Usual Halford Meeker (1811 - 1892)

Usual Halford Meeker
1811 - 1892
updated June 29, 2020
Usual Halford Meeker was born on October 12, 1811 in New York. Usual was born to Manning Meeker and Hannah (Thompson) Meeker, with siblings Jacob, Asa, and Rachel. Usual died on April 13, 1892 in Indiana at age 80.

Usual was the son of Hannah (Thompson)and Manning Meeker. He had two older brothers, Jacob Redding and Asa. He had one younger sister, Rachel.

Usual was the husband to Sarah Dudley. He was the father of Franklin, Sarah, Mary, John, Joanna, Jacob, James, Hannah and Theodore.

"Usual H. Meeker, retired farmer and stock raiser, Rob Rot, was born in Tompkins County New York, October 12 1811. All he know of his ancestral history is that two brothers named Meeker emigrated from England and settled in New Jersey anterior to the revolution. His father Mannon Meeker, died when he was five years old, and his mother whose maiden name was Hannah Thompson, removed with her family to Ohio.

They were very poor, and at the age of eleven, Mr. Meeker began toiling to support himself and his mother. For the first six months labor he received the trifling sum of $8.00, and the following winter he worked for Peter Vorhees, grandfather of Daniel Vorhees, for twelve and half cents a day, receiving his pay regularly every night.

Next season he was employed by Mr. Vorhees at $3.00 per month. At length he was able to earn $4.00 per month, and eventually his wages were increased to $5.00. Before he was eighteen he had saved $115. He now quit working by the month, and bought some oxen and went to cutting and hauling wood. He accumulated money rapidly, in six months his rising fortune had reached $215, but not withstanding he was a young man of great strength and powerful constitution, he had so overtaxed and exhausted himself by excessive labor day and night that nature gave way under such a strain and it was six months before he did any more work. He had to pay board. His oxen got scattered, he had lost long precious months.

When he began work again he found himself as he expresses it, "nearly ruined". But it was not long till he bought eighty acres of land in Van Buren township without having seen it. He paid $215. for it. On November 27 1831, he married Sallie Dudley.

Next year he came on horseback to see his land, it was hilly and rough, and did not please him, but in the winter of 1835-6 he brought his family to Fountain county. Next August he swopped his land with Moses Dudley for 160 acres in Richland township, where Daniel Carpenter lives and agreed to pay $500 to boot. He had planted himself in the woods as poor as the most impecunious pioneer and with a $5.00 and a $25.00 horse and a $20.00 wagon he began the hard struggle which he had voluntarily accepted. Next year he bought eighty acres of timber from Daniel Dyle for $600 on credit.

People were astonished at his apparently rash operations, and predictions that he would break up were freely volunteered. He did not break up although he had to clear his land pay for it from the products raised upon it. He brought 150 acres into cultivation. He sold this farm and in 1856 he bought another of 280 acres in Shawnee township, from George May paying $5000 down and obtaining credit for $9000 the last payment to made in three years. The gloomy prophecies were renewed and Mr. Meeker was once more the butt of pitying observations. But he paid the last installment four months before it was due.

