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John Rowe Kerby
For many years the original of this sketch held a responsible position in the office of the Register of Deeds, his connection beginning in December, 1860. Mr. Derby was born in Saline County, M., May 27, 1845. He is a son of Overton J. Kerby, who was a native of Albemarle County, Va. His grandfather, John R., was a shoemaker in Virginia and served in the War of 1812. In 1836 he came to Saline County, Mo., and located on a farm, and thereafter engaged in the agricultural calling. He later located in De Witt, Carroll County. He was a cabinet-maker by trade and carried on an undertaking business there. A Democrat in politics, he was yet a strong Union man.
Our Subject's father was a surveyor and school teacher, and on coming to Saline County was employed in both these directions. He was there married about 1838, his wife being  a Miss Cheatham. They soon after removed to Chariton County, near Brunswick. Mr. Kerby continued to teach there for a year, and in 1847 located in De Witt. He taught school for a time and was appointed County Surveyor in 1848. For one year he filled that position, and was then appointed Deputy County Clerk. In 1851 he was selected County Clerk, was re-elected in 1853, and continued to serve until 1860.
In 1861 Overton J. Kerby bought out the Democrat, and later changed its name to the Carroll Journal, of which he was editor as well as proprietor. This he sold in 1874. He ran this paper as a Union organ during the war. In 1874 John R. Kerby, of whom this sketch is written, was elected County Clerk and appointed his father his Deputy. They were associated in this way for eight years, at the end of which time he opened the abstract office, which he ran until the death of his partner, which occurred June 2, 1891.
Our subject's mother was before her marriage Miss Ann Eliza Cheatham, a native of Virginia and of Irish descent. Her decease occurred in 1852. She was the mother of five children, three of whom lived to be grown. Of these, the original of this sketch is the eldest. After the decease of our subject's mother his father married a second time, the lady of his choice being Damaris E. Young, a native of Ohio. Three children were the fruit of this marriage, of whom two still live. They reside in California and Southern Missouri, respectively.
Our subject has been in Carroll County since 1847 and in the town since 1849. He attended the early subscription schools and was later a student at the Carroll Seminary. When nine years of age he began to work in his father's office, continuing to be thus employed until December, 1860, when he received an appointment under John F. Houston as Register of Lands, having his headquarters at Jefferson City. He remained there until just before the town was captured by the Federal troops. He returned home in 1861, and in the early part of 1862 was appointed Clerk of the Probate Court. In 1864 he was appointed Deputy Clerk and also Deputy Circuit Clerk, but after filling the office for two months left for Iowa.
On returning to Missouri, Mr. Kerby went into the drug business in Clark County, in November, 1864, with his uncle. He continued in that until 1867, and in the same business at another point until 1871, when he was appointed Deputy County Clerk, and three years later was elected County Clerk on the Democratic ticket with a majority of over twelve hundred. He held the office from January, 1875, to January, 1883. The next year he went into partnership with his father in the abstract business, in which he continued until the death of the latter, and since then has carried on the business alone. He makes complete abstracts of all the records, and is conversant with all the decrees of the various courts. He also does a conveyancing business and is a Notary Public. This office is the only one from which complete abstracts could be made in Carroll County.
Mr. Kerby was married in Carrollton, June 12, 1867. His bride was Miss Eliza Van Hook, a native of this county, and a daughter of Harris Van Hook, an early settler here. they have a pleasant home and are social favorites. They are both greatly interested in temperance work ad he is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church South, and his wife a Baptist. Mr. Kerby belongs to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. In politics he is a Democrat. Mr. Kerby knows every foot of Carroll County and is known by everyone here. He is popular with all classes, and is well fitted for the high position he holds.
[Portrait and Biographical Record of Clay, Ray, Carroll, Chariton and Linn Counties, Missouri 1893, Pages 173 – 174. Submitted by Lisa]

 

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