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Greene County, Ohio
History & Genealogy


History of Greene County, Ohio,
its people, industries & institutions
by Hon. M. A. Broadstone, Editor in Chief -
Vol. I. & II.
Publ. B. F. Bowen & Company, Inc.,
 Indianapolis, Ind.


Robert F. Kerr
ROBERT FINLEY KERR.  The late Robert Finley Kerr, who for years was head of the firm of Kerr & Hastings Brothers, merchants at Cedarville, and whose widow is still living at Cedarville, was a native son of Ohio, born in the vicinity of Ripley, in Brown county, Dec. 10, 1852, son of Paul and Eliza (Pierce) Kerr, the latter of whom was born in Madison county, this state, who became residents of Green county in the spring of 1869 and later moved to Rushville, Indiana, where their last days were spent.
     Upon coming to this county with his family, Paul Kerr located on a farm in Cedarville township, but presently disposed of that holding and moved to Cedarville, where he became engaged in the grocery business.  Some years later he sold his store there and moved to Rushville, Indiana, where he became engaged in the furniture and where he and his wife spent the remainder of their lives.  Paul Kerr was a Republican and during his residence at Cedarville served for some time as justice of the peace.  He and his wife were members of the United Presbyterian church and their children were reared in that faith.  There were five of these children, the subject of this memorial sketch having had one brother and three sisters, and died there on Apr. 15, 1886; Mary, who died unmarried at the age of fifty-two, and Harriet and Isabel, both unmarried, who for years have been teachers in the college at Knoxville, Tennessee.
     Reared on a farm, Robert F. Kerr completed the Cedarville high school course, supplementing the same by a two-years course in Monmouth College at Monmouth, Illinois, and then began to teach school, a profession he followed for twelve years, teaching in the district schools and in the Cedarville village schools.  After his marriage he lived on the farm for six years.  Then deciding to engage in the mercantile business he conducted a grocery for two years and then formed a partnership with the Andrews brothers, the firm being known as Andrews Brothers & Company, and thus became engaged
in the general hardware and farm-implement business at Cedarville, the firm also owning and operating a grain elevator there.  In 1900 the interest of the Andrews brothers in this business was sold to the Hastings brothers and the firm thereafter was known as Kerr & Hastings Brothers, which name it still retains.  Mrs. Kerr now holding the interest that so long was held by her late husband.  This concern is engaged not only in the general hardware and implement business, but in the sale of building supplies and owns and operates two grain elevators and coal yards and buys wool.  Mr. Kerr continued actively engaged in business up to the time of his death on June 24, 1911.  He had years ago bought and remodeled a good house on South Main street and there his widow continues to make her home.  Mr. Kerr was a member of the United Presbyterian church, as is his widow, for years was a ruling elder of the congregation with which he was affiliated and was also for some time superintendent of the Sabbath school.  Politically, he was a Republican, as was his father before him.
     On Mar. 29, 1882, Robert Finley Kerr was united in marriage to Frances Ladora (better known among her friends as "Dora") Jackson, who was born in Cedarville township, this county, Mar. 12, 1856, daughter of George and Minerva (Townsley) Jackson, both of whom also were born in this county, members, respectively, of two of the oldest and most influential families in the county, both the Jacksons and the Townsleys having been represented in the Cedarville neighborhood ever since the very "beginning of things" hereabout.  George Jackson, who was a brother of the Rev. Hugh Parks Jackson, a biographical sketch of whom, appearing elsewhere in this volume, sets out in detail the history of the Jackson family in this county, was born on Mar. 19, 1823, and was for many years one of the most conspicuous figures in the citizenship of Greene county, a man six feet and three inches in height and of weight proportionate to his stature.  He was the owner of a quarter-section farm on the Yellow Springs road two miles out of Cedarville, for years had been a ruling elder in the United Presbyterian church at Cedarville, as well as chorister for the congregation, and at the time of his death on Mar. 26, 1880, there were many and sincere expressions of regret thereabout.
     George Jackson was twice married.  On Oct. 26, 1848, the Rev. J. H. Buchanan officiating, he was united in marriage to Minerva Townsley, who also was born in this county, daughter of Alexander and Margaret (Ewing) Townsley, and to this union two daughters were born, Mrs. Kerr having a sister, Martha Joanna, wife of Judge James P. Rogers, of Wheeling, West Virginia.  The mother of these daughters died on Mar. 18, 1876, and is buried in the Massiescreek cemetery.  On June 18, 1879, Mr. Jackson married Mrs. Sarah Margaret (Hammond) McCall, who survives as Mrs. H. H. McMillanMr. Jackson also is buried in the Massiescreek cemetery.
