Capt. Thomas McKee

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Thomas McKee

Birthdate: (74)
Birthplace: Antrim, Ulster, Ireland
Death: April 1769 (70-78)
McKee's Fort, McKee's Half Falls, Juniata, Pennsylvania
Immediate Family:

Son of Alexander McKee and Catherine Elizabeth McKee
Husband of Margaret Tecumsapah Mckee, Pekowi / Shawnee ) and Elizabeth McKee
Father of Hugh McKee; Col. Alexander McKee; Nancy McKee; Hugh McKee; Catherine McKee and 6 others
Brother of Alexander McKee; Elizabeth Cunningham; Patrick McKee; Elizabeth Surphlet; William McKee and 2 others

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Capt. Thomas McKee

RECORD 1. George Wilson McKee, McKees of Virginia and Kentucky, the, Pittsburgh, J. B. Richards, 1891.

"In about 1738, ten or eleven brothers Mc- Kee emigrated to America.

4th. In 1738 when a large migration of Scotch-Irish Presbyterians to Pennsylvania and the valley of Virginia took place, some brothers MeKee, variously estimated from five to ten or eleven sons of one who had borne a part in the defence of Derry, arrived in America and first settled near Lancaster, Pa. There they separated some settling near Wheeling, W. Va., and Pittsburgh, Pa., and some going to the far West. Two of the brothers, John and Robert, went almost directly to Virginia, (about 1757) and settled on a portion of Borden's grant, on Kerr's Creek, in what is now Rockbridge county, about eight miles north-west of Lexington.

In 1760, William, another of the brothers, also removed to Augusta county, Va.

An account of the descendants of these pioneers, Robert, John and William, may be found in the statements from several sources which follow."

and yet another place in the book states

In 1737 when a large migration of Scotch-Irish Presbyterians to Pennsylvania and the Valley of Virginia took place, five  brothers McKee came with that colony.

1 ) Two of them. John and Robert, settled on a portion of Burden's grant, on Carr's Creek, in what is now Rockbridge County, about eight miles north-west of Lexington.

2) The other three brothers settled in and near Lancaster, Pa., remained at that place until 1760, when William, one of the brothers, removed to Augusta County, Va., from which place his family removed in 1788 to Kentucky and settled in Mason and Montgomery Counties. The other two brothers removed about the same period (1788), from Lancaster to Pittsburgh and Wheeling respectively...."

Thomas McKee born in County Antrim, Ireland and died in McKees Half Falls in 1769.

His sons were 
  • Alexander b.1726 d.1799 and
  • James McKee 1755 -1834. - James who settled in Pittsburgh.

When Alexander fled to Canada during the French and Indian war James was given the 1,400 acres of property in Pittsburgh given to Alexander by Col. Henry Bouquet. I would be interested in anything you could tell me about their father Thomas as the information you supplied does not match what I have.

Allegheny Cemetery, Pittsburgh, PA Sec.20 Lot45 has the following dates: James McKee b.1755 d.1834, wife Elizabeth (last name not recorded on marker) b.1769 d. July 1809. This Elizabeth may be Verner.

The center stone in this lot reads "In memory of Thomas McKee born in Co. Antrim, Ireland died in Harrisburg, Pa. in 1770 and is buried in Paxton Cemetery"

However, later in the genealogy I have there is a son of James named John listed as having a 1st. wife names Rachel Verner. Maybe you can make sense of this. It seems James was married to an Elizabeth and John (1783-1831)was married to Rachel Verner

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time line of events

1665 Alexander McKee Sr ; birth in Ireland, possibly one of four brothers, including a Hugh McKee. This Alexander McKee died in 1740 at age 75 in Donegal Twp. Lancaster County. Reported to have been married to Elizabeth Gordon in Ireland. Father of Thomas McKee, senior. Believed that Alexander Sr. fought at Battle of Boyne and received land grant in Co Antrim, Ireland which was sold to finance family immigration to America.

