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William R McKee


REV. WILLIAM R. M'KEE, the earnest and well-known pastor of the United Presbyterian Congregation of Robinson, traces his lineage back to one Joseph M'Kee, a native of the North of Ireland, who immigrated to this country near the close of the last century, and located on a farm in Jefferson county, Ohio. His wife was a Miss Ramsey, of that county, and to them were born nine sons and two daughters. Two of their sons are still living: Joseph (a minister in Los Angeles, Cal.), and Ralston (a farmer near Mansfield, Ohio). Mr. M'Kee was a prominent citizen of eastern Ohio, being called to serve as a member of the first Legislature of the State of Ohio, and as associate judge of Jefferson county for a number of years. He was also a ruling elder in the Associate Presbyterian Congregation of Mount Pleasant, Ohio, for many years. He died at the advanced age of ninety-five.

James M'Kee, the father of the subject of this sketch, was born February 8, 1800, and reared on the home farm in Jefferson county. When a young man he followed the profession of teaching for some time. He was able to take a class in arithmetic as far as through the "Single rule of three," corresponding to the first case of proportion in modern text books. This was as far as classes in common schools were usually taken in arithmetic in those days. On February 27, 1821, he was married to Miss Susanna Ramsey, who born him one daughter, Jane. The mother died April 18, 1822, and for his second wife Mr. M'Kee married Miss Martha Humphry, who was born November 3, 1791, on Ohio county, W. Va. She was a daughter of Robert Humphry, a soldier of the Revolutionary war, and among the many engagements in which he participated are mentioned: Bunker Hill, Brandywine and Germantown. Shortly after the close of the war he married, and the young couple settled in what was then the wilds of Virginia, within the bounds of what is now known as Ohio county, W. Va., but near to the Pennsylvania line. They were many times compelled to flee from their home to the fort, for safety from the Indians, the last time when the infant daughter Martha was three weeks old. Mr. Humphrey laid out the village of West Alexander, Penn., on one of his farms, calling it for his wife, whose maiden name was Jane Alexander. Five children were born to the union of James and Marth M'Kee, viz.: Robert and John (who both died in boyhood), Joseph (a physician of Denver, Colo.), James A. (for twenty-seven years pastor of the U. P. Congregation of Wheeling, five miles south of Claysville in this county, now of Emporia, Kas.) and William R. The father and mother both died in Washington, Iowa, the former August 1, 1873, the latter March 17, 1866.

William R. M'Kee was born in Ohio county, W. Va September 13, 1832. His father's family removed to Ohio, settling when he was seven years old on a farm near Wooster, Wayne county. Here they lived until he was sixteen, and then removed to Harrison county, Ohio, near to New Athens, the seat of Franklin College, from which institution he graduated September 8, 1854. After spending one year in teaching he commenced the study of medicine, but, before completing the course, abandoned it, and entered the United Presbyterian Theological Seminary of Xenia, Ohio, where he graduated in the spring of 1859, and was licensed to preach the Gospel April 19, 1859, by the U. P. Presbytery of Wheeling, in the city of Wheeling, W. Va. During his ministry of thirty-three years he has had but two changes, both substantial country congregations. His first settlement was in the congregation of West Hebron, Washington Co., N. Y., where he was ordained and installed, September 19, 1860. Here he remained until the fall of 1867. On April 30, 1863, he was united in marriage with Miss Frances Lytle, of Xenia, Ohio. Her father was born and reared in Mifflin, Penn. On April 15, 1821, he married Miss Fannie Smart, of Huntington, Penn., a granddaughter of Rev. John Smart, who came to this country from Scotland in 1761, and a sister of Revs. J. P. and John G. Smart, well-known minister of the U. P. Church. To them were born John S. (long a wholesale dry-goods merchant of Dayton, Ohio), David and James P. (boot and shoe merchants of Cincinnati, Ohio), Robert (of the Second National Bank, Xenia, Ohio) Rachel Mary, J. Smith, Margaret Jane (deceased), and Frances. When Frances was six years old the family removed to Ohio, settling on a farm in Greene county; afterward they located in Xenia, where she graduated from the Union Female Seminary, an institution conducted for several years under the superintendence of Mr. Hannah, of Washington, Penn. To Mr. And Mrs. M'Kee have been born three daughters: Martha Luella, Etta Lytle (Mrs. D. J. McCabe, Coraopolis, Penn.) and Emma Jane (deceased).

On October 18, 1869, Mr. M'Kee was installed pastor of Robinson Congregation by the Presbytery of Frankfort. Here he has remained to the present time, February 1893, a period of twenty-three and one-half years, being, we believe, the longest present existing pastorate, which one exception, in all those parts of Pennsylvania and West Virginia bounded by the Pan Handle Railroad and the Ohio river. This charge has been no sinecure. Being almost ten miles long from north to south and seven miles wide from east to west it has given him almost incessant labor, and yet he believes that few pastors have found fields of labor affording them a higher degree of pleasure then has he. In this field he has met with a good degree of success. While no great revivals have marked their career, yet there has been a steady growth in number and efficiency. Although situated entirely in the country, and in a community where almost all of the families are in connection with some church, with but little emigration into it, but subject to the usual depletion by death, emigration from it, and especially that drain of our young men to the cities, which is telling so fearfully on all of our country churches, it has increased in membership from 110 to 200. Never in all these years has there been a deeper sympathy or more cordial feeling than exists between this pastor and his people to-day, and never has his work, and theirs with him, been more efficient for good than it is to-day. It is pleasant to close this sketch with such a record, and we but echo the wish of especially the Christian people of this county, that the days of one so long and favorably known among us may yet be many, and that his last days may be his best days, both in usefulness and in happiness.

Commemorative Biographical Record of Washington County, PA, 1893, page 828


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