The 1851 census return for Hillhead, a small farm of 6 acres, near Rhonehouse in the parish of Kelton, states that the occupier there was William McKeand, aged 62 years, born in Urr Parish. His wife Mary, aged 61 years, born in Colvend Parish is also there, as is his daughter Isabella, 34, born Colvend , and his sons Andrew (22) and Samuel , 18, both born in Kelton Parish. By census time a number of William’s family had left Scotland and were living in America, where they adopted the surname McKean. The following information is gleaned from various sources, detailed at the end.

The McKeand/McKean Families of Kelton and Charleroi, Washington County, Pennsylvania.

William McKean, was born and reared in Kirkcudbrightshire, Scotland. William McKean received his early education in the country schools of his native land, and was there married to Mary, daughter of William Brown, whose family had been natives of Kirkcudbrightshire for over two hundred years. Mr. and and Mrs. McKean passed their lives on the home farm in Scotland, where the following children were born to them and reared: John, a sea captain, was lost in a wreck in 1837; Mary, wife of Alexander Magill; William, a farmer of Mansfield, Penn.; James, a merchant tailor, of Canada Corners, Mich.; Joseph, living on the old home place in Scotland; Elizabeth, deceased in youth; Andrew, living in Scotland; Robert and Samuel, residing in Fayette county, Penn. The father was a member of the Established Church of Scotland. (1)

ROBERT McKEAN, a successful business man of Charleroi, is a son of William McKean, who was born and reared in Kirkcudbrightshire, Scotland. Robert McKean was born March 7, 1827, on the home place in Kirkcudbrightshire, Scotland, and in boyhood attended the schools of his native parish, assisting also in the duties of the farm. On January 1, 1840, he married Janet Caird, who was born at New Abbey, Scotland, a daughter of James Caird, a native and merchant of the same place, and a member of the Established Church. The children of Mr and Mrs. Caird were born as follows: Janet, wife of Robert McKean; John; Barbara, wife of Andrew Irving; Agnes, married to a Mr. Thompson; James; William; Mary, and two whose names are unknown. Mr. and Mrs. McKean resided on a farm near New Abbey for about one year after their marriage, then set sail for America. After a voyage of thirty days they landed in New York, in July, 1850; thence proceeded to Newburgh, where they spent a few months, going from there by rail to Johnstown, finally arriving in Allegheny City. In 1850 he worked for four months for seventy-five cents a day, and then moved to a place about six miles out, on the Steubenville pike, on Chartiers creek, where he followed gardening about six years. He then passed seven years at Mansfield, farming and gardening on a place near that town. In 1865 he purchased and moved on 220 acres at Lock No. 4 (now Charleroi), Washington Co., Penn., having paid for this laud with the proceeds of years of hard labor. Politically he is actively identified with the interests of the Republican party, and in religion he and his family are members of the U.P. Church. He gives liberally of his means to all worthy enterprises. His children have been as follows: James, postmaster at Pittsburgh; William, who died in youth; John C. (postmaster), William, Andrew, Agnes, Robert and Mary (wife of C. F. Thompson). Miss Agnes McKean was the first postmistress at Charleroi and also the first telegraph operator, receiving and sending the first message received or sent from Charleroi. The mother of these children died in April, 1890. (2)

John C. McKean was born October 18, 1854, and reared near Mansfield, Penn., and worked on the home place during boyhood. He then followed farming and gardening for some years, afterward purchasing a half interest in a packet running from Lock No. 4 to Brownsville. He conducted that business about nine months, then resumed the occupation of a gardener and fruit raiser, shipping his products to Pittsburgh, and successfully continued in the work about nine years. On March 4, 1877, he was united in marriage with Lusettie B., daughter of W. P. Spakeman, a resident of Pittsburgh, Penn., and she has borne him the following children: Lillie B., Alice K., Nettie G., Charles S., Mary E. (deceased), and James S. Mr. McKean superintended the excavating and cementing of the Glass Works plant, his work proving eminently satisfactory. In politics he is a loyal Republican, and in 1891 he was appointed postmaster at Charleroi, receiving his commission in 1892. In religion he is a member of the Presbyterian Church. He owns about twenty acres of the original plot of Charleroi. Mr. McKean is a very popular and useful citizen, actively interested in all public improvements. (3) 

William R. McKean, a florist and one of the highly esteemed citizens of Charleroi, Pa., comes of that branch of the McKean family which at one time owned a large amount of the land upon which the present site of Charleroi is located. He was born December 23, 1857, at Ingram, Allegheny County, Pa., and is a son of Robert and Jeanette (Caird) McKean. 

