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McKinnon and Ruble Families Papers
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Arrangement of the Collection
  • Related Collections
  • Access
  • Acquisition Information
  • Processing Information
  • Preferred Citation
  • Publication Rights

  • Contributing Institution: University of California, Davis General Library, Dept. of Special Collections
    Title: McKinnon and Ruble Families Papers,
    Identifier/Call Number: D-405
    Physical Description: 48.9 linear feet
    Date (inclusive): 1859-2002 (1890-1984 bulk)
    Date (bulk): 1890-1984
    Abstract: The McKinnon and Ruble Families Papers include records of a physician and rancher in the California Delta region during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The papers focus on the life and career of Aloysius John McKinnon, M.D. (1870-1933), upon the Ruble family of his wife Mary Elizabeth "Lizzie" Ruble McKinnon (1875-1916), and upon the lives of their children as related to their Rio Vista, California family home and ranch near the Sacramento River. The bulk of the material spans the years 1890 to 1984 and includes correspondence, photographs, ranch records, medical practice records, medical equipment, and a family library.
    Physical Location: Researchers should contact Special Collections to request collections, as many are stored offsite.
    Language of Material: English .


    Aloysius John McKinnon (1870-1933) was born in San Francisco to Daniel A. and Catherine MacDonald McKinnon. Aloysius had three older siblings: Louise (Sister Mary Emerentiana), Augustine (Brother V. Leo), and William Bernard. Circa 1890, Aloysius joined his family's well-established San Francisco lumber and shipping business, MacDonald and McKinnon. In 1900, while studying medicine at the University of California, Medical Department in San Francisco, Aloysius married Mary Elizabeth "Lizzie" Ruble (1875-1916). The couple had been introduced by Aloysius' cousins, St. Joseph's parish priests at the Delta farming community of Rio Vista, California, where the Ruble family resided. Aloysius received his medical degree in 1903 from the University of California. He and Lizzie maintained an apartment on Sanchez Street in the Mission District of San Francisco unti 1904 when they permanently relocated to Rio Vista. Dr. McKinnon practiced medicine from his Front Street office and later from an office in his Rio Vista home.
    At the time of her marriage Lizzie was the oldest of three surviving heirs to the estate of her twice-widowed father Lewis Cass Ruble (1848-1899). Lewis Cass had settled in Rio Vista circa 1870 and married Ellen Doyle (1848-1880) in 1874. They had four children: Mary Elizabeth, William Benjamin (1877-1917), Lewis (1879-1885), and Nellie (1880-1881). Ellen died in 1880 a week after Nellie was born. In 1883, Lewis Cass married Ellen's sister, Elizabeth Doyle (1854-1893). They had one daughter Mabel Josephine (1885-1959). Lizzie and Mabel both attended St. Gertrude's Academy in Rio Vista, and William attended Santa Clara College.
    Lewis Cass Ruble's landholdings became the basis for the Ruble-McKinnon Ranch, which was located on the eastern bank of the Sacramento River and across the river from the town of Rio Vista. The Ruble-McKinnon Ranch produced alfalfa, asparagus, potatoes, and other crops but was especially known for its pears. After Lewis' death, his son William maintained the ranch, but circa 1905 upon William's incapacity, Aloysius McKinnon took over management of the ranch for his Wife, Lizzie, and her half-sister, Mabel. In addition to practicing medicine and managing the ranch, Aloysius was active in local organizations including being a founder and officer of the Brannan Island Reclamation District board. He held part ownership of a sailing vessel, the schooner Melrose, and in McKinnon family property located in San Francisco. Mabel Ruble resided as a boarder in the Rio Vista home of her half-sister and brother-in-law starting in 1904. Following Lizzie's death from asthma in 1916, Mabel assumed responsibility for the care and upbringing of the McKinnon children.
    Aloysius and Lizzie McKinnon had six children: Lewis Ruble (1901-1956), Louise Isabelle (1903-1991), Ralph A. (1906-1913), Malcolm Bernard (1910-1982), Donald Aloysius (1913-1978), and Kenneth Leo (1915-2003).
    Lewis Ruble McKinnon studied agriculture at the University Farm School (now the University of California, Davis) in the early 1920s. In 1934, he married Ruth Church (1906-1985), and they had two children, Mar Jel Ruth (b. 1935) and Alan John (b. 1939). Lewis pursued tobacco planting and production in Haiti for the French firm, Service Technique. He later held sales and management positions in California.
    Louise Isabelle McKinnon Craven studied nursing at the University of California, Medical Department in San Francisco. She worked as a nurse at the Univesity of California and as a private nurse. In 1934, she married Isaac "Ike" Craven who managed large-scale agriculture enterprises in the Rio Vista area. They had one daughter, Patricia Craven Sheehan (b. 1936).
    Ralph A. McKinnon died at age seven from a ruptured appendix while his physician and surgeon father was in Panama.
    Malcolm Bernard McKinnon graduated from Saint Mary's College of California in 1931 before sailing to New York to attend medical school at Columbia University. In 1933 when his father passed away, he returned from medical school to the family home in Rio Vista and managed the Ruble-McKinnon Ranch until its sale in 1980. Like his father, Malcolm maintained meticulous ranch records. In 1937, Malcolm married Irma H. Anderson (1909-2000). They had four children: Richard Leo (b. 1937), Barbara Ann (b. 1938), Ralph William (b. 1945), and Mary Louise (b. 1947).
    Donald Aloysius McKinnon served with the United States Navy as a physician during the Second World War, including during Pacific campaigns. In 1942, he married Eleanor Rodgerson, also a physician. They resided in Sacramento, California and had four children: John Robert (b. 1943), Donald Chisholm (b. 1944), Eleanor Jane (b. 1947), and William Rodgerson (b. 1948).
    Kenneth Leo McKinnon served as a dentist with the U.S. Army and was stationed in Germany. He established a dental practice in San Rafael, California. In 1940 he married Mary Story Kilgore (1917-1993), and they had four children: Elizabeth Anne (b. 1944), John Alson (b. 1946), Susan Mary (b. 1949), and Sara Helen (b. 1955).
    With the 1980 sale of the Ruble-McKinnon Ranch, the property passed from family hands after nearly one hundred years of continuous family ownership.
    MacDonald, Wilfred. Melrose Mac Kinnon's: 1772 to 1977. 1977.
    McKinnon, Sara Helen. Ruble Family History. 1989.
    Walsh, James P. McKinnon-Ruble Collection Catalog. 2004.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The McKinnon and Ruble Families Papers (48.9 linear feet) include records of a physician and rancher in the California Delta region during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The papers focus on the life and career of Aloysius John McKinnon, M.D. (1870-1933), on the Ruble family of his wife Mary Elizabeth "Lizzie" Ruble McKinnon (1875-1916), and on the lives of their children as related to the family home and ranch in and near Rio Vista, California and the Sacramento River.
    The papers contain biographical information, correspondence, legal and financial documents, family member's class notes and assignments, ephemera and realia, maps, photographs, and a family library. Aloysius John McKinnon and his son, Malcolm Bernard, kept detailed accounts of ranch and household expenses. There are also some records of Dr. McKinnon's medical practice here along with medical equipment and supplies. The bulk of the papers spans the years 1890 to 1984.
    Significant local history information is found in the collection including records of the Brannan Island Reclamation District and items related to the history of the University of California, Saint Gertrude's Academy, and Saint Mary's College. Subjects of many of the photographs include McKinnon and Ruble family members, Rio Vista, the Ruble-McKinnon Ranch, the Sacramento River, and San Francisco. The bulk of the photographs dates from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, so a wide variety of historical photographic processes are represented.

