About John McKee
An undocumented source states he was of Germany and christened 13 Jun 1706 Drumobo, Down, Northern Ireland. Married probably at Cumberland, Pa. Where Jane was born c. 1730.
In 1738 ten brothers emigrated to America. The greater number of them settled in Pennsylvania .3 One of three brothers who came to Lancaster Co., PA, in 1738 with a group of Scotch-Irish Presbyterians; went to Rockbridge Co., VA, in 1757 John McKee purchased a tract of land in the Forks of the James River on 10 Aug 1752
Pennsylvania Genealogical Magzine Vol. xxxv, Information Wanted, pg. 245 Seek date and place of arrival (probably New Castle, Delware) from Ulster of pioneers: Robert Mckee, (1692 1776) who married Agnes ________, (1700 1780; and his brother, John McKee, (1707/08 1792), who married first, 1744, Janes Logan. Robert Mckee purchased land in 1747/48 in "Wm. Penn
s Manor," Oxford Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania
McKee / Big Springs Cemetery. Located off Rt 60 on Rt 631 on Clarence Tardy's farm. Tombstones were recorded by Bob Driver, Mrs. Margaret Seebert, listings provided by Rev. Wray Sherman of New Monmouth. McKee, John b. 1707 McKee, Jane Logan b. c1744, w/o John
Land records probably came from the History of Rockbridge County, Virginia by Oren F. Morton as follows:
- 1) Deed Book 20 pg. 147, 14 March 1774 John and Rosanna McKee of Kerr’s Creek son to their son James, for 5 schillings a parcel of land on Kerr’s Creek, part in Augusta and part in Batetourt counties, 280 acres (described in terms of trees, poles, degrees, direction) John McKee, signed; Rosanna her mark.
- 2) Deed Book 20 pg. 148 15 March 1774 John and Rosaanh McKee of Kerr’s Creek in Augusta co. sold to their son James for 65 pounds 280 acres part in Augusta and part in Batetourt counties. This is also found in Chalkey’s Records of Augusta County Virginia Vol. 3 pg., 529
1. Judith Elaine (McKee) Burns, Descendants and Ancestors of Joseph Howe McKee of Owen County, Indiana (McKee's of Virginia, Kentucky and Indiana, The (Transcript), Judith Elaine (McKee) Burns,
2. George Wilson McKee, McKees of Virginia and Kentucky, the, Pittsburgh, J. B. Richards, 1891, pg. 35-54. "
John the Pioneer.
I have always heard John spoken of with the greatest respect and admiration by the Kentucky McKees, hut he had not, from all accounts, the mild manner that characterized Robert. Without being exactly turbulent, he was most positive in his language and actions, and in this way, made his full share of enemies. His will, which is quoted further on, is a living testimony to the stern sense of justice which characterized the man. After devising his estate, he leaves no room for any judicial doubt as to what his wishes are concerning his widow. He does not leave her dependent upon anybody, but insists that she shall, until her death, be proyided with the comforts of life to which she had heen accusomed. And he goes into great detail to explain what must absolutely and posit ively be proyided her, as her right, independent of all considerations of affectionate care which he well knew would he accorded her. He intended that the proud and sensitive woman should always feel that she was dependent on no one. She was Rosannah Cunningham, his second wife.
His first wife was Jane Logan, who was killed by the Shawnee Indians on Kerr's Creek, Rockbridge county, Va., July 17, 1763.
The various accounts of this massacre are, of course, mere matters of tradition, as the people, at that time, were abundantly occupied in struggling with Nature and defending themselves against the savages; leaving little opportunity for any cotemporary written records to be kept. The date of the tragedy is even variously stated, some chroniclers asserting that it occurred in 1764. I will give here all the information concerning it that I have been able to collect.
Mr. Waddell, in his "Annals of Augusta County, Va.," quotes the Rev. Samuel Brown, of Bath county. Says Mr. Waddell: "Withers makes no mention of either of the massacres of Kerr's Creek. Stuart merely alludes to the first, in 1763, writing the name, however. "Carr's" instead of "Kerr's." For the only detailed account of these trage- dies we are indebted to the Rev. Samuel Brown, of Bath county, who collected the in cidents from descendants of the sufferers many years ago.
