Merck Family - Random Notes

Joseph John Merck, with his wife, Katherine Cecilia Eberle, brought his family from the Ukraine to the United States in 1912. This site will contain some random notes and comments about the family background, their experiences, the places they lived, and other subjects related to that topic. No particular organization of comments or articles should be expected.

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Location: Jacksonville, Arkansas, United States

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A Lot of Bad Luck

Life was not easy for Joseph Merck (1858-1939).  He was born in Elsass, South Russia, of poor parents who died when he was six years old.  Joseph then had to live with strangers and work hard for paltry pay until he was 21 years old.  He served the Russian czar in the military when he was drafted at age 24.  After his discharge in 1886, he married Katherine Eberle and began work as a baker.  They sold everything they had in 1892 to emigrate to America, but when they were ready to leave no one was permitted to travel because of a cholera epidemic. 

He worked as a farmer until 1908 when he moved his family to the "promised land" of Brazil.  But, as so many of his countrymen had found out, the climate was not good and neither was the land.  He left for Argentina after only two months, and arrived with his wife, eight children and $50 in his pocket.  He worked hard once again for strangers and saved money to make the trip to North America.  Three years later, the family made the voyage to North Dakota by way of Vera Cruz, Mexico and a long train ride over land. 

In North Dakota, Joseph worked for others on the farm for three years and began farming for himself on the fourth year.  His fields of grain were superb and just before harvest a hailstorm hit and destroyed the crops.  A severe winter followed.  His  son, Joseph,  had to undergo a double operation in a Fargo hospital that winter.  Then in March, his wife,  Katherine, also had to have an operation with a lengthy recovery period.  When war broke out in Europe that year, he was happy to be in this country.