Pages 165-166, transcribed by Carolyn Ward from History of Allen and Woodson Counties, Kansas: embellished with portraits of well known people of these counties, with biographies of our representative citizens, cuts of public buildings and a map of each county / Edited and Compiled by L. Wallace Duncan and Chas. F. Scott. Iola Registers, Printers and Binders, Iola, Kan.: 1901; 894 p., [36] leaves of plates: ill., ports.; includes index.




OBED KERR, of Marmaton township, Allen county, who has passed his score of years in the county, located upon a piece of raw prairie in the fall of 1878, his location being the south-west quarter of section 9, township 25, range 20. It was included in the "Peck" land and consequently, his title was never disputed by the League. It was well on toward winter when Mr. Kerr drove his mule team, a cow and two calves onto the spot which is now his home and started a camp. The ten dollars which he brought with him was unequal to the task of providing shelter for the family and he mortgaged his team in Humboldt to buy the lumber for his 14x16 shanty, ten feet high. A hard winter came on and the little mansion proved little more than a good wind-break, for it filled with snow as regularly as it fell.

He started farming with sowing eight acres of wheat which harvested only fifty-one bushels and it came at a time when the family was needing something to eat. These hardships all passed over, the difficulties were all overcome with the lapse of time and prosperity showered its blessings upon him as had adversity in the beginning. He has more than doubled the area of his original farm, having real estate in Elm township as well as in Marmaton.

Mr. Kerr came to Kansas in 1877 and spent the first year in Marshall county. He came from Union county, Pennsylvania, in Snyder county of which state he was born January 11, 1835. The Kerrs were among the well known people of that locality and one of the old German families of the state. Our subject's father was Jacob Kerr, a farmer, a son of Christian Kerr.

Jacob Kerr married Sarah Hummell, was reasonably successful in life and died in 1845 at the age of forty-four. His widow survived him more than forty-five years, dying in 1891, aged ninety years. Their children were: Leah, wife of Joseph Miller, of Northumberland county, Pennsyl-


vania; Rachel, who married John Bere, of Union county, Pennsylvania; Kanez, of Allen county, Kansas; Obed Kerr; Jacob Kerr, who died just after coming out of the army; Sarah, who is Mrs. Joseph Miller, residing in Pennsyvania;[sic] Elizabeth, deceased; Susan, widow of Isaac Keyser, of Northlumberland county, Pennsylvania; Catherine, wife of Theodore Fegley, of Harvey county, Kansas, and Christian Kerr, of Benton county, Arkansas.

Being orphaned by the death of his father Obed Kerr was forced to "work out" very early in life and at the age of fifteen years went to live with an uncle. He learned the carpenter trade with him and worked at it about five years. In addition to his country school advantages he put in a full year in a graded school. He was granted license to teach and did engage in that work several winters and clerked in a store at Mount Carmel in summer. He finally became a partner in the business and remained so for twenty years. When the crash came after the war the firm failed and Mr. Kerr suffered severe financial reverses. The two years succeeding his forced retirement from the counter, and prior to his advent to Kansas, he spent on a farm and he reached Marshall county, Kansas, with funds enough to provide for the wants of his family till a crop could be raised.

December 20, 1860, Mr. Kerr was married to Mary Heiser, a daughter of David Heiser. The children of this union are: Walter A. Kerr; Arie, Claire and Willis Kerr. The Kerrs are Republicans in politics and our subject has been one of the active and enthusiastic party men in Allen county.

Previous | Home | Next