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Brief History of McKeesport, Pa.

The city of McKeesport, in Allegheny County, in the state of Pennsylvania, was named in honor of David McKee, a north-country Irishman, who, at the close of the French and Indian War, came to the Monongahela, where he was well received by Queen Aliquippa, who allowed him to settle at the mouth of the Youghiogheny River. In 1769 the colonial government confirmed to him the right of exclusive ferriage over the two rivers at their confluence. In the same year David McKee and his two sons, Robert and Thomas, secured title to a tract of 844 acres of land now occupied by the city of McKeesport. John McKee , son of David, inherited his father's property, and added much to it by numerous purchases. He possessed great energy and shrewd business ability, and soon became one of the largest individual landowners in Allegheny County. Judged by the standards of that day, he was a man of wealth. In 1793 he became surety for his brother-in-law, Judge John Redick, who was under contract to furnish supplies for the famous Indian expedition of General Wayne. John Redick failed to fulfill his contract, and his bondsman was required to meet obligations aggregating many thousands of dollars. John McKee's property was sold at a great sacrifice by the United States marshal for about $30,000.

After his financial reverses John McKee conceived the idea of retrieving his fortunes by laying out a town at the mouth of the Youghiogheny River. The site was not particularly inviting, much of the tract being either swamp or forest; but it presented unusual commercial possibilities because of its situation at the junction of the Monongahela and the Youghiogheny Rivers. Here in 1795, John McKee laid out the town of McKeesport, which he is said to have named in honor of his father, David McKee. In 1830, McKeesport was still a mere country village. In that year, however, John Harrison opened coal mines; in a few years the mining and shipping of coal became an important industry; and McKeesport began its career as a great industrial town. It became a borough in 1842. The name McKee is a variant of McKay, which is said to mean "the son of fire."

Reprinted from "Pennsylvania Place Names" by Abraham Howry Espenshade.

Detailed History of McKeesport, Pa

This History of McKeesport is being displayed by using links to the Historic Pittsburgh site. When using this series of links, all you need to do is click the "Next Page" button to continue reading a section.

The McKee Family - Early History of McKeesport - Original Lot Owners - The Place in 1830 - Early Trade, Commerce and Manufactures - Growth of the Town

Additions, - Incorporations - List of Burgesses - Public Improvements - Banks, etc. - Population - Newspapers - Schools - Secret Societies - Churches

John McKee

Old Time Residents

Old Time Voting


McKeesport's Centennial Celebration (Names of all who organized the event)

McKeesport's Schools and Schoolhouses

McKeesport's Churches

McKeesport's Secret Societies

McKeesport's "Silent Cities"

Occupations - Professionals and Otherwise

McKeesports Military Record

Public Offices and Officers

McKeesport Professional Men

McKeesport's Notable Public Buildings

Some Early Incidents

Notable Fires in McKeesport

Post Office and Postmasters

McKeesport's Smaller Industries

Boat and Skiff Building

River Navigation

McKeesport Railroads

City Passenger Railways

McKeesport Bridges

The Coal Business

Western Pennsylvania Family Group Genealogies

Beginning of McKeesport Genealogies and Biographies


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Copyright 2000 George Jenkins. These pages are not to be reproduced or copied without written permission of author. These pages are not for commerical use in any way, shape or form. Site created 17 July 1999. This page last updated 25 July 2000

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