wheels so that he could travel through deep snow. This remarkable family has made a contribution to the history of Lowry that probably is unequaled. No business was conducted on Sunday by the McIver’s except for Dr. Bert. All the original family has passed away.