KERR FAMILY HISTORY IN CANADA
This is a history of Gavin Kerr who arrived in Canada from Scotland sometime around 1818 with his wife Jane and four sons, James, John, William, and Thomas. All five of the daughters were probably born in Canada but it is not certain. The information for this Kerr history was collected over a period of thirty years. It was obtained from copies of letters and obituaries obtained from Jessie Mathews and Evelyn McCall, grand daughters of Thomas Kerr and Mary Blackhall (his second wife). A letter from Mable Kerr Mills to Blanche Kerr gave the names of uncles and aunts but not that of her father. Some pictures were found in Mothers collection, which have been put in the photo album. I also remembered some details that she told me from time to time. Information obtained from Fidele Theriault of Caraquet included details from Gavin Kerrs will made in 1854 and of an obituary of his death and also copies of the census of that time. The book "Pioneer Settlers of the Bay Chaleur in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries" by Margaret M. Hunter also provided some details.Information was also obtained from the Ancestry Research Society in Scotland and from the Prince Edward Island Museum in Canada.
Gavin Kerr was born in 1774 in Locherbie, Dumfrieshire, Scotland. He came to Canada from Locherbie, Scotland in 1818 to Prince Edward Island with his wife Jane and four sons, James, who was the oldest, John aged 9, William aged 7, and Thomas aged 5.
In 1989 the Ancestry Research Society in Scotland searched the old parochial registers in Locherbie and no births or marriages were recorded between 1786 and 1834 and records were not kept prior to 1782.
There are very few details available of Gavin Kerrs history in Prince Edward Island. The Prince Edward Island Museum found some references to a G. Kerr and also in the Carr Family File was found a reference to Gavin Kerr, from England by 1817. None of references are conclusive. In a letter to her cousin Blanche Kerr Blackhall, Mabel Kerr Mills wrote that her grandfathers family first landed in Prince Edward Island when they came to Canada. Sometime after 1818 the Kerr family moved to New Brunswick.
By the year 1826 Gavin Kerr had moved to an area which later became known as New Bandon in New Brunswick. Acadian French first settled it in the 1700s. Irish and Scottish settlers arrived before 1825 when government grants began to be given out.
In 1832 Gavin Kerr bought a 200-acre lot no. 35, which had been partly cleared. At that time the settlers were required to serve as parish officers. Records show the following appointments for 1840:
Overseers of the Poor: J. Ritchie, R. Dawson, and Gavin Kerr.
Overseers of Roads: J. Norton SR, W. Hickson, and Thomas Kerr.
Surveyors of Lumber: H. Archibald, A. McPherson, and Thomas Kerr.
Gavin Kerr was listed as a School Trustee in three School Inspectors returns. James Kerr, Gavin Kerrs oldest son was New Bandons second postmaster from 1869 until 1873.
Family of Gavin Kerr and his wife Jane Kerr
James, the oldest son, born in Scotland.
John, born 1809, in Scotland.
William, born 1811, in Scotland.
Thomas, born 1813, in Scotland, died June 1873.
Fanny married to ___ Crooks but was first married to ___ Young
Jane married to ___ Smith
Margaret married to ___ Thompson
Mathilda and Rosanne
The last two were not in the will made out in 1854 so they may have died before 1854. In this will, which was dated December 24,1854 and registered at Bathurst in 1861, it is stated that the "Homestead" after the death of his wife Jane was to go to his son James Kerr.
The following information was found in the obituaries in the Miramichi Gleaner (Chatham, N.B.) June 23, 1860.
"Died at New Bandon, on the 17 th inst. Mr. Gavin Kerr, aged 86 years. Mr. Kerr was a native of Dumfrieshire, Scotland. He has been a useful and intelligent resident in the parish for 34 years, and was generally known and much respected throughout the County of Gloucester. His body was followed to the grave by many of his early friends".
The following is from the 1861 census for Pokeshaw, New Brunswick, listing the family of William Kerr, the third son of Gavin Kerr; he was born in 1811 in Scotland.
William Kerr Head of family 50 years, Scotch, farmer, Presbyterian.
Ann F. Kerr wife 55 Irish.
Gavin M. " son 25 Native. Stone Cutter
Jane F. " daughter 22 "
James M. " son 21 "
Francis M. " son 16 "
Clara F. " grandchild 10 mos "
William Hodnett M. step-son 35 " Carpenter
Alfred Hodnett M. grandchild 8 "
Thomas Kerr, the fourth of Gavin Kerrs sons, was a farmer in Pokeshaw, N.B. and part of that farm has now become a tiny island and is a bird sanctuary.
