Named for Alabama's first United States Supreme Court Justice, John McKinley made his home in Florence, Alabama from about 1821 to 1842. Born May 1, 1780 in Culpepper County, Virginia, he died July 19, 1852 and is buried in Louisville, Kentucky. McKinley was an early setter of Huntsville, Alabama and resided in the Howard Weeden Home. As a member of the Cypress Land Company, he was one of the seven founders of Florence in 1818. McKinley helped establish one of Florence's first schools and its first church. First Presbyterian Church.
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McKinley was an early benefactor of public education in Alabama by donating land for the current Athens State University and serving on the original Board of Trustees for the University of Alabama. As a local lawyer, he gained regional status as an Alabama Legislator and national status in both the U.S. House and Senate. His work in Congress on the first Florence Canal establishes him as the "Spiritual Father of TVA." While a resident of Florence in 1838, McKinley was sworn in as the 23rd Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court where he served until his death.