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Biography of Robert Floyd Kerr


This biography is from "Memorial and biographical record; an illustrated compendium of biography, containing a compendium of local biography, including biographical sketches of prominent old settlers and representative citizens of South Dakota..." Published by G. A. Ogle & Co., Chicago, 1898. Page 254.

ROBERT FLOYD KERR, A. M., is one of the most influential citizens of Brooking, who has always shown an unselfish interest in furthering the intellectual and material progress of its people. He was born in Sugar Grove, Tippecanoe county, Indiana, April 12, 1850, and a son of Andrew J. and Nancy (Sayers) Kerr. Andrew J. Kerr was born in Franklin county, Ohio. His father, Samuel Kerr, came from Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, and was of Scotch-Irish lineage, his ancestors having immigrated prior to 1 740 and located at Chambersburg. John Kerr, one of the immigrants, was a sergeant of the Pennsylvania militia during the Revolutionary war. He was taken prisoner at the battle of l ong Island, but exchanged after some time.

Andrew J. Kerr, a farmer by occupation, now living in retirement at New Richmond, Indiana, has filled several local public offices in Tippecanoe county, and is an influential and useful. citizen. Mrs. Nancy Kerr died in August, 1 864, at the age of about thirty-four years, from the effects of an accident. She is a daughter of Robert F. and Martha (McMillin) Sayers. This family moved from Tazewell county, Virginia, in 1 830, when Mrs. Kerr was two years of age. The Sayers family was one of prominence in Virginia. The McMillin family also were a prosperous family in Tazewell county, Virginia. Members of this family also lived in Tennessee. Hugh McMillin, the progenitor of the family in America, came from Scotland and was of Scotch and Irish descent. Mrs. Kerr and her mother were both born in Tazewell county, Virginia.

R. F. Kerr, the subject of this sketch, attended the public schools of Tippecanoe county, Indiana, until nineteen years of age, then spent one term at Wabash college and entered De Pauw university of Greencastle, Indiana, in September, 1872, completed the course in 1877, receiving at that time the degree of A. B., and the degree of A. M. in 1880, from the same institution. While a student at college he became a member of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity, a Greek letter society. After graduating he taught in the graded school at Kentland, Indiana, for a time and in 1878 was elected county superintendent of Newton county, to fill an unfinished term which ended in 1879. He then sailed for Japan via San Francisco, and was a teacher of English and mathematics in a provincial school at Hirosaki, North Japan, until October, 1880, when he returned to Indiana. For the next eighteen months he was a civil engineer on the line of Toledo and St. Louis railroad, in western Indiana and Illinois. In the fall of 1882 he went to Blair, Nebraska, and spent three years in that vicinity teaching, most of the time, however, in the Blair high school. In July, 1885, he was elected principal of the preparatory department of Dakota Agricultural college, at Brookings, and moved thither in September of the same year. He was connected with the Agricultural College until November, 1892, the most of the time holding the chair of political economy and history. During the winter of 1891-2 he went to Europe and spent three months visiting Germany, Austria, Italy, France and England. During the last twenty years he has visited about thirty states and territories of the United States, either on business or pleasure. In 1 893 he traveled through Minnesota and North Dakota in the interest of a school book publishing house, of Boston. In the fall of 1894 he was nominated for county superintendent of schools on the Republican ticket, was elected and began the duties of that office in January, 1895, and was re-elected in 1896. During this time he has collected a complete data for a history of Brookings county. He has incidentally become interested in a number of enterprises looking to the progress and development of the town and county. In 1896 he was a delegate to the State Society of Immigration and was appointed local director for Brookings county and prepared a statistical description of the county for publication and distribution by the local association.

Mr. Kerr is a member of the Methodist church of Brookings, and affiliates fraternally with the Masonic order, holding a membership in the blue lodge and chapter at Brookings, and is also secretary of the same. He is a charter member of both the commandery and the Order of the Eastern Star, being the first worthy patron of the latter. He is also a member of the A. O. U. W., and helped to organize the lodge in Brookings, and has filled all chairs in the local lodge of the K. of P., now disbanded. Politically Mr. Kerr has been a lifelong Republican.


 

 


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