Alexander McKee

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Alexander McKee
Born ca. 1735
Died 15 January 1799
Allegiance British Indian Department Agent; Indian Department, Pennsylvania;
Years of service French and Indian War, American Revolutionary War, Northwest Indian War
Rank Colonel
Relations Father: Thomas, an Irish immigrant; Mother: Mary, a North Carolina settler captured and adopted by the Shawnee [needs attribution]; Brother: James McKee of McKees Rocks, PA. Sons: Thomas McKee
This article is about the 18th century agent of the Indian Department. For the 20th-century discoverer of the wreck of the Mary Rose, see Alexander McKee (author).

Colonel Alexander McKee (ca. 1735 – 15 January 1799) was an agent in the British Indian Department during the French and Indian War, the American Revolutionary War, and the Northwest Indian War.


His father Thomas was an Irish immigrant and his mother Mary was from a North Carolina settler's family who had been captured and adopted by the Shawnee tribe. It was through his mother's tutelage that Alexander learned the customs and language of the Indians and came to develop a lifetime relationship with the Ohio Indian tribes.

Initially, McKee began working with traders who did business with the Indians of the Ohio Country. Soon, he was able to establish his own trading business. Because of his good relations with the Ohio tribes, Indian agent George Croghan enlisted McKee in the service of the Crown's Indian Department. Around 1764, he settled in what is now McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania, and built a substantial house. George Washington visited him there in 1770, and mentions this in his diary. McKee continued in the service of Pennsylvania for some time after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War, but following mistreatment by the settlers, he left the Americans in favor of the British at Detroit. It was during this transition that he established his well known association with Matthew Elliott and the Girty brothers: Simon, James, and George.

During the next 25 years, Alexander McKee would lead in the efforts of promoting the alliance of the Indians to the British most especially with the Shawnee tribe, but also with the majority of the Northwest Indian tribes. He also guarded the interests of the Indians and was their honest friend. The Continental Congress branded him a traitor when he remained loyal to England and organized the Indians on the side of the British.[1]

"Alexander McKee, the British Indian Agent, who resided at the Machachac towns, on Mad River, during the incursion of General Logan from Kentucky in 1786, was obliged to flee with his effects. He had a large lot of swine, which were driven on to the borders of this stream, and when the Indians (Shawnee) came on they called the river Koshko Sepe, which in the Shawnee language signified 'The Creek of the Hogs, or Hog Stream'." [2]


McKee died in Canada in 1799 and was mourned and greatly honored by the Northwest tribes, which included Tecumseh.

His son Thomas McKee was a Canadian soldier and political figure.

The borough of McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania, is named after Alexander McKee.


  1. ^ Wulff, Frederick. (2013) Alexander McKee: The Great White Elk, British Indian Agent on the Colonial Frontier. Denver: Outskirts Press.
  2. ^ Harrison, R. H. (1880). Atlas of Allen County, Ohio from Records and Original Surveys. Philadelphia: R.H. Harrison. p. 36. 

Nelson, Larry L. A Man of Distinction Among Them. Alexander McKee

    and British-Indian Affairs along the Ohio Country Frontier 1754-1799.
    Kent, OH: The Kent State University Press, 1999.

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