NORTHERN NEW YORK
Genealogical and family history of northern New York: a record of the achievements of her people and the making of a commonwealth and the founding of a nation.
New York: Lewis Historical Pub. Co. 1910.
The surname McKee is of Scottish origin and various branches spell the name McKie and Mackay. The MacKay family was in Scotland before A.D. 1300 and possess the Lordship of Reay. Among the precincts or baronies set apart for the Scottish undertakers (settlers), for nearly all of which grants were issued in 1610 when King James was encouraging Scottish and English to take possession of the confiscated lands in Ulster, north of Ireland, we find Sir Patrick Mackee with a thousand acres in county of Donegal, precinct of Boylagh. He lived at Laerg, Minnigaff, Wigtonshire, Scotland, and was a knight. In 1619 the British commissioners reported that nothing had been done on this grant, and later the grant was held by John Murray. In 1619 we find but one settler of this name in the north of Ireland. John MacKay had a share of one thousand acres granted to William Stewart, Laird of Dunduff, and was living on it, precinct of Portlough, county Donegal, Ulster. Whether he was the progenitor of all the family in the north of Ireland, we cannot know.
Transcribed by Coralynn Brown
Tradition tells us that the progenitor of the family of which we write came among the early Scotch-Presbyterian pioneers, however. The MacKays of Ireland at the present time are almost all in county Antrim. Of sixty-four births in this family in Ireland in 1890, fifty-six were in that county. The McKees are found in Antrim, Down and Armagh. The spelling McKie is uncommon or unknown in Ireland. Tradition among the descendants of this branch of the family tells us that after a short residence at Derry or Antrim they came to the western part of county Down to a place called Tullygully, about a mile and a half west of the village of Rothfriland. Subsequently they deemed the location too low and too marshy, and removed about a mile to the westward "up into Granshaw" where they remained for many generations. This location is about eight miles south of Loughbrickland, where King William assembled his army, previous to the battle of the Boyne, July 12, 1690. They were offered the townland at five shillings per acre, but took, instead, a lease of the half at two shillings, sixpence per acres, for three lives or forty years. About that time the Ellison family, mentioned below, took the other half.
The branch of the McKees with which we are dealing resided on the north side of Knock Hill, while other branches of the family lived on leased lands on the south side, where about 1775 a family of four daughters married hubands named Nichol, Black, Halliday and Jennings, the latter being parents of Jane Jennings, wife of Samuel McKee, mentioned below. Their father gave each daughter twenty-one acres of land. All these families have removed or become extinct. Among the last was Hugh McKee, of Crow Lodge, who died in 1875, leaving no issue, and Robert McKee, who removed about 1878-79. The McKee family is said to have held a very respectable place in society.
"Being a tall, athletic race of people they wished to imitate the Irish Squires, for amongst them, they who could play the best ball or bullet, run the fastest, leap the farthest, keep the best dog, the best gun and the best horse, were always the best men, whilst parties that came into the country long after them, and perhaps settled under them, that they looked upon as mushrooms, were creeping up to surpass them in the journey of life.
(I) James McKee, of the family described above, lied at Franshow, and was doubtless born there. He was a farmer and sawyer by trade. He and the family were strong in their allegiance to God and the King with characteristic Scot fixedness, and as far as known were all of the Presbyterian faith. To some extent the McKees intermarried, however, with families of the Established Church and the family buying ground was at the old Ballarona Episcopal Churchyard, a very ancient cometery.
He married, ____ Davidson, daughter of a farmer, residing at the Knock Hill about two miles west of Granshaw. "She had three uncles in the memorable siege of Derry; two of them went out disguised, but were discovered and lost their lives."
Samuel, mentioned below.
(II) Samuel, son of James McKee, was born at Granshaw, county Down, Ireland, Jan. 5, 1782. He married, in September, 1803, Jane Jennings of Ballynagappog, county Down. She was born in 1783, daughter of Robert Jennings, whose wife ws one of the McKees of Granshaw mentioned above. Robert Jennings was a farmer, son of Edward Jennings, who removed from London, England, to county Down, Ireland, about 1750, and became an extensive landowner. The Jennings family attended the Ballarona Episcopal church and many of them were buried there.