Robert McKean was a gardener and a truck farmer during his active career, and was a large land owner, having at one time a tract of 220 acres, which lie in the heart of the borough of Charleroi, and also owned the Thomas Red and William McMahon farms which also form the present site of Charleroi. He was for some time engaged in truck farming at Mansfield, Alegheny County, then came to Washington, January 1, 1866, and located on the farm which he purchased the previous year. Here he engaged in truck farming on a large scale until the town of Charleroi was laid out, when he disposed of his land to the Charleroi Land Company, retaining about fifty-one acres, one of which our subject now resides upon, the remaining fifty acres lying on a hill, being on the other side of Fifth street. Robert McKean died October 24, 1893, and his wife died April 29, 1890. They were the parents of eight children: James S., who died April 29, 1900, was a prominent banker, president of the Union Trust Company of Pittsburg, and served as postmaster of that city for four years; William, who died aged three years; John C., who is a resident of Charleroi; William R., the subject of this sketch; Andrew C., who lives at Charleroi; Agnes (Mrs. Stewart and Robert A., both of whom reside at Pittsburg; and Mary, who married C. F. Thompson. 

William R. McKean was reared on his father's farm, where he assisted his father in gardening and has for years been owner of a floral establishment, his greenhouses being located on the corner of Third and Lincoln streets. He was united in marriage with Ida Maguire, a daughter of Howard E. and Mary (Atkinson) Maguire. She was born and reared in Greenville, Mercer County, Pa. Mr. and Mrs. McKean have two children: James S. and Mary Jeanette. Mr. McKean is a Knight Templar Mason. (4)

JAMES STITT McKEAN, Pittsburg's model postmaster, was born in New Abbey, Dumfrieshire, Scotland, January 28, 1850. The same year his parents emigrated to the United States and took up their residence at Newburg, N. Y. In the following year they removed to Allegheny, and shortly afterwards went to Chartiers Creek. Here they resided until the close of the war, the coming Postmaster attending the district school and the Mansfield Academy. 

In 1866 the family removed to Washington County, settling at the place now known as Charleroi, where Mr. McKean worked on his father's farm. 

In 1876 he came to Pittsburg, and with Mr. W. G. Duff established the agricultural implement firm of Duff & McKean. The firm prospered, and Mr. McKean by his geniality of disposition and other admirable qualities attached to himself many valuable friends, so that, when the time came for the appointment of a postmaster by President Harrison, his claims to the position were urged by the best people of the two cities, and the President readily decided in his favor. 

Mr. McKean was commissioned Postmaster December 20, 1889, and took charge of the office February 1, 1890. His predecessor had left affairs in excellent shape, but to the business-like mind of Mr. McKean there was room for doing still better, and he set out to make his office equal, if not superior, to any other in the country in every detail of management. That he has been successful in this undertaking is attested by the splendid service furnished and the acknowledgments of Mr. McKean's efficiency publicly volunteered by his superiors. (5)

About sixty-five years ago a Scotchman named Robert McKean emigrated from his native land and went directly to the Monongahela Valley. purchasing one of the farms where the town of Charleroi now stands. Other farms that made up the present site of the "Magic City" were owned years ago by Thomas Redd and William McMahan. In 1870 the Pennsylvania Railroad was built up the Monongahela Valley. and a station was established at the site of the present town, which was called "Railroad Crossing." In the course of years a glass manufacturing plant was erected near the station, and a little town grew up around the factory. In 1890 the railroad erected a station and changed the name to Charleroi.

It was in this same year, 1890, that A. F. Chandler, M. J. Alexander, George W. Crouse and A. M. Sloan organized the Charleroi Land Company. They purchased the farm of the late Robert McKean and laid out a plan of lots, which was the beginning of the present town. These lots were sold at auction and almost immediately a building boom started. The men who purchased lots were enterprising, and almost in a night a substantial city was erected. Its growth was so rapid that within less than two years the people saw the necessity of a municipal government, and on February 8. 1892. a borough charter was granted by the court. Much credit is due James S. McKean, a son of Robert McKean, for the development of the city. It was through his influence that the McKean farm was selected as the site of the town. He was postmaster of Pittsburgh at one time years ago and later held a position in the Union Trust Company of that city until his death. Besides being the center of an immense coal district Charleroi has many industries, one of the principal ones being the MacBeth Evans Glass Company. Although this town is only thirty-five years old, many interesting details of its early history cannot be secured, as those who are in a position to know have failed to respond to urgent requests for information, and therefore it will have to be left to some future historian.


(1)   Commemorative biographical record of Washington county

(2)   Commemorative biographical record of Washington county

(3)   Commemorative biographical record of Washington county

(4)   20th Century History of the City of Washington and Washington County, Pennsylvania &c

(5)   All Sorts of Pittsburgers Sketched in Prose and Verse

(6)   A History of Washington County, Pennsylvania