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McLean County, Illinois
History and Genealogy



HARVEY B. KARR, a resident of Dale Township, and the son of an honored pioneer of McLean County, seems to be in possession of the enterprise and energy which so characterized his ancestors in a remarkable manner, and is successfully engaged in farming pursuits and in the breeding of draft horses, cattle and hogs. He is a gentleman in the prime of life, and in the midst of his usefulness and activity, and presents the happy spectacle of an energetic, thorough-going business man, with encouraging prospects in view, and enjoying the confidence and esteem of his associates and fellow-citizens.

Mr. Karr is a native of this county, having been born in Randolph Township, Oct. 26, 1843. His father, Thomas Jefferson Karr, was a native of Hamilton County, Ohio, born on the 10th of February, 1820, and his grandfather, Dr. Thomas Karr, was born in Bucks County, Pa., on the 23d of April, 1793. The father of the latter and the great-grandfather of our subject, was a soldier in the Revolutionary War and held a Captain's commission. After the colonies had established their independence Capt. Karr removed from his native State to Hamilton County, Ohio, in 1810, and was among the earliest pioneers of that region. He subsequently removed to the Territory of Illinois and spent the last years of his life in McLean County, dying in the town of Randolph, and his remains were interred in Heyworth.

The grandfather of our subject was a youth of seventeen years when his parents removed to Ohio. He was married at North Bend, White Water Township, Hamilton County, in that State. In 1835 he removed with his family to Illinois, and settled in Randolph Township, this county, where he had previously purchased a tract of land. Upon this he now built a log cabin, and removed into it with his family, occupying it for two years, after which he erected a comfortable frame house. He engaged industriously in the improvement and cultivation of his farm, was rewarded with abundant success, and lived to see the country well developed.

Thomas Jefferson Karr, the father of our subject, was the third child and eldest son of his parents. He came to McLean County with his father and mother, and made his home with them until he had grown to manhood. He possessed a great amount of energy and ambition, and early in life commenced to do business for himself. He engaged as a dealer in live stock, which he purchased in this section and sold in Milwaukee. He also purchased considerable timber land, and sold wood and lumber to the railroads. At the same time he engaged extensively in farming and stock-raising, and met with success in the various departments of his business. He was removed from the scenes of his earthly labors while in the prime of life, on the 17th of February, 1866, his death being the result of a railroad accident. At the time of his death, the father of our subject was the owner of 800 acres of land, forty of which he had entered from the Government, and for the greater part of the remainder he paid $30 and $50 an acre.

He was married in December, 1843, to Miss Elizabeth Low, and soon after his marriage settled upon the farm which is now occupied by his widow, and is pleasantly located on section 13 of Dale Township. The parental household consisted of five children: Harvey B., of our sketch, was the eldest; Lizzie became the wife of Dr. Bradley, of Pekin, Ill.; Guy is manager of the homestead; Martha, who was born Dec. 9, 1853, died July 2, 1856; Dora, born April 16, 1857, married A. J. Johnstone, of Dale Township, and of whom a sketch appears in another part of this work.

Harvey B. Karr spent the greater part of his youthful days in attendance at the district schools in Dale Township. In 1858 he entered the Model Department of Normal University [ed., now Illinois State University], and in 1860 attended the Wesleyan University [ed., Illinois Wesleyan University] of Bloomington, where he entered upon a scientific course, and remained at this institution for a period of three years. In the winter of the year last mentioned he went to Chicago, Ill., and studied in the Business College of Bryant & Stratton, and thus fitted himself for the later and practical duties of a business and farming life.

After he had completed his studies Mr. Karr returned to his father's farm in Dale Township, where he remained until the death of the latter, and then administered upon the estate. When this had been settled he turned his attention to the buying of live-stock, which he shipped to Chicago and the Eastern markets, and was thus successfully engaged until 1870. He then located upon his present homestead, where he was principally occupied in agricultural pursuits for four years following. In 1874 he again began his operations as a stock-dealer, operating thus for two years, and then resumed farming.

Mr. Karr was the first time married in 1870, to Miss Irene Shannon, a native of Newport, Ky. This lady only remained the companion of her husband four short years, dying on the 21st of November, 1874. She became the mother of one child, a daughter, Theresa, who died at the age of seven years.

The second wife of our subject was Miss Emily K. Jackson, to whom he was married on the 17th of December, 1879. Mrs. Emily Karr is a native of Madison County, Ky., and the daughter of Henry L. and Margaret (Rice) Jackson. Of this union there have been born three children Harvey L., Kitty and Thomas J. Mr. K. and his family occupy a handsome residence, which, within and without, is indicative of refined tastes and ample means. They are held in the highest respect in the community, and Mr. K. enjoys in a marked degree the confidence and esteem of his fellow townsmen.

The maternal grandfather of our subject, whose name was Nathan Low, was one of the earliest pioneers of McLean County, having settled in Dale Township in 1829. He was born in Maryland on the 6th of January, 1791, and was the son of Nathan and Nancy (Wright) Low. In 1805 he emigrated from his native State to Licking County, Ohio, and was there married, in 1814, to Miss Sarah Brooks. After this event he was occupied as a cattle dealer, purchasing stock in Ohio and driving it through over the mountains to Harrisburg, Pa.

In June, 1821, he started with his family for an overland journey to Illinois, and arrived in McLean County in July following. His means at the time were limited, and his pioneer house or shanty, as it would now be called, contained but one room, was only 12x14 feet in dimensions, and became the home of ten persons. Mr. Low, however, made the best of circumstances, was enterprising and ambitious, and soon established a more comfortable home. His energy, however, outweighed his physical strength, and his health was broken while he was comparatively a young man. He died in 1844; his widow survived him until 1879, and departed this life in Dale Township.

It is with pleasure that the publishers of this work present the portrait of Mr. Karr, as being that of a worthy and honored representative of Dale Township.

Portrait and biographical album of McLean County, Ill. : containing full page portraits and biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens of the county, together with portraits and biographies of all the governors of Illinois, and of the presidents of the United States. (Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1887), 670. Transcribed by Judy Rosella Edwards.


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