The Merrills of Merrillsville
Timeline by Mary Hotaling, 1/18/2001, principally from “Beginnings of Merrillsville” by Teresa R. Eshelman, in They Told Me So, Vol. II, 1987.
C. 1831: John Robertson Merrill (1807-1854) “for whom Merrillsville was named” came from Vermont with friends at age 24. John built an inn, a stagecoach stop on the Port Kent-Hopkinton Turnpike. He married Ursula Loverin (or Lovering) of Loon Lake. Their daughter, Frances, born about 1835, was the first white female child born in the Town of Franklin.
Sometime after John’s arrival, his “brothers Dyer Lovejoy, Jeremiah Degroff, Eben Wesley, their parents and paternal grandmother followed” him to Merrillsville from Vermont. Jeremiah Degroff Merrill (1815-1893), who had attended Norwich University and was known as Jerry, built his own homestead across the road from John R. Merrill’s inn. Jerry married Sarah Smith, a sister of Paul Smith, but she soon died in childbirth. The Merrill and Smith families were close friends. Paul Smith was a frequent guest at John R. Merrill’s Inn and liked the area so much that he decided to live here, first renting and operating the Loverin (or Lovering) Inn at Loon Lake.
May 20, 1836: The Town of Franklin was formed from the Town of Bellmont.
1837: The second town meeting of the Town of Franklin was held at John R. Merrill’s Inn on March 7, 1837. John R. Merrill became the first Postmaster [of Merrillsville?] on July 29, 1837, with his inn being used as the first Post Office in a common North Country pattern.
John’s brother Dyer Merrill married Susan Cate Lamson on May 8, 1837 and they moved to the Hopkinton Baldwin farm near Nicholville the same year.
[Check census of 1840]
In 1843 John Merrill was first elected to the office of Supervisor, which he held in 1843-4, 1846, 1851 and 1854-55. He also served as Town Clerk at various times.
[Is there a New York State census of 1845? If so, check it!]
April 2, 1849: J. D. (or H. D.) Merrill wrote a letter from “Merrill’s Ville” to J. W. Loguen regarding a particular land grant in Franklin County, “the North East quarter of Lot No. 151, Township No. 10, old Military Tract.” The writer was obviously acquainted with surveying.
[Check census of 1850]
1852: Paul Smith built and operated Hunter’s Home.
1854: John R. Merrill died, age 47.
One of his four brothers, Eben Wesley Merrill, known as Wesley, is listed on the town tax assessments rolls that year as owning 43 acres of land in lot 146. Local tradition holds that this home was built in the shape of a cross, with a barn as its base. At some point, Wesley married Diadema Dodge and moved to Wisconsin. He died in 1903 and is buried in the Merrillsville Cemetery.
1858: Paul Smith moved to St. Regis Lake, built his hotel and married Lydia Martin.
Around 1860: Jerry Merrill married his second wife, Louisa Washburn Merrill (1829-1908) of Milton, Vermont. Louisa was very knowledgeable about herbs and medicinal plants and both she and Jeremiah were called upon frequently for medical help.
John R. Merrill’s inn was sold to James W. Littlejohn, and it became known as the Littlejohn Tavern.
1861: Jed Scott, the first of Jerry and Louisa’s four children, was born. An outstanding athlete, he graduated from the University of Vermont in 1886. He died in 1888 at age 26.
1863: Jerry and Louisa’s second child, Sarah (later Fitzgerald) was born. She lived until 1960.
C. 1865: Jerry and Louisa’s third child, Elmer Marcellus, was born. He became the famous Adirondack surveyor Lem Merrill. [Dates illegible.]
1870: Jerry and Louisa’s fourth child, Ina A., was born. [Death date illegible.]
1875: The census of 1875 showed eight “colored” residents in the Town of Dickinson, one in Duane, eight in Franklin, seven in Malone and twelve in Moira.
C. 1885-90: Lem Merrill purchased his Uncle Wesley’s house, and operated it, first as a tourist boarding facility and — by 1900 — as a tuberculosis curing facility.
1894: The local Methodist Episcopal congregation built its own church, after using the school house for services for many years.
About 1928 the Jerry Merrill home and all the acreage owned by the Merrills, with the exception of the John R. Merrill Inn and 20 acres surrounding it, was sold to Asplin Tree Farm.
1947: The Methodist Episcopal Church building was torn down in 1947.
19??: The John Merrill Inn, with the 20 acres surrounding it, became Mary Maxine Summers’ home and antique shop.
2001: Both the Jerry Merrill home and the John R. Merrill Inn are still standing.