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Delaware County, Iowa


 Biography Directory



John F. Merry

Teacher, Farmer, Soldier

Elk, Oneida, Earlville



     John F. Merry was born in Peninsula, Summit county, Ohio, March 24, 1844, a son of Horace C. and Pamelia (Trowbridge) Merry. The father, born at Phelps, Ontario county, New York, on the 15th of July, 1814, was an early settler of the Western Reserve of Ohio, residing in Summit, Portage, Geauga and Cuyahoga counties. He came to Iowa from Geauga county in 1856, settling first in Elk township, Delaware county, where he purchased a farm and made his home until 1866. In that year he removed to Oneida township and during the remainder of his life resided near Earlville, passing away on the 18th of January, 1882. He gave his political allegiance to the republican party and for seven years served as justice of the peace in Elk township, while he also held the office of school director for a similar period and for three years acted as assessor in Oneida township. He was a Presbyterian in religious belief and a man of strong character and high integrity. On the 21st of February, 1838, at Solon, Cuyahoga county, Ohio, he wedded Miss Pamelia Trowbridge, whose birth occurred in Ontario, Wayne county, New York, June 1, 1818, and who died in Oneida township on the 28th of January, 1892. To them were born six children, as follows: Martha E., born December 15, 1838, in Summit county, Ohio, who gave her hand in marriage to Lucius H. Waldo, a farmer, on the 27th of August, 1860, and January 18, 1889, passed away in Oneida township;  Adaline, whose birth occurred in Portage county, Ohio, on the 30th of July, 1842, and who died at the age of five years; John F., of this review; Henry J., born in Summit county, Ohio, February 18, 1846, who wedded Miss Ella Welch on the 3d of December, 1868, and resides at Hartley, O'Brien

county, Iowa; Caroline M., born in Cuyahoga county, Ohio, on the 20th of March, 1850, who gave her hand in marriage to Charles Cruise on the 29th of September, 1868,and resides in Earlville; and William H., who was born February 18, 1863, and died in early life.

      John F. Merry came to Iowa with his parents in an immigrant wagon during the month of October, 1856, his father locating the following spring on a farm in the northern part of Delaware county. A few years later he taught school a couple of winter terms in what was known as the Merry District. In August, 1862 he enlisted in Company K, Twenty-first Iowa Infantry, and in March, 1863 was discharged for disability. In April, 1864, he again enlisted, recruited a company and as second lieutenant was mustered into Company F, Forty sixth Iowa Infantry. At the close of the war, he entered the service of Congar Brothers & Company, a mercantile firm at Manchester, Iowa. Two years later he engaged in the same business on his own account, and at different times was a member of the following firms: Sherwood, Wheeler & Merry, William Cattron & Company and Merry & Goodell. In 1880 he entered the service of the Illinois Central Railroad Company as excursion agent. After three years he was pro­moted to general western passenger agent, then to assistant general passenger agent of Western Lines, after which he was made assistant general passenger agent of the entire system, a position he held until July 15, 1905, when he was promoted to general immigration agent. In the latter position, all his time was devoted to the settling up of the country adjacent to the Central's southern lines. On the 1st day of July, 1911, he retired on a pension after thirty one years of continuous service.

       Captain Merry was twice married. On the 26th of November, 1866, in Manchester, he wedded Miss Emma J. Cattron, her parents being William and Judith (Eahart) Cattron, pioneer residents of Delaware county. Mr. Cattron is deceased, while his widow resides at Tacoma, Washington, at the age of ninety years. To Mr. and Mrs. Merry were born four sons, all of whom died young. The wife and mother passed away on the 18th of January, 1903, and on the 4th of February, 1904, Captain Merry was again married, his second union being with Miss Katharine Shimmin, a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Shimmin, of Pecatonica, Illinois. For more than twenty years prior to her marriage Mrs. Merry taught in the primary schools of Manchester.

        Captain Merry has been a great worker, as he is a natural leader. He was a member of the Iowa Trans -Mississippi and International Exposition Commission held at Omaha. He was a member of the Iowa commission for the erection of a state soldiers' monument at Des Moines. He was also the originator and promoter of the Vicksburg, Mississippi, National Military Park, and in Grand Army circles he is known as the "Father of the Vicksburg Park," an attraction annually visited by thousands of people. He was chairman of the Iowa Vicksburg monument commission that had in charge the expenditure of one hundred and fifty thousand dollars appropriated by the Iowa legislature for the erection of monuments and markers to commemorate the part Iowa troops had in the campaign and siege of Vicksburg. For years the Captain was secretary of the Dunleith & Dubuque Bridge Company. He prides himself on being a Lincoln republican. In 1896 he was a delegate to the national republican convention held at St. Louis and was prominent in urging the adoption of a gold plank in the republican platform. The Captain is a Methodist and in 1900 was a lay delegate to the general conference of that church held in Chicago. He is past commander of W. A. Morse Post, G. A. R.; is a member of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion and also of the Society of the Army of the Tennessee. He is a director of the Delaware County State Bank, the oldest banking house in the county. He has recently sold a model farm of two hundred and eighty acres only three and one-half miles from Manchester, which is known far and near as "Merryland." For fifteen years he has taken great pride in his Holstein cattle and Duroc Jersey hogs. Captain Merry is secretary pf the Delaware County Farmers' Institute and also an officer in the Jones Mill Grange. Few men have been more interested in the young people of the community than the Captain, and hundreds of them are indebted to him for good positions. Captain Merry is a cheerful and liberal giver to everything that stands for high ideals or for aid to the unfortunate


~ source: History of Delaware County, Iowa and its People, Illustrated, Volume II. The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1914, Chicago. Page 22-25.  Call Number 977.7385 H2m; LDS microfilm #934937.

~transcribed and contributed by Constance Diamond for Delaware County IAGenWeb


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