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O'Keeffe Families

This section contains a couple of paragraphs from other websites that contain O’Keeffe family information. The heading contains the surname and area of the information the person has researched. The link for the full information is at the bottom of the paragraph.

Keefe Family of South Carolina

The earliest known South Carolina ancestry began with the William Keeffe family, which lived along the Pee Dee river in the Old Marion District. This family may have been related to the Treddell Keefe line of North Carolina, but this link has not yet been proven. There was also a Kiff family in the Pee Dee area, which may or may not be a misspelling of Keefe. Then there were also the KEITH of South Carolina which can sometimes be a misspelling of KEEFE. In Edgefield county was this family and here are some early Charleston families.

Keefes in Alabama

Keefes in Florida

I have done very little research on the Keefe/O'Keefe surname in Florida. The reasoning being that I have not found any Keefe/O'Keefes to research before 1880. I have thoroughly examined Florida census indexes beginning with the state's first federal census in 1830, and continuing through 1840, 1850, 1860, and 1870. There is not one Keefe or O'Keefe listed in any of these years with any variant spelling. There were some Keith/Keeth listed after 1850, and a few of these could be mispellings of Keefe, but this is only conjecture. I have not examined census records for Florida from 1880 and afterward so I can't say for sure when the first census record appears with this surname; however, from memory I don't recall that there were any Keefes in Florida's speical state census for 1885. There may have been some land deeds under the Keefe name before 1880, but since I have not studied these records I cannot speak on this either. What I am led to believe is that the first time this surname appears in Florida would be the 1890s. I have included below what little bit I have on the Florida Keefes so far.

Keeffes of Georgia

There were several in the South Carolina Keeffe line who moved to Georgia in the 1890s and early 1900s. As a matter of fact, there appears to have been a successful Georgia Turpentine Mill which motivated groups of Florence County families to migrate. A Robert C. Keeffe had moved to Clinch County, GA by 1896 and his nephew Roland Keeffe soon followed. There were several more Florence County Keeffes and other related families that moved to south Georgia during the early 1900s. This group of Keeffes who moved to Georgia appear to have kept the double F spelling while their relatives in South Carolina dropped the second F at the turn of the century (1900).

O'Keefes in Mississippi

The earliest reference to the Keefe/O'Keefe surname I 've found in this state is a John O'Keefe that appeared in the 1830 census for Claireborne County, MS. He was the Head of Household with his wife and five children.

A different John O'Keefe was in Mississippi by 1840s. He was an Irish immigrant that came into the port of New Orleans in c1841. He married Ellen Mahoney(?), also from Ireland, and their first two children were born in Louisiana: Michael in 1842, and Thomas in 1845. In 1846, John and Ellen O'Keefe must have moved as their third son, John Jr, was born in Mississippi. All seven of the remaining children were also born in Mississippi: Mary, Ellen, Josephine, Jane, James, Honora, and Elizabeth. Another researcher has traced this family line back several generations in Ireland.

North Carolina Keefes

The surname Keefe/Keeffe may have been brought over to North Carolina about 1700 with a small group of Irish that settled the Albemarle area of North Carolina just after the Williamite wars.

The Keefes of North Carolina may or may not be related to the Keefes of South Carolina. An early colonial settler named Treddell Keefe could have been the progenitor for Keefe/Keeffes who were found on both sides of the Carolina border; however, thus far the link between the two families is only circumstantial.

KEEF Families of Tennessee

There was a group of Keef family members living in several counties in Tennessee in the early and mid 1800s. My preliminary research shows that the Keef Tennessee families may be from a common progenitor named Rebuen Keef who as early as 1758 was in an area of northern Virginia named Bedford. It is further possible (but not proven) that a Tredell Keefe in North Carolina was an ancestor to this early Virginian, Rebuen Keef.

Keefes -Virginia- O'Keefes

Here's what little I know about the early Virginia famlies with this surname:

John Keeff left a will in York County, VA in 1754. Unfortunately I did not abstract this will, however, I remember it was conspicuously absent of beneficiaries with this surname.

