Show ContentsKeener History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The surname Keener originally appeared in Gaelic as "O Cathain" or "Mac Cathain."

Early Origins of the Keener family

The surname Keener was first found in County Londonderry (Irish: Doire), a Northern Irish county also known as Derry, in the province of Ulster. At one time, the areas was named O'Cahan Country.

Early History of the Keener family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Keener research. Another 130 words (9 lines of text) covering the years 1172, 1196, 1617, 1641, 1644, 1819, 1697, 1757, 1714, 1631 and 1709 are included under the topic Early Keener History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Keener Spelling Variations

A name was often recorded during the Middle Ages under several different spelling variations during the life of its bearer because literacy was rare there was no real push to clearly define any of the languages found in the British Isles at that time. Variations found of the name Keener include Keane, Kane, Kayne, Keaney, Keny, Keyne, O'Kane, O'Keane, O'Cahan, Cahan, Kean, O'Cain, McCloskey, McCluskey, McClaskey and many more.

Early Notables of the Keener family (pre 1700)

Prominent amongst the family at this time was Ruaidri Dall Ó Catháin (fl. late 16th/early 17th century), an Irish harper and composer; and Echlin O'Kane, one of the most famous of all Irish Harpists. Manus O'Cahan's Regiment of Foot was a body of soldiers, many of who had fought in Europe in the early years of the Thirty Years War. McColla, and a cousin by marriage, Manus O'Cahan, were thrown together in a joint Catholic-Protestant Scots-Irish peace keeping force in 1641. In one Ulster battle, McColla was badly wounded. O'Cahan personally dragged his giant 7-foot-tall (2.1 m) friend...
Another 98 words (7 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Keener Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Keener Ranking

In the United States, the name Keener is the 3,085th most popular surname with an estimated 9,948 people with that name. [1]

United States Keener migration to the United States +

Death and immigration greatly reduced Ireland's population in the 19th century. For the native Irish people poverty, hunger, and racial prejudice was common. Therefore, thousands left their homeland to seek opportunity in North America. Those who survived the journey and the quarantine camps to which they arrived, were instrumental towards building the strong developing nations of the United States and the future Canada. By far, the largest influx of Irish settlers occurred with Great Potato Famine during the late 1840s. These were employed as construction or factory workers. An examination of passenger and immigration lists has shown early immigrants bearing the name Keener:

Keener Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Friederich Keener, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1753 [2]
  • Adam Keener, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1761 [2]
Keener Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Christian Keener, who arrived in Maryland in 1830 [2]
  • Thomas Keener, who arrived in Maryland in 1840 [2]
  • Timothy Keener, aged 30, who landed in Missouri in 1848 [2]
  • Mary Keener, aged 21, who landed in New York in 1854 [2]
  • Francis Keener, who landed in Alabama in 1855 [2]
Keener Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Josephene Anna Keener, who arrived in Arkansas in 1900 [2]

Australia Keener migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Keener Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Patrick Keener, English convict who was convicted in Mancester, Greater Manchester, England for 10 years, transported aboard the "Eden" on 30th September 1848, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Island) [3]

Contemporary Notables of the name Keener (post 1700) +

  • Jason LaRay Keener (b. 1985), American filmmaker
  • Joshua Harry Keener (1871-1912), Major League Baseball pitcher
  • John Christian Keener (1819-1906), American Bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church
  • Joseph Donald Keener (b. 1953), former Major League Baseball pitcher
  • Hazel Keener (1904-1979), American motion picture actress
  • Jeffrey Bruce Keener (b. 1959), former Major League Baseball player
  • Elizabeth Keener, American actress
  • Brandon Keener (b. 1974), American actor
  • Dean Keener (b. 1965), American former head coach for the men's basketball team at James Madison University
  • Catherine Ann Keener (b. 1959), American actress nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress twice
  • ... (Another 7 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

USS Arizona
  • Mr. C. H. Keener, American Gunner's Mate Third Class working aboard the ship "USS Arizona" when she sunk during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7th December 1941, he survived the sinking [4]

The Keener Motto +

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: Felis demulcta mitis
Motto Translation: A stroked cat is gentle.

  1. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  2. Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  3. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 15th November 2021). Retrieved from
  4. Pearl Harbour: USS Arizona Casualties List Pearl Harbour December 7, 1941. (Retrieved 2018, July 31st). Retrieved from on Facebook