WELCH, GEORGE MERRIT, who resides in his pleasant home at No. 409 West Canedy Street, which represents years of frugality and hard work, is now the trusted watchman of the Rayfield Auto Company works, Springfield. He was born in Tonawanda, Erie County, N.Y., January 2, 1849, a son of George W. and Margaret (Forbes) Welch. The Welch family was founded in this country by the grandfather, who came from Ireland, locating in Clifton Park, N.Y., where he was a timberman, being killed by a log which rolled on him. George W., father of George M. Welch, was born in the village of Clifton Park, and became a merchant there, but died at the very early age of twenty-two years of cholera. His widow married Nelson A. Neher, now a resident of Springfield, who has attained the advanced age of ninety-two years. His wife died there at the age of sixty-eight years.
George Merrit Welch attended school but little, for being left half orphan when only five months old, he never knew a father's care, and as early as possible had to earn his own living. Until he was fourteen years old he lived with his Grandfather Forbes, and then began working on a farm at fifty cents per day. When he was sixteen years old he began working on the tow path of the Erie canal, but after one summer at this became a steersman on a boat, continuing thus for two seasons. His attention having been called to Illinois, he came to Lanark, Carroll County, and was a clerk in his Uncle Edgar Welch's store for nearly two years. Following this he went to work in a saw mill at Alpena, Mich., being in it during the summer and scaling logs in the woods in the winter. At the close of three years he moved to Monroe, Mich., and worked in a lumber yard owned by Caleb Ives, and also scaled logs for him, eventually being made general manager of Mr. Ives' business. After two years there he journeyed to New York for a short visit. On his return west he reached Toledo, when his funds gave out. He had nothing to eat and no place to sleep, and was feeling discouraged, when he met his former employer, Mr. Ives, who appeared as glad to see him, as he was to meet the man for whom he had worked so faithfully. Mr. Ives sent Mr. Welch straight to Cincinnati, Ohio, to do some collecting for him, and Mr. Welch spent eighteen months in that city, looking after Mr. I've's interests there. His next venture was as agent for a patent fire kindler, operating in Jackson and vicinity. Once more he went back to new York, and thence to Rutland, Vt., where he worked in a foundry owned by Thomas Ross, and while there worked on some of the columns for the Albany State House. In 1880 he returned to Illinois, going to work on the Wabash Railroad as fireman, and running out of Springfield. From this he worked up to be engineer, continuing in the employ of this railroad for twelve years. Then, leaving the road, he operated a switch engine in the rolling mills. Going to Pine Bluffs, Ark., he was fireman on the Cotton Belt Railroad, being promoted to the position of engineer, but at the expiration of three years came to Macomb, Ill., and ran a stationary engine at the pottery plant for a year. Coming again to Springfield, he was salesman for the Springfield Paper Company for seven years, afterwards engaging in various lines of work, and is now watchman of the Rayfield Auto Company works.
On April 28, 1886, mr. Welch was married in the Central Baptist Church to Anna M. Lindsay, of Springfield, daughter of Isaac and Sarah (Elder) Lindsay. Five children have been born to them: Arlena B., unmarried; Annie Louise, at home; Howard and Harold, twins, and George. Mr. Welch is a consistent member of the Central Baptist church. Politically he is a Republican, but his inclinations have never led him to seek office.