Eliza Ritchey McKee

Eliza Ritchey McKeeEliza Ritchey McKeeEliza Ritchey was born in Cannonsburg, Washington County, Pennsylvania on July 25, 1802 to Craig and Mary Ritchey. Craig came to America from Scotland in his youth and Mary was a product of the Virginia gentry.

Eliza grew up in pleasant circumstances in Cannonsburg and in her twenty fourth year married Redick McKee, a devout Presbyterian lad from nearby McKeesport (named after his family, of course) and moved in with her family.

Then the children started coming:

  • John in 1826;
  • William in 1828;
  • Andrew in 1830;
  • Eliza (stillborn) in 1833;
  • Henry in 1834;
  • Sarah in 1836;
  • Redick, Jr. in 1838.

In 1840 the family moved to Wheeling, Virginia (later West Virginia) while Redick Senior was engaged in various business enterprises. Surprising nobody at the time their last child, David, was born in Wheeling.

President Fillmore appointed Redick Senior as a “Commissioner To California,” a fancy name for an “Indian Agent.” Redick chose his eldest son, John, as a partner and together they began planning for their exploration of Northern California and Oregon to meet the local Indian tribes.
Eliza’s home was a busy one but one touched by tragedy. Baby Eliza was stillborn in 1833 and young Charles died in 1838 at age 7. Both Henry and Redick Junior died in 1840.

When Redick and John headed off to California Eliza moved the family to Ohio, Virginia until 1861 when they followed to San Francisco in order to be close to Redick and John.

Along with his work among the Indians Redick also managed to found several Presbyterian churches around San Francisco and Sacramento. He and Eliza
became part of the Sacramento gentry and rubbed elbows with other well known Sacramento people.

Redick was often called to Washington, D.C. to give testimony to the Indian Commission. Although he negotiated 18 treaties with Northern California Indian tribes none were ever ratified by the Congress.

Redick gave up the Commission appointment and satisfied himself by continuing to establish Presbyterian churches and involving himself in civic affairs along with Eliza. Both enjoyed a society life in San Francisco and Sacramento until Eliza’s passing on April 22, 1871.

Eliza was interred in the McKee family plot in Oakhill Cemetery in Washington, DC.