North Carolina-born John Matthews McDonald (1827-1883) came to Texas in 1848 and lived first at Larissa, Cherokee Co. and then Mound Prairie, Anderson Co., where his brother Murdoch earlier settled. Two years later, he moved to the young town of Athens and became a teacher and a lawyer. He also served as the town's first mayor. He wed Mary Ann Elizabeth Pinson (1842-1931) in 1858, and the couple had ten children. During the Civil War, McDonald fought with the Confederate Army as part of Hood's Texas Brigade. Active in public service, he held the offices of justice of the peace, county judge and state representative. His pioneer leadership proved vital to the early development of his adopted home.