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KEENAN FAMILY  in Australia

James (Jim) Keenan (1864 - 1942)

Last updated 23 August 2020

Australian Generation:   First
Parents:  Henry John Keenan and Nancy Jane Keenan (nee Gamble)
Born: 3 August 1864  at Maryborough, Queensland, Australia (reg. no. F 23333)  [See extract of James' birth certificate]
Married: Florence Lillico Skien (sometimes spelt Skein) on 14 April 1906 at The Mance, Tumut, New South Wales (Reg. no. 5535/1906)  Florence was born 12 October 1886 and baptised 4 July 1887. (When they married James was 41 and Florence was 19 and had a 2 year old child.) Florence's father was Copeland Skien / Skein, farmer, and her mother was Mary Annie Tomkins.  As Florence was underage, her mother formally consented to the marriage.

Florence Keenan, who in her later years suffered a mental illness, died at Batlow on 17 February 1948, aged 61 (reg. no. 6625/1948). Her death certificate states that the cause of death was "drowning by her own hands whilst of unsound mind". This was the finding of an inquiry held at Batlow on 27 February 1948 - L E Quarmby, Coroner.  Her body was found by her son, Wilfred Keenan. See news report "Batlow resident found drowned", from the Adelong and Tumut Express, Friday, February 20, 1948.  The report reads as follows:
"Mrs Florence L. Keenan, 62, widow of the late Mr James Keenan of Batlow was found drowned yesterday morning in a water-race which passed at the rear of her property. Deceased was in her night attire and her shoes were found on the edge of the race. The late Mrs Keenan resided by herself, but her son Wilfred, who lives opposite, was in the habit of visiting her morning and evening. Finding her absent on Tuesday night, he contacted several of the neighbours, but was not concerned when he failed to locate her, thinking she was visiting friends. However when he found his mother still missing on Wednesday morning he immediately commenced to search for her. Finally, he discovered her body immersed in the water race about 100 yards at the rear of the house. The late Mrs. Keenan had been in ill-health for a number of years. She was a daughter of the late Mr and Mrs Copeland Skein, of Batlow, where she was born and resided all her life. There are four sons, Hector, Stuart and Wilfred (Batlow) and Frederick (Young) and two daughters, Muriel (Mrs Rupert Langford) and Edna (Mrs Harry Scheigel of New Zealand) surviving. Mrs W Johnson of Tumut is a sister."

A year later (15 February 1949) an In Memorium notice was inserted in The Tumut and Adelong Times by her daughter and son, Edna Keenan and Wilfred Keenan. It read: "In loving memory of our dear Mother, FLORENCE, who passed away February 18, 1948. Not a day do we forget you; In our hearts you are always near; We, who loved you, sadly miss you, As it dawns the first sad year."  A family tree of the Skein family appears at on Geneanet.org at https://gw.geneanet.org/belfast8?lang=en&p=florence+lillicoe&n=skein
Occupation:  Miner, shearer and farm labourer
Main Residence: Batlow, NSW
Deceased: 19 June 1942 (aged 78) at District Hospital, Tumut, New South Wales (reg. no. 13678/1942).  Causes of death: acute myocarditis and influenza. See below for obituary appearing in the Tumut and Adelong Times, June 23, 1942.
Buried:  20 June 1942 at Presbyterian Cemetery, Batlow.  Row E Section21.
His wife, Florence, is buried at the same cemetery, row E section 12.


Kevin Frederick Keenan (1904 - 1978)

Grace Keenan (1906 - 1911) (Death registered 1911 - Reg No. 7774)

Hector James Keenan (1908 - 1975)

Wilfred Walter Keenan (1910 - 1998)

Edna Amy Grace Keenan ( 1911 - 1990)

Muriel Mary Keenan (1915 - 1996)

Photographs:  There is only one known photograph of James Keenan (1864-1942) and it doesn't really show what he looked like.  (A copy will be posted on this page when time permits.)

NOTE by Peter James Keenan, author of this website:  James Keenan is my grandfather.  I never knew him because he died before I was born. When I became fascinated by family history (in the 1990s) I asked my father, Wilfred Keenan, whether he had any photographs of his father James.  He was not sure, but thought he had one somewhere.  He and I searched thoroughly through his collection of photographs on several occasions but could not find one.  Whenever I visited relatives and my father's old friends in Batlow I asked if they had a photograph of James.  Only one person, my father's nephew Neville Keenan, was able to help. He supplied me with the one that will appear here ASAP.  At least one of the Batlow relatives/friends that I spoke to suggested that James' wife Florence probably destroyed all her photos of James when their marriage broke down. My father never said much at all about his mother and father. My mother (Venda), who spoke occasionally and privately about my father's mother (Florence), did not speak about James, probably because he had passed away by the time she met my father.

"Of the family which survived to reach maturity, James (the eldest) inherited his father’s keenness for hunting the precious yellow metal and travelled extensively in its search.  No more successful than his father, he later turned to shearing and became a recognised expert with the blades.  This occupation took him as far afield as New Zealand on one occasion, whilst various local flock owners considered their sheep were not properly shorn if Jim Keenan did not do the job.  With Batlow becoming interested in fruit growing, he obtained some land near what is now known as the Batlow Sportsground, and, incidentally, his land adjoined the small property on which his mother had lived with her second husband.  He planted a small orchard and marrying a local girl, Florence Skien, settled down to a quiet life divided between his own small property and working for other neighbouring landowners.  There were six children born to Mr. and Mrs Jim Keenan, one daughter (Grace) being claimed a victim by diphtheria in childhood; but the others, Fred., Hector, Wilfred, and daughters Edna (Mrs Seigal) and Muriel (Mrs. R. Langford) survive and play prominent parts in their respective spheres.  Hector still lives on and farms the old property.  There are fourteen members of the fourth generation to this branch of the family.  “Old Jim” as he was respectfully known throughout the district died in June, 1942, and Mrs Keenan was also laid to rest in the Batlow Cemetery in February, 1948."   Extract from 1949 newspaper article by George Keenan.

Nickname: According to James' niece, Dorothy Lovering (nee Keenan), Jim Keenan's nickname was "Snooks". (Conversation between the author and Dorothy on 12/10/2003.)

Obituaries for James Keenan:

Sat 27 June 1942, Page 4, District News

"On Friday last the death occurred in the Tumut District Hospital of Mr. James Keenan, of Batlow, at the age of 76. He was
born in Brisbane in August, 1866, and was a son of the late Mr. and Mrs. Henry Keenan. When only a small boy he came to Batlow
where he had lived ever since, and was engaged in general farm work and orcharding, being nearly 30 years on the one property. In
1906 he married Miss Florence Skein, and there were three sons and four daughters. Mr. Stewart Keenan of Batlow is a brother,
and Mr. Fred Keenan, manager of the Young Cool Stores, is a son.  The funeral took place at the Presbyterian portion
of the Batlow cemetery, the Rev. Donald Baird of Tumut officiating."

[Note by grandson Peter Keenan: James' year of birth was 1864 in Maryborough, QLD.]


James keenan obituary Part 1 James Keenan Obit Part 2

Jim Keenan was an accomplished player of Euchre. This is one of several newspaper reports: