Biography - Thomas B. Kerley

THOMAS B. KERLEY, M. D. Much has been written in this historical work of the banks and bankers of Southern Illinois. However, in estimating the financial strength of this section of the state, the banks and bankers of its smaller municipalities are deserving of very prominent mention, for they are the tributaries of larger financial institutions and have an important part in swelling the stream of the state's prosperity. To the village bank comes the farmer from the surrounding countryside and deposits the golden fruits of his toil; from the proprietor of that bank its customers may ask and receive financial advice; he is their friend and advisor as well as their banker. The farm loan, that solid rock of financial investment, is placed with him, or is negotiated through some larger banking institution through his agency. Upon the stability and security of these smaller banks, as well as upon the honor and integrity of those in control of them, rests the whole superstructure of the confidence and trust reposed in them. In this connection it is not inappropriate to speak of the career of Thomas B. Kerley, a well known physician and surgeon, who is the banker of Simpson, and one of the most influential men of his part of Johnson county. Dr. Kerley was born on a farm in Simpson township, May 14, 1865, and is a son of James L. and Mary J. (McKee) Kerley.

The Kerley family, which originated in Ireland, was founded in North Carolina, in which state the. grandfather of Dr. Kerley, Thomas Kerley, was born. He migrated to Giles county, Tennessee, at an early day and in 1840 came to Illinois, settling first in Pope county and later securing a farm in the "Flat Woods" in Johnson county, this land still being owned by a member of the family. Thomas Kerley married a Miss Meredith and reared a family of fourteen children, and she died recently, leaving one hundred and thirty-six descendants, representing prominent and successful people in every walk of life. James L. Kerley, who was born July 21, 1836, in Giles county, Tennessee, was four years of age when he accompanied his parents to Southern Illinois, and was reared to the life of an agriculturist, which he followed throughout his active career. He accumulated five hundred acres of excellent land, but this he divided among his children, to each of whom he gave a good tract when they reached maturity. He was thrice married, his first wife bearing the maiden name of Elizabeth Lasley, and she died shortly after their marriage, without issue. He was married (second) to Mary J. MeKee, who was born August 20, 1839, daughter of Zachariah and Elizabeth (Wright) McKee, and she died February 7, 1879, at the age of forty years, having been the mother of eight children, namely: Sarah Katherine, who is deceased; Joseph A.; Winnie, who is deceased; Thomas B.; Alvan, who is deceased; one who died in infancy; Gilbert C, deceased; and Mrs. Hattie Ditterlins. Mr. Kerley was married (third) to Miss Susan McKee, daughter of Frank K. McKee, and they had one child, Chillis, a farmer of Johnson county. James L. Kerley died March 12, 1910, in the faith of the Primitive Baptist church, of which he was a member. One of his county's best citizens, he was progressive in all things, and was the first man in the McKee settlement to use a mowing machine.

Thomas B. Kerley attended the district schools of his native locality, and until his marriage made his home with his father. He was reared to agricultural pursuits, but when he became twenty-one years old he decided to enter the medical profession, and with that end in view began study with Dr. Joseph H. Simmons. He continued with him for two years, in the meanwhile carrying on operations on his thirty-five acre tract, and in 1886 entered the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Keokuk, Iowa, where he studied during 1886, 1887 and 1888, graduating in February of the latter year. He at once began the practice of medicine at Simpson, where he has continued it ever since. A kind and sympathetic physician, a steady-handed surgeon and a cheerful friend, Dr. Kerley won the respect and admiration of his fellow-townsmen long before he opened his banking institution in 1910, on December 10th of which year the First Bank of Simpson, a private establishment, was organized, with Mr. Kerley as president, J. W. Reynolds, vice-president, and Delbert R. Kerley, cashier, and these gentlemen, with Story & Klink, of Glendale, Illinois, and N. J. Brooks,, of Simpson, form the board of stockholders. Since 1907 he has devoted a good deal of attention to farming, and is now the owner of two hundred acres of well-cultivated land. Mr. Kerley is so well known that his life and character speak for themselves. Having spent all his life in this section, he was able to recognize the section's natural opportunities, which he improved, and he is now enjoying the well-merited reward of his forsight. At the age of twenty-one years he joined the Masonic order, and shortly thereafter became. connected with the Odd Fellows, and he has since been a popular member of both fraternities.

On March 18, 1886, Mr. Kerley was married to Mary E. Simmons, daughter of Louis M. and Catherine Simmons, and granddaughter of Peter Simmons, a native of North Carolina, who migrated to the "Flat Woods" of Johnson county in 1840. Dr. and Mrs. Kerley have had four sons, as follows: Granville L., aged twenty-four years, studied in the Southern Illinois Normal University, and graduated from the St. Louis Medical University in May, 1910, and is now assistant surgeon of the Frisco Railroad and is located at Topeka, Kansas; Lindorf L., aged twenty-two years, studied at the Southern Illinois Normal University, and graduated at Bloomington Law School, June 20, 1911, since which time he has been engaged in the practice of law at Chicago; Delbert R., aged twenty-one years, who is now acting as cashier of the First Bank of Simpson; and Ollin. R., aged sixteen years, who is a student in school.

Extracted from 1912 A History of Southern Illinois, volume 2, pages 666-667.

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