Rebuen Keef was one of a large group of men listed in a 1758 Bedford VA document which read: "... in an Act for raising the Sum of Twenty-five Thousand Pounds, for the better protection of the Inhabitants on the Frontiers of this Colony, and for other purposes..."

Daily Keef was born in Virginia in c1786 (listed in Warren County, TN census as born in VA)

James O'Keeffe and Mary Ellen (or Mary Jane) Finegan, met aboard a ship that arrived from County Cork c1847 at Richmond, Virginia. This James O'Keeffe operated Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond until the 1870's, burying Presidents Monroe and Tyler, and many casualties of the US Civil War. Also, reinterred President Davis of the Confederacy after his body was moved from Mississippi.

O'Keifs of France

The O'Keeffe name does have a little royalty in its history. The last Irish Chief of this clan was a Donal O'Keeffe who was a member of the Catholic Convention held at Kilkenny duriing the civil war of 1641. He also commanded a compnay of infantry in the Irish Confederate Army, and he held out against Cromwell forces until 1652. Donal O'Keeffe's great grandfather was the builder of the last O'Keeffe Castle. This Castle, called Dromagh, was surrendered by Donal's uncle, Hugh O'Keeffe on May 14, 1652. After the surrender Donal O'Keeffe followed the ousted King Charles II to France, and a good number of the O'Keeffe surname followed their leader. While in France the O'Keeffes were given positions of honor and title by King Charles. Because of their loyalty, the Castle of Dromagh was restored to the O'Keeffes for a time when Charles came back to conquer England and Ireland in 1660, but control was shortlived and utlimately lost by 1691. This time it was King Charles' son, James, who was dethroned, and it was Donal O'Keeffe, Jr and still more O'Keeffes who accompanied James II into exile in France. It is from these French O'Keeffe immigrants of the 17th century that the O'KEIF spelling was derived, and those named O'Keif or Keif probably come the closest to having some French heritage and

Keefes of England

If the Keefes were among the Irish Catholics treated harshly by the English Crown, then why go to England, the home of their tormentors? Did some Keefes and O'Keefes convert to the Protestant faith and then move to England ironcially because of the lack of opportunity in their homeland? We may never know for sure, but the early ones in England were conspicously missing the 'O' from their names. The families that sought refuge in England probably dropped the prefix so as not to be identified as Irish Catholics when they arrived to England. Here is a list of the Keefe family members who were early residents in the Counties of Devon and Cornwall in England.

Keefe /O'Keefe Immigration to America

Who was the first immigrant with the Keefe/O'Keefe surname to come to America? From a reference I've seen it appears to be an Elizabeth Keeffe who arrived to Maryland in 1678. She was most likely of Irish descent. In my years of research, I have found only 8 other individuals with the Keefe or O'Keefe surname that came to the colonies before the American Revolution

Tredell Keefe was in North Carolina by 1707

Henry Keeffe, arrived to Maryland on a ship of English convicts in 1718

Elizabeth Keefe (alias Lynchy); a felon ordered to the colonies in the New World in 1736 by the county government of Cork, Ireland

David Keefe, from London, England to Boston in 1737

William Keefe (O'Keeffe?) was in South Carolina by 1739

Thomas Keeffe from Ireland, arrived to Boston in 1765

Daniel Keefe from Cork County, Ireland, arrived to Boston in 1766

Owen Keeffe (age 27), an Irishman from an English port to Virginia in 1774

The overwhelming majority of those with this surname immigrated after 1840, and from this point on there were thousands of Keefes and O'Keefes that sailed for American ports in a steady stream until the early 1900s. The Famine Immigrants by Glazier and Tepper, a six volume set on Irish immigrants arriving to the port of New York between 1846-1851 lists no fewer than 147 O'Keefe/O'Keeffe passengers and 465 Keefe/Keeffe passengers. Notice that's just for a five year period into New York. During the post Famine years, many sailed into the ports of Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Charleston and New Orleans. If your Keefe/O'Keefe ancestor came during this time, then it will be very hard indeed to directly trace back your ancestry without having a particular parish name in Ireland. A county name will likely prove useless since most (but not all) of the Keefes and O'Keefes originated from Cork, a large county with many parishes, and more O'Keeffes than any other surname.


