JOHN W. MERCHANT. - It is always a source of pleasure to find a man who has attained prominence of any kind entirely through his own efforts. A man is to be congratulated if he succeeds under any circumstances in this age of specialization, competition and corporation, but a man who has educated himself, taken care of his mother, brought up his son to manhood and made of himself a man of mark in his world is doubly to be complimented. Such is the record of John W. Merchant. He has been engaged in several lines of business in Kansas City and has made good in them all.
John W. Merchant is the son of Thomas Merchant and his wife Winnie, whose maiden name was Robertson. Both parents were of Kentucky origin, but when a young man Mr. Thomas Merchant had removed to California and in 1849 he came back to Missouri. He was a contractor and builder by occupation and in politics was a Democrat. He died at the age of forty-two, and his wife was fifty-five at the time of her death. There were four children born to this union, three sons and one daughter, all living at this time (1911). The eldest child was John W., the second, Lee, the third, Lucy (now the wife of William Simmons) and the youngest, Alexander W.
John W. Merchant was born in Platt county, Missouri, January 24, 1860. When he was only ten years of age his father died. His mother then bought a forty-acre tract of wild land at White Church, Wyandotte county, Kansas. For nine years John worked faithfully on this farm, in the meantime picking up what education he could and serving as a grocery clerk. In August, 1881, he came to Kansas City and entered the grocery business in the employ of W. A. Griswold. Later he entered the employ of F. H. Williams, a grain and hay dealer. In 1884 he became extra weigh master for the Kansas City Stock Yards Company; he worked in that capacity for a little over three years. He next became the head bookkeeper and later the manager of the Land Department and also of the Insurance Department. He is a well-known figure in the Stock Exchange Building.
On February 28, 1882, John W. Merchant was married to Miss Dora B. Pepper. She was also born in Platt county, Missouri, and is the daughter of John and Martha Pepper, both of Kentucky origin. Dora was the fifth child in a large family. Her father was a great lover of fine horses, but he had no use for any horse that would not take a premium. He was an extensive breeder of thoroughbred horses in Platt county and had a large stable. He was the owner of the noted stallion Pharoh and of many other celebrated horses. His political sympathies were entirely with the Democrats. Mr. and Mrs. J. W. Merchant have one son, Forrest L., who is married to Petricia L. Robinson, daughter of Frank Robinson, of the Robinson Live Stock Company. Forrest L. Merchant is secretary in the firm of the Ryan & Robinson Live Stock Commission Company. He and his wife have one son, Russell.
J. W. Merchant is a member of several societies and has made a financial success of his life, together with successes along other lines. His political views are in direct opposition to those of his father and also his father-in-law, for he is a Republican of a very decided nature. It may be that the future has political honors in store for him, but at present he has no ambitions along that line. We have seen men who boast of the fact that they have made themselves and we have wished that others might have had a hand in the work, but a man who has made himself and done such a good job as has J. W. Merchant may well be proud of himself.
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