McKee Name found 53 Times!

Yes the McKee Name was found 53 times

January 2023

Sometimes it is just fun to look through some of my research archives and see what I will find to write about.  This time I looked through a file I call the Chronology of Events at Port Maitland.  This is a clipping file from various Haldimand and local newspapers.  After a short search I discovered the name McKee came up 53 times.  Why not follow it!

For the genealogist in the group I have added the life dates in brackets of those whom I have the information for.  Other brackets indicate related information found elsewhere.  

The first mention I get is a very confusing one.  “Leave of Absence for P. McKee.  It continues; Report of D. C. Smith application of P. McKee for leave of absence”.  Your guess is a good as mine.  That is all I have.                 Note from Kevin McKee “The only P McKee I found in my records was a– Peter Duncan McKee 1831>1881 died in Seneca Twp. — no relationship found to my family”???

My record records the birth of a son to Thomas Ferris McKee (1813-1905) and his wife.  It does not give his wife’s name, nor does it name the son.  Other records tell me that Mrs. McKee was the former Sarah Elizabeth Brown (1863-Aft1937) and the son was Thomas Andrew McKee born on December 18, 1889. (1889-1969)

The next time I find the name McKee is on November 1892 when James Edgar and John McKee left for Long Point on Tuesday to join the wrecking crew, who are at work there.  That is it.  I don’t know which of the two and possibly three John McKee’s who lived in the area then this was.  By 1898 I am hitting on some McKee’s that I actually was aware of long before I began my research. John Wesley McKee (1878-1945) and Stephen (Steve) McKeown (1872-1932) who would be business partners owning various boats for the next thirty-five years are fitting out the GROVER.  I believe the GROVER was a sailing fish boat.  Later in my records there is a reference to them owning a sailing fish boat, so I presume this was the GROVER.  Soon after in the same year I learn that McKee and McKeown are having a fish boat built in Goderich.  I don’t know for sure but I believe this may have fallen through as only four months later they purchased the yacht KLONDIKE from the Ross Brothers.

Families are families and families sometimes have interesting stories.  Found in The Dunnville Chronicle of November 11, 1898 is a note that reads “Port Maitland, Jas Moyer (1852-1941) and wife (Mary Jane Catharine Hare 1855-1922) have adopted a daughter, a child of Thomas McKee of Dunnville.  I have been researching and recording the McKee family for years.  This record was buried for years in my chronology and I had dismissed it.  Today, I am attempting to work out which daughter of Thomas McKee this would have been.  This led me to phone both the Moyer and the McKee families.  Kevin McKee was aware of this but did not know the name of the child nor did Bill Moyer’s wife Margaret.

During a great conversation with Kevin, he told me of how at the age of 75 Thomas Ferris McKee (above) married Sarah Elizabeth Brown (1863-1937) who was at the young age of 25.  Thomas had five adult children from Jane Coulter (1818-1881) when He married Sarah.  They would then have an additional seven children.   In the end we do not know which child of Thomas and Sarah was adopted by the Moyer family.  I guess family secrets have lost this tidbit of history to just that – history!

Kevin sent me a real find about Sarah and more family secrets!

July 8, 1904 – Court Notes- Herbert Green (1871-1920) was arraigned before Judge Douglas on Monday last for bigamy.  The prisoner married Sarah McKee on the 20 May last whilst he had a lawful wife living in the person of Etta Ellen Green (1874-1934) of South Cayuga.  He pleaded guilty and put in evidence in mitigation of the penalty.  He was remanded for sentence till July 6 at 3 p.m.

Mrs. Sarah E. McKee was then arraigned for bigamy.  The prisoner married Herbert Green on May 20 last whilst she had a lawful husband living in the person of Thos. McKee of Dunnville.  She pleaded guilty and was discharged on suspended sentence.  J. C. Eccles represented the prisoners Green and McKee and J. A. Murphy acted for the Crown.

Just think, if Sarah had only waited one more year Thomas would have been dead as he died in 1905.  At least she would not have had to face the Judge!

