© 1997-2012, Wallace L. McKeehan, All Rights Reserved
McKeehan Story-Index



From Ireland to Scotland to Tennessee to Arkansas to Texas

by Wallace Clark McKeehan (1913-2001) and Wallace L. McKeehan (b. 1944)

We've been around since Jesus met the woman at the well
Walked these roads ten thousand years.
Look how far we've come, do we know who we are?
Here's to those that came before us, what we've kept inside
Our people came across the water, praying for a brand new start
Hand in hand across the mountains, and the ragin' rivers wide
To find a place where love abides.

Cursed are we who forget the past, but pray and don't despair
Rise up all you ancestors, and dance upon your graves.
We've come to hear your voices, maybe we'll be saved.
T. Russell, The Man From God Knows Where

Dear Descendant
Do not over my memory pine; I am not dead. 
I am the winds that blow. I am the flakes of new fresh snow.
I am the rainbow from mountain showers. I am spring's new wildflowers.
When you wake in morning's hush, I am the swift skyward rush
Of birds in patterned flight. I am the stars at night.
Do not over my memory pine, I did not die.  I am You and You are Me.

"...all traces......might long sence been obliterated and forgotten,
but thare is always somthing to keepe such heroic deeds green in memory..."--J. W. Nichols Diary 1887

The fire to know of one’s past is often lit at the time in life when one realizes that the world neither began when we were born nor that the universe revolves around a single individual. Modern science is beginning to realize that we are a balance between what our ancestors have passed on to us in their genes (half from our fathers and half from our mothers) and the collective experiences, beliefs and cultural traits they passed as well. Many have said to understand the future we have to understand the past or to know where we are going, we have to understand where we have been. When I began to ask the questions, "Who am I? Where did I come from?", I was surprised how little written materials family members left so that we would know about their lifestyles, work, views of life and preferences, and records of their past. Usually this was limited to birth, marriage and death dates recorded in a family Bible. It was this that encouraged me to record my research and experiences in notes and essays so that future generations would understand their past in terms of life and culture, not just names and numbers on a chart. In this work, I try to pass on what I learned about the McKeehan’s beginning in Greene County, Tennessee, USA.

The challenge was where to start digging through mountains of information for the needle in a haystack, like a prospector digging for nuggets of gold. I began with the parent-to-child method. This was a very rich source for my father loved his kin and began some research on his own which he passed to me orally and I remembered quite clearly. I then began to contact family members all the while trying to sort through fact versus fiction. I also searched the cemeteries and recorded names and dates from tombstones. This provided a base of both oral information and some written records for further documentation. Knowledge of the family history is a continuous process. In the past years there has been an explosion in the availability of records and general information through the internet. Sharing of information is occurring at an amazing rate. I hope that this work will serve as a base and encouragement for those who read it to continue to dig into our past and add details and correct errors.

The notes and essays cover a single lineage of the McKeehan surname beginning in Greene County, Tennessee that includes individuals who themselves or their parents are thought to have originated in Ireland, Scotland, Germany. Eastern Tennessee was probably not their first home in America, but it is where the greatest part of the story begins. From Tennessee, the family moved to central Arkansas and then to the Texarkana area of Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas.  The majority of descendants still cluster in the Ark-La-Tex area and now the Dallas-Ft. Worth and Houston metropolitan areas of Texas.

Wallace C. McKeehan (1913-2001)


Malando McKeehan of Clare County, Ireland

Lost Inheritance from Glasgow

Descendants of Texas Hero Sam Houston


Who was Malando McKeehan?  In stories to his children, James Washington McKeehan (1870-1956) referred to his grandfather named Malando McKeehan from Clare County, Ireland.   Genealogical records indicate that Landon C. McKeehan (1798-aft. 1860) appears to be the grandfather of James W. McKeehan.  The name Landon appears in families of descendants.  In addition to Landon C., a John McKeehan (b. 1794 Greene Co.,TN; m. Nancy Reaves 1818) named a son Landon (b. 1829; m. Martha Overholser 1855). This could be the John D. McKeehan who said that he had known Sarah Maria Sylar McKeehan (James Washington McKeehan's mother) all her life and attested to the validity of her marriage to Charles Coffner McKeehan for Sarah’s pension application. Alexander Haywood and Mary Catherine Sylar McKeehan named their oldest son, Charles Landon McKeehan. The common usage of the given name Charles in the family suggests that Landon C. may have been Landon Charles. Landon C. McKeehan’s birthplace, Greene County, Tennessee is deduced from census and other records, although conceivably he was an Irish immigrant or descendant of one named Malando who became known as Landon. It is notable that the name Malando can be converted to Landon simply by dropping "Ma" and adding an "n".  Alternatively the name Landon could have evolved into Malando down through the years in stories by family members who had long lost contact with the folks back in Tennessee.  Immigrants often Americanized the spelling of their names when they had a foreign sound.  Landon McKeehan’s father (probably born before 1780) or grandfather may have been an Irish immigrant named Malando McKeehan and the name became compressed into more recent generations in family stories. It has also been suggested that Landon may be the surname of his mother’s family since given names of children that were a mother’s maiden name was not uncommon in the period.

