Colonel John McKee (image courtesy of http://home.earthlink.net/~jimsturges/mia/mckee.html
The following text courtesy ofhttp://home.earthlink.net/~jimsturges/mia/mckee.html
Recent correspondence from Patty Knapke, great great great (great?) granddaughter of William Houston McKee, brother of Col. John McKee, prompted my cousin Mia to research and write about Col. McKee, who was dear to our family:
Mia writes (to Ms. Knapke): The Hill of Howth, I am sad to say, is no longer standing, having been dismantled by the heir in the 1960s I believe(ed. note: pretty sure it was demolished in 1944)
, claiming that it had termites, to the grief and outrage of his whole generation, all of whom had gone there as children in the summer to visit their grandmother and grandfather. However, his sister built a house in Boligee with the logs(ed. note: this is the Bayer House outside of Eutaw on the Eutaw to Greensboro Road)
. Some in the family suspected that he had boasted about a plantation house and was ashamed of what was in fact a rambling (and much loved) log house.
Though I suspect that you have researched Col. John McKee's public life, your letter has prompted me to do some internet research this morning using some parameters I have not used before, and have found for the first time an account of Col. McKee's part in the dealings with the eastern native people, specifically the Choctaw of which only remains survive in my family, and of his activities with Andrew Jackson in Florida. I am grateful to you for the opportunity. These appear in the attachment to this letter with the other things that I have found. buried somewhere in the last entry (accounts of Alabama specifically) is the information that Col. John McKee was a native of Virginia. This would link him with something I did not copy (not being sure that it was relevant) about Indian raids and massacres in Virginia in the period before the Revolution written by or involving a McKee family. I'm so sorry I didn't save the reference. If you choose to research it, I used the parameters "John McKee Andrew Jackson Indian," and the article in question came up with a green background, presumably from a site relating to your family.
To return to the Hill of Howth: It was obviously named for the Hill of Howth in Ireland, and I gather from my wanderings on the internet that the McKees are an Irish family. The original house was built on a hill (where there was at least one artesian spring) at a place, as family history has it, shown to Col. McKee by the local Native people when he first came to what became Greene County, Alabama as federal agent to the Chickasaw Indians. It was the first house in the area (which fact appears somewhere in the attachments). The original part of the house was built by Indian labor.
Our ancestor, William Proctor Gould (grandfather of the second WPGould who was born shortly after the Civil War) was originally from Salem, Massachusetts. He came to Alabama in 1822 from several years working in France at Marseilles, and was was appointed postmaster and register of the Land Office at Tuscaloosa. In 1828 he became a member of a commission to settle the affairs of the Alabama State Bank. At some time--perhaps immediately upon his arrival and as part of that commission, he became secretary to Col. John McKee.
A warm friendship grew up between the older man, an Indian fighter who had ridden with Andrew Jackson in the (incursions, actually) against the Indians in Spanish Florida (see atached document) and younger man, apparently a charming, urbane and educated man and with his equally charming wife Mary Eliza Chotard Gould who had been raised in New Orleans and whose brother (Henri de Chotard) had been aide de camp to Andrew Jackson at the time of the Battle of New Orleans. In time Col. McKee apparently came to regard them much as his children and named WPGould as his heir. (It was his journals, now in microfilm form at the University of Alabama, from which Jim Sturges quoted in his response to you.)
At some point in their relationship, the Goulds moved to the Hill of Howth. I suspect that this may have been during the time when John McKee (according to one item in the attached document) served as Senator from Alabama, when the plantation at the Hill of Howth would have required oversight; this would be a natural responsibility of Co. McKee's secretary, if that was still WPG's post. I don't know whether WPG was named his heir by this time or not. In any case he and his wife (and children by then, I believe) lived with Col. John McKee in his age and cared for him until his death.
Their eldest son, John McKee Gould, (my great grandfather, Jim Sturges's gg-grandfather), was his namesake. His eldest son, (our direct ancestor's William P. Gould II's 's older brother), whom Jim Sturges mentioned in his reply to you, was the second of that name. It was the heir of that second John McKee Gould who tore down the house. Which cousin he was, I am not sure.
My mother has a black and white copy of a portrait of Col. John McKee which once hung in the State House in Alabama, but was destroyed in a fire there. He is a craggy looking man with a long face and serious mein, rather what you would expect of a man who had spent a good deal of time on the frontier.
So far as I know, John McKee never married. There is a story in the family, however, that he had a "common-law Indian wife," whom he could never have married of course, under the miscegenation laws of the time, whatever his regard for her. Three facts-- that this story made it to later generations through the verbal delicacy of the Victorian Civil War era, and that my own mother , who is still living, knew her grandfather John McKee Gould who probably knew Col. McKee when he was a boy, and that front porch family stories were part of the fabric of their summer lives--lead me to assume that the story is accurate, if sadly sketchy. Also the use of the relatively respectful term "common-law wife" indicates a certain regard for the relationship and both parties to it.
One other possible clue--some years ago, searching in the genealogical records in North Carolina's genealogy lists I came across a thread in the Cherokee section from someone searching the name McKee who said that there was a tradition in her family that there was some Indian blood several generations back. I wrote to her with this story, but her email address was no longer active and my letter came back. Though that the native peoples of that area of Alabama is Chickasaw and (at least now) Creek, there is just some possibility that this is a trace of children of that relationship.
