David O'Keefe

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For the Australian politician, see David O'Keefe (Australian politician).

David Dean O'Keefe (1824 or 1828[1] - 1901) was an Irish immigrant from Savannah, Georgia, who become a historical and political figure on the South Pacific island of Yap.

He left the United States in 1871 for the South Pacific. After landing on Yap he became powerful by using tools from Hong Kong and East Asia to more easily create Rai stones; however, the ease of making the stone money ultimately helped lead to its decline during the period of German rule.[2] Still the wealth allowed him to own an island, of which he was considered "king". Reportedly he had his own emblem, which showed the US flag waving over the letters "O K." He took two Yapese wives as well, despite already having a wife and daughter in Savannah.

In 1901 he died on the ship Santa Cruz returning to Savannah.

His Majesty O'Keefe[3] is the story of O'Keefe's life on Yap. A film of the same name starring Burt Lancaster was made in 1954.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Beachcombers, Traders & Castaways in Micronesia
  2. ^ BBC
  3. ^ Klingman, Lawrence; Green, Gerald (1950). His Majesty O'Keefe. NY: Charles Scribner's Sons. 
  4. ^ His Majesty O'Keefe on IMDb


  • The New Book of Lists pgs 384-385