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Ancestors of Charles Greenleigh McKinney

Generation No. 1

       1. Charles Greenleigh McKinney, born 08 08 1847 in Danville, Sumter Co., Georgia; died 10 16 1926 in Everglades City, Collier Co, Florida. He was the son of 2. Valentine McKinney and 3. Willey D. He married (1) Martha J.1. He married (2) Martha Susan Starling 1886 in Key West, Monroe County, Florida. She was the daughter of Solomon Starling and Sarah Hawthorn.

Notes for Charles Greenleigh McKinney:
Grandpa McKinney was born in Danville, Ga (DANVILLE was in Sumter Co., which was created in 1831 out of Lee Co, shortly after the Civil War, Danville disappeared) but it appears that the family moved to Columbia County, Florida shortly thereafter since the US was giving land to settlers through the 1842 Armed Occupation Act. Per Alice's notes of discussions with family they moved to Florida in 1854

Columbia County is located in the Central Highlands of Florida just south of the State line.

Grandpa McKinney's father was a blacksmith, wheelwright, carpenter and shoemaker. Grandpa McKinney made shoes for the neighbors during the Civil War.

He was conscripted into the army at 17 and served w/Capt Hendry's company at Ft. Meade, Florida under Major Mornelim.

After the war, he went back to Coumbia Co, Florida and moonshined for awhile.

Went to Texas where he worked as a carpenter for $30. a month in gold.

When he was in Texas, he roomed with an English doctor who taught him about medicines (which he used alot on Chokoloskee) as well as mid-wiferery, he was registered with the Board of Health in Jacksonville, FL.

When he came back to Florida, he homesteaded on the Santa Fe River in Columbia/Alachua Co., Florida where he had 160 acres, he eventually sold 120 but kept the 40 acres that was on the river, he sawed lumber for the SF & WRR, he had a mill/dam which he built by hand to mill rice. He was about 10 miles for Newnansville.

Was the postmaster at Joella & High Springs, Florida

He was married at this time and left a wife and three children for Grandma McKinney.

The ALACHUA CO CENSUS of 6/18/1880 shows:
Charles G. McKinney - Blacksmith age 33 Newnansville precint - Alachua Co
Wife - Martha J age 30
Daugther Lillie - age 6 in school
Son Thomas J age 4

When he first went to the Everglades, he lived on an island up the Turner's River. The island was eventually named McKinney Island. He grew cabbage, eggplants, cucumbers, bananas and tomatoes. He also built a saw mill.

The majority of the Everglades including Chokoloskee Island was part of Monroe County and Key West was the largest city next to Tampa in Southern Florida. Miami did not exist, however, Lemon City on the east cost of Florida is referred to many times in writings of and from the era.

He would trap aligators, to sell the skins for .50 for a 7ft hide. He also shot birds for plummage but saw the crows taking the babies from the nest after he had killed the females and swore never to do it again.

He also homesteaded on an island that after the first crop was barren because of the trees being chopped down - he called the place "Needhelp". Several other families homesteaded on the island including Hannah Smith who would later become E.J. Watson's housekeeper and when she was killed by Watson's foreman - Leslie Cox - the islanders banded together and shot Watson.

Grandpa McKinney was not in on the shooting and stated he didn't hear a thing when questioned by Sherriff Tippins from Lee County.
When he moved to Chokoloskee (which was the named he gave the island, it is Seminole for "old home". He opened a general store/warehouse on Easy Street - bay front

Around 1900, he gave the Church of God the church bell along with part of the land the original church was built on and where the new church stands now.

Opened a post office on Chokoloskee.

In the Lee Co Census of 4/30/1910 it shows
McKinney, Charley age 62, married 2, this marriage 24 yrs
his father born S.C., mother - N.C.
Wife: Susan age 52 married 2, 4 children born Fla
her father born Alabama Mother GA

Son 12
Daughter Willie 16 married 1 yr 1 child, widowed occupation stenographer

For 20 yrs (until his death), McKinney wrote weekly notes for The American Eagle writting under the Nom de Plume - Progress.

His death received several large notations in both the American Eagle and the Collier County News. His writings have been recommended by The Miami Herald as late as 1971 as excellent readings for history buffs.


"The Story of Chokoloskee Bay Country" - Charlton W. Tebeau - Banyan Books - Miami, Florida Library of Congress #75 43288 (author acknowledges and credits the earlier part of the Chokoloskee story to him)

"The Killing of Mr. Watson" - Peter Mathieson (the author relied heavily on his weekly columns to get a feel of the day to day happenings on Chokoloskee for the book)

"True Tales of the Everglades" - Stuart McIver - Florida Flair Books

More About Charles Greenleigh McKinney:
Buried: 10 17 1926, Chololoskee, Collier County, Florida2
Fact 4: Served in the Confederate Army at Ft. Meade, FL3
Occupation: farmer, postmaster, carpenter, mid-wife4
Ethnic/Religion: Church of God
Comment 1: 1869, Went to Tx worked for L.G. Moses5
Comment 2: 1886, Moved to Chokoloskee

Notes for Martha Susan Starling:
Henry County Alabama was named for the Revolutionary War patriot, Patrick Henry. It was created in 181 from Conecuh county. It was reduced to it's present day size by the creation of Pike and Covington counties in 1821 and Dale in 1824 land Barbour in 1832, Houston in 1903. The county seat is Abbeville.

Martha Starling family lived in a small town very close the White Springs... and the family tale seems to be that she met Charlie when he had the "Jook house" (saloon) in White Springs that he was helping his brother's widow run... it seems that she and Charlie ran away and lived some time in Arcadia and then went to Key West and was married there before going to Chokoloskee island (per Freddie and some writings from Alice).

