Updated 11/6/2010

Accounts of my Revolutionary War ancestor, Peter McKinney, vary slightly. One account lists him as being born in eastern Pennsylvania, others in Ireland. As far as the family knows, Peter was born in Ireland and came to America with his parents and older sister as a baby. His exact birthdate is not known since he was orphaned at a very young age. The whereabouts of his sister are not known.

During a two hundred year period the original land deed document to his farm in Western Pennsylvania remained in the hands of family members. The last family member to be handed down this document was my grandma McClintock, a second generation grandaughter. In 1991 my mother and her two brothers and sister donated the original land deed document to the Butler County Historical Society in Pennsylvania. There it is displayed for all to see with a note regarding my grandparents and the donation. My mother had special replica copies made which were numbered and dispersed to various descendents of Peter McKinney and the historical societies involved.

In "Chapter XIX - Connoquenessing" of the book entitled "History of Butler County, Pennsylvania" published by Waterman, Watkins & Co. of Chicago in 1883:


"The original township of Connoquenessing was set apart in 1804, at which date all of Butler County was included in four townships, viz: Slippery Rock, Buffalo, Connoquenessing and Middlesex...

Connoquenessing Township, as it now is, was organized in 1854, from portions of Connoquenessing and Butler Townships. Two small villages, Whitestown and Petersville, are included within its limits. Connoquenessing contains some beautiful farming lands, with buildings and improvements that will compare favorably with the rest of the country. The people of the township have ever been prominent in promoting religious and educational interests. Many of the best known teachers of the county received their early training in the schools of this township, and many men of prominence in county affairs have been furnished by old Connoquenessing.

The early settlers of this township were of three distinct types, viz.: Irish, Scotch and German-American. Only chance settlers located in this part of the country previous to the year 1796. In that year, a great number of families from Westmoreland County established themselves here, and were mainly permanent settlers.

One of the first white men to penetrate the wilds of this part of Western Pennsylvania was Peter McKinney. Born in the eastern part of the State. The "Mc" in his name was probably a prefix bestowed during his soldier days, as his pension papers were always made out to Peter Kinney. He was of a bold, adventurous nature, and was attracted into the wilderness by a fondness for hunting. McKinney was left an orphan at an early age by the death of his father, and when a boy, was bound out to a man named Turnbull. He served through the Revolutionary war as a drummer and fifer, and, after its close, was seven years in the service during the Indian troubles. In 1791, he married Mary Shorts, at Braddock's Field, Westmoreland County, and, the following year, came with his wife to the Connoquenessing Valley. Indians were almost his only neighbors, and wild game was so abundant everywhere that he seemed to be living in a veritable hunter's paradise. McKinney built first his cabin on the farm now occupied by Fred Dambach, in Forward Township, where he took up a 400-acre tract. He afterward built a cabin on the farm where his son. C. A. McKinney, now lives, now in the southern part of Connoquenessing Township, where he also settled 300 acres. He traded 100 acres of land to Barnet Gilliland for a Merino sheep, and sold another hundred for a sorrel horse.

Mrs. McKinney was as well fitted by nature for pioneer life as was her husband. She made frequent trips to Pittsburgh to obtain groceries, often going and returning on foot, following the faintly marked Indian trails through miles of uninhabited forests. She died in 1839, aged sixty-three years. Peter McKinney died in 1849, at the age of ninety-one. He was widely known throughout the county, as his house in the village now called after his name was for many years a tavern, and he the landlord. He was a man of small size, and very active in his movements. He worked many years at shoemaking. During the last twenty-one years of his life, he was blind. The children of Peter and Mary McKinney were thirteen in number. All of them lived to mature years except two - Richard and Mary. Two are still living - John M., in Ohio; and C. A. McKinney, Esq., on the old homestead. Following are the names of the family in the order of age: Elizabeth, Richard, Robert, Peter, Jane (Purviance), William S., James, Thomas, Sarah, Richard, John M., Mary and C.A. Two of the sons, Peter and Robert, were in the war of 1812.

The date of the settlement of this family in Butler County is the earliest of which there is any authentic account. The first of the above-named children, Elizabeth McKinney was born March 23, 1792, on the farm where her father first located. This was doubtless the first birth of a white child in Butler County."



