Your Views: McKee amassed wealth in Philadelphia not Alexandria

Your Views: McKee amassed wealth in Philadelphia not Alexandria
Colonel John McKee. (Photo/Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture)

To the editor:

Char McCargo Bah, in her July 8 column “The Other Alexandria: Colonel John McKee, from indenture to millionaire,” claims that “John McKee was one of Alexandria’s most successful African Americans” and “was known as the wealthiest African American in not only the city but the country.”

Bah’s sweeping assertion is simply untrue. True, McKee was born a free indentured servant in Alexandria in 1819; however, as Bah notes elsewhere, “(i)n 1840, at the age of 21, McKee … migrated to Philadelphia where he found work in a livery stable.”

What Bah fails to mention is that McKee neither returned to nor reestablished residence in Alexandria during his lifetime. The millions he amassed was as a Philadelphia resident.

The Baltimore Afro American Ledger, dated April 12, 1902, states, “John McKee, Philadelphia’s Richest Negro dead. – Founder and Owner of McKee City, New Jersey, and Thousands of Real Acres of Real Estate Elsewhere – Was Possibly the Wealthiest Negro in the Country.”

-Craig Taylor, Alexandria