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


    The specific history of the west was made by the pioneers; it was emblazoned on the forest trees by the strength of sturdy arms and gleaming ax, and written on the surface of the earth by the track of the primitive plow. These were strong men and true who came to found the empire of the west--these hardy settlers who built their rude domiciles, grappled with the giants of the forest, and from the sylvan wilds evolved the fertile and productive fields which have these many years been furrowed and refurrowed by the plowshare. The red man, in his motley garb, stalked through the dim, woody avenues, and the wild beasts disputed his dominion. The trackless prairie was made to yield its tribute under the effective endeavors of the pioneer, and slowly and surely were laid the steadfast foundations upon which have been built the magnificent superstructure of an opulent and enlightened commonwealth. To establish a home amid such surroundings, and to cope with the many privations and hardships which were the inevitable concomitants demanded an invincible courage and fortitude, strong hearts and willing hands. All these were characteristic of the pioneers, whose names and deeds should be held in perpetual reverence by those who enjoy the fruits of their toil.

    John M. Kerr is not only a representative of one of the pioneer families of Ohio, but has been himself also a resident of Miami county for three score years and ten. He was born in Monroe township, April 2, 1829, on the old family homestead which his grandfather, George Kerr, entered from the government prior to 1812. Hamilton Kerr, the father of our subject, was born in Ohio, in 1803. The land purchased by George Kerr has since been in possession of the family, being now owned by Furnas Kerr, a brother of our subject. Upon taking up his abode in Miami county he erected a log. cabin, about twenty by twenty-four feet, which continued to be his home for several years. He then built a brick house of two rooms, and in that residence died in 1836. He was a very successful farmer, his enterprising efforts having made him the possessor of five hundred acres of land. He married Miss Rhoda Furnas, a native of Monroe township, Miami county, and unto them were born four children: Newell, who died July 18, 1876, at the age of forty-nine years; John M.; George, a farmer of Concord township, Miami county, and Furnas, a retired farmer who is now living in Tippecanoe City.

    John M. Kerr, whose name introduces this review, can relate many interesting incidents of pioneer life in Miami county. He pursued his education in a little log school-house, walking a mile and a half through the woods in order to recite his lessons in that institution. His training at farm labor was not meager, for he early learned to handle the scythe and to follow the plow. Until twenty-four years of age he assisted his father in the work of field and meadow and then removed to an adjoining farm of one hundred and sixty acres on sections 10 and 15, Monroe township. There he resided until 1889 and developed one of the best farming properties in the neighborhood. His richly cultivated fields and substantial buildings indicated to the passer-by the thrift and enterprise of the owner. Upon his removal to Tippecanoe City, in 1889, he put aside business cares and has since lived retired, enjoying the rest which he has truly earned.

    On the 17th of May, 1866, Mr. Kerr was united in marriage to Miss Sarah Coates, who was born in Warren county, Indiana, and died in 1867, at the age of twenty-eight years and eighteen days. Mr. Kerr has no children of his own, but his niece, now Mrs. J. F. Dietrich, lived with him from her early childhood and was to him a daughter. He is yet the owner of a valuable farm of three hundred and twenty acres, and from his place derives a good income. He has been a member of the Masonic fraternity since 1859, and his membership is now in Tippecanoe Lodge, No. 74.

    In politics he is a Democrat. Having witnessed the entire growth and development of this county he is well informed concerning its history, and is accounted one of the valued citizens whose efforts have contributed in no small degree to the general prosperity and progress. His activity in business affairs, combined with honorable dealing and sound judgment, brought to him creditable success, while his upright life has won for him the high regard of all with whom he has been brought in contact.

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