John Kerr

Submitted by Mark Nighswonger.


MATTHEW KERR, the immigrant for this branch, was of Scotch descent, probably born about 1734 in Ireland. Matthew married Margaret ____, and they brought their young family from northern Ireland to Philadelphia PA before the Revolutionary War (17) about 1769 (from his children's birthplaces). He was a merchant there.

"At the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, Matthew KERR enlisted (as CARR) in the Continental Army for the duration. He served as a private in Capt. Wilkinson's Co., 5th PA reg., commanded by Col. Robert Magaw and Lt. Col. Josiah Harmar between Jan. 1, 1776 to Jan. 1, 1777. He was with that regiment when Col. Magaw defended Fort Washington on the Hudson, and when it fell in 1776, he was taken prisoner (listed as Matthew KEAR) by Gen. Howe's forces (1).

On Jan. 3, 1777 he transferred to the 6th PA Reg., under Lt.Col. Harmar and was with that regiment in George Washington's army during 1778 and 1780, then in Gen. Greene's division in the South during 1781 and 1782. He was mustered out in January of 1783" (1, 29).

Soon after the war he moved his family west of the mountains to Chartier's Creek, near Ft. Pittsburg, then to Ft. Henry at Wheeling. In 1787 he followed his old commander, Gen. Harmar, to a new fort, Fort Harmar, on the north side of the Ohio River at the mouth of the Muskingum. They settled on an island in the Ohio River known as Kerr's Island, now Buckley's Island. He kept cows and raised vegetables and supplied the fort. In 1787 Major Hamtramck came to command at Fort Harmar. He sent a young man to Kerr's Island, but he was killed by Indians (10). "In 1788 General Putnam and his group of pioneers came to Kerr's Island." (2). In 1789 he purchased land from the Ohio Company at Duck Creek and farmed.

Matthew KERR was a victim of Indian savagery in 1791. Williams' "History of Washington County" tells "Matthew Kerr, the father of Hamilton, was killed in the summer of this year. He had settled, as has been related in a former chapter upon Kerr's island, prior to the arrival of the Ohio Company colony, and soldiers had been detailed from Fort Harmar to assist him in building his cabin. After the war had commenced in earnest Kerr had removed to the garrison at the forest but had left hiscattle at the little island clearing, and made dailytrips there in his canoe to feed them. One day he founda horse tied in an empty barn, which he took with him to the garrison conjecturing, and correctly, that it had been left there by Indians who had been on a plundering expedition in Virginia, and who were still lurking in the vicinity to commit further depredations."(6). "The next day June 17th he went up again to attend to his stock though advised not to by his sons, who feared that the Indians who had lost the horse would belying in wait to murder, if possible, the person who had taken it." (6) "Kerr went, however, and just as he was about to land from the canoe, four Indians fired upon him. He fell back pierced by three rifle balls, and one of the assailants springing into the water, made his way to the canoe, scalped the old man and pushed the boat out into the stream. It was picked up, when it reached the mouth of the Muskingum, and a party was immediately sent out to pursue the murderers, but they were not to be found."(6). A similar account is given in the History of Morgan Co. (10): "During the summer Matthew KERR was killed on KERR's Island, near the mouth of the Muskingum, where he had settled in 1787. In common with the other settlers he sought the shelter of the garrison at night in the time of danger, but went daily to his farm to work and attend to his stock. On the 16th of June he found a horse, which he conjectured that the Indians had stolen, tied in one of his corn cribs, and took it down to the garrison. On the next day, as he was approaching the shore of the island in his canoe, four Indians fired upon him and he fell, pierced by three bullets. The act was witnessed by several Virginia soldiers, who were powerless to render assistance, the river being between. Matthew KERR was the father of Hamilton KERR, who distinguished himself as a scout during the war." "He was buried at Kerr's Island. In 1863, his remains together with the remains of Capt. Rogers, and others who had been slain by the Indians were removed and interred in Mound Cemetery" (8) in Marietta.

Jane Kerr
Born Ireland 1764
Died Shawneetown Il. after 1840
Parents Matthew/ Margaret


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