I’ve been searching back through a large group of documents we collected during our quest to discover my great-grandfather Keenan’s family history. As I mentioned in the first part of Our Irish Roots, we had quite a hard time in the years 2001-2004 discovering much of anything on-line about Bruce L. Keenan (BLK). Maybe that dearth of information was just a coincidence— maybe not. Some of my cousins wonder if over some years BLK was deliberately ignored in Oklahoma print because he was rather outspoken and had made enemies championing Native American and African American rights while he was Commissioner of Cherokee Nation and later as an attorney after statehood. But also, let’s not forget that more and more printed historical information is being digitized every single day, and Google is in the forefront of that activity with its “Google Play” free E-books program.
In any event, as time moved on after 2004, more and more information on my g-grandfather became available to us without having to search through brick and mortar libraries and courthouses. Much to our amazement in July 2009, a random Google search suddenly unearthed a very revealing biographical sketch on BLK published in a 1908 volume of A History of the State of Oklahoma. From the style and content of the piece, we are almost certain that it was written by my g-grandfather himself and then contributed to the author of the volume. And there it was, in graphic detail, all the facts that BLK had written down for my grandmother in his 1937 letter about the family history— and there was much much more—his memory of the family was 30 years fresher!
It surely was a bit frustrating that critical detailed information it had taken us three years of hard work to dig out had been right out there all along printed in a history book , but it was also quite satisfying that we had been good detectives— most of the history we had rewritten for ourselves was pretty darn accurate.
As a big plus, there were moving accounts in the 1908 blurb about how my ggg-grandfather Hugh Keenan’s family had split– one faction relocating west in 1845 to eastern Iowa, the other (mine) remaining in SW Pennsylvania/West Virginia. There were also facts revealed there about my gg-grandfather John Paine Keenan (who ventured out to Iowa but came back East) that we might have never known had we not kept Googling.