I have a big duty book of family entries back home (I'm at school right now). Funny, I've never even bothered to crack it open, save for the first page. The origin of our last name in the book linked back to some sailor or pirate, if memory serves. I've theorized about the Kepner/Kepler similarities and concluded that the "derivation" part is merely because of Johannes Kepler's celebrity. Hats sounds right though, some Germans told me that when I was overseas. I'll check up on my records when I return home for Spring Break. I can tell you exactly where my branch of the family came from...still, I imagine that at best, there's 3-500 Kepners alive (a mere guess), so we're probably all closely linked.