As manufacturer A.Y. McDonald celebrates 150 years in business, the company remembers its roots. Its namesake and founder, Andrew Young (AY) McDonald was orphaned as a child in Glasgow, Scotland, then emigrated to the United States with an aunt when he was 20 years old. He started his own plumbing business in Dubuque, IA, left to fight in the Civil War, was wounded twice and returned home to Dubuque to grow his business.
During his time of military service, A.Y. McDonald was granted a patent on an improvement to the screw wrench, commonly known as the monkey wrench. He later sold his patent.
In 1877, he erected his first factory and iron foundry and in 1880 expanded the size of the building.
He became a U.S. citizen at age 26. He married and had five children: three daughters and two sons. Both sons would later guide the company along with their cousin.
In 1883, A.Y. McDonald entered the plumbing wholesale business with the establishment of his branch warehouse in Chicago. In the late 1880s, his health began a slow decline. A.Y. McDonald Mfg. Co. was formally incorporated on May 1, 1888 in preparation for the founder's departure from the business. A.Y.'s two sons, A.Y. II and John, left school to enter the business to prepare for the uncertain times ahead. On Sept. 19, 1889, A.Y. McDonald resigned as president and abdicated in favor of his nephew, John Morrison II, whose age and experience made him a natural choice. A.Y. McDonald died on July 29, 1891.
The company is planning events to celebrate its anniversary.