The old lighthouse that used to exist on Caraquet Island (Light No. 922) was a combined lighthouse/keepers quarters. Thomas Kerr was the first first lighthouse keeper for this Caraquet lighthouse which was built in 1870 at a cost of $574. Thomas Kerr was appointed keeper of the new lighthouse on May 20, 1870, at a salary of $200 per annum. Caraquet Island is a small island almost 2 km long by 250 m wide. The island is located 1.5 km from the shore at Le Boutillier and 3 to 4 km from the town of Caraquet. The lighthouse was located at the western tip of the island marking the entrance to Caraquet harbour. Both he and one of his sons were drowned in crossing from Caraquet mainland to the lighthouse,the son, Archibald, in the fall of 1872 and Thomas on May 13, 1873. After Thomas Kerr's passing, his widow, Mary Blackhall, took over the duties as lightkeeper, as there was no assistant at the station to take over. This lighthouse no longer exists and it has been replaced by a steel tower light.
The picture on the left is an original picture of this lighthouse. The picture on the right is a painting by Frances Cynthia de St. Croix, the widow of my brother Austin. This painting was made by "Chappie" in 2003 in her 92nd year at the request of Richard de St. Croix.
<Look for this at "Latest News" on the New Brunswick Lighthouse website.>
Thomas Kerr, was married twice, first to Ellen Young and after her death to Mary Blackhall.
The Gloucester Co. marriage register had the following:
"Marriage of Thomas Kerr and Ellen Young, August 2, 1835, marriage performed by Rev. Alexander C. Somerville of Bathurst, witnesses George Taylor and Thoams Lapraik".
Family of Thomas Kerr and Ellen Young of Pokeshaw, New Brunswick. _
John born before 1838, was drowned at sea.
James born 1838, was a carpenter.
Jane Louise born Feb. 12, 1840 m. John McGee Bradford, Ontario
Blanche Little born Sept.14, 1842 m. Richard Blackhall
Alexander born in 1844	m. Mathilda Armstrong and lived in Youghall
Archibald	born in 1846 Archibald was drowned at sea near Caraquet in 1872.
I remember Mother saying that Grandma was very young when her Mother died and that she and Alexander who was just three years old went to live with Mrs. Thomas Waite in Bathurst,who was Helen Young. It is not known if Archibald who was just a baby stayed with his father or went to Bathurst also.
Evelyn McCall gave me a copy of a death notice in Miramichi Gleaner, November 16, 1847.
"Died at Pokeshaw, County of Gloucester on Monday the 8th inst. Ellen, wife of Mr. Thomas Kerr and daughter of John Young, much regretted by her friends and acquaintances".
Descendants of Thomas Kerr from the 1st marriage to Ellen Young
John died at sea.
James was a carpenter. He was living in the homestead at the time of the 1861 census and in 1862, from a letter that his father wrote to his sister Jane, we gather that he was still there.
Jane left New Brunswick with Margaret Taylor to go to Canada after 1861. We know that she married John McGee and lived in Bradford, Ontario. They had no children but adopted one or two. She was a milliner, and as a child I remember the boxes of hats which arrived each spring and fall from her. My mother said that at least one of her brothers Howard went to Bradford for a time.
Blanche married Richard BLACKHALL of Caraquet on November 23, 1868. They had five sons and one daughter. The four sons all went to either Western Canada or to the United States to live. The daughter married a Jerseyman, Nicholas de St. Croix, and a Manager for a branch of Wm. Fruing in Caraquet. Richard Blackhall died in Caraquet in 1904. Blanche died at the home of her daughter Mabel in Vancouver B.C. in 1913. See the Blackhall Family History for the five Blackhall Sons and the de St. Croix Family History for Mabels family.
Alexander had a farm in Youghal, N.B. where he married Matilda Armstrong of Youghal. They had three sons; Archibald, Harry, Charles and two daughters; Evelyn and Mabel. Alexander, after his wife Matilda died, went to live with his daughter Evelyn Caine and her husband who were then living in Bellingham, Washington, U.S.A. (See Descendants of Alexander Kerr below)
Archibald died travelling to the Caraquet Lighthouse in 1872.