Samuel McKee was a dry goods clerk in his younger days, and a farmer afterward on the lands held by his family for generations under lease; was for eighteen years constable and collector; contractor for highway repairs. In Ireland the family of Samuel McKee attended the Presbyterian church at Rathfriland. Samuel McKee came to this country in 1843, with his sons James, Samuel and John, and located at Mineville, town of Moriah, New York, where he died May 1, 1861, and where his wife died March 18, 1869. Both are buried at Mineville.
1. Mary Ann, born June 10, 1805, married Robert Donnell.
2. Robert, Aug. 4, 1807.
3. Jane Eliza, March 20, 1810.
4. Hugh, Nov. 20, 1811.
5. Jane, Nov. 27, 1814.
6. James, mentioned below.
7. John, May 16, 1825.
(III) James (2), son of Samuel McKee, was born Nov. 30, 1817, at Granshaw, county Down, Ireland, and is now living in Moriah, New York (1910) at the advanced age of ninety-two years. He was educated in his native place in common and private schools maintained by his father and associates. He learned the trade of blacksmith; he came with his parents to this country in 1843, and worked at his trade in the iron ore mines of Witherbee, Sherman & Company, Mineville, N.Y. About 1869 he retired from working at this trade and devoted his attention to the farm on which he lived continuously since 1845 until five years ago. He now resides in village of Moriah Center.
In politics he is a Republican, and for many years held the office of school trustee. In religion he is a Presbyterian. The following extract from a letter dated April 10, 1877, to James from his brother Robert will be of interest:
"It is now again July, eithr 96 or 97 years since my grandfather went through a sham battle at Belfast among some 16,000 volunteers. I heard him tell that when retreating over a long bridge one of his company set fire to a large stack of furze, which completely stopped the pursuers till the flames subsided. It was applauded as a bit of strategy, and the gentlemen paid the party for the stack. Belfast at that time was little better than a fishing village with almost no shipping to any foreign port."
James McKee began to work in the mines when the industry was in its infancy and he has seen and taken part in the development to its present proportions.
He married, July 2, 1857, at Jay, Essex county, New York, Margaret, born at Jay, Aug. 18, 1835, daughter of James and Elizabeth (Witherspoon) Mathews. Her father was a farmer living on the road from Jay village to Au Sable Forks. She had sisters, Phoebe and Eliza, and brothers John and Harvey Mathews.
Children of James McKee:
1. Jennie E., born April, 1858; married Rev. C.E. Fay, a Presbyterian minister, now located at Morristown, N.Y.; child, Elsie Fay.
2. William Harvey, June 14, 1859; died Dec. 15, 1886.
3. Martha A., Oct. 20, 1860; secretary and treasurer of the C.S.Taylor Company, merchants, Keeseville, N.Y.
4. Margaret Belle, Sept. 5, 1863; married E. K. Romeyn, of Keeseville, N.Y.; children: Mary, Janes K., Margaret, Barbara and Katherine Romeyn.
5. Samuel James, May 20, 1865; a wholesale merchant in the millinery trade in New York City and Binghamton, N.Y.; married Martha Estelle Brewer, Masonville, N.Y.
6. Sarah L., Feb. 20, 1867; lives with her parents at Moriah Center.
7. Fannie E., March 31, 1870; married Samuel Henry McLaughlin, of Moriah Center; children: Fay and Ralph McLauighlin.
8. John Mathews, Dec. 21, 1872; married Helen M. Cone, of Moriah; children: Margaret, Russell and Hugh.
9. Robert Preston, mentioned below.
(IV) Robert Preston, son of James (2) McKee, was born at Moriah Center, N.Y., July 10, 1878. He was educated in the common schools of Moriah, at the Sherman Collegiate Institute of Moriah, and at the Binghamton School of Business. He taught school for two years in Minerva, N.Y., and at Manchester, Vermont, and worked in the newspaper business for three years at Port Henry and Keesville, N.Y. During the next four years he was occupied in railroad construction in the central states. In March, 1908, he established the Adirondack Record at Au Sable Forks, N.Y., and since then has devoted his attention to that newspaper, which has become a journal of wide influence and circulation.
In politics he is a Republican. He is a member of Tahawas Lodge, No. 730, Free and Accepted Masons, of Au Sable Forks; of Cedar Point Chapter, No. 142, Royal Arch Masons, of Fort Henry; of Iron Ore Lodge, No. 583, Odd Fellows, of Moriah Center; of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, No. 295, of Warren, Ohio; of the Knights of Pythias, of Ravenna, Ohio, and of the Order of Maccabees of Au Sable Forks.