" The settlement on Kerr's Creek. "says Mr. Brown, "was made by white people soon after the grant of land to Borden in 1736. The families located there consisting of Cunning hams, McKees, Harailtons, Gilmores, Logans, Irvins, and others, thought themselves safe from the dangers of more exposed parts of the country. "Leaving the site of
old Millborough, the savages passed over Mill Mountain at a low place still called the ' In-dian Trail'. Coming on the waters of Bratton's Run. they crossed the North Mountain where it is now crossed by the road Leading from Lexington to the Rockbridge Alum Springs, and where there is a large heap of stones, supposed to have been piled up by Indians. From this point they had a full view of the peaceful valley of Kerr's Creek. Has tening down the mountain, they began the work of indiscriminate slaughter. Coming first to the house of Charles Dougherty, he and his whole family were murdered. Theynext came to the house of Jacob Cunning-ham, who was from home, but his wife was killed, and his daughter, about ten years of age, scalped and left for dead. She revived, was carried off as a prisoner in the second invasion, was redeemed, and lived for forty years afterwards, but finally died from the effects of the scalping. The Indians then proceeded to the house of Thomas Gilmore, and he and his wife were killed, the other members of the family escaping at that time. The house of Robert Hamilton came next. This family consisted of ten persons, and one half of them were slain. Bv this time the alarm had spread through the neighborhood, and the inhabitants were flying in every direction.
For some reason the main body of the Indians went no further. Perhaps they were sated with blood and plunder; most probably they feared to remain longer with so small a band. A single Indian pursued John McKee and his wife as they were flying from their house. By the entreaty of his wife, McKee did not wait for her, and she was overtaken and killed. He escaped. His six children had been sent to the house of a friend on Timber Ridge, on ac count of some neasiness, caused probably by the report about the Naked Man.
Through the courtesy of Judge William McLaughlin, of Lexington, and Mr. J. A. Waddell, of Staunton, Va., I was furnished with an extract from Mr. Brown's article in which the above allegations were made. Very soon afterwards, Mr. J. A. R. Varner, of Lexington, kindly Loaned me Mr. Brown's original manuscript, which I read with the greatest attention before returning it to Mr. Varner. Mr. Brown, who. as Judge McLaughlin in- formed me, died on the 3d of May, 1889, was a man admired and respected by all who knew him, and who would do no intentional wrong to anyone, living or dead. It will therefore be scarcely necessary for me to remark that I acqnit that good man of any intention of doing a wilful wrong to the memory of the sturdy and brave pioneer, John McKee. He was simply. to the best of his knowledge, and with the best intentions, collating the traditions of an event, which were related to him when over a century had elapsed since its occurrence. He says : " I am able to fix the precise date of the first invasion from an entry in the old Family Bible of J. T. McKee's grand father, as follows: ' His first wife, Jennie, died July the 17th, 1763; die was killed in the first invasion."
The rest of the narrative is simply a tradition which has been handed down, or related, to Mr. Brown, for, as he modestly remarks in his manuscript, his information was derived from descendants of the survivors of the massacre. Mr. Brown very kindly endeavors to extenuate this alleged conduct of John McKee, by stating: "She besought her husband to leave her to her fate, and make his own escape, if possible. This he refused to do ; when she appealed to him for the sake of their children to leave her. If he staid, being unarmed, they would both be killed ; but, if he escaped, their young children would still have a protector. Can we conceive a more trying condition for a husband?" If he had left his wife, under the circumstances as narrated, there would have been no extenuation of his conduct in the mind of any man, named McKee, not even if the Devil, himself, bad appeared there to fight him.
The Indian, according to this narrative related to Mr. Brown, struck Jane Logan McKee in the head with his tomahawk and, think- ing he had killed her, continued on for the purpose of capturing John McKee. The latter had, however, reached a dense copse, or brush, where no Indian, of those days, could possibly find him. The Indian, having given up the search, returned to the spot where he expected to find the dead body of Jane Logan McKee, whom, he thought, he had murdered ; but the poor woman, although mortally wounded, had crawled a few vards away into a sink-hole, or densely-copsed depression in the ground. Says Mr. Brown: " She had crept down into a sink in the ground, had taken a handkerchief from her neck, and bound up the wound on the head, and was cold in death. She was not scalped, the Indian not having found heron his return."