He combined extensive stock raising with his farming, he labored at all seasons with tireless industry, he studied and practiced careful if not rigid economy, he did not shrink from frequent risks, it must be confessed, and always declined to give bail on his notes of hand (often large ones), but never allowed one to mature without prompt payment. His success was uniform and his progress rapid. In 1858 he bought eighty acres from Abram Overly for $1,600 in 1859 a farm of 252 acres on Osborne's prairie, in Van Buren township, from Absolom Jenkins for $8,000, in 1864 400 acres in the same township from Charles Stewart and William Sewell, for $13,200, and 80 acres from Daniel Strader for $2,000, in 1866 68 acres from Enos Myers for $3,700, a year or two later 280 acres in Richland Township from the Woods heirs (Jonathon Swigert and H. Slusser) for $8,000 and 15 acres of woodland from William Kirkland for $1,125, in 1869 169 acres in Shawnee Township from Ferdinand Bookwalter, for $12,675.
In 1875 he quit his farm and removed to Veedersburg, where he bought $1,600 worth of town property, and invested $2,000 in a grocery store. After nineteen months he sold out and went back to Shawnee township and built himself a neat country residence.
In 1878 he purchased 200 acres adjoining his old homestead from William and Daniel Briney for $12,000, in 1880 133 acres in the same neighborhood from Francis Bookwalter, for $5,000, 80 acres for $7,500 and the dower of 60 acres belonging to his son Jacob's widow for $3000. Much more land has he bought but this is that which he now owns, except 80 acres in Missouri, and for which he owes not a dollar, including some 800 acres he has given his children. Mr. Meeker has by not means exhausted his ability to buy more farms. He has been a money lender for twenty years.
Mrs. Meeker was born in the state of Maine, August 8 1811 and her parents removed to Butler county Ohio in 1815. She has borne seven children; Sarah, John, Joanna, Jacob, James, Maria, and Theodore. John and Jacob were soldiers in the late war. The former was in the 72nd Ind. Vols., he served six or seven months, and was discharged for disability. The latter was in 154th Ind. And after several months was discharged for a like cause. His service shortened his life and he died in 1876.
Mr. and Mrs. Meeker both belong to the Christian church. He cast his first ballot for Henry Clay in 1832, and from that time followed the fortunes of the Whig party. He is now a republican." - History of Fountain County, Indiana, H.W. Beckwith, 1881
Obituary: "After several years of suffering, Usual H. Meeker died at the home of his son-in-law, Henry B. Jones, Shawnee Township, at 4 o'clock yesterday Monday. He was born in Tomkins County, New York, October 12, 1811, and was therefore, in his 81st year. His father died when he was but five years old, and with his mother, Usual moved to Ohio. They were very poor and at the age of 11, Usual began toiling for himself. For the first six months' labor he received $8 and the following winter worked for the grandfather of Senator Voorhees for twelve-and-a-half cents a day. From this beginning he laid the foundation for the fortune, at one time being the owner of about two thousand acres of land in this county. He was a member of the Christian Church. The funeral services were held Wednesday, being conducted at Union Cemetery by Rev. Harris of Illinois."

Usual Halford Meeker Biography

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Usual Meeker was born on in Tompkins County, New York United States
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Usual Meeker was born on in Tompkins County, New York United States
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Usual Halford Meeker Family Tree

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1781 - 1815
Jun 19, 1786 - Jan 9, 1868


Dec 28, 1804 - Oct 30, 1869
1809 - 1820
1812 - 1825


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Usual Halford Meeker passed away on April 13, 1892 in Indiana at age 80. Usual was born on October 12, 1811 in New York. Usual was born to Manning Meeker and Hannah (Thompson) Meeker, with siblings Jacob, Asa, and Rachel.
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1811 - 1892 World Events

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In 1811, in the year that Usual Halford Meeker was born, on November 7th, the Battle of Tippecanoe was fought. American troops led by William Henry Harrison - then Governor of the Indiana Territory, later the 9th President of the United States - defeated the Native American warriors. A confederacy of Native American tribes opposed U.S. expansion into Indian Territory. but Tecumseh was gone, recruiting troops, and there was no military leader on the Native American side. The battle lasted 2 hours.

In 1837, Usual was 26 years old when on June 20th, 18-year-old Queen Victoria became the Queen of the United Kingdom upon the death of her uncle William IV - who had died without legitimate heirs. She would reign for more than 63 years, the longest reign of an English monarch until Queen Elizabeth II. Thus began what would be called the "Victorian Era."

In 1866, Usual was 55 years old when Swedish chemist, engineer, inventor, businessman, and philanthropist Alfred Nobel invented dynamite in Germany. During his lifetime he held 355 patents, of which dynamite was the most famous. He also established the Nobel Prizes in his will.

In 1875, at the age of 64 years old, Usual was alive when on February 21st, Jeanne Calment was born in southern France. Her father was a shipbuilder and her mother was from a family of millers. She died August 4th, 1997 of natural causes - the world's oldest documented person to have ever lived - at the age of 122 years and 164 days.

In 1892, in the year of Usual Halford Meeker's passing, on October 5th, the Dalton Gang was shot. The Gang was attempting to rob two banks - simultaneously - in Coffeyville Kansas but word spread of the robberies and townspeople with guns greeted them when they left the banks. Four members of the gang were killed - only Emmett Dalton survived his wounds and spent 14 years in prison.

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