Walter McAtee (1756-1833) Revolutionary War Veteran

Most online family trees will show that Walter McAtee is the son of Patrick McAtee Jr. and his wife, Maria Shircliff. That information has been online and in other published versions of the McAtee genealogies for so long, new researchers probably think it is a fact–and based on some record. However, if one tries to reverse-engineer the “research” that has come up with this connection, he or she will find that the parentage of Walter is not based on any records. Rather, it is based on the proximity of Walter McAtee–one of the Catholic members of the McAtee family–to some other Catholic McAtees, particularly, Henry Maurice McAtee, a proven son of Patrick McAtee, Jr and Maria Shircliff.

Is there any proof that Walter McAtee’s parents are Patrick and Maria Shircliff McAtee? Is there proof that someone else is his father? Through careful research, and linking several records from four different counties in two different states, these two questions will be answered: no—there is no proof of Walter being son of Patrick; yes—there is proof of someone else.

There were several McAtees who lived in Nelson and Washington Counties, Kentucky. Nelson County Deed show that Thomas McAtee owned land that straddled the county line.[1] Henry McAtee purchased land in Washington County, next to Thomas.[2] Henry was born in Maryland in 1764. Some online trees say that he was born in 1754, but every single record about Henry confirms that he was born between 1760 and 1770. A marriage record (written in Latin) from the Catholic church in Perry County, Missouri, gives Henry’s age as 72 in 1836.[3] It also names his parents–Patrick McAtee and Maria Shakley. Shakley supposedly being a variation of a very common colonial Maryland named, Shircliff.

Previous researchers simply assumed that since Walter McAtee was born about 1756 in Maryland, and since he also lived in Nelson County, Kentucky, there must be a relationship. Too quickly, those previous researchers assumed that relationship to be brotherhood. Proximity is the only connection that one could use here. There are no records in Kentucky that give Walter’s parents’ names. That he was Catholic does not narrow down the possibilities because at least three lines of Catholic McAtees settled in North-Central Kentucky.[4]

There are no deeds or other records showing any close relationship between Henry McAtee and Walter McAtee. They were never witnesses or bondsmen for each other.  Henry moved to Kentucky by 1789 when he appears on the Nelson County tax lists next to Samuel and William Pottinger.[5] Thomas appears in 1790 in the household of John Melton.[6] Walter McAtee did not move to Kentucky until 1811,[7] a full decade after Henry and Thomas.  Thomas died in 1796 or 1797.[8] Henry moved to Missouri by 1819, when he disappears from the tax lists.[9] After Washington County was created out of Nelson in 1792, Henry was always listed in Washington County tax lists.[10]  Walter was always listed in Nelson County.[11] 

RECORDS ARE AMAZING THINGS! What records are available to help correctly identify Walter’s parents?

Walter was a Revolutionary War veteran and he left pension applications which give a nearly complete history of his life and migrations.[12] On a page within the pension file (which can be found on Fold3.com) are written these words: “…Walter McAtee…aged 75 years…. Your applicant was born in Charles County in the state of Maryland he believes in the year 1756….He resided in Charles County at the time he was called into the service, He has since lived in Prince Georges County Md afterwards in Montgomery County Maryland, till the fall 1811 when he removed with his family to Nelson County, Ky where he has remained ever since.”[13] The file continues with details of his military career.

Mary, the widow of Walter, applied for a widow’s pension. A page in the file states that Walter died on 20 February 1833.[14]

 A timeline of the events mentioned in the pension application would look like this:

1756 Charles Co MD Birth 1776 Charles Co MD Enlistment –no date— Prince George’s Co MD –no date— Montgomery Co MD   Fall 1811 To Nelson Co KY 20 Feb 1833 Nelson Co KY Death

Immediately, a conflict arises with the Patrick McAtee Jr to Walter McAtee connection.  Patrick McAtee Jr was in Charles County, Maryland,[15] then in Fairfax County, Virginia,[16] and his last record is in St. Mary’s County, Maryland.[17]  At no time is Walter McAtee of Nelson County, Kentucky, ever in St. Mary’s County, Maryland.  From 1756 on, no records place Patrick Jr. in Charles County, and he never appears in Prince George’s or Montgomery records.

