Van Keuren Family

Updated 14 May 1996

Main Family Page | Van Keuren lineage

The first Van Keuren in America was Matthys Jansen van Keulen (Ceulen), the Patroon of Zwaanendal. He was one of the directors of the Dutch West Indies Company, which bought Manhattan Island from the Indians.

Matthys married Margariet Hendricks, and they had four children, including two sons, Jan Matthysen and Matthys Matthysen. Jan Matthysen's descendants kept the patrynomic Jansen and use that name today. Matthys Matthysen's sons kept the name "van Keulen", changing the "l" to an "r" for unknown reasons, and all Van Keurens in America today are descended from Matthys Matthysen and his father Matthys Jansen van Keulen.

Etymology of the Name "Van Keulen/Keuren"

In German, the preposition "von" indicates nobility, but in Dutch it just indicates where someone is from. Family tradition has is that Matthys Jansen's father was a painter living on the coast of Holland.

The word "Keulen" is the Dutch name for the city of Cologne in Germany, so "van Keulen" means "from Cologne" or "of Cologne". The German word is "Koeln" (o-umlaut).

The city of Cologne was founded as a home for Roman war veterans by the Emperor Nero's mother, Agrippa. She named it "Colonia Agrippina", which means the Agrippine Colony. Nero later had her killed (presumably not for this). Cologne was an independent kingdom for a while during the early Middle Ages, then a prince archbishopric, and the Archbishop of Cologne was one of the electors of the Holy Roman Empire.

The Latin word "colonia", "colony", comes from the verb "colere", and meant to till, cultivate, or worship. This in turn comes ultimately from the Proto-Indo-European word *qwel, which meant to "turn around", "take care of", and is related to many other words like wheel, column, cycle, cult, cultivate.

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Send suggestions and corrections to Robert Steven van Keuren, at rsvk@adnc.com or bob@ttinet.com