The Indians of those davs were evidently very inferior to their descendants of the present era in the art of trailing. The poor woman, stricken with a death wound, had. ac- cording to this account, crept a short distance away and endeavored to staunch the Mow of blood from her head with her handkerchief; and vet the wily denizen of the forest was unable to find her on his return. It may he said that the Indian was in a hurry, which is very probably a fact, and his departure from that scene, or from the terrestial scene, would have been accelerated had John McKee been in the vicinity when his wife was massacred. The Indian, or Indians, who murdered Jane Logan McKee, did not return to look for the corpse, for they had already scalped her and left her for dead at the spot where they surprised her.
The memory of John McKee, having ever been held in reverence bv his descendants in Ken tuck v. it may readily be conceived that I was inexpressibly shocked when I read this account of the Kerr's Creek massacre. His alleged conduct there was so unlike everything I had ever heard of the man, and it seemed so strange that none of our people had ever received the slightest hint of such an occurrence, that I determined to investigate the matter to its uttermost possible clew. I was not willing that he should be condemned without a hearing, on any ex-parte traditionary statement which might originally have been instigated by his enemies. I wished while I was living and responsible for my utterances, that the blood of my ancestor should not cry out in vain from the ground for justice against his calumniators.
I at once wrote to Judge Win. McLaughlin, of Lexington. Va., and asked if he would put me in communication with the Rev. Mr. Brown, in order that I might correspond with that gentleman, and find out exactly from what sources his legendary account was derived. Judge McLaughlin, to whom I am indebted for many courtesies, informed me in a letter from Staunton. Va., May 11th, 1889, that "Mr. Brown died on the 3d instant at an advanced age. Mr. Brown at the time he wrote the article on the 'Kerr's Creek Massacre,' was the pastor of the Presbyterian Church near the scene of the occurrence, and many of the descendants of the participants were members of his church. Mr. Waddell, to whom I showed your letter, has kindly furnished me with an extract from Mr. Brown's article which I enclose.' The portion of the extract relating to the massacre of Jane Logan McKee, as condensed by Mr. Waddell in his " Annals of Augusta County, Va.", has been quoted here; as also Mr. Brown's remarks in extenuation of the alleged conduct of John McKee.
I sent the extract, enclosed by Judge McLaughlin, to the Rev. Dr. John Lapsley McKee, of Centre College, Danville, Ky.. and asked him to send me any information he had on the subject. Dr. McKee lias always taken the greatest interest in the family, and probably is better informed than any man living about its history and traditions. He replied to me under date of June 21st, 1889, stating: " Your letter was the first information I have ever had about the alleged ignoble conduct of our ancestor in deserting his wife. The picture has haunted me ever since I read the story."
It is no wonder he was shocked, as I was. at reading such an allegation against a man he had always been taught to respect and admire for his courage and unusually determined, manly character. It would seem strange that an erudite man, like Dr. McKee, who from his youth had taken the keenest interest in the history and traditions of his family, had never heard the slightest hint of this story about John McKee, but on the contrary had always been taught to reverence his memory. Dr. McKee is the oldest living representative of John McKee's descendants in Kentucky.
I wrote to several others of the Kentucky McKees, saying nothing whatever about Mr. Brown's narrative, but simply asking: " Can you give me any account of the Kerr's Creek massacre and the circumstances attending the death of Jane Logan McKee?'
Major Logan McKee, of Danville, Ky., had, for some time, himself been engaged in writing a sketch of the McKees, as he took a great pride in his ancestry. He certainly had never heard of this account, or he would have mentioned it to me, as we were in constant correspondence. Moreover, he and Dr. McKee saw each other almost daily, and the doctor's statement has already been given. Major Mc- Kee was on his death-bed, at the time I wrote him, and utterly incapable of writing or attending to any business whatever. I do not think any attempt was made to communicate the contents of my letter to him.
Major Lewis W. McKee, Attorney-at-Law, writes from Lawreneeburg, Ky., September 3d, 1889: Suddenly, one morning in 1763, a hostile band of Indians attacked the settlement on Carr's Creek, killing about twenty-three per- sons, among them Jane Logan McKee. Jane Logan McKee was milking cows some little distance from the house and, when she diseovered the Indians, gave the alarm in time to have her house closed, then fled in an opposite direction and jumped into a sink-hole. The Indians, who were in pursuit, over took an I tomahawked her and scalped her. She lived, however, about two hours and was found and carried into her house before she expired. This, of course, is mere tradition with me."
