The House of Kerr of Ardgowan

The Grandfather Kerr Clan


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 DR. KERR'S CAREER TESTIMONY


 DR. KERR'S ARMS & TARTAN


 TULSA RACE WAR:
BACKGROUND


 TULSA RACE WAR OF 1921


 COURTHOUSE LYNCH MOB


 DR. KERR CONFRONTS MOB


 THE GREENWOOD BLACK COMMUNITY


 SANCTUARY FOR THE GREENWOOD BLACKS


. DESTRUCTION OF GREENWOOD


 MAN SAVED FROM LYNCHING


 DR. KERR REJECTS 'INTER-RACIAL COMMITTEE'


 LEGAL RIGHTS OF THE GREENWOOD BLACK


 LEGAL ANALYSIS OF RACE WAR


 DR. KERR AND THE 'COMMON PLAN'


 DR. KERR OFFERS RESIGNATION


 DR. KERR CONFRONTS TULSA LEADERSHIP


 OIL RICH TULSANS


 SCOTTISH CLANS & WHITE TRASH


 KERR REMAINS IN TULSA


 THE WORLD'S FIRST BAG PIPE OPERA


 OUTLINE


Greenwood  Pastors  request  Dr.  Charles  W.  Kerr  to  confront  Courthouse  lynch mob:

Coming to Tulsa on Saturday, February 10, 1900, to assume the Pastorate of the First Presbyterian  Church,  by 1921 Dr. Charles  W. Kerr was the most senior and best known minister in Tulsa.   Descendants of Calvinist Pennsylvania abolitionists,  'Free Soilers',  participants in the pre-Civil War underground railway chain, and  original  Union Volunteers during the Civil War,  the Kerrs brought their Northern,  Unionist, anti-slavery convictions with them to Tulsa  --  where they were in the distinct minority of a town settled primarily by Southern rural poor whites who had come to grab 'free' land from the Indian Nations.

In the early years of the 20th century Rev. and Mrs. Kerr had witnessed many outrages committed against Tulsa's oppressed Black population  --  horsewhippings,  murders, castrations, beatings, mutilations, brandings   --   by both the Tulsa Police and ordinary 'T-Towne' Tulsa Citizens.   When Rev. and Mrs. Kerr  protested against these racialist outrages, they were merely laughed at by the Police and City Officials as 'Northern Yankee Nigger Lovers.'   Oklahoma public officials  consistently refuse to enforce the laws protecting the rights of Blacks.   Rev. Kerr often noted that horses, dogs, and cats received more effective protection under 'cruelty to animals' laws than did Blacks.

Based on his Scots Presbyterian Calvinist convictions in the 'equality of all believers',  Rev. Charles W. Kerr early made friends with Greenwood's Black Pastors and often gave them financial aid and material support without the knowledge of his own all-white  congregation.  

Tulsa's other white 'Christian' Pastors refused to associate with the Greenwood Pastors and even publicly wiped off their hands on their pants after shaking hands with a Greenwood Pastor --   out of fear of getting 'social disease' from touching a Black: Tulsa 'Christianity'.   Because of his open Christian brotherhood towards them, the Black Pastors  called Dr. Kerr  'Brother Kerr' or 'Brother Charlie' while they addressed the other white Tulsa ministers merely  as 'Reverend'.

As Dr. Charles W. Kerr had the earned reputation as being a friend of the Blacks, the Greenwood Pastors telephoned Dr. Kerr at Tulsa’s historical  Old Manse on the evening of 31st May 1921 and requested him to go down to the Courthouse and to disperse the growing lynch mob before the armed Black Veterans from Greenwood arrived.   Making pastoral sick calls all day,  Dr. Kerr had not been downtown.  These Greenwood ministers insisted that the accused Black youth, Dick Rowland, was absolutely innocent  of the crime of 'rape' for which he had been falsely accused by The Tribune.  They also declared that Tribune Publisher Richard Lloyd Jones had deliberately incited the lynching of this youth in his editorial 'To Lynch A Nigger Tonight'.   Could Dr. Kerr do anything to save this innocent youth from being lynched ?

The Greenwood Pastors told Dr. Kerr,  'Brother Kerr, if anyone can prevent this lynching,   that man is you !'  However, Mrs. Kerr was afraid that if Dr. Kerr attempted to disperse the Courthouse lynch mob, that he would be lynched along with the Black youth  --   a common fate for persons attempting to interfere with a rabid lynch mob.  Dr. Kerr felt that, 'Sometimes a minister is called upon to actually live up to what he preaches.'  To do otherwise would be cowardly and the denial of his entire Scots Presbyterian    Calvinist tartan-clad heritage  brought over from Bonnie Scotland.

As their son, Hawley , was the same age(19) as the falsely accused Black youth, Dr. Kerr replied to Mrs. Kerr’s  concern about his great danger in confronting a howling lynch mob, 'What if that young man was Hawley?   Wouldn't you want some other minister to try , at least, to save him from being lynched?  The fact that this young man in the Courthouse gaol is Coloured and Hawley is white makes absolutely no difference to Jesus:  Whom did The Master say was our Neighbour?  That young man in the gaol at the top of the Courthouse who is now about to be lynched is as much a son of The Father as is Hawley.'

Dr. Kerr then asked his wife, 'Would you have me act as the Priest and Levite in the Parable and pass by this young man or do you want me to act as the Good Samaritan to try and save this young fellow?   You married me precisely because I was going to spread the Gospel and witness to Jesus' Truth.  Do you want me to turn my coat on Jesus and His Gospel?  Would you have me be anything less than what Jesus expects me to be as a Scots Presbyterian minister of His Gospel?  Or would you rather have me act like  an oilman?'

Mrs. Kerr  finally  agreed that if Dr. Kerr was to remain faithful to his Gospel Commission,  he must act in this situation as Jesus was calling him to so do --  to save the innocent Black youth at the Courthouse gaol from being lynched by racialist 'Green Country'   Tulsans.  It is agreed that Hawley was to drive Dr. Kerr to Courthouse but to remain safely in the car at all times.

Before leaving, the whole family knelt together --  Dr. and Mrs. Charles W. Kerr, Hawley, and Margaret  --  held hands and prayed together for a long time :   Margaret, age 16, cried  'This may be the last time we'll ever pray together again as a Christian  family.'

In parting Dr. Kerr told Mrs. Kerr, 'I believe that the lynch mob at the Courthouse will respect my character as a Minister of the Gospel.  But should they not, we will all meet merrily  in  Heaven knowing that we have passed this 'test' to which The Master is calling me to meet this night.'

Desperately, Hawley plead, 'Dad, don't do it!' Putting on his trademark Prince Albert frock coat (the dress of formal Protestant ministers) and picking up his well-thumbed bible,  Dr. Charles  W. Kerr merely commanded, 'Come, Son, Jesus is waiting for me at the Courthouse.'