Fred McKinney, West Plains, right, has been awarded a Territorial Certificate from the Missouri State Genealogical Association, having proved he is a descendant of Henry McKinney, who settled in Missouri prior to Aug. 10, 1821. The work of submitting the required documentation was begun by Fred’s father, Dr. Ed McKinney, who died in 2021 prior to the certificate being issued, so the designation was awarded to his son. Blanche McKinney, at left, mother of Fred, had worked with her husband on the project, doing extensive genealogical and historical research on the McKinney family in Missouri, and with Ed, self-published a book in 1985. A more comprehensive history was almost complete when Ed passed away, and Blanche finished the work and published a new book at the beginning of this year. Credit: SUBMITTED PHOTO

Fred McKinney of West Plains recently received a Territorial Certificate from the Missouri State Genealogical Association which acknowledges that his ancestor, Henry McKinney, was a Missouri Territory resident before Aug. 10, 1821.

The McKinney family history was recently published in a book which his parents worked on for many of the 61 years they were married. Originally, Fred’s father, Dr. Edgar McKinney, applied for the certificate, but he passed away before the association decided to award it. The McKinney family is acknowledged to have settled in Missouri in 1815 or 1816. (Missouri did not obtain statehood until 1821.) The Goodspeed History of Cole County (and other counties) identifies them as the “Tennessee Settlement” and confirms that they arrived in 1815 or 1816. They settled on the Moniteau River just west of what became Jefferson City. According to family stories, there were only five houses in what became Jefferson City when they came to Missouri. In 1843, James, the oldest son of the original settler, moved with 12 of his 13 children to the area that later became Texas County. Many descendants still live in that area.

Fred’s parents, Dr. Edgar McKinney and his mother, Blanche McKinney, had spent years gathering information about the McKinney family. When they married in 1960, he knew that there were many McKinneys in Texas County, but no one seemed to know how they were related. Being a history teacher, he was determined to unravel the relationships. They made four trips to Campbell County, Tenn., where the McKinneys lived before moving to Missouri, but almost no information was available there. So, they searched every record they could find. One disappointing discovery they made was their search for a farm where many of the original settlers were buried. One summer, when he was working on his PhD., she was working on a second master’s degree, and they were living in Columbia, they set out to find the farm that was often mentioned. They visited the courthouse at Jefferson City and studied old plat maps. They found the farm, but in years past, some enterprising farmer had gathered all the large tombstones into a large dump site in the middle of the field. The current owner was kind enough to let them walk through his newly sprouted soybeans to look at the stones, but moving them was impossible.

Dr. McKinney and his wife had self-published a book listing many of the McKinneys in 1985. They sold 500 copies of it and continued to get requests for more. After that, they vowed to gather more information and publish a more complete version. The material was almost ready for publication when Dr. McKinney passed away in October 2021. Blanche McKinney finished working on it and had it published in early 2022. The book is a hefty 512 pages and is available for purchase from her. She sent one of the books to the person who was in charge of the Missouri First Families certification, and he actually located one of his ancestors who married a McKinney in the book! Rather than returning the book, he bought it!

Anyone who is interested in obtaining a similar certificate can search for Missouri First Families on the Internet. There are other awards for families that have lived in the state but did not arrive prior to 1821. Requirements include submission of birth certificates, marriage certificates, death certificates, etc., as well as documented sources that show when your family arrived in the state.

Note: Anyone interested in one of these certificates can look on the Internet under “Missouri First Families.” There are some certificates for people whose ancestors arrived later.

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