Miss Jeanie D. McKee, daughter of the late Hon. Geo. R. McKee. shortly after her father's death, wrote me as follows : "528 Garrard Street. Covington, Ky.. July 10th, 1889. My Dear Cousin: The record in grandfather McKee's Bible, which I have, says : " Grandmother Jane Logan McKee was killed by the Indians in 1764, on Kerr's Creek, Rockbridge county, Va." I once asked my father how this happened, and he told me that she, becoming uii easy at the prolonged absence of her husband, John McKee, left the house in search of him and. when a short distance from home, she was seized by a stray Indian and scalped. His grandfather, William McKee, told him this; also the old servants. I think I wrote you, a year ago, that, when William McKee and his wife Miriam emigrated to Kentucky, two brothers of the latter accom- panied them and that, from these two brothers are descended the McKees of Franklin, Anderson and Woodford counties.'
Mr. John A. R. Varner, of Lexington, Va., on February 14th. 1890, wrote me a very interesting letter from which I take the following extract : "At our October County Court I met Mr. Alexander Bayne, of the Kerr's Creek country, a venerable man of perhaps eighty years. He lives under the shadow of the House Moun tain the tallest of the clan that hems in the enchanted valley of Kerr's Creek among the billowy hills rolling alone its base. He knew the brothers, James and William McKee. your great grand-uncles, well. As a boy he has helped to harvest wheat in the ' Egypt field' a name it hears to this day, and was doubtless suggested by its supposed resemblance to the fertile alluvial delta of the Nile. He has seen these brothers in 'towering rages,' as well as in their tender and more lovable moods for they Lad mildness in their blood as well as iron and anger ; and he has observed the austere gravity of the Covenanters ripple into a kind of French vivacity. Mr. Bayne's account of John MeKee's conduct at the Kerr's Creek massacre as derived from his mother, is as follows :
"When John McKee first discovered the Indians approaching, he and his wife, followed by their dog;, left their house and endeavored to reach a thickly wooded hill near by. They had not gone far before . Jane McKee, who was in a delicate condition and soon to become a mother. became exhausted and begged her husband to leave her to her fate and make his own escape. This he refused to do. Seeing, however, near them a sink-hole surrounded by an almost impenetrable thicket of privet and briar hushes, in a hollow in the field, out of view of the Indians, he placed his wife in this and started to give the alarm to the other settlers down the creek. The Indians were about to abandon the pursuit, when one of them, attracted by the harking of the faithful dog, which had remained with her, discovered Jane MeKee's hiding place. She was scalped and left for dead.
This account seems to me the most reasonable of all of them. It has about it the very aroma of probability and authenticity. I have never believed for one moment that John McKee deserted his wife at that trying time. Everything is against it. The man who led a forlorn hope of pioneers into a wilderness never acted in such an ignoble manner, and the proud, unpausing valor of his children's children, on a hundred battle-fields, disproves the charge.
" My own belief about the matter is: The McKees were men of decided opinions, they were very positive men. and they never minced words when they wanted to express their disapproval of anything mean, or unmanlv. In this very way John McKee may have incurred the bitter enmity of some of his neighbors, who gave currency to this vile slander. Kerr's Creek should be a sacred spot to every one in whose veins runs a drop of the blood of Jane McKee. Not so much because she died there, as because a noble mother, whose only laws were love and duty, suffered, sorrowed and accepted her new lot, and bravely bent herself to her more than doubled weight of care and toil.'
