Biography of Charles O. Merry
Erie County, OH Biographies





CHARLES O. MERRY. Here and there in Erie County can be found a family whose permanent residence can be traced back continuously for more than a century to the earliest pioneer times in this section of Northern Ohio. Such is true of the Merry family, represented by Charles O. Merry, one of the prominent farmer citizens of Milan Township. Milan Township was the original seat of the Merrys in this county, and where the name was established prior to the War of 1812.

Mr. Merry is a son of the late Ebenezer Merry and his grandfather was also named Ebenezer, and the same name was given to his great grandfather. This family was founded in America early in the eighteenth century by Cornelius Merry, who with his wife left England and founded a home in Connecticut. A son of this emigrant was also named Cornelius, and spent his life in Connecticut. Ebenezer, the first of the name, was born about 1750 and in 1772 married Sarah Whiting. They both died in the New England states.

Ebenezer Merry, the grandfather of Charles O., was born at West Hartford, Connecticut, July 21, 1773, and after growing up moved to Avon, New York. He was married there May 5, 1800, to Charlotte Adams. The marriage certificate is written plainly in pen and ink by the justice of the peace Isaiah Fish. Charlotte Adams was born in Vermont, August 17, 1789, and was a daughter of Avon Adams, who belonged to the same Adams family which produced those eminent patriots and statesmen, John Adams and others of that name, who gained familiar places in American history during the Revolution.

Soon after their marriage Ebenezer and Charlotte Merry set out for the new country of Northern Ohio, journeying the entire distance on horseback and much of the way through dense woods inhabited by Indians, whose trails they followed, and they passed by cabins of early settlers and Indian wigwams in almost equal number. They arrived in the wilds of what is now Erie County and made their location near Milan Village. They were among the first occupants of the "fire lands" in Erie County, and in that publication known as "The Fire Lands Pioneers" published in June, 1882, in Volume 1 on page 135, extensive mention is made of the life and character of Ebenezer Merry and his wife. Ebenezer Merry built the first grist and sawmill at Milan. This was an institution possibly surpassing that of any other in its value to the early development of the community. Largely as a result of his enterprise Milan became one of the most thriving of the new towns in the northern part of the state. All the early settlers living in a radius of many miles came to Milan in those days to get their grist ground and also to obtain their supplies of building material. Outside of his prominence as an industrial leader and business man Ebenezer and his good wife were chiefly noted for the hospitality which characterized their home. It is said that no traveler ever passed their way who was not invited within their doors and given the privilege freely of eating and remaining as long as he desired. In consequence of this open handed liberality their home came to be known as "The Free Inn." Ebenezer Merry helped to lay out the young Town of Milan, and he also owned a farm on the Huron River north of that village. During the War of 1812 the early settlers put up a blockhouse, to which all resorted in time of threatened danger. The repeated election of Ebenezer Merry to the early State Legislature and his service for two terms as associate judge plainly indicate his prominence in public affairs. About 1816 he built a large and substantial house, the wooden frame and siding being reinforced and plastered on the outside thus making it one of the most comfortable and elaborate of the early homes in Milan Township. On the site of this old home stood the large house subsequently owned by his son Ebenezer and still later by his grandson, Charles O. Merry. Grandfather Ebenezer died at Milan, January 6, 1846 His widow passed away at the old homestead, where Charles O. Merry now lives, and which stands on the bluff overlooking the Huron River and also commands a view of the birthplace of Thomas Edison She died there February 8, 1879. Both were active members of the Presbyterian Church and in politics he was a whig.

