Col. Alexander McKee

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Alexander White Eagle (White Elk ) McKee

Birthplace: Cumberland, PA
Death: Died in Ontario, Canada
Immediate Family:

Son of Thomas McKee and Tecumsapah Margaret Opessa Mckee
Husband of Sewatha Opessa McKee; ? McKee and Edna Yellow Britches Mckee
Father of Tehcompolas Margaret Collins; Catherine Waters; James McKee; William McKee; Thomas Mckee and 3 others
Brother of Hugh McKee; James McKee; Catherine McKee; Elizabeth McKee; John Mckee and 3 others
Half brother of James McKee; Catherine McKee and James McKee

Managed by: Kevin Lawrence Hanit
Last Updated:

About Alexander White Eagle (White Elk ) McKee

He is said to have married a Shawnee woman. --------------------

Alexander McKee 1735-1799

ALEXANDER McKEE was the Tory leader at Pittsburgh. He was a man of some education and wide influence on the border. He, too, was a trader among the Indians, and for twelve years prior to the Revolution had been the King’s deputy agent for Indian affairs at Fort Pitt. For a short time he had served as a justice of the peace in Westmoreland county. He was intimately acquainted with most of the Indians chiefs of the Ohio Valley, and spoke their tongues. As the Rev. Jones attests, he had an Indian family among the Shawanese. He divided his time between his Pittsburgh cabin and his farm at McKees Rocks. Both THOMAS and ALEXANDER took part in many conferences with the Western Indians at Fort Pitt, the first, July 4, 1759, where they were present, according to the minutes, “George Croghan, Deputy Agent to the Hon. Sir William Johnson, Baronet: Col. Hugh Mercer, Commandant at Pittsburgh; a number of officers of the Garrison; Capt. (pg. 170) William Trent and CAPT. THOMAS McKEE, assistants to G. Croghan, Esq., and Capt. Henry Montour, Interpreter.” Most likely THOMAS McKEE was also at the conference at the same place, October 25, 1759, as the records read: “Present His Excellency, Brigadier Gen. Stanwix, with sundry other gentlemen of the army; George Croghan, Esq., and sundry assistants.”

ALEXANDER McKEE’S name first appears in the minutes of a conference held with the chiefs of the Senecas living on the Ohio, the Delawares and Shawanese, October 17, 1764; present, “Col. Henry Bouquet, Commanding His Majesty’s forces in the Southern District, etc.” ALEXANDER McKEE is set down as assistant agent for Indian affairs, and doubtless at all of Bouquet’s conferences at that time though not always recorded as present. He is recorded as present at Dunmore’s council with the Delawares and Mingoes in the fall of 1774, and still “Deputy Agent, etc.” WASHINGTON dined with ALEXANDER McKEE on his journey down the Ohio to the Kanawha region, as he records in his Journal, October 20, 1770; however, he spells the name “MAGEE.” McKEE, Croghan and Lieutenant Hamilton of the garrison at Fort Pitt, had set out from Pittsburgh with Washington’s party, and continued with them to Logstown. ALEXANDER McKEE was during the Revolution a British agent among the Shawanese on the Miami river. More concerning him will be noted in the chapter detailing events at Pittsburgh during the Revolution.

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BURKE, EDMUND (1850-1919) – VOLUME XIV (1911-1920) b. 31 Oct. 1850 in Toronto

The War of 1812 Canada’s Wartime Prime Ministers The First World War BACK TO TOP McKEE, ALEXANDER, Indian agent, furtrader, and local official; b. c. 1735 in western Pennsylvania, son of Irish trader Thomas McKee and a Shawnee woman (or possibly a white captive of the Indians); d. 15 Jan. 1799 on the Thames River, Upper Canada.

As a young man Alexander McKee was a lieutenant in the Pennsylvania forces during the early part of the Seven Years’ War. He entered the Indian department in 1760 as an assistant to George Croghan and until the outbreak of the American revolution he served the department and traded, achieving considerable importance among the tribes north of the Ohio River. He was married to a Shawnee woman and in the early 1770s had a home in one of the Shawnee villages on the Scioto River (Ohio).