It will be observed that all the accounts, with the exception of Mr. Brown's, agree in stating that Jane Logan MeKee was scalped These accounts were written by people who were entire strangers to each other, and who narrated the tradition as it had been handed down to them by their ancestors. Eminently respectable and well-known, in every instance, not one of them has reflected upon John MeKee's conduct and certainly the balance of testimony would incline towards the proba- bility of their statement being the correct one. This concurrence as to .lane MeKee having been scalped is an important point, and disproves the statement that John MeKee aban doned her as related bv Mr. Brown. If the alleged Indian stopped, even for the short time it would have taken him to scalp the wounded woman, any athletic woodsman could easily have outstripped him and rendered further pursuit useless. Hence it was necessary for his enemies to state that she was simply knocked down, or tomahawked, and that the savage immediately continued his pursuit of John MeKee. He. a pioneer in the Wilder ness, â€” one of those brave, adventurous men that dared to live in a country surrounded bv savages, and subject at any moment to their raids, or onslaughts, was not armed when he was, according to Mr. Brown, attempting to escape with his wife. What man is there, whether he be citizen soldier, or scout; whether he be naturally a bold or timid man, would not, in the last extremity where his life and the lives of those he loved were involved, arm himself with every weapon he could use to advantage in the last desperate struggle?
If John McKee were with his wife at all when she attempted to conceal herself in the dense shrubbery of the sink-hole, which is extremely doubtful, he, like the brave man that he was, tried, with all the instinct of the partridge of his own fields, to divert attention from her and draw tiic pursuing savages after him alone out into the open. But it is believed that, upon the earnest solicitation of his sick and nervous wife, he had gone to a neighbor's to look after his children, and, upon hurrying back to his home vvhen the alarm was given, he arrived only in time to find his wife scalped, ami to bear her maimed body into the house where she Lived for two hours. There would be no difficulty in tracing her with his dogs his knowledge of the Locality and his woodman's instinct. As he survived the massacre of course there would be opportunity for comment upon that fact. not only by his enemies but even by innocent people, who hear misty legends handed down through the ages.
The Rev. Mr. Brown, who was a Christian gentleman, and not one who would go down into the grave of a brave man. and rend his memory with the fangs of a ghoul, was simply giving a hearsay and apocrypha] legend he had heard from some of the descendants of the survivors, as he states in his account. I have given the statements of other descendants of the survivors, not one of whom had ever heard even a hint of such an allegation against the brave old pioneer
"No, 'tis slander ; Whose edge is sharper than the sword; whose tongue Outvenoms all the worms of Nile; whose breath Rides on the posting winds, and doth belie All corners of the world; kings, queens and states, Maids, matrons, nay, the secrets of the grave This viperous slander enters. - Cymbeline.
WILL OF JOHN m'kEE.
In the name of God, Amen. I, John McKee, of Rockbridge county and State of Virginia, this 26th dav of October, in the year of our Lord. 1791, calling to mind the mortality of my body and that it is appointed for all men once to die, do, therefore, make and ordain this mv last will and testament.
First of all: I give and recommend my soul into the hands of Almighty God who gave it, nothing doubting but at the general resurrection I shall receive the same again by the almighty power of God. My body I recommend to the dust, to be buried in a Christian and decent manner. And as touch ing what worldly estate as it hath pleased God to bless me with in this life I dispose and bequeath the same in the following manner:
I allow all my just debts and funeral expense to be carefully paid.
I give unto my beloved wife, Rosannah McKee, a sufficient maintenance off my plantation, with a negro wench to assist her, during her natural life, with a horse kept for her use and two cows, with all my kitchen furniture and a bed and furniture.
I give unto my son, John McKee, all the real and personal estate that I possess (except- ing the legacies hereafter mentioned) to him and his heirs forever.
I give unto Mary Weir, Miriam McKee, James McKee, Robert McKee, William McKee and David McKee, my daughters and sons, to each of them twenty shillings, to be paid by my executors at the end of one year after my decease. And I do constitute and appoint Rosannah McKee executrix and John Wilson executor of this my last will, and disannul all other will or wills by me heretofore made, and ordain this to be my last will and testament.
In witness whereof I hereunto set my hand and seal the day and year above written.
John McKee. [seal.]
Note It must not be inferred from the foregoing will that John McKee cut on all his children except John McKee with "twenty shillings." As they married in his lifetime, he provided for all of them. To some he gave land and to others money and negroes. To my wife's great-grandfather, William Mc Kee, he gave " Highland Bell' plantation, now one of the finest farms in this county ; and to James McKee the " Red House Farm," now owned by his heirs. The term " negro wench' was applied by all our old people to negro women. J. A. R. V.
In one of Mr. Varner's delightful letters to the Gazette, entitled "A Rummage in the County Clerk's Office' there appear the following excerpts from the records of that office, in Rockbridge county, Va.. from 1778 to 1788: " In the list of personal property, belonging to the estate of James McKee, there is: 1 small quantity of campfire, 7 sermon books, and 6 yards five hundred linen."
