Seymour R. Van Meter

SEYMOUR R. VAN METER, a farmer of Pickaway County, won a good record as a soldier during those times that tried the souls of the bravest and most patriotic, when rebellion threatened our country with disunion and dishonor, and he has since made his citizenship valuable to his native township, Jackson. He was born January 1, 1844, and comes of the old pioneer stock of the State. He is a son of Jacob S. Van Meter, who was born November 1, 1808, in Champaign County, of which his father, Henry Van Meter, was an early settler.

    The grandfather of our subject was born in Hardy County, WV., May 12, 1780. He was descended from an old German family that had emigrated to this country in Colonial times, and had first settled in New York State, but subsequently traded with the Indians for land in Virginia, and was represented there several generations. Henry Van Meter came to Ohio in 1800, and, joining forces with the pioneers that had preceded him, he did noble work in redeeming the land from its original wildness, developing one of the finest farms in the county. He unfortunately lost his property during the War of 1812 by contracting and speculating, and never fully recovered from it. He was a prominent man in the county, which he served two terms as Sheriff. He was a Methodist in religion and a Whig in politics. His death occurred at the age of seventy years, as did also that of his wife, whose maiden name was Margaret Renick.

    The father of our subject was one of nine children. He attended the pioneer schools of Champaign County, and on his father's farm acquired a thorough knowledge of farming. While his father was Sheriff of the county, he did the most of the business in the office. In 1841 he was married to Sarah C. Jennings, a native of Clarke County, born October 7, 1817, who survives him at a venerable age, and still makes her home at Urbana. She is of Baptist faith in belief. Mr. Van Meter began life with no capital, but in time he accumulated a handsome competency. In 1841 he came to Pickaway County, and settled on two hundred and fifty acres of land in Jackson Township, to which his mother had fallen heir. He finally bought the claims of the other heirs, and he eventually became the possessor of seven hundred acres of land in this township, and of two hundred and forty acres in Scioto Township. He made the most of his money by feeding cattle, a business that he pursued quite extensively. His death, December 15, 1863, was a serious blow to the interests of his community. In early life, he was a Whig, but he joined the Republicans after the formation of that party. He held the office of Township Trustee, and was prominently mentioned for County Commissioner. He led a conscientious, upright life, but was not a member of any church.

    Seven of the eleven children born to the parents grew to maturity, namely: Edward J., Seymour R., Frank B. (deceased), Julia J., John R., Absalom J., and Charles L. He of whom we write passed his childhood on the farm, and in attendance at the district school, his education being supplemented by a course of some five months at the High School at Urbana. He was but a boy when the war broke out, but the following year found the patriotic youth in the ranks of those who were fighting for the old flag. He enlisted June 6, 1862, in Company A, Forty-fifth Ohio Infantry, was mustered in at Camp Chase, and in August, sent with his comrades to Covington, Ky. That year was spent in that State, and the following fall the Forty-fifth was sent to Gen. Burnside, at Knoxville, Tenn. Our subject's company was mounted, and did important scouting work in Tennessee, having several skirmishes with the enemy.

    November 14, 1863, Mr. Van Meter was captured by the Texas Ranger, who were in advance of Gen. Longstreet, and he was taken to Richmond, where he was placed in Pemberton Prison, across the street from Libby. He was kept in that prison, and in Belle Isle Prison, from December 1, 1863, until March 4, 1864, and was then sent to Andersonville, arriving there March 10, and he was detained there until September 7, 1864, when he was taken to Savannah, Ga. October 10, he was again removed, this time to Millen, Ga., and was paroled there November 20, 1964, after and experience of one year and six days in various Southern prisons. He rejoined his regiment at Huntsville, Ala., and remained there until his life as a soldier was brought to a close after the war had ended, receiving his final discharge June 12, 1865, at Camp Harker, Tenn. he having seen much hard service throughout Alabama and Eastern Tennessee.

    After his return from the South, Mr. Van Meter turned his attention to farming, and has done well in the prosecution of his calling, carrying on a mixed husbandry with good success. He lived on the old homestead until a year ago, and then took up his residence at Fox Post office as Assistant Postmaster. He has one hundred and forty acres of land, which is under good cultivation, and is provided with substantial improvements.

    Our subject was married November 18, 1875, to Miss Rachel C. Vause, a native of Pickaway County, born May 20, 1850, and in her he has a devoted wife. The principal sorrow of their otherwise happy married life has been the death of their only child, Frank, who died at the age of six months. Mr. and Mrs. Van Meter are prominent, socially, and among the leading members of the Presbyterian Church, of which he has been Deacon on year. They are very active in Sunday school work, and the past summer held a mission school in the schoolhouse. In politics, our subject is a republican, and in his social relations, he is a member of the Grand Army Post at Circleville. 

from: The Portrait and Biographical Record of Fayette, Pickaway and Madison Counties, Ohio. 1892.


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