Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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KERR, Washington Caruthers, geologist, born in Alamance county, North Carolina, 24 May, 1827; died in Asheville, North Carolina, 9 August, 1885. He was graduated at the University of North Carolina in 1850, and subsequently taught, also holding a chair in Marshall university, Texas, whence he went to Cambridge, Massachusetts, as a computer in the Nautical Almanac office. This place afforded him opportunities for study at Harvard. In 1855 he was called to the professorship of chemistry, geology, and mineralogy in Davidson college, North Carolina, but the civil war severed this relation, and he enlisted as a private in the Confederate army. Professor Kerr was soon detailed to superintend and devise methods for the manufacture of salt on the coasts of North and South Carolina. In 1.866 he was made state geologist of the former state, and at the same time he delivered occasional lectures on geology at the University of North Carolina. His work on the geology of the state continued until 1882, when he received an appointment on the United States geological survey, so that he might connect the work of his state with that of the nation, his health failing in 1883 he was compelled to resign his office. He was a member of scientific societies, to whose proceedings he contributed papers of merit, and he published, besides minor reports, "Report of the Geological Survey of North Carolina" (vol. i., Raleigh, 1875; vol. ii., 1881).
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