|William Schuyler Mercer|
There has been a member of the Mercer family in Peru more than three quarters of a century, and during this long term the name has become associated with all those qualities of sturdy enterprise and useful citizenship which are the best badges of honor in any community. |
The family was founded here by Moses Mercer, a native of Licking County, Ohio. He grew up in Ohio, learned the cooper's trade and came when a young man in 1842 to Miami County. He had previously followed his trade in the City of Wabash, and continued it at Peru, and also had employment as a carpenter. For a number of years he was in the woodworking department of the old Indianapolis, Peru and Chicago Railway, now the Lake Erie and Western Division of the New York Central lines. Still later Moses Mercer was identified with the Indiana Manufacturing Company. He died honored and respected in 1899. His wife, who died in 1886, was Ann J. Long, daughter of Peter Long, who was a pioneer settler of Logansport. Moses Mercer and wife were two of the original thirteen who organized the first Baptist Church of Peru. Their names are perpetuated on the first roll of membership, and that church is now one of the largest and most influential religious organizations in the Wabash Valley. Moses Mercer was also one of the organizers and a charter member of Miami Lodge No. 42, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons at Peru. In politics he voted as a whig and was one of the first voters in the ranks of the republican party. He and his wife had five children: Ado J., May, William S., Georgia and Emmett. William Schuyler Mercer was born at Peru February 3, 1861, and that city has always been his home with the exception of one year spent in Chicago. He attended the public schools, but at the age of fourteen, in 1875, began work as clerk in the store of Killgore, Shirk & Company. He was with that old and substantial firm twelve years. In 1887 he used his modest capital and experience to enter the grain business with J. A. Neal, under the name Mercer & Neal. This was continued until the spring of 1898, after which for a year Mr. Mercer was in the grain business at Chicago. On returning to Peru he bought a bakery and restaurant, and since that time for nearly twenty years he has given most of his study and his energy to the task of furnishing pure and wholesome food supplies. In 1907 he divided his business, erecting a modern bakery plant and organizing the firm of Mercer & Company, with his son-in-law, Hazen P. Sullivan, as his partner. The restaurant business was sold in 1911, but the company soon afterward took on a new line of enterprise when they bought the Sanitary Milk Company. In February, 1912, they bought an ice cream factory, rebuilt it and thoroughly modernized it, and this branch of manufacture and distribution of milk products is now conducted as the Sanitary Milk and Ice Cream Company.
Mr. Mercer is not only a very popular business man but a citizen who commands the esteem and confidence of the people beyond all partisan lines. This was well exemplified in the political campaign of 1914. He has always been a steadfast and sterling republican. In 1914 Miami County went democratic by 1.500 votes, the republican partv being split up into factions so that the ticket went to defeat. But in spite of that Mr. Mercer was elected to the State Senate by 208 votes. He was one of the capable men in the State Senate during the following session. Aside from this his only other important public service was as a member of the Peru School Board about twenty years ago. While he was on the board one of the fine ward schools of Peru was erected. Mr. Mercer is a Mason and he and his wife are members of the Baptist Church. December 29, 1881, he married Miss Sarah E. Fisher, of Mexico, Indiana, daughter of Joseph and Elizabeth (Brower) Fisher. They have one daughter, Vernice E., wife of Hazen P. Sullivan.
Jacob Piatt Dunn and G. W. H. Kemper, American Historical Society, New York and Chicago, 1919.