Biography - Robert McKee

ROBERT GREEN B. McKEE, formerly a prominent citizen and leading business man and prosperous merchant of the flourishing city of Metropolis, Massac County, Ill., passed to his rest November 9, 1892, mourned by all who knew him and his death lamented by his fellow-townsmen as a public loss. Born in Johnson County, Ill., near Vienna, January 22, 1819, our subject was numbered among the very early and honored pioneers of the State, and had for a period of seventy-three years been intimately associated with the wonderful upward growth, prosperity and continued advancement of this part of the great West. His father and mother, hard-working, industrious and intelligent people, were at the time of his birth residing upon a farm where they had located when the whole country surrounding them was in truth a sparsely settled wilderness, and but illy supplied with even the ordinary comforts of life. Primitive horsemills were then the only mills in the State, and the country people, removed from the towns and villages, made their own shoes and manufactured the material for their clothes, also building their cabins without nails and using the clumsy tools of their own making.
Our subject, reared upon the farm, early became accustomed to aid in the heavy work of the homestead, and during the winter months attended the little subscription school of his home neighborhood, which was held in a log house, furnished only with slab seats and desks. Wild game and the "noble" red men abounded in those early days, and amid the primitive scenes and rude surroundings of genuine pioneer life Mr. McKee attained to manhood. From his boyhood ambitious, enterprising and energetic, he availed himself of every opportunity to advance in life, and at various times engaged in flatboating and was also employed upon a trading-boat. After a time he clerked in Metropolis and in his two years of continued service gained a thorough knowledge of mercantile business, and later buying a stock of goods at a low valuation disposed of them at a handsome profit. He was noted as a shrewd buyer and constantly purchased bargains, which he handled successfully. He also bought a flatboat, which he made available in numerous commercial transactions, and aboard of which he made two trips down the river, in each instance reaping a harvest of dollars. He was in fact a practical business man, in whom the commercial instinct was fully developed, and to whose sterling common sense his ultimate prosperity was mainly due.
Mr. McKee finally engaged in general merchandising in Metropolis and was more than ordinarily successful, but in 1879 retired from active business. After a time he again embarked in commercial enterprise and as of yore handled various lines of stock with an excellent profit, and having accumulated a large property and comfortable competence, retired permanently and at his death left a fine property to his family. Our subject was twice married. He was united to his first wife, Miss Sarah Sheets, in Metropolis, but was deprived by death of his companion in 1878. Upon August 24, 1879, Robert Green B. McKee and Miss Henrietta Delevan were united in marriage. The father of Mrs. McKee was by birth a Virginian and, a genial and courteous gentleman, possessed hosts of friends. He was by profession a lawyer and, a talented and able man, rose to eminence and occupied with dignified efficiency the responsible position of County Judge, which office he held with honor and distinction in Massac County for the period of eight years. He was a man of noble characteristics and passed away deeply lamented in 1881. His wife, a most excellent lady and widely known as a woman of true worth, yet survives and resides in Metropolis. The happy home of our subject and his wife was blessed by the birth of two children, a son and a daughter, whose bright intelligence brought joy and gladness into the hearts of their loving parents. Effie Myrtle was the first-born, Robert Green B., named in honor of his revered father, being the youngest child.
Our subject was eminently a self-made man and united with his excellent business qualifications a stanch integrity of character and upright purpose. He did not connect himself with any church until late in life, not believing in controversial creeds, but finally became a member and a leader in the Congregational Church organized here and which, mainly owing to his efforts, gained an extended influence and large attendance. From his early years Mr. McKee was foremost in the promotion of local improvements and enterprise, and was one of the Trustees and charter members of the National Bank of Metropolis. Liberal, public-spirited and progressive, the influence of our subject was ever exerted in the betterment of mankind, and for many changing years the memory of Robert Green B. McKee will be fragrant and lasting in the hearts of all who knew and loved the generous, whole-souled man and true American citizen.

Extracted 16 Dec 2016 by Norma Hass from 1893 Biographical Review of Johnson, Massac, Pope, and Hardin Counties, Illinois, pages 573-574.

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