Senator Merritt W. Harmon View All Years

Compiled Historical Information
Date of Death: 8/12/1924
Party Affiliation: Republican
Assemblies Served:
Senate: 16 (1876) - 19 (1882)
24 (1892) - 25 (1894)
Home County: Buchanan
Merritt W. Harmon
Buchanan County


MR. PRESIDENT: Your committee which was appointed to report resolutions commemorating the life, character, and services of the late Merritt W. Harmon, begs leave to submit the following report, and moves its adoption:

Merritt W. Harmon was born June 25, 1844, in Seneca county, Ohio, and died at the home of his son, Ray Harmon, in the city of Des Moines, August 14, 1924. His parents were Merritt, Sr., and Minerva (Walker) Harmon.

He was the third in a family of five children. His father was a Presbyterian minister and preached until he attained the age of 94 years. The family moved to Lansing, Michigan, in 1848, when Mr. Harmon was four years of age. There he attended school and later continued his education in Dubuque county, Iowa. Still later he became a student in Lenox College at Hopkinton, Iowa. He was one of the first students of that college, spending two years there until 1862. There he enlisted for service in the Civil War; so many of the students enlisting that it was necessary to close the school temporarily. He was 21 years of age at that time, and soon became sergeant of Company K of the Twenty-first Iowa Infantry. He lacked but two days of serving three years, and although in the thickest of the fight and exposed to all kinds of dangers and hardships, he was never wounded or confined to the hospital by illness. He participated in the seige of Vicksburg in 1863, and in the seige of Mobile in 1864-5.

He was mustered out at Baton Rouge, La., July 15, 1865, and returned to his home state with a most creditable record.

Soon afterward he went to the South to enter the employ of the Mobile & Ohio Railroad Company, spending one year in Mobile, Ala. His parents had moved to Cascade in 1856, and to Hopkinton later where the father, who was a veteran of the War of 1812, passed away in 1892, and the Mother in 1895.

Mr. Harmon came to Buchanan county in 1866, and for two years taught school in the county. He then became deputy postmaster of Independence in 1868, and served for two years. He was admitted to the bar in November, 1869. He built up a large practice, and an enviable reputation as an attorney. Mr. Harmon was the oldest member of the Buchanan County Bar at the time of his death. Naturally, a man of Mr. Harmon’s character would be called upon to serve his fellow citizens. He was honored by election to the State Senate of Iowa by his district in 1875, and served in that capacity in the Sixteenth, Seventeenth, Eighteenth, Nineteenth, Twenty-fourth and Twenty-fifth General Assemblies. He was a member of the Ways and Means Committee for eight years, when Governor Larrabee was its Chairman. He was a member of the school board for ten years, and a member of the public library board for forty-five years. He had been Vice-President of the First National Bank of Independence, Iowa since 1914, and a director since 1907, and for many years was referee in bankruptcy for Buchanan and Delaware counties.

Mr. Harmon was united in marriage to Miss Maria Carter December 24, 1872, with whom he lived in happy companionship until her death. To them were born two children, Ray C. of Des Moines, and Miss Jessamine of Independence. He was prominent in the G. A. R., of which he had been one of the early members, and his meetings with the old comrades being happy occasions in his later life. He was a member for nearly fifty-six years. He was a member of Independence Lodge No. 87, A. F. and A. M. and was Worshipful Master of the lodge in the years of 1872, 1873 and 1874.

Mr. Harmon was a long time member of the First Presbyterian Church of Independence. He was ever an earnest, conscientious Christian gentleman, who endeavored to live up to the teachings of his church in every thought and deed.

The death of Mr. Harmon, who was one of the oldest practicing attorneys in the state is mourned by Buchanan county people as well as by friends all over the northeastern part of the state. Plain and unassuming, he sought to keep out of rather than in the limelight, but by always doing his full share in any movement for the common good he won the respect of all. Senator Harmon always put principle before ambition.

Whereas, his record as a man, a legislator, and citizen has been of the highest character; therefore

Be It Resolved, That the Senate take this occasion to express its high appreciation of the splendid character and honest public service, and adopt this memorial in the name of the people of the State of Iowa as a tribute to his name and memory.

Also, Be It Further Resolved, That this resolution be spread upon the record of the Senate and that the same be engrossed and copies thereof sent to his son Ray Harmon of Des Moines, Iowa, and to his daughter Miss Jessamine Harmon of Independence, Iowa.