Looking at tax records of Maryland at the time of the Revolutionary War, we find Walter listed–often next to or nearby one John McAtee–who can be identified as John McAtee Jr, the son of John McAtee Sr. Walter appears on the 1775-78 census of Charles County below the name of John McAtee.[18]

Walter is listed on the 1782 Supply Tax list.[19]  This is an alphabetic list of Port Tobacco Hundred in Charles County. Walter is listed near other McAtees including James, John, Susanna, and James of Patrick.  A Bennet Mudd is named in the middle of the McAtees.  In 1783, Walter is again listed in 4th District (Port Tobacco) of Charles County in the 1783 Assessments.[20] Also listed is James of James with 133 acres, John (no land), Walter, a few more names, Bennet Mudd, and then James of Patrick, and Susanna further down the list.  Walter owned two slaves under 7, one 7-14, and one female14-36.[21]  (There was an older John, John Sr, who owned 69 acres land in Pomonkey Hundred.)

Walter is recorded as “furnishing wheat” on 29 Dec 1782 and 3 May 1783 for the use of the Revolutionary forces.[22]

By 1790, the census reports show that John McAtee Sr is still living in Charles County,[23] but John McAtee Jr and Walter McAtee are both listed in Prince George’s County, Maryland.[24] (Another John Macatee is listed in Prince George’s County; he is the John who married a Charity, and later moved to Fairfax County, Virginia in 1796.)[25]  Walter owned six slaves.

1756 Charles Co MD Birth 1776 Charles Co MD Enlistment 1775-78 Walter named Charles Co.   1782 Walter listed near John McAtee 1783 Walter owned 4 slaves. 1790 Prince George’s Co MD census 1810 Montgomery Co MD   Fall 1811 To Nelson Co KY 20 Feb 1833 Nelson Co KY Death

Is it mere coincidence that Walter is listed in Prince George’s County, and Walter in Kentucky mentions living in Prince George’s County? Prince George’s County probates include the will of John McAtee.[26] In the will he names his daughters, Benedicta, Anna, Sarah, Eleanor, and Elizabeth, and his son, Walter. The will was drawn in 1794. Mike Marshall’s site, Early Colonial Settlers of Southern Maryland and Virginia’s Northern Neck Counties, gives Walter a birth year of 1773[27]–that is based on Walter being at least 21 as the executor of his father’s will written in 1794–so Walter was born BEFORE 1773. Since Walter is listed in the 1790 census, with three females and two males under 16, we can be sure he was married with a family in 1790. If the data indicates that he had two sons and two daughters–averaging two years between children–he must have married before 1782. If he was of age 21 at the time of the possible marriage year, then he was born BEFORE 1761.  This makes the 1756 birth year of Walter, the Revolutionary War soldier, fit well as the son of John who wrote the will.

An error made by a previous researcher is found in the works of Mary Louise Donnelly. On page 208 of her work, Charles County Maryland: My Colonial Relations Plus Others, she listed Walter as Walter William, born 1755, but called him a son of John McAtee Sr,[28] thus a brother to John McAtee Jr, who made the will in 1794 PG County. The will clearly states that Walter is the son of John—Junior—since John Senior died in 1792 in Charles County.[29] There are no records that show any brother named Walter; Donnelly made a mistake. This Walter is the first McAtee to bear the forename–there were no other Walter McAtees in any records before this man.[30])

So…Walter, born in 1756…in Charles County until 1783, married, then in Prince George’s County by 1790.  The next place of residence from the pension application was Montgomery County, Maryland.  Walter is listed on page 921 of the 1810 Census of Montgomery Co, MD.[31]

Finally, the pension paper states that Walter moved with his family to Nelson County in 1811.  Walter first appears on the 1812 tax list, and continuously until 1831.  There are no lists existing for the years 1832-1834.[32] Walter is listed in the 1820 census of Nelson County, Kentucky[33] and the 1830 census of Nelson County.[34]

I expect there to be those who nay-say and disbelieve. There are at least 242 online pedigrees at Ancestry.com that list Walter as the child of Patrick McAtee and Maria Shircliff. Not one has evidence–direct or otherwise–to confirm that connection. Produce the evidence that Walter was the son of Patrick and Maria.  The common legend of Patrick McAtee is that he was from St. Mary’s County, Maryland—Walter never lived in St. Mary’s. Patrick was never listed in Prince George’s or Montgomery Counties. If Walter were the son of Patrick, then either Walter should be in St. Mary’s or Patrick should be in PG and Montgomery. These two men–Patrick and Walter–are not found in the same places. Nothing ties them together as father and son; Walter is not the son of Patrick McAtee, Jr and Maria Shircliff.

