Much about Adam McKee’s early life is unknown. It is believed that he was born anywhere between 1730 and 1750. We know that Adam is the son of Archibald McKee, as he was named as such in his father’s will. Due to the fact that he is listed first, it is believed that he was the oldest son. His brother Joseph was born in 1733, so if Adam were older he would have been born in the early 1730’s. Census records tell us that he was at least born sometime before 1750, but gives us no additional information regarding his birth.
It has also been questioned whether he was born in Ireland or America. Most researchers believe that he was most likely born in Ireland. His father, Archibald, was from Killyleigh Parish in Down County, Ireland. It is most likely that Adam was also born here. We know that Archibald immigrated to South Carolina with his in-laws around 1736-1738. We do not know if Adam came with his father or if he, his mother and siblings might have come later after his father was settled.
Sometime in the 1760’s Adam moved from Williamsburg, South Carolina to Abbeville [Old 96], SC. During this time he met a recent Irish immigrant, Jean/Jane Dickson. She was the daughter of John and Prudence Dickson. Marriages had to be recorded in Charleston at this time. There was also no resident preacher in Old 96, which leads to no marriage records being available for that time. Based off of the births of their children we know that they were married sometime in the 1760’s by a traveling minister. They were most likely married sometime around 1765.
Their oldest son, Michael, was born son after. He was named after Jean’s brother. Next they had Margaret, Adam Jackson, and Grissel [also named after Jean’s family].
Adam was a planter and farmer. Based on deeds that were filed in Charleston we know that he was leasing property from Honorable Dixon by 1774.
John and Prudence Dickson transferred 200 acres along Long Cane to Adam and Jean on December 12, 1773 for “natural love and affection.”
During the time he lived there Long Cane was the treaty dividing line between the settlers and Indian land. Before the Indians pulled back there was a great deal of Indian edginess and even a few atrocities due to the white settlement of this area.
The tension was growing between the American settlers and the British. War was soon on the horizon, as these frontier men fought for their independence. Adam was at least in his 40’s and joined his neighbors. Tradition says that he rode with “Swamp Fox” Francis Marion during this time. We know from his Revolutionary War papers that he served on horseback in the SC Militia from February 1779 to May 1780 under Captain Rosamond.
I am sure that Adam was proficient with a gun. He most likely grew up with one in his hand as he and his father hunted wildlife for supper.
A struggle for the SC Back Country was soon brewing and the British forces set up camp near the Ninety-Six District. We know that during some point the Tories set fire to and burned Adam’s house down.
The Red Coats again set up camp on December 11, 1780 and a battle ensued. We have no indication that Adam joined these forces and was part of this battle or not, but we can be sure that even if he were not he could hear the shots that were being fired during battle and was affected by the British forces being nearby. A two-month siege led by General Nathaniel Greene failed to capture the area.
Records showed that Adam served on a jury in 1777, and again in 1787.
Adam and Jean then added Eliezer, John, Jean, Mary and William Seth to the family.
Adam McKee was a charter member of Greenville Presbyterian Church. He was one of the 29 signers that signed the charter application on January 11, 1787. The church is near the Adam McKee property and many of his grandchildren and great-grandchildren were buried in the church cemetery. Adam even donated a parcel of land to the church. Howard Nikles of the church confirmed that Adam gave land to the church, but does not know where it is located. A wooden frame church was built in 1784. It was later replaced by a brick sanctuary that was still standing.
Records show that he received a land grant on Jobs Creek of Long Can of Savannah Rivers in Abbeville for 848 acres by 1791. This land was most likely shared by the four oldest boys.
Adam was able to write, as we have a copy of his signature. We also know that his son, Michael, was able to read and write. I am sure that Adam and Jean were persons of great faith and instilled this into their children. Both Michael and Adam, Jr bought a number of scriptural resources at estate auctions.
Adam’s will was written July 13, 1805 and proven January 5, 1807. Sometime during this period he passed away. Both Adam and Jean were buried on their family land. The only two marked stones have a J.M. and A.M. carved in them, which leads us to believe this is their graves.
Children of Adam and Jean McKee
- Michael McKee was born between 1765-1770 in Abbeville County, South Carolina. He married Margaret ? and they had 11 children together. He moved his family to Jefferson County, Illinois [near the St. Louis area from what I’ve been told]. Upon Margaret’s death he married Lucinda Gamble and they had 2 additional children. [for additional information see the November issue].
- Margaret McKee was born about 1770 and died about 1805. I have in my notes that she was married and had children, but I do not have any of that information. If someone has that information please send it to me.
- Adam Jackson McKee was born January 1773. He married Elenor Breckenridge and they had four children together. He died February 1820 and made a will. His brother, Michael, came back for the sale of his belongings. Elenor died June 1857.
- Grissel McKee was born before 1774 and married William Milford, August 1802. She was his second wife. They had one daughter together, that was named after her mother, Jane Dixon Milford. He died November 1810 and she died June 1857. The name Grissel was encountered for McKees in County Down, Ireland and was fairly common in Scotland, particularly in Perth County. There was a Grissel Dixon that arrived in America with Jean Dixon and her family, it is most likely that she was John [Jean’s father] sister perhaps this Grissel was named for her great-aunt. They apparently lived right on the Abbeville/Anderson County lines. Any additional information on her or her husband would be greatly appreciated.
- Eliezer McKee was born about 1780. There is an Eliezer McKee that was a bugler in the Revolutionary War, as well as an Eliezer McKee that moved to New York state and served on a jury in Jefferson County, Illinois. It has not been proven one way or another that any of these were him. It has been suggested that he is buried in Greenville Presbyterian Church Cemetery, but no record or grave has been found. If you have any additional information please let me know.
- John H. McKee was born December 1783 and married Margaret Cunningham in May 1811. They had 10 children together. He moved his family to Dixon, Neshoba County, Mississippi. Family tradition has it that he was appointed by Thomas Jefferson to look after the Indians in the Alabama Territory that later became the state of Mississippi. A newspaper article by great grandson James Finis McKee contains useful information. He described John as “a farmer, statesman, politician and businessman. He was an ardent disciple of Thomas Jefferson. He was an Indian agent to the Chickasaw-Choctaw Indian Nation. A Christian leader, he founded and organized the First Presbyterian Church in Dixon, Miss”. He died May 1864 and Margaret died in March 1878.
- Jean McKee was born about 1784 and married Mr. Lindsay [first name unknown] before 1805 [husband’s last name proved by father’s will]. Apparently she died around 1807. There are no children that we know of.
- Mary McKee was born 1797 and died in 1842 in Missouri. Apparently she followed her older brother, Michael out west. No additional information is known about her.
- William Seth McKee was born 1791. He married Mary Freeman McKay in 1811. They had 12 children together and at some point migrated to Missouri. Most likely went with Michael and his family, as we have heard that several brothers went together. Usually went by Seth, instead of William. He returned to Abbeville with Michael to attend Adam Jr’s estate sale. Both of these brothers bought books. She died June 1853 and he died about 1855.