Col. Alexander McKee

Ontario, Canada

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Alexander White Elk McKee (Wappemassawa was the name given him by his Indian friends, translated, The Great White Elk) (McKee)

Birthplace: Western Pennsylvania
Death: Died in Ontario, Canada
Cause of death: Lockjaw
Place of Burial: St. John's Cemetery, Sandwich, Ontario, Canada
Immediate Family:

Son of Capt. Thomas McKee and Margaret Tecumsapah McKee (Opessa)
Husband of --- McKee and Edna Yellow Britches Mckee, Rising Sun, Shawnee Kispoko
Father of Catherine Waters; James McKee; William McKee; Thomas Mckee; Elizabeth Mckee and 2 others
Brother of Hugh McKee; James McKee; Catherine McKee; Elizabeth McKee; John Mckee and 3 others

Occupation: Indian Trader/British Agent
Managed by: Kevin Lawrence Hanit
Last Updated:

About Col. Alexander McKee

Generally accepted as lockjaw per Frederick Wulff, Author of Alexander McKee The Great White Elk British Agent On The Colonial Frontier : Outskirts Press, Copyright 2013


He was not married to Sewatha Opessa Shawnee

His wife was: Edna Yellow Britches (Rising Sun) 1740 – 1793 children:

  • Catherine McKee 1770 –
  • Thomas McKee 1770 – 1814
  • Elizabeth NcKee 1771 – 1843/ 1873
  • Catherine McKee 1789 – 1861

Comments from abstracted mayerail further down about his wife: are:

McKEE married a woman living in the Lower Shawnee Town, and in 1769 or 1770, she bore his first child, THOMAS.

Little is known of McKEE'S wife. John Johnston, a United States Indian agent at Piqua, Ohio, in the early nineteenth century, understood that she was an Indian, and by his marriage McKEE became related to the Shawnee war chief, Blue Jacket.


from Karen Largent

  • Hugh McKee and his brother Col. Alexander White Elk McKee were on different sides politically we might say
  • My cousin believes that at some point in time, Hugh McKee left his family with his brother Alexander and fled to Canada. We are having a lot of trouble figuring out which Elizabeth McKee is which. I see from your tree that Hugh had a daughter Elizabeth and a sister Elizabeth. I think that is correct.
  • My cousin also says that Col. Alexander McKee was rescued from being killed by the Shawnee by Edna Yellow Britches Rising Son.


Dictionary of Canadian Biography /DCB/DBC News states:

McKEE, ALEXANDER, Indian agent, fur trader, 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.... Credit: Reginald Horsman go to above link to read more.

Note: Sources listed in this article for future research:

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,

"History of Colonel Alexander McKee", Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography (Philadelphia), LVIII (1934), 26–36; NOTE: is PDF download.

"A Tory in the northwest", Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography (Philadelphia), LIX (1935), 32–41.


The Emigrant Tribes Wyandot, Delaware & Shawnee A Chronology Larry K. Hancks Kansas City, Kansas 1998:

c. 1735 Birth of Alexander McKee, son of trader Thomas McKee and a Shawnee woman (possibly an adopted white captive), in western Pennsylvania.

1760 Alexander McKee, after serving as a lieutenant with Pennsylvania forces in the first part of the war, enters the British Indian Department as an assistant to Thomas Croghan. Working and trading among the tribes in the Ohio country, he gains considerable influence

1770 Alexander McKee is living among the Shawnee on the Scioto, married to a Shawnee woman. They have at least one son, Thomas McKee.

1775 Alexander McKee as Deputy Indian Agent takes a leading role despite his position as a presumed Loyalist.

1784 Alexander McKee is appointed Deputy Agent of the British Indian Department at Detroit, using his influence to encourage continued resistance by the Indians to American expansion north of the Ohio.

1795 At the end of the year, Alexander McKee is appointed Deputy Superintendent and Deputy Inspector General of Indian Affairs, in charge of Indian affairs for Upper Canada.

1799 January 15; death of Col. Alexander McKee, Deputy Superintendent General of Indian Affairs for Western Canada, at his home on the River Thames at the age of 64. His position is temporarily filled by James Baby, Alexander Grant, and his son Capt. Thomas McKee

There is more mention of Alexander and his son Thomas in this work - also NOTE this Is a PDF down load


A Man of Distinction among Them

"ALEXANDER McKEE and the Ohio Country Frontier 1754-1799" by Larry L. Nelson The Kent State University Press Kent, Ohio, and London , c1999.

