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Merritt Families of Mercer County

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Alternate Spellings - Merritt, Meritt, Merit

Links - Isaiah Willits, Kirlin, Pryne

Contacts - Marilyn Jones, descendant of James and Mary Merritt.

The parents of some of the Merritts of Mercer County are found in the 1850 census in Centerville, Wayne County, Indiana: #206 Ephraim J. Merit, 52, farmer, born Ohio; Margarette, 50, born Pa; Sarah A., 18, In; Nancy M., 15, In; John, 11, In; Homer J., 9, In; James, 22, farmer, In. There is also at #207 Moses Merit, 27, farmer, born In. A biography of son James in the 1882 History of Mercer County, tells us that E. J. Meritt was born and raised in Belmont County, Ohio, and served as a soldier in the war of 1812. The mother's maiden name was Margaret Trindall (sic - probably Tindall), and of Scotch-Irish descent.

The biography is of son James Y. Merritt but tells us a little of James's brothers and sisters and their location in 1882. James was the third child of eight all of whom were living in 1882 except Aaron J., who died a soldier at Bardstown, Kentucky. He was a member of the 36th reg. Ill. Vol. Inf. in the Civil War. Moses, a merchant, was residing in Appanoose County, Iowa. Eliza, was wife of A. C. Reynolds, who was a farmer in Appanoose County, Iowa (Eliza married Alexander C. Reynolds 13 October 1832 in Wayne County, Indiana). Mary, wife of Samuel Spangler, a farmer, resided in Whitesides County, Illinois, near Port Byron (they married 16 March 1848 in Wayne County, Indiana). Her sister Sarah Free, also resided in that county. John had remained in Wayne County, Indiana. Mary M. Kirlin lived in Mercer County, Illinois (this is evidently an error for Nancy Maria who is listed above in the 1850 census as she married Samuel Kirlin in Wayne County, Indiana, 16 Jan 1854).

Nancy Maria Merritt Kirlin

Nancy Maria Merritt was born 31 August 1836 in Indiana and died 20 November 1903 probably in Adair County, Iowa where she is buried. She married Samuel Kirlin, son of William and Lydia Thompson Kirlin, on 16 Jan 1854 in Wayne County, Indiana. Samuel Kirlin was born 20 April 1827 in Virginia and died 13 April 1871 in Mercer County, Illinois. He is buried in Candor Pope Creek Cemetery.

Widow Nancy M. Kirlin is found in Eliza Township in Mercer County in 1880: #114 Nancy M. Kirlin, 44, born Indiana, parents born Ohio; Willard, 25, farm laborer, In, In, Va; Omer, 23, farmer, Il, In, Va; Clara, 20, Il; Cora, 17, Il; Otis, 15, Il; Archie 13, Il; Jesse, 11, Il; Florence, 8, Il; Samuel 6, Il. For more on the family see the Kirlin link at the top of the page.

James Y. Merritt

Company K 102nd Illinois Infantry does not list James Y. Merritt for his service as a private but the Mercer County History (1882) says he enlisted in 1862. The history also lists him as one of the original non-commissioned officers (orderly sergeant) when Co. K. was organized. He is listed under Company K as Captain, resident of Eliza, Mercer County, date of rank Oct 26, 1864, mustered Dec 19, 1864, mustered out June 6, 1865, wounded at Averysborough, North Carolina in March 1865 and participated in the grand review in Washington, D. C. at mustering out. Next to his tombstone in Aledo Cemetery is a marker: Capt Jas Y Merritt Co K 102nd Ill Inf.

There are several mentions of J. Y. Merrit in the History: he is given as supervisor of Eliza Township for one year. Also in a discussion of timber in Eliza Township on another page: "Another, the largest tree in the county, is standing in the dooryard of J. Y. Merritt. It is an elm measuring 37 1/2 feet in circumference at the ground, and 34 feet three feet from the ground. It is 108 feet high and has a spread of top of 104 feet. Much notice has been taken of this tree by the press throughout the country, and having several times been measured by competent surveyors is pronounced the largest in the county. It is said that Black Hawk used to hold council under the shade of its branches." Another page mentions that Capt. J. Y. Merritt, now of Eliza township, came to the town site with the first load of lumber (speaking of Aledo in 1857.) Still another page mentions he was one of the directors for the committee to plan the Soldier's Monument in Aledo and was vice president of the directors in the next year.

James Y. Merritt married first to Rebecca Willits, daughter of Brady and Susanna Lacey Willits, on 25 May 1851. She was born 8 Jan 1832 in Indiana and died 18 Jan 1853 in Mercer County and is buried in New Boston Cemetery. This looks to perhaps be a death as the result of child birth though no child marker is next to Rebecca in the cemetery in the 1960's walkdown.

James Y. Merritt married second to Mary Pryne on 25 December 1856 in Mercer County. She was daughter of Walter and Sarah Kibby Pryne. She was born 4 November 1838 in Indiana and died 15 January 1908 in Mercer County and is buried in Aledo Cemetery.

James and wife Mary are found in Eliza Township, District 174, in the 1880 census: #83 James Y. Merritt, 52, born In, parents born Ohio; Mary, 41, born In, parents born Ohio; Fannie, 14, born Il, parents born Indiana; Bessie, 11, Il; Arthur, 9, Il; Ray, 5, Il; Walter P.,7/12 (Nov); William Vansevik, 22, farm laborer, born Iowa, parents born U.S.

Daughter Francis M. married Frank Bidwell, December 31, 1890, in Mercer County. There was also an older daughter, Minnie Merritt, who married William B. Earll (probably Earl), December 25, 1878 in Mercer County. They are not found in Mercer County in 1880. Son Raymond B. Merritt married Lillian L. Dutt on August 18, 1897 in Mercer County.