Walter was probably added into the family of Patrick Jr and Maria Shircliff McAtee based solely on proximity and religion. Since Walter moved to Nelson County, Kentucky, and was Catholic, he must be in Patrick’s family. Try any number of record searches to connect Walter to Patrick and Maria, and you’ll just come up with guesses and hypotheses that do not add up.

What does add up is that there was one Walter born in 1756, who served in the Revolutionary War. He was definitely in Prince George’s County next to John McAtee. The migration of John from Charles County to Prince George’s County matches Walter’s relocation. This circumstantial information suggests a close relationship, but then we have direct evidence: John leaves a will in Prince George’s County naming Walter as his son. Records support every step of this connection all the way to Walter’s death in 1833, Nelson County, Kentucky.

Walter McAtee (1756-1833) is the son of John McAtee, Jr.(1729-1794), the grandson of John McAtee, Sr (1706-1792); the great-grandson of Edmund McAtee (c. 1785-1764), and the great-great-grandson of Patrick and Rosamond McAtee of Charles County, Maryland.

NOTE:  No records were located to confirm the maiden name of Walter’s wife, Mary.  Most sites say she was a Beavan.  Mary’s maiden name was not a focus of this report, but it was troubling that no records surfaced with this supposedly “proved” information.


[1] Nelson KY Deed Book 4, p 319: Samuel Canby to Thomas McAtee, 14 Sep, 1791.

[2] Washington KY Deed Book A, p 114: Samuel Canby to Henry McAtee, 13 Aug, 1793.

[3] Age is given in Marriage Records, Perry County, Missouri, Book “A” 1825-1841 by Audry Lee Wagner Woodruff (p 21).  The original record from the original book is found on page 62 and gives parents’ names of groom (Patrici McAtee and Maria Shakley, his previous wife (Anna Monarche), the brides father (Thomas Forest), and previous husband (Elijha Vessels).

[4] Records do show that besides Henry Maurice and his probable brothers, Thomas and Leonard (from the Patrick McAtee Sr. line), James McAtee, son of Samuel McAtee and Elisha McAtee, son of William (from the Edmund McAtee Sr line) were also living in the area.  The “Corrected and Recorded” McAtee family tree by the author at Ancestry.com shows that Walter is most likely a second cousin to James and Elisha, and a second cousin, once removed to Henry Maurice McAtee.

[5] Nelson County, Kentucky, List of Tithables 1785-1795, Film No. 008188444, image 69 of 166.  https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSLZ-9HS6?i=68&cat=417360

[6] Nelson County, Kentucky, List of Tithables 1785-1795, Film No. 008188444, image 93 of 166.  https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSLZ-94PK?i=92&cat=417360

[7] The pension papers state that Walter moved to Kentucky in 1811.

[8] Thomas appears on the Nelson County KY Tax Lists in 1790 (in household of John Melton), 1791-92 in Nelson, 1794-1796 in Washington County. His widow, Elizabeth appears in 1797, and later Hezekiah Luckett (Elizabeth’s next husband) is noted as paying for Thomas McAtee’s heirs.

[9] Henry does not appear on tax lists until 1789 in Nelson County.  He is listed in Nelson until 1791; in Washington from 1792 to 1817.  There is no 1818 list available.  Henry is not listed on the 1819 list.

[10] Washington County, KY, tax lists are available online at Familysearch.org.  Follow this link to a list of available Tax lists: https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/157409?availability=Family%20History%20Library

[11] Nelson County, KY, tax lists are available online at Familysearch.org.  Follow this link to a list of available Tax lists: https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/156788?availability=Family%20History%20Library

[12] Pension papers downloaded from Fold3.com. 