Chapter Two From the Susquehanna to the Ohio, 1735-1763

pg. 25-28 When he was a young man, ALEXANDER McKEE was a fully participating and fully accepted member of Ohio Country Indian society. The central-Ohio Shawnees regarded him completely as one of their own. He spoke their language, followed their customs, and observed their rituals. They were his family. In peace they were business partners; in war they were allies. He looked after their well-being and they his. At his death in 1799, McKEE was a fully participating and fully accepted member of Upper Canada's landed gentry. The governing aristocracy regarded him completely as one of their own...

McKEE was born about 1735 in the Pennsylvania backwoods of the Susquehanna Valley. His father, THOMAS McKEE (born c. 1695), was the first of three generations of McKEES active in Indian affairs along the northern frontier. THOMAS arrived in America with his father, ALEXANDER (died 1740), from County Antrim, Ireland, after 1707. ALEXANDER, a veteran of the Battle of the Boyne, began to farm along the Pennsylvania frontier in Lancaster County soon after he arrived. THOMAS established himself in the western Indian trade while in his thirties or early forties. Licensed as a trader by Pennsylvania in 1744 and 1747, he already had erected a post along the Susquehanna River near present-day Dalmatia, in 1740. By 1742 he had established a second site, McKEE'S Post, near present-day Dauphin and was trading at Big Island, at the mouth of the Juniata River, on the south branch of the Susquehanna.

In 1747 and 1748, McKEE organized a small company of rangers to protect the western region of Lancaster County during King George's War. In 1755, after the outbreak of the French and Indian War, he raised a second company of volunteers and commanded a small garrison, McKEE'S Fort, at Hunters Mill...In 1763 McKEE accepted an appointment to the post of Justice of the Peace and presided over cases held in Northampton, Berks, and Lancaster Counties. He died at his home at McKEE'S Falls in 1769.

"Less is known of ALEXANDER'S mother. It is certain that THOMAS married a woman who lived with a mixed band of Shawnees, Delawares, and Iroquois on the Susquehanna River, near present-day Lock Haven. In January 1743, McKEE attended a council at the village, located opposite his storehouse on Big Island. He had traded with this band for some time and considered the village headman, Johnny Skikellamy, a personal friend. Although when he arrived, McKEE greeted the Indians with the customary courtesies, their reception of him was noticeably cool. As the council began, the leader of a returning Iroquois war party related that while he and his band traveled through Virginia they had been ambushed by a group of whites. Four of the Indians had died in the attack. The action greatly disturbed the Shawnees and several at the meeting suggested the deaths might be avenged by striking at whites living along the Pennsylvania frontier. McKEE, who was fluent in several Indian languages and who understood the proceedings, became justifiably alarmed. Acting through "an Old Shawna, with whom he was best acquainted," he managed to discourage the band from taking part in any retaliatory raids, but several of the Shawnees remained noticeably upset.

Later that evening, a white woman who had been captured as an infant in North Carolina and later adopted by the tribe approached McKEE with a warning. Some of the warriors, she claimed, planned to kill the trader as he left the village the following day. Leaving his goods behind, McKEE and the woman escaped that evening, traveling three days and three nights to avoid capture. Later, this woman became his wife.

One source incorrectly identifies the woman as the sister of Tanacharison, the Iroquois Half King. A second tradition passed down by the McKEE family during the last quarter of the nineteenth century claims that the woman was Tecumapease, an older sister of Tecumseh's. An affidavit filed with the deputy of Lancaster County after THOMAS' death lists her simply as MARY McKEE.

MARY McKEE had become completely assimulated into the Shawnee culture during her capture. Five years after she and THOMAS escaped, the Moravian missionary J.C.F. Cammerhoff, who traveled along the Pennsylvania frontier stopped at McKEE'S home on January 13, 1748. Cammerhoff noted that the McKEES "received us with much kindness and hospitality." "McKEE is an extensive Indian trader," wrote the evangalist, observing that he "bears a good name among them, and drives a brisk trade with the Allegheny County. His wife, who was brought up among the Indians, speaks but little English." Even as late as 1756, Canaghquiesa, an Oneida chief, referred to MARY as McKEE'S "Shawanese squaw."

