Lee County Biographies

Merritt Smith
Palmyra Twp. Twp.


Merritt Smith Residence

Merritt Smith, who resides in Palmyra Twp. is one of the extensive land owners of the community, his farm comprising 480 acres on sections 17 and 18. Much credit does he deserve for his success in life as it is due entirely to his own efforts, being the result of his industry, perseverance and good management. He was born in Sandwich, Carroll County, NH Oct. 2, 1833. The Smith family is of Irish origin and was established in New Hampshire duirng Colonial days.

The father of our subject, John Smith, was born in the old Granite State and in the neighborhood of Sandwich lived and labored for many years. He died at the age of 77 and left to his family an untarnished name. At the age of 18 he had united with the Methodist Church and was ever afterward one of its consistent and faithful members, living a life of uprightness and integrity. In politics he was a Democrat. His wife, whose maiden name was Phebe Clough, was also born in Carroll County NH and was of Scotch descent. She held to the faith of the Methodist Church and died one of its consistent members when in the prime of life. The family of this worthy couple numbered nine children of whom two sons and two daughters are yet living

Our subject is the only member of the family living in Illinois. He was a lad of only 9 years when his mother died and at an early age he began to earn his own living. Without the aid of capital or influential friends, he started out in life for himself and deserves all the more credit that, by his own unaided efforts, he has arisen to the eviable position which he today occupis. for seven years he labored hard in Massachusetts, and though his wages were small, in that time he saved $1,100. He now determined to try his fortune in the West and with that sum in his pocket came to Lee County in 1853. The only money he ever inherited was about $125, left him by his grandmother in NH. This was invested in a buggy and harness to be shipped him from the East but the vessel on which it was shipped was lost in Lake Michigan and he therefore reaped no benefit from his inheritance.

When he arrived in the county, Mr. Smith began the development of a farm from the unbroken prairie and as the result of his labors has now a valuable home. Every improvement upon the place is the work of his own hands and stands as a monument ot his thrift and enterprise. One of the finest set of farm buildings in the county is included among the improvements. Of the 480 acres embraced within the boundaries of the farm, almost the entire amount yields to the owner a golden tribute in return for his care and cultivation. To stock-raising, Mr. Smith also devoted considerable attention, making a specialty of Polled Angus cattle and Poland China hogs and horses of superior breeds.

In Palmyra Twp. Mr. Smith was united in marriage iwth Miss Eliza B. True, who was born in Holderness, Grafton County NH Jan. 13, 1835 and came to IL in 1854, with her father and step-mother. Levi S. and Lydia M. (Rogers) True, the parents of Mrs. Smith were natives of the Granite State. Her father was born Oct. 30, 1807 and wedded Miss Rogers who was born on Feb. 2, 1813, and died March 9, 1849. For a second wife Mr. True chose Sarah A. Sinclair, whose birth occurred on Aug. 17, 1818. On coming to IL Mr. True devoted his energies to farming in Palmyra Twp. until his death, Jan. 29, 1887, at the age of four-score. His wife had passed away April 13, 1884. In politics he was a Democrat.

The able and untiring assistance of Mrs. Smith has been an important factor in the success of her husband, their united efforts winning them prosperity. They have a wide acquaintance throughout the community. In politics Mr. Smith is a stanch Republican who warmly advocates the principles of that party. In the family is but one son, Eugene B. who is now a successful farmer of Palmyra Twp. He married Lillian Stager and fater her death was united in marriage in Stephenson County with Ida Rager. Unto them has been born a daughter, Eugenie B.

Portraits & Biographical 1892 Pg 739

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