Was married before she married Charlie Mckinney, the husband died from a fever and she almost died.

Made quilts by the dozens, that was the way she passed the time... everyone can remeber having a quilt made by her.

More About Martha Susan Starling:
Buried: Chokoloskee, Collier Co., Florida
Fact 4: Known to everyone as Grandma McKinney
Ethnic/Religion: Church of God
Medical Information: had a fever as a young woman lost all her hair and when it grew back in it was curly

       Children of Charles McKinney and Martha J. are:

i.   Lillie McKinney, born 1874.

ii.   Thomas J. McKinney, born 1876.
       Children of Charles McKinney and Martha Starling are:

i.   Lilly Lee McKinney, born 01 04 1889 in Chokoloskee Island, Collier Co, Florida; died 04 24 1952 in Bonita Springs, Collier Co, Florida; married Charles Christopher Johnson 06 30 1904 in Russell Island, Florida6.

More About Lilly Lee McKinney:
Buried: 1954, Bonita Springs, Collier Co., Florida
Cause of Death: heart attack
Medical Information: Ft. Myers - Lee Memorial Hospital
Notes for Charles Christopher Johnson:
HAWKINSVILLE, FL was in Lake County along the St. Johns River, 1858 it was known as Ledworth Camp, changed to OSCEOLA by EH Crow, but freight shipments intended for Osceola County were being sent to Ledworth Camp so in 1870 it was changed to Hawkinsville and in 1888 to Crow's Bluff. (per Reference Dest @ Florida State Archives - 1/28/97).

There is a discrepancy as to the year of birth for Charles Christopher Johnson - the Draft cards from Lee County of 1917 show his date of birth as 2/22/1874

C.G. McKinney's column in the American Eagle on October 12, 1909 mentions "Charley Johnson slaughtered his hogs and sold the meat for .15 a lb."

He is mentioned several times in Peter Mattiessen's "KILLING MISTER WATSON" and was one of the islanders that took part in the shooting of E.J. Watson in October 1910.

One of Charlie Johnnson relatives - Hub Johnson was steamboat captain, very notorious... was being hunted down by KKK, they tried to sneak up on him at his homestead, he saw them coming, shot all of them, ran out of Jacksonville with a Barber daughter, they put hex on him or cattle.

Dennis remembers that Charlie Johnson was living in Arcadia for awhile... but shot a man and went on the run to Chocoloskee (which is where alot of men went who wanted to be forgotten). Freddie recalls that Charlie Johnson's father was a railroad engineer and when they moved to Arcadia he brought with him a governess (school marm) that continue to educate the Johnson children. Young Charlie seemed to take to alchemy and was a tinker/inventor his entire life. The family tale seems to be that Charlie figured out how to goldplate silver dollars and would pass them off at the railroad stations and the Sheriff at Sandhill figured out that the counterfeit gold dollars appeared at the same time the train came through town. Charlie heard that the were waiting for him, skipped town and headed to parts unknown which seemed to be Ft. Myers/Punta Rassa and them by boat to Chocoloskee. In a book about the Florida cattlemen it mentions that The Lykes Brothers had driven their cattle to Punta Rassa (which was now where Ft. Myers Beach seems to be... there was a natural deep harbor that could accomodate the larger boats to ship the cattle to Key West and Cuba) and that the mosquitos were so bad that they slept at the end of the docks and that the only good night's sleep was had when a "Charley Johnson kept watch on the herd while they slept".

He married Lily McKinney and they had 8 children (only 4 lived to adult-hood).
Lily McKinney's bible shows that Charlie was from Fakahatchee and that they were married on Russell Island.

4/30/1910 Lee Co Census shows:

Charley Johnson age 35 married 5 yrs
father born GA, mother born GA
Lillie age 22 married 5 yrs 4 children - none living

Mack age 22 mother born GA Father Ala

Charlie Johnson lived all over Southwestern Florida and no one can ever remember him working for another man. He brought land on speculation and then sold it year later and lived off the proceeds, he would farm land that he leased or had an agreement with someone to split profits. He lived on a piece of land in Naples that was on a bay and that bay was named after him - Johnson Bay.

He always had "gold fever" and prospected all over Peace River for the gold that the pirates from Captiva supposedly buried up the river. As a child I can remember going with Momma to camp sites way up near Arcadia, that you had to drive through the cow pastures to get to. Grandpa would get a group of men (investors) together and they would front the money to get the pumps, gear and whatever Grandpa needed and Grandpa would stay at the camp all the time and the other men would come and go, waiting to find the buried treasures.

He became well-known for his knowledge of all the shipwrecks around Florida and all information about bills of lading, destination, which storms they sank in and where they should be located. Mel Fisher came to our home many times to talk to Grandpa about the different ships.

More About Charles Christopher Johnson:
SS#: SS#264-52-0694
Buried: Bonita Springs, Collier Co., Florida

ii.   Alice Jane McKinney, born 05 28 1892 in Chokoloskee Island, Collier Co., Florida7; died in Chokoloskee Island, Collier Co., Florida8; married John J. Brown 1912 in Marco Island, Florida9.

More About John J. Brown:
Buried: Chokoloskee, Collier Co., Florida
Occupation: boat builder, finish carpenter, house builder, motor mechanic, mason work
Cause of Death: cancer

iii.   Willie Corrinne McKinney, born 08 08 1893 in Chokoloskee, Collier, Florida10; died WFT Est. 1911-198711; married (1) Daniel House12; married (2) John Raymond Demere 190713.

iv.   Charles Augustus McKinney, born 01 14 1887 in Chokoloskee, Collier Co, Florida14; died 07 09 1975 in Chokoloskee, Florida15; married Kathleen Louise Demere 07 17 1910 in Chokoloskee, Florida16.

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