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KEENAN FAMILY in Australia

The Keenans of Western Australia

Last updated 21/2/2017

Stewart Keenan (1834 *- 1921) was a brother of Henry John Keenan (1840-1889) (whose descendants are the main subject of this website).  The following extract is  from an excellent book written by Edward Keenan of Perenjori, Western Australia, in 1995:

"On 5 January 1859, in the Registrar's Office, at Magherafelt, in the Glenone Parish of Tamlight O'Crilly, County of Londonderry, Stewart Keenan married Isabella Gamble, daughter of Francis Gamble, farmer of Lisrodden, County Antrim .... the young couple booked their passage to Fremantle (Western Australia) in July 1859."


On Stewart's death in 1921 the following article was published in The South-Western News (Busselton, WA) Friday 25 November 1921 Page 3:

Death Of Mr. S. Keenan.

One of the oldest and best known residents of this district, Mr. Stewart Keenan, passed away at the age of 87 years on Sunday evening last.  Only a week earlier deceased was in good health and spirits, and attended a meeting of the Progress Association and later walked a couple of miles through the bush towards home. A day or two later he became unwell, and toward the end seriously ill. Medical aid was requisitioned on Sunday, but before Dr. Yates reached the Margaret death had taken place. A post mortem revealed the fact that end web brought about by pneumonia and pleurisy.

The late Mr. Keenan was born in 1834, in a fine old farmhouse at Port Glenone, Derry, Ireland, where his father and grandfather were born before him, and where some members of the family still reside. His earlier days were devoted to agricultural pursuits, but in the late fifties the name of Australia was being brought into prominence by the number of immigrants, and after being married in January of 1859, Mr. and Mrs. Keenan sailed from Plymouth in July of the same year, reaching Fremantle in the following October. This was the maiden trip of the sailing vessel " West Australia," which brought many other of our earlier residents to these shores. Mr. and Mrs. Keenan and the late Mr. and Mrs. Jos. Bovell were fellow passengers in the late Mr. Geo. Cross' little sailer " Wild Wave," reaching Busselton on the 1st January, 1860, after a three days trip from Fremantle. Although of small stature, Mr. Keenan was a tireless worker, and in the days that followed alternated farming and contracting. He was one of the first to urge a railway to the Margaret River, suggesting that the Busselton-Boyanup railway be carried through to Karridale very many years ago. In that agitation he never flagged, and although he did not live to see its completion, the fact that the preliminary work had been put in hand was a source of satisfaction. With the late Mr. Bovell, Mr. Keenan was also one of the first local residents to suggest a lighthouse at Cape Naturalista, a mark that hundreds of mariners hare since sighted with satisfaction. In all other public affairs affecting the district Mr. Keenan took a keen interest, and amongst the contracts he was engaged in were the building of the telephone line from Quindalup to Cave House, and construction of the Caves road. He leaves an aged widow, four daughters, Mrs. Hennessy (Goomalling), Mrs. J- Betts, Mrs. Neil McLeod and Miss M. Keenan, and three sons, Robt., Harry and William, for whom much sympathy is felt.
 
The funeral took place on Tuesday the remains beiog followed to their last resting place at the Margaret River cemetery by a large number of old friends. The Rev. S. A. Miiward officiated at the graveside, and many beautiful floral tributes were sent from all parts of the district.

The old photo below of Stewart Keenan of Busselton, Western Australia, was supplied by Ann Waghorn:

Stewart Keenan of Busselton

 


A copy of the book written by Edward (Ray) Keenan  in 1995 is being published on this website.  So too are transcripts he made of letters written by members of the Keenan family in Northern Ireland, Western Australia, South Africa and America (1873 to 1955).

 

Edward Keenan was the adopted son of William Stewart Keenan (the last son of Stewart and Isabella Keenan) and Eleanor Jane Curtis.  He was born in 1921 and adopted in 1922.  He was also known as Ray Keenan. He passed away in 2004. Edward/Ray Keenan wrote another book titled "I Shook the Family Tree: the Story of an Adopted Boy".  See HERE for extracts from his book.  A signed copy is held in the National Library in Canberra. ISBN 1876760125.  For more information click HERE.

 

In the State Library of Western Australia there are 3 sound cassettes of interviews with Edward/Ray Keenan about his family background and his life as a farmer.  For details go to http://henrietta.slwa.wa.gov.au/search~S2 and search Keenan.

 


 
Stewart and Isabella Keenan travelled to Fremantle from London aboard the "West Australian". They embarked at Plymouth on 12 July 1859 and arrived on 20 October 1859.

    Stewart and Isabella


Isabella Keenan (nee Gamble), the daughter of Frank Gamble and Ellen Crawford, died on 18 June 1929. A copy of her death certificate is available here.