Family legend says that ancestor Malando McKeehan immigrated from Clare County, Ireland to Glasgow, Scotland where he met and married wife Nancy before immigrating to America. Although Landon McKeehan married a Nancy, there is no evidence to link her or her family to Scotland (Nancy’s family, the Girdners, appears to be of German origin).  A legend related to this migration in the family was that a McKeehan ancestor married into a family in Scotland who were owners of prosperous woolen mills. Upon the death of the McKeehan husband, the widow willed the huge fortune to the related McKeehan families of America. James Washington McKeehan (the authors' father and grandfather) said that he worked on proving a relationship in the early part of the 20th century and was the source of the legend. The story goes that they made progress in the reconstruction until coming to a home in east Tennessee that had burned and with it the critical records which were in a family Bible. A similar legend has been reported by descendants of James Washington’s older brother, Charles Houston, and a descendant  of another McKeehan line originating in GreenCo, TN, that of Fred and Florence Brandon McKeehan of Hamilton County, Tennessee, so far an unlinked line to the one described here.

Another family legend was that the line was related to Sam Houston who was governor and US Senator from Tennessee before emigrating to Texas to lead the fight for Texas independence and become the first President and later Governor of Texas.   This legend may have some basis in that a Samuel Houston was a close friend of the Hartley and Sylar families of Virginia and Tennessee who married into the McKeehan family.  A Samuel Houston was named executor of the Last Will and Testament of Peter Hartley in RoaneCo, Tennessee in 1827.  Houston and Hartley have been used to the present for given names of descendants.

[as told to Wallace Clark McKeehan (1913-2001) by his father James W. McKeehan (1870-1956)]

This is the story of ancestors Malando and Nancy McKeehan of Clare County, Ireland and Glasgow, Scotland as passed by father James Washington McKeehan primarily at fireside family gatherings to son W.C. McKeehan. Never written until the present, the story was passed among descendants and relatives mouth to mouth and no doubt has been changed, enhanced and embellished according to the story teller’s imagination. However, the basic theme of the same story appears in parallel in stories related by descendants of James Washington McKeehan’s brothers and sisters which indicates a common origin for the legend presumably originating from Charles Coffner McKeehan and continued after his death by widow Sarah Maria Sylar McKeehan and their older sons. With the advent of radio and television and other forms of external entertainment, the fireside family gatherings and story-telling sessions disappeared and hopefully replaced by good written records of the lives of those now living who will become the ancestors of generations to come. It is hoped that future research will identify and verify the authenticity of this oral record of our earliest Irish and Scottish ancestors.

Malando McKeehan. Working with his hoe in the spring among the neat rows of young potato plants on the McKeehan family farm in County Clare, Ireland, young Malando wondered to himself how much longer the family can survive before real starvation sets in due to the repeated years of crop failure due to the drought and insects. With hope, he worked the wilted and insect-cropped potato seedlings, he thought maybe this season is the end of the failures and a return to the bountiful harvests that he had heard of from his elders. Sadly, the summer brought only dry heat and more insects and as harvest came the crop was smaller than ever giving rise to temporary thoughts of desperation. Malando made his difficult decision amid pangs of disloyalty, he thought Oh Ireland, Oh Ireland, they call you the Emerald Isle, like my grandfather, my father before, I have loved you, but now there’s no choice, I must leave but only for a while until the desperation lifts and then I shall return.

Taking his only living possession, his horse, he saddled up and rode out of County Clare on the one hand deceiving himself that it was only for a while, but deeply knowing he would never return. He headed northwest having heard tales of opportunities in the great city of Glasgow where jobs were plentiful and even paid enough where one could save a little for the future. A farmer by birth, Malando like many of his descendants was resourceful and could be classified a "handyman", willing and ready to do about anything within his skills and intellect to earn his way. Selling his horse near Belfast, he managed passage across the North Channel to the industrial city of Glasgow. Compared to the desperation in Clare County, he found the tales of life in the city true beyond his imagination with shipyards, trade, coal industry and woolen mills galore. You could pick the place you wanted to work and he went to work at once in the woolen mills where he sooned gained favor with the local owner because of his hard work and dedication to the job. Sooner rather than later the young Clare County Irishman met the owner’s daughter Nancy and it was love at first sight. Marriage soon followed and Nancy’s father was pleased with his new son-in-law and entertained thoughts of his taking over the business.

The news of opportunities and riches in the new world, America, was sweeping Glasgow like wildfire. Tales of unlimited, virgin land just for living on it and improving it abounded. Agents for ship’s captains were making attractive offers for passage at sums not out of the range of the newlyweds earnings and savings from Nancy’s father’s mills. Evenings around the fireside were spent talking of the new land and all the details related to getting there and forsaking old Ireland and now Scotland. They spoke of their countrymen who were selling all just to meet the fare to the new land. Having no assets in land, Malando pondered whether he and Nancy could gather the funds to make a contract with the ships departing for America, whether in order to save enough to meet the costs that they would be too old to make the move. The scene changed quickly when Nancy’s father became ill and never recovered. By the bedside of father-in-law and father, Malando and Nancy learned that his will was written. The dying father knew the young couple’s dreams were toward the new land, America, their enthusiastic conversations by the evening firesides had not escaped him. Not giving them the details, he assured them that they would be taken care of and all the McKeehan families of America. He blessed and approved of their dreams of the new world and even wished that he could go along. Immediate provisions were made from his assets for their fare to the new land.

