Family Trees and Family Stories
 McKay/Stevens Genealogy Pages

McKay Themes





Many relatives served in the local colonial militias. John Winston [FF] served in the Connecticut militia as a sergeant. George Fawdon [FF] was a major in the local Virginia militia in the early 1600s. Lewis Burwell [FF] was also a major in the early Virginia militia.

Indian Wars

Many wars and battles were fought between the early settlers and the indigenous people of the Northeast. Thomas Sherwood [MD], Sergeant Thomas Spencer [MM] and Henry Sampson [MD] served in the 1637 Pequot War (see Appendix). Thomas Parsons’ [FF] unit was supplied with a ship by John Plumb [MM] to win a decisive battle in that war. John Strickland [MD] and John Seaman [MD] served under John Mason [Jim’s ancestor] in that same war.

John Huston [FB] served in the French and Indian War (1754-1763). Simon Willard [MD] was a Major, and Commander-in-Chief of the expedition against the Naragansett Indians in 1654-55, and against the Ninigret in 1665. He fought in the Battle of Brookfield, and commanded the Middlesex, Massachusetts regiment in King Philip's War at the age of 70.

Sgt. Thomas Skinner [MD] served under Captain William Turner 1675-76 during King Philip’s War. John Wickwire* [MM] was a soldier in King Philip's War, and was engaged in the Great Swamp Fight, December 19, 1675, when the power of the Narragansetts was broken. Lt. Henry Adams [FB] served as Lieutenant of the Medfield Company, which fought against the Indians in 1675-76.

A family story of Capt. John Howard [MD] is that while he was an indentured servant of a Virginia farmer, he ran away, joined the Virginia militia, and marched with "Colonel” George Washington to the Monongahela River in Pennsylvania during the French and Indian War. On July 9, 1755, John Howard was standing close enough to hear Washington attempt to persuade his superior, Edward Braddock, renowned British general, to allow the Americans to fight Indian style from concealed positions behind trees, rocks and bushes. General Braddock was adamant in his refusal, and before the day ended, he was mortally wounded, and all of his mounted officers slain, except Washington.

Revolutionary War and War of 1812

Char qualifies for membership in DAR, Daughters of the American Revolution, many times over, as a direct descendent of persons who helped the United States gain independence from Great Britain. The oldest son of Elkenny McKay, Alexander [MM], was a Fife Major in the 1st New York Regiment of the Continental Line under the command of his distant relative Colonel Goose Van Schaick. It is likely he participated in the campaign against the Indian allies of the British in upstate New York in 1779. Earlier Alexander had signed the 1774 Lenox Covenant that boycotted British trade. Meanwhile Elkenny’s daughter, Mehitable married Samuel Buck, who was a Loyalist during the Revolutionary War. With the defeat of the British, they immigrated to Canada in 1778.

Jacob Manning (MD) was a British loyalist during the Revolution Private under Capt Hagamen NY Line – arrested and fined for not supporting the American side. He immigrated to Canada where he died in 1819. Jacob and his three sons were each given 200 acres of land in Canada for the assistance they rendered the British Government during that war. This makes Char and Ben eligible to be a member of The United Empire Loyalists. This is made up of descendants of those who had been settled in the thirteen colonies at the outbreak of the American Revolution, who remained loyal to and took up the Royal Standard, and who settled in what is now Canada at the end of the war.

The same John Howard [MD] mentioned above later served in South Carolina Militia during the Revolutionary War, a member of the 5th South Carolina Regiment of Troops. His son, Enos Howard [MM], served a total of 15 months in the New York troops, including both battles at Saratoga.Lieut. John McCurdy, Jr. [MD] was in Wilson's battalion Continental Pennsylvania Establishment between 1777 and 1778. Peter Jordan [FB] is said to have been among the old men and boys to guard Burgoyne's men after their surrender in the Battle of Saratoga. Brothers Christopher Huston [FB] and Samuel Cunningham Huston [FB] were Revolutionary War soldiers. Samuel was a private in Captain Henry McKinley's company, 12th Pennsylvania regiment, commanded by Colonel William Cook. Phillip Correll [MD] fought in the Pennsylvania regiment. Michael Letson [MM] fought as a private in Capt. Wever's Company, Col. Kassan's Regiment, Rhode Island unit.

It is interesting that, with the exception of second generation Americans Alexander McKay, Enos Howard and Michael Letson, all the rest of those ancestors who fought in the Revolutionary War were recent immigrants. When the war started enthusiasm ran high and enlistments were impressive. But, as the war dragged on, it became more difficult to field and army. As 1776 progressed, many colonies were compelled to entice soldiers with offers of cash bounties, clothing, blankets and extended furloughs or enlistments shorter than the one-year term of service established by Congress. The following year, when Congress mandated that men who enlisted must sign on for three years or the duration of the conflict, whichever came first, offers of cash and land bounties became an absolute necessity. After 1777, the average Continental soldier was young, single, propertyless, poor and in many cases an outright pauper. In some states, such as Pennsylvania, up to one in four soldiers was an impoverished recent immigrant. Patriotism aside, cash and land bounties offered an unprecedented chance for economic mobility for these men.

