From book written by Merritt Melberg;
John L. Merritt
John L. Merritt
John L. Merritt, the oldest son of Richard & Agnes Merritt, was born 17 Dec 1891 at Norway, Benton Co. IA. He was educated at the Prairie Belle School, 1/2 mile south of his home, some three miles SE of Norway, Benton Co. IA. He was tall, over 6 foot 2 1/2 inches, slender, dark-haired and a good-natured man. He was a hard worker on the farm with his parents. He married Stella Melberg, daughter of Axel and Dehlia Melberg. The wedding took place on 21 Dec 1912, under the most hostile conditions, because Stella was pregnant. There was neither foregiveness nor friendship between the two families concerned. A son, Milton was born 25 Feb 1913, and died 22 Mar 1914, possibly of diptheria.
Richard, John's father, set the couple up in farming one of his farms, about 3/4 of a mile from the home place, thus John was able to work both his and his father's farm. Father never did forgive John for marrying Stells. He constantly chastised him for "Being naughty" and for discracing the family name.
After corn husking was completed, Stella went out to do the farm chores and left John to sleep in and rest. When she returned to the house, John had disappeared with his clothing. Unable to carry on by herself, Stella went home to her parents, where she lived with her son for several months. John returned from his wanderings, apparently to California and Washington, where the family had relatives. he took to strong drink. About three months after the death of his son, John drowned in the Iowa river. He was 23 years, nine months at the time of his death. John is buried beside his father, that rejected him in life, at the Linwood Cemetery, south of Norway, IA.
Cedar Rapids Gazette; 1918
Tribute to Life of Iowa Pioneer
Richard Merritt, father of Mrs Ernest Melberg of Norway, IA, was called to rest July 1, (1918).
Richard, the fifth child of Charles and Rebecca Williams Merritt, was born on a farm near Covington, Warren Co. IN. Nov 7, 1851.
When fours years of age, he moved with his parents to Linn Co. IA, where the winter of 1856-57 was spent in a log cabin north of Palo, IA, owned by Archilbald Edson and an old friend from the days when both families lived in Ohio.
In March of the year 1857, the Merritts moved to a farm in Franklin Co. Kansas, ten miles west of Ossawatamee, where they lived next door to John Brown. it had been their intention to make their new home in that state; but often seeing John Brown's home burned by border ruffians, who had filled Kansas and taken charge of the polling places in order that the state should be voted into the Union as a slave state, they moved back to Iowa a few days before the "Battle of Ossawatame." This time they settled near Helens, Tama Co. IA. It was this winter that most of the deer in the state perished.
In the spring of 1864, the family moved to a farm 1 1/2 miles south of Belle Plaine, Iowa and in the autumn of the following years, moved to the John Railsback farm one mile northwest of Palo, IA. They lived there only a few months, as another farm, known as the "Winterstein" farm in Johnson Co. about three miles west of the present site of the Swishes had been purchased. On June 27, 1870, another moved was made from this place to a farm three miles SE of Norway, Iowa in Florence Twsp.
November 30, 1890, Richard Merritt was united in marriage to Agnes Rosencrantz Smith of Marengo, IA. Three sons and three daughters were born to this union. They are: Mrs Arthur Plagmann, Hazel Eva of South English; Mrs Ernest Melberg, Ollie Irene of Norway, IA, Ruth, Clarence and Lee, remaining at home. John L., the oldest of the family, drowned while bathing in the Iowa river, near Marengo, IA, in the company of his cousin, Charles Oldfield, July 28th, 1914. (His wife later married his cousin, Scott Merritt).
For several years, Mr. Merritt's health had been failing. Two years ago, his life was almost spent. His death, which occurred at 8 PM July 1, was the result of a complication of diseases. All through his lingering illness, he had every comfort and care that a devoted wife could give. He lived a strictly temperate, honest and upright life, being a kind husband and an indulgant father.
Interment was held at Linwood Cemetery in Iowa Co. IA.