Being frugal with their meager assets, Malando and Nancy made the deal for passage to America. The ship they chose had no first, second or third class. Those with money could at best bribe a crewman for a temporary and private spot on the crowded vessel in which to rest or escape the crowd. Seasickness, loss of sleep, poor rations and facilities was the norm, but could not dampen the enthusiasm and anticipation for the opportunities in the new land. There were no safes or security, if one had possessions one kept them on one’s person the entire voyage. Where Malando and Nancy landed on the eastern shores of America, no one knows, but legend says there were mountains to cross. [Written by W.C. McKeehan in 1998 prior to his death in 2001]

LANDON C. MCKEEHAN (1798-1860/70)

NANCY GIRDNER (1805-1900)
Parents: Michael & Huldah Beach Girdner

Charles C. | Alexander H. | Mitchell | Lafayette | James | Therese | Samuel W. | William W. | Doctor E. | Jane | Mary E.

Map State of Tennessee 1798

This work begins with Landon C. McKeehan in Greene County, Tennessee. We have no documented information about his parents or brothers and sisters and their origin except legend (see "Legends-Fact or Fiction?"). Around the turn of the 19th century, when local written records began to appear in the region the surname and related spellings appear frequently in Greene County, Tennessee. There are much fewer McKeehans in surrounding counties in the state. Authorities on British surnames say that the surname is Irish and fairly restricted to Clare County, Ireland. The spelling is thought to be the anglicization of the Gaelic MacCaochain. The Mc or Mac denotes son or descendant of Caochain. Caochain was an ancient personal name derived from Caoch meaning "blind." It is also possible the surname is the anglicized MacCathain which was a Gaelic given name derived from "cath" meaning "battle." It was common in the Middle Ages to name children after saints of which there is a St. Cathain. The McKeehans of Ireland belong to the tribe of Dalg Cais (Dalcassian) and claim to descend from Brian Boru, King of Munster and all Ireland until he fell at the Battle of Clontarf in 1014.

The origin of the McKeehan line described here and whether the current spelling of it was that originating in Ireland or Scotland is unknown. The spellings McAighan, McCain, McCean, McHighan, McIan, McKaen, McKean, McKeenah, McKeghan, McKeon, McKighan, Millighan/Mileghan and other variants of the foregoing with a "G" for the "K," one single "e" instead of double "e," and "e" for the "a" of "han" appear on documents that appear to refer to persons named McKeehan either contemporary to the inscription or in previous or subsequent generations. Many of these are likely the interpretation of the recorder of the document as to how the name sounded, but also could be changes implemented by individual families for diverse reasons. The names John, George, James, Samuel and Benjamin McKeehan appear frequently in early Greene County documents in the period late 18th and early 19th centuries.  The name Landon is rare.  A contemporary of Landon C. McKeehan, John McKeehan (b. 1794 GreeneCo; m. Nancy Reaves), had children William W., Landon and Susan Malcolm.

One of the earliest informative wills in Greene County, Tennessee is that of "Samuel Mehan McAighan" (Mehan is thought to be a recording error, probably meant Mchan, writer is giving a choice of surname, Mehan or McAighan) who died in 1785, which at that time was part of the State of Franklin.  He left assets to wife and children, Margaret, James and Mary. 

In the Name of God Amen The 11 of March 1785 I Samuel Mchan of Greene County Franklin State being of perfect mind and memory only weak in Body and calling to mind my Mortality. Do make and ordain this my last will and Testment touching such worldly Estate as I am possessed of I dispose of in the maner and form following Viz: In the first place, after all my lawfull debts are payed I give to my Beloved wife one third of my Estate both real and personal for the term of her life. My sorrel mare she is to have in part of her share. Secondly I give and bequeth to my three Children Margret James and Mary the remaining part of my Estate to be equally divided amongst them. Thirdly after my wifes death I bequath her part of the Estate to be divided equally amongst the whole of my children. Lastly I alow the money due for service to be saved and laid out for the use of the family to purchase salt and other nesseryes. I likewise constitute My wife and my brother Henery Fernsworth, my sole Executors in this my last will and testment I likewise alow my Exers to bind out my son James to a good trade if he is like to prove disobedient to his mother. Lastly I do ratify and Confirm this to be my last will and testment In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this day XXXXXXXXXXXX above writen, Signed sealed and delivered.....Samul McKighan {Seal} in presents of us Benjamin Jameson, James O (his mark) McKighan

From page 671 of microfilm Roll #A6261 in the Dallas Public Library which is copied from some loose Greene Co, TN records. A handwritten copy of the will was made after 1785 and entered into the GreeneCo records which is also on microfilm. The pages have RULE DOCKET, COUNTY COURT at the top, and Samuel McKighan's will is on pages 177a and 178.  At the bottom of the microfilm copy is an identification slip which reads:  The Last Will & Testament of Saml Mchighan 1785 3-11-1785 177-a 178-(There is writing that shows through onto the will from the opposite side and may affect the punctuation).  Transcribed verbatim and provided by Lawrence Dyer.  The reference to "my brother Henery Fernsworth" is thought to actually be Samuel's brother-in-law Henry Farnsworth suggesting that wife Margaret's maiden name was Farnsworth.

