We’ve just celebrated the birth of our nation on July 4 when Continental Congress signed the declaration of Independence 247 years ago.

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The men who signed risked their lives and fortunes and so did the patriots who fought for our freedom. Who were those men?

I thought I’d bring history to you by sharing with you about two of my patriot ancestors.

Donald McInnis was a shoemaker who came from Scotland. He owned no land. His wife’s name was Mary. We believed they had just arrived in Surrey County, Virginia when she gave birth to a son on the 15th of September 1742. They listed his name as Daniel McKinney, Jr, and it is believed at that time that he also changed his name to Daniel McKinney senior, although in certain records he still listed his name as Daniel McInnish. Mary gave birth to twins on October the 31st 1751. Mary and the twins both died. Daniel McKinney senior died a few days later, leaving Daniel and his sister, Sarah orphans. Daniel was nine at the time.

The court appointed Reverend Mr. William Willis guardian to Daniel and his sister, Sarah. Willis also kept the parish register of Albemarle Parish. On occasion Reverend Willis sent records of his spending to the court. By the time Daniel was 24, he appears in the parish register.

In 1765 Daniel McKinney, a carpenter, purchased 100 acres of land from Joseph Denton for 100 pounds. This was probably around the time he married Sarah Weathers. The Weathers family appeared in the parish register, so it’s possible the two grew up together. He and his wife gave birth to their first child, William on the 6th of May 1766. Daniel and his wife had ten children in all.

About a year after their fourth child was born, Daniel moved their family to Bute County in eastern North Carolina, possibly to be closer to Sarah’s family. Daniel purchased 100 acres of land from William Fish in 1777, which is now Franklin County. He paid 100 pounds. His name is listed as Donald McKinney. Researchers found several land grants to Daniel along the South Side of Crooked Creek.

People said no Tories lived in Bute. While in Bute County, Daniel signed up to fight the British. North Carolina archives list Daniel McKinney private. His name appears on a certified list of having served in the continental line signed by John Hines and Captain N.C. Line countersigned by Colonel Arichbald Lyte. He apparently was not in the army long enough to receive a pension because we found no records.

His eldest son William substituted for him at age 17.

Here is his application for pension:

I entered the service of United States under militia officer Lucas in my 17th year. I went from Franklin, County North Carolina to Wellington. I was put under Lieutenant F. pastors and Major Hogg from Halifax and marched on by Hillsborough to Salisbury then to general Green’s army on Ashley river 12 miles from Charleston. There I was put under major Blount and Colonel Lytle and captain Carter after a short time I was chose one of an artillery infantry company under Captain Rayford, Lieutenant pastors and I went with the ? of Colonel Washington and General Lee of Charleston S.C. and took possession of the town. The British had left the same morning, the fires of the guard were still burning from there we went to Saint James Island and sometime in June I left on account of sickness 11 days before soldiers were furloughed. I started home on the 7th day of August 1872 for almost 18 months and I got home on the 7th day of July 1783. My father cleared a class of 20 of their draft and sent me in his stead. I have no documentary proof. I hereby relinquish every claim to pension or annuity except the present and declare my name is not on the pension row of the agency of any state. Signed October 23 1832, William McKinney.

Once William returned home, he married on the 17th of August 1783.  He and his wife had eight children. The McKinney family were always on the rolls of a church, and William spoke of studying the Bible. Even though they had no formal education, they both signed their name clearly. William only used an x when he could no longer see. There are no records of the McKinney family owning slaves.

On March 1834 the war dept gave him 36.66 per year during his natural life payable semiannually of the 4th of March and the 4th of Sept every year.

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