[13] Ibid.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Patrick McAtee, Jr is named in the 1751 Administration of estate of his brother, Benjamin McAtee and the first inventory and additional inventory.

[16] After the death of his father, Patrick Sr, in 1756, Patrick McAtee Jr. was sued by Samuel Hanson, in Fairfax Co, Virginia, in 1757. 

[17] The 1761 baptism of Susanna Thompson, at St. Joseph’s in St. Mary’s County, Maryland lists Patrick “Machaty” as a sponsor. This must be Patrick McAtee, Jr.  No other Patrick McAtees were alive at that time period.)

[18] Brumbaugh, Gaius Marcus.  Maryland Records: Colonial, Revolutionary, County and Church, Vol.I. Baltimore: Williams & Wilkens, 1915.  See page 303. https://archive.org/details/marylandrecordsc01brumuoft/page/302

[19] 1782 Supply Tax, Charles County, MD. https://www.mdssar.org/sites/default/files/archives/1783taxlists/Charles_Co_MD1782OPT.pdf, see pdf 48/55.

[20] https://msa.maryland.gov/msa/stagser/s1400/s1437/html/1437ch.html

[21] 1783 Supply Tax, Charles County, MD. (Original source for Note 20.) https://www.mdssar.org/sites/default/files/archives/1783taxlists/Charles_Co_MD1783OPT.pdf

[22] Peden, Henry Jr. Maryland Public Service Records 1775-1783. Westminster, MD: Willow Bend Books, 2002.

[23] 1790 Federal Census, Charles County, MD, p 578. https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33S7-9YY8-SV7S?i=19&cc=1803959&personaUrl=%2Fark%3A%2F61903%2F1%3A1%3AXHKY-MKY

[24] 1790 Federal Census, Prince George’s County, MD, p 304.  https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33S7-9YY8-SVJ2?i=19&cc=1803959&personaUrl=%2Fark%3A%2F61903%2F1%3A1%3AXHKT-PN2

[25] See the blog post by the author, “Pruning the McAtee Family Tree,” and the link to “Two Men Named John McAtee” https://docs.google.com/document/d/1h6DDJQe6tk9Ol-fV1wu352YyHuODzRn5Vx5slkrQVq0/edit

[26] Prince George’s County, MD, Will Book T 1, p 353. Will of John McAtee.

[27] https://www.colonial-settlers-md-va.us/getperson.php?personID=I053586&tree=Tree1

[28] Donnelly, Mary Louise.  Charles County, Maryland: My Colonial Relations Plus Others, 2006.  See page 208 for profile of Walter McAtee.  See page 200 for information of John McAtee Jr which is confused and combined with information of John McAtee of Fairfax Co, VA, who was also in Prince George’s County in 1790.  See Note 24.

[29] Charles County, Maryland, Wills 1791-1801 (Hall of Records), p. 130: Will of John McAtee, Sr.

[30] The Rootsweb page “McAtees Mostly” lists a Walter McAtee born 1728, the son of Patrick McAtee and Ann Baggott.  There are many contradictions at the McAtees Mostly site.  I have published about Patrick McAtee, Sr who was married twice (first to Sarah Green, and second to Ann (maiden name unconfirmed), and died in 1756.  His children are listed in the 1751 Admin of one Benjamin McAtee.  No Walter is listed, so he either died before 1751 or he never existed.  No records show any other Walters until a younger Walter, born between 1770-1774, became an adult and lived in Allegany County, Maryland, where he died in 1833.

[31] 1810 Federal Census, Montgomery County, MD, p. 921. https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33S7-9YBS-X9J?i=5&cc=1803765&personaUrl=%2Fark%3A%2F61903%2F1%3A1%3AXH2X-T4Y

[32] See Note 11.

[33] 1820 Federal Census, Nelson County, Kentucky, p.5. https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33SQ-GYY1-SCWG?i=7&cc=1803955

[34] 1830 Federal Census, Nelson County, Kentucky, p. 157. https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33SQ-GYYF-2HH?i=26&cc=1803958&personaUrl=%2Fark%3A%2F61903%2F1%3A1%3AXHPG-4G9