Extending the Olive Branch

One of my wife’s most interesting branches of the Morris family begins with her great-grandmother, Alsona Keenan Morris (1874-1925), which would be my wife’s gateway ancestor to a particularly well-known family that has legendary deep roots in West Virginia and are known around the Appalachian Valley, Kentucky and Missouri and across this country.  

The Morris descendancy was listed in a previous post

Alsona’s parents were Robert Thompson Keenan (1848-1925) and Elizabeth Ann Garton (1846-1937). 

Birth Record 

Alsona Keenan was married to Archibald Thomas Morris. 

Marriage Record 

Robert T. Keenan (Alsona’s father) died 28 Dec. 1925. 

Death Record 

Notice the names of his parents: 

Courtesy of FamilySearch©

Robert Keenan and Olive Vaufifer…uh, wrong. 

It’s actually Olive Van Bibber (1805-1860). 

Here is her marriage record to Robert Keenan from 1824.  Notice Olive’s middle name is Boone: 

Courtesy of FamilySearch© 

Olive Boone Van Bibber is my wife’s link to the historic family this post revolves around.  There has been so much written about the Van Bibbers, that if I were to even try to summarize the legacy the Van Bibbers left behind, this would be a very long post.  The books that I have read and the tales that were passed down from generation to generation is really only the tip of the iceberg for this amazing family. I really only want to touch on a few things about the Van Bibbers, especially as it relates to the aforementioned Olive Boone Van Bibber and her aunt, Olive Van Bibber Boone.  Don’t worry, I’ll clarify the distinction between the two of them in a little bit.  Also, there are a few things I wanted to mention regarding Matthias Van Bibber, the father of Olive Boone Van Bibber. 

In researching records for Olive Boone Van Bibber, it was very difficult to ascertain a direct connection to Matthias Van Bibber as her father until I found this: 

This is an article that was taken from the Beckley Post-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia, 31 July, 1957 – Newspapers.com – A documented discussion between David Van Bibber, the great-nephew of Matthias Van Bibber and Dr. Anthony Rader, the personal physician of the Van Bibber family for many years. 

Article titled “The Legend of Van Bibber Rock, Part 2” by Shirley Donnelly. 

Now, Olive Van Bibber Boone (1783-1858), was most notably married to Nathan Boone (1781-1856).  Nathan was the youngest son of pioneer Daniel Boone.  Daniel Boone and Matthias Van Bibber were apparently friends as were other members of Matthias’ family with the Boones. 

There have been many mistakes made in the past between the two Olive Van Bibbers, which is understandable.  The distinction between these two Olive Van Bibbers is evident.  Both passed away in different states, both were born in different years, both died in different years and both had different husbands.  The following are simply being used as a reference. 

Here is the Find A Grave memorial for Nathan and Olive Boone. 

Here is the Find A Grave memorial for Robert and Olive Keenan. 

There are some folks out there that have some concerns about some of the details of David Van Bibber’s facts regarding certain events and people that were written down in historical books.  One site in particular reminded me that I am a firm believer that we need to take historical and genealogical books, as well as newspaper articles with a certain measure of skepticism, as we cannot completely rely on the information within them. 

With that said, sometimes books and newspapers are all we have, and we have to rely on our instincts to help us discern and grapple with the truth of what is being read.  Stories are one thing, but when a rather close relative of a certain ancestor is reporting on descendants of that ancestor, I believe it lends a little more credence to that information.  Sometimes I’ll ask myself, “Who else would know this information?”  If we are able then to locate any records that would back up what is being said or read, then we have confirmation.  If we aren’t able to locate records that verify spoken or written information, then we just have to move on and let it go for now.   

Moving on to Matthias Van Bibber…I wanted to touch on an artifact that was supposedly given to Matthias by Daniel Boone.  Daniel Boone’s rifle.  There are a lot of stories floating around the internet regarding this topic.  Rather than dive in head first trying to address those, I did a search on Newspapers.com and came up with the following: 

From the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, St. Louis, Missouri – 24 Aug. 1895 

This particular article went “viral” in 1895.  Literally hundreds of newspapers across the country carried this story.  It is hard to say with any certainty about this artifact, its’ provenance or its’ whereabouts.  I know some folks would probably fight me on this, but I’m not saying it isn’t true.  I’m just saying without some sort of evidence or records, we have to put this in the right context.  I had the same issue with one of my ancestors who was a Captain in the Maryland militia at the Battle of Baltimore and his battle sword and scabbard were given to a local gallery in Baltimore.  I was never able to confirm this and never found out where these items actually ended up. 

Lastly, I want to discuss the Matthias Van Bibbers’ participation in what is known as the last great battle of the revolution. 

The Battle of Fallen Timbers – 20 Aug. 1794 

You can read about the battle here

My wife and I have been to the battlefield site, as it is not far from where we live and it is a very humbling experience, especially when you are standing there, looking over this wilderness and realizing that your wife’s ancestors were probably there in the midst of this battle. 

From the West Virginia Historical Magazine Quarterly, published in 1903, comes this: 

Historians and genealogists alike would probably weigh in heavily on what is presented here and have a field day with this, but I am not here to say what’s true and what’s not…what happened and what didn’t happen.  I am merely presenting what we have and what we know as of now to tell the story.  You have to make up your own mind as to whether you fully believe everything that has been written about the Van Bibbers or just take in what you want.  As for me, I believe the Van Bibbers are an amazing family that endured great challenges in a country that was in its infancy, even without the Boone provenance.

An interesting final note here about Matthias Van Bibber…not only does Matthias apparently have a connection to the Boones through friendship and a brother-in-law, but Matthias, not surprisingly was also friends with another of my wife’s ancestors, Captain John Young. 


Library of Congress – Fallen Timbers Battlefield – originally presented by Rep. Marcy Kaptur (Ohio-9th District)

National Park Service – Fallen Timbers Battlefield

West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History 





Google Ebooks 

Van Bibber Pioneers Newsletter 

MetroParks Toledo – Fallen Timbers Battlefield

Oklahoma Historical Society 

Featured Image: 

From the MetroParks Toledo website – the Fallen Timbers Monument (aka Anthony Wayne Memorial) by Bruce Saville, dedicated in 1929 


Cheryl, my wife…keeper of the flame in my soul. You are the love of my life! 

3 thoughts on “Extending the Olive Branch

    • Cathy,
      I have mentioned him in a few other posts, but I’m unsure if I have a specific post concentrating on his family, and believe me, Capt. John Young is a very interesting individual.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Quick note on Matthias “Tice” Van Bibber carrying Boone’s rifle at the Battle of Point Pleasant in 1774: If the date on his headstone, the censuses, and an assumed age at the time of his marriage are to be believed, Matthias was born in 1772 possibly in present-day Kanawha County, WV but at that time it was still Botetourt County, VA. Matthias would have only been two years old in 1774. The flintlock was most likely given to Matthias in the 1790s, as he and Nathan Boone reportedly “carried the chains” when Daniel Boone did some surveying work while in residence near Charleston, WV (1792-1795). I suspect the newspaper article was a re-telling of a re-telling and someone confused the battles: Battle of Point Pleasant with the Battle of Fallen Timbers. Someone somewhere managed to get Matthias’ name added to the plaque on the monument at Point Pleasant. FYI: I’m not disputing you, only the newspaper article about the flintlock. Thank you for your hard work! (PS: I’m descended through his daughter, Felicita Van Bibber Hill).


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