Hiram Oscar Kerns


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Julia Florence Trevillian

Hiram Oscar Kerns

  • Born: 14 Dec 1852, Lancaster County, PA
  • Marriage: Julia Florence Trevillian in Feb 1875
  • Died: 27 Jun 1931, Danville City, (Pittsylvania Co.), Virginia at age 78

bullet   Cause of his death was angina pectoris.


bullet  General Notes:

From The Virginia Biographical Encyclopedia : On Hiram Oscar Kerns

Both the paternal and maternal forbears of Mr. Kerns were of Pennsylvania birth, although his parents lived a greater part of their lives in Gloucester county, Virginia. His own birth also occurred in Pennsylvania, his mother being at her old home on a visit, although then living in Gloucester county. On the maternal side, Lefevre descent is traced to William Lefevre, a contemporary of William Penn in Pennsylvania, and through Hannah Vernon, grandmother of Hiram Oscar Kerns to William Vernon, a younger brother of Lord Vernon of England, who came with his brother George to Pennsylvania with William Penn. The Vernons trace their descent in England to the days of William the Conqueror, a Vernon coming with William from Normandy.

Hiram Oscar Kerns was born in Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, December 14, 1852, son of Maris Vernon and Emma Jane (Lefevre) Kerns, both of Pennsylvania birth. Maris V. Kerns was a contractor of mill construction, and built mills of various kinds in eleven states of the Union, having become well known as a reliable, capable builder of milling plants. Most of his life was spent in Virginia, where he died in Gloucester county, aged sixty-three years. His wife, Emma Jane (Lefevre) Kerns, bore him eight children, five of whom are now living, all residents of the state of Virginia. Maris V. Kerns was a soldier of the Confederacy, serving in the Fifth Virginia Regiment from Gloucester county, and for a time he was regimental bugler. He was captured by the Federals, and for nine months confined at Point Lookout prison.

Hiram O. Kerns attended local schools and Gloucester Academy until he attained youthful manhood, and began business life about 1874 as a miller. Later he was collector of taxes in Gloucester county, removing to King and Queen county, Virginia, in 1878, where he was engaged in milling until 1880. He then moved to Halifax county, where he continued in the milling business, becoming prominent as miller, foundryman and banker. He also is intimately connected with the handling of the tobacco crop of Virginia and North Carolina, started the first movement to pool tobacco, and was president of the Bright Tobacco Growers' Protective Association of Virginia and North Carolina, and as such fought and won a notable conflict with the buyers. He is owner of the Sutherlin Roller Mills at Sutherlin, Virginia; was formerly president of the South Boston Savings Bank, which was merged with the P. & M. National Bank of South Boston, and is now president of the American National Bank of Danville, a position he has held since its organization. This bank differs somewhat from other banks of Danville, inasmuch as it is owned largely by farmers, formed for the purpose of doing business with farmers, and to extend to them special facilities. The bank does a regular banking business, and is one of the prosperous financial institutions of Danville.

Mr. Kerns is a Democrat in politics, and represented Halifax county for one term in the Virginia state senate. He is a prominent member of the Masonic order, has held the various offices in subordinate and grand lodge of Virginia, attaining, in 1900, the distinguished honor of grand master of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of Virginia. He was continued in this high office for two terms, rendering distinguished service to the order. His youngest son, John Blair, was born while his father was presiding over a meeting of the grand lodge at Richmond, and was named by that body, John Blair Kerns. In religious faith, Mr. Kerns is a member of the Methodist Episcopal church, having joined when a lad of fourteen years. He is steward of the Danville district, recording steward of his church, superintendent of the Sunday school, and for four years has been lay reader. He is one of the most influential laymen of his church, and gives to its service freely of his business experience, his wisdom and his means. He is held in the highest esteem as a man of affairs, as a fraternal representative in the church, and as a citizen, no department of city life but claims his interest and receives his liberal support. He is president of the Sons of the Fifth Virginia Cavalry.

Mr. Kerns married, in Gloucester county, Virginia, in February, 1875, Julia Florence Trevilian, born in that county, daughter of Augustus Smith Trevilian, of an old Virginia family, and a veteran of the Thirty-fourth Regiment, Virginia Volunteers, Confederate States of America. He married Julia Dutton, both deceased. Of the twelve children of Hiram O. and Julia F. Kerns, one, Clarence, died in infancy. The other children are: Oscar Littleton, now of Birmingham, Alabama; Gertrude Lee, married R. H. Robertson and resides in Pocomoke City, Maryland; Florence Martin, residing with her parents; Ruby Trevilian, a teacher; Maris Vernon, a railroad man, resides at home; Stella J., resides at home; Benton, in the United States navy, now on foreign service; Trevilian Augustus, a machinist, resides at home; Hiram Oscar, in charge of his father's mill, resides at home; Stanly Martin, and John Blair, school boys. The family home is in Sutherlin, Virginia.

