My mother was a McKee.We are descended through Gavin McKee’s son William (1783-1872).My great-aunt Edna McKee (1884-1970), of Centralia, Illinois, heard from a cousin that the McKees were “Scotch sailors” and that members of the family founded McKeesport.The other bit of tradition was that they moved to Ireland due to religious persecution.My mother heard a story that they arrived on a “Dutch ship.”These are just traditions----we shouldn’t believe them literally, because facts get misconstrued over the generations, but they shouldn’t be ignored either.
I was in touch with a Fleming County descendant once who said that she had heard from Abigail McKee Storey, in her 90s in 1949, that the parents and eleven sons and three daughters “came together.”
Taken together, these link to other McKee lines.
What we do know about Gavin (as he signed his name; the clerks for his pension application used “Guian,” and DAR members prefer that spelling) is that in the 1766 will of James Moore, of Middleton, Cumberland County, PA, gives him his “freedom dues” on completion of his apprenticeship.Moore had a large mill, and Gavin’s pension affidavit says that he was “raised a miller.”This presumably means that Moore raised him and (at the age of 14, according to legal custom) took him on formally as an apprentice.According to an 1879 history, Gavin was born in the “Northwest Highlands of Scotland,” but I don’t regard that as reliable----it was common at that time to hide an Irish origin.They were Scottish in origin, of course (no doubt from around Minnigaff, in the southwestern part of Scotland), but probably went to Ireland in the “killing times” of the 1680s or later.
Then, we know from his pension that he was living on Peter’s Creek, near what was later McKeesport, in 1776, when he enlisted.“Gawin” McKee appears on the 1783 tax list in Mifflin Township, Allegheny County.Other McKees there were William, Robert, David, and James McKee.David and James were the sons of David (1710-1795).In 1784, “Gawin” appears there next to William and Robert, and next to them in 1785 when it became Dickinson Township.When he sold his patent for land in Plum Township, Allegheny County (which he had received on 13 June 1787), “Guyon” McKee (as he signed his name) sold it to John McKee (the founder of McKeesport) on 7 May 1789.He then went to Kentucky.“Gayan” McKee was back in Mifflin Township in March 1793, when he and John McKee, of Versailles Township (the founder of McKeesport) and Robert, James, and Margaret White of Mifflin Twp. Were under bond to testify against William McClure, who had been indicted for riot.
Robert McKee, his neighbor, stayed in Pennsylvania and died there in 1828 (St. Clair Township).He married Elizabeth Miller, daughter of Oliver Miller.Elizabeth’s brothers John, William, and Thomas all testified in court in support of Gavin’s pension in 1828----they had moved to Fleming County, Kentucky. Robert had a son Guyon.So clearly Robert was closely related, probably a brother.
William McKee, the other neighbor, lived in Mifflin Township and died there in 1823, leaving a will.His wife was Margaret, who might have been Margaret, daughter of David McKee.David’s will names her was Margaret McKee, meaning she was either single or married to a McKee (if I recall correctly).
Besides David McKee and his children, these three McKees were the only ones living in the 1770s and 1780s near McKeesport (there were others who lived further away, in Hempfield, Washington County, however).So most likely Gavin/Guyon was brother of Robert (d. 1828) and William (d. 1823) and they were nephews of David.
Ray McAdams first suggested that Robert McKee (d. 1755 New London, Chester Co., PA) was the father, because his first wife was Mary Moore, daughter of “Geyen” Moore, and he had several children by her, and two sons (John and Isaac) by his Quaker second wife, Sarah Todd.This all looks very tempting, but as far as I’m concerned, the jury is out.Reasons:I can’t find any relationship between James Moore and Geyen Moore, most of whose family went to South Carolina; the ages of Robert’s children John and Isaac (who couldn’t have been born much earlier than 1753 and 1755 or so), which wouldn’t leave much room for earlier sons born in 1751 and neighboring years.However, it’s still possible.
Gavin/Gyon/Guyon (the three spellings he used on signatures) McKee was evidently an orphan, but whether he was born in America or Ireland (Scotland is unlikely) is unknown.I’d be inclined to think he was born in America (Pennsylvania; maybe Delaware), because he was in Pennsylvania by the time he was 15 and because presumed brothers were in PA by the time they were in their twenties.Possibly a court record may exist which might prove a relationship, but, if so, it’s not in Chester or Cumberland Counties.
It would be interesting to see if DNA tests might show larger relationships.I would suggest that as a new tool.Y-chromosome tests of male-line descendants of those families with traditions that match might at least link them together. My first cousin once removed is 81 and the last living male-line McKee in my branch of the family, but I haven’t contacted him.That’s about the only new line of research I can see (beyond happening on an undiscovered court record in an unknown county or possibly an undiscovered Bible or other family record).There are some records in Scotland, but very little for 18th-century Ireland.