Stewart's brother, Robert Keenan (1836 to 1890), also came to Western Australia and became a farmer at Broadwater, The Vasse.  Another of his brothers, Aaron Keenan (1844 - 1896), came to Western Australia aboard the "Strathmore", arriving at Fremantle from London on 12 June 1864.

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According to a family tree kindly supplied by Anne Waghorn, a descendant of Stewart Keenan and Isabella Gamble, the children of Stewart and Isabella Keenan (nee Gamble) (all of whom were born in Western Australia), were:

  • James Keenan (1859 - 1885). Never married.
  • Eliza Isabella Keenan (1862 - 1900). Married James William Armstrong in 1886. Five children.
  • Robert John Keenan (1863 - 1946). Never married.
  • Francis Henry (Harry) Keenan (1870 - 1954). Married Florence Edith Sutcliffe. No children.
  • Mary Ellen (Minnie) Keenan (1872 - 1961). Never married.
  • Isabella (Bella) Keenan (1874 - 1969). Married James Christopher Hennessey in 1903. Three children: Stewart, Mary (Cissie) and Patrick.
  • Anne Jane (Annie) Keenan (1876 - 1960).  Married Jim Betts in 1908.  Three children: Margaret (b.1909), James (b. d. 1911), John Stewart (1915 - 1922)
  • Grace Barclay Keenan (1878 - 1950).  Married Neil McLeod in 1912.  Three children: Dudley (b.1913),  married Bernice McEwan and had 4 children; Gamble (b.1915), divorced, no children; Isabel, Married Douglas Bill, 5 children.
  • William Stewart Keenan (1881** - 1952).  Married Eleanor (Nellie) Jane Curtis in 1918.  One child (adopted): Edward (Ray)
  • Elizabeth married Kyle ....... Six children: Robert, David, Jane, Stewart, Henry and another girl.  ***

Anne Waghorn is a grandchild of Neil McLeod and Grace McLeod (nee Keenan).


The photo below, taken at the wedding of Grace Barclay Keenan in 1912, was supplied by Ann Waghorn, as were the names of those present.
(Ann is a grandchild of Grace Mc Leod (nee Keenan) and Neil McLeod) Wedding of Grace Keenan McLeod

For perhaps only the second time in over 100 years, members of the Eastern and Western branches of the Keenan family met in 2006.  (The first meeting since the 1890s appears to have taken place in Sydney in 1996 at the home of Anita Arnold - see below.) The meeting between Peter and Margaret Keenan of Melbourne, Victoria, (the East) and Anne and Terry Waghorn, of Spalding, Western Australia, took place at Peter and Margaret's home on 29 June 2006. [PHOTO]    Anne Waghorn [PHOTO] phoned Peter Keenan a few weeks earlier when she came across this website while searching the internet for references to the Keenans.  Fortunately, she and husband Terry were coming to Melbourne for a few days on 27 June on their way to Sydney.

Many thanks to Anne for making contact and for supplying us with so much rare and interesting material regarding the Keenans of Western Australia.  More of this material will be published on this site as time permits: keep on eye on the News page. This information has been supplemented by information from Mrs Anita Arnold of Engadine, NSW.

In relation to meetings between the two branches of the family, Mrs Arnold says "Ray Keenan's (Edward) son David visited me in 1996.  I've enclosed a photo of Ray and Margaret Blond (nee Betts) daughter of Anne Jane Keenan and James Betts; also one of David taken at my place.  See how much he looks like his Dad." These can be seen at Photographs.  [I should also mention here that in the early 1890s Grace Catherall (nee Keenan) - the daughter of Henry John Keenan and Nancy Jane Keenan - and her husband lived in Western Australia with Grace's uncle Stewart Keenan and aunty Isabella Keenan (nee Gamble)].

* Mrs Anita Arnold states that Stewart was born on 16/2/1836.  ** Anita states that William was born in 1877. *** This information supplied by Anita only.

Those interested in knowing more about the Keenans of Western Australia should also go to the website established by Gil Hardwick of Margaret River, where they will find books, photos and family trees.


"Glenbourne" Homestead

The following is an extract from a document produced in 1998 by the Heritage Council of Western Australia regarding Glenbourne Homestead, which was built by Stewart and Isabella Keenan:

"Glenbourne Homestead, a small farmhouse situated on the northern bank of Ellens Brook, Margaret River, was built by Stewart and Isabella Keenan in the late 1880s. 

 

In early 1859, Stewart Keenan, a farmer, and Isabella Gamble were married in county Derry, Ireland. In July of that year, they sailed from Plymouth on the West Australia’s maiden voyage, arriving in Fremantle on 20 October. After a short period in Fremantle, during which time their first child was born, the Keenans sailed to Busselton, arriving in early January 1860.
 

Stewart and Isabella spent the following two years working on dairy farms in the Vasse, firstly for the McCourts and then for the Lockes. In 1862, the Keenans took out a seven year lease on Reinscourt, the property of Mrs Vernon Bussell. Under the terms of the lease, the Keenans acquired a portion of the stock.

