Joseph C. Merritt, chairman of the board of directors of the First National Bank of Chanute, the largest financial institution in Neosho County, is a pioneer Kansan. He came to Iola in 1871, and for a number of years was engaged in the cattle business.
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His home had been in Chanute since 1878. For more than thirty years, until he sold out in 1909, Mr. Merritt conducted a hardware store at the corner of East Main and Harlan Avenue. As successful merchant, it was only natural that he should participate in other business affairs in the city, and he early became identified as a director with the First National Bank, served as its president five years, and since 1912 had been president of its board of directors. The other officers of this bank are: A. N. Allen, president; D. N. Kennedy, vice president; W. F. Allen, cashier. The bank had a capital of $100,000 and a surplus of $20,000. For twenty-five years the modern bank building had stood at the corner of East Main Street and Lincoln Avenue.
The Merritt family from which Joseph C. Merritt is descended came over from England to New York in Colonial days. His father, Joseph Merritt, was born in New York State, in 1784, spent most of his life on a farm in Putnam County, New York, and died at Patterson in that county in 1854. He was a member of the Presbyterian faith. He married Esther Dean, who was born in New York State in 1818 and died at Patterson, New York, in 1896. Joseph C. is one of the two children living, his brother, James A., still occupying the old homestead in Putnam County, New York, where he was born and reared.
Joseph C. Merritt was born in Dutchess County, New York, January 22, 1839, was educated in the public schools of Putnam County, and spent the first twenty-two years of his life on his father’s farm. He left the farm to engage in the lumber and coal business, and also branched out as a dealer in feed and grain. These lines occupied him in his home state until 1871, when he came to Kansas.
Outside of business he had given considerable time to the public welfare of Chanute. Politically he is classed as an independent. He had sat in the city council and also as mayor of the city, and during his term as mayor the municipal government was changed from a third to a second-class city. He is affiliated with Cedar Lodge No. 103, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, Channte Chapter No. 21, Royal Arch Masons, the Ancient Order of United Workmen, and the Modern Woodmen of America. His home is at 427 South Highland avenue.
December 3, 1863, in Putnam County, New York, Mr. Merritt married Miss Caroline L. Holmes. She died in August, 1869, leaving one child, Grace L., wife of George T. Davis, who is a hardware merchant at Chanute. On July 1, 1875, at Iola, Kansas, Mr. Merritt married Mary E. Davis, daughter of H. W. Davis, now deceased, who was a hardware merchant.