If Kansas should be called upon, through some unfortunate circumstance, to lose at this time the services of Hon. Joseph H. Mercer, state live stock commissioner, it would still owe him a debt of gratitude for the great work he has accomplished in the eradication of the evils attending the foot-and-mouth and other diseases injurious to animals in Kansas, in the bringing about of a better understanding between the farmer and the packer, in the arrangement of freight rates, and in the protection of the interests of the farmer, and particularly of the live stock man, in various ways and along numerous lines. Himself a practical farmer and student of live stock conditions, Mr. Mercer thoroughly understands every phase of agricultural work and through this understanding is able to handle the most delicate situations that arise in a position that calls for the utmost finesse, the greatest degree of diplomasy and unceasing application.
Joseph H. Mercer, state live stock commissioner of Kansas, and secretary of the Kansas Live Stock Association, was born on a farm near Williamsburg, Noble County, Ohio, September 7, 1864, and is a son of Newlin Mercer and grandson of Jacob Mercer. For generations the family has been engaged in agricultural pursuits, and Newlin Mercer was of the calibre that led to his enlistment in the forces of the North to support the Union during the dark days of the Civil war, in which struggle he served four years. His wife, whose maiden name was Mary Alma Jones, was of Welsh ancestry, and bore her husband three children. Her death occurrod in 1866.
Left motherless when but two years of age, Joseph H. Mercer was reared by his maternal grandmother until thirteen, at which time he went to live with his elder brother, Charles F. Mercer, a farmer of Tyler County, West Virginia. After two years he became a member of the household of William I. Boreman, and to this home he feels himself indebted for as much care and consideration as are usually accorded by parents to the children born to them. He had three years of tuition in the schools of Middlebourne, following which he taught at that place for three years, and then attended the Ohio Wesleyan College, at Delaware, and Frazer’s Business College, at Wheeling, West Virginia. In 1887 he came to Kansas, and since that time has had his home in Chase County. For five years he wasengaged in merchandising at Cottonwood Falls, but in 1893 engaged in farming and raising stock. In the course of time he became more than locully known because of the active part which he took in public affairs. As a republican, he served in the County Central Committee, and in 1908 was elected to represent his district in the Kansas Legislature. He was twice re-elected to this office and became recognized as one of the hard-working members of that distinguished body. His intelligence as a legislator, particularly in matters pertaining to the betterment of farm conditions, led to his appointment, in 1909, as stats live stock commissioner, by Governor Stubbs. This position he retained until a change in the administration occurred owing to the election of Governor Hodges, However, he was reappointed to the office by Governor Capper upon the recommendation of a committee of stockmen, selected by the Kansas Live Stock Association, having intimate knowledge of the fine work done by Mr. Mercer in previous years. This position he still occupies. In 1909 he was elected secretary of the Kansas Live Stock Association and he has since continned to capably discharge the duties. of this office.
Mr. Mercer was married July 31, 1890, to Miss Ula Lums Scribner, who was born at Cottonwood Falls, Kansas, in October, 1871. They are the parents of four daughters, namely: Elrene Montez, born May 13, 1892; Josephine Mercedes, born September 6, 1897; Bess, born November 13, 1902; and Cora, born July 2, 1907. Mr. Mercer is a Presbyterian in religion. He is a thirty-second degree, Scottish Rite Mason, and holds membership in the Henevolent and Protective Order of Elks and the Modern Woodmen of America.