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Posted By: Jean Kramer (email)
Date: 12/30/2003 at 09:01:58

Biography reproduced from page 100 of Volume II of the History of Kossuth County written by Benjamin F. Reed and published in 1913:

Don J. Merrill is one of the well known agriculturists of Kossuth county, located on section 3, Seneca township. He was born in Clayton county, Iowa, near Strawberry Point, January 14, 1857, a son of Roswell and Harriet (Burnham) Merrill. The father was born in Vermont of English descent and was by occupation a farmer. In early life he settled in Illinois and removed to Iowa in the early Ď50s, locating on a farm in Clayton county. Some years later he removed to Waterloo, intending to purchase a farm in the vicinity of that place, but was there taken ill and died in 1857. The mother was also a native of Vermont and of English descent but celebrated her wedding in Illinois. By her first husband she became the mother of four children, of whom three are yet living. R. M., born in 1848, served throughout the Civil war and was honorably discharged at its close. He died in Plainville, Kansas, in 1902. D. E. F., born September 8, 1852, is now living on his farm at Rock Rapids, Iowa. E. N. is a cabinet-maker of Indianapolis, Indiana. Don J., of this review, completes the family. The mother married H. M. Smith and they became the parents of two children, as follows: Dolly, deceased; and Byron, operating the old home farm near Laporte City. The mother died in Laporte City in 1900, but Mr. Smith is still living and maintains his residence near that city.

Don J. Merrill was reared in his parentsí home and received his early education in the public schools. He remained under the parental roof until he was eighteen years of age and as a young man worked on his fatherís farm. At the end of that time he learned the masonís and brick-layerís trades, which he continued to follow until 1883. In that year he was married and established his home near Laporte City, Iowa, where he was engaged in farming until 1890. He then removed to Kossuth county, setting in Seneca township, where he purchased a farm of eighty acres on section 3. After coming to Kossuth county he rented a farm for two years, at the end of which time he located on his own place in Seneca township, on which he has since successfully engaged in general farming and stock-raising.

Mr. Merrill was united in marriage December 5, 1883, to Miss Electa Taylor, a daughter of W. F. and Samantha (Kelley) Taylor, both of whom were natives of Ohio. Her father was of German descent and her mother of Irish parentage. In 1855 the family came to the west and settled in Blackhawk county, where they remained for a number of years, and in 1868 removed to Buchanan county. They became the parents of eight children, four of whom are living namely: Alice, the wife of James Barge, a farmer of northern Wisconsin; Anna Elizabeth, the widow of Robert Swan, a sketch of whom appears on another page of this volume; W. W., a farmer of Buchanan county, Iowa; and Mrs. Merrill. By her marriage to the subject of this review the last named became the mother of two children, namely: Vena, the wife of J. W. Saxton, a farmer residing near Seneca, in Seneca township; and Sheldon Edison, residing at home and attending district school No. 2 in Seneca township.

In addition to his farming interest in Iowa Mr. Merrill was one of the organizers of the Seneca Creamery, of which he is one of the principal stockholders. He also owns a very fine orange grove and home in Florida, where he and his family spend the winter season during each year. He is affiliated with the democratic party and has served several terms as road superintendent. He is a member of the Masonic lodge of Swea City and Mrs. Merrill is a member of the Order of the Eastern Star of that city, while she also belongs to the Ladies Aid Society of the Methodist Episcopal church of Swea City. Mr. Merrill is one of the enterprising citizens of his locality and as a farmer he is numbered among the most progressive and successful men in Kossuth county. He is always to be relied upon to give the benefit of his influence to the success of any public enterprise intended to advance and improve the conditions of the people in his state and county.


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