He is unmarried.
The McKee family of Scotland is identical with the McKie or MacKay. The MacKay family was located before 1300 in county Sutherland, Scotland. Thence went a branch to Ulster province when the Scots were granted land there by James I. Among the Scottish undertakers, as the patenttes were called, was Sir Patrick McKee, knight, having a thousand acres in the province of Portlaugh, county Donegal, in 1611. He sold his land before 1630 to John Murray. The family name has generally been spelled McKee in Ireland. There were ninety-six births in the McKee family in Ireland in 1890, all but three being in county Antrim. There were fifty-six births in the McKay families of county Antrim, where nearly all of this surname in Ireland reside.
(I) Samuel McKee was born in Antrim, Ireland, 1794, died in Canton, New York, 1869. He came to this country in 1849, and made his home in the town of Canton, N.Y., where many other Scotch-Irish people settled. He followed farming during his active life, retiring a few years before his death. He was made a Master Mason in Ireland and was a member of the local lodge after coming to New York; also of the Royal Arch Chapter and of the Commandery, Knights Templar.
Samuel, Alexander, James, mentioned below.
(II) James, son of Samuel McKee, was born in county Antrim, Ireland, 1829, died at Rensselaer Falls, town of Canton, New York, in May, 1907. He was educated in the schools of his native place, and learned the trade of shoemaking in Ireland. He came to this country in 1849 with his father and was employed at his trade in Rensselaer Falls. During the civil war he made boots and shoes for the govenment. He engaged in business as a retail shoe dealer in Canton, and continued in active life to the time of his death.
In politics he was a Republican and he held the offices of overseer of the poor at one time. He was an active member and for a number of years trustee of the Methodist Episcopal church at Rensselaer Falls.
He married Agnes Forsythe, born in the north of Ireland in 1832, now living at Rensselaer Falls.
1. Mary, born at Heuvelton, married E. J. Stearns, of the Stearns Lumber Company of Hutchinson, Minnesota; children: Max, Gertrude, Marian Spencer, Lydia Lou and Ward.
2. William F., born Rensselaer Falls; a shoemaker at Malone, New York; married Anna Riley; children: Thomas, Harry and Fred.
3. James E., born July 14, 1862; mentioned below.
4. Luella, born Rensselaer Falls, lives with her mother at Rensselaer Falls.
5. Lida, born Rensselaer Falls, married Edgar F. Sneden, of New York City; children: Agnes, Ethel and Kenneth Sneden.
(III) James Edgar, son of James McKee, was born at Rensselaer Falls, Canton, N.Y., July 14, 1862. He received his education in the public schools of his native town and at Gouverneur Wesleyan Seminary, N.Y. He began his business career as clerk in the store of Bell Brothers, jewelers, of Ogdenburg, N.Y., and learned the business throroughly. After six years with that concern he came to Waddington and established himself in the jewelry business in 1894. He has built up a flourishing business, and is reckoned among the leading merchants of the town. He has been a justice of the peace and member of the town board; trustee of the incorporated village of Waddington, and since 1895 has been, by appointment of President Roosevelt, pastmaster of Waddington.
He was formerly a member of Ogdensburg Lodge, No. 128, Free and Accepted Masons, and is now of Waddington Lodge, of which he was master for five years; also of Ogdensburg Chapter, Royal Arch Masons. He is a trustee of the Presbyterian church at Waddington, and superintendent of the Sunday school.
He married, June 29, 1893, Mary E. Porteus, of Waddington, daughter of David M. and Mary E. (Scott) Porteus. David M. Porteus was born in Philadelphia, July 23, 1829; married Mary E., born in Waddington, N.Y., June 2, 1832, daughter of Albert, a native of Waddington and Caroline (Erwin) Scott, a native of Brandon, Vermont. Moore Lee Porteus, father of David M., ws born at Enniskillen, county Fermanagh, Ireland, 1797; came to this country at the age of twenty-one, and died Sept. 6, 1889, aged ninety-two years. Rev. William Porteus, father of Moore Lee Porteus, and also a native of the north of Ireland, was the Episcopalian rector at Enniskillen, Ireland. The Porteus family probably came from Scotland to the north of Ireland. We find the family in Peeblesshire in 1595. It belonged to one of the border clans.
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