In the summer of 1778, during the Revolutionary War, a band of British sympathizers and their Indian allies marched up the Wyoming Valley in what is today Luzerne Valley, Pennsylvania. The settlers retreated to the fort near present day Wilkes-Barre. In the ensuing battle, two-thirds of the settler combatants were killed. Many more died in the flight from the valley after the defeat. The Alexander McKay family was living in the valley at the time. Dr. James McKay in his family history relates the involvement of Alexander’s family in the events in his McKay family history as related by two family members that were there. The book describes a harrowing escape after the battle and fourteen days of imprisonment afterwards.

On a less glorious note, 36 years later Joel (Joseph) McKay [MM] served in Capt. James J. Stener's Company, of Col. Wm. Warren's Regt., N.Y. militia, from Aug. 16, 1814 to the time of his desertion Sept. 11, 1814.


Role of religion

Religion was a large factor for many early colonists. Catholics, Methodists, Separatists of all stripes, Congregationalists from Northern Ireland, Anabaptists from Switzerland, Sabbatarians , Quakers, Moravians, Antinomians, French Huguenots, and Scottish Presbyterians are all represented in the family tree, and the right to follow their religion was the reason that many ancestors came to America in the first place.


Fleeing from religious persecution did not mean that you would then give that same freedom to others. Many followed their Puritan leaders to newfound freedom for themselves in the Massachusetts Bay Colony and the Plymouth colony, but they repressed those of differing beliefs. Freedom of religion in the Massachusetts Bay Colony was only observed if one followed the Puritan doctrine. Between 1636 and 1641 discontent built in the Massachusetts Puritan communities. Dissenters left for Connecticut and opened new settlements in places like Wethersfield, New Haven, Hartford and Stamford. By 1641, the Pequot Indian tribe had been annihilated. With the region now safe, eight hundred dissenting Massachusetts Bay Colonists left and settled in the former Pequot land in Connecticut.

Ralph Earle [MM], Christopher Helme [MD], and Adam Mott [MM] became early followers of Puritan dissenter Anne Hutchinson (the daughter of Edward Marbury [MD]). Hutchinson particularly denied the Puritan credo that good works and faith together were necessary for personal salvation, claiming that faith alone was enough. For this belief and her insistence that divine inspiration could come directly from God and not through scripture alone, Hutchinson was branded a heretic and banished from the colony. She and her followers relocated from Massachusetts Bay Colony to Portsmouth, Rhode Island in 1638. John Davenport [MD] was part of the church trial of Anne Hutchinson which resulted in her excommunication from the Boston church.

Rev. Pardon Tillinghast [MM] was an earnest co-worker with Roger Williams [Jim’s ancestor] who founded The First Baptist Church in Providence, in 1636. In 1639, Williams withdrew from The Church and became a "Seeker." The Seekers were a Puritan Group, founded early in the 17th Century. They hold that the True Religion has not yet been revealed. Elder John Crandall [MD]x2 was persecuted for his religious opinions by the Puritans of Boston and fled to Rhode Island about 1638 following Roger Williams.

Some dissenters seem to take a page from Marlon Brando’s character in The Wild One. When asked "What are you rebelling against, Johnny?" he answers, "Whaddaya got?" An example would be Rev. Joseph Hull [Jim’s ancestor], who led 21 families to America in 1635, including Henry Kingman’s [MD]. They settled in what became Weymouth, Massachusetts, in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

Stephen Bachiler [MD] was another nonconformist minister who emigrated from England after running afoul of the church and government there. He went back to England late in life after running into similar problems in Massachusetts.

The McKay ancestors include many other religious leaders with loftier reputations. Rev. Thomas Hooker [MD] is considered the “Father of Connecticut”, in that he led many followers in 1636 to the Connecticut River country. Rev. Bygod Eggleston [MD]x2 founded Windsor, Connecticut. Settlements in Hartford and Wethersfield and Springfield united with Windsor under a new government (Colony of Connecticut). Rev. Peter Prudden [MM] was pastor of the First Church 1639 at Milford, Connecticut until his death in 1656. Persecuted in England under Charles I, Peter immigrated to Boston in 1637 aboard the Martin. A former Anglican priest, he became the first pastor of Milford.

The religious differences and political infighting didn’t stop when congregations moved from Massachusetts. A schism had arisen in the church at Hartford and Wethersfield, and the dissenters from the views entertained by the majority, concluded to break away from their homes and find settlement where their views would prevail. Thomas Graves [FB], and others, left their houses and lands in Hartford and Wethersfield unsold and settled approximately 50 miles to the north in Hatfield, Mass. in 1661.