The next reference to McKee is in 1900 when for some reason The Dunnville Chronicle noted that the Port Maitland fishing fleet now number four tugs.  I believe the reference to “tugs” means they are powered with an engine i.e. steam.  The paper list CITY OF LADYSMITH owned by Ross Bros., WM WILLSON I believe this was the WILLIE WILSON owned by McKee & McKeown, LENA by Siddall Jones & Co., KLONDIKE by Little McKee & Co., ENTERPRISE, owned by the Taylor Bros., SOLID COMFORD by Captain Siddall.  They also mentioned there were three sailing boats but did not name them.  I noticed that they said there were four but they named six and missed naming the ELEANOR.  The CITY OF LADYSMITH would sink some years later in the Feeder Canal just west of the wooden bridge that once took you to Canada Coal on the north side of the Feeder.  Eventually, her boilers were removed and put into a tour boat that ran in the Hamilton harbour for years.  Oddly enough its name was LADY HAMILTON.

Ross, Frank (1874-???? not mentioned in this article) drying nets on eastside of river Earl M. Siddall collection

A commercial fishing license number 799 was signed by John Farrell Fishing Officer to McKeown and McKee at Port Maitland for $20.00.  They would gill-net from the WILLIE WILSON in the waters off Sherbrooke and Dunn Townships.  By 1902 McKee and McKeown were moving up, having the YOU AND I built at Port Maitland using the machinery from the WILLIE WILSON.  Eventually the YOU AND I was sold and would become a rather infamous rum running boat which smuggled booze from the north side of the Feeder Canal to ports in New York State.  As many as thirty box cars per month filled with booze arrived on TH&B tracks then offloaded along the Feeder into dozens of small boats.  My grandfather William Joseph Warnick was the superintendent of the TH&B and a teetotaler.  I guess when you can get business for your employer you do what you do and you look the other way! 

The YOU AND I needed better net lifting equipment so a steam net lifter was purchased from Ralph Connable (1873- Aft 1926) of Michigan; most likely of Petoskey.  Ralph is a story in himself.  He would get to know Ernest Hemingway when his wife hired Ernest during the winter of 1920-21 to spend time with their sickly son while the rest of the family spent the winter in Florida.  The Connable’s, who knew the editor of the Toronto Star, introduce the young Ernest to him.  Hemingway would go on to write 172 articles for the Star.   Ralph had an interesting life in business.  He was a looser and a winner and eventually became President of Woolworth in Canada, dying a very wealthy man.  If you want to read about a rich man who made good link here.  But maybe I have already told you too much.

Fish Tug YOU AND I

There is an obituary from August 24, 1903, of Mrs. Sophia (Caroline Isabella nee Ross) Thompson (1847-1903) who is the wife of George Wellington Thompson (1853-1914) known as Dilly.  Dilly married four times.  He had a number of daughters but two that matter here from two different wives. One wife was Henrietta Johannes Wilhelmina Ross, (1852-1882) the mother of Caroline Isabella Thompson (1877-1944) who was the wife of John Wesley McKee.  His other wife was; Sophia Carlotta Caroline, also Ross who this obituary is for; had a daughter named Rosetta Martha Thompson.  She married Stephen (Steve) McKeown, making John Wesley McKee and Steve McKeown half-brothers in laws, if there is such a thing.  I have written about the Thompson family a number of times; most recently in “Bill’s Post” of April 2022.  “Veteran Skipper Died on Saturday.”  Why all the names.  To say the least Dilly led a most interesting life apparently marrying sisters and having children by both.  As for them having so many given names; this is simply what my internet searches tell me.

There is a reference to Commodore McKee visiting Port Maitland to fit out his tugs.  There is nothing in my records where the title Commodore is connected to any McKee.

In 1904, John McKee secured eighteen cannon balls and Bev. Green a smaller number by diving where the boat containing them was overturned.  These would have come off one of the war ships stationed at the Grand River Naval Depot following the War of 1812.  After my wife passed away, I gave up for a while and thought I would never write again so I sent a ton of my newspaper clippings to the Dunnville and District Heritage Society’s reading room.  I had a fairly good article on this subject.  There are a number of other local articles about this event as well.