1695 Thomas McKee, son of Alexander Sr and “Indian Trader”. Believed born in Ireland, Possible married in Ireland to Mary xxxx and had son Alexander McKee who in later life may had a son Thomas and other children. This senior Thomas died in PA about 1771-1772.

1725 Hugh McKee Possible birth of son to Thomas McKee.& Shawnee Indian wife Margaret- Tecumsapah-xxx Opessa who was born ca 1699. This Hugh believed to have moved to Juniata Valley near Allegheny mountains in Cumberland Co. He or son married Mary Nesbit. Had son James McKee born ca 1750-1810 This Hugh died about 1795

1726 Alexander McKee Possible birth of son to Thomas McKee family, This Axex. died in 1796. More study is needed to clarify younger Alexander McKee status.

1733 Nancy McKee - A daughter born to a Thomas McKee and Shawnee Indian wife Tecumsapah-xxx Opessa (born ca 1699). This daughter Nancy reported to have married twice and died in 1765. Other possible children named to Thomas are Catherine by his Irish wife Mary. This Catherine mar William Graydon. James, b 1755 mar Eliz. Verner. This James died in Pittsburg PA on June 10, 1834.

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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..."


Thomas Mckee

  • MyHeritage Family Trees
  • Bowden-Pollock Family Tree2014 in BOWDEN_POLLOCK_MCKEE _LEEMING Site, managed by Bruce B (Contact)
  • Birth: 1693 - Antrim, Antrim, Ireland
  • Death: 1769 - Paxtang, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA
  • Parents: Alexander McKee, Elizabeth McKee (born Gordon)
  • Siblings: Lottie Margaret McKay, <Private> McKay


History of Dauphin County, Pennsylvania Vol. 1, by Luther Reily Kelker, Published 1907 by The Lewis Publishing Company of New York and Chicago.p 222

With regard to the time of the erection of Fort McKee and its precise locality, there is now no positive proof. But as we find instructions to Thomas McKee, dated January 26 1756, we supposed it to have been built in that year. He is directed to "receive from the officer commanding the detachment of Captain Reed's company at Hunter's mill and who you are to relieve, such arms, accoutrements, blankets, tools and stores as he may have in his hands belonging to the Province with which you are to furnish your company, but if that should not be sufficient, you are to apply to Captain Frederick Smith for a further supply out of what he will receive from Captain Reed and Captain Hendricks." He is later appointed under a commission, captain of a company to consist of twenty-eight men and two sergeants, besides himself and lieutenants. He is ordered to proceed immediately to raise the company; when complete they are to be mustered before James Galbraith Esq. and after being mustered, they are to march to a place called Hunter's mill on the Susquehanna river, and either complete the fort already begun there, or build another at such convenient place as James Galbraith shall advise; and in case it should be thought necessary to erect a new fort "you are to built it of the form and dimensions herewith given to you." The next notice of it is in a letter from Edward Shippen, dated Lancaster, April 19, when he says: "I have been at Captain McKee's fort, where I found several Indians - several women very sick in bed. John Shekallamy was there but did not like his situation" - "there is no room scarce at Captain McKee's fort for provisions" - "the enemy can come over the hills at five miles from Fort McKee" - "there are several bad passes as far as McKee's plantation, where I have been, it is but 25 miles from Hunter's mill." Col. Clapham says to Governor Morris, "I shall have 24 men at McKee's store, under the command of an Ensign, as I have removed all the stores from Harris and McKee's to this place (Halifax). May 17. They have very little ammunition at McKee's."

It was named from Thomas McKee, the Indian trader, who had a plantation on the Susquehanna, near the falls, which still bears his name. It was situated on the East branch of the Susquehanna, between Fort Halifax and Augusta. It was probably a stockade, nothing more.

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Capt. Thomas McKee's Timeline

Antrim, Ulster, Ireland
Age 25
Newville, Cumberland, Pennsylvania
Age 43
Western Pennsylvania
Age 45
Age 47
Age 49
Somerset, Somerset County, PA, USA
Age 51
Age 55
Age 58