The House of Kerr of Ardgowan

The Grandfather Kerr Clan

Clergy Tartan
























Dr. Kerr  confronts  howling  Courthouse  lynch  mob  of  Tulsa's  most  prominent  citizens  seeking  to  lynch  falsely  accused  Black  youth:

At the Courthouse the assembled lynch mob was  large and furious with fire in their eyes, howling for the Sheriff to release the 'Nigger boy' to them for lynching and threatening the Courthouse if he didn't. 

Hawley wanted to turn back.  Dr. Kerr told him to keep his eye on Jesus rather than on the lynch mob:  'Have faith, son, and leave Jesus to handle the lynch mob.'

Giving Hawley a firm handshake, Dr. Charles W. Kerr told Hawley not to interfere if the lynch mob turns on him, but to return home immediately:  'I may be called upon by The Master to die tonight in witness to His Gospel, but I want to leave you to take care of your Mother and Sister and to continue our honourable name.  There is some insurance; Mother will receive a widow's pension from the Church with an orphan's allowance for Margaret.  Grandfather Kerr in Pennsylvania will see you through the completion of your legal education.  And Jesus will see us through everything.' 

Hawley wants to go with him, but Dr. Kerr refused:  'Son, I may well be making your Mother a widow tonight by what I am about to do, but I do not wish to take  her only son with me.  Never attempt to avenge my death, Son; leave that to the Justice of God.'

Dr.  Charles  W.  Kerr's  gold  pocket  watch  and  chain  
given  to  his  son,  Hawley,  before  mounting  the
steps  of  the  Tulsa  Count  Courthouse  to
confront  the  howling  lynch  mob

Handing Hawley his gold pocket watch and chain, Dr. Kerr placed his hand on Hawley's shoulder, 'Son, here is something by which to remember me.  Wear it always with pride.' 

Dr. Charles W. Kerr got out the car wearing his long Prince Albert frock coat and armed only with bible.  

Immediately recognising him as a 'man of the cloth' and perhaps the most publicly respected person in Tulsa ,  the lynch mob parted before him  --  like the Red Sea did before Moses  --  to let Dr. Kerr through.

Tulsa   County   Courthouse  in  1921  
Scene  of  Tuesday  31st  May  1921   lynching  attempt
where  the falsely  accused  Black  youth was  held  in  top-floor  gaol:
Dr. Charles  W. Kerr  confronted the howling  lynch  mob  from  the top  steps.  

Walking through the lynch mob to the Courthouse steps, Dr. Charles W. Kerr recognised almost everyone in the crowd:  The lynch mob consisted of the most prominent citizens of Tulsa:  All the great oil magnates, the most important businessmen and the leading bankers,  the City's civic and social leaders, Tulsa's pompous 'builders' and 'boosters'.   Later, Dr. Kerr declared that they were  'definitely not poor white trash  --  who usually get blamed for such lynchings'.  Members of this socially prominent lynch mob of oil-wealthy Tulsans hid their faces and slunk into the shadows or ducked behind others when they saw that Dr. Kerr recognised them.  To protect the  guilty, Dr. Charles W. Kerr never told anyone  -  except Mrs. Kerr  -  exactly 'who' it was he saw in the lynch mob.   Later, all he would ever say was that it was 'a very well- dressed lynch mob, the night was quite dark, and that by night  'all  cats are black'.'

(That very summer these socially prominent Tulsa 'cats' would by the thousands don the equally anonymous 'white' of the Ku Klux Klan to mask the guilt of their terrible racial crimes in Greenwood with the Klan's racial doctrine and burned Jesus' Cross in livid racial and religious hatred of anyone 'different' from their poor white-origin  selves.)

 Later, He told Mrs. Anna Elizabeth Coe Kerr their names but put her under her Marital Vow of Obedience never to reveal them: To protect the guilty.  The entire community without exception --  sheep from every flock  -- were guilty of the terrible racial crimes about to be committed. These same 'community leaders' had also recently participated in various other recent Tulsa lynchings.  Mrs. Kerr always said that their socially prominent names would be found amongst the membership rolls of all the socially elite downtown churches and the City's most exclusive country clubs.  Persons whom today would be known as 'the Tulsa Establishment'. 

Sensing his purpose in coming, the lynch mob yelled at Dr. Charles W. Kerr, 'Quit being a Nigger lover for once and join us!'.  Much cursing, cussing and blasphemy.

Dr. Kerr made his way to Courthouse steps. Oblivious to the sea of foaming hatred swirling about him, Dr. Kerr climbed to top step of the Courthouse where the Sheriff was peaking out the door at growing lunch mob: Obvious fear this huge lynch mob of Tulsa 's best 'Magic Empire' citizens will attack the Courthouse with everyone inside.

On the top of the Courthouse steps, Dr. Charles W. Kerr surveyed this gigantic Tulsa lynch mob  -- as if from a pulpit:  Members of all of Tulsa's Christian dominations without exception, Reformed and un-Reformed, alike,  were amongst the lynch mob on that May night:   Of all the various faiths in Tulsa, only the Jews were absent from the Courthouse that long ago night late in May.  (The Rabbi later told Dr. Kerr that Jews had experienced similar things in Europe and knew that they would be next.)

Members of the lynch mob noticed that Dr. Kerr recognised them:  Some slunk down behind others; other prominent Tulsans pull hats down to shield their faces from Dr. Kerr,  still others move into the shadows to escape recognition....