MARY McKEE is the woman who raised ALEXANDER as her son, beginning when he was an adolescent. It is less certain whether MARY McKEE was ALEXANDER'S biological mother. After THOMAS'S death in 1769, ALEXANDER filed petitions in December 1769 and August 1773 with the Lancaster County Orphans Court in which he declared that he was the eldest of his father's six children and that THOMAS had died without a will. As a consequence, ALEXANDER became the executor of THOMAS' estate.

In 1778, ALEXANDER openly aligned himself with the British cause during the American Revolution and escaped from Pittsburgh to British-controlled Detroit. After his defection, Patriot authorities charged him with treason, and the state government eventually confiscated his property throughout Pennsylvania. In May 1779, ALEXANDER'S younger brother, JAMES, informed the authorities in Lancaster that at least some of ALEXANDER'S lands had been seized improperly. JAMES claimed his mother and father were not married at the time of ALEXANDER'S birth. As a result, JAMES argued that he, and not ALEXANDER, should have the property in question, and therefore it should not have been taken by the state. In December 1780, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania decided the case in JAMES' favor and awarded his possession of THOMAS' plantation in Paxton Township, Lancaster County. Because JAMES' claim to the family property based on ALEXANDER'S illegitimately was not only asserted, but also successfully argued before the state's Supreme Court, it seems likely that the allegation was a truthful, albeit convenient, method of circumventing the forfeiture based on the charge of treason. JAMES' testimony, while admitting in his own self-interest, suggests that either ALEXANDER was born to THOMAS and MARY before their marriage was formalized, or he was the offspring of a passing relationship between THOMAS and an unnamed Indian woman..."

pg. 63 "...During the late 1760s and early 1770s, McKEE also entered the fur trade as a private trader, joining in a profitable partnership with another Pittsburgh resident, Alexander Ross. He used the proceeds to develop his property north of Pittsburgh, where he built a large and imposing estate, Fairview, that overlooked the Ohio River. Prosperous by frontier standards and highly visible as a result of his continuing association with Croghan, McKEE became active in local politics as well, accepting the position of justice of the peace for newly formed Bedford County in 1771. Despite his increasingly strong links to white society,

McKEE married a woman living in the Lower Shawnee Town, and in 1769 or 1770, she bore his first child, THOMAS

Little is known of McKEE'S wife. John Johnston, a United States Indian agent at Piqua, Ohio, in the early nineteenth century, understood that she was an Indian, and by his marriage McKEE became related to the Shawnee war chief, Blue Jacket

An un-attributed marginal note in the McKEE Family Genealogical file at Fort Malden suggests that her name was CHARLOTTE BROWN, raising the possibility that, like his mother, she may have been a white captive raised among the tribe. McKEE'S wife and child continued to live among the Indians in the Scioto Valley, while ALEXANDER divided his time between Pittsburgh and the central Ohio backwoods..."

pg. 147-48 "...McKEE had spent much of the post-Revolutionary period creating new links to Upper Canada's landed elite, based on finance and family.

Two loosely knit family groups dominated much of Upper Canada's economic life during the years that followed the Revolution.

  • The first revolved around the Detroit land speculator and fur magnate John Askin.
  • The second, somewhat smaller than the first, consisted of those in the orbit of Jacques Duperron Baby, who, like Askin, had made a fortune trading in land and pelts.

McKEE was closely affiliated with both cliques. Askin and Baby were both involved with the region's militia, and each worked closely with McKEE during the crisis of 1790-94. Askin had invested heavily in the lower Maumee Valley fur trade, creating the Miami Company in the late 1780s to exploit the area's rich fur resources, and he was the largest contractor to supply goods and provisions for the Maumee Valley tribes during their conflict with the United States.

  • McKEE watched over Askin's interests in the region and directed Miami Company employees from his post at the Maumee Rapids during the 1790s.
  • Further, McKEE'S son, THOMAS, married ASKIN'S daughter, THERESA, in April 1797.
  • Among those involved with Jacques Baby were William Caldwell and Matthew Elliott, two of McKEE'S closest friends and joint proprietors in his land holdings opposite Bois Blanc Island.
  • McKEE had prospered following the Revolution because he had been able to fashion the same type of personal network of family, business partners, and acquaintances with the Detroit region's aristocracy that he had previously enjoyed with the Ohio Country Indian nations.