Descendents of Alexander Kerr
Archibald went to the United States and he settled in the State of New York where he married and later moved to New Jersey where his nephew Gordon Kerr Blackhall visited them some time later.
Harry remained on the farm in Youghal. He married Emma Benson of Escuminac. When his mother died and his father went to live with his daughter Evelyn Caine in Bellingham, Washington, USA, Harry took over the farm. Harry and Emma had four daughters, Lena, Reta, Marguerite and Edith who died in infancy. Lena married Robert Thompson, lives in Bathurst NB and has two daughters, Jean and Eleanor and eight grandchildren. Reta, now a retired dietician, lives in St. Catharines, Ontario. Maguerite, married to Alton Sargent, lived in Youghal until her death in 1970. They had four children and eight grandchildren.
Charles, a carpenter working in Vancouver, married a widow Gertrude Briggs late in his life and there were no children.
Evelyn married Jack Caine and lived in Bellingham, Washington, USA. They had no children and when Jack died Evelyn Caine moved back to Vancouver, B.C. Her father, Alexander Kerr, lived with her until his death.
Mabel married Harry Blackhall, a grandson of James Blackhall of Caraquet N.B. who had gone to Vancouver as a young man.
Our mother, Mabel Blackhall as a young girl, visited the Alexander Kerrs in Youghal. She often spoke of Aunt Til (Matilda Kerr). She spent one winter there and went to school with Mabel Kerr who was like a sister. They corresponded all their lives. Mabel Kerr Blackhall died in June 1978.
Descendents of Thomas Kerr from the 2nd marriage to Mary Blackhall
After his first wife, Ellen Kerr died, Thomas Kerr married Mary Blackhall in 1848 and the following children were born.
Robert b. 1849 d. 1869
Mathilda Helen b. Dec. 14 1853 m. Thomas Sutherland d. 1889
Mary Sinnet b. April 1 1856 d. 1875
Ellen (Nellie) b. May 25 1858 m. Kilkenney
William John b. June 7 1860 m. Angela Brown in 1884 in Meaford, Ontario
Ida Margaret b. 1862 m. Wm. James Laure Rose d. 1944
Frances Isabel b. Dec 17 1864 d. 1883
Thomas Melville b. June 16 1867 d. 1888
Clara Jane b. March 1870 d. 1877
Bertha Eliza b. March 1872 d. 1875
Thomas and Mary had ten children as far as we know and six of these children died in their youth and young adulthood. The four who reached maturity and married all left New Brunswick and went to that part of Ontario where their Aunt Jane McGee lived. She was Thomas Kerrs daughter by his first marriage. They married and lived in the area of Bradford, Ontario.
Thomas Kerr was drowned in 1873 while going to the Caraquet lighthouse but we do not know when Mary Blackhall Kerr died. The following is some information of these four of Thomas and Mary Kerrs family that left New Brunswick and of their descendants.
Matilda Helen married Thomas Sutherland. Matilda died in 1889 at the age of 36. They had three sons, McLean, Melville and Bertram.
Ellen (Nellie) married Thomas Kilkenny. They had nine children, eight girls and one son. They all married and lived in that area.
William John was born in 1860 and was listed as William in the 1861 Census he died in 1930 in Duluth, MN USA. He married Angelina Brown in Walters Falls, Ontario. Angelina Brown was born in 1858 in Meaford Ontario, she died in 1938 in Duluth MN. They had six children: William J. Kerr Jr.
Ida Margaret married William James Laure Rose. They had one son John Kerr Rose who did not marry and he died in May 1940. They had one daughter Margaret Jessie Louise who married Frederick Matthews of Matthews Bros. Toronto. They had one son Ronald and a daughter Catherine. In 1950, after graduating from McGill, Richard de St. Croix travelled to Windsor, Ontario to find work with the Ford Motor Co., stayed overnight in Toronto with Jessie and Fred Matthews.
Ronald Matthews who was married twice and had two children died in 1972. Jessies daughter Catherine who lives in Thornhill, Ontario married Arthur Cooper and they had two children, a daughter Joan and a son Douglas.
Ida Margaret Kerr Rose died in Toronto in 1944. Jessie Matthews died in Toronto on June 25, 1983 in her 99th year and a few months before the birth of her first great grandchild.
If any members of the Kerr family can add any further information to this history I would be most happy.
Blanche de St. Croix.