With some spelling corrections, and reformating to improve readability.
John McKay 1703 - 1773
Near the center of the old Timber Ridge cemetery is a stone slab some seven feet long, the top a plain surface and about the shape of a horizontal section of an old-fashioned coffin, with the letters cut so deep that they are now easily read as follows:
Here lies the interred body of John McKay, who died in 1773 in his seventieth year, etc.
This John was born in Glasgow, Scotland, about the year 1703, and made his way down into Ireland and thence to America early enough to penetrate the forests of the Valley of Virginia as far as the northeast end of Rockbridge (then part of Orange) county by the time he was thirty-three or four, and brought with him the spirit of religious liberty, as his main object seems to have been to colonize and build a house of worship. This is evidenced first by a log building (with small windows now shown in a dwelling house), erected on the summit, about two miles N.E. of the stone church, then the first clause of his will and the inscription on this slab.
This however did not prove central to the colonists on Kerrs creek and those near the mouth of Irish creek, (Archibald Alexander settled within less than a mile from the mouth of Irish creek, i.e. the grandfather of the divine) and it became necessary to select a new site and build a new and large house of worship in the early seventeen fifties. John, Arch Alexander and two others signed a bond to see the builder paid some $450, and the wedge-shaped seventeen acres left by Sam Clark (Borden’s agent) for the benefit of the church not being suitable, General Sam Houston’s father gave the present lot thirteen poles square, based on his line with the seventeen acres to certain trustees, and their successors, but the seventeen acres was lost through neglect of the church people.
The present stone church was completed 1756. John settled one mile east of the church on a tract he mentions in his will as the home tract, containing about 385 acres. Here he and his wife who was Mary Porter, daughter of William Porter, who settled where Wilson’s Springs hotel stands, reared a family of six children, two sons and four daughters.
Henry and William were mere boys, ten and fifteen, when their father died. John Porter Mackey, William’s oldest son, born November 1800, said he was twelve years old when his grandmother died, which would make her survive her husband forty years and to have been much younger than her husband.
In a call for a pastor at Timber Ridge John’s name is written John Mackey, but as signed to his will, recorded at Staunton in 1774, in Book 5, on pages 200 and 201, it is written John McKay (the name signed with a cross mark), and in this will his widow and these six children are named and assigned a portion, and his manservant, Andrew, is directed to be supported on the home tract as long as he lives, while other slaves are assigned to his widow and older daughters. The executors are William Porter and Henry McClung; appraisers, Arch. Alexander, William Alexander, John Lyle, William McClung. The inventory (appraisement) of personal estate recorded in same book, page 286, amounts to 785 pounds sterling, ten shillings, two pence. The will is lengthy and sets out to state his belief in the immorality of the soul, the resurrection of the dead and the reunion of the soul and body. John had but few relatives.
The McClungs were his nephews. Some say he gave them a tract of land, others that they gave him “a little gray mare” in turn; but John undoubtedly looked more to others interest than his own. Had his aim been land, he might have left many broad acres. It is said when James McClung married a girl who had gone out to service (they called her a serving girl) that “Old Grandfather” said, “O, never mind, wives are hard to get,” which shows some were somewhat clannish.
John had a bachelor brother named Robert, who lived with Jane McCorkle until he became dependent and then came to William’s to be cared for, and died there, as his brass-framed spectacles lost are the only evidence. As John’s son, William, did not marry until about 1798 this bachelor brother, Robert, must have been much younger than John, or much greater longevity (by this time John would have been near 100, and but few of his descendants have reached four score, while many have departed under three score and ten.)
John’s intimate friend and neighbor was Arch Alexander, as their lands almost touched, while their houses were about two miles apart, and a daybook of Alexander’s, who wrote a good hand shows their frequent dealings. Yet there were no marriages between the two families until the third generation. More at another date about John’s descendants, who are numerous. One granddaughter is still living.
Fairfield, Va., March 28th. J.S.M.