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Kerr-Hurd Family Collection
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Collection Details
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  • Descriptive Summary
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Access Points

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Kerr-Hurd Family Collection
    Date: 1824-1962
    Date (bulk): 1849-1899
    Collection Number: Ms42
    Location: Erickson Vault
    Extent: 2.8 linear feet
    Contributing Institution: San Joaquin County Historical Society and Museum
    11793 North Micke Grove Road
    Lodi, CA 95240
    Language of Material: Records written in English
    Abstract: The Kerr-Hurd Family Collection affords insights into medicine, society, politics, education, and family life in San Joaquin County, California, during the late-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It includes correspondence, diaries, account books, published material, memorabilia, medical books, and other material collected by San Joaquin County physician William Reed Kerr (1813-1861); his wife, Frances Brown Kerr (1849-1866); and other family members.

    Access Information

    Collection is open for research by appointment.

    Conditions of Use

    The library can only claim physical ownership of the collection. Users are responsible for satisfying any claimants of literary property.
    Preferred citation: [Item name], Kerr-Hurd Family Collection, Ms42, San Joaquin County Historical Society and Museum, Lodi, California.


    William Reed Kerr (1813-1861) studied medicine at the Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. During this period, he married Frances Brown of Maytown, Pennsylvania. After receiving his license to practice (1843), Kerr moved with his wife to Miami, Ohio, where they produced a son, John Brown (1847-1922), and a daughter, Emma (1848-1941). After living in Ohio about five years, Kerr heard about the discovery of gold in California and resolved to go West with his family to offer his medical services to the miners of California. The Kerrs traveled to the Golden State via New Mexico and Arizona (1849), and, after many difficulties, including trouble with Indians and with quicksand along the Gila River, they arrived in San Joaquin County. There they established themselves on a ranch east of Stockton called "Sheltered Oaks." From this base, Kerr became a "circuit-riding doctor," traveling from mine to mine, ministering to the needs of the sick. Kerr also opened a pharmacy in Stockton. During their years in California, the Kerrs had other children, including William Jr. (1851-1872), Benjamin E. (1855-1897), Sarah (Fish) (b. 1857), and Louis C. Kerr. Kerr and hs wife were good friends of another prominent early physician in San Joaquin County, Dean Jewett Locke, who lived in the nearby hamlet of Lockeford. Both families participated in temperance society activities and in the establishment of the Republican Party in San Joaquin County (1856). Although William Kerr contracted typhoid and died suddenly at the age of forty-eight, his widow survived well into the twentieth century (1918). She later married a Mr. Russem. Kerr's eldest daughter, Emma California, attended the University of the Pacific and San Francisco Normal School, subsequently teaching school briefly in Merced County before marrying Charles E. Hurd of Stockton (1870). Hurd owned a dairy on the site of the present University of the Pacific campus near the Calaveras River until 1900. The family then moved to Lodi, where Hurd operated a ten-acre farm until his death (1935). The Hurds had eight children: Lila, Nell (Bessac), Clarence W., Frances (Manning), Ethel (Comfort), Lester K., Algae (Trewhitt), and Charles Jr. The Hurds' second daughter, Nell, married a Mr. Harry.

    Scope and Content

    The Kerr-Hurd Family Collection spans the years 1824 to 1962, with the bulk falling between 1849 and 1899. It consists of three series: 1. Family Papers, 2. Notebooks and Assorted Publications, and 3. Medical Books, each arranged in alphabetical order. The collection includes books, diaries, and account books of William Reed Kerr and his wife, Frances Brown Kerr (1849-1866), as well as mid-nineteenth century correspondence, diaries, and memorabilia produced or collected by their daughter, Emma California Kerr Hurd, and other family members. The collection also contains genealogical resources on the Kerr family, biographical material, a variety of guides and publications, and twentieth-century memorabilia relating to Emma Hurd, her siblings, and descendants. Of special interest are medical reference works that Reed collected during his career as a physician.

    Access Points

    Personal Names

    Bessac, Henry William
    Bessac, Nell Hurd (1888-1989)
    Fish, Sarah Kerr (b. 1857)
    Hurd, Charles E. (d. 1935)
    Hurd, Emma California Kerr (1848-1941)
    Kerr, Benjamin E. (1855-1897)
    Kerr, Frances Brown (d. 1918)
    Kerr, William Reed (1813-1861)
    Kerr, William Reed, Jr.


    California--Politics and government--1850-1950
    San Joaquin County (Calif.)--History
    Overland journeys to the Pacific
    Republican Party (U.S. : 1854- )--History
    Temperance societies