In 1850, the McDonald family traveled to the Salt Lake Valley with the Warren Foote Company. The McDonald family included John Kilpatrick and his wife Rachel Burke Taaffe, and their children William Taaffe, John Taaffee, and James.
Initially, John's father traveled without the rest of the family to the Salt Lake Valley in the Ezra T. Benson Company in 1849. He then returned east to his family, and traveled with them in 1850.
Although John Jr.'s obituaries give the family's date of arrival as 19 September 1849 this date must reflect what is true of John Sr. but not the rest of the family.
In some sources John's middle name is spelled "Tafft" or "Taffe," and in other sources his middle name is not given. His death certificate shows his name as "John Tafft McDonald." The index to the Find a Grave website shows his name as "John Taffee McDonald, but the inscription on his gravestone is "John McDonald, Sr."
John later participated as one of the rescuers that were sent out in the winter of 1856 to assist the members of the Church stranded in Wyoming.
Rebaptized in the 13th Ward on 29 August 1852.