Among the children of Ebenezer and Charlotte Merry was Ebenezer, Jr., who was born in or near Milan, January 15, 1820. He spent much of his life at the old home built on the brow of the hill north of Milan in 1837. He gained a very substantial education according to the standards of that time, and was engaged as a teacher at the old Merry schoolhouse which stood on the prairie three miles out from Milan When only eleven years of age he lost a leg, but in spite of that handicap led a very active career. He was one of the first republicans to join the new party and filled a number of offices with signal ability. From 1844 to 1850 he was a county recorder, from 1850 to 1867 was engaged in business, part of the time as miller and part of the time as a ship builder. In 1867 he was elected county auditor, and held that office continuously by popular election for fourteen years. While a county official his home was in Sandusky, but on retiring from office he returned to Milan and resumed his occupation as a miller. He died at the old home built by his father in 1837 and was about sixty eight years of age when called away on April 11, 1888. He was a man of sterling worth, of trusted and tried character, and fitly merits a place in any history of Erie County. He was married in Milan in 1848 to Attie C. Moore. She was born in Avon, New York, August 15, 1824, and was only a girl when she came to Erie County with her parents, Milton and Ruth (Merry) Moore, who settled on a farm near Hawleys Corners. Her father was born at Farmington, Connecticut, in 1779, and died in Milan in 1847, while her mother was born at Avon, New York, in 1792, and died January 31, 1850. The children of Ebenezer and Attie Merry were five sons and three daughters. Ruth died December 21, 1871, unmarried. Ebenezer who continued that name into this generation, died at Atchison, Kansas, at the age of twenty eight, unmarried. Ella C., born in 1852, died in 1864. Charles O. is next in age, Allen H., born in April, 1858, died in the following September, Willis P., born in 1859, is a house painter and decorater at Milan, and by his marriage to Catherine Halpin has children named Catherine, Mary A., James H., Clara B, and John P.; George S. is a farmer in Milan Township and married Caroline Beeckley, who died in 1897, leaving children named Maud A., Earl G. and Helen L, Fannie L., born in 1866, died in 1871.

Charles O., Merry, who was born in Erie County, June 4, 1855, grew up in Milan Township, gained his education from the schools of his day and generation, and is now the owner of that splendid old homestead near Milan which has so many interesting associations for the Merry family. He has it improved with a set of substantial farm buildings, and the large house of eighteen rooms is the one built by his grandfather nearly eighty years ago, Mr. Merry was married at Sandusky, April 3, 1879, to Miss Elsie Capitola Rockwell. She was born in Lucas County, Ohio, January 6, 1859, but spent most of her early life in Oxford Township of this county, Her parents were John and Sarah (Wilcox) Rockwell. Her father was born at Catawba Hill in New York in 1816 and was married January 3, 1837, in Northeastern New York to Miss Wilcox who was born in Connecticut about 1820, In 1843 they moved from New York to Ohio, living for two years at Elyria, then coming to Milan Township, following which they were residents of Lucas County and spent the rest of their lives on a large farm in Oxford Township. Mrs, Merry's mother died there in 1892, while her father passed away at the Merry home in 1903, Her mother was a member of the Baptist Church and her father a Methodist and in politics he was a republican.

The children of Mr. and Mrs, Merry are the following: Sarah A., born June 26, 1881, after graduating from the Milan High School was for five years a teacher, and is now the wife of Prescott Milliman, a farmer in Milan Township, and their children are Doris E., John L., Jr., and Marjorie L. Ebenezer J., born August 13, 1882, is a young bachelor still at home. Fronia Esther, born May 22, 1884, graduated from high school in 1902, and as a trained nurse from the Berea Hospital in Kentucky in 1911, and was for eighteen months in service in the Manila Hospital in the Philippines but now makes her headquarters at Berea, Kentucky. Charles H. born April 13, 1886, lives in Seattle, Washington, and by his marriage to Alice Sherwood of Ohio has a son Ralph E. Ruth R., born September 25, 1887, graduated from the high school at Milan in 1905, and is now a successful teacher in the local schools, All the children received good advantages in the way of schools as well as home training in industry and the virtues of honorable living, and their careers so far have well justified the promise of earlier youth, Mr. Merry is affiliated with Milan Tent No, 46, of the Maccabees, and in politics is a republican, Mr. Merry and family belong to the Presbyterian Church.

From:
A Standard History of Erie County, Ohio
By: Hewson L. Peeke
Assisted by a Board of Advisory Editors
The Lewis Publishing Company Chicago and New York 1916


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