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date: 10 April 2020

Keenan, Sam locked

(1855–3 Apr. 1895), minstrel comedian
  • Charles Rosenberg

Extract

who developed most of his career as an entertainer in Australia, was born in New York State. Information on his parents is not well established. Some sources give his father’s name as Ebenezer Keenan, some as Samuel. Keenan’s death certificate gives the name Ebenezer. His mother is generally held to have been Mary Ann Davis Keenan. It is likely that he had both Irish and African ancestry, and it is possible that one or both of his parents were also of mixed descent, or one may have been themselves an immigrant from Ireland, or the child of immigrants. His professional performances, perhaps constrained by the cultural expression of the notorious “one drop rule,” expressed “Negro” caricatures.

Keenan’s career began in the United States, and while little is documented, he registered to vote in San Francisco, California in 1876 listing his occupation as musician and his address at the International ...

A version of this article originally appeared in African American National Biography.

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