Dr. Kerr called for silence.  His moral authority as minister of the gospel was recognised by all Tulsans, even the wealthiest.  The top of the Courthouse steps was vacated for him  --  almost as if they were a pulpit.  Hooting and hollering diminished:  Dr. Charles W. Kerr was noted for evangelical preaching, fervent soul saving, and compelling altar calls. The lynch mob was willing to allow him to present his case.  But as some in the crowd yelled, 'Preacher, it had better be good, or you will join that Nigger.'

Dr. Kerr opened his worn bible to the Story of Susannah and the Elders from the Old Testament apocrypha -- the attempt to frame an innocent person thwarted by Daniel:  'This is the exact situation we have here tonight.'  He compared The Tribune headline, article and editorial to the Elders' accusations against Susannah. Daniel proved her innocence!  'Allow this youth a fair court trial to do the same' Dr. Kerr demanded. 'God damns' uttered arose from the lynch mob. These elite Tulsa business, social, and civic leaders weren't in any mood to be deprived of their prey.

Dr. Kerr turned to Crucifixion Account re Pilate's clear recognition of Jesus' innocence but who turned an Innocent Man over to the crowd on the pretext of preventing violence:  '"What is truth?", asks Pilate  "Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Light!"',  answered Dr. Kerr in a ringing voice.  He compared this situation at Courthouse to the scene before Pilate's palace. And he compared the Tulsans at the Courthouse to the Mob before Pilate's Palace demanding the death of an Innocent Man.  'In Jesus' Name before which every knee must bend', Dr. Kerr implored this  lynch mob of Tulsa 's wealthiest citizens to let the law take its course and to judicially determine the guilt or innocence of the accused youth. 

This lynch mob of socially prominent Tulsans and the City's top business and civic leaders yelled back, 'Let's have your trial now, Preacher!' 

Dr. Charles W. Kerr pointed out that actual evidence against youth is quite flimsy and youth was not accused of actually committing any act of rape. 'Could this incident have been an accident? Elevators are notorious for 'jumping'.  This is a common experience. Let the Court determine:  Don't do what Pilate did and judicially murder an Innocent Man,' appealed Dr. Kerr.  Someone yelled, 'Preacher, if he's a Nigger, he's guilty !'  This entire crowd of prominent well-dressed  prominent Tulsans yowled with approval. 

 Dr. Kerr turned to story of The Woman Taken in Adultery:  The attitude of Jesus.   He asks who among them is ready to cast first stone?  He pointed out that that crowd had probably all sinned with the women.  'All are guilty and fallen short of the Glory of God.'  Dr. Kerr challenged this lynch mob of Tulsa 's most prominent citizens, 'How many here have never attempted to take 'liberties' with a girl?'   No answer. In frustration, a Tulsan from bottom of Courthouse steps spat tobacco at him. 

He reminded this lynch mob of racialist 'Green Country' Tulsans and wealthy oilmen what the Crowd before Pilate's Palace said, 'Let the blood of this Man be upon us and upon our children.'   In a ringing voice Dr. Charles W. Kerr tells this Tulsa mob that the judgement of God will befall  them and the entire Tulsa community  if they actually lynch an innocent man  - -  'even if he is a Coloured man'.  Dr. Kerr told the lynch mob that the deliberate murder of an innocent man will incur blood guilt before God upon them, their descendants, and the entire city of Tulsa .  Such blood guilt incurred by the murder of an innocent man can never be extirpated by even the passage of time.  Murmuring and cursing from the crowd. 

Dr. Kerr reminded the Tulsa lynch mob of Matthew 25: If they murder an innocent man, even if he is a Coloured, they will be murdering Jesus, Himself.  Confronting them with their own evil, he quotes Scripture, 'Whatsoever ye do unto to the least of My brothers that ye have done unto Me.'

As angry as the Prophet Jeremiah,  Dr. Kerr stepped forward with his open bible and not caring about what they might do to him threatens the lynch mob in a loud voice,  'The blazing Wrath of God will fall upon every one of you on Judgement Day:  Every last one of you here at this Courthouse will all be  cast into Fiery Pit  -  "where the worm turneth not".  "Lord, Lord,"  you may cry, "When did we lynch You?"  -  And He will answer "you lynched Me at the Tulsa County Courthouse on Tuesday, the last night of May in the one thousandth, nine hundredth and twenty-first year of My Birth:  Depart together from Me forever into Eternal Flames for I know ye not!" '

At this point the lynch mob began to quiet:  Apparent fear of Hell Fire.

Because Courthouse officials appeared to be in an equivocal mood,  Dr. Charles W. Kerr concluded by telling this well-dressed lynch mob of the most prominent Tulsa oilmen and civic leaders that they may succeed, indeed, in breaking into the Courthouse and in lynching the accused youth ...  but that they will have to do so over his dead body as an ordained minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ !

Standing on the top step of the Courthouse with his open bible in hand,  Dr. Kerr blocked the Courthouse door with his towering figure.   The sullen crowd began to slink away cursing over being thwarted  beginning with the most prominent Tulsans who knew Dr. Kerr had recognised them.  Dr. Kerr stayed on the top step of the Courthouse with bible in hand for quite some time to ensure that the lynch mob actually left and that the Courthouse was safe.

Bone weary, Dr. Charles W. Kerr decided that he could do no more because Tulsans had abandoned en mass the Gospel and were reverting back to heathendom.  He and Hawley returned home.

When Dr. Kerr and Hawley got back to the Manse, they found that Mrs. Kerr and Margaret had been on their knees praying for their safety from the time that they left.  Dr. Kerr told Mrs. Kerr that the lynching of the Black youth had been averted, but that he had a strange premonition that something far more dreadful was in the process of happening.....