David Merrell Writes Home: Part Two

by Bruce Whitaker

David Merrill was born in Fairview, Buncombe County on May 26, 1801. He was the son of Revolutionary soldier Benjamin Merrill and his wife Penelope Merrill. He moved to Missouri with his brother Eli and two of his sisters and their families in the late 1820’s. David moved to Texas in the 1840’s. David’s twin brother Jonathan Merrill remained in Buncombe County. David would often write home to Jonathan Merrill.

The following is one of David Merrill’s letters home to his twin brother.

Dallas County, Texas, August 26, 1854 

I take this opportunity of informing you we are all in the enjoyment of reasonable health hoping these lines may find you all enjoying alike blessing.

I have nothing of much interest to write this country has been very healthy this far. A dry season and only tolerable crops. Wheat crops have been hurt by rust. Oats blown down by storms and corn only a moderate crop. Times are easy as to money matters and property high. Land has taken a raise some of the improved land not worth more than five dollars and some of the unimproved land is worth ten dollars per acre. Texas has secured the Great Central Railroad or the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad the contract is taken from the eastern bounds of the state of Texas to its western limits or near El Paso a distance of about 12 degrees longitude which is the latitude of 32. Will take over 600 miles, for which the Company are to receive 20 sections of land per mile. This great work is begun and about one thousand hands employed. They commence near Shreveport and I think it will pass with in 20 or 30 miles of here and perhaps nearer than that. Our country is still improving very fast in so much that the price of all kinds of provisions are high. When you was here old Mr Little was the outside settler and now it is settled at least 150 miles further.

I had all sorts of disadvantages to labor under. I heard from Susan Owen [Merrill’s first cousin, daughter of John Merrill and Catherine Rhodes] some 3 weeks since two of her sons in law was at my house. They only spent the night with us and to my dislike I was not at home. I’ve been anxious to visit Mrs Owen and Nimrod [David Merrill’s brother] for along time. My business seems to confine me at home. I expected to have gone the first of this September but my little son Perry has taken the notion that he must have a wife and at the time appointed for that celebration interfers with my arrangement. Strange to tell that Perry could fancy a widow which must be at least 7 or 8 years older then himself and him not quite 18 years old. I never control my children in such cases, I will advise but never control. Mrs Boyd, my intended daughter is as fine and respectable a woman as any in the country, still the contrast in age is to great. I hope it may settle him he has been altogether the wildest son I ever had. Until about a year ago he made a Profession of Religion and has been a great deal more still but his temper is too quick. His health has improved I now have hope that he will yet become stout and sound. Adolphus and Robert [David Merrill’s two oldest sons] are both on the same place and improving a good farm. Robert has a fine son begining to run around the house. Adolphus unlike the rest of the stock is doing a poor part in keeping a bad stock, they have no children. Catherine [David’s daughter] has one daughter, and Jane [David’s daughter] has a son 4 months old. William Alexander Whites little son is living with us and I intend to keep him while I live. He has the turn and disposition of his………

[section of letter missing]

I am trying to commence the business of raising mules. Jones and me has bought a Donkey, he cost us $300. I have 10 mares and Jones has 7 which we expect to bring mules next spring. I am anxious to turn my stock of cattle into a stock of Mexican mares. We did purpose sending Perry [David’s son] to Mexico this fall for mares, but he tells [us] no. I think I will write again after I return from the west. I may say some thing more on the subject. When you receive this I want you to write and give me a full history of all the old acquaintance as far as you can so no more, but remain yours affectionately until death.

August 28, 1854. David Merrill to Jonathan Merrill

D. M.

Local historian Bruce Whitaker documents genealogy in the Fairview area. You can reach him at 628-1089 or email him at [email protected].


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