Guns and Gods in my Genes


Neill McKee takes the reader through 400 years and 15,000 miles of an on-the-road adventure, discovering stories of his peaceful Scots-Irish ancestors in Canada, while uncovering their attitudes towards religion and guns.


His adventure turns south and west as he follows the trail of his maternal grandfather, a Canadian preacher who married an American woman in Wisconsin in 1895, and braved the American Wild West from 1904 to 1907, finding a two-story brothel across from one of his churches and a sheriff who owned a saloon and dance hall, while carrying a gun with 20 notches, one for each man he had killed. 


Much to his surprise, McKee finds his American ancestors were involved in every major conflict on North American soil: the Civil War, the American Revolution, and the French and Indian War. In the last chapters, McKee discovers and documents his Pilgrim ancestors who arrived on the Mayflower, landing at Plymouth in 1620, and their Puritan descendants who fought in the early Indian Wars of New England.


With the help of professional genealogical research, he tracks down and tells the stories of the heroes, villains, rascals, as well as, the godly and ordinary folk in his genes, discovering many facts and exposing myths. He also lets readers in on a personal struggle: whether to apply for Canadian-United States dual citizenship or remain only a Canadian.

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Guns and Gods in My Genes is a poignant, intense exploration of research into the author’s ancestry where he begins in the modern day, talking to relatives and descendants in both the US and Canada, and gradually takes the reader back through 400 years to his first ancestors who arrived on the Mayflower. 

352 pages / 116 photos & illustrations / 6.0 x 9.0 

Paperback ISBN: 978-1-7329457-3-9. $22.95

Ebook ISBN: 978-1-7329457-4-7. $10.95

Subjects: Travel Memoir / Family Genealogy / US and Canadian History / Firearms and Warfare / Religion / Social Life and Customs / Puritans and Pilgrims / Mayflower Descendants


Praise for

Guns and Gods in my Genes



"I smiled as I read. I had a tear appear here or there. I smiled again, traveling at the author's pace. McKee's venture gave me rewards that I can feel and will pass along to others. As I share the many stories I personally tell in the future, McKee has given me another to about how to properly write the story of Family. It is magnificently done!"


—Ronald G. Taylor, Historian & Genealogist, Western New York


"Guns and Gods in My Genes is a poignant, intense exploration of research into the author’s ancestry where he begins in the modern day, talking to relatives and descendants in both the US and Canada, and gradually takes the reader back through 400 years to 

his first ancestors who arrived on he Mayflower. He seeks to answer the question of what ethics and philosophy he has inherited over the centuries to help him understand how he should feel about God and guns. As a Canadian citizen, he is conflicted about becoming a US citizen because of the American attitude toward and laws pertaining to guns. His research is deep and wide and raises many thought-provoking questions. A fast-paced and fascinating read."


—Gayle Lauradunn, Poet and Author, Albuquerque, New Mexico

"As I read Neill McKee's book, the facts about his ancestors forced me to take a new look about my "who am I?" story. McKee's writing told me that what his ancestors were facing is connected to things my family and I face right now. I am thinking differently now about using the tools and techniques in his book to learn more about my own family history, and to escape old false beliefs, and embed better attitudes and relationships. Thanks, Neill McKee, for writing this book."


Charles Mann Rolison, Retired, Albuquerque, New Mexico

"I absolutely love this book. Couldn’t put it down once I started reading. It is entertaining, interesting, and factual, with some humor thrown in. A wonderful mix of people, their interactions with their neighbors, and the indigenous population around them within the time frame in which they lived. Neill McKee has created a wonderful history of the growth of the US and Canada. The way he included stories of people living at the time and places our ancestors lived made history come alive. Great job!"


—Gwenda McCurdy, Avid Reader, Brampton, Ontario


"Neill McKee has personalized the history of North America since the arrival of his ancestors on the Mayflower like no author I have ever read before. While the story follows the McKee and Neill/Haskins family experiences, it also speaks to the broader settler-indigenous relations, conflicts, and struggles still unfolding in the 21st century. Drawing on family stories and his interactions with concerned

people on both sides of the Canadian-USA border, McKee describes cultural distinctions that significantly inform contrasting assumptions about governance and the Rule of Law, including gun culture and socio-religious underpinnings. All of this is done through vivid descriptions, dialogue, poetic prose, poetry, analytical opinion, and loads of images-a most enjoyable and informative read.

—Ken Frey Ed.D., Management Consultant, Milton, Ontario

"After reading Guns and Gods in my Genes, as a Canadian, I was overwhelmed at the thought that my North American family history stretches so far back in time and is such a significant part of United States history. I was thrilled to learn about the remarkable men and women 

who lived through all the wars, endured religious strife, and carried on with family

farming. I loved the stories of the life and times of my paternal grandfather, a Methodist minister, who ventured into the American West as far as Newcastle, Wyoming, a place with a two-story brothel and a sheriff who carried a gun with 20 notches on its handle. A wonderful historical memoir which, I believe, has universal appeal."


—Catharine Neill, Richmond, British Columbia

"A truly masterful work compiled and written by Neill McKee, detailing the history of our mutual McKee ancestors before and after their arrival in Canada, and his Neill/Haskins ancestors in Canada and the United States. This has been skillfully interwoven with detailed accounts about national history in both countries. McKee possesses a great talent for describing the past in a way that brings it into present-day issues, particularly with regards to guns and law and order. I was very surprised to learn about his mother's side which connects him to all those wars in American history, and the coming of the English Pilgrims on the Mayflower in 1620. This book is definitely a must read for anyone who is interested in family history and genealogy. My thanks to Neill McKee for a job well done!"


—Kenneth McKee, Listowel, Ontario