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Bush, Joseph Merrick
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Bush, Joseph Merrick
Contributed by Barbara
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Source: Portrait and Biographical Album of Pike and Calhoun Counties, Illinois, 1891; Page 509 – 510

HON. JOSEPH MERRICK BUSH, of Pittsfield, Pike County, was born at Pittsfield, Berkshire County, Mass., January 16, 1822, and was the eldest son of Col. Daniel B. Bush, a prominent lawyer of that place who served in the General Assembly of that State in 1828, and Maria Merrick, second daughter of Deacon Joseph Merrick. In 1834 Col. Bush removed to Pittsfield, Pike County, Ill., leaving the subject of this sketch at Williams' College which he had entered at the age of twelve and from which he graduated in the class of 1838, having for his classmates among others the Rev. Henry M. Field of New York and ex-Lieut. Gov. William Bross of Chicago. Upon his graduation he came to Illinois and in 1843 was admitted to the bar, his license to practice being signed by Stephen A. Douglas, then one of the justices of the Supreme Court of the State. In 1848, on the 14th of March, he was married to Mary Alicia Grimshaw, a native of Ireland who was the second daughter of John W. and Charlotte Grimshaw who came to this country from Belfast, Ireland, about the year 1832. Imbued with a strong love of agricultural pursuits, shortly after his marriage he embarked in farming and continued therein until the spring of 1866, when he engaged in other pursuits leaving a large, well-tilled farm of two hundred and forty acres in place of the eighty with but twenty in cultivation upon which he started.

In the year 1860 while still upon his farm he was appointed Master in Chancery of the Pike County Circuit Court by the late distinguished jurist, Hon. C. L. Higbee, which office he held until November, 1885. He had been appointed United States Commissioner for the southern district of the State of Illinois, by the Hon. S. H. Treat about 1858 and held that position for more than a quarter of a century. In 1865 he purchased the Pike County Democrat and has been the proprietor and editor of it ever since, there being now associated with him his two sons, William C. and Joseph M., Jr. In 1870 he was elected to the State Senate from the Thirty-Sixth Senatorial District, it being the First General Assembly held after the adoption of the new constitution. In that body he served on many important committees, such as education, agriculture and charitable institutions but at the expiration of his term declined to be a candidate for re-election preferring instead to conduct and edit his paper which had suffered by his absence from its management. He has ever been prominent and active in all matters tending to the advancement and prosperity of the community in which he has for more than half a century resided. As proof we note that he was a stockholder and secretary in a company which in 1850 built twelve miles of plank road to the Illinois River - was the first Secretary of the Pike County Agricultural Society established in 1850 and at various times served as President and Director of the same - has been President and Trustee of the Board of Education of Pittsfield for more than twenty years has been Director and Secretary of the Louisiana and Pike County Railroad - has served as Supervisor of his town and has been prominent in every public enterprise.

In politics he is an ardent Democrat, firm in principle, yet conservative in fiction. His paper has long been considered an influential factor in Illinois politics. He has been prominent in the State, Congressional and other conventions of his party. In 1868 he was an alternate delegate to the National Convention at New York and in 1888 he was the delegate to the National Convention held at St. Louis. There can be no doubt but that he could have attained higher honors had he sought them, but he has ever preferred the position he now occupies - the editorship and management of a free and untrammeled paper.

The married life of Mr. Bush has been a happy one, four sons grown to manhood and doing their duty as good citizens, residing near him and enjoying the esteem and respect of their fellow-citizens. They are William C., Joseph M. Jr., Henry and Daniel R. Bush, Jr. An older son and their only daughter died in 1864.

The life of Mr. Bush has not been an eventful one nor has it been marked by any distinguished honors conferred upon him. But having sought to do his duty in all the relations of life he now resides in a comfortable home, surrounded by an affectionate family, supplied with enough of this world's goods to keep the wolf of poverty from the door, esteemed and respected by all who know him, in good health and capable of many years service yet to be devoted to the well-being of the people among whom he has so long resided.

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Submitted: 11/21/09

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