Before the name Keetmanshoop was used, the settlement was known as as ǂNuǂgoaes or Swartmodde. Both these words meant “Black Marsh”. That could have indicated that a spring was present in the area.
The first foreign settler arrived in 1785, going by the name Guilliam Visagie. After a few more years, in the year 1850, the Kharoǃoan clan which were the Keetmanshoop Nama separated themeselves from the Red Nation (the main subtribe of the Nama people) and permanently remained in Keetmanshoop.