Week 44: November 1, 2014
North Carolina McKinley’s head into Georgia…
My earliest McKinley line is Robert and Elizabeth (maiden unknown) McKinley in Mecklenburg County, N.C. Robert was born circa 1710-1720 and died circa 1775 from his dated will; I have no birth or death dates on Elizabeth. Although I have not found a definite burial for Robert or Elizabeth, most researchers on this line believe them to also be buried in Steele Creek Church, Charlotte, Mecklenburg Co., N.C. in unmarked graves.
The first mention I’ve found of Robert McKinley in Mecklenburg Co., N.C. is when he purchased four hundred acres on Long and Paw Creeks from Mathew and Jean Patton in 1764. I’m not quite understanding the grant – was it for service? It’s listed as a Plantation, Grant no. 47, containing 100 acres. I find it comical in reading how they describe the exact location of the land, no GPS then. The location is spelled out as – measured from the white oak tree from one end of the line to a black oak on another property line with mentioning of poles in between. The deed described Robert as “being from said county.”
The first permanent settlers of North Carolina came from England in 1665 and settled in the Eastern part of the state. Coulda, Woulda, Maybe… were my early McKinley’s part of this group? Wishful thinking! The next wave of immigrants came from Scotland and Germany and spread to the other parts of the state. The Scotch from Ulster chose the central and western areas, and it’s this group who settled in Mecklenburg County. The settlers who traveled along the Fall Line Road into Mecklenburg County, N.C. were listed predominately as being Scots-Irish. The continuation of the Fall Line Road into Georgia was not open to most white settlers until after a series of treaties took place with the Catawba Indians and other tribes – by 1831 the last treaty opened the road for settlers to travel all the way through Georgia into Alabama. This is probably when Robert McKinley’s son William Sr. decided to move his family into Georgia.
The listing of Robert and Elizabeth’s children were taken from the order listed in Robert’s will, dated January 21, 1775. Being he did not appear in land records until 1764, I can not say if any, or all of his children were born in Mecklenburg Co., N.C.
Robert’s will of 1775 bequeathed unto his beloved wife, Elizabeth, one third of his plantation. I love this part – it mentions he leaves the use of the dwelling and outhouse for her disposal – Really! What funny wording. To his beloved daughter, Sarah M. Thomas, he left one cow. To beloved son William McKinley, a cow or the value of one. To Elizabeth, my daughter, one bay mare and three cows. To son Joseph, a cow or the price of one. To daughter, Martha, I give a black mare and two cows. And at my wife’s decease, I will that the plantation above mentioned, whereon I now live, be divided equally between my three youngest daughters, Jane, Elizabeth and Martha.
My line continues with Robert and Elizabeth’s son William McKinley born August 10, 1743. William marries Margaret – again, no maiden name found. I do not believe William was born in Mecklenburg as the first record I found of his father was in the purchase of his plantation in 1764. I believe the same land listed here is what Robert sells to son William: The Mecklenburg Co. Land Survey Index (1763-1768) lists Robert McKinley as Grantee – the First Chain-bearer as Mathew Patton – the Second Chain-bearer as William McKinley – grant date at 1765, File No. 494 and Watershed as Paw Creek. I’m assuming he is selling to his son here?
It has been stated that the Steele Creek Presbyterian Church, of which my McKinley’s, as well as their children’s in-laws and friends, obtained its original congregation from a group who followed the Reverends’ Elihu Spencer and Alexander McWhorter; they were the ministers sent by the synod to the back parts of North Carolina in 1764 – the same year that my Robert was first recorded in a purchase of land.
Worth S. Ray wrote in his book on the Mecklenburg County “signers” that the founders of Steele Creekchurch had originally come from Charlotte County, Virginia. Mr. Ray also published the names of the signers of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence: most were members of the Steele Creek Church or neighbors of the McKinley’s, including “David Crockett and his wife, Elizabeth, (Betsy) for whom he named his rifle for. Unfortunately not one McKinley was found listed as a signer; something I have always found hard to believe.
The Declaration was created about the time of Robert’s death, supposedly adopted on May 20, 1775, at a meeting in which the citizens declared themselves to be a free and independent people, wanting to be sovereign and self-governing. Most historians discount the entire story of the “Mecklenburg Declaration” but May 20th was considered a legal holiday in the state of North Carolina and quite celebrated; even today this “Meck Dec” is strongly supported and celebrated. More information on this can be found at http://www.cmstory.org/meckdec/md.htm
It’s argued that the “Mecklenburg Resolves“, a list of statements adopted at Charlotte, in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina on May 31, 1775, was actually indeed the true document, but due to a fire in the early 1800’s, the original text of the “Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence” was lost.
Later in the mid 1800’s, the “Meck Dec” was recreated and published, but many historians claimed the text and borrowed wording was now actually from the United States Declaration of Independence.
Was the documented “Mecklenburg Resolves” mistaken for the unproven “Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence?” This debate took up the question: did Thomas Jefferson borrow the wording for the United States Declaration of Independence from the Mecklenburg Declaration – or was it the other way around? You decide!
