King Kerley

From: "Biographical Review of Cass, Schuyler and Brown Counties, Illinois 1892", by Biographical Review Publishing Company, Chicago, Illinois; pages 410-411, a reprinted by Stevens Publishing Co., Astoria, Ill., 1971, is sold by the Schuyler County Historical Society, Rushville, Illinois.
  King Kerley was born in Sumner county, Tennessee, September 25, 1814. His father, William, was born in South Carolina in 1785. When three years of age he was taken to Tennessee by his father, who was also William and who died on his small farm in Tennessee, at the advanced age of ninety-three years. King has heard his grandfather tell how he crawled under the barn in South Carolina to hide their small store of silver coin during the revolution. His son was a soldier for three months in the war of 1812 and received a land warrant of forty acres for this service. He married Jane Carr of Tennessee, whose father, King Carr, was a native of Virginia. They reared to adult age eleven children and buried two in infancy. The mother died at the age of seventy years and the father lived to be an octogenarian. Both are sleeping side by side on the old farm which is still in the family.
  Mr. Kerley went to school only until he was ten years of age, learned to read and write, but had no instruction in numbers. He remained on his father's farm until his majority and was a volunteer in the Seminole war with his brother, John. When he returned home he was married, March 9, 1837, to Elizabeth Brown of Summer county, Tennessee. They had grown up together. She was the daughter of John and Elizabeth (Ball) Brown. Mr. and Mrs. Kerley began their married life on his brother's farm, but within a year they bought and settled on a farm of their own. Mr. Kerley was in the Seminole war, in which he received a gunshot wound in his thigh. In 1846 Mr. Kerley voluteered in the Mexican war as a private, and was made Second Lieutenant which position he held during his twelve months' service. After his return home he was elected to the Legislature in August, 1847, and next he ran for the State Senate against a prominent man, but was defeated although he ran ahead of his ticket. The first railroad charter was passed during his term of office. In 1851 he left there and by teams he moved his family to Brown county on his present farm in section 17. His wife's family had come to Illinois fourteen years earlier. Mr. Kerley bought eighty acres of land for $1,000, and by a tax title another eighty, which cost him $100 for the patent. He left his family and returned to Tennessee, sold out his farm there and returned to Illinois in February to find his wife dead and buried! She died, as did her father father, stepmother and five others of the family, of ship fever, which had been brought by a returned Californian. Mr. Kerley went on his farm with his three children, but in December, 1853, he married Amanda J. Pell, a daughter of Henry Pell, whose wife was a King. They had eight children. There are four sons of this family still living, one son of the first wife. The stepmother was a real mother to his children, a dearly beloved woman who died January 16, 1891, in her sixty-sixth year. Pleasant Hart Kerley his oldest son, lives at Camp Point, Illinois; Robert is a farmer in Adams county; James N. lives in Oakland, California; Edgar is a farmer near home; and so is the last son, John.
  Mr. Kerley was elected to the State Legislature in 1856 and introduced the bill for the railroads running through this county. He was re-elected in 1858 and again in 1864. When he lived in Tennessee he held the office of Sheriff and had to discharge the unpleasant duty of executing a convict. He was Supervisor in 1864 and re-elected some fifteen times and several times was chairman of the board. He was the first Assessor for Lee township and held that office for five years. He has been a Democrat and is well named King, as he is a king among jokers. He has retired from active farming and lives with his youngest son on his 200 acre farm. He has been very successful and though nearly seventy-eight years of age is in good health, with the exception of some trouble with his eyesight. Nature has done more for this man than for many of those known to fame. He takes a daily walk to Mound Station and is a very interesting companion as his memory is phenomenal. There is probably no one who can relate in a more interesting manner more incidents of an eventful life than can this well preserved old gentleman. It is the wish of his friends that he may long continue with them.

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