Merrill family history and genealogy to the benefit of all.


Rev. Samuel-Hill Merrill
Gyles Merrill
Gen. Lewis Merrill

A Merrill Memorial

    Samuel Merrill, 1928, reprint 1983

Three Students of the Family History - Chapter I, pp1-16

Rev. Samuel-Hill Merrill

   To Rev. Samuel-Hill Merrill, more than to any other individual, is due credit for the collection and preservation of data relating to the early generations of the Merrill family in this country. His interest and industry saved from oblivion many facts which otherwise would have been lost, and the work which he performed, incomplete as it was, has been the foundation on which all later students have sought to build.

< image Rev. Samuel-Hill Merrill autograph >

   Mr. Merrill’s son wrote that his father began his genealogical work in 1850. Pastorates in various places in northern New England gave him opportunity for much research in town and church records, and this in his later years he supplemented by correspondence with persons in more distant places.

   Not long after Rev. Mr. Merrill’s death, Gyles Merrill of Haverhill, Mass. chanced to be in Portland, and called upon the widow to make inquiries with regard to the clergyman’s genealogical papers. It appeared that members of the family were little interested in the work which Mr. Merrill had done in this field, and an arrangement was easily made by which all the books and papers relating to the family history came into the possession of Mr. Merrill of Haverhill. These papers, now in the possession of the compiler of this Memorial, have been freely used in the present work.

   Rev. Mr. Merrill was a painstaking student, and later research has brought to light few serious errors in the written records which he compiled. He seems not to have made much effort to trace the history of the family in England, and had made comparatively little progress in gathering data regarding the later generations in this country, but his tabulation of the descendants of Nathaniel2, Abraham2, Daniel2 and Abel2, for the first three or four generations, has been of great value to those who have succeeded him in the work. To the descendants of John2 of Hartford he paid little attention.

Biographical (see p535)

   Samuel-Hill Merrill was in the eighth generation of the American Merrill’s. He descended from Daniel2 through John3, Thomas4, Samuel5, Humphrey6 and James7, and was born 12 May, 1805, in Buxton, Me.

   After preparatory studies in Troy and Albany, N.Y., he pursued a theological course, from 1827 to 1830, with Rev. Jacob Cummings, a Congregational clergyman of Stratham, N.H. He was ordained 23 Feb. 1831, in Barrington, N.H., where he remained as pastor about four years. In 1834 he went to Indiana as agent of the American Tract Society, and in 1836 became colleague with Dr. Lyman Beecher, pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church of Cincinnati. He preached at Center Harbor, N H., as stated supply, in 1838-40, and was pastor at Amesbury Mills, Mass., from 1840 to 1844. After supplying pulpits at Kennebunkport and Old Town, Me., he was installed as pastor of the Old Town church, remaining there from 1846 to 1854. Later he held pastorates at Bluehill and East Machias, Me. In 1856 he took charge of the Bethel Church for Seamen in Portland, and remained there until 1864, when he resigned to fill a chaplaincy in the army.

   Mr. Merrill was commissioned chaplain of the First District of Columbia Cavalry 19 Feb. 1864. He served with this organization until it was merged with the First Maine Cavalry, and then served as chaplain of the First Maine until it was mustered out, 1 Aug. 1865. After the war he wrote “Campaigns of the First Maine and First District of Columbia Cavalry,” which was published in Portland in 1866.*

   In July, 1866, Mr. Merrill was appointed agent of the American Bible Society for New England, and held this position three years. At the time of his death he had been supplying the pulpit of the Congregational church in Scarboro, Me., for more than two years. He was stricken by paralysis while in his pulpit, 31 Aug. 1873. There had been recent deaths in the parish, and for this reason he took for his text I Samuel, xx, 3: “There is but a step between me and death.” Shortly after beginning his sermon he paused, and seated himself on the sofa. He was carried to his room, but his work was ended. He died in Scarboro 18 Sept. 1873, aged 68.

