John J. Kerr

This is the Kerr story as I have it so far. Kerr was a Lumber man and builder who came to Petrolia ca.1865. He built Nemo Hall in ca.1878. This is one of the finest Mansions in town and reflects the Second Empire style of architecture as described and shown on the Heritage Properties page. Kerr built numerous of the finest structures in town and also had numerous oil wells with 5 right on the Nemo Hall property. The following is a note with several pictures that was sent to me from Karen of Flagstaff Arizona the great grand daughter of Kerr's sister.

This is my great grandmother, Anna Jannette Kerr.  She was the daughter of Peter Kerr and the sister of James and John Kerr of Petrolia.  I think this picture was taken in Petrolia in about 1880.  Her husband moved her and the children to North Dakota in 1882 and then to Sedro Wooley, Washington where they settled in the woods.  Although they always had a large home, Anna Jannette's life was full of hardships.  I have a feeling that her years of depression were brought on not only by several deaths in her family but by the separation from her family in Petrolia.  

To add a little more to my great-grandmother's life story:  When she moved with her family to Sedro Wooley, WA, her husband {John Alfred Gillis) was the only person able or willing to make caskets for the local townspeople.  He was a carpenter by trade.  My grandmother wrote in some of her notes that bodies were brought to the Gillis house where John would build the caskets, and then the bodies would stay there until a burial was arranged.  My grandmother said it was especially sad when babies were brought to the house.  I guess because people did not realize how diseases were spread, most of Anna Jannette's family wound up with TB.  Her son Albert died in 1902, and a little later that year one of Albert's sons.  Her husband, John Gillis, died in 1903.  My grandmother, Rosalie, had a kidney removed due to TB just a few days after John Gillis' death.  Another of Anna Jannette's daughters and son-in-law died in 1908 from TB followed by one of their children. My grandmother wrote in one of her journals that her mother was always sick but never really sick.  Anna Jannette spent most of her time in bed leaving a lot of the work of caring for the house to my young grandmother.  For many years I felt badly about Anna Jannette and the way she caused my grandmother to suffer.  Then I started to think about what  Anna had gone through.  The first thing was being taken far from the life she had known in Petrolia.  There she had a nice home and fancy clothing.  Her brothers and their families had servants.  Now she was stuck in the middle of nowhere in Northwest Washington and seeing her family quickly falling apart.  Back then, there was no Prozac type drugs to help a person deal with life.  I guess I would have just stayed in bed, too.  Karen in Flagstaff Arizona


Anna Jannette Kerr John Js
sister & her daughter Rosalie

Jean Kerr &husband James  Cunningham & son John Donald Cunningham

John Donald 

 Peter Kerr jr. & wife


Petrolia's John J. Kerr
The builder of Nemo Hall

The Kerr Mill at Petrolia

Mary Kerr wife of 
Peter Kerr sr.

Peter Kerr sr. John Js Father
born ca.1800 in Scottland

                                                                            editor's collection
This is a campaign card that James Kerr handed out in ca.1879 for the Mayor's race. I bought this card from Doug Howlett for more than I would like to admit, but it is a nice piece.

Kerr inset with his Lumberyard
that was situated behind the library.

This is a deed that indicates Kerr buying a lot in Oil City ca. 1876. Please enjoy this document.  I was able to scan it completly with my Mustek legal size scanner.

Nemo Hall King st. Petrolia

All of these great pics & text on this page were submitted by someone that visited
the Petrolia Heritage website. Thankyou Karen.

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