As McKee was sympathetic to the British cause at the beginning of the revolution, he was kept under surveillance. In March 1778, with Matthew Elliott*, Simon Girty*, and others, he fled from the Fort Pitt (Pittsburgh, Pa) region into the Ohio country. Later in the year he joined the British at Detroit. The Americans considered his departure a major blow because McKee had extensive influence among the Indians. At Detroit he became a captain and interpreter in the Indian department and for the rest of the revolution helped direct operations among the Indians in the Ohio valley against the Americans. He participated in many of the main actions in that region, including Henry Hamilton’s capture of Vincennes (Ind.) in 1778, Henry Bird’s expedition against Kentucky in 1780, and the attack on Bryant’s Station (near Lexington, Ky) in August 1782.

After the revolution McKee obtained land on the Canadian side of the Detroit River, but he served at Detroit as deputy agent in the Indian department, which used his influence among the tribes in present Ohio and Indiana to encourage Indian resistance to American settlement beyond the Ohio River. He also traded along the Miamis (Maumee) River and was a prominent leader in the Detroit River region. He became lieutenant-colonel of the local militia in the late 1780s, justice of the Court of Common Pleas for the District of Hesse in 1788, member of the district land board in 1789, and lieutenant for the county of Essex in 1792.

When in the early 1790s full-scale hostilities broke out between the Americans and the Indian tribes, McKee and his assistants helped to gather and supply the Indians who resisted American expeditions [see Egushwa]. With John Graves Simcoe*, lieutenant governor of Upper Canada, he tried to devise a workable plan for an Indian buffer state between American and British possessions. McKee played a major role in organizing the Indians to meet Major-General Anthony Wayne’s advances in 1793 and 1794 and was present at the battle of Fallen Timbers (near Waterville, Ohio) in August 1794, but only as an observer. Wayne’s victory and the failure of the British regulars to support the Indians diminished British influence among the tribes. McKee was given formal command of Indian affairs in Upper Canada at the end of 1794 when he was appointed deputy superintendent and deputy inspector general of Indian affairs.

After the British withdrew from Detroit in 1796, McKee made his home on the Canadian side of the river. At his death three years later he was living on the Thames River. In the tumultuous years of the 1790s he had been the most important official organizing Indian resistance to the American advance across the Ohio River. To him, the British policy was not merely official, it was the culmination of a lifetime spent with the Indians of the Ohio valley. His son Thomas* also served in the Indian department, becoming agent at Amherstburg in 1801.

Reginald Horsman

BL, Add. mss 21661–892 (transcripts at PAC). PAC, MG 19, F1; RG 8, I (C series); RG 10, A1, 1–4; A2, 8–12. Correspondence of Lieut. Governor Simcoe (Cruikshank). Frontier defense on the upper Ohio, 1777–1778 . . . , ed. R. G. Thwaites and L. P. Kellogg (Madison, Wis., 1912; repr. Millwood, N.Y., 1973). Johnson papers (Sullivan et al.), III, VIII, X, XII. Michigan Pioneer Coll., IX (1886), X (1886), XIII (1888), XIX (1891), XX (1892). PAO Report, 1905, 1928–29, 1931. The Windsor border region, Canada’s southernmost frontier . . . , ed. E. J. Lajeunesse (Toronto, 1960). R. C. Downes, Council fires on the upper Ohio: a narrative of Indian affairs in the upper Ohio valley until 1795 (Pittsburgh, Pa., 1940). Reginald Horsman, Matthew Elliott, British Indian agent (Detroit, 1964). N. B. Wainwright, George Croghan, wilderness diplomat (Chapel Hill, N.C., 1959). Frederick Wulff, “Colonel Alexander McKee and British Indian policy, 1735-1799” (unpublished ma thesis, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wis., 1969). W. R. Hoberg, “Early history of Colonel Alexander McKee,” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography (Philadelphia), LVIII (1934), 26–36; “A Tory in the northwest,” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography (Philadelphia), LIX (1935), 32–41.

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Col. Alexander McKee's Timeline

Cumberland, PA
Age 14
Age 15
Age 35
Age 36
Age 40
Adams, OH, USA
Age 45
Age 45
Green, Summit, OH, USA
January 5, 1799
Age 64
Ontario, Canada