" 1 negro wench, belonging to the estate of John McKee. deceased, is appraised at £5,000 which smacks somewhat of the prices paid for the ' chattels' during the Confederacy'
Says Mr. Varner further: " In that 'Iliad of Woes,' the Execution Book of 1787, the following are a few of the returns made on the legal processes. In our more modern days the debtor can bid defiance to the sheriff, or constable, from the shelter afforded by the bankrupt and stay laws. It will be seen the more potent agency of carnal weapons was used then with equally flattering success. Here are some of the returns 'Jane Buchanan by James Buchanan, her father and next friend, vs. William McKee. [Debt £25; costs, 104 lbs. tobacco and 15s.] Keeped off with a drawn sword. John Houston, Sheriff.' Here follow several other returns by sheriffs Houston and Galbraith and Constable J. Buchanan, wherein the parties sought vamosed or, vi et armis, ' keeped off the sheriff with a club.'
Sheriff William McKee, (kinsman of the present fieri fascias) more fortunate, returns : 'Executed, and his body in prison bounds.'
Mr. Varner remarks: " The Wm. McKee who met the sheriff with the execution, with a 'drawn sword,'I will not say who he was. It was very naughty in him to treat his kins man, Sheriff Houston, in that way, and M__ says doubtless the debt was unjust."."
3. Will of John McKee, Rockbridge County, Virginia, 1791:
In the name of God Amen I John McKee of Rockbridge county and State of Virginia this 26th day of October in the year of our Lord one Thousand Seven hundred and Ninety one calling to mind the mortality of my Body and that it is appointed for all men one to die, do therefore make and ordain this my last Will and Testament.
First of all I give & recommend my Soul into the hands of Almighty God who gave it nothing Doubting but at the General Resurrection I shall receive the same again by the might power of God. My body I recommend to the dust to be buried in Christian and decent manner.
And as touching what worldly Estate it hath pleased God to bless me with in this life I dispose of and bequeath the same in the following manner I allow my just debts & funeral expenses to be carefully paid.
I give unto my Beloved Wife Rosannah McKee sufficient maintenance of my said plantation with a Negro wench to assist her during her natural life with a horse kept for her use & two cows with all my kitchen furniture & a bed & furniture.
I give unto my son John McKee all the real and personal Estate that I possess (Except for the legacies Hereafter Mentioned) to be his and his heirs forever.
I give unto my Mary Wise [sic, Wier], Miriam McKee, James McKee, Robert McKee, William McKee and David McKee my Daughters and sons to each of them twenty shillings to be paid by my Executors at the end of one year after my Decease.
And I do Constitute and appoint Rosannah McKee Executrix and John Wilson Executor of this my Last Will and I disannull; all other Will or Wills by me heretofore maid & ordain this to be my Last will & Testament in witness where of I have hereunto set my hand and Seal the day and year above written. /s/John McKee (seal
Signed Sealed published & declared to be my Last Will & Testament in the presence of /s/Samuel Willson /s/Ann Willson
At A Court held for the County of Rockbridge April 3rd 1792 This Writing purporting to be the last will and Testament of John McKee deceased was presented in Court by Rosannah McKee Executrix & John Willson Executor therein Named and proved by Samuel Willson and Ann Willson subscribing witnesses and Ordered to be Recorded. And on the action of said Executrix & Executor who made oath according to law Certificate is granted them for obtaining Probate thereof in due form on giving sufficient Security. Whereupon they together with William McKee their Security entered into and acknowledged their Bond in the penalty of two thousand pounds conditioned according to Law. Test A. Reid, Clk.
John McKee's Timeline
February 5, 1704
Drumbo, Down, , n Ire
June 13, 1706
Drumbo, Down, n Ire
January 29, 1744
<Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, USA>
June 11, 1746
Lancaster co. Pa.
September 27, 1747
Lancaster co., Pa.
February 18, 1750
Lancaster co., Pa.
March 14, 1752
Cumberland co., Pa
March 4, 1754
Lurgan Twp, Lancaster, Pennsylvania
February 17, 1756
Kerr’s Creek, Augusta, Va.