In1856, Kerr County was authorized by a new legislative act that the new county be named in honor of “James Kerr, the first American settler on the Guadalupe River.” But Kerr County could have been logically named Brown County for the first settler of Kerr County, Joshua Brown (1816-1874).
Kerr County could have been named Brown County or any other countless variations that could have been proposed by early settlers of many different nationalities. But by a common consent for the areas pioneers and through the efforts of a respectful friend, the new county formed from a large chunk of Bexar County, was named Kerr.
The name Kerr honors soldier, statesman and surveyor, Major James Kerr, born in Kentucky on September 21, 1790. Josh Brown was a close friend of the Kerr’s and a settler of Gonzales, a settlement that Kerr had founded.
While Kerr was a young child he and his father Rev. James Kerr moved to Missouri. Kerr was a young soldier who fought in the War of 1812, under Captain Nathan Boone, and became a Lieutenant. At the culmination of the war Kerr returned to Missouri, where he was elected Sheriff of St. Charles County. Kerr eventually settled in Texas and it is believed that he never stepped foot in the county that bears his name. (More information on Major James Kerr below)
Joshua Brown, known as the “Father of Kerrville,” was recorded as the first actual settler to make his home on the upper Guadalupe River. Brown, born in Kentucky in 1816, came to Texas in 1830. During the Texas Revolution, Brown joined Sam Houston’s army and fought at the Battle of San Jacinto where victory and independence were won for Texas.
When the army disbanded, Brown went home to Gonzales and married Miss Sarah Jane Goss. In 1844, they started west in search of a new home. Their first stop was Curry’s Creek, an early settlement that is now in Kendall County. It was there that he took up the craft of shingle making; he soon decided to move to a more suitable area for the craft.
In 1846, Brown was determined to investigate a report of giant cypress trees, said to be near the headwaters of the Guadalupe River. He found the trees within only one day’s horse ride. Shortly thereafter Brown convinced a group of 10 shingle makers to go with him to develop one of the first shingle camps in the territory.
Some people believe that Kerrville was originally to be named “Brownsburg” but postal authorities claimed that there were already too many towns beginning with the word Brown. The name was then changed to “Kerrsville”, in honor of Major James Kerr. The “S” was dropped from the name in January of 1866 during a special session of the City Council, called by Alonzo Rees.
Ever since the early days of the cattle drives the small town “Brownsburg” then “Kerrsville” and now Kerrville, has evolved from a shingle makers camp to a thriving historical city with many year round activities. The town of Kerrville, and the surrounding area, is loaded with historical sites where events occurred that have shaped the history of Kerrville.