The House of Kerr of Ardgowan

The Grandfather Kerr Clan

Clergy Tartan
























Mrs. Kerr saves a Greenwood man from lynching and a Tulsa Prodigal Son from himself:

While Dr. Kerr was ministering to the Greenwood refugees, Mrs. Kerr was at the Old Manse:  After spending the morning ringing all of the First Presbyterian Church Sunday school classes, ladies circles and charitable groups to provide food, clothing, medical supplies, and bedding for the Black refugees taking sanctuary in the First  Presbyterian Church:    

Mrs.  Anna  Elizabeth  Coe  Kerr

6th April  1876  to  22nd  March  1969  

Many of these women  told Mrs. Kerr that their husbands (who worked downtown) said that The Tribune's  editorial,  'To Lynch A Nigger Tonight' had mobilised the entire downtown business  community into going to the Courthouse after work to lynch the Black youth held in the top floor gaol.   This confirmed what the Greenwood Pastors had told Dr. Kerr.  

Finishing  her telephoning, Mrs. Kerr found herself preparing dinner in the Manse kitchen.  Suddenly she heard a terrific crash in the front hall of the Manse as a bleeding, terrified Black man had crashed through the front door screen.  He had slashes from head to foot from where he had been just horsewhipped by Tulsa gunmen who were getting ready to burn him alive while lynching him.   He begged Mrs. Kerr to hide him in Jesus' Name.  

Mrs. Kerr rushed him into the Manse kitchen, pulled out her laundry tubs stored in the cabinet underneath the sink, and shoved the Black man into the sink cupboard and ordered him to remain silent no matter what happened.  After throwing the laundry tubs out the window, Mrs. Kerr returned to peeling potatoes standing in front of the sink to protect the terrified Coloured man hiding in the cupboard inside.  Mrs. Kerr thought of stories her own grandparents back in Pennsylvania had told her of hiding runaway slaves on their way to Canada in secret hiding places in their house as part of the underground railroad chain before the Civil War.  

Old  Convention  Hall  
Tulsa's  Black  prisoners-of-war  incarcerated  here  

Soon, Mrs. Kerr heard a loud pounding and yelling at the Manse door.  Six mean Oklahoma-type men with tattoos on their arms and one young teenage boy stomped in.  They were carrying guns given to them by the Police to hunt the Greenwood people, whips, and ropes.   

Mrs. Kerr introduced herself as a minister's wife and asked the purpose of their visit.  The gunmen were surprised to learn whose wife she was, grudgingly admitting that they had heard Dr. Kerr preach 'at onetime or another'.   

Having coarse jug-ears common amongst Oklahomans of this type, the gunmen said they were looking for 'a dirty black nigger who ran down this a-way'.  They claimed that, 'we waz just gettin' ready to take that Nigger down to Convention Hall, when this Nigger bolted and ran off.  Don't think that Nigger rightly  felt he could trust us'ns.'  

Having the common sense to believe the exact opposite of what any Tulsan had to say about Black people, Mrs. Kerr looked about the kitchen and diplomatically said, ''Well, I do not see anyone here. I am busy preparing Dr. Kerr's dinner.  However, you are free to search the Manse'.  

Tulsa's  historic  Old  Manse,  

Home  of  Dr.  &  Mrs.  Charles  W.  Kerr,  
Pastor  of  Tulsa's  First  Presbyterian  Church,
144th  Moderator  of  Presbyterian  Church  of  U. S.  

As the Tulsa gunmen stomped off to ransack the Old Manse for their prey, with his straw hat looking like Tom Sawyer out on an escapade, the teenage boy of about fourteen stayed behind to question Mrs. Kerr about Dr. Kerr's oratorical skills:   He had heard Dr. Kerr at the Courthouse the previous night disperse the lynch mob by threats of Hellfire.   Smoking a cigarette to prove his manhood the boy perched himself on a high stool in the Manse kitchen     just like Tom Sawyer might in  Aunt Polly's kitchen.  Mrs. Kerr said that she felt like boxing his ears     just like Aunt Polly would.  However, she told him that Dr. Kerr had acquired his preaching skills through a detailed knowledge of the Bible and the applicable of biblical principals to concrete situations.  