In the chapter entitled "Pioneers" in "History of Butler County, Pennsylvania, Volume 1" published by R.C. Brown & Co., in 1895 the following statements were made regarding Peter:

"Peter McKinney, another Revolutionary soldier and noted hunter, so his descendents clain - built his cabin in what is now Forward township, in 1792. It is said that in his youth he came with his parents from Ireland, both of whom died in this country, leaving him an orphan, and that, after their death, he was apprenticed to a man named Turnbull. He served in the Pennsylvania Line, during the Revolutionary War, as a drummer and fifer, and afterwards saw service during the Indian troubles. He was married at Braddock Field, Westmoreland county, in 1791, to Mary Shorts, who came wiht him to Butler county in 1792. The cabin home of the young couple was built on what is now known as the Dambach farm. His daughter Elizabeth, born March 23, 1792, is said to have been the first white child born in the county. his wife died in 1839, and his own death occurred in 1844. In 1839, he erected a tavern on the site of Petersville, in Connoquenessing township. In 1849 the town was laid out by his sons, William S. and C. A. McKinney, and named in his honor."


As you can see, not only is there a difference of opinion as to where he was born, but also to what year he died. One publiation states 1849 the other 1844. Since he was known to be 91 years of age at his death he was born somewhere between 1753 and 1758 in Ireland. The one item which all of the documents and publications my mother researched agreed upon was that his daughter Elizabeth was the first white child born in that part of western Pennsylvania. In later years the sons and grandsons of Peter and Mary were known to be in the oil business. According to various records Peter and Mary's children and grandchildren moved to Ohio, Michigan, Texas and Oklahoma.

In honor of Peter McKinney the Children of the American Revolution (CAR) have two chapters named for his family. The first is the Elizabeth McKinney Society, which is located in Butler, Pennsylvania. The second is the Peter McKinney Chapter located in Texas.

The following is a transcript of the original land deed. Note the spelling and punctuation (or should I say, lack of such) which was used at that time. I typed this exactly as it is written - good luck!

"The commonwealth of Pennsylvania to all to whom these presents shall come, Greeting: Know ye, That in consideration of the Sum of one-hundred seventy eight dollars and twenty six cents infull now secured to be paid by Peter McKinney into the Treasury Office of this Commonwealth by an Indenture of Mortgage bearing even date herewith and also in Consideration of its having been made appear that there has been made Such actual Settlement and Continued residence on the hereinafter described tract of land as are required by the Ninth Section of an Act of the General Afsembly pafsed the third day of April 1792 There is granted by the Said Commonwealth unto the Said Peter McKinney a Certain tract of Land Situate in Connequenefsing township Butler County Beginning at a White Oak thence by other land North forty five degrees West Nine perches to a Post thence by land of David Graham North three hundred fifteen perches to a Post North eighty Nine degrees East one hundred twenty nine perches to three Jack Oaks thence by land of Thomas Gray North eighty Seven degrees East two hundred twelve perches to a Post and thence by lands of Benjamen Chew & Lewis Gavens & John Branden South forty five degrees West four hundred Seventy three perches to the beginning Containing three hundred twenty six acres twenty four perches and the allowance of Which Said tract of land was Surveyed by Virtue and in pursuance of Settlement & Improvement made lean formably to the 8th Section of the above recited act entitled an act for the Sale of Vacant Lands in this Commonwealth, the Supplements thereto pafsed the first day of March 1811 to Said Peter McKinney to whom a warrant of acceptance ifsued this day----

To have and to hold the said tract or parcel of Land, with the appurtenances, unto the said Peter McKinney and his Heirs to the use of him the said Peter McKinney his Heirs and afsigns forever Subject to the aforesaid Indenture of Mortgage free and clear of all Restrictions and Reservations, as to Mines, Royalties, Suit-rents, or otherwise, excepting and reserving only the fifth part of all Gold and Silver Ore, for the use of this Commonwealth, to be delivered at the Pit's Mouth, clear of all changes.

In witness whereof, Samuel Workman, Secretary of the Land-Office of the said Commonwealth, hath hereto set his HAND, and the SEAL of the Land-Office of Pennsylvania hath been hereunto affixed, the first day of april in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty one and of the Commonwealth the fifty fifth

Enrolled in Patent Book H. Vol 22 page 271. Attest Rich MCrain, Deputy Secy Coffers.

I Samuel Workman Secretary of the Land-Office of Penneslyvania, DO HEREBY CERTIFY, That Peter McKinney the Patentee within samed hath executed a MORTGAGE, bearing even date herewith, to the Governor of the Commonwealth, which remains filed in said office, on the-within mentioned tract of land, as a Security of the said Commonwealth, for the sum of one hundred Seventy eight dollars & twenty Six Cents cents, being the purchase money and interest due thereon, payable in-ten equal annual instalments, agreeably to an Act of the General Assembly, passed the 22nd day of March, A.D. 1820. April the first 1831 S Workman, SecY of Land Office"

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Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR)

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