John was an American Bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, an author and an editor. He wrote several books on theology and a Biblical theory of paleontology critical of Darwin's "materialistic" theory of evolution which locates "the wide plain about and near the city of Charleston, South Carolina...[as] the region of 'delight' in which the first man and woman were created: the Eden of Genesis." John edited the New Orleans Christian Advocate, a weekly Methodist newspaper sponsored by Methodist conferences in Louisiana and various nearby states in the late-19th and early-20th Century. A collection of Keener's papers (1864 to 1865), available at the Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library at Emory University, include correspondence and military orders related to the return of property to the Methodist Church, South, after the war. At his death in 1906, he was described as “one of the most remarkable men in the South” whose “strenuous life was bound up with the city of New Orleans” (Galloway, 1906). John married Mary Anna Spencer in 1842, and they had eight children. Mary and most of the children preceded him in death, but John was survived by one son, Rev. Samuel S.Keener.
John was a member of the first graduating class of Wesleyan University (1835), but he parted with John Wesley on the issue of slavery and founded an Methodist Episcopal Church, South mission in Mexico. He was “highly esteemed by Jefferson Davis and served as Superintendent of C.S.A. Chaplains west of the Mississippi River during the Civil War” (Wikipedia). A collection of tributes to Bishop Keener published after his death indicates that he “feared any movement that looked toward organic union with anything or anybody.” With respect to the Civil War, he is said to have “resented the slightest imputation upon the motives of his people, and never apologized for a single act” (Galloway, 1906). “[I]ntensely and aggressively Southern in every fiber of his being,” Bishop Keener was “firmly fixed by the agonies and horrors of reconstruction” after the war (Galloway, 1906). As late as 1890, while other Methodists were starting to reach out to African Americans, Bishop Keener told the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South that “we now have a solidly white church, for which we thank God” (Murray, 2004).
Have you taken a DNA test for genealogy? If so, login to add it. If not, see our friends at Ancestry DNA.