An Essay By Kevin Brian Dowling
Founding Fathers, Lost Sons
In the 1st century BC, Coll-Vuias reigned as the 121st Monarch of all Ireland. He was the progenitor of the Highlander Clan McDonald, whose members invaded and took possession of the western coast and islands of Scotland in 262 AD. They were known as the 'Lords of the Isles'. Over the ensuing centuries the McKean branch of the family spread back to Ireland and England.
In 1725 William and Susannah McKean immigrated from Ireland to Chester County in the Pennsylvania Colony. Their grandson, Thomas McKean, was born there in 1734. He went on to sign the Declaration of Independence and the Constitutions of Delaware, Pennsylvania and the United States of America. During the Revolutionary War he simultaneously served in the Continental Congress for Delaware and as the first Chief Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. He established the legal system still used today.
He was the President of Congress when General George Washington sent a despatch rider announcing the surrender of Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown, Virginia. His good friend, John Adams, described him as 'One of the three men in the Continental Congress who appeared to me to see more clearly to the end of the business than any others in the body'.
He was a pallbearer for the funeral of another friend, Benjamin Franklin. He went on to serve three terms as the second Governor of Pennsylvania.
In 1738 his cousin James McKean was born in London, and soon immigrated to Orange County in the New York Colony. James McKean was my fourth great grandfather. His son Jesse begat Josiah, who begat John William, who begat John Frederick, who begat Christine Ann McKean in 1919. She was my mother.
I worked hard to make my mother proud. I had a successful marriage and three wonderful children. I built a solid twenty year career as a manager and investigator, protecting the lives and property of clients, customers and employees alike.
It has been said that people with destinies often die old and unhappy, or young and unfinished. Destiny can be thwarted by persons and events completely unrelated to your fate, or chosen path.
In 1997 my life was taken from me and my family destroyed. My destiny was derailed by bad people with bad motives. Being an innocent man on death row in the same state where my ancestor was the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and the second Governor seems a cruel irony.
When the police spoke to a man who supervised me for five years he said "Dowling was an Area Manager in my district. He was a very meticulous person who would always have his I's dotted and T's crossed. He was a go-getter with a good nose for dishonest people."
A lost son is what they believe me to be, but a lost cause I am not. Men steel their resolve in battle or in the face of impossible odds, often by recalling the courage and exploits of their ancestors
There were many prominent McKeans throughout American history, but none more prominent to me than my dear late mother. I am the Son of a McKean and I inherited all of her Scot-Irish work ethic and determination.
As I sleep, I smell the salty freedom of the Irish Sea. I march into battle to the beat of ancient Celtic drums and the primordial urgings of ancient Celtic pipes. I seek the strength of all my Highlander kinsmen, whose blood flows through my veins. I endeavour to persevere.
Kevin Brian Dowling,