© Christopher Earls Brennen


While the Kerrs of Tannaghmore, County Antrim, are unlikely to be anything but very distant relations at best, the tales of their immigrations to the USA have been documented in letters home compiled in the monograph ``Dear Uncle. Immigrant letters to Antrim from the U.S.A 1843-1852'' prepared by R.H. Foy and published by the Antrim & District Historical Society. These letters make fascinating reading for they provide a detailed record of the immigrant experience. There is also a coincidence in that Mary Foster of the Carrowcolman family of Appendix 2A came from Andraid, the same townland as the Graham family so closely connected with this Kerr family.

  1. John Kerr was born in 1738 and became a fairly wealthy farmer living at Kerrsbrook House in Tannaghmore about 2 miles west of Randalstown, County Antrim. He was the tenant on a 70 acre farm, one of the largest in the parish. He married a woman named Eliza and had nine children as listed below. John died on Dec.28, 1821, aged 83 and was buried at the church of Drumaul in the townland of Clady about 4 miles from Randalstown. The children of John and Eliza Kerr:
    1. Alicia Kerr was born in 1775 and died in 1815.
    2. John Kerr had six children:
      1. John Kerr
      2. Elizabeth Kerr
      3. Thomas Kerr
      4. David Kerr
      5. Margaret Kerr
      6. James Kerr
    3. Martha Kerr married Samuel Mulligan of Groggan. Martha died about 1839. They had five children:
      1. John Mulligan
      2. Samuel Mulligan
      3. Matilda Mulligan
      4. Charity Mulligan
      5. Letitia Mulligan
    4. Margaret Kerr married A.Williams and died about 1837. They had three children:
      1. Bess Williams married a man named O'Neill and went to live in Belfast.
      2. Eliza Williams was married twice, first to Hugh McLornan and second to Robert Stewart, both of Belfast.
      3. Mary Williams
    5. William Kerr was born in 1785 and lived at Leitrim, Randalstown. He died in 1835. He had five children:
      1. William Kerr was a Presbyterian minister in Fermoy, County Tipperary.
      2. John Kerr
      3. James Kerr
      4. Elizabeth Kerr
      5. Charity Kerr
    6. Elizabeth Kerr married Thomas Mulligan of Grange, the brother of her sister Martha's husband. Elizabeth died about 1843. They had five children:
      1. John Mulligan and his brother Thomas were merchants in Belfast in 1844.
      2. Thomas Mulligan and his brother John were merchants in Belfast in 1844.
      3. Mary-Jane Mulligan
      4. Elizabeth Mulligan married James Harris of Grange, Randalstown.
      5. James Mulligan was living in Demera in 1844.
    7. Charity Kerr
    8. David Kerr was born in 1791 and married Elizabeth Graham of Newpark. He inherited his parent's farm at Tannaghmore. Elizabeth died at the young age of 31 on Jun.5, 1836, and David remarried. He was quite unsuccessful in managing the farm and was deeply in debt when he died. David died on Jan.20, 1840, aged 49, leaving his children penniless orphans; they went to live with their Graham uncles and aunts at Newpark. David and Elizabeth had six children:
      1. John Kerr emigrated to the USA, arriving in New Orleans in the spring of 1842. His letters home to his uncle James Graham of Newpark paint a detailed picture of the immigrant experience. John moved frequently seeking employment as a tutor or clerk and at various times lived in places near New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, New York, etc. John died of tuberculosis on Jul.27, 1852, in Phillipsburgh (now Monaca?), Pennsylvania.
      2. William Kerr was born about 1827 and emigrated to the USA when he was 20 years old, arriving in New York on Sep.24, 1847, with his brother David where they were met by their elder brother John. He was living in Cincinnati in Aug.1848, but moved to Louisville, Kentucky in Oct. 1850. On Apr.1, 1852, William died in Ohio of tuberculosis.
      3. James Kerr was born about 1829 and, in 1848, was attending the private Antrim Academy of Richard Crawford. He emigrated to the USA about 1849 and was in Cincinnati in Jan.1850. James returned to Antrim later in 1850 and then sailed to New Orleans aboard the ``Olympus'' in early 1852 whence he was tutor to the children of a Judge McGuire in Wellington, Mississippi. In 1853, he moved north to Cincinnati and then Cedarville, Ohio, where he was in poor health. In 1853/4 James returned to Ireland and to Newpark and probably died of tuberculosis shortly thereafter.
      4. Elizabeth Kerr married Mathew Roulston, a policeman, on Jun.21, 1857, and they had a son listed below. As with her brothers, Elizabeth died at the young age of 27 or 28.
        1. David Roulston was born in the parish of Kileavey, County Armagh, on Sep.14, 1858. On his 21st birthday, David wrote from Bromacatall, Drumquin, County Tyrone, to his great uncle, James Graham, claiming his mother's legacy.
      5. David Kerr was born about 1833 and emigrated to the USA when he was 14 years old, arriving in New York on Sep.24, 1847, with his brother William where they were met by their elder brother John. He was working in Cincinnati in 1849, 1850 and 1851. David died in 1856 aged 23.
      6. Samuel Kerr was born about 1836. He emigrated to the USA at age about 15, arriving in New Orleans on Mar.1, 1851. He then travelled up river to Cincinnati where he worked as a carpenter. Samuel died in 1859.
    9. Maria-Jane Kerr was born in 1793 and died in 1810.

Last updated 8/12/05.

Christopher E. Brennen