Merritt King comes of the pioneer stock of the town of Danby, Tompkins Co., NY, where his grandfather settled as early as the year 1800, and where his father, Samuel B. King, was born. Merritt King was born October 29, 1838, and is consequently in his fortieth year (1879). Though comparatively a young man, he stands among the formost members of the Tompkins County Bar. No one among them all has a larger or more lucrative practice; none whose name is better or more favorably known in the judicial district in which he resides; nor one who possesses in a greater degree the confidence and respect of both courts and litigants. This success and position have been fairly earned, and Merritt King is , if anybody ever was, " a self-made man," as the phrase goes. At an early age he determined upon acquiring a liberal education. To accomplish this he did what most boys do who have a taste and aptness for learning, and are compelled or resolve to obtain it by their own unaided labors. He began as a teacher in a district school; then as teacher in a select school. By these means and the exercise of the strictest economy he was enabled in time to enter an academy, for which he had qualified himself by a close pursuit of private studies during the few leisure hours which the exacting duties of teacher spared him. Soon after his graduation the war of secession broke out. Sacrificing his fondly cherished hopes with regard to his future vacation, he inscribed his name upon the muster-rolls of the citizen-soldiery which was destined in brief time to rival in deeds of heroism the grand army of Napoleon, and to become at once the admiration and wonder of the world.
He enlisted August 22, 1862, in Co. K, 137th N.Y.V.I., and served with distinction for three years, participating in twenty-two different engagements. He was deservedly promoted by degrees until, when mustered out, he held the rank of Major. At the close of the war Major King found himself again confronted with the old question, "What shall I do?" He had saved a small sum of money from his pay as a soldier, and finally chose the profession of law. He read law in an office in Ithaca, and attended a regular course at Albany Law School. From that institution he came forth literally with nothing but honor; his limited means were all expended, but his great purpose was accomplished. He was admitted to the bar of the Supreme Court of the State. Such, in brief, were the humble beginnings of the distinguished and successful lawyer whom the people of Tompkins County twice honored with the position of district attorney - first in 1867, and then again in 1870 - two consecutive terms. In the fall of 1875 he received the Republican nomination for Assembly, and though running ahead of his ticket, was defeated by the University note.
On the 25th of December, 1866, Mr. King was married to Emma A. Howland, daughter of James K. Howland, Esq. of Danby.
Information Source - Four County History - Tioga, Chemung, Tompkins and Schuyler Counties - 1879
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