See general notes on his son-in-law, Clyde L. Bailey, for 1930 census facts.

bullet  Research Notes:

The Bee, Danville, VA, Monday, June 27, 1931
H. O. Kerns To Be Buried On Sunday AT 4 P.M.; Is Victim Of Angina Pectoris Attack
Prominent Danville Banker Stricken at Home Shorthly After Midnight and Passes Away - Well Known in Business, Civic and Religious Circles
Funeral services for H. O. Kerns, prominent Danville Banker, who died from an attack of angina pectoris at 12:30 this morning at his home, 490 West Main Street will be conducted tomorrow afternoon at 4:00 o'clock at Kerns Chapel at Sutherlin which he founded years ago. The rite of the Methodist Church will be held these to be conducted by Rev. John B. Winn, pastor of Mount Vernon Church, Rev. J. T. Mills, pastor of the Danville Circuit and Rev. J. M. Oakey, formerly of Danville but now of Disputanta.
The Officers of the Virginia Grand Lodge of Masons were convoked in special session at Richmond this morning and they will attend the services conducting the Masonic ceremony at the graveside. Mr. Kerns at the time of his death being the dean of the Virginia past grand masters.
The remains will leave Danville at 1 o'clock and will reach Sutherlin shortly afterwards the casket remaining in the chapel until the hour of the services. Interment will be made nearby in the family square.
Mr. Kerns death came somewhat unexpectedly though his condition was known to have been serious. Last Wednesday he had a slight attack of angina pectoris soon after returning from the Masonic Lodge where he spoke briefly on the occassion of the first Danville visit by Grand Master A. M. Showalter of Christiansburg. Dr. Clyde Bailey his son-in-law who lives with him warded off the attack. Since then he had been confined to his room though yesterday morning feeling much better he was able to be up though not able to leave his room.
At half past twelve this morning Mrs. Bailey heard him fall and hastened to his side. Mr. Kerns had evidently recognized premonitory symptoms and had striven to reach aid but was overcome. Dr. Bailey was with him almost instantly but he was beyond human aid.
Mr. Kerns had recognized for some time that his health was frail and on the advice of his physician he tendered his resignation on June 12 - two weeks ago - as chairman of the board of directors of the American National Bank and Trust Company which he founded.
Deceased, who was the son of Mavis V. Kerns [Maris Vernon] and Mrs. Emma Lefevre Kerns was born in Gloucester county 78 years ago [The Virginia Biographical Encyclopedia reports his birth as Lancaster Co., PA ... see general notes ... see comment below*] spending his early days there and moving to Sutherlin when a young man. He organized the Sutherlin mills which developed a large patronage and displayed an active interest in community affairs, especially in those of the Methodist church. He founded the chapel which bore his name. Not long after his home in Sutherlin was destroyed by fire he came to Danville in 1917 and launched into the organization of thee American National Bank of which he was the first and continuing president until five years ago. While active in community affairs and being a trusted fiscal advisor of scores of Pittsylvania farmers - big land owners and small tenant farmers - to whom he gave equally the fruits of his knowledge, his interest in Masonry was consistent and productive. He was elected to the highest office within the gift of Virginia Masonry for the year 1901-1902.
Mr. Kerns married Miss Julia Trevillian, of Gloucester county, who died in 1905. He is survived by the following children: O. L. Kerns of Birmingham, Ala; Mrs. R. H. Robertson of Pocomoke City, Md.; Mrs. Claude Strickland, Winston-Salem, NC; Miss Ruby Kerns and T. A. Kerns of Richmond; H. O. Kerns Jr. and S. M. Kerns of Sutherlin; B. R. Kerns of Fair Oaks, Calif.; and Mrs. Clyde Bailey and J. NB. Kerns of Danville.

* The 1850 Federal Census for Paradise, Lancaster County, PA records Maris Kerns living with the Lefevre family: Daniel Lefevre (70 - PA), Esther (67 - PA), Daniel (29), Hiram (26), Emma J. (21) [future wife of Maris], and Sarah (5). Maris is a Millwright. The 1860 and 1870 census records indicate that Maris and family moved to Gloucester Co., Virginia around 1860.

The Bee, Danville, VA, Monday, July 13, 1931
Kerns Will IS Probated Left $75,000
Testator Directs It Be Kept Intact for Period of Year
The will of the late H. O. Kerns, Danville Banker, who died several days ago from angina pectoris, was admitted to probate in the corporation court clerk's office this morning.
It disposes of an estate given an evaluation of $75,000, this amount being set as bond and given by the two executors, William H. Carter, trust officer of the American National Bank and Trust Company, and C. A. Trevillian. The will was executed on December 9, 1930, and is a seven page document to which is a codicil which makes no material alteration to the bequests by the testators.
A feature of the will is the direction given to the two executors to maintain the whole state intact for a period of one year by which time, doubtless Mr. Kerns believed, the estate will have a higher value. A few years ago the holdings would have been a far greater value than at present this being to a shrinkage in the current value of stocks bonds and securities.
All of his ten children were remembered with specific bequests ranging in size from $15,500 down to $100. These beneficiaries are Miss Ruby Kerns, Richmond, O. L. Kerns, Birmingham, Ala., Mrs. Gertrude Robertson, Pocomoke City, Md., Mrs. Florence Strickland, Winston-Salem, N.C., T. A. Kerns, Richmond, H. O. Kerns Jr, Sutherlin, Stanley M. Kerns, Sutherlin, Blair Kerns, Danville, and Burton Kerns of Faire Okas, California. To Mrs. Stella Kerns Bailey was left the Kerns home, 490 West Main Street.
Mr. Kerns left $2,000 to provide for the erection of a gravestone at Sutherlin and for maintenance of the square. He left a trust fund of $5,500 in securities the proceeds to be used towards the maintenance of Kerns Memorial Methodist Chapel at Sutherlin where he lived many years.
The terms of the will are specific and the trustees are instructed in detail as to how to wind up the estate at the termination of a year's time.
A board of appraisers were appointed as follows B. S. Warren, W. N. Terry, E. P. Crider, A. R. Gravely and J. L. Reynolds.
The final provision of the will is that if any of the beneficiaries contest the will their share is invalidated.


bullet  Noted events in his life were:

Occupation: Chairman of the Board/Bank (1930).


Hiram married Julia Florence Trevillian in Feb 1875. (Julia Florence Trevillian was born in Jun 1856 in Virginia and died in 1905 in Birch Creek, Halifax Co., Virginia.)

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