Biography of Joseph Kerr

Joseph Kerr. One of the oldest and most honored names in Champaign County is that of Kerr, and its substantial qualities are fittingly commemorated by that name being assigned to one of the prosperous townships. It is in section 5 of this township that Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Kerr reside and have their fine country home. Mr. Joseph Kerr has for many years been a hard working and prosperous farmer and has a great deal of real accomplishment to his credit.

He was born in Kerr Township, a son of Samuel and Betsy Ann (Taylor) Kerr. His father was born in Ohio and his mother in Kentucky. Samuel Kerr, who was of Scotch-Irish stock, was one of the earliest pioneers of Champaign County and the first settler in the Sugar Grove community. He located there when his. nearest neighbor was six miles away. The country was a raw and unbroken prairie. There were no railroads nor towns, and the Kerr home was a nucleus around which other settlers gradually gathered and began the development of one of the finest sections of the entire county. Samuel Kerr was not only a hard working pioneer but a man of splendid character, and it was for him that the township was named.

Mr. Joseph Kerr grew up in this county, attended the local schools, and started life independently when he married Emma Bradshaw. Mrs. Joseph Kerr was born in Fountain County, Indiana, a daughter of Thomas and Nancy (Daily) Bradshaw. She was only two years of age when her father died. Her mother then married again and moved to Champaign County, locating on the land which now constitutes the home of Mr. and Mrs. Kerr. Mrs. Kerr was the youngest of ten children. She secured her education in the Sugar Grove district school.

After their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Kerr started housekeeping on the place of her stepfather, David Morehouse. Mr. Morehouse had bought the land, consisting of eighty acres, from the Government at $1.50 an acre. At this time the land could hardly be bought for $175 an acre. Mr. and Mrs. Kerr had good ideas, sound ambition and industry, and these qualities have taken them far along the road to success.

Into their home came four children. One of them died in infancy. The three who grew up are Nancy Belle, Rosa Lee and Joseph Foster. Mr. and Mrs. Kerr took great pains to give them the best of advantages both at home and in school. They first attended Sugar Grove School, where Mrs. Kerr was educated, and the daughters also attended school at Rankin, and Nancy took further courses in the Wingate High School in Montgomery County, Indiana. She fitted herself for teaching and followed that vocation for several years at the Strayer School, the Campbell School and the Trickle Grove School. She is now the wife of Milton Strayer, formerly a farmer but now living in Onarga, Illinois. The daughter Rosa Lee married Thomas McIntosh, a carpenter living at Henning, Illinois. They have a bright and attractive daughter, Leta Ilene, now thirteen years of age and entering upon her work in the eighth grade of the public schools. The son, Joseph F. Kerr, is a successful agriculturist in Eaton County, Michigan. He married Cora McHaley. Their daughter, Agnes Cleo, is only eighteen years of age but has graduated with honors from the college at Olivet, Michigan, and has done some most creditable work in school, her record being a matter of pride to her parents and grandparents.

Mr. Joseph Kerr is one of the public spirited citizens of Champaign County. For six years his neighbors kept him in the office of road commissioner and for twenty-five years he was a school director. He believes that the best in schools are none too good for this rural district. Mr. and Mrs. Kerr attend the Methodist Episcopal Church at Pleasant Grove and are liberal supporters. Politically Mr. Kerr is a staunch Republican and has cast his vote for the principles of that party since early manhood. Mr. and Mrs. Kerr have spent their lives in Champaign County and have made their work and example count for good in the uplift of the community. Their home is one of generous hospitality and a distinct influence in the community. They are able to look back upon days and duties well spent and performed, and they may look back without regret and to the future without fear.



Stewart, J. R. A Standard History of Champaign County Illinois. The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago and New York. 1918.

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