The past is the present for future generations who do not know their history

Posts tagged “Richard Marshall Kerby

What is the difference between a wooden pencil and a nice fountain pen?

The difference is huge to the child receiving the gift of the wooden pencils while their sister receives the nice fountain pens. Huge. The same is true with broken dolls for the twin of the favored grandchild.

Catherine E Ruth Jones Kerby has been so elusive, but finally we found a photo of her. The story of the  pens and

Grandmother Ruth Kerby

pencils and porcelain dolls follows as great-great-grandchild, Kimberly Ricketts recounts the story told of Grandmother Ruth Kerby:

My Great-Aunts (twins Irene and Pauline) told a story about “Grandmother Kerby” and the Christmas dolls. Andrew, Ruth’s son, (my G-Grandfather) had a stroke when he was still a young man which made it hard for him to make a living for his family.

He was a painter by trade (Wagon Works in Florence had him listed as an employee – even though the girls never remembered him working there) and did some gardening and painting, but after his stroke around 1909 (in TX) he was forced to relocate back to his “home” near his family.

Andrew’s wife, Minnie, was pregnant with the twins during their journey back home. Apparently, Richard Marshall Kerby and his wife Ruth gave Andrew’s family their previous home (they had lived there on Trade Street since about 1883.) Back then families took care of each other the best they could.

Grandmother Ruth, according to the twins and my grandmother, was snobby and thought she was better than Minnie’s family. She would get on to Pauline for playing and eating turnips in the garden with “little negro” neighbors. She told them they were “blue – blood” and should keep themselves neat and proper at all times.

She would make a difference between the twins and Minnie didn’t appreciate it. She would mail the kids gifts and would always send Irene the nicest gift. Irene was her favorite (Pauline explained to me when she was in her nineties, that Irene was a “suck up” when it came to Grandmother Kerby.)

When their grandfather died Grandmother Ruth left Florence, AL to live with a daughter in Warrior, AL. She would continue to send Irene nice fountain pens, while sending Pauline wooden pencils. One Christmas Grandmother sent all of the children gifts that were wrapped and tagged neatly.

Pauline decided that even though she couldn’t see the gifts she knew Irene’s was the nicest. So, she switched the name tags on their gifts. Much to Irene’s chagrin on Christmas she opened a doll that had a flat head and crooked eyes. Pauline of course opened a beautiful doll with eyes that opened and closed. Pauline’s doll had a beautifully shaped head and was much superior to the doll Irene had received.

Later that year Grandmother Kerby came to visit. The twins would imitate the “blue-blood” attitude that Grandmother exuded when telling this story. Irene remembered her coming into town in a wagon. After Grandmother got settled, she asked all of the girls to get out the dolls she had sent them. She was going to inspect them to see if they had taken good care of them. If they were in perfect shape, Grandmother told them, “she had brought some beautiful cloth to make their dolls a dress.”

Grandmother was mortified when Irene ran to bring her doll to her. Grandmother says, “Irene this is not YOUR doll, this is Pauline’s.” Pauline and Irene’s mother,Minnie, stepped in and told her that if she couldn’t get them the same gifts, then she should get them nothing at all.

All my life I will never forget the twins different versions of this story. Each Christmas I asked the twins to tell us all the story of Grandmother Kerby and the Christmas dolls.

 Pauline and Irene Kerby were born in 1910, so they would have no memory of their father’s work at the Wagon Factory if the date of his stroke is correct at 1909.


Brunette “Nettie” Kerby

was beloved by her family and was a friend and colleague of Maud Lindsay.

Brunette "Nettie" Kerby Walters

Fondly referred to as “Aunt Nettie” by my grandmother is my great-grandfather (Andrew Ethelbert Kerby’s) sister. She and her siblings were reared in Dixon Springs, TN. Her parents were married shortly after the Civil War. Her father, Richard Marshall Kerby, was in the 8th TN Infantry Co. A during the war.  His unit saw action in most of the big battles of the Tennessee arena. In a book entitled the History of  Trousdale County, (Tennessee) a letter was published which was written the morning after the Battle at Chickamauga which mentioned “Marshall”. It was a letter written from a son (Daniel Burford) to his mother (Ms. Ward) which were neighbors of R.M. Kerby’s family. One of the Kerbys had been killed during the battle (I believe he was a cousin of R.M.’s ) and Daniel asked his mother to reassure “Mr. Kerby” (Francis Kerby, R.M.’s father) that Marshall was alright.

Shortly after returning home Richard Marshall married Catherine (Caron) Ruth Jones and they raised a large family there in Dixon Springs. A letter was written from R.M. to his sister, Medora Kerby Fergusson, in 1883 telling about his move from Dixon Springs to Florence, Alabama. R.M. and his children had intended to move to Texas but were wearied by their trip. They found a desirable place just “north of South Pittsburgh” (Sheffield)”along the Tennessee River.”  His family settled into Florence, Alabama during its boom in the 1880s.

Several of Richard Marshall Kerby’s relatives were school teachers, some were of the most prominent in the earliest schools in Florence.One of these teachers was R.M.’s daughter, Brunette, who taught at the famous Maud Lindsay’s Free-Kindergarten in Florence. She lived on N. Walnut Street, near the parking lot of the new Florence Public Library. I can just imagine her immaculate, warm, cozy home full of the best southern hospitality. I discovered an article that my Aunt Irene Kerby Marks had clipped and placed in her scrapbook. I thought you might enjoy it. It was from the Florence Times but I do not know the date on which it appeared.


Francis Marion Kerby…

Family Group Sheet. Any additional information on Francis Marion Kerby or his  family would be appreciated. Photos would be reason for dancing in the streets. Francis Marion Kerby’s son, Richard Marshall Kerby lived in  Florence. The Kerby family was a large family.

Francis Marion Kerby Family Group Sheet

Francis Marion Kerby Family Group Sheet