There is no question that your gggg-uncle John McKee was much loved and admired by our family, which has made him one of its own, as he made our grandparents part of his.
I hope that the attached documents are not all just duplicates of things in your possession. I would love to know more about your ancestor, John McKee's brother, and about their family,and would be delighted to hear from you if I can be of any further help. If I should come across any other enlightening facts, I will send them to you. thank you for giving me the occasion to check my facts and do some more digging.
With warm regards,
Mia Shargel (Millicent Doll Shargel)
1. Historic American Buildings Survey W. N. Manning, Photographer, April 3, 1934, FRONT VIEW of Hill of Howth, built near Boligee with Indian labor in 1816.
4. Historic American Buildings Survey Alex Bush, Photographer, June 15, 1935 VIEW ON BACK PORCH, SHOWING STAIRS
HABS ALA,32-BOLI.V,1-4 (check out how well the logs are joined)
9. Historic American Buildings Survey Alex Bush, Photographer, June 15, 1935 OLD SMOKE HOUSE
Thank you very much Robert, I appreciate your attention to detail and look forward to hearing from you again soon.
Not far from Boligee we have the "Hill of
Howth,the pioneer house of Colonel John McKee - Indian agent
to the Choctaw and Cherokee, and later member of the House of
This structure is the oldest
known to exist in West Central Alabama, constructed
in 1816. Its Charm lies largely in the fact that it is
a log structure, the logs still showing the marks of the whip
saw, the house is in a splendid state of preservation and has
been continually occupied for three generations by Goulds.
The home is reminiscent of the pioneer;
Carefully preserves records and books of John McKee and particularly as concerns correspondence with
Lafayette's visit to Alabama. Accompanying illustrations
show the excellent preservation and character of this home,
Interior view showing the whip saw with which the timbers
Source of Materials E. Walter Burkhardt, District Officer, HA£S.
' Auburn, Alabama.
Colonel John McKee
was an Indian agent and was the first U.S. Representative from Tuscaloosa serving in the 18th Congress (1823-1825), the 19th Congress (1825-1827) and the 20th Congress (1827-1829).
Colonel McKee devoted his entire adult life to the grand American design of kicking the Spanish out of Florida, paying off the extensive Indian debts to traders with the money the tribes got from the treaties that extinguished their land title and then moving them all to Oklahoma.
As you read the following chronology, please ask yourself, "Why hasn't anyone ever written anything of importance about this man?"
I have NEVER found an extensive biographical essay, much less a book, on the incredible life of this Alabama pioneer. That is hard to believe.Colonel John McKee1771
: born in Rockbridge County, Virginia to John and Ester (Houston) McKee. Ester was Sam Houston's aunt so Sam was McKee's first cousin.
Educated at Liberty Hall Academy, now Washington & Lee University in Lexington, Virginia.1792:
Tennessee Governor Blount appointed McKee commissioner to the Cherokees to run the survey of the Holston Treaty Line.1793
: Appointed subagent to the Cherokees.1794
: escorted a group of Chickamauga Cherokee chiefs to the national capitol in Philadelphia & helped negotiate the Treaty of Tellico Blockhouse with the Cherokees.1797
: During the Ellicott survey of the first U.S. boundary and the Blount Conspiracy, he was appointed a special agent of the War Department to go to Mobile and suggest Indian land cessions which could be used to pay Indian debts to Indian traders in Spanish Florida.1799
: Replaced Mitchell as agent to the Choctaws.1801
: Negotiated and signed the Treaty of Ft. Adams with the Choctaws.1802- 1813
: Served as agent to the Chickasaws.1805
: Signed the Treaty of Mount Dexter with the Choctaws.1807
: Aaron Burr attempted to contact him in order to find out how many Indians McKee could raise for the army needed for Burr's Conspiracy.1810
: Appointed by President Madison to go to Florida and begin a revolution to overthrow the Spanish government.
: McKee was in Nashville when the messenger arrived with the news of Ft. Mims. General Andrew Jackson ordered McKee to raise an army of Choctaws & Chickasaws and to go and burn Black Warrior's Town.1814
: Led an army of Choctaw & Chickasaw to the Falls of the Black Warrior & burned the village of Black Warrior's Town.1816
: Negotiated the Treaty of the Choctaw Indian Trading House which extinguished all Indian title to the land that became the City of Tuscaloosa.1816
: Built HILL OF HOWTH plantation near Boligee.
smokehouse at Hill of Howth
HILL OF HOWTH image courtesy http://magnolia.cyriv.com/GreeneAlgenweb/Geography/Boligee/BoligeeLandmarks.asp1818
: Appointed to a commission to convince the Choctaws to move west of the Mississippi River.1821
: Resigned as Choctaw Indian agent and was then appointed by the President to be the first Register of the Land Office in Tuscaloosa.1822
: Resigned as Register of the Land Office and got his "adopted son", William Proctor Gould, appointed Register and Post Master of Tuscaloosa.
McKee ran for Congress and won.1823-1829
: Served as U.S. Representative from the Tuscaloosa District during the 18th Congress, the 19th Congress and the 20th Congress.1830
: Attended the negotiations for the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek which extinguished title to all Choctaw land east of the Mississippi River.1832
: Died at Hill of Howth. Left his estate to William Proctor Gould and provided a quarterly payment of gold to a half-breed son.