The Family of Thomas Nelson Kerley and Mary Susan Brown

Husband:   Thomas Nelson Kerley
Born:  23 Feb 1852 in Smith County, Tennessee
Died:  01 Oct 1930 in McKinney, Texas
Father:   Dr. William Kerley
Mother:   Matilda F. Holt


Wife:   Mary Susan Brown
Born:  28 Mar 1856 in Virginia
Father:   William Hiatt Brown
Mother:   Elizabeth Ann Fuller

Married:  14 Nov 1877 in Collin County, Texas


Child Sex Birth Death
Myrtle Ada Kerley F 24 Jan 1879 in Frisco, Texas 04 Sep 1972 in Frisco, Texas
Maude Kerley F 18 Apr 1880 in Collin County, Texas 19 Feb 1881 in Collin County, Texas
Arthur Bailey Kerley M 22 Jul 1881 in Lebanon, Texas 25 Jul 1955 in Frisco, Texas
Thomas Herbert Kerley M 07 Aug 1883 in Collin County, Texas 1966 in Collin County, Texas
Rena Matilda Kerley F 05 Nov 1885 in Collin County, Texas 26 Jan 1962 in McKinney, Texas
Annie Laura Kerley F 27 Jul 1887 in Collin County, Texas 1966 in Dallas, Texas
Chester G. Kerley M 08 Mar 1889 in Collin County, Texas 19 Jul 1890 in Collin County, Texas
William Marvin Kerley M 18 Sep 1890 in Collin County, Texas 1972 in Dallas, Texas
Oma Lee Kerley F 07 Aug 1894 in Collin County, Texas 04 Aug 1976 in McKinney, Texas


The devastitation of Tennessee after the war and letters from Tom’s brother, Joe, who had gone to Texas, soon enticed Tom. Certainly, he was looking forward to seeing the black land of which Joe wrote for he had never seen any soil other than the red clay of Tennessee.

Upon arriving in Dallas, Tom found that Joe had sold his land in what is now the Oak Cliff section of Dallas and had acquired a tavern in Plano.

But Tom wanted no part of a Tavern, he wanted to farm and raise livestock like his father. In the spring of 1875, a few miles southeast of Lebanon, Texas, he found his land. The price of the land was $6.50 per acre, and he persuaded his brother Joe to buy the adjoining tract. He later bought this tract from Joe when Joe decided to move his family to Hardeman County.

Tom Kerley had little money at the time. The first winter, he took refuge from the cold in a nearby haystack. Later he broke land for other land owners and earned enough to build a two room house.

In the summer of 1876, a covered wagon accompanied by a man on horseback arrived at the home of Charlie Brown, Tom Kerley’s neighbor to the north. Charlie Brown’s three unmarried sisters were in the wagon and the rider was his father, William Hyatt Brown.

Tom Kerley began to find excuses for riding over to his neighbor’s home. It was Sally Brown whom Tom first took riding, but it was Susan with whom he fell in love.

Before the planned wedding, Tom Kerley’s house burned down. However, it was decided that the wedding would go on as planned and that they would live with the Brown’s until a new house could be built.

With the help of his father-in-law and brother-in-law, Tom built another two room house. The house was situated a short distance from the spring which for a time would serve as their source of water and for a long time as their only source of refrigeration.

In 1881, a man living with the Kerley family and assisting with the farm work, became ill with the measles. The man was Bill Fox. Sue Brown nursed him back to health but her small daughters contracted the illness. Myrtle survived (and it’s a good thing since she is your ancester), but little Maude died. She is buried in Rowlett Cemetery along with most of the family.

In the summer of 1890, several members of the family took typhoid fever, a common problem with shallow water wells and springs. Baby Chester already weakened by dysentery, died from the fever, and was buried beside little Maude.

A page torn from a doctor’s ledger (evidently as a paid receipt) shows the following charges to T. N. Kerley: Jan. 12, 1883, “medicating baby”, $2.50; Aug 7, 1883, “OB services”, $10.00; Aug 8, 1883, “medicating lady”, $2.50; Sept. 10, 1883, “medicating lady”, $2.50.

The original T. N. Kerley track of land is now owned by Diamond R Ranch. The spring still flows just as it did over one hundred years ago. 

This research compiled by Richard Beaver-2008