Living near the Landon McKeehan household in the 1840 census was a George H. McKeehan (b. 1799; m. Elizabeth Millard; children: Priscilla, James, Franklin, Alfred Lafayette, Sarah E. and Rachael Caroline). Both households moved from Greene to Monroe Counties at about the same time. Living with George H. in 1840 was a 90-100 year old male (b. 1730-1740) who could be the father of the clan.  A working hypothesis of some McKeehan researchers is that James McKeehan, the son of Samuel McKeehan mentioned in the above 1785 will, is the 81 year old James living in the household of Robert and Mary (Polly) (McKeehan) Simpson in the 1850 census of MonroeCo and the husband of Elizabeth Lauderdale (m. 1797 in GreeneCo).  James and Elisabeth McKeehan are speculated to have had children Mary (Polly) (m. Robert Simpson), George H. (m. Elizabeth Millard), James (m. Nancy Hollingsworth), Samuel (m. Susan Overholtzer), Anna (m. Ephraim Overholtzer) and Jane (m. Robert Hays).  Margaret McKeehan in the 1785 will of Samuel Mehan/McAighan is thought to be the wife of John Lauderdale of Nolichucky (m. 1796) and Mary in the 1785 will has been speculated to be the wife of John Brown (m. 1801 GreeneCo).  By pure speculation, the process of elimination and proximity in time and geography, it has been speculated that Landon McKeehan might also be a son of James and Elizabeth Lauderdale McKeehan.

The latter part of the 19th century, the McKeehan surname and variants of it was notable in counties of eastern Pennsylvania.  Census records indicate the James McKeehan (b. 1769) of GreeneCo, TN was born in PA by census record and other GreenCo McKeehans were also from the region.  The German-speaking Girdner family can be traced to NorthamptonCo, PA prior to their arrival in GreeneCo in 1792, but McKeehans preceded them.  The most extensive work on McKeehans of PA is The Families of Joshua Williams and John McKeehan of Cumberland, County, published 1928.   To date there is no evidence to link the GreeneCo McKeehans to that group, although the first names are strikingly similar.  Revolutionary War records of PA list numerous individuals whose spellings of the surname would indicate they are McKeehans, e.g. McKean, McGeehan, McGighans, McGeghan, McKighan, spellings which also appear in East Tennessee.  The Families of Joshua Williams and John McKeehan of Cumberland, County speculate the following on the origin of the CumberlandCo McKeehans:

Of interest in tracing the McKeehan and allied families is the following from "Scotch-Irish Pioneers", by Charles Knowles Bolton, page 267: "A Southern stronghold of Presbyterianism was in the neighborhood of Newcastle, Delaware. The narrow tongue of land between the upper shore of Chesapeake Bay and the Delaware river is shared by Maryland and Delaware, Maryland's portion includes the Elk River, and is known as Cecil County. Delaware's portion is called Newcastle County, with Wilmington, its chief city, at the mouth of Christiana Creek. North of these two counties, and across the Pennsylvania line, are Lancaster and Chester counties, (all known as Chester County from 1682 to 1729), extending from the Delaware River to the Susquehanna River.

"This territory, south a few miles from Philadelphia, became the mecca for Scotch emigrants from Ireland. "These emigrants pushed up through Newcastle County to cross the Pennsylvania line, hoping to escape from Maryland and its tithes. Unfortunately, at this very time, the exact line of the boundary was in dispute between Lord Baltimore and the heirs of William Penn, and many of the settlers flocked in and preempted land in dispute without obtaining right or title. To add to the confusion, the Penn family were in a state of domestic discord, so that their agent, James Logan, allowed very few grants in any place after the year 1720. An exception was made however in case of Scotch-Irish, people who, said Logan, 'if kindly used, will I believe be orderly, as they have hitherto been, and easily dealt with; they will also, I expect, be a leading example to others'." These grants were made for a settlement which was called Donegal.

Also from page 280 of Mr. Bolton's book: "In looking over the map of Pennsylvania we find that these townships, Donegal, Paxtang, Derry, and Hanover (near the Susquehanna) and Drumore, Coleraine, Fallowfield, and Sadsbury (along Octorara creek, which marks the Western line of Chester County after 1729), together with the Brandywine farms a little north of Wilmington, the Neshaminy lands north of Philadelphia, and Allen township, ten miles west of Easton, comprise the earliest settlements of the Scotch-Irish in Pennsylvania. The settlers who first occupied these fertile lands entered America at the ports of Philadelphia and Newcastle."