 

In the 1860s, the Keenans left Reinscourt to lease a dairy cattle property at Cape Naturaliste, which they later named Glenone after Stewart’s family property in Derry.  At about the same time, Stewart took out a lease on 3,000 acres at Margaret River in partnership with James Forrest and Thomas Abbey. The property, named Rosa Glen, was used as a summer cattle run, and the families drove their stock between Margaret River and their Cape Naturaliste/Vasse properties each year. In the late 1860s, this land was leased by Keenan and Abbey, and later yet the Keenans held the lease alone. . . .."

To see the full document CLICK HERE.

 

The old photo below of the Keenan family at "Glenbourne", Margaret River, was sent to me by Ann Waghorn:

 

Keenans at Glenbourne

The Heritage Council of Western Australia has listed Glenbourne as a significant site and has provided funds for its upkeep.  The small farmhouse situated on the northern bank of Ellens Brook, Margaret River, Western Australia, was built by Stewart and Isabella Keenan in the late 1880s.  I have obtained two photographs of Glenbourne from the website of the Heritage Council of Western Australia (see the first two photos below).   

 

Glenbourne Homestead is place number 00116 on the Heritage Council's database, and its exact location, title, description, images, etc., can be viewed online.  Click HERE.  Most of the information on that site is repeated below:

 

Location

Caves Rd
Margaret River

LGA: Augusta/Margaret River
Region: South West
 

Place Coordinates:

Zone: 50
Northing: 6245306
Easting: 316009

Latitude: 33° 54' 59.4"
Longitude: 115° 0' 3.5"

 

Description

Glenbourne Homestead is a timber slab, stone and weatherboard farm house (partly demolished) and associated stone oven. Glenbourne Homestead is an uncommon example of a late nineteenth century house with later additions, in a semi-demolished state. As such, it demonstrates construction techniques not normally visible in an intact building of its type.

Construction date: 1888 and 1950
Year of demolition: 0
Demolished: No

Place Type: Individual Building or Group

Uses

 

General

Specific

Historical:

COMMERCIAL

Hotel, Tavern or Inn

Historical:

COMMERCIAL

Hotel, Tavern or Inn

Present Use:

FARMINGPASTORAL

Homestead

Present Use:

FARMINGPASTORAL

Homestead

 

Titles

Reserve:

Lot/Location: Pt. Sussex Loc 673

Plan/Diagram: HCWA 0116

Vol/Folio: PT1233/301

 

Library Entries

ID No Title Area Medium Pub Yr
4458 Glenbourne Homestead : conservation plan. Western Australia Heritage Study {Cons'n Plan} 2000
482 Historical sites in the Margaret River Augusta region : a photographic survey of documented and undocumented historical sites in the region carried out by students of the University of Western Australia, Department of Architecture. Western Australia Heritage Study {Other} 1980
226 Glenbourne House Margaret River : heritage assessment. Western Australia Heritage Study {Other} 1993
5400 Glenbourne homestead, Margaret River : conservation works Western Australia Conservation works report 2002

 

Construction Materials

  General Specific
Wall: STONE Granite
Wall: TIMBER Weatherboard
Wall: TIMBER Slab

Historic Themes

General Specific
DEMOGRAPHIC SETTLEMENT & MOBILITY Settlements
OCCUPATIONS Grazing, pastoralism & dairying
OCCUPATIONS Hospitality industry & tourism

Associations

Name Address Type From To
Keenan, Stewart & Armstrong, James   Builder    
Keenan, Stewart   Architect    

 

NOTE: The co-builder named here, James Armstrong, is the son-in-law of Stewart Keenan.

 

Heritage Council Photographs

 

 

 

 

 

Recent Photographs

 

I am extremely grateful to have received the following photographs of  Glenbourne from Anne and Terry Waghorn, taken by them in August 2008.  Anne writes:

"Hi Peter, Margaret and all the family. Hope this finds you all well. Terry and I were down in Margaret River weekend before last and went out to see the old Keenan house. Thought you might like a photo of it. Was wonderful to go and see, you could stand back and imagine them walking around. My cousin Keith took us out to it and also pointed out the out door oven they used to use.  They are still working on the restoration and are hoping to be able to get some shingles for the roof so it will be as it was. There are still some old fruit trees and a huge old mulberry tree they planted. Keith says the mulberry tree has a huge crop around January, so may have to take a trip down in Jan 09. Just a short note for now hope you like the photos, Cheers Anne & Terry. 18/8/2008"

 

                                                                      

 

 

 

 

 

Based on place names used in describing the location of Glenbourne Homestead (Caves Road and Ellens Brook), I have narrowed its location down to the area shown on this map:

 

See also: 

Anyone who wants more information is invited to contact us.

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