Hello List,


I will attempt to summarize the "Grover Manuscript" theory on Jacob's ancestry.


First let me explain that this "Grover Manuscript" was found by John McKinley of Huntsville, Alabama while he was Philadelphia in 1997. John was at  the Historical Society of York County in Pennsylvania doing research on John "The Wagonmaster" McKinley (son of David the Weaver) and found a manuscript entitled a "Genealogical Study of Jacob McKinley". John is the author of the "McKinley Newsletter" and knew that I was searching for information on Jacob so he forwarded all that he found to me.


 The document was written by Elliot Brown Grover in 1970 and there was a "Memo" dated Feb.14,1989 attached to it by Keith Grover Newnom, a second cousin to Elliot B. Grover. In the "Memo" Keith G. Newnom refers to a document entitled "McKinley Ancestors in York Co. Pa." and a book entitled "History of York County, Pennsylvania". He goes on to say that in these two publications there are references to three unnamed children of John McKinley (The Wagonmaster) and his spouse Margaret that died in their youth between 1755 and 1765. And that Elliot B. Grover proves in his document that these missing children are Moses, Aaron and Jacob McKinley. Elliot B. indicates that Jacob did not in fact die but was caught up in the American Revolution and through that event finally arrived in Nova Scotia. Thus making the connection to President William McKinley's great great grandfather John "The Wagonmaster" McKinley. Elliot B. (Grover) also refers to two letters written in 1899 by the grandsons of Jacob McKinley that provide most of the oral history of Jacob's life in Pennsylvania.


Indeed the letters of Henry and George McKinley are virtually the only source for information about Jacob prior to his arrival in Country Harbour with the South Carolina Royalists.The links that Elliot B. makes are not based in historical documented facts but rather on hearsay information provided in Henrys and George's letters and also on his adjustments of this information to fit his theory. He interprets some of the oral history literally but then changes some other information to fit his theory i.e.;  Henry states that "my grandfathers name was John MacKinley" but Elliot states "(Ed. note he must have meant his great grandfather)".


I have no doubt that Elliot B. was on the right track but made some leaps in his deductions that are too much of a stretch. I prefer to base my theory on the facts that I can verify and then on the oral record as written by George and Henry. To keep this post down to reasonable length I will close for now and then post my theory in a day or two. Any comments ?


John MacKinley




Hello List and Peggy,


Now that the MacKinley researchers have had a chance to read my last post I will present my current theory on Jacob's possible ancestry.


First, here is the earliest confirmed date and location for him. April 24,1781 in Camden, South Carolina. He appears on the muster roll of  Captain Charles Stewart Lindsay's Company of the South Carolina Royalists as Private Jacob MacKinley enlisted April 26, 1781. He also appears on two other muster rolls of the S.C.R. in 1783 (Saint Augustine, Florida) and 1784 (Country Harbour, Nova Scotia). This information is from the Public Archives of Canada (MG 23, D1, Vol.24, Pg.253).  I have no other confirmed information about him prior to those dates. From this point on, all is oral history.


Now, as all MacKinley people know, the only other sources for information are the two letters written in 1899 by Jacob's grandsons Henry (Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island) and George (Spanish Ship Bay, Nova Scotia). By the way, I have the original copies of these letters given to me by a descendant of Rhoda MacKinley Grover (b.Sept.3,1796). These letters were written in response to a request for information by Mrs. Annie M. Grover (Lynn, Mass.). It is my assumption that after the assassination of President William McKinley in 1899 Mrs. Grover decided to search her connection to the MacKinley family and possibly to the former president. The letters are dated June 8,1899 (Henry) and July 9,1899 (George) and both relate a very similar story of  Jacob's past. This is not surprising, since Henry in his letter says that "I wrote immediately to Nova Scotia for news about my grandfather, and sent particulars to the genealogist who had advertised." So it would appear that at least some of what Henry put in his letter came from information he received from Nova Scotia (George).


The main points of Jacob's story relate that he came to the United States from the north of Scotland with his father. He went to live in Philadelphia where his grandfather lived. Jacob's grandfather was "a ritch man" and "owned other property a fine brick house".  George also says "Jacob  father was a weaver by trade. He had two wives. Jacob was a son of the first wife. This  was wen the States was oned by the king of England". The letters go on to say that Jacob was ten years old when he was "seized" and pressed into either the Rebel Army (George) or the English Army (Henry) while he was on his way to school one  morning. George then says that  Jacob was captured by the British, imprisoned and then "joined the King's soljers and fought loyalist". There is some confusion as to how many times Jacob changed sides during the war but there is no doubt that he finished the war fighting for the British. There is another interesting part of George's letter. It states, "Jacobs unkel was a officer in the Presidents army. The armerys was so near each other that wen they called the role his unkel came with a flag wen the rowl was caled to the offecrs of his army and wonted to by his discharge and take him withe him but they wod not let him go. Jacob never heard from or sean any of his relatives after he saw his unkel".  