Among the signatures to a memorial dated March 26tb, 1718, and addressed to "the Right Honorable Colonel Samuel Shute, Governor of New England" from, "we, whose names are underwritten, Inhabitants of Ye North of Ireland. . doe assure His Excellency of our sincere and hearty inclination to Transport ourselves to that very excellent and renowned Plantation, upon our obtaining from Ms Excellency suitable encouragement". .. etc., is that of John McKeen. Other signatures are those of Alexander McBride, Bart, James Patterson, James and George Campbell, Mr. Patterson, and James Alexander. Inasmuch as our McKeehans, McBrides, Pattersons, lived in the same vicinity and intermarried through many generations, it is possible that the above John McKeen was our emigrant ancestor. There was no dependable uniformity of spelling at that date, even in the case of a single individual. This is exemplified in the military records preserved in the Pennsylvania Archives, where the same man's name is given as "Alexander McKeehan" and "Alexander McKean" within a few lines.   The tradition in every branch of the family is that practically every McKeehan of possible age for service was in the Revolutionary War, and the records of Pennsylvania prove that many of them were. Old time carelessness of spelling often makes it difficult to identify these soldiers.


Map State of Tennessee 1821

Census, marriage and various records from eastern Tennessee indicate that LANDON C. MCKEEHAN was born in 1798 in Greene County, Tennessee, was a farmer and the father of CHARLES COFFNER MCKEEHAN. Landon married NANCY GIRDNER in 1820 in Greene County. By 1821 Landon, Nancy and family had moved to Monroe County where Charles Coffner was born in 1821. He made a land transfer to Adam Mowry in 1830, to Elijah Perck? in 1831 and served as a member of the Monroe County quarterly court in 1831. Documents referring to where some of the children grew up indicated the family probably lived in or near Sweetwater in MonroeCo.  Landon and family appear in the 1840 census in Monroe County and in Bradley County in 1850. Oldest sons, Charles Coffner and Alexander Haywood, enlisted for the Mexican War in 1847 in Athens in current McMinnCo which was probably the closest office to their MonroeCo home rather than their residence. Landon last appears in the Bradley County census in 1860 and on a deed transfer of 120 acres on which he resided to James Biggs for $423 the same year. Absence from the 1870 census of Tennessee and other records suggest that Landon may have died between 1860-1870. However, a L.C. McKeehan gave the marriage bond at the wedding of Landon’s grandson, Alexander Hayden McKeehan (son of Alexander Haywood McKeehan) in Knoxville, Knox County in 1887.  However, this was more likely Alexander Hayden's brother Charles Landon or another relative since Landon C. would have been 89 years old at this time with a gap in records of 27 years.  However, Landon C. McKeehan's wife Nancy Girdner McKeehan died at age 95 in 1900 in Knoxville of pneumonia and is buried there in New Gray Cemetery.  At the time of her death, she was living at 614 Akin St. and had lived in Knoxville for over 25 years.

Map State of Tennessee 1840

Nancy Girdner, born in GreeneCo, TN,  was the ninth and youngest child of Michael Girdner Sr. (born 1754 in Pennsylvania) and Huldah Beech (born about 1766 in Nobletown, Massachusetts). Michael was German-speaking as indicated by his will written in 1815 in Greene County which was in German.  Michael was the son of German immigrants David (born bef. 1734) and Christina Girdner.  The Girdner surname is an apparent anglicization of the German Göertner, Gaertner or Gärtner, probably the counterpart of the English surname Gardener.   In records from Tennessee, the surname appears as Gardner, Gurtner, Gurdner and Girtner. From which German-speaking country in Europe they came from and how and where they arrived on the east coast is unclear.  The David Girdner family settled in Heidelberg Township, Northampton County, PA.  According to descendants, Michael Girdner Sr. met his wife Huldah Beach while serving in the Revolutionary War in either Maine or Massachusetts with Huldah's brother.  Huldah was daughter of Nathan and Desire Bixby Beach of Nobletown, MA.  The Girdner families came to Greene County, TN with two horses and a wagon in 1792 on a seven week journey according to Goodspeeds History of Tennessee.  After Michael Girdner Sr.’s death in 1815, Huldah Beach Girdner married Lewis Ball who died in 1832. A deed transfer from Monroe County in 1832 in which Huldah wills Michael Jr. land in Greene County providing he will take care of her for life indicates that Huldah may have spent her final years with son, Michael Jr., in Monroe County near daughter Nancy and son-in-law Landon McKeehan.  A number of documents in Monroe County indicate that Michael Girdner Jr. and family moved from Greene County to Monroe County, Tennessee at about the same time as the Landon McKeehan family where oldest son CHARLES COFFNER MCKEEHAN was born in 1821.




ccmckhead.jpg (30689 bytes)m. Sarah Maria Sylar (1833-1901)

Peter Hartley

Charles Houston

Archibald O. F.

Virginia Arkansas

Nancy Ellen

Mary Elizabeth

Braxton Bragg

Samuel William

Alta Ann

James Washington

Walter J.

Ida Alwilda

Family history


m. Mary Catherine Sylar (1837-1922)

Sara (1854-1910)

Charles Landon (b. 1860)
m. Ellen ER Gray

Alexander Hayden (1865-1942)
m. Mary Elizabeth Smith

William Gordon (1864-1947)
m. Arminta Dorcas Scarbrough.