In 1775 Robert McKinley sold land to son William McKin(d)ley, but what’s the most interesting part of the actual deed to me is that it listed Robert’s occupation as being a “cooper” (barrel maker). Finally a new occupation other than farmer! (Their name was recorded as McKindley)
1781 to 1800 saw much growth in the area – several stores, a flour mill and saw mill were opened; a post office was established in 1792 and a stagecoach service formed in 1794. The only religious denomination in the area at that time seemed to remain at Presbyterian.
William (1743 – 1815) married Margaret (unknown) in Mecklenburg Co., N.C. circa 1779. Her birth is listed as 1734 from her gravestone, which puts her seven years senior on her husband. William and Margaret had seven children in this marriage. In later census, son William Jr. McKinley listed both parents as being born in North Carolina.
There are two other graves in same area – a John McKinley (1776 – 1797) and James McKinley (1783 – 1797). They are listed on Find a Grave as their sons, but I had never actually added them into this family. They are buried in the same area as my William and Margaret, and not sure why I never included them in their family until I began preparing this story. I need to explore more on these two probable sons and “why they died in the same year?” Now I’m feeling a little sad that I ignored these two boys and I feel compelled to try and discover what happened to them, having died in the same year?
I plan to search more on a malaria epidemic I’ve discovered near the end of my research that seemed to have swept over the area from 1797-1800 – could this have been the cause of John and James McKinley’s death? It’s written that many families moved away from the Steele Creek area during those years.
William and Margaret in background – John and James McKinley in foreground
Census: 1800, Mecklenburg Co., N.C.
William McKindley (two spellings – McKinley and McKindley found in records)
2 males 16 under 26,
1 male 45 up,
1 female 16 under 26,
1 female 45 up.
Occupation: Plantation owner
William McKinley’s wife Margaret died in 1806 and was buried in the family plot at Steele Creek Presbyterian Church Cemetery. This family clearly weren’t paupers as their gravestones were quite large – Margaret had quite the lengthy epitaph which shows she was truly a loved wife and mother.
Margaret’s tombstone reads:
Her life was without reproach.
And death we believe to her was Gain,
And she left to her children the richest of all legacies
A good name
Why should we mourn departed friends
Or shake at death’s alarms.
It’s but the voice that Jesus sends to call us to his arms
The Graves of all the Saints he blessed
And softened every bed.
Where should the dying members rest
But with the dying Head
Here she shall slumber in the ground
Til the last trumpets joyful sound, then
Burst the chains with sweet surprise
And in her Savior’s image rise.
The 1810 Census lists a Capt. Wm. McKinley and Robert McKinley in Mecklenburg Co., N.C. (I need to strongly pursue more information on this William McKinley listed as a captain; is this the William who fought in the Rev. War? A William McKinley is listed as a Revolutionary Soldier in the history of Steele Creek Presbyterian Church (pg. 180).
When William McKinley Sr. died on May 29, 1815, he had already been a widower for nine years as Margaret predeceased him in 1806. Robert and William Jr. were executors of their father’s last will and both shared in the plantation land in Mecklenburg County, N.C. while the daughters only received the sum of one dollar. Boy did they get the blunt end of the deal! Funny how you find many wills written like that – if they didn’t marry husbands who could provide for them, they seemed to be out of luck. And that must have been some drawing knife he left Robert, to have mentioned it in the will specifically to him. Actually it seems Robert was left the largest share of the estate, also receiving the home. Maybe he wasn’t married like William – and still lived at home? I can see that I need more research into these early families for a clearer picture of their lives.
Also written in the History of Steele Creek Presbyterian Church is the suggestion that the local historian claims that my William McKinley (Rev. War) is the ancestor of President William McKinley. In as much as I’d like to say “yes” he is – I can not lay claim to him as my ancestor – maybe one day, but today is not the day!
Will of William McKinley Sr.
To the name of God Amen…
I, William McKinley, just being weak of body but of a perfect sound mind and memory do make and ordain and constitute this to be my Last Will and Testament:
Imprimis – I will and allow that all my just debts be paid by my Executors hereafter to be named. (Imprimis means “firstly”)
Secondly, I devise my lands in the following manner and term – – To my Son, Robert McKinley, I will and bequeath one hundred acres of land of the upper end of my plantation joining the lands of Joseph Hudson and William Flin, including his improvements, beginning at a ‘Red Oak Saplin’, newly blazed, on the Dividing Line between Mr. Flin and myself and running a northward direction to a Red Oak and Gum stump so as to include one hundred acres of land and no more – I also will and allow my son, Robert McKinley, aforementioned, my home, my drawing knife, to him and his heirs forever. – – – – –
Thirdly, to my youngest son, William McKinley, I will and bequeath the remainder part of my land including all my improvements to him and his heirs forever, and also all my personal estate of every kind, to be for his use and at his disposal by first paying each of my daughters, one dollar.