Sizing up the boy, Mrs. Kerr invited him to come to Dr. Kerr's church where he could further experience Dr. Kerr's oratory and learn about the Bible and Christian living slyly adding that we have a Junior Christian Endeavour group having 'lots of pretty girls who are just about your own age'.  The boy showed immediate interest adding that his mother might like him to become a Christian.  

Still peeling potatoes at the Manse kitchen sink hiding the Black man hidden underneath, Mrs. Kerr asked, 'What is a nice boy like you doing playing with guns?'  The boy answered that the Tulsa Police had given them special commissions making them 'Emergency Police Deputies',  guns and ammunition and told them to go to Greenwood to shoot the Black population and put them in their place.   As the boy had been deer hunting with his father, he thought it would be great fun to shoot a Black man as a trophy.   This is the common attitude amongst Tulsans towards Black people.  

Adroitly,  Mrs. Kerr asked the boy if he ever heard the story of Noah's Ark.  When the boy nodded 'yes', Mrs. Kerr said that Noah had three sons: White people are descended from one son;  Black people from a second son;  and Asian people from a third son.  All these sons from a common father are brothers, and because mankind is descended from a Common Father in Heaving, shooting one of the Father's sons is different from shooting a deer.   It is the shooting of a brother.  

Cleverly, Mrs. Kerr asked the boy to bring her some more potatoes from the pantry explaining, 'We are expecting a Christian Friend   --  a distant relative, in fact  --   for dinner tonight'.   Beginning on her new batch of potatoes, Mrs. Kerr asked the boy if he had ever learned the Ten Commandments in Sunday School.  When the boy answered 'yes', Mrs. Kerr shrewdly asked,  'Let's see how well you know them:  What, for example, does the Sixth Commandment say?'  

Former  Parsonage  of  a  Greenwood  Pastor  
known  by  Dr.  &  Mrs.  Kerr:
Arson  by  'GREEN  COUNTRY'  Tulsans….  

When the boy correctly answered, 'Thou shalt not kill',   Mrs. Kerr judiciously asked if that might apply to the Greenwood people? The boy said nothing.  Mrs. Kerr then asked whether the Sixth Commandment might apply to the Black man he and his friends were looking for?  The boy just looked away.  Mrs. Kerr then asked if they were really planning on taking that Black man down to Convention Hall as a prisoner.  Slowly, the boy admitted that they had some 'other plans' for that man.  

Mrs. Kerr remarked that was exactly what she thought also.  She then asked how such 'plans' might square with the Sixth Commandment, what Jesus might think about such 'plans', and how the use of guns square with the Sixth Commandment?  The boy sheepishly admitted 'Not very much'.  

Greenwood  man  burned  alive  by  Tulsans:
The man hidden under the Manse kitchen sink escaped this fate .

Handing him a home-baked oatmeal and raisin cookie, Mrs. Kerr demanded, 'If you know Jesus doesn't like guns and that guns violate the Sixth Commandment, then, Son, why do you have that rifle in your hands?'   Defiantly, the boy answered that, 'Guns give a man real power.'  

Because this boy was so concerned with manliness,  Mrs. Kerr responded, 'I know a real man, a mighty powerful man, a brave Christian man, a man so strong in God's Word that he has no use for guns.  Last night armed with only a Bible,  this man alone  faced down a howling crowd of thousands of armed men and boys at the Courthouse.  All their guns were no match for the moral strength of this real man.  They knew this mighty, powerfully strong man armed with only the Revealed Word of God was right,  and that they were all wrong.   This man was so powerful that that at the end they all ran away from him  --  like cowardly little boys.  This mighty man over powered every last one of them  ... and saved a poor Freedman's life.   Son, I think you know who this real man is !'  