Alexander was a Pvt. in Company H of the 5th Tennessee Infantry Regiment, he enlisted together with brother Charles in Athens, Tennessee in 1847 and was discharged in 1848. The two brothers served under Capt. Harrison Dill and Gen. George P. McClellan at Vera Cruz guarding the Jalapa Bridge. He also served as a Corporal in Company B of the 1st Tennessee (Carter’s) Cavalry for the Confederate States of America (CSA), the same unit as his brother, William W.  He served from 1861 until the surrender of his unit in May 1865 in Washington, Georgia. In 1850 Alexander Haywood was living with hotelkeeper William Arnett in Hamilton County and working as a carpenter. He married Maria (Mary) Catherine Sylar in Ooltewah, Hamilton County in 1852. Mary Catherine was a sister of Sarah Maria Sylar, who married Alexander Haywood’s older brother, Charles Coffner McKeehan.  In the 1856, entries in the journal of Mary Catherine's father, Peter Sylar, indicate they may have been living in Ringgold, GA.   Receipts dated 1862 were also found in the papers of Peter Sylar.

Map State of Tennessee 1840

In 1860 the family of A.H., Mary C. and two children Sarah (b. ca. 1854) and Charles Landon (b. 1860) was living in Bradley County. In the 1880 census of CatoosaCo, GA just across the state line from Chattanooga, A.H. was listed as a carpenter with housewife Mary, Charles a physician, Hayden a farmworker and William G. Knoxville County records list the weddings of two of his children: In 1881, Nancy McKeehan witnessed the wedding of Charles L. McKeehan (22 yr. salesman of Hamilton Co) to Ellen ER Gray (15 yr.) on 25 Dec. 1887 records show McKeehan, A. H. to Mary Smith by H.W. Bays, MG, Apr. 19, bond given by L. C. McKeehan.

Mary Catherine Sylar McKeehan was living in Hamilton County, Tennessee when she applied for a Civil War veteran’s widows pension after Alexander’s death in Shelby County in 1892. Her application stated that she had been a resident of Tennessee the last 3 years and nine months and her marriage license was burned in Harrison, Hamilton County during the war. She was receiving $12 per month pension from Alexander’s service in the Mexican War. Her application was witnessed by Alexander’s brother, William W. McKeehan, living at 1233 E. Oldham St., Knoxville,Tennessee. He had known the applicant for 51 years who he stated was residing in Chattanooga the last 3.75 years. William stated that his brother had lived all his life in Tennessee with the exception of 6 years. The pension application was processed quickly, but obviously the widow heard nothing.  In 1916, Mary Catherine wrote to the Tennessee Pension Board of Examiners from East Lake,Tennessee saying she had heard nothing since October and inquired of status of her application. A document from the War Department to the Board in 1910 stated that Alexander enlisted 7 Aug. 1861, a note in June 1862 showed him absent without leave since 1 Jun 1862. However, brother William W. attested in the widow’s pension application that he and Alexander were present on the day of surrender of their unit to Federal Forces in 1865 in Washington, Georgia. When she died in 1922, Mary Catherine was living with son W.G. McKeehan in Ridgedale, Chattanooga where she had lived since A.H.’s death. She was a member of the Ridgedale Methodist Church and Eastern Star and is buried in Forest Hills Cemetery.



In 1850, Mitchell was a blacksmith living with the blacksmith James and Lorinda Marble (Mamble?) in Hamilton County, Tennessee.


m. Nancy (b. 1844 in Arkansas)

At age 18, Lafayette was still living on the farm in Bradley County in 1850. In 1860, Lafayette, listed as a farm laborer, was living in Saline County, Arkansas near his oldest brother, Charles Coffner McKeehan and family.



In 1850, 16 year old James was at home on the farm. In 1860, 26 year old James was still living on the farm in Bradley County. He served with the 1st Tennessee (Carter’s) Cavalry for the CSA in the Civil War.


m. John Roberts (

Therese served as a witness in support of brother W. W. McKeehan's petition for disability support from the State of Tennessee signing the document Tressa P. Roberts.  At the time of her death from pneumonia in 1905, she was living at 614 Atkin St., a widow.  She had been a member of the Christian Church for 53 yr, her funeral was at Forest Avenue Christian Church.  She was buried in Old Gray Cemetery, Knoxville, TN.  The address at time of the time of death was same as the last address of her widowed mother, Nancy G. McKeehan. 


John Lee
(d. 1923)
m. Maggie Mae Lawhon
D.M. (1861-1940)
m. Mary D.

m. N.E. Shields

John Lee Roberts date of birth is unknown, he was in Panama in 1915 and New Orleans in 1917.  He married Maggie Lawhon in 1898 in Knoxville, TN.   He died of anemia in 1923 in Nashville, TN.  They had children Julia Theresa (m. William A. Barksdale), Margaret (m. Herbert Dittrick), Anna Christine (m. Robert M. Wallace), Dorothy May (m. Lee O. Edwards) and John Lee Jr. (died in infancy).




