Merritt Clarke Ring


Men of Progress. Wisconsin. (pages 17-49) A selected list ofbiographical sketches and portraits of the leaders in business,professional and official life. Together with short notes on thehistory and character of Wisconsin.

RING, Merritt Clarke, a prominent lawyer and public man of Neillsville,was born in Milton, Rock county, Wis., October 30th, 1850. His father,Eleazer F. Ring, was born in Massachusetts in 1820, and reared in theWestern Reserve, Ohio. He was engaged in agricultural and literarypursuits, and early espoused the anti-slavery cause, was one of itsvigorous advocates and defenders, and a sturdy member of the Republicanparty from its information. He came to Wisconsin in 1846, settling inRock county, where he resided until 1856, when he removed to Madison,and a year later to Sparta, where the family was reared. His wife, M.C. Ring's mother, whose maiden name was Almira Bicknell, was born inVermont and came to Wisconsin with her parents in the forties. Thepaternal ancestors came from England and settled at Plymouth, Mass., in1629. They owned considerable land in what was afterward called Ring'sLane in Plymouth. Joslyn Ring, his grandfather, married Polly Thayer ofChesterfield, Mass., and they had five sons and two daughter, of whomE. F. was the third. The maternal ancestors are traceable to earlyresidentsof Massachusetts and Vermont, including the Bicknells, the Dustins andthe Shermans. Rev. S. S. Bicknell was president (or principal of MiltonAcademy, at Milton Wis. His wife, who was Lydia Sherman, was related tothe distinguished general and the senator of that name.

M. C. Ring received his education in the public schools of Sparta,Wis., and was graduated from the law department of the University ofWisconsin in 1873.

In November, 1874, Mr. Ring settled in Neillsville, then a village ofonly about five hundred inhabitants, without railroad communication andwith few of its present attractions and advantages. He had nothing tostart with but his profession, unlimited energy and a determination tosucceed. With this capital he began the practice of his profession, andhas met with more than the average success. He has been identified withthe growth, development and improvement of the city and county, and hadtaken active interest in all measures for the promotion of the socialand educational advancement of the community.

He is also practically interested in agriculture, owning and carryingon an extensive stock farm just outside the city limits, where he hasbeen successful in raising some fine stock and where he finds the mostsatisfactory recreation from the arduous labors of professional life.

He has always been a uncompromising Republican, and besides practicinglaw he has taken an active part in politics. He was elected to thestate senate in 1885, and to the assembly in 1889. He served onimportant committees--was a member of the judiciary committee, andchairman of the committee on corporations, and in the assembly he alsotook an active influential part in the discussions on the floor. He hasrepeatedly represented Clark county in Republican state conventions,and has been one of the influential members in those bodies. In 1892,he was appointed special statistical agent for the United StatesDepartment of Agriculture for Europe, with headquarters at London,England. He also received the honorary appointment of deputy consul-general at London, serving until after the appointment of Mr. Morton as secretary of agriculture, and returning home in 1893. He was elected delegate from the Ninth congressional district to the national Republican convention at St. Louis in 1896. He was appointed Wisconsin attorney for the Chicago & Northwestern Railway company at Madison in 1895.

He is a member of the following Masonic lodges: Neillsville Lodge, No.163; Chippewa Commandery, Eau Claire; Wisconsin Consistory, Thirty-second degree, Milwaukee. He is a Unitarian--a member of the People'schurch, Neillsville.

Mr. Ring was married September 13th, 1877, at Neillsville, to Ida M.Austin, and their children are Blanche, Ethel and Alice.

L. B. Ring of The Neillsville Times is the only brother of M. C. Ring,and Gertrude Ring Prescott, wife of G. L. Prescott of London, England,is his only sister. His parents are still living.


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