Fourthly, to my eldest daughter, Nancy Stinson, I will and bequeath one dollar – – –
Fifthly, to my daughter, Betsy Stinson, I will and allow one dollar – – –
Sixthly, I will and allow my daughter, Peggy Whiteside, one dollar – – –
Seventhly, I will and allow my daughter, Sally Calkey (Cathey / Cauthey) one dollar – – –
Eightly, I will and allow my youngest daughter, Jane Swan, one dollar – – –
Ninthly, I do hereby ordain appoint and constitute my two sons, Robert McKinley and William McKinley, my executors of this my last will and testament, hereby revoking and dis-annulling all former and other making and appointing this and this only as my “Last Will and Testament.” Given under my hand and seal the 2nd day of April 1810.
William McKinley (his signature)
Probated in August term of court: 1815, Mecklenburg Co., North Carolina
William’s tombstone reads:
He was a true Patriot and a kind husband. A tender parent. He died in hopes of a Glorious Resurrection.
This older section of Steele Creek cemetery bears the names of the old families who had formed the band of immigrants that originally settled in the area. Also in this section lie thirteen Revolutionary War soldiers – William McKinley is again listed as such in The history of Steele Creek Presbyterian Church. The early stone markers in the cemetery are of soap-stone, old stones of marble and hand hewn stones from a nearby quarry. Before the practice of common burial grounds in church yards, the first burial grounds were usually plots set aside by families on their own farms. Steele Creek cemetery once had a wooden rail fence for protection against the free range cattle that roamed. Later a wall of stone replaced the rails to surround and protect the cemetery.
My family line of McKinley’s have dwindled from the Steele Creek Church records and area, but many of the early family names from that time are still among the congregation there today.
William McKinley Jr. (1779-1854) continues my line and marries Sarah Beaty (1778-1860) circa 1803 in Mecklenburg Co., N. C. Sarah is the daughter of John and Mary Beaty, also of Mecklenburg Co., N.C. – another prominent family. By 1830 William and Sarah left N.C., moving their family to Putnam Co., GA. – that is where William is first found listed in the Putnam County deed books.
William seems to be one of the first of the McKinley’s of Mecklenburg Co., N.C. to pursue purchasing land elsewhere – the opening of the Fall River Line Road into Georgia created those opportunities. Makes me wonder – why? You had family where you lived, you already owned land – and now you take the chance of moving your family into unknown areas with no family around. These people were strong willed to do all they did.
My line continues on with William and Sarah’s son, Hugh Lawson McKinley (1824-1902) marrying Ann Elizabeth Dickerson on September 4, 1855 in Putnam Co., Georgia. Ann (1835-1904) was born in Hancock Co., Ga., the daughter of Alpheus and Penelope (Askew) Dickerson. (At times you also find the name spelled Dickinson) Hugh was a twin to brother Joseph Lee McKinley. Even in today’s world having twins is not easy, I can only imagine how it was in those times – and not having disposable diapers and pre-made formula! I have twin granddaughters and having to do and buy everything in “two’s” can be overwhelming at times and expensive.
Hugh Lawson McKinley being of age 37, was still young enough to fight in the Civil War, and joined the 27th Georgia Battalion, Co. A. of the Confederacy on September 11, 1863 in Augusta, Ga., and served a total of three years. This information was shared by a cousin who requested his records from the National Archives in Atlanta. They only returned a document stating his regiment company and wrote that no other information on his records could be found. I searched Fold3.com in preparing to write this story, and from that search, I’m questioning now what was sent to her. I found a H. L. McKinley enlisting in Eatonton, Putnam Co., as a private on August 4, 1863 in Capt. John T. Bowdoin’s Co., the Putnam Vols. of Ga. He was recruited by Col. W. T. Young and signed up for six months of service. Further research on Hugh will hopefully discover the correct company that he served in during the Civil War – at the moment time is not on my side to hold this story for further research – so with that said, another story will surface on Hugh L. McKinley.
Hugh and Ann have eight children, one being Edgar Lawson McKinley (1863 – 1944) which continues my McKinley line. Edgar L. McKinley, my great grandfather, and he was featured in Week No. 25 https://jinsalacoblog.wordpress.com/2014/07/08/52-week-52-ancester-challenge/
My last McKinley male line from these Mecklenburg County McKinley’s of North Carolina into Georgia, ends with Edgar Lawson and Rosie (Sharp) Mckinley’s son Edgar Thomas McKinley (1894 – 1972) – my grandfather. Edgar T. McKinley, married Ola Askew (1907 – 1970) in 1923 and was featured in Week No. 8. https://jinsalacoblog.wordpress.com/2014/02/22/116/
After searching my records in preparing Week 44 story, I see that I will need to revisit these families again at a later date. My records were from years ago research – much done on-site at local libraries and the LDS church library. In as much as I felt like I had found important and valuable family records, I definitely see I don’t have all the records for a complete picture of my early families and the story I wanted to write.
But as Scarlet O’Hara said in Gone with the Wind, “after all… tomorrow is another day.”
I will revisit these families in more detail in the New Year…
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