In 1860, 22 year old Samuel was still living on the farm in Bradley County. Samuel W. attested to validity of the marriage of Sarah Sylar McKeehan and Charles Coffner when she applied for a Mexican War veteran’s pension in Arkansas in 1890.


m. Anna (Annie) Catherine Clarke (1850-1916), daughter of Thomas and Flora Swadley Clarke


Ella Jane (1871-1940)
m. Albert G. Cregger

Cleveland Benton (1876-1957)
m. Nettie O. Ambrose

William Marion (b. 1883-1923)
. Carria Jerolyn Carney (1880-1946)

William served as a Pvt. in Company B, 1st Tennessee (Carter’s) Cavalry under Capt. William Snow for the Confederate States of America. In 1902 William W. first applied for a Confederate soldier’s pension on the basis that, although he was not wounded in battle, he was taken prisoner after a battle in Danville, Kentucky. While in prison in Louisville, Kentucky, after mandatory vaccination after exposure to smallpox, he was attacked with varioloid eruptions which left scars on his eyes from which his vision never recovered. At the time of the application, he was blind in his left eye and near blind in the right. Witnesses confirmed that after his release from prison and although he was incapacitated for duty, he remained with his command until the surrender of Johnston’s army in Lexington, Georgia in 1865. He was described at time of application as near helpless with an invalid oldest son . His application was signed with his mark (X). A series of requests were made from 1902 to 1911 for an increase in his annual pension of $100 as he became totally blind and deaf due to exploding shells at the battle of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. A letter from Col. James Carter of Knoxville, his commander in the war, attested that W.W. was a good soldier, always ready for duty and battle. A letter from Mr. Walter Benson to Tennessee Senator John Houk, an old friend, appealed for an increase in pension for W.W. who Mr. Benson knew as a boy and neighbor in Sweetwater,Tennessee. A 1912 letter from the Tennessee Board of Pension Examiners vouched for membership for W.W. in The Abner Baker Chapter, UDC commenting that "this man deserves a cross of honor."

William W., Anna, Cleveland B. (b. 1877) and William (b. 1883) are listed in the 1900 Census in Knoxville living on Tulip St. Both William W. and Anna died in Knoxville, Tennessee and are buried there in Greenwood Cemetery along with children Ella Jane and Cleveland.  William M. is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in Knoxville.


DOCTOR E. MCKEEHAN (1845-1931)
m. Mary C. McKamy (1850-1936); daughter of William and Mary McKamy

Mary C. McKamy was the fourth child of William (1811-1860) and Mary (Polly) (b. 1809) McKamy of McMinn County, Tennessee. The 1860 Census for McMinnCo, Tennessee lists William McKamy 49, wife Mary 51, William 22, Jasper N. 19, John M. 14, Mary C. 10 and Margaret 39.

William McKamy’s will probated in 1860 says

I wrote my will myself, to wife Polly, to three sons Wm. P., Jasper N. and John M.; to daughters Mary C. McKamy when she reaches 21 and Elizabeth Jane Dodson.

Obituary and death certificate says Doctor E. moved from McMinn County in 1913, was a member of the First Baptist Church, a retired farmer who died from complications of a paralyzing stroke two years earlier. In his will written in 1927 and probated in 1931, Doctor E. left his nephew, Charles C. Webb $100 (son of Mary E. McKeehan) and everything else to wife Mary C.

[Minute Book no. 13, pg. 128.] I, D.E. McKeehan of Bradley County, Tennessee, do make and publish this my last will and testament.  First; I direct that all my debts including personal and burial expenses be paid by my executrix and of the first money that comes into her hands.  Second; I give and bequeath to my nephew, Charles C. Webb, the sum of $100 (one hundred dollars).  Third; I give and bequeath to my wife, Mary C. McKeehan, the remainder of all my effects of every kind and character, and I appoint her my executrix to serve without bond.  In testimony whereof, I hereunto sign my name on this the third day of Oct. 1927 in the presence of the undersigned witnesses, who sign in my presence and at my request, and in the presence of each other.  Signed: D.E. McKeehan, R.T. Allen, Mrs. R.T. Allen.

Mary C. in her will written 1936 and probated in 1937 appointed Mrs. N.T. Hall and W.P. McKamy as executors. She authorized sell of residence and lot on 1526 Ocoee St. in Cleveland, Tennessee and distributed her assets to 15 nieces and nephews. She added in her will that any relative questioning amounts to be received from her will forfeit the said amount and are to get no more than $1.00. Doctor E. and Mary C. McKeehan are buried in Hillcrest Cemetery, southwest of Cleveland in Bradley County, Tennessee.

