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John Jerome Merritt
Born December 4, 1833


JEROME J. MERRITT, farmer, Sec. 3; P.O. Olin; born in New York in 1833; came to Iowa in 1837; owns 334 acres of land and has made all the improvements on the place; has a fine barn 24x36, 14-foot posts; house, 16x30; wing, 12x14. He is the third son of John Merritt. In politics, Republican; in religion, liberal. Has been Road Supervisor and School Director for eight years. His wife, Rebecca Blayney, was born in Ohio in 1837; came to Iowa in 1855; married in 1856 and had eight children—James B., Miranda, Mary, Augustus, Augusta (died in 1877), Don Carlos, Erwin and Dellis.

Source: History of Jones County, Iowa, Western Historical Company, Chicago, 1879, page 649.

John J. Merritt, one of the venerable citizens of Hale, Iowa, who is now living retired after a long and useful life spent in agricultural pursuits, was born December 4, 1833, near Lockport, New York, a son of John and Katharine (Culp) Merritt. His father was also born in New York state in 1806, and there he married Katharine Culp, also a native of New York, who was born in 1800. In 1837 he came to Jones county, Iowa, locating a claim northwest of Olin, in what is now known as Rome township, and is supposed to have been the first white man to reach a point that far west in 1837, although many settlers came during the following year. This was before the county or state had been organized and the district was then known as the Black Hawk Purchase, later Wisconsin Territory. Returning to New York, Mr. Merritt brought his family by boat from Pittsburg down the Ohio river to the Mississippi, and up the latter river to where Clinton, Iowa, is now located, and here the family resided for one year on account of wild condition of the country around the new claim and the numerous Indians in the locality.
This was a hard year for the little party of pioneers, whose meat consisted of deer and wild duck, while the meal for their bread was pounded corn. Milk was churned in a jug, and in all things the most primitive conditions prevailed. In 1838, the family located on the claim, which originally consisted of five hundred acres, a part of which was given to a neighbor some time later. The nearest trading points at this time were Dubuque and Davenport, each about fifty miles away, and no post office was located in the district until 1842. John Merritt spent his whole life in farming and here died December 1, 1886, his wife having passed away in 1855. They had a family ,of seven children, namely: Horatio Nelson, who lives in Washington; Agnes, who was the wife of Mathias Houseman and who died three years ago; Joseph, who is a resident of Black Hills; John J.; William, who lives in Washington; Dollie, who married John Lyons and who is now deceased; and Cornelius, who resides in Newport, Iowa.
John J. Merritt received a limited education in a log schoolhouse situated two miles from his home, but he has since improved his every opportunity for learning, and is an excellent conversationalist and takes pleasure in relating incidents of the strenuous days of early Iowa. He followed farming throughout his active life, owning four hundred acres of fine land in Rome township, one-half of which, however, he has disposed of.
In 1897, he retired from active work and moved to his residence in the village of Hale, where he has since lived. He still supervises the work on his farm, however, which is located on sections 2 and 3, Rome township, and is devoted to the growing of grain and the raising of high-grade stock.


On June 5, 1856, Mr. Merritt was married to Rebecca Blainey, who was born July 25, 1839, in Wheeling, West Virginia, and died May 30, 1905. Unto them were born eight children, as follows: J. B., who resides in Webster City; Miranda, who died aged thirty-two years; Mary, who is the wife of Charles Walston, of Olin; Gus, who lives in Nebraska; Augusta, who was the twin of Gus, and who died when thirteen years of age; D. Carl, who lives in Olin; Irving, who lives in Cedar Rapids; and W. Dell, on our subject's farm in Rome township.
Mr. Merritt has been a stanch republican all his life, his first presidential vote having been cast for John C. Fremont, and he has been active in his party's success in this section, serving in numerous township offices. Fraternally he is connected with Olin Lodge, No. 200, A.F.&A.M.

Source: History of Jones County, Iowa, Past and Present, R. M. Corbitt, S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., Chicago, 1910, p. 200.

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