STEWARD J. KERR, is one of the large property owners of Homer township. He has been identified with the interests of Iowa since 1870, and since 1874 he has lived at his present homestead, a splendidly improved farm of two hundred acres. The land at the time of purchase was virgin prairie soil, and the improvements which it now contains have been placed there by him. His entire cash capital when he came to this state did not exceed one hundred dollars, but he owned a half interest in a threshing machine which he brought with him and which he operated for some twenty years, his services in this way being of inestimable value to the early residents of Benton county. The nucleus of his present estate was a forty acre tract, and he has added thereto forty acres at a time, and he has been very successful in his chosen vocation. Vinton was his nearest market in those early days, and during the first years of his residence he worked some on the construction of the old Burlington Cedar Rapids and Northern Railroad, now the Rock Island, but general farming has been his principal occupation throughout life, and during recent years he has raised thoroughbred Hereford cattle. He was at one time interested in a creamery at Rogerville.
Mr. Kerr was born in Rochester, New York, in 1849, a son of Francis and Hannaah (Thornhill) Kerr. The father was born Scotland, but came to America when a young man, and he died in Indiana whither he had moved during the babyhood of his son Steward, and he died when this son was but a small child. The mother was born in England, her family emigrating to the state of New Yrok when she was young, and after her husband’s death she with her seven children returned to her parents in that state and remained there for some time. About 1855 she moved to Winnebago county, Illinois, where she was subsequently married to Thomas Dobson, and she continued to reside in that county until her death in 1862. Steward J. Kerr has a sister and two brothers living, William, living in Davis Junction, Ogle county; Illinois; Mrs. Mary Maine, of Rockford, that state; and Andrew, who lived for twenty years at Waterloo, Ioaw, and he is now a retired business man at Shellrock, this state. The latter was a Civil war soldier serving in a New York regiment.
The deceased brothers and sisters of Mr. Kerr are: Eliza J. McGookin who died at Rockport, Illinois, in 1876; Ida Ferrin of Rockport, who died May, 1890; William Dobson, who died at Rockford in July, 1890; Ellen M. Beach who died at Davis Junction, Illinois, in 1890; and Levi J., who served in Company I, Sixth Missouri Infantry during the Civil war and died at Waterloo, Iowa, in August, 1906.
Steward J. Kerr attended school in Illinois, and he became familiar with farming pursuits in his youth, working for others until Civil war. On the 4th of January, 1864, he enlisted in Company D, First Illinois Artillery, and served until July 28, 1865, when he was honorably discharged. Returning to Illinois he continued to work out by the month until coming to Iowa in 1870 he rented land in Benton county, finally purchasing his present homestead. In 1870, in Illinois, he married Miss Mary Kennedy, born in Limerick, Ireland, in 1850, to Martin and Mary (Vaughan) Kennedy. Her father came to this country and to New York, and was killed on the railroad. His widow brought their family to America when the daughter was a baby, and in a short time they located in Rockford, Illinois, the mother subsequently marrying there a Mr. Fahey. Both Mr. and Mrs. Fahey spent the remainder of their lives on a farm there. Mrs. Kerr has several brothers and sisters living, including Margaret Greene, of Bremer county, Iowa; Anna Dolan, of Cherry Valley, Illinois; William Fahey, living in Ogle county, Illinois; Miss Eliza Fahey, of the same county; and Sarah McGrath, of Ogle county. A brother, John M. Kennedy, died at Rockford, Illinois, August 27, 1908, when past sixty years of age. A sister, Mrs. Maria Duffy, the eldest of the children, died at her home in Burlington in 1908, and Patrick Kennedy died some thirty years ago, when a young man. Mr. and Mrs. Kerr have six children living, namely: Lucy J., the wife of Perry B. Fairbanks, of Dysart, Tama county, Iowa, and they have a daughter, Frances K.; J. W., a farmer near Dysart residing on one of his father’s farms in Tama county, Iowa, and he married Miss Rose Schott; Delbert S., who is associated with his father in farming; Bessie E., also at home with her parents; Lulu B., the wife of F. H. Schmidt, of Dysart, and they have a daughter, Helen Elizabeth; and Lena M., teaching in Dysart. Two of their children are deceased, George F. dying in 1892 when just past the age of twenty-one, and Alice who died in infancy. Mr. Kerr votes with the Republican party, and he has served in local and school offices. He is a member of H. M. Miller Post No. 261, of Dysart, and both he and his wife are members of the Rogerville Methodist Episcopal church in Homer township.