It is a great thing to live; it is a greater to live to a purpose. It has been the lot of the deserving, modest, and unassuming to be in silence. The benefit is enjoyed while its producer is disregarded. To preserve the memory of the worthy is to act justly. Merrick M. Bates was born in the town of Brimfield, Mass., July 10, 1801, and was the second in a family of two sons and two daughters. In the spring of 1801 his father, Samuel Bates, in company with Aaron Blodgett, came from Massachusetts and purchased two hundred and eighty-five acres of land in the southeast corner of the town of Hounsfield. Erecting a log house and making some slight improvements, he returned to Massachusetts in the fall, and in December of 1802 returned with his family. Upon the breaking out of the War of 1812 he enlisted in Captain Camp's artillery company, and was one of the crew who worked the thirty-two-pound gun so effectively that the British fleet were unable to obtain an entrance to Sacket's Harbor. He assisted in the construction of the barracks, where he contracted a fit of sickness which terminated his life Feb. 13, 1813.

                The death of his father threw many responsibilities upon young Merrick, he being the eldest son and the main dependence of his widowed mother, and his early life one of toil and privation, and owing to the limited means of the family but slight aid was received from the district school, but whatever of ability was possessed obtained strength by improved opportunity. In military matters Mr. Bates has been quite prominent. He was colonel of the Twenty-first Segment of New York Light Artillery, and was regarded as a strict disciplinarian and an able officer.

                In 1816 he married Miss Abigail Stowell, daughter of Osline Stowell, by whom he had ten children, eight of whom are now living. Mrs. Bates was all that is expressed in the terms amiable and intelligent. The attachment between husband and wife but strengthened with time; they lived in harmony and labored in unison, and when she closed her eyes upon this world, in July, 1846, it was in a full faith in a higher existence,

                Mr. Bates is still living upon the old farm, and although in his seventy-sixth year still retains much of his former energy and vigor. He has alwsys been a careful and successful farmer, and by a long and active life has shown himself a man of character and a useful member of society. Beneath his observation, in a grand life-panorama, Jefferson County has been organized and developed into one of the fairest and foremost agricultural regions in northern New York. It is in keeping with the self-abnegation of such men that they have retired to the background and quietly look on as the great and varied interests of which they have laid the foundation are to rise and extend in prominence and utility. It is questioned what resource is left to the aged when no longer able to pursue an accustomed round of labor. Merrick M. Bates is qualified to reply. He has marked out and pursued a line of action whose good has proved a satisfaction. He has enjoyed the quiet of home, the retirement of the farm, and attention to matters of personal concern, his long life affords a marked contrast to the brief existence of the votaries of pleasure and the prematurely exhausted members of the stock-exchange.

Source:  Durant, Samuel W. and Henry B. Peirce. History of Jefferson County, New York, With Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Some of its Prominent Men and Pioneers. Philadelphia: L.H. Everts & Co., 1878. p 418.

© 2006, Mark A. Wentling
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