Biography of Greer McKee
Jefferson County, IA Biographies





GREER McKEE.
There is no record which the American citizen holds in higher honor than that of the man whose strength of character, determination of purpose and indefatigable energy have enabled him to work his way upward from a humble position to one of affluence and who, throughout his business career, has followed a straightforward, honorable course, that neither seeks nor requires disguise. Such has been the record of Greer McKee. and no history of Jefferson county would be complete if it failed to make mention of this venerable citizen who, although he has now reached the eighty fourth milestone on life's journey, is still as active in the world's work as many men of much younger age. He was born on the 8th of November, 1827, in Washington county, Pennsylvania, and comes from a family which has been represented in this country since colonial days. The American progenitor of the family was William McKee. the grandfather of our subject, who was born in County Derry, in the north of Ireland. of Scotch-Irish descent, and came to America prior to the Revolutionary war and fought throughout the long war for independence. He was a man of good college training who had been educated for the Presbyterian ministry, but later in life learned the trade of a coverlet weaver, following that occupation in connection with agricultural pursuits in Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, for a number of years. In his family were nine children of whom three sons died in early life, while three sons and three daughters lived to maturity. Of this number Henry McKee, the father of Greer McKee, was born in Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, and spent almost his entire life in the Keystone state. Prior to his demise he removed to Ohio, locating in Harrison county, and there continued to follow the trade of a carpenter until his death. He had been a soldier of the war of 1812, and took part in the battle of Plattshurg. He married Elizabeth Duncan, who was born, reared and married in Washington county, Pennsylvania, where her death also occurred. Her father, James Duncan, was a lifelong resident of the Keystone state, where he carried on general farming. He, too, was a soldier of the Revolutionary war, and Greer McKee, of this review, believes that he is the only man in the state of Iowa who is the grandson of two Revolutionary soldiers. By a former marriage to John McCloskey, Mrs. McKee had four children, and unto her second marriage were born two children of whom Greer McKee is the elder. His sister, Mary Jane, who married Andrew Myers, is now a resident of Spokane, Washington, her husband having died shortly after participating in the battle of Perryville, in the Civil war, his death being caused by a wound received in that engagement.

Greer McKee was but six years of age when his mother passed away. He continued a resident of Pennsylvania until his sixteenth year, when he went with his father to Harrison county, Ohio, where he remained until he enlisted for service in the Civil war on the 15th of May, 1864, joining Company E, One Hundred and Fifty seventh Ohio Volunteer Infantry, for one hundred days' service. He had previously, however, served in the state troops, the martial spirit which characterized the father and grandfathers being strong within him. After the close of hostilities, he came to Iowa, in the spring of 1865, and located in Liberty township, Jefferson county, upon the farm which is now his home, his first purchase making him the owner of one hundred and twenty acres. In early life, Greer. McKee had learned and followed the trade of carpentry, which he had mastered under the direction of his father, and for which he had strong preference. After arriving in Iowa, he also engaged in that occupation in connection with his farming for about four years, hut, later, withdrew from that line of activity to devote his entire attention to his agricultural pursuits, which demanded more and more of his time. He applied himself diligently to the tasks at hand, and, as the years passed, success in large measure attended his efforts so that he was able, from time to time, to add to his original holdings until, eventually, he became one of the largest landowners in his section of the county. At one time, he owned five hundred acres, all located in Jefferson and Van Buren counties, one hundred and twenty acres in Audubon county and one hundred and sixty acres in Ringgold county. With the exception of one hundred and fifteen acres upon which he now resides, however, Mr. McKee has disposed of all of his property as advancing years have made it impossible for him to personally supervise such extensive holdings. His home place is located in Jefferson county, on the Van Buren county line, and is a finely developed farm, equipped with modern improvements and accessories. His life record may well serve as an example to others inasmuch as he started out in life a poor boy, without any special advantages at the outset of his career; but by earnest endeavor, close application and well directed efforts, he worked his way upward in the business world until he became one of the wealthiest residents of this district. Much of his property and income, however, has been turned over to his children, all of whom he has helped in a very substantial manner.

Mr. McKee was married, on the ist of March, 1860, in Harrison county, Ohio, to Miss Mary Ann Tedrow, who was born in that county January 8, 1842, a daughter of Goliah and Christian (Miller) Tedrow. both of whom passed away in Ohio. Unto Mr. and Mrs. McKee have been born twelve children, as follows: Flora Bell, who married James F. Lawson, of Liberty township; G. T., of Union township, Van Buren county; Mary Elizabeth, the deceased wife of Reuben Johnson; W. G., of Van Buren county; Anna Eliza, who wedded James Simpson, of this township; John, who resides at home with his father, and owns one hundred and sixty acres of land in Van Buren county; Rosetta, the wife of William Lawson, of Liberty township; Ira, who passed away at the age of three years; Willis C., of Center township, Jefferson county; U. S. Grant. of Van Buren county; Jennie May, a student at Parsons College; and Nora, who married Pearl Kirkhart. All of this number were born in Jefferson county, Iowa, with the exception of the three eldest, whose births occurred in Ohio.

Mr. McKee has found the inspiration for the faithful performance of each day's duties in his connection with the Presbyterian church, of which he has been a member for sixty years. He now belongs to the church at Birmingham, of which he has served as elder since his arrival here, at the present time acting as ruling elder. He gives his political allegiance to the republican party which stood as the support of the Union during the dark days of the Civil war, and on that ticket was elected to the office of township trustee. He has also held school offices throughout much of the period of his residence here, and has been most zealous in his support of all movements which have for their object the improvement and development of the community, heing a stalwart champion of material, intellectual and moral progress, recognizing, as he does, that each plays an important part in the world's affairs. He taught Sunday school for about sixty years. In spite of his eighty four years, Greer McKee is still to be found at work in the fields or about the farm; and, so lightly do his years rest upon him, that he claims he can pile more hay on a wagon today than any other man in the locality. His has indeed been a well spent life. characterized by faithfulness to duty in every relation. Today, he enjoys the veneration and respect which should ever be accorded one of advanced years whose life has been in large measure an exemplification of all that is praiseworthy in man's relation to his fellowmen and to the community in which he resides.

From:
History of Jefferson County, Iowa
A Record of Settlement, Organizatin,
Progress and Achievement Vol II
BY: Charles J. Fulton
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
Chiago 1914


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