Sunday, September 16, 2012

Mathias Kerr

MATTHIAS KERR, living on section 3, Liberty Township, is a son of Arthur and Hannah Kerr, pioneers of that township, they being the first settlers in the northeastern part of the same. The parents were born and reared in Pennsylvania, but married in Ohio, and when our subject was about five years of age they located in De Witt County, Illinois, coming thence to Clarke County in the spring of 1853, when they settled on section 3, Liberty Township. Here the father improved a farm and followed agricultural pursuits successfully till his death, having at that time a valuable farm of 160 acres. He died October 29, 1882, at the age of seventy-two years. He was one of the most active and energetic of the pioneers, and won the confidence and esteem of a large circle of acquaintances. His widow still survives, and is making her home with her son John in Fremont Township, this county.  They reared a family of nine children of whom eight still survive – James, a resident of Montana since 1861; John, of Fremont Township; Matthias, our subject; Mrs. Margaret Ann Davison, of Osceola Township; Mrs. Isabell Hite, of Warren County; Isaac of Sac County, Iowa; William of Warren County, and Mrs. Ellen Michaels, of Van Wert, Decatur County. Marion, the sixth child, contracted disease while in the army and died about thirteen years later of consumption.  Matthias Kerr, our subject, is a native of Harrison County, Ohio, born February 5, 1839. He remained with his parents until 20 years of age when he went to McLean County, Illinois, and enlisted in the defense of his country, July 25, 1861, a member of Company D, Seventh Illinois Infantry.  Illinois had sent six regiments to the Mexican war, thus the first regiment in the civil war was called the seventh. Mr. Kerr participated in the hardly-contested battles of Fort Donelson, Shiloh and the battle of Corinth in October 1862. His regiment was at and in the vicinity of Corinth in the fall of 1863 and there re-enlisted as veterans and in May 1864 joined Sherman's forces. Mr. Kerr was taken prisoner while on scouting duty and for a time was confined in Andersonville Prison and the suffering he underwent while in that Southern prison pen has aged him fast. He left there under special cartel for exchange of sick November 20, 1864 and was discharged on account of disability from Chestnut Hill Hospital, Philadelphia, June 15, 1865. While in Andersonville he lost part of his right foot by gangrene and now receives a pension of $12 a month.  After leaving the army he returned to Illinois, and in the spring of 1866 married Mary Allen and immediately after their marriage went to Madison County, Nebraska, Mr. Kerr building the first house in that county, where the city of Norfolk now stands. Mrs. Kerr died of consumption in June 1867, aged 25 years, leaving at her death, one child, Harland, who is now with his father. After the death of his wife Mr. Kerr came to Liberty Township, Clarke County, Iowa where he has since resided. For his second wife he married Hannah J. Trumbo, July 25, 1869, a daughter of the pioneers John and Sophia Trumbo. Her parents came from Allen County, Indiana to Liberty Township, Clarke County, Iowa in 1855 and are still living on their old homestead on section 2. Mrs. Kerr is a native of Allen County, Indiana the date of her birth being January 18, 1840. Mr. and Mrs. Kerr have 5 children – Bertie May, Mary Ann, Frederick O., Don and Bessie Ellen.  Mr. Kerr now has a fine home on section 3 where he owns 120 acres of choice land under excellent cultivation. In politics he is a Republican. He has served his township as trustee and by his upright and honorable dealings, he has gained the confidence and respect of all who know him.

SOURCE: Biographical and Historical Record of Clarke County, Iowa, Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, Illinois, 1886 p. 267-8

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