   A reunion of his regiment was being held in Bangor at the time of his death. When the telegraph announced that his life was over Rev. Dr. Teft, a former chaplain, said of him, addressing the assembled veterans:

   “He was as good and faithful a chaplain as ever held the office. Both in camp and on the battle-field he closely imitated his Master; for he, like Him, ‘went about doing good: Other men in his position would think it enough to do what was set before them; but he waited for no man to point out the ways of usefulness. He sought and found them for himself; and yet nothing, as you all know, ever did him so great a pleasure as to be informed where he could be of service to his suffering comrades and to his country’s cause. To bless the soldier, to encourage him in the hour of danger, to impart to him the consolations of religion when stricken down, was more than his meat and drink. But I need not enlarge; you know it all. His memory is sacred to every one of you; it will remain with you till your own dying day.”

   Mr. Merrill married Hannah Prentice, daughter of Rev. Josiah Prentice of Northwood, N.H., 9 Nov. 1832. His children were:

   Edward-Payson9 Merrill, born 7 Nov. 1834; a 1st Lieutenant in Co. D, First Maine Cavalry, while his father was chaplain, and later a commission merchant in Portland. (He was still living there in 1920.)

   Susan-Frentice9, born 6 April, 1840; married 12 Mar. 1873, Thomas Brackett Reed, for twenty-two years a member of Congress from Maine, and for six years Speaker of the House. (Mrs. Reed died 28 May, 1914, at her home in Portland. She left an estate of more than $600,000. Of this $100,000 was given to her brother Edward, and most of the remainder to her only child Katherine, wife of Arthur Ballantine of San Diego, Cal.)

   Marion-Calista9, born 10 Jan. 1842; married Rev. Charles Dana Barrows, D.D., a Congregational clergyman who held pastorates in San Francisco and in Lowell, Mass.

   Some years ago a veteran of the First Maine Cavalry told me of Chaplain Merrill and the high esteem in which he was held by the men of the regiment. On one occasion, he said, a portion of the regiment was on a transport floating down one of the Virginia rivers. It was a Sunday, but, to pass the time away, some of the men, idling on the deck of the steamer, began a game of cards. Soon the chaplain chanced that way. He looked sadly at the card-players, and slowly passed on, but said nothing.

   “We knew that the chaplain didn’t like it,” said the narrator. “He didn’t say anything, but he looked grieved, and none of us wanted to hurt his feelings. It was surprising how quickly we lost interest in that game! So the cards were put away, and the game ended.”

   David Norton, author of “Sketches of the Town of Old Town,” (published 1881, page 101), describes Mr. Merrill as “a man of distinguished ability, personally attractive, of the greatest suavity of manner and address, winning his way into the good graces and opinions of all classes of society. . . . He was of that kind of temperament which required a good deal of exercise, and he was fond of getting away into the forest and spending a week or so in hunting and fishing. . . . He was very fond of children, and the parson was ever ready to unbend himself and ‘become a boy again,’ and was as much interested as they were in a game of romp or hide and seek.”

* An episode which occurred before Petersburg in the winter of 1864-5 is related by Chaplain Merrill at Pages 310-314. It is a vivid account of a visit which he paid during a heavy bombardment to a fort in which was stationed the Twentieth Michigan Volunteer Infantry, Lieut.-Col. Grant commanding. Some twenty-five years ago I met Judge Claudius B. Grant of Lansing, Mich., a justice of the Supreme Court of the State, and he told me that he was the Lieut.-Col. Grant mentioned in the narrative. Judge Grant was a native of Maine, the son of Joseph and Mary-A.7 (Merrill) Grant, and grandson of Nathaniel6 Merrill (Nathaniel5, John4,3, Nathaniel2) of Brownfield, Me.
   Judge Grant was born 25 Oct. 1835, and died 28 Feb. 1921.
   A portrait of Chaplain Merrill, in military uniform, is given in Tobie's "History of the First Main Cavalry" (1887), page 320.


   If you have further information on the book, "A Merrill Memorial" and would like to share it with others, please contact me.

     © - Updated 1 December, 2009