Now to tell Jacob's tale as it may have happened with references to information both in the letters and gathered about the family of  David the Weaver MacKinley. It is only circumstantial and coincidental but I think it makes sense and by and large fits the story of George and Henry.  


The first point to consider is whether Jacob MacKinley is the full name we are looking for in our search. Jacob is known as Jacob because that is the name recorded on the muster rolls of the S.C.R. and it is the name used in the letters of 1899. However in the Henry's letter of 1899 he refers to him as John not Jacob. I quote, "My grandfathers name was John MacKinley". This is where Elliot B. Grover assumes that Henry has made a mistake naming John as his grandfather instead of his great grandfather. I believe that Henry knew his grandfather's name and it was indeed John. So based on his statement Jacob becomes John Jacob MacKinley, combining both John and perhaps his second name Jacob. There is a tradition in my branch of the MacKinley family concerning the use of our second names. It is quite a common practice, even today I am still known as Keith MacKinley by some of the people in Liscomb, N.S. although the rest of the world knows me as John Keith MacKinley. This is by no means a confirmation that Jacob was actually John Jacob but it is possible. One other fact that points this way can be found outside the letter of Henry. There are two references to a Captain John McKinley Jr. as master of the schooners Glide (Built in 1855) and Kate (Built in 1859). The Jr. is the intriguing part. It implies there was a John MacKinley Sr. and the most likely combination is John Jacob and his son, by Mary Murphy Kirby, John.


Now lets turn to the uncle mentioned in the 1899 letters. When John Jacob's uncle tried to ransom him out of the British army what was his motivation beside the fact they were related. Could it have been because he was a surrogate father and was trying to ransom his nephew. It is a matter of record that John the Wagonmaster McKinley in his last will and testament states "I do also give and bequeath unto my neview Jno McKinley son of Stephen McKinley / the Sum of thirty pounds". So can we assume that John McKinley the son of his brother Stephen was living in John the Wagonmaster McKinley's household. It can also be said that being a Wagonmaster in the Rebel army could be considered an officer. This would fit George's letter when he says "Jacobs unkel was a officer in the Presidents army". So we have an uncle, an officer in the Rebel army, trying to buy his nephews freedom. This is consistent with the story in the 1899 letters.  


A further note on the household of John the Wagonmaster McKinley to possibly explain the name change from John to Jacob. While John, Stephen's son was living there another young man named John McGinley came to live with John the Wagonmaster.  When his father died, John McGinley was apprenticed to John the Wagonmaster to learn the art of weaving. So to return to the practice of calling people by their second names for a moment, we have three Johns living in the McKinley household. Those being, John the Wagomaster, John the son of Stephen and John McGinley. So perhaps to simplify matters John (Stephen's son) might have been called by his second name Jacob. The question can be asked why John Jacob was living with his uncle and of course no clear answer is available.  


So lets now look at the household of Stephen McKinley. Not much is known except that his John is not  among the list of his known children. It is strange that John is not mentioned at all by Stephen but is very clearly named and identified in John the Wagomasters will. I will return to George's letter when he says "Jacobs father was a weaver by trade. He had two wives. Jacob was a son of his first wife". Did Stephen have two wives and perhaps more sons than Jacob, perhaps Moses and Aaron? Was Stephen a weaver like his father David.? Was Jacob sent ot live with his uncle when Stephen married his second wife?  


Is that the reason John Jacob did not return to his family after the war? It must be pointed out that John the Wagonmaster was tried for treason (he was a loyalist by then) by the Americans in 1779 and subsequently died latter that same year. John Jacob's surrogate father was dead and his biological father had sent him away to live with his uncle when he was a boy. One point also that has intrigued me, why wasn't John Jacob recovered from whoever seized him on his way to school? Was it because it was his (loyalist) uncle trying to find him and not his father?


So there was nothing for the twenty year old John Jacob to return to after the war. Hence his decision to leave America and settle in Nova Scotia leaving me with this puzzle to solve. Any comments on this very long and rambling post ?



John MacKinley

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