Biography of Harrison M. Mercer
Humboldt County, CA Biographies





HARRISON MAVEL MERCER. - From the time of his arrival in Eureka in 1873 until his death, November 10, 1909, Mr. Mercer was an important factor in the business history of the town, keeping constantly in touch with its progress, witnessing its growth in many directions and recognizing its needs in others. Prior to removing to the Pacific coast he had lived in Maine, where he was born in Calais and where during young manhood he had engaged in lumbering in the woods extending back from the St. Croix river. Throughout the entire period of his residence in Eureka he gave his attention almost wholly to contracting and building, in which he gained an accuracy, expertness and efficiency that gave permanence to all of his work and satisfaction to all of his customers. After he had been associated with Messrs. James Simpson and Close successively in the taking of contracts, he founded the Mercer Hodgson Construction Company and later organized the Mercer Frazer Construction Company, both of which were leading agencies in the material upbuilding of Northwestern California. Many of the most substantial homes and stores were erected under his supervision, but that by no means represented the extent of his contracts. Besides erecting the Electric Light building and remodeling the Sequoia hospital, he built many of the wharves on the water front, did the construction work on the jetty on Humboldt bar and had numerous contracts for bridges and tunnels as well as track laying on the Northwestern Pacific Railroad. The nature of his work attested his skill. Every contract was given his close personal supervision and unskilled, unreliable work was never permitted. Therefore he was a force for durable construction work and a factor in the permanent upbuilding of the county.

A sincere faith in the future of Humboldt county led Mr. Mercer to take an active interest in the Eureka Chamber of Commerce and the Humboldt Club, while his interest in the fraternities caused him to assist in the organization of the local lodges of Odd Fellows and Knights of Pythias. Because of being a charter member, his interest in these two fraternities was particularly keen. He served four years as a supervisor of Humboldt county and filled the position faithfully and well. While never a partisan in politics, he kept well posted concerning matters pertaining to the welfare of our country and the prosperity of the nation. A representative of the best in American citizenship, he lived up to a high ideal in public and private life and made his influence felt throughout the community for its moral uplift. Twice married, the death of his first wife left him with two children, John and Maude, the latter now Mrs. Fairfield, of Oakland. The son married Mabel Zane, of Eureka, and is a business man of this city. The second marriage of Mr. Mercer united him with Clara L. Finch, a native of Fort Atkinson, Wis., and a member of a family that had charge of the erection of many handsome residences in Milwaukee during early days. Her father, Charles B. Finch, a veteran of a Wisconsin regiment in the Civil war and a member of the Grand Army of the Republic, came to California in 1875 and settled in Humboldt county. Although a carpenter by trade, he took up agricultural pursuits in the west and for many years farmed near Eureka, where he died in 1910.

The only child of the union of Mr. Mercer and Clara L. Finch was a son, Clarence M., born at Eureka on the 22d of February, 1882, and primarily educated in the Eureka schools. After he was graduated from the Healdsburg high school he matriculated in the Jefferson Medical College of Philadelphia, where he took the complete course of lectures and was graduated with an excellent standing. During 1913 he went to New York to have the advantages of a post graduate hospital course in that city. After beginning to practice the medical profession in Eureka he established domestic ties in 1909, through his marriage to Miss Grace Richmond, a native of Ohio. Besides his private practice he acts as physician to Sequoia hospital at Eureka and already is being recognized as a talented young physician whose future holds out promise of professional success. The Humboldt Club has his name enrolled on its membership list and he is also connected with the Loyal Order of Moose.

From:
History of Humboldt County, California
With a Biographical Sketches
History by Leigh H. Irving
Historic Record Company
Los Angeles, California 1915


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