Title: The first one hundred years of McKeesport : an historical and statistical description of the city from its inception until its centennial in 1894 / compiled and prepared by Walter S. Abbott and William E. Harrison, under direction of Centennial Historical Committee
“ The McKEES of McKeesport
About the beginning of the eighteenth century DAVID McKEE, with his family, moved from Scotland to the Protestant settlement in the north of Ireland, settling near Londonderry. But persecution followed the Presbyterians and about the middle of the century he was forced to seek a new home. He came to America in company with several brothers and found in the Province of Pennsylvania what he said he long had sought: “a church without a bishop; a state without a king.”
He settled near Philadelphia, but in the year 1755 he crossed the Allegheny mountains and under the protection of the once celebrated Queen of the Delawares (Alliquippa), he settled permanently in the wilderness he found at the confluence of the Monongahela and Youghiogheny rivers. There he built himself a log cabin and became the first white resident of the locality.
The territory now covered by a teeming, throbbing, pulsing city was at that time an extensive marsh or swamp, clogged with heavy forest and a dense undergrowth -- not a home site that would today be selected not aptly chosen, for it was contemporaneous with the disastrous defeat of GENERAL BRADDOCK at Braddock’s Field. The country round about was quaking with the shock of warfare and the only recognized law was that of might. The strong rules the weak. Notwithstanding the unfavorable surroundings DAVID McKEE built and occupied his log house and established a home in spite of all difficulties. The seed thus planted, over a century ago, was the nucleus of what afterwards became McKeesport, today a prosperous city whose railroads, manufactories, schools, churches, intelligence, refinement (pg. 10) and thrift, form a halo through which the past appears as a misty dream, the outlines being dim and exceedingly hard to discern. It is difficult to believe that the present modern city was erected where the first white settler found nothing but a swamp along the shores of two big rivers, the future value of which he had no conception whatever. He was simply an adventurous white man determined to carve a home out of the wilderness and to force the earth to render him and his family a living, free from the restraints he found in the, to him, obnoxious land of his birth. He cleared out enough of the dense tangle of swampy forest to enable him to operate a farm, but did not confine himself strictly to farming for an indefinite period. He had the Scotch-Irish ideas of thrift about him and he soon established a skiff ferry connecting his place with the opposite sides of the Monongahela and Youghiogheny rivers and in 1769 he obtained a charter for it. That charter is still in force today and a steam-ferry service is maintained under it.
DAVID McKEE died on October 11, 1795, aged eighty-five years and on his property passed to his three sons, JOHN, DAVID, and ROBERT. DAVID left the settlement, removing across the river and occupying a tract of land in what is now Mifflin township. He was drowned some years afterward while fording the Monongahela river on horseback, at Braddock’s army crossed in 1756. ROBERT located on a tract of land in the neighborhood of Braddock’s Field, which was at that time a respectable settlement. JOHN retained the old homestead which had been deeded to him by his father some years before.”
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