Not all stayed true to the faith of their neighbors. And if Puritans were hard on those with whom they had minor differences, they were vicious with those they considered apostates. Zoeth Howland [MD], son of Henry Howland, was born in Duxbury, Mass. He moved, with his wife Abigail, to Dartmouth, and there embraced the Quaker religion, his father and wife also being members of that church. Zoeth and Abigail were tried and fined for their religious faith, it being proven that meetings were held at their home. Katherine Chatham [MD] was a Quaker who came to Boston in 1660 dressed in sackcloth as a sign of belief, and was so persecuted that they stripped her naked in the middle of winter and drove her out of the colony into the woods to die. She survived.

Among the family ancestors, John and Agnes Trueblood [FF] were Quakers who first immigrated to North Carolina. There their descendants stayed until David Mize moved to Barren County, Kentucky in about 1805. It was 100 years later before John Freeman, Char’s grandfather, moved to Indiana.

In 1693, Quaker missionary George Keith [FF] published An Exhortation & Caution to Friends Concerning Buying or Keeping of Negroes, one of the earliest printed antislavery tracts in British North America. Other Quaker ancestors moved to Bush River, South Carolina (e.g., Coppocks [MD] and Inmans [MD]) from Pennsylvania. But after a couple of generations, they moved on to Ohio over the issue of slavery.


A surprisingly large number of ancestors were involved either directly or indirectly with the witch hysteria of late 17th century New England. Susannah (North) Martin, the widow of George Burneham Martyn [MD] was hanged as a witch in Salem in 1692.

In 1653 Goodwife Knapp was accused and convicted of witchcraft and executed by hanging in Try’s field outside the village of Fairfield, Connecticut. Rev. John Jones [MD] and his wife participated in attempts to convince Goody Knapp to confess to her witchcraft.

One of the first American witch hunts took place in Hartford, Connecticut in 1662-63. Four were convicted and hanged, but Elizabeth (Moody) Seger [MD] fought the charges and was acquitted. John Sherwin [FB] was a juror at, and also testified in, the trial of Elizabeth Howe, in Ipswich. She was found guilty and executed on July 19, 1692.

Reverend Thomas Barnard [MD] was instrumental in spreading the witchcraft hysteria in Andover in 1692. Barnard conducted what was known as a "Touch Test" in the Andover Church. In this ludicrous exercise, those who were accused of witchcraft were blindfolded and forced to touch the "afflicted" girls, which could identify them as a witch. With such evidence, Abigail Barker was arrested.

Ironically, Ephraim Foster [FB] was the Town Constable during the Salem Witch Trials where his mother-in-law, Rebecca (Blake) Eames [FB] was one of the accused, as well as his brother-in-law, and a nephew.

Rebekah Eames, Accused Witch

At about age 53 Rebekah was among the spectators for Rev. George Burroughs' hanging on Gallows Hill, Salem, on Aug. 19, 1692. She was in a house near the scene of the execution; and while there "the woman of the house" felt a pin stuck into her foot, as she said. Rebekah was pointed out as the one who did it; and two warrants were issued for her arrest. The real cause for the accusation may have been that Rebecca was "outspoken and unashamedly contemptuous of public authority, and (had) a degree of impertinance not in keeping of her station."

She was imprisoned for witchcraft; stood trial, confessed and was sentenced to death. She was reprieved July 22,1693 after seven months in jail. The death of her husband, Robert, coincided closely with date of the reprieve, so the fact that there wouldn't be any one to care for her 7 children probably factored into her reprieve.

Rebekah applied for, and had her name cleared, and restitution paid in 1710. She died in 1721 at age 81.

John Putnam [MD] was one of the chief accusers of George Burroughs, executed on Witches Hill, Salem, on August 19, 1692, the only minister who suffered this extreme fate. He had been charged, among other offenses, with extraordinary weight lifting (lifted a musket with a finger in the barrel), and such feats of strength as could not be done without diabolical assistance.

In 1692, John Perkins’ [MD] daughter Mary Perkins Bradbury was placed on trial for witchcraft in Salisbury, Massachusetts. She was convicted of witchcraft on September 9, 1692 and sentenced to be executed. Her husband and friends broke her out of the Ipswich jail, and she fled to Amesbury, where she died two years later.

Robert Pease’s [MD] daughter-in-law Sarah was accused on Monday, May 23, 1692, of "sundry acts of Witchcraft committed on the bodys of Mary Warren, Abigaile Williams and Eliz Hubbard." A warrant for her arrest was issued and she was arrested that day and was sent to the Salem jail. Although testimony was brought against her again on August 5th, Sarah Pease escaped the condemnation of the judges, who sentenced 15 people to the gallows in September. By the late fall of that year the tide of hysteria had abated, and sympathy was turning from the "victims" to the accused. Sarah survived the winter and was released in May of 1693, after suffering a year in jail.