Robert B. McKee, of Topeka, a Kansas pioneer now residing at 317 West Sixth avenue, is descended from sturdy Scotch and Irish ancestry and is a native of Montour county, Pennsylvania, where he was born April 20, 1846. He was the sixth in a family of two sons and five daughters born to Robert and Jane (Butler) McKee. Robert McKee was born in Montour county, Pennsylvania, March 17, 1801, and was the son of Charles McKee, a native of Shannon, Pa. Charles McKee, the grandfather of Robert B. McKee, was born Sept. 16, 1768, in County Donegal, Ireland. He came to America in 1795, landing at New Castle, Del., on September 16, after a three months' voyage on the ocean. He and his wife began housekeeping in Paradise, Pa., in 1801, and in 1859 he had his picture taken at Turbutville, Pa. He died at Paradise, Pa., on Oct. 28, 1861. Robert B. McKee has a reprint, taken in 1909, from this photograph of his grandfather. Robert and Jane (Butler) McKee resided in Pennsylvania all their lives. The father learned the carpenter's trade in his youth and followed that occupation, together with farming, throughout the whole of his active career.
Robert B. McKee attended the public schools of his locality and in early youth learned the carpenter's trade under the careful and able direction of his father. In 1868, at the age of twenty-two, he started for the West. He stopped for a time in Illinois, where he worked through the harvest season, and then continued his journey to Topeka, Kan., where he arrived the last day of August, 1868. He followed his trade in Topeka until April, 1870, when he went to Carbondale, Osage county, Kansas. He was the first carpenter to do a day's work for the Santa Fe Railway Company south of the river in Topeka, and aided in erecting the first Santa Fe railroad bridge at Topeka, which was completed in April, 1869. He resided in Carbondale thirty-seven years, during the first thirteen of which he followed his trade, and after that was engaged in the lumber and coal business. In 1907 he disposed of his business in Carbondale and removed to the residence at 317 West Sixth avenue, Topeka, which he had previously purchased and where he now lives retired. Mr. McKee began his business career unassisted by capital and at a time when there were great disadvantages and many discouragements to the Kansas pioneer, but he fought it out and won. By thrift, industry and perseverance he has secured a reasonable competency.
On Aug. 25, 1870, he was united in marriage to Miss Elizabeth Snyder, the daughter of Edward and Elizabeth (Wheeland) Snyder. Both parents were natives of Northumberland county, Pennsylvania, where Mrs. McKee was born Dec. 8, 1850. She was educated in the local schools, near her Pennsylvania home, and at Milton Seminary until eighteen years of age, or in 1868, when she accompanied her parents to Topeka, Kan. After a residence of two years in that city they removed to a farm on Lynn creek about seven miles southeast of Topeka. A few years later the parents removed to near Elizabeth City, N. C., and from there returned to Pennsylvania, where the mother passed away at the town of Milton. The father died at Elizabeth City, N. C., while visiting two daughters who had married and resided there. Mr. and Mrs. McKee have four children, as follows: Jane, born in 1872, married Samuel J. Thomas and they have twin sons, Robert McKee and John Thomas Thomas, born Dec. 22, 1893, in Topeka; Grace is now Mrs. Charles S. Briggs of 608 Topeka avenue, Topeka; Helen married John B. Crow and to them has been born one child, Mary Elizabeth Crow; and Charles B. McKee, the only son, is a resident of Topeka. Politically Mr. McKee is identified with the Democratic party, and fraternally he affiliates with the Masonic order as a Royal Arch Mason, and is also a member of the Fraternal Order of Eagles. Mrs. McKee is a member of the First Congregational Church in Topeka.Pages 1534-1535 from volume III, part 2 of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed December 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM195. It is a two-part volume 3.
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