Miami County, Ohio Genealogical Researchers -- Sponsored by the Computerized Heritage Association


    Mrs. Sally Kerr is the mother of numerous sons and daughters, whose biographies appear in this work, and we venture the assertion that no sketch of any person will be of more interest than even this condensed report of only a few incidents in her life. She was born in Pennsylvania in 1800; is a daughter of Jonathan and Olive Thompson. Her parents had ten children, and, as they grew rapidly, Mr. Thompson wishing to purchase land enough for them when he had the means, sold his farm in Pennsylvania, himself and eldest son went to Canada and purchased 1,000 acres. They removed thither in 1810, and were getting comfortably settled when the Indian war of 1812 broke out in all its fury. Mr. Thompson refused to take the oath of allegiance to the British Crown, and was therefore, forced to flee for his life. He came to Cleveland, and from there sent a letter to his wife bidding her come at once and bring with her such things as she could carry. The Indians were by this time very troublesome, and numerous outrages had been committed, and the news that they were to leave the settlement was hailed with joy. They started in midwinter when the snow lay deep upon the ground. Their route was through an almost trackless forest, but they started, nevertheless, with one ox and one two-horse team, hitched to sleds loaded with all they could conveniently carry. Sally was then 11 years old, and went in front, driving the team of horses while her mother drove the oxen. Owing to the stumpy character of the road, the oxen broke the tongue out of the sled to which they were hitched, the first night, and they were forced to stop in the dense woods and stay during, the night, with no light, no fire, and the wolves-howling on every side. During the long hours of the night, the mother and little Sally had to pace back and forth through the snow to hold the wolves at bay and keep themselves from freezing. The other children were as well protected from the cold as was possible with blankets, etc., but Mrs. Thompson's feet were so badly frozen that she was unable to walk for weeks afterward. At daybreak, they left the oxen and the disabled sled and started with the other team. After traveling four or five miles they came to a cabin, where they hired a man to go back, repair damages, and bring the team to his house. The next day's journey brought them to the home of a brother of Mr. Thompson, where they had to stop, as the suffering endured by Mrs. Thompson with her frozen feet, forbade them continuing the journey. They stayed there three weeks, perhaps, when three men with whom her husband was acquainted stopped at the house, and told Mrs. Thompson if she would put herself and little ones under their protection they would see her safely to Cleveland. Mr. Thompson, Sally's uncle prevailed upon her to stay a short time with him, as he also intended leaving the country, She consented, and the mother and children took an affectionate leave of Sally, expecting soon to meet her again. But. that parting was destined to be forever, and the daughter, who is now an aged woman, has seen nothing of either parents, brothers or sisters, from that time to this day, neither has any tidings been heard from any of them, and if any of the family are to-day living, they mourn Aunt Sally, the subject of this sketch, as dead. The parting was one never to be forgotten, and, though parents and children may never meet again on earth, we trust that in Heaven above, where no sorrow nor parting is known, their union may be complete. Sally's uncle was also obliged to make his escape, as he was drafted into the British Army, and she was again left with her aunt as an only friend. Shortly after, she was placed in charge of a man and his wife who said they were also going to Cleveland, and again she started to join her parents. The people with whom she found herself afterward proved to be ballet dancers, and, after wandering about the country awhile, came to Ft. Meigs. Disregarding their promise, they left her here among a lot of French and Indians, while she was the only American in the place. Their food was hominy and fish without salt, and she frequently prayed for death instead of this semi-captivity and disgusting food. But as there is always a silver lining to the darkest cloud, so were God's mercies to be extended to our little Sally. Some time during August, a band of 400 savage warriors, painted for battle, and commanded by Col. Cromer, stopped at the fort. The Colonel, noticing her, asked her why she was there, and after hearing the story, told her if she could ride a horse to Fort Piqua, he would carry her that far. She joyfully consented, as the hope of again seeing her friends was still paramount in her bosom. Accordingly, she was mounted on a man's saddle, and the journey of 200 miles commenced. Their route was through an unbroken wilderness, with only a bridle path marking the way, and they rode single file, she being next her projector, the Colonel. She recognized many articles that the Indians had with them as trophies, as belonging to people whom she had known in Canada; but she was not molested in the least by them, the Colonel always having a tent stretched for her accommodation, and placing guards about it. Upon their arrival at Wapakoneta, Ohio, the savages were halted, as they were here allowed their ration of rum. Sally was placed in charge of an Indian squaw, who could talk some English. She, fearing that danger might happen (as the Indians when drunk were always dangerous), told her, as she had a pony of her own, she would take her to Fort Laramie, distant twenty miles. They started to a neighboring cabin to borrow a sidesaddle, when they met two drunken Indians. One of them spoke to Sally (remarking about her beauty), when the squaw told her to run and hide; this she did and reached the hut she had just quitted, the Indian giving chase; she climbed into the loft and covered herself with a lot of skins that had been placed there. The Indian climbed up, but seeing no one, departed with a malicious grunt of dissatisfaction. The squaw soon returned, leading her pony, bridled and saddled, and assisted her to mount. By this time it was dark; they started and arrived at Fort Laramie before daylight, the squaw walking all the way. After taking leave of Sally in an affectionate way, she at once started back to her cabin, not waiting for daylight. Upon her arrival at Wapakoneta, she informed Col. Cromer, who, upon his arrival at Laramie, again took charge of her, and delivered her in safety to John Johnston, Indian Agent at Fort Piqua, remarking to him that he wanted him to be a father to the girl. He then resumed his march, as he was taking the Indians to some point in Kentucky. She lived with Mr. Johnston's family a year, perhaps, and as she was an adept in spinning, manufactured 130 pounds of wool into stocking-yarn, during three months of her stay. She then went to Mrs. Ewing's to live, and finally made her permanent home with Mr. Jesse Miller, with whom she lived until her marriage to James Kerr, in 1818; she first came to Fort Piqua in August, 1812. During their married life they had eleven children; Hanford, Hamilton, George, Margaret, Jonathan, Rebecca, William, James, John, Perry and Sally A.; seven of these children are now living, and are all persons of prominence in the community in which they live. Her husband, James Kerr, was very prosperous and accumulated quite an extensive tract of land. He died July 11, 1863, his widow (the Aunt Sally of our sketch), lives now on the old homestead.

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