The boy gulped, 'You mean Dr. Kerr ?'  

Mrs. Kerr replied that he lives in this very Manse. She asked the boy, 'Son, who is stronger:   The armed white men  of  Tulsa  or Dr. Kerr?'. The boy admitted, ''I reckon Dr. Kerr is  stronger.  I saw it all myself last night at the Courthouse.  We all left because of what he said.'  

Sharp as a fox, Mrs. Kerr declared,  'Dr. Kerr gets his strength from Jesus.  Along with strength, Jesus also offers forgiveness to all who ask for it.   I don't suppose you might know of a boy who just might need some forgiveness from Jesus for all the bad things he did in Greenwood last night?'  

Leaning his rifle against the Manse kitchen wall,  the boy smiled, 'Yes, I do know such a boy!'  So,  Mrs. Kerr led him in a long prayer of forgiveness.  After which the boy turned over his share of money, jewellery, gold coins, and other valuables which he and the gunmen stole from the Greenwood homes before burning them.  (Mrs. Kerr gave these valuables to one of the Greenwood Pastors whose church had been arsoned by the City of Tulsa.)  Mrs. Kerr observed, 'The only purpose served by a gun is to shoot your neighbour  --   especially   if  he is Coloured!'   

(Mrs. Kerr always  said that the widespread ownership of guns by poor white Tulsans was responsible for the mass slaughter of the Greenwood people during the Race War.   She felt that guns needed to be registered much as are automobiles, and that licences to use guns needed to be given by state authorities upon passing safety tests similar to drivers licences.  Mrs. Kerr felt that gun ownership in large urban areas must to be prohibited to protect Blacks from poor white racialist violence.)  

At this point the Tulsa gunmen came trooping back into the Manse kitchen.  They had searched the entire Manse, even the coal bin:   No Black man was to be found anywhere. Noticing that the screen on the window was hanging half-off,  the gunmen surmised that the Black man had jumped out the window and was now long gone:  'One lucky nigger !' was their verdict.   

The gunmen and the boy left in different directions.   The latter putting his gun in a trash barrel.   The boy started coming to the First Presbyterian Church, joined Junior Christian   Endeavour,  and later that summer at Dr. Kerr's  annual revival came and sat in the mourner's bench [for repentant sinners]  following  Dr. Kerr's powerful altar call to 'All ye that are weary and heavily burdened, come I will give ye rest'.  That teenage boy was the only Tulsan who ever repented of his racial  crimes in Greenwood.…  

At dinner that night with the Kerr family, that Greenwood man burst into tears of thankfulness, 'Especially, Lord, for not being burnt alive by Tulsans before getting lynched!’   Dr. and Mrs. Kerr kept the Greenwood Black man in the guest bedroom of the Manse until it was safe for him to leave.  Mrs. Kerr later commented that cowboy Oklahomans frequently burned Blacks alive before lynching them.  

Mrs.  Kerr's  gold  coin  wedding  fees  donated  to  re-build  Greenwood  man's  house  arsoned  by  the  City  of  Tulsa  

Later, after learning that well dressed Tulsa women had stole the clothing of that Greenwood man's teenage daughter before burning their house to the ground, the 16-year old Margaret Kerr donated the new clothes which she had bought with money earned in an after-school job.  

Upon their marriage Dr. Kerr had agreed to give Mrs. Kerr all of his wedding fees, which according to the custom of the time were paid in gold coins.  For several years Mrs. Kerr had been saving these gold coins for an elaborate grandfather clock.  However, after wrestling with her conscience, Mrs. Kerr donated her sack of gold coins to the Greenwood man for the rebuilding of his house arsoned by the City of Tulsa:   

How many other Tulsans replaced the Greenwood homes which they had maliciously arsoned to suppress as city policy a fictitious  'Negro Insurrection'   fabricated by the City Government as an official lie to clear out Greenwood for the rail switchyard, industrial supply,  and warehouse district  long desired by Tulsa's civic leadership ?