Lake County Ohio GenWeb

Levi Kerr

The following article is from The Painesville Telegraph, 26 March 1885, page 3 and reprinted in "LakeLines," the newsletter of the Lake County Genealogical Society, retranscribed here by David Nelson and submitted by Sally Malone.

The Death of Levi Kerr


The articles published in today issues of the TELEGRAPH from the Cleveland Leader of March 22nd, and the Cleveland plain Dealer of the 23rd, gives all that is known pertaining to the death of Mr. Kerr up to the present time.

Levi Kerr was born in Mentor, O., June 25th, 1822, and at the time of his death was in the 63rd year of his age. He was the only son of the late Judge Daniel Kerr, of this city who was for many years President of the Geauga Bank of Painesville, O. The deceased when quite a young man had some experience of ocean life; he shipped before a mast on a vessel going to South America, but not realizing all that he had anticipated, he returned to New York where he was united in marriage to Miss Mary Blanchard a beautiful and most estimable young lady of the city. Mr. Kerr entered into the mercantile business in New York and became one of the firm of a leading wholesale house. Later he engaged in the oil business, in the days when large fortunes were made and lost, and removed to Titusville, then the active center of the oil regions; here he was engaged in refining oil until he sold out hi s interests to the Standard Oil Company. Levi Kerr, in company with John Roach, the great shipbuilder, organized the first line of Brazil steamships; which was sold eventually to the Panama Steamship Company, and the Havana line of steamers was organized, in which Mr. Kerr retained his interest.

Previous to the death of his wife Mr. Kerr spent much of his time in Painesville and accepted the position which his father had held before him as President of the Bank since known as the Painesville National Bank, serving efficiently and most acceptably to the directors and stock holders up to the time of his death. Mr. Kerr was a cousin of late Leonard Case, of Cleveland, and was one of the principle heirs as well as administrator of the large estate. In Mr. Kerr's business relations he has shown that force of character and honesty of purpose that ensures success.

For some years past Mr. Kerr has had an elegant suite of rooms furnished by himself, on Fifth Avenue, New York, which were left in charge by his man servant when he was not in the city. He was about to close his Euclid Avenue residence in Cleveland and was shaping his business matters so as to make his home in the future at the Kerr Homestead with his only sister, Mrs. Laura Kerr Axtell. It seems but a few days ago, since we saw him there, in the full vigor of manhood, bright and joyous, and his presence was the wine of life to his invalid sister, whose happiness seemed centered in his existence and well being. He was all that was left to her of her immediate family. Husband, father, mother, sister and brother have all gone, and such a brother, so full of love and tender devotion, anticipating every want of hers, and guarding her lest of winds of heaven should visit her too roughly. What he was to his sister, he was to his beloved wife during her long and painful illness. He was ever at her bedside by night and by day, ministering to her wants with love and tenderness that never waned 'till her lamp of life went out. He was a kind friend to all who had any claims upon him, and those who had none, save that friendship, he gave generously in return of that which gold cannot buy. Reticent by nature, one had to know him thoroughly to know him at his best, and to many it was given thus to know him, here, in the homes of his boyhood, and in Cleveland, where so much of his time was passed in his later years. How great the shock to his friends in both cities and how like a black pall the sudden and unexpected communication overshadowed us all, and many hearts wept tears of sympathy for the sorely bereaved sister, she said that she had nothing else to live for. May the lord of his infinite mercy and compassion, strengthen, support and comfort her, is the prayer of her friends, and that He may verify his promises to her in the words

"When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The river of woe shall not thee overflow,
For I will be with thee thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee deepest distress."

(Editor's note: He was buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Painesville. A long account of the funeral proceedings, listing many people in attendance, was found in the next issue of Painesville TELEGRAPH, Thursday, April 2, 1885 p3) and it follows.

Funeral of Levi Kerr
He has gone to his Rest.

