The Last Soldier Project: Jackson County, Wis.
Marcus D. Merchant

Mark D. Merchant was born November 15, 1846, in Wiscoy, Alleghany County, New York. He was the child of Orren and Juliette Merchant.

On his 18th birthday, November 15, 1864, he enlisted in Company K, First New York Dragoons, a cavalry regiment, for service in the Union Army in the Civil War. He was at once assigned to the command of General Sheridan, and from then until the close of the conflict, April 9, 1865, he was in the midst of the fighting in Virginia. Serving with Sheridan in his control of the Shenandoah Valley he moved with those troops when the pursuit of Lee was started by General Grant's forces after the fall of Richmond and the New York Dragoons were in close touch with that army from that time until the surrender at Appomattox, at which time he was stationed only a little way from Marshall House, in which General's Grant and Lee met to determine the terms of the surrender for the confederate forces.

He returned to his boyhood home after receiving his honorable discharge from the army July 16, 1865 and remained there until 1868. In that year, with his parents, he came to Wisconsin, locating on a good farm near Alma Center that continued to be his home for nearly sixty years. Like all young men of the pioneer period he had experience in the logging camps in the winter time and in the big river drives during the spring months. He continued to own his farm until 1925. After 1925 he made his home mostly at Merrillan and in the town of Alma, living with his niece, Mrs. Walter Granger, at Merrillan, and his niece, Mrs. Irving Bowen in Alma. Afterwards he went to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Dunlap, in Alma, and lived there until his death.

He was married in 1873 to Miss Fannie Pember, who died in 1893. In 1896 he was married to Miss Mary Peabody, adopting her son John, and she passed away March 10, 1935.

Mr. Merchant was active in local and county affairs for many years. He served as a rural mail carrier out of Alma Center for a number of years. Although there is no record of what time he was there, his service was remembered by his old friends and those on his route.

He was one of the organizers of the P. C. Judkins Grand Army of the Republic, Alma Center. That body was organized early in the 1880's with about 75 charter members. One by one these veterans have gone to their reward, until Mr. Merchant remained its only survivor.

Grave marker of Mark Merchant at Alma, Wis.Mr. Merchant had witnessed great changes in his lifetime. There was no railway to Black River Falls when he first came to the county and he came from Sparta by the old-fashioned stage -coach. Little Falls was almost a rival town, with the Brockway mills still busy. Entrance to the town was over the Brockway toll-bridge, which then spanned the river below town. The Brockway bridge went out in the big flood of 1876 and was not rebuilt. The settlement of the Alma country and that of the Trempealeau valley had commenced about a dozen years before. The Green Bay and Western Railway was not built until six years after he took up his residence in the town of Alma.

He was a man of strong character and fine ability. Honest and straight-forward in all his dealings he was careful of his obligations of every nature. Among his neighbors he was held in high regard. He retained his facilities remarkably as he neared the century mark and never lost interest in his friends nor in public events.

He died Sunday, December 26, 1943, at the age of 97 years, 1 month and 11 days. The funeral services were held from the Alma Center Methodist Church by Rev. G. H. Klein, of Sparta, officiating, and interment was made at the Oak Lawn cemetery.

Information Sources:
Obituary from Jackson County Banner Journal, Dec. 29, 1943
Invalid Pension filed July 25, 1890
U.S. Federal Census for 1860, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920
1890 Veterans Schedule
1895 & 1905 Wisconsin Veteran's Census

Researched and submitted by Bro. Don Jager

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Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War
Department of Wisconsin


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