Two of the Cannon Balls found by John McKee Photo from Kevin McKee

By 1905, both John McKee and Steve McKeown were married and with children and needing a place to live.  John’s father also named John (1851-1926) and Douglas Lockhart would be the builders of two fine home located on the east side of the Grand River on what is known today as Beckley Beach. Ten years later the TH&B Railway arrived at Port Maitland and wanted all the property from we elders called the Canada Coal’s coal slip to the lake on the east side.  To this end the President of the railway John Newton Beckley purchased both John’s and Steve’s homes as well as others at the cost of $1.00 each.  I got that correct.  One Dollar!  The property was then sold with a couple days to the railway.   A condition on the sale was that the homes were to be vacated and gone by the end of 1915.  Two of those numerous houses; one I believe being John’s was moved across to the west side of the Grand.

Gladys Caroline McKee (1903-1905) the third daughter of John Wesley McKee and Caroline Thompson (1877-1944) drowned in a ditch in 1905, only step away from her home, presumably at Beckley Beach.  She was one year and two months old.  She is buried in Christ Church Anglican Cemetery at Port Maitland.  It seems like Mrs. McKee took the death very hard as four months later there are reports in the paper that she is ill and well wishes are expressed.

In 1915 a boat inspection is conducted by J.B.S.  The following boats are inspected.  ELLEN V. owners J. Mossip and G. Gorrell, DOROTHEA D owners A. L. Dougher and M. Jenkinson, Dunnville, ELEANOR owner Charles Crumb, LENA owners  E. W. Moss, SAIDA owner George Little, VERDA BELLE, owner C. Ross, YOU AND I owners McKee & McKeown, ALVA B owner J. S. Jones.

In 1922 there is an article which reads Port Maitland, Jack Paasch from Erie P.A. Builds MAITLAND ROSE for J. & W. McKee & S. McKeown.  I believe the J. & W. McKee should have been just J. McKee or J.W. Mckee.  John’s second name is Wesley. The Paasch family continued to build boats until 1979 when there last hull # 200 became the fish tug JOANN-M today a tour boat out of Erie Pennsylvania.

The names of John McKee and Steve McKeown pop up again during a Gill-net Licensing report which I am not going to record here but to say that John and Steve now own the ELLEN V.  They did go through a lot of boats!

In 1926, John Wesley’s father John died at age 76. Steve McKeown’s death in 1932 is the next time I find the name McKee.  This was in reference to his commercial fishing partnership with Steve McKeown.

Nowhere along the way have I told you that John and Steve were brothers in law.  John married Caroline Thompson while Steve married her half sister Rosetta Thompson (1886-1932).  This is revealed in the obituary of Rosetta McKeown on December 16, 1932.

This death of Rose or Rosetta occurred two days after a rather memorable and sad event happened off the shores of Sherbrook Township when the lighthouse keeper, at Mohawk Island Richard Foster and his son James went missing.  James went to the Island to assist his father in closing up the light for the season and neither was seen alive again.  Why am I telling you this?  Even though Stephen McKeown recently lost his wife and John McKee his sister-in-law at least one of them took their fish tug MAITLAND ROSS on the search.  The search would end on December 31, 1932 when both men’s bodies were found at the end of Weaver Road just east of Port Colborne.

We are almost done!  I have just a few facts, not very interesting facts but my search through the papers was about finding where I would find the name McKee.  In 1937 John McKee and Steve McKeown reported two boxes of fish nets stolen.  Don’t know if they ever recovered them!  The name McKee is found again in 1938, 1947 and 1948 confirming that they still hold commercial fishing licences.

My newspaper searches for the name McKee ended in 1954 when I find an obituary.  Hamilton, Mrs. Robert Allan Murphy of 402 Herkimer St. Hamilton passed away in Hamilton early Monday morning June 7, 1954. . . The former Nettie Mabel McKee (1882-1954), she was born in Dunnville a daughter of the late John and Rebecca Jane McKee. . .  Surviving are her husband, two brothers Thomas McKee of Port Maitland and Edward McKee of Dunnville and two sisters, Mrs. A. F. O’Brien of Bell River Ont. and Mrs. Alice Hoto (or Hauto) (1880-1969) of Dunnville.  Burial Woodland Cemetery Hamilton.

Alice McKee

But let’s not finish off without mention John Wesley McKee’s younger brother who we all knew simply as Tom. Tom Ferris (1887-1965) was the local Postmaster at Port Maitland and proprietor of the McKee’s grocery store and soda fountain. 

Tom McKee’s Store in west Port Maitland across from current day Port Maitland Apartments
Tom McKee, Postmaster at Port Maitland

I used the name McKee 57 times, well now 58!