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Fayette County, Iowa  

 History Directory

Past and Present of Fayette County Iowa, 1910

Author: G. Blessin


B. F. Bowen & Company, Indianapolis, Indiana


Vol. I, Biographical Sketches



~Page 1002~


Thomas Kerr


Of thrifty Scotch-Irish parentage come Thomas Kerr, one of the well known and progressive agriculturists and stock raisers of Illyria township, Fayette county. He was born May 18, 1851, in Kane county, Illinois, and is the son of James and Elizabeth (Binnie) Kerr, the father born in county Tyrone, Ireland, in 1820, and the mother a native of Glasgow, Scotland. James Kerr, who came to America in 1820, was a sailor on the lakes and the Atlantic ocean for a period of nine years. In 1849 he located in Kane county, Illinois, and there he and Elizabeth Binnie were married, she having come to America in 1848 with her parents, the family locating near Elgin, Kane county, Illinois. After their marriage, James Kerr and wife lived in Kane county, Illinois, three years on a farm, then come to Iowa, locating in Highland township, Clayton county, in 1854, being among the first settlers there. Mr. Kerr got good government land there for one dollar and twenty-five cents per acre. He was a man of enterprise and he added to his original purchase until he owned five hundred and eighty acres. He cleared a great deal of the this land and soon had a splendid home, and he lived there in 1901, when he sold out and moved to River View, Chicago, Illinois, where he now resides. Mrs. James Kerr died in 1896. Mr. Kerr is a well preserved man notwithstanding his life of hard work; he was well and favorably known in Clayton county. He is a Republican in politics and a member of the Presbyterian church. Fifteen children constituted his family, namely: Thomas, of this review; Agnes lives in Chicago; Marian also lives in Chicago; Robert lives on the old place in Clayton county, Iowa; James lives in Chicago; John lives on the old place in Clayton county; Hannah and Annie live in Chicago; Henry lives in Highland township, Clayton county, Iowa; Elizabeth lives in Volga City, Iowa; Jessie lives at Osborn, Clayton county, Iowa; Amelia, Lydia, Edward and Erias are all deceased.

Thomas Kerr received a good education in the home schools and he remained under his paternal roof until twenty-four years of age. On December 10, 1897, while living in Highland township, Clayton county, Iowa, he married Ella E. Moats, of the vicinity; she is the daughter of David and Lydia (Clapper) Moats, the father a native of Franklin county, Pennsylvania, and the latter of Stark county, Ohio. They came to Clayton county, Iowa, in 1851, got wild land, cleared it and made a home. Selling his land, he moved to Elgin, Iowa, in 1897. Mr. Moats was a carpenter by trade and he also farmed. He is a Republican and a member of the Methodist Episcopal church. Fourteen children constituted his family, named as follows: Ambrose is a blacksmith at Scotch Grove, Iowa; Martha Jane is deceased; Stewart M. lives in Nebraska; Austin lives in Cedar Rapids, Iowa; James, who was an attorney at Eagle Grove, Iowa, died in 1906; Elizabeth is deceased; Lyman is an attorney at Eagle Grove, Iowa; Ella E., wife of Thomas Kerr of this review; Mary lives in Elgin, Iowa; Harry is deceased; Hattie lives in Elgin, Iowa; Adelbet is deceased; Abraham lives at Volga City, Iowa; Charlie is the youngest in order of birth.

Five children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Kerr, named as follows: Lulu married Charles Ruthlesberger and they live in Illyria township, this county; William is attending business college at Oelwein, Iowa; Lydia is attending school at Fayette, Iowa; Hattie is also attending school in Fayette; Fern is living at home.

After their marriage, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Kerr began farming in Highland township, Clayton county, Iowa, remaining there until 1901; they came to Illyria township, Fayette county, and bought the place on which they now live, in section 3. Mr. Kerr owns in all two hundred and ten acres, formerly known as the Sampson Humphrey place; he has added many substantial improvements on the place and is carrying on general farming in a very satisfactory manner; he also devotes much of his time to stock raising, paying especial attention to raising Durham cattle, Norman horses and Poland China hogs.

Mr. Kerr is a Republican in politics, and he has been trustee and school director, clerk of the board, and is now clerk of Illyria township. He is interested in the elgin Farmers' Creamery at Elgin, Iowa. He belongs to the Modern Woodman of America, of Highland township, Clayton county. Mrs. Kerr is a member of the Methodist Episcopal church.

~transcribed for the Fayette County IAGenWeb Project by Tom and Sharon Dorland



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