The remains of the deceased reached Cleveland on Sunday, AM and were brought to the Kerr Homestead on the north side of the Park in this city Tuesday morning. At noon of the same day, a special train consisting of President Devereux of the Bee left Cleveland to convey the friends-who wished to pay the last sad tribute of respect to the memory of Levi Kerr by being present at his funeral obsequies-to Painesville. The funeral services were conducted by Rev. W. H. Gallagher, of St. James church. Who is there that has lost friends? And who has not? That is not thankful for the impressive and appropriative Burial Services of the Protestant Episcopal Church. Mr. Gallagher read the lesson from First Corinthians, fifteenth chapter. His brief remarks were pertinent and sympathetic, all that the deeply bereaved sister-now sole head of the house of her deceased parents-could have desired. The music by a quartet, Miss Estelle Smith, Soprano; Miss Gertrude Smith, Alto; Mr. Frank Pratt, Basso; and Mr. Chas. Baker, Tenor; thrilled the souls of the listeners like angel voices. The opening hymn was "Paradise, O Paradise! 'Tis weary waiting here." The second, "Jesus lover of my soul," the third and last, "Peacefully, peacefully lay me to rest" was sung-as the casket was being removed to the hearse and the bearers and friends passed out of the house-so perfect was the rendition of the words, so sweet the strain, that one felt almost a longing for that peaceful heavenly rest. It seems sad that such a man as Mr. Kerr should be taken away suddenly in what seems the prime of his manhood, with such large possibilities of good before him; but we may not doubt, that god's Providence it was the best time, for him. He was spared the painful suffering incident to a long illness; he had not outlived his powers of usefulness nor the love of his friends. Life was at its brightest, when suddenly transition took place, let us trust to broader and still happier fields of labor. How short the time at the longest, that will reunite the sister, who is our chief thought, in this great sorrow, to him, in that land where there will be no more serving of the ties that bind heart to heart. Levi Kerr impressed those who did not know him well, as a silent, thoughtful man, and they would scarce have credited him with strong and deep affections. To such natures as his only, is it given to win such love as was manifested by scores of friends, from the moment the sad announcement had reached them of this fate, to the time of his burial.

John Roach, of New York, that man of sterling worth who loved Mr. Kerr as an own brother, was completely prostrated with grief when the startling an unexpected intelligence reached him. Many friends in New York announced there intention of being present at the funeral, but when informed that it would take place on Monday, found that they could not reach Painesville in time. The cause of the delay was Judge Ranney, of Cleveland, and ex-Mayor Chas. A. Otis, who had been with Mr. Kerr from the first to the last, from the time they started on the trip-which they little thought was to have so sad and saddened a termination-until they arrived in Cleveland with all that was mortal of his friend whom they had loved so much and mourned so sincerely-were so worn out with the strain that had come upon them, and the fatigue attendant upon it, that they were unable to leave their homes before Tuesday. These gentlemen occupied the carriage that followed the hearse as chief mourners. The casket was placed in the large drawing room of the Kerr residence. The top of the casket in front of the mantel was a bed of rare flowers; at the foot sat Mrs. Laura Kerr Axtell and her cousin Miss Kerr, clothed in the somber garments of the house of mourning. The mantel was banked with flowers from which depended trailing vines. On an easel near the casket rested exquisite floral emblems. There was a fan of brilliant cardinal carnations, the handle tied with loops with long floating ends of heavy cardinal satin ribbon of the exact shade of the flowers, from Mrs. Judge Ranney, of Cleveland. There was a cross and anchor of lovely white flowers from Mrs. Carroll of Cleveland. The tall easel was covered with emblems and here and there, vases of baskets of white lilies and Boston rose buds intermingled with tender green foliage and smilax. Eight of the Professors and forty of the students from the Case School of Applied Science in Cleveland, which was founded and endowed in accordance with the will of the late, Leonard case the cousin of Mr. Kerr, who, as an administrator of the Case estate, was appointed one of the trusties of the school, and was henceforth one of its most active and interested supporters. The Pall Bearers were, C.A. Avery, C.D. Adams. I. P. Axtell, S. K. Gray and Wm. Kerr, of Painesville Leonard Case, Eckstein Case and M. C. Carroll, of Cleveland, Georgia Gordon, of Brooklyn N.Y., all of whom were relatives of the deceased. The remains were removed to Evergreen Cemetery, one of the loveliest cities of the dead, where the river flows tranquilly and the towering pines stand as sentinels on its banks, where the birds sing and the flowers bloom in the spring time; a spot to woo one to the arms of death. A long line of carriages followed the hearse and the young men of the Case school walked to abreast. Among those present at the funeral were J.C. Money, of N.Y., confidential agent of John Hoach with whom as we stated in our last issue Mr. Kerr had extensive business relations.

J. H. Devereux, Judge Ranney, Ex-Mayor Otis, Addison Hills, E. T. Flint, Judge J.D. Cleveland, Dan P. Ells, Col. Bills, J. J. Tracy, J. H. Morley, Henry Abby, H. C. Ranney. Hon. Julius French, Stoughton Bliss, J. H. Brown, Judge D. R. Tilden, William Edwards, Lucien Hills, Dr. Cushing, Charles L. Rhodes, Oscar Townsend, and, and H. C. Gaylord all of Cleveland. The arc, the celebrated club institute by members of the Case family was represented by several of its most honored member. Many ladies of Cleveland accompanied their husbands, among them were Mrs. Judge Ranney, Mrs. H. Abbey, Mrs. Dr. Cushing, Mrs. Lucien Hills and Mrs. Oscar Childs. Hon. Geo. H. Ford, of Burton, and Mr. Porter, of Chicago, were among those who came to honor the memory of him who was gone, by there presence, the whole house was through open and the rooms were filled by the friends of the family resident in the city and those from abroad.

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