Joseph B. Mercer is a well-known citizen of Chicot County, and is a leading merchant of Dermott. He was born in Greene
County, Tenn., April 24, 1852, and is a son of Elbert F. Mercer, who was a native Tennesseean, born in 1812, and was
reared and educated in his native State, making Tennessee his home until his death in 1867. He was a successful farmer for
many years, and by his industry and frugality amassed a handsome property prior to his death.
Being a man of fine business attainments, he was elected county clerk of Greene County on the Democrat ticket, and this
position held for fourteen consecutive years, being at last displaced by the reconstruction measures adopted in that and
other Southern States after the termination of the Civil War. He was true to all the interests and principles of the
Democratic party, and was always active in the support of its measures and doctrines.
He was an exemplary member of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, and for many years prior to his death was an
elder, taking an active interest in church and Sunday-school work. His religion, being a part of his life, was duly observed in
all his intercourse with his fellowmen, and his public and private record are a monument and tribute to his memory.
Mary A. (Norwood) Mercer, his wife, was born in Blount County, Tenn., in 1816, and was a daughter of John Norwood,
a Tennesseean, and was reared, educated and married in her native State, making her home there until she passed from life
in 1858. She and Mr. Mercer were married in 1831, and ten sons and six daughters blessed their union, fifteen of whom
are living: Elizabeth, Recina, Wayne, Martha, Thomas, Charles, Franklin, James, Catherine, Joseph B., Mary, William,
Nannie, Hugh and Mary A. John died in infancy. Eleven of these children are married and have homes of their own.
Joseph B. Mercer resided in Greene County, Tenn., throughout his youthful days, and received a fair academic education
in the Masheim Institute, but believing that Arkansas presented better opportunities for a young man to succeed in life than
his native State, he removed thither in 1870, when but eighteen years of age, and for two years worked as a farm laborer in
Chicot County. He then turned his attention to railroading, securing a position as fireman on the Mississippi, Ouachita &
Red River Railroad, and at the end of two years was promoted to locomotive engineer, which position he held for about
ten years, faithfully discharging his duties to his employers and with great credit to himself. At the end of this time he again
interested himself in agriculture, his labors being conducted on a farm on Bayou Bartholomew in Chicot county, Ark., and
after being thus occupied for four years he entered the mercantile business at Dermott, where he is still holding forth, his
stock of general merchandise being valued at $3,500 or $4,000.
Besides this property he owns the only livery stable in the town, and has some valuable real estate near by, seventy-five
acres of which are under excellent cultivation, the principal products being corn and cotton, although all the cereals can be
raised in abundance. Mr. Mercer is a member of the K. of H., belongs to the Presbyterian Church, and is a model citizen in
every respect, and has worked his way from a poor boy to his present honorable position in society.
November 28, 1875, he was married to Miss Margaret McDermott, a native of Chicot County, Ark., a daughter of Dr.
Charles and Hettie S. McDermott, a history of whom is given in the sketch of Philander McDermott, and their union was
blessed in the birth of seven children, four of whom are now living: Katie Belle, Eula Sue, Charles F. and Ethel. Those
deceased are Mary W., Ethel O. and Mary Anna. The mother of these children died on April 3, 1889, she having been a
member of the Presbyterian Church, a devout Christian, whose heart was full of love for her Master and for suffering
humanity. She reared for herself a monument in the hearts of those around her that will live for years to come. She was an
exemplary wife and mother, a kind and sympathizing friend to those in distress, and her death cast a shadow over many a
heart outside of her own stricken and sorrowing household.