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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2015

Where did the Irish Karnes family come from? What is the Irish Karnes family crest and coat of arms? When did the Karnes family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Karnes family history?

Gaelic, otherwise known as Early Modern Irish, was used in Ireland from around the year 1200 until the 18th century. It is from this language that we found the first references to the name Karnes as O Ciarain or Mac Ciarain. These names are derived from the word "ciar," which means "black" or "dark brown."


Pronunciation, rather than spelling, guided scribes and church officials when recording names during the Middle Ages. This practice often resulted in one person's name being recorded under several different spellings. Numerous spelling variations of the surname Karnes are preserved in these old documents. The various spellings of the name that were found include Kieran, O'Kieran, Keiran, Keighran, O'Keiran, Kerin and many more.

First found in County Mayo (Irish: Maigh Eo) located on the West coast of the Republic of Ireland in the province of Connacht, where they held a family seat from ancient times.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Karnes research. Another 199 words(14 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Karnes History in all our PDF Extended History products.


More information is included under the topic Early Karnes Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


A massive amount of Ireland's native population left the island in the 19th century for North America and Australia in hopes of finding more opportunities and an escape from discrimination and oppression. A great portion of these migrants arrived on the eastern shores of the North American continent. Although they were generally poor and destitute, and, therefore, again discriminated against, these Irish people were heartily welcomed for the hard labor involved in the construction of railroads, canals, roadways, and buildings. Many others were put to work in the newly established factories or agricultural projects that were so essential to the development of what would become two of the wealthiest nations in the world. The Great Potato Famine during the late 1840s initiated the largest wave of Iris immigration. Early North American immigration and passenger lists have revealed a number of people bearing the name Karnes or a variant listed above:

Karnes Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • J Karnes, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1850
  • Mary Karnes, aged 23, who landed in America, in 1896

Karnes Settlers in United States in the 20th Century

  • William Jefferson Karnes, who emigrated to the United States, in 1904
  • Mrs. W. Les Karnes, aged 42, who emigrated to America, in 1905
  • W. Les Karnes, aged 45, who landed in America, in 1905
  • Luna Karnes, aged 35, who emigrated to the United States, in 1908
  • William Lee Karnes, aged 30, who landed in America, in 1910


  • Sergeant James Ernest "Buck" Karnes (1889-1966), United States Army soldier who received the Medal of Honor
  • Dave Karnes (b. 1958), American Marine, rescuer of several survivors of the September 11, 2001 attacks
  • Jay Karnes (b. 1963), American actor
  • Henry Wax Karnes (1812-1840), American soldier and figure of the Texas Revolution
  • Robert A. Karnes (1917-1979), prolific television actor
  • David Kemp Karnes (b. 1948), United States Senator from Nebraska
  • Karen Karnes, American ceramist
  • Brixton Karnes (b. 1970), American actor
  • Mrs. Claire Karnes (d. 1912), (née Bennett), aged 28, American Second Class passenger from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania who sailed aboard the RMS Titanic and died in the sinking


The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Fidens et constans
Motto Translation: Stand firm on trust.


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  1. Crozier, William Armstrong Edition. Crozier's General Armory A Registry of American Families Entitled to Coat Armor. New York: Fox, Duffield, 1904. Print.
  2. Matthews, John. Matthews' American Armoury and Blue Book. London: John Matthews, 1911. Print.
  3. MacLysaght, Edward. The Surnames of Ireland 3rd Edition. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1978. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-2278-0).
  4. Johnson, Daniel F. Irish Emigration to New England Through the Port of Saint John, New Brunswick Canada 1841-1849. Baltimore, Maryland: Clearfield, 1996. Print.
  5. The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X).
  6. MacLysaght, Edward. Irish Families Their Names, Arms and Origins 4th Edition. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-2364-7).
  7. Heraldic Scroll and Map of Family names and Origins of Ireland. Dublin: Mullins. Print.
  8. Vicars, Sir Arthur. Index to the Prerogative Wills of Ireland 1536-1810. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
  9. Woodham-Smith, Cecil. The Great Hunger Ireland 1845-1849. New York: Old Town Books, 1962. Print. (ISBN 0-88029-385-3).
  10. Best, Hugh. Debrett's Texas Peerage. New York: Coward-McCann, 1983. Print. (ISBN 069811244X).
  11. ...

The Karnes Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Karnes Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 12 February 2014 at 16:59.

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