Lee County Biography

JOHN P. MESEROLE


John Meserole, who has been a resident of Dixon for several years, was formerly a prominent contractor and builder of Long Island, doing an extensive business in the city of New York. He was born at Greenpoint, Long Island, N. Y., May 13, 1821, and is descended from an ancient French Huguenot family, the first of his ancestors to come to America arriving here in the seventeenth century, being one of the first settlers of Long Island. The father of our subject, Jacob Messerole, and his grandfather, John Meserole, were both born on Long Island. The latter served an apprenticeship to a cabinet maker in his youth, but we are not told whether he ever worked at the trade on his own account. When the Revolution of the American colonists broke out, he took his place in the ranks with his fellow-countrymen to fight for freedom from British oppression. He was subsequently captured by the enemy and pressed into service on board of a man-of-war. He early took advantage of an opportunity to escape, and rowed across the river to Manhattan Island, where he arrived in safety, though he was fired upon during his passage. For many years after that he had charge of the toll gate at Wallabout Bridge, Brooklyn, near the navy yard. He spent his last years at Guaness, which now forms a part of Brooklyn, dying at eighty.

The father of our subject was for many years a pilot on the Grand Street Ferry, New York, but he finally turned his attention to fanning and gardening on Long Island, in which he did a lucrative business. He died at Flushing, at the venerable age of eighty-six years. In early manhood, he married Mahala Post, who was also a native of Long Island, was a daughter of Richard Post, a Quaker. She died at Astoria, Long Island, aged sixty years.

He of whom we write received a sound education, and at the age of seventeen began to turn his aptitude for mechanics to account by learning the trade of a carpenter and builder at Astoria. He served an apprenticeship of three years and was thoroughly grounded in all that pertains to his chosen calling. He then walked at it for some years for others in New York and on his native island, and after that experience became a contractor and builder in his own right. As he always did good work, keeping fully up to the agreement in all particulars, and was prompt and methodical in carrying on his business, it grew and prospered, and in time he had all that he could control. He was very successful in handling large contracts, and was known as one of the most careful and reliable men in his line. He had his residence in Astoria, Long Island, and while many of his orders came from that quarter and from different parts of the island, he often took large contracts in New York City, and his reputation for ability was such that he was appointed general superintendent of the work when the improvement of Hell Gate was commenced. His business netted him a handsome income, and he accumulated a fortune sufficient for all his wants. In 1877 he came to Dixon to make his permanent residence in this attractive city, and his high character and pleasant social qualities have won for him the warm esteem of all with whom he associates.

Mr. Meserole was first married in April, 1846, to Miss Emily Vandervort. She spent her entire life on Long Island, her death taking place there in 1871. She was the mother of these four children: John V., William F., Jacob A. and Warren C. In 1874 our subject was married to Mrs. Julia M. (Merriman) Beckett, his present estimable wife. Mr. Meserole is a Democrat of the purest type, and while a resident of Long Island City figured in its public life as a member of its Board of Alder- men. He was formerly for many years one of the leading members of the Reformed Church, which he served as Deacon and Trustee. After coming to Dixon, there being no church of that denomination in the city, he united with the Presbyterian Church, of which his wife is also a member, and they are liberal in their contributions for its support.

Portraits and Biographical Lee County IL 1892

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