    Arrangement of the Collection

    The Papers are arranged into eleven series: 1. Biographical Information, 2. Correspondence, 3. Legal Documents, 4. Financial Documents, 5. Brannan Island Reclamation District Records, 6. Writings, 7. Ephemera, 8. Maps, 9. Photographic Materials, 10. Realia, 11. Library.

    Related Collections

    The following collections at Special Collections relate to the McKinnon and Ruble Families Papers because they have to do with the history of the California Delta region:
    D-044, Liberty Farms Company Archives: The Liberty Farms Co., founded in 1919, reclaimed 5,000 acres of swamp and overflow land in the Sacramento Delta. The property, located eight miles north of Rio Vista and named Liberty Island by Robert Malcolm, was farmed by tenants on a share basis. They produced potatoes, asparagus, zucchini, onions, peas, tomatoes, and other row crops.
    D-118, Holland Land Company Records: The Holland Land Co. was incorporated in 1916 to acquire, reclaim, develop, and sell Delta marshland in Solano and Yolo Counties, California. Operations headquarters were in Clarksburg, in Reclamation District 999. Land holdings in the 1920s exceeded 50,000 acres.
    D-394, Colby E. "Babe" Slater Collection: Babe Slater (1896-1965) graduated from the University Farm School (now the University of California, Davis) in 1917 and served as a medic in France and Belgium during the First World War. He won Olympic gold medals for rugby in 1920 and 1924 and then bought land in the Sacramento Delta in Clarksburg, California, where he farmed until his retirement in 1955.


    Collection is open for research under regular reading room rules and copyright restrictions. Researchers should contact Special Collections to request collections, as many are stored offsite.

    Acquisition Information

    The McKinnon family donated this collection to the library in 2004.

    Processing Information

    Special Collections intern, Anne Rapaport, and Manuscript and Photograph Curator, Melissa Tyler, arranged this collection and created its finding aid. Tyler encoded the online finding aid with help from Rapaport and Library Assistant, Jenny Hodge. Collections Manager Sara Gunasekara did preliminary work on the collection. A detailed guide written by family member and history professor, James P. Walsh, Ph.D., was useful to the staff as they developed this finding aid.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], McKinnon and Ruble Families Papers, D-405, Department of Special Collections, General Library, University of California, Davis.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright is protected by the copyright law, chapter 17, of the U.S. Code. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Special Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Department of Special Collections, University of California, Library, Davis as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the researcher.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Reclamation of land -- California -- Sacramento County.
    Reclamation of land -- California -- Solano County.
    Floods -- California -- Sacramento River.
    Medicine -- California -- Sacramento County -- History.
    Medicine -- California -- Solano County -- History.
    Panama-Pacific International Exposition (1915 : San Francisco, Calif.).
    Pear industry -- California -- Sacramento County -- History.
    Pear industry -- California -- Solano County -- History.
    Physicians -- California -- Sacramento County.
    Physicians -- California -- Solano County.
    Rio Vista (Calif.) -- History
    Sacramento County (Calif.) -- History
    Delta Region (Calif.) -- History
    Panama Canal (Panama) -- History
    Agriculture -- California -- Sacramento County -- History
    Brannan Island (Calif.) -- History.
    Catholic Church -- California -- History.
    Agriculture -- California -- Solano County -- History
    Solano County (Calif.) -- History
    Sacramento River (Calif.) -- History
    San Francisco (Calif.) -- History