An Irish Keeffe, Keefe, O'Keefe, O'Keeffe page for those originally from the area of the townland Coolnahau, County Kilkenny, Ireland, and to those relatives in nearby townlands, towns and counties. Coolnahau was comprised of 522 acres in 1857, and is located in Knocktopher Barony, Jerpoint West parish, New Ross (Poor Law Union) [ Townlands of Co. Kilkenny, Ireland]. The Coolnahau Keeffe's, many of which emigrated to the area of Rochester, Monroe County, state of New York, USA, are also related to the Cappagh Keeffe's (Knocktopher or Ida Barony?).

Keefe of Prince Edward Island

Back in 1835, my great, great grandfather, John O'Keefe, immigrated to Canada from County Cork, Ireland. He was one of the first settlers in Kinkora, Prince Edward Island. In 1980, his descendants gathered from far and wide to participate in the 1st Keefe Family Reunion. Since then, we have continued to gather together every five years to enjoy each other’s company amidst the beautiful scenery of Prince Edward Island.

O'Keeffe of Carrick-on-Suir & Clonmel
(South County Tipperary , Ireland)

The O'Keeffe clan or sept is originally from an area around Glanworth and Glenville (Gleann an Phreachain) near Fermoy, County Cork. The Anglo-Normans displaced them and most of the sept was driven westwards where they settled in North Cork near the Kerry border between Ballydesmond and Millstreet in an area still known as "Pobal O'Keeffe", (Pobal = People and is pronounced 'pubble'). Some of the sept remained in the area close to their original territory, and it may be from these that the O'Keeffes of South Tipperary are derived. I have received information on a Concubhar O'Keeffe, born about 1660 in Glenville, who died before 1707 in Carrick-on-Suir ; I had hoped to find some link from my known ancestors (back to 1802) to this man from Glenville 100 years earlier, but am not confident that I will since none of the names in my family correspond to the ancient names of the Glenville O'Keeffes: Eoghan, Concubhar, Art, Lughaidh, Caomh, Domhnall, Aodh. It is possible that one of the other O'Keeffe families in Carrick is descended from Concubhar. It is likely that our own branch of the family descends from farmers outside Carrick (and possibly further afield such as the area around the village of Golden near Cashel) and is not connected to the Glenville ruling line.

O'Keeffe of Cork, Ireland

My name is Joe Carr and I have done some research over the last few years into both families and have made good progress. You may explore each family tree and find other information that may be of interest to those of you that are doing genealogy searches in Ireland.

O'Keefe in Australia

William Skyvington

My Mother's People. Genealogical monograph. This site [in constant construction] lets you download a printable version of my on-going research into my maternal ancestors (Walker, Kennedy, O'Keefe, Cranston, etc). Events in Braidwood concerning links between the family of Charles Walker at Reidsdale and the Clarke and Connell bushrangers. Later, most of the events are located in Waterview, south of Grafton.

O'Keefe family of Biloxi, Mississippi

The Great Potato Famine of 1845-1850 brought death and misery to millions of impoverished Irish Roman Catholics. One of the positive actions of this near 19th Century genocide was the immigration and subsequent habitation of Edward “Ned” Keefe (1815-1874), later O’Keefe, a native of Bincher Parish, County Tipperary, Ireland to Ocean Springs, Mississippi in the mid-1850s. Here a middle-aged Ned O’Keefe and spouse, Mary Tracy (1832-1895), another Irish expatriate, commenced an Irish-American family that remains a viable part of Ocean Springs, Biloxi and the entire Mississippi Gulf Coast.(Lepre, 1991, p. 165)