Biography of Solomon Mercer
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Solomon Mercer, whose recent death was deplored by a host of friends, had been identified with Champaign County from the period of early youth, and had borne the heat and burden of the day during his early efforts at establishing a home and improving a farm. His later years were years of comfort and the growing esteem of his friends.
Mr. Mercer was born in Monroe County, Ohio, at Millwood, a son of Aaron and Mary (Cecil) Mercer. His father was a native of Virginia and his mother of Ohio. The father left Virginia in early youth, settling in Ohio, and there he married and his children were born, consisting of five sons and three daughters. Solomon Mercer received his first instruction in the public schools of Monroe and Logan counties, Ohio. He was still a child when his parents came to Illinois, and after two years in Vermilion County located in Champaign County, where the children continued their education at the Blue Grass school. Aaron Mercer was a very industrious man and worked hard and faithfully to provide for his family. By occupation he was a carpenter, built a large number of the early homes in Champaign County, and was very ingenious in the use of tools, being able to make all manner of furniture and also burial caskets. In a new country his services were in great demand and were much appreciated. He and his wife lived in Champaign County until they died.
When Solomon Mercer was twenty-five years of age he married Miss Mary Wyman. She was born in Ohio but when a girl came to Illinois with her parents, and grew up and was educated in Vermilion County. After their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Mercer took a rented farm in Kerr Township, and were renters for four years. They possessed industry and thrift, and besides supplying the simple needs and comforts of the home they were able to accumulate something for the future. They possessed that spirit which has been described by the poet as “that delightful discontent which the hope of better things inspires within us.” Thus at the end of four years they felt justified in buying 320 acres of land at a price of less than $40 an acre. They did not pay for the entire tract at once, but every year saw them a little further along the road to independence and in time they had the farm clear and improvements that enhanced its value several fold.
Into their home came four children: William L.; Allie, who died at the age of six years; Charles and Addie. Mr. and Mrs. Mercer from the first made ample provision to furnish these children with an education and with means of advancement to honorable position in the world. The children first attended the Sugar Grove school and afterwards finished the course of the Paxton High School. Addie graduated with honors from that school and all three children have made a creditable record. William is now a traveling salesman for the iron works at Galion, Ohio. His natural good nature makes him popular in the work and he travels all over the United States. He married Fannie Martin, and they have one daughter, Dorothy. Charles Mercer married Jessie Molsbury and they live in Clark County, Ohio. He is the proprietor of an elevator. Their four children are named Chester, Opal, Marion and Harold. Addie Mercer is the wife of J. W. McCall of Gibson City, Illinois, where Mr. McCall is superintendent of the canning factory.
Mr. Mercer, as was his wife, was an active member and liberal supporter of the Congregational Church at Paxton. On October 2, 1916, the death angel visited the home and took away the good wife and mother, after they had walked side by side along life’s road for fifty-four years, sharing each other’s joys and sorrows, and on the first anniversary, October 2, 1917, Mr. Mercer died. Mrs. Mercer was a good wife, a kind and loving mother and a splendid neighbor. Her funeral service was conducted by Rev. Mr. Webster, minister of the Congregational Church at Paxton, and a large concourse of friends and relatives gathered to pay their last tribute of respect. After the death of his wife Mr. Mercer made his home with his sister, Martha Morain of Penfield, widow of Isaac Morain. Mr. and Mrs. Morain were married in Champaign County and he died here in 1861.
Mr. Mercer had always been distinguished by public spirit and his follow citizens showed their confidence in his judgment by electing him as township supervisor. He was an ardent prohibitionist and the rapid progress of that movement in recent years made him hope to see prohibition extended over the entire United States, if not the world. Mr. Mercer was one of the loyal friends and admirers of the late Judge Cunningham, who was so helpfully associated with the compilation of this work until his death.