When Newspapers Gossiped–David Kerr Innisville



Gold panning locations Victoria Australia

Perth Courier, August 11, 1882

A Romance Spoiled

To the Editor of the Perth Courier:


In your issue of the 28th  there appeared an article entitled “A Romance in Real Life” which the writer, with a few lines, intended as an advertisement of my return from foreign parts.  It seems somewhat strange that I could not return to my native land without being subjected to such an untruthful article as the one referred to.

It is true that no one knew of my intended departure from Innisville some 19 years ago.  I went to Australia as those around here knew, in company with Abraham Code and James Hopkins.  I went to the Australia gold fields for no other reason than to better my fortune and acquire by luck and work the equal of that which was rightfully mine.

During my absence I wrote regularly to my wife and friends for some nine years.  Then there was an interval of silence of nine years when in March of 1881 the correspondence reopened which continued until I took passage on the ship homeward bound.  The statement that my marriage met the disapprobation of my friends is wholly false and shows now, as 20 years ago, that some people never lose the opportunity of playing the part of the “snake in the grass”.

Yours Truly, David Kerr

Innisville, 7 August, 1882

Author’s Note:

David Kerr was away from his wife for 18 years and he didn’t think anyone would talk? Obviously he does not know Lanark County very well! Of course women and children were scarcely seen on the gold fields of Alaska or Australia as conditions were harsh, and it was not considered a place for a lady or children.

Some men brought their wives and they stayed in Melbourne with little money and promises from their husband’s that they would send money when they found gold. It looks like some stayed at home like Mrs. Kerr, again with promises from their husband’s that they would send money when they found gold. It took Mr. Kerr 19 years to come home. I don’t know about you but his derriere would have been out the door if he was my husband.

Maybe he came home finally sick of the food he ate in the gold fields. The miner’s diet was very simple; it consisted of Mutton, damper (made from floor and water) and tea. The mutton was sold by a butcher, who would have a tent set up in the camp; it was easy to find the butcher’s tent as it was always surrounded by flies which were swarming the mutton carcasses hanging outside. Very appetizing!

When miners first came to the gold fields they lived in calico tents. The miner’s would sleep on makeshift mattresses which were stuffed with leaves. Outside their tent they would have a cooking fire, a bucket of water and something specific to the miners to help them identify which tent was their own, such as a flag. As time went on, bark huts and stone buildings were built to replace tents. The government built camps which consisted of a timber barracks for the soldiers as well as a log jail.

I have no idea why Mrs. Kerr put up with that husband of hers– along with being mortified when he wrote that letter to the editor of the Perth Courier. But, I guess a bad husband was way better than no husband in those days.


Author’s Note– Later I found out more about this scoundrel..

Kerr or Ennis? More about the Innisville Scoundrel


Perth Courier, March 19, 1897

Robert Waugh of Carleton Place, a native of Innisville section, died in that town on Thursday morning last week.  Deceased was once in the woolen business in Carleton Place and before that was bookkeeper for Abraham Code. His age was 53 years.



Lanark County Residents involved in the California Gold Rush

Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in Hometown News and now in The Townships Sun

About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

2 responses »

  1. If Kerr was away for 19 years then he BETTER have been sending a LOT of money back home to his wife! At the same time I doubt that he remained faithful to his wife all that time! If there was any snake in the grass I bet it was him! He had gall to try to defend himself didn’t he.

    Liked by 1 person

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