Biography of Thomas H. McKee
Thomas H. McKee is a representative of farming interests in Dover Township, his home being near Burlington. It was in that Township that he was born, May 16, 1854, his parents being James and Rebecca (Wilson) McKee. The father was born in Belfast, Ireland, in 1808 and the mother in Donegal, Ireland, in 1839. In early life they came to the new world and were married in Dover Township, Racine County, where their remaining days were passed, the father’s death occurring in 1873, while the mother survived until 1909. At the time of his arrival the country was wild and undeveloped, there being still evidences that at. a not very remote period the Indians had occupied the district. The homes were primitive and were widely scattered but progressive men from the east and other parts of the country were making their way into the district and bringing about a marked transformation. James McKee secured two hundred acres of land from the government and with characteristic energy began to break the sod turning the first furrows in the fields. He was a poor man when he came but as the years passed he won success and when his death occurred was in very comfortable circumstances. He was also a well educated and well read man and was widely and favorably known. He belonged to the Presbyterian Church and he gave his political allegiance to the Republican Party, being a firm believer in the efficacy of its principles as factors in good government. Mr. and Mrs. McKee were the parents of eight children, of whom six are yet living: John, a blacksmith of Munising, Michigan: Thomas H.; David; a farmer residing near Richmond, Illinois: Robert, of Twin Lakes and Billings, Montana, holding extensive landed interests at both places; Nancy, the wife of A. J. Hill, a contractor, of Highmore, South Dakota; and Anna, the wife of Fred Esterbrook, a lumberman, of Washington.
At the usual age Thomas H. McKee became a district school pupil and afterward spent a winter’s term in study at Wilmot, Wisconsin. Following the death of his father he began to earn his own living as a farm hand and his youth and early manhood were a period of earnest and unremitting toil. At length he accumulated twenty-two hundred dollars by his own labor and in this way he bought his farm of one hundred and sixty acres, the productiveness of which he enhanced by tiling the place. The work of improvement has been steadily carried forward, including the erection of a good residence and substantial outbuildings, his place being one of the best in Dover Township. He carries on general farming and also does considerable dairying. He likewise makes a specialty of raising sugar beets, to which he has given his attention for ten years, and throughout the period he has been agent for a sugar beet contpany. His cows are of good grade, so that his dairy products measure up to high standards and he holds to advanced ideals in everything he does.
On the 29th of April, 1890, Mr. McKee was married to Miss Emma Raymond, a daughter of John and Mary (Janachek) Raymond, both of whom were natives of Austria-Hungary. About 1856 they became residents of Waterford, where the father engaged in the business of harness manufacturing. Mrs. McKee was there born and by her marriage has become the mother of fourteen children: Grace, born November 18, 1892 ; Mabel, born October 17, 1893; Ernest, November 1, 1894; Alice, November 11, 1895; Sylvester, January 23, 1897 ; Floyd. July 21, 1898: Lucille, December 14, 1904 ; Evelyn, February 12, 1906 ; Thelma, February 21, 1907 ; Robert, October 18, 1909; Donna, January 14, 1911; Phyllis, July 24, 1912 ; Lois, November 1. 1914; and Marjorie Pauline, March 19, 1916. The children are all at home except Ernest, who travels, and Mabel, who is now teaching in the district schools.
The family is members of the Methodist Episcopal Church and Mr. McKee gives his political allegiance to the Republican Party. He is now serving as town assessor, which office he has filled for two terms. His fellow townsmen speak of him as a citizen of genuine worth, as a reliable business man and as a faithful friend.