Ottawa is rapidly working up to a place in the front ranks of the leading industrial centers of the state of Illinois. Many new plants and manufacturing concerns have been located here during the past decade, as excellent shipping facilities are afforded and numerous advantages present themselves to the attention of the commercial world. Among the new enterprises destined to bring the town into yet greater prominence than ever before was the establishment of the United States Silica Company's plant in the southern part of Ottawa. Four years have passed and the business has grown remarkably, among the customers of the concern being many of the best flint houses and glass-makers of this country. The buildings, machinery and lands of the company are valued at upward of sixty thousand dollars, and the capacity of the works is placed at twenty-five to thirty car-loads per day. The fifty acres of land owned by the company is underlaid with St. Peter's sandstone, a vast mass of silicious material, the strata varying in thickness from one hundred and seventy to four hundred feet. No finer material for the manufacture of glass exists, the product possessing the necessary qualities of clearness and strength.
Captain Angus Ross Mercer, the superintendent of the United States Silica Company's works in south Ottawa, is a gentleman of exceptional business ability, and to his genius and energy can be traced much of the success of the enterprise with which he is connected. He was born in Ontario. Canada. April 11, 1858, of Scotch ancestry; and many of the family were seafaring men. His father. Captain Alexander Mercer, was for half a century a captain of vessels which sailed on the great lakes, and the latter's father, Robert Mercer, was for a like period on the "high seas." Our subject followed the example of his seniors, and when a mere lad commenced sailing on the great lakes, rising from one position to another until he was made the first officer and captain, and finally he reached the goal of his youthful desires and was the owner of a ship. In 1895 he assumed the superintendency of the silica company's plant, in response to the urgent wishes of its officials, and has proved the "right man in the right place."
Captain Alexander Mercer married Miss Ellen Springstein, a native of Canada, and to that worthy couple but two children, sons, were born, namely: Angus R. and W. F. The latter is now a resident of Michigan.
In his political standing Captain Angus R. Mercer is a Republican, and fraternally he is a Mason. His marriage was celebrated June 26, 1881, the lady of his choice being Miss Pauline Felz. Mrs. Mercer is a daughter of Valentine Felz, of Grand Haven, Michigan. To the union of the Captain and wife three children have been born, namely: May R., Valentine Alexander and Hugh.
Extracted by Norma Hass from Biographical and Genealogical Record of LaSalle County, Illinois published in 1900, volume 1, pages 106-107.