Source: History of Greene County, Ohio, Vol. II - publ. by  B. F. Bowen & Company, Inc., Indianapolis, Ind.,
1918 - Page 280
  COATES KINNEY.  Among the leading men of letters who have been identified with the state of Ohio, there are none who have written more musical verse than the late Coats Kinney.  Although not a native of Greene county, yet most of his active life was spent within its limits, and the county has always been proud to number him among its distinguished men.  Not only as a literary man did he rise to fame, but as a newspaper editor, as a member of the General Assembly of the state of Ohio, as lieutenant-colonel in the Civil War and as a man prominent in the affairs of the every-day life about him was he equally well known.  When his famous poem.  "The Rain on the Roof."  was first given to the public, it was acclaimed as one of the most musical poems of the country, and there were few papers in the United States or England that did not reprint it.
     Colonel Kinney was born in Jerusalem township, Yates county, New York, Nov. 24, 1826.  His parents were Giles and Myra (Cornell) Kinney, the former a native of New London, Connecticut, and the latter of Delaware county, New York.  The great-grandfather of Giles Kinney came over to this country in the "Mayflower" in 1620.  Myra Cornell was a daughter of Samuel and Polly Cornell.  Colonel Kinney was the third of a family of twelve children born to his parents.  In 1840 the Kinney family removed from New York to Springboro, Ohio, a small village in the northwestern part of Warren county.  He was a leader in his class, read everything he could find and before he reached his majority was considered one of the best educated men of his county.  Before reaching the age of twenty-one he was in charge of a school room and continued to teach each winter for five or six years, meantime for a while studying law in the office of Thomas Corwin, of Lebanon.  He completed his law studies under the tutelage of Donn Piatt at Cincinnati and after being admitted to the bar practiced in that city for a year, and then returned to his old county, Warren, and practiced for a year.  The next chapter of his life opens in Xenia, where he appeared in the latter part of the '50s.  He came to Xenia to become editor of the Xenia News, and he continued in this capacity until the opening of the Civil War.  He enlisted on June 1, 1861, and served until November 14, 1865.  He was mustered in with a commission of major and detailed as a paymaster in the regular army and was mustered out with the commission of lieutenant - colonel by brevet, "for long and faithful services."  As soon as he was released from service in the regular army he returned to Xenia and the issue of the Xenia Torchlight, dated December 6, 1865, carries his name at its head as one of the owners of the paper.  He remained with the paper until December 1, 1869, when he sold his interest in it to a stock company.  The remainder of his life was largely devoted to literary work.  His poem, "The Rain on the Roof," had appeared in 1849 and established his reputation as a poet.  In 1876 when the state wanted to have its best poet produce a centennial ode, there was a universal demand that there was only one man in the state to write it - and that man was Coates Kinney.  His poem created a profound impression, being delivered by the author in person before a vast concourse of people in the Coliseum at Columbus.  In the '80s he issued a volume of his poems under the title of "Lyrics of the Ideal and the Real."  The last forty years of his life were devoted to newspaper work.  He was for a time editor of the Cincinnati Daily Time; chief editorial writer on the Ohio State Journal for a year;  the owner and editor of the Springfield Republic: part owner and in full editorial charge of The Genius of the West, a literary magazine of Cincinnati.  In the midst of his editorial duties he found time to serve his community in the state of Senate as a member from the fifth senatorial district.  The year 1881 saw him the leading Republican speaker in the Senate, and he has the honor of being the author of the temperance amendment to the constitution adopted the following year.  The newspapers of that day credit him with being the most forceful speaker in either branch of the General Assembly.
     Colonel Kinney was twice married.  His first wife was Hanna Kelley, of Waynesville, Ohio, and one son, Abbott, was born to this union.  The son died between the ages of five and six.  He was married a second time, in December, 1862, to Mary Catherine Allen, of Xenia.  He died in December, 1902.
Source:  History of Greene County, Ohio, its people, industries & institutions by Hon. M. A. Broadstone, Editor in Chief - Vol. I.- Publ. 1918 by B. F. Bowen & Company, Inc., Indianapolis, Ind.


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