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Lydia Ellen (Shirer) Bell Kerr 
(1832- ? )

Lydia Ellen "Ledda" (Shirer) Bell Kerr was born on Nov. 4, 1832 near Adamsville in Adams Township, Muskingum County, OH, the daughter of Valentine and Hester "Esther" (Gaumer) Shirer Jr

She was twice widowed under tragic circumstances and is profiled in a lengthy narrative in T.F. Williams' 1882 book, The Household Guide and Instructor, with Biographies: History of Guernsey County, Ohio.

On Feb. 26, 1857, at the age of 25, Lydia married her first husband, William Porter Bell ( ? -1864). Officating was Rev. D. Gordon, a minister of the Methodist Church, and a record was handwritten into the family Bible.

They apparently resided in Muskingum County and produced four children -- Harley W. Bell, Mary Ellen Bell, Daniel Gurley Bell, Ellsworth T. Bell and Ann Elizabeth "Annie" Kerr.

Despite the fact that the children were baptized, no record in writing was kept. During the Civil War, William joined the Union Army on Leap Day 1864, enlisting at Newark or Morgan, OH. He was assigned to duty with the 62nd Ohio Infantry, Company F. Sadly, while in camp near York, PA, he contracted a severe case of diarrhea and lung disease. He was admitted to the White Hall U.S. Army General Hospital at Bristol, Bucks County, PA and gave up his life on Oct. 23, 1864. His remains were placed at rest in a cemetery in Bristol, PA. (Some military documents erroneously place his death in Washington, DC.)

Within 10 months, Lydia was awarded a widow's pension from the federal government as compensation for her sacrifice. [Widow App. #73.442 - Cert. #54.440] When the federal census was taken in 1870, Lydia dwelled in a farming neighborhood near Adamsville that included the families of her relatives Alexander and Jane Shirer and Solomon and Ann Sturtz.

After more than a decade of widowhood, on March 14, 1878, she married again to 66-year-old farmer Watson Kerr (1812-1881). Rev. T.W. Anderson led the nuptials in Muskingum County. Bride and groom were separated in age by 21 years. Watson was "an old, esteemed and well-to-do farmer," said the Cincinnati Enquirer

He had been married before and brought these children to the marriage -- Isaac W. Kerr, Robert H. Kerr, Martha Dorrell, Thomas Kerr and Benjamin H. Kerr. Because she had to surrender her widow's pension upon marrying again, and because one of her children was still underage, it was arranged that her second husband was named as the child's guardian in order to receive the pension payments. [Minor App. #240.839 - Cert. #184.440]

New Concord, Ohio


The couple resided on a farm in Adams Township, Guernsey County, OH, and provided a home for their newlywed children (who had married each other) Annie and Benjamin Kerr. Circa 1879, their address in New Concord, Muskingum County and in 1881 Adams Township, Guernsey County. 

 Heartache again rocked the family on June 16, 1881 when Watson was killed in a freak railroad accident. "He was bringing a load of produce to town with a spirited team of young horses," reported a host of newspaers including the Cincinnati Enquirer, "when they became frightened at a train of cars near the crossing, west of this place, and, starting to run across the railroad, the engine caught the wagon, demolishing it and throwing Mr. Kerr so violently out as to fracture his skull and produce other injuries that proved fatal in a few hours." A story in the Noble County Republican, reprinted in the Woodsfield (OH) Spirit of Democracy, noted that he "started for Cambridge with a load of wheat and wool, and when he reached the crossing of the pike with the B. & O. near Cambridge, he pulled up to let an approaching train pass. The whistle of the locomotive frightened his horses and they ran across the track in front of the train, the engine striking the wagon in the middle and pitching Mr. Kerr out on a pile of stone near the road, injuring him so badly that he died at noon of same day." 

Lydia's fate is not yet known.

~ Daughter Mary Ellen Bell ~

Daughter Mary Ellen Bell (1859- ? ) was born on April 3, 1859. Henry Decker, M.D. was the physician assisting in the birth. She lived in Muskingum County in 1882 when named in the book The Household Guide and Instructor, with Biographies: History of Guernsey County, Ohio.

~ Son Daniel Gurley Bell ~

Son Daniel Gurley Bell (1861- ? ) was born on July 16, 1861. P.A. Baker, M.D. provided medical assistance during the birth.

~ Harley W. Bell ~

Son Harley W. Bell (1862- ? ) was born in about 1862. His name also has been spelled "Gurley." His early years were spent near Adamsville, Muskingum County, but he was deceased by 1882 and may have died in childhood.

~ Son Ellsworth T. Bell ~

Son Ellsworth T. Bell ( ? - ? ) made his residence in Muskingum County in 1882. He is mentioned by name in the 1882 book The Household Guide and Instructor, with Biographies: History of Guernsey County, Ohio.

~ Daughter Ann Elizabeth (Bell) Kerr ~

Daughter Ann Elizabeth "Annie" Bell (1863- ? ) was born on Feb. 18, 1863. P.A. Baker, M.D. provided medical assistance during the birth. Annie was a baby when her father died at war. As a teenager, she received a pension of $8 per month from the federal government as support. 

She married her step-brother Benjamin H. Kerr ( ? - ? ). 

In 1880, the couple dwelled under their parents' roof and were farmers in Adams Township, Guernsey County.

~ Stepson Isaac W. Kerr ~

Stepson Isaac W. Kerr was deceased by 1882.

~ Stepson Robert H. Kerr ~

Stepson Robert H. Kerr lived in Belmont County, OH in 1882.

~ Stepdaughter Martha (Kerr) Dorrell ~

Stepdaughter Martha Kerr ( ? - ? )

She married G.J. Dorrell ( ? - ? ) and dwelled in 1882 in Cambridge, Guernsey County.

~ Stepson Thomas Kerr ~

Stepson Thomas Kerr made his residence in Cambridge, Guernsey County in the early 1880s.


Copyright 2000, 2006, 2011, 2015-2017, 2020-2022 Mark A. Miner

Minerd.com is grateful for records compiled by Corinna (Leydig) Talbot, Elsa Bernice Haupt, Mary Louise (Priddy) Shirer, Gilbert R. Gaumer, Paul K. Gaumer, Mary L. Shirer, the Shirer Genealogy Project, Somerset (PA) Historical Center and National Archives in the preparation of this and the Daniel Gaumer Sr. family biographies.