Letter from Samuel Kerr

(Copied verbatim)
From Samuel Kerr to his son, James T. Kerr, March 25, 1872

I will try to tell you how things has turned out with us for a month or six weeks. Your brother Addison died at Hull Hancock's last Saturday which was the 23rd of March. He had been down a long while at home with a bilious complaint and had got well enough to go about some in the neighborhood, Presbetery being about to convene at Lawrenceburgh about this time. Also, Hagins subpiened (sic) him to attend at Lawrenceburgh next Tuesday as a witness between our church Committee and them as they could not agree they were about to bring it to trial. Accordingly, Add and me started Thursday morning in the buggie to go to Hull's that night and leave me there and him go on the next day. We did not go far before he said it was too cold to risk the trip and that if it had not been for that trial about the Church Lumber that he would not go. But we went on and he did not seem to suffer very much, got to Hull's in good time that night.

It fell a snow more than a shoe-mouth deep so he stayed there all day Friday. He and all seemed to enjoy themselves as much as common until nearly supper; he became a little less talkative. He sat by me and they said he eat harty (sic) enough. We then all went into the Hall and sat round the fire. He was next to me leaning against the fire board. Hull and Nancy was sitting the other side of the fire but they, I suppose, were looking towards him. The first thing that I knew Hull and Nancy sprang instantly to him and took hold of him. There happened to be enough there to convey him to the bed. I suppose he was then taking an Appolectic (sic) fit.

Mr. Hancock sent immediately for Dr. ---- who lived close by and then had Dr. Deveport there before midnight. But it seemed like that they could not help him any. He kept taking spasms until he died though he did not die in a spasm. He did not have a single struggle or any appearance of pain that I could discover. When he died his breath left him without a single motion. He died Saturday 11 o'clock. Hull sent early in the morning down to our house for Frances. She did not get there until night. Thomas Hanna and James Paisley came with her and the baby. As soon as he was dead we started Mabane down to tell the news so that they might have the grave dug. He met William Paisley going on with Hanna and others.

William then turned back in order to have things done. Hancock also sent a man to Lawrenceburgh to tell William and James Walker. They both got to Hull's against dark. Hull and me had sent Mr. Kinny to Pulaski to get a coffin and hearse which was the best that we could have done. They got to Hull's with it about 11 o'clock. I don't think that I every saw compleater (sic) piece of work in my life. It was walnut and moulded and varnished so plain and compleat and glass before his face. I might say something about the raised lid but I have said enough. William Walker and James stayed until they seen him put in the coffin then they left for Presbyterry. Then the hearse started. Frances and me, Hull and Nancy, Willie and Sam, Thomas Hanna, James Paisley all started together down to Carmel got there and buried about 2 o'clock. When we got within a quarter of Carmel, we were met by a large concourse of Masons who then turned back and conducted us to the grave. They then were very particular in managing so as to give Frances and children and all of us relations to see the corps (sic). They then commenced their usual cerymonie (sic). There was a large concourse of friend and neighbors there.

I can't help remarking what intrust (sic) Hull and Nancy and all the family took in doing a good part. S. Kerr --- Arnie did not come to Presbytery him and Bud is going to make a crop together they won't do much at building until their crop is layed by.

I still hold up working the shop. I think Nancy got a letter from you lately. The first time you write please let me know whether you have got this or not.

NB It is the General Opinion of the doctors that the first cause of Addison's disease and death was his wounds.

Your affectionate father,
Samuel Kerr

NOTE: The shop referred to was a woodworking shop and he was a maker of wagons, buggies, furniture, looms and spinning wheels-making 3,000 wheels. And am told that his shop was well-equipped with machinery in use in those days. He lived on Shoal Creek 18 miles from Pulaski, Giles Co., Tenn.
The Hull Hancock referred to lived at Bodenhammer (?) Tenn. The original letter is very interesting in the fine handwriting, use of capitals and flourishes, punctuation, etc.

This letter was copied from the original by William Roy Walker, May 23, 1938. It was re-copied by Nina Walker Trammel, April 27, 1955. She sent a copy to James Elvin Wagner, who gave his copy to his granddaughter, Catharine Clark Seaver.

An additional note attached to the current copy:

... A letter written by Samuel Kerr, father of A. M. Kerr, regarding the latter's death. The wounds referred to in the last paragraph were from being bushwhacked by Federal troops. There are lots of stories about this, but none I can prove.


Marilyn Hare

Submitted by: Marilyn Hare.