It seems clear now that there are just five documented Keithley/Keathley family groups in America, and that we are all descended from one of them. These groups include:
The descendants of four German brothers who arrived in Kentucky in 1792. They are generally known by the "Keithley" spelling, although they are probably not actually
Keithleys at all. For more information, click here.
The descendants of William Keathley of NC (1775-c.1861), whose family spread to KY, WV, IN, MO, TX, and other points. For more information, click here
The descendants of John Keathley of NC (1730-1793), whose family spread to TN, AL, AR, MO, TX, LA, and other points. They are known by both "Keathley" and "Kethley"
spellings. For more information, click here.
The descendants of a group of English Keithley families in Maryland in the late 1700s. For more information, click here.
The Keathleys of White County, TN, siblings John, Jesse, Willis, Sarah, Joseph, and Henry. They are known to us by various spellings (Keathley, Keethley, Kethly, Keithley, and
Keitherly), although that is regional. The descendants of Jesse and Henry now use "Keathley", while the descendants of Willis, Joseph, and John Jr use "Keithley". For more information, click here.
None of these five groups has been definitely tied to another, but it is likely that at least three of them are the same. A small but devoted band of Ke*thley researchers
continues to work on the problem.