As economic opportunities disappeared in Ohio and reemerged in Canada, he had wholeheartedly embraced the British and the values they articulated, and he had profited enormously as a result."

pg. 185 "...In May 1795, his close friend, Prideaux Selby, observed that McKEE had been extremely ill with a "Rheumatic or Bilious fever, attended with great swellings in his feet, hands, and joints." After five weeks of illness, McKEE and THOMAS traveled to St. Joseph Island to purchase it for the Crown's use, but for the most part he remained close to his Thames River estate. In 1798, he injured his leg just before he was stricken with another attack of the fever that left him bedridden and lame. On January 10, 1799, McKEE wrote to Selby, complaining that a "fever and pain in my breast" had kept him in bed for two days and that the episode had been followed by the onset of a cold and fever that afflicted him for another twenty-four hours. The attack was more serious that McKEE realized. He died at his home before dawn on January 15. His body was interred two days later at THOMAS' home, a few miles north of Fort Malden.

McKEE'S death marked the end of a remarkable career. Active with the British Indian Department for nearly fifty years, he had participated in events that had defined Great Britain's imperial interest in the Great Lakes frontier from the capture of Fort Duquesne to the surrender of Detroit. McKEE'S skills as a cultural mediator, one who brokered the encounters between the British government and the Indian tribes of the Great Lakes region, had served the Crown well. His activities with the Indian department had helped build a commercial and political partnership between Great Britain and the Ohio Country tribes that had been a powerful tool for securing and protecting Britain's interests in the region during the last half of the eighteenth century. Indeed, the understandings that McKEE created and the relationships that he developed during his career continued to form the underlying structure that shaped Crown policy toward the lower Great Lakes Indian nations until the end of the War of 1812..."


Who was John McKee states:

Colonel Alexander McKee - Indian Agent & Revolutionary Renegade

Alexander McKee, who is also apparently no relation to our New Sewickley farmer, was a trader and Deputy Indian Agent for the colony of Pennsylvania, as well as the gentleman for whom the present town of McKees Rocks is named.

According to Bausman's History of Beaver County, Pennsylvania, prior to 1769, this McKee owned 300 acres of land opposite Logstown and opened a trading post for the Indians, thus making him one of the earliest non-permanent residents of what is now Beaver County.

Alexander McKee is probably best known for his defection from the patriot cause to the British and their Indian allies during the American Revolution. As a result of his defection, all of his lands were confiscated by the Americans. McKee went on to gain a villainous reputation among the settlers on the Pennsylvania frontier for organizing and instigating deadly Indian attacks against them. Sometime following the end of the war, Colonel Alexander McKee moved to Canada where he died and was buried on his farm on the Thames River, Ontario, Canada in 1799


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. -- History of Pittsburgh and environs, from prehistoric days to the beginning of the American revolution, Fleming, George Thornton, 1855-1928.


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

Other Links

Alexander McKee - Wikipedia



McKee and Gibson: Earliest Settlers by Margaret Ross Milestones Vol 21 No 3 Fall 1996

[ Revolutionary War - Battle of Bluelicks, Kentucky] The British, allied with the Indians, controlled the territory north of the Ohio ... the 
direction of British Captain Bird and Indian Agent Alexander McKee, an army ...

Marker #4-2 McKee's Hill - Following the American Revolution, the British Crown sought to retain

possession of the Ohio Country by sending chief British Indian Agent Alexander 

McKee ...

In May 1790 Alexander McKee, Deputy Agent of the British Indian Department, and the principal chiefs of the Ottawa, Potawatomi, Chippewa and Wyandot

McKee's Town (south of Bellefontaine) was the home Alexander McKee, a British Indian agent and trader. Most of the tribes in the county and surrounding areas ...

Interactive Timeline | Fort Pitt Block House 1772 - British decommission Fort Pitt; the Block House becomes one of the trading posts of Indian Agent Alexander McKee. 1774 - Dunmore's War begins, ...

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Col. Alexander McKee's Timeline

Western Pennsylvania
Age 25
Age 45
Age 46
Age 50
Adams, OH, USA
Age 55
Age 55
Green, Summit, OH, USA
January 15, 1799
Age 74
Ontario, Canada
January 17, 1799
Age 74
Sandwich, Ontario, Canada