[4 Jan in Minute Book No. 14, page 378]  Being of sound mind and disposing memory, I, Mary C. McKeehan of Bradley County, Tennessee, do hereby make, publish and declare this as my last will and testament.  First, I will and desire that I shall be given respectable burial and that the expenses of my last illness and burial and the cost of erecting a substantial marker be paid as soon as practicable. I also will and desire that my Executors as soon as practicable ascertain and pay inheritance taxes or other fixed charges by law against my estate and property real and personal.  Second, I nominate and appoint Mrs. N.T. Hall and W.P. McKamy as executors of this my will, and fully cloth and empower them to sell and dispose of my house and lot on Ocose St. <sic spelling unclear>, in Cleveland, Tenn., if I have not already disposed of it, or any other real estate I may own at the time of my death, and having full faith and confidence in the integrity of my said relative s named as executors, I expressly excuse them from bond and inventory.  Third, I will and dispose of my said estate as follows:  (1) After deducting from each of the specific bequests which follow their proportionate part of inheritance taxes and the costs of administration of my estate, I will,  (a) to my niece Tennie Long Pierce, if she is living at the time of my death, four hundred dollars, ($400.00), but if she does not survive me, this bequest will lapse and become void.  (b) to my nephew C.F. Dodson, four hundred dollars.   (c) to my nephews and niece Elbert Dodson, Walter Dodson, Paul Dodson and Ruth Dodson Davenport, each the sum of one hundred dollars, that is to the four of them, the sum of four hundred dollars.  Fourth, the rest, remainder and residue, of every kind and character, I will, devise and bequeath, as follows: The one-half thereof is the children of my deceased brother, John M. McKamy, who are Sarah McKamy, W.P. McKamy, and Dorothy McKamy. The other half to the children of my deceased brother J.N. McKamy, who are Mrs. Nellie Outlaw, Mrs. Tulie Hall, Mrs. Cora Jameson and Fred McKamy.  Fifth, I have endeavored to make a fair and equitable division of my estate and have herein recorded my will and disposition of the same, and it is my express will and desire that if any of the beneficiaries are dissatisfied and in any manner contest the same, or engage in or encourage any litigation against the administration of my said estate in accordance with my directions given then such on or ones, shall thereby forfeit and loose all interest I my estate, and benefits provided under this will and in full discharge of all claims to that one or one, my executors will pay the sum of one dollar in full and compete settlement.  In testimony thereof, I have hereunto signed my name to this my will, in the presence of the undersigned witnesses, who sign in my presence,  and at my request and in presence of each other on this the 5th day of March, 1936. Signed: Mrs. Mary C. McKeehan. Witnesses: James L. Wilson, P.B. Mayfield.


JANE MCKEEHAN (b. 1846) Never married


m. Pleasant Crew Webb (1840-1914)

Eliza Jane (b. 1867)
m. Charles J. Kincaid

Margaret McNutt (b. 1869)
m. Luther M. Kirby

John Crew (b. 1870)
m. Bertha Ward

Richard McKeehan (1872-1962)
m. Clara Mae Johnson

Katherine Ann (b. 1874)
m. Walter H. Ryno

Charles Claiborne (1876-1969)

Walter (b. 1880)

Samuel Edgar (b. 1883)
m. Ruth Margarette Simmons

Mary Pleasant (1888-1975)
m. James A. Howard..

Mary Edwards married P.C. Webb in Monroe County,Tennessee in 1866 with Rev. L.K. Haynes officiating. Both Mary E. and Pleasant Crew lived most of their lives in and around Knoxville. According to her obituary which states "she was the daughter of the late Landon McKeehan and Nancy Gardner McKeehan", Mary was living at 1417 Forest Avenue in Knoxville when she died. Both she and P.C. Webb are buried in New Gray Cemetery. Mary Edwards was apparently the last to die of the children of Landon McKeehan.  Her youngest daughter, Mary P. Howard, who died in Knoxville 10 Feb. 1975 was likely the last of grandchildren of Landon McKeehan.

Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 12/15/2001. Wallace C. "Mac" McKeehan, 88, a retired minister, died Thursday, Dec. 13, 2001 in Burleson.  Funeral: 11 a.m. Monday at Calvary Pentecostal Church, 700 W.C. (Mac, Slick) McKeehanMcPherson Rd., the Rev. Ron Liles officiating. Burial: Laurel Land Memorial Park. Visitation: 2-4 p.m. Sunday at the funeral home. Wallace McKeehan was born Oct. 16, 1913 in Miller County, Ark. He was a Pentecostal minister for 35 years, serving as an evangelist and pastor across the U.S. and Canada, and a painting contractor for many years. He was a member of Calvary Pentecostal Church. Mr. McKeehan enjoyed fishing, reading, writing, and was the family historian. He was a very unique man, a good man, and a friend to all the neighborhood children. He was loved by all and will be missed by his family and many friends. Mr. McKeehan was preceded in death by three brothers; and four sisters. The family would like to express their thanks and gratitude to Covenant Hospice for their compassion and loving care and to Pam Yarger for all her special assistance. Survivors: Wife of 58 years, Dorothy McKeehan of Fort Worth; sons, Wallace Lee McKeehan and wife, Kerstin of Bellaire, Richard Kent McKeehan and wife, Janice of Fort Worth, Stephen Douglas McKeehan and wife, Donna of Burleson, Kevin Apollos McKeehan of Fort Worth; grandchildren, Maria Kristina McKeehan, Landon Douglas McKeehan, Zachary Taylor McKeehan; brother, John B. McKeehan and wife, Doris of Horatio, Ark.; sisters, Marjorie McKeehan and Deen Patterson, both of Atlanta, Texas, Camilla White of Maud, Texas, Jessie Golden of Fouke, Ark.

© 1997-2012, Wallace L. McKeehan, All Rights Reserved