Daniel Kerr

Daniel Kerr: Grundy Center's First Mayor, And Only Grundy Countian To Serve In United States Congress

Daniel Kerr had much to do in the growth and development of Grundy Center.

He was the town's first mayor, published a newspaper several years, represented Grundy county in the state legislature and served two terms in Congress from our district.

He was the only man ever to serve in Congress from Grundy county.

Daniel Kerr was born in Scotland June 18th, 1836, and was named in honor of his grandfather, Daniel Kerr, Sr.

Mr. Kerr was 5 years of age when he came with his parents to America. He was raised on a farm in Madison county, Ill. He engaged in school teaching several years and studied law during his later years as a teacher.

He graduated from the law department of McKendree college in Illinois in 1861. He was admitted to the bar in 1862.

In August, 1862, he enlisted in the Union army and helped to raise three companies of the 117th Illinois Infantry. He was advanced to the rank of First Lieutenant before the close of the war. He was in 26 engagements during the war.

He made speeches for Abraham Lincoln during the 1860 presidential campaign.

After the war Mr. Kerr engaged in the practice of law in Edwardsville, Ill. In 1868 he represented Madison and Bond counties, Illinois, in the state legislature.

In 1869 Mr. Kerr came to Grundy county and bought a farm of 80 acres near Grundy Center. The next year he brought his family here and built the home in Grundy Center which is still owned by a member of the family. On Nov. 9th, 1864, Daniel Kerr and Clara T. Estabrook of Boston were married.

Mr. Kerr engaged in the practice of law in Grundy Center until he was elected to Congress in 1886. He was re-elected two years later and declined to be a candidate for a third term. In 1884 he was elected as a member of the Iowa legislature from Grundy county and served two years.

Following his retirement from Congress Mr. Kerr looked after his property interests during the remainder of his lifetime. The corner on Main street across from the court house where the Post Hotel stood, which was destroyed by fire in 1899, remained an eyesore to the town.

Mr. Kerr erected a double two story brick building on this corner in 1904.

Mrs. Kerr died in 1915 and Mr. Kerr followed her a year later at the age of 80. No man in Grundy Center left a better record for achievement.

Mr. and Mrs. Kerr had four children. They were William, George, Edward and Mrs. C. M. Sprague.

--The Grundy Register (Grundy Center, Iowa), 7 July 1977