Lytle Merrell was born in Fairview, Buncombe County, NC, in 1822. He was the son of Jacob Merrell (1785–1857) and Jennie McCarson Merrell. He married Mary Williams (born May 2, 1833). She was the daughter of Al Williams of Hoopers Creek.
Lytle and Mary first lived on Cane Creek near the old Indian trail. Lytle moved his family to a house on the south side of Bearwallow Mountain in 1856 and the Civil War broke out a short time later. Lytle served in the local Home Guard during the war. He was stationed at Camp Poltavern in Edneyville in Henderson County.
Prime Place to Hide Out
The Home Guard had a difficult time in Western North Carolina. The mountains had thousands of deserters, runaway enslaved people and criminals trying to take advantage of the situation. The bat cave (the actual cave that the town of that name was named after) was a prime place for all of the above to hide out. There were many small caves, as well. A cave on the head of Ballard Creek was used by many in the immediate area to run and hide when they saw soldiers approaching. Major General Stoneman and his Union soldiers came through Hickory Nut Gap in May 1865. Hundreds of men went into hiding until he left.
Lytle Merrell bought 50 acres of land on the south side of Little Bearwallow Mountain in 1870 from J.M. Edney and J.M. Lytle. He later bought 136 acres of speculation land from a New York company. Lytle and his oldest son Thomas built a house on the north side of Bearwallow Mountain, near the cold spring. The main house was finished in the spring of 1874. The house was in what is now called Gerton. (Gerton was formerly known as Hickory, Bearwallow and Pump). The home place consisted of a barn, smoke house, spring house and the residence they lived in. They were all built with chestnut logs cut and shaped with a broad ax. The outside face of the logs were from 15 to 20 inches wide. The corners were joined by dovetail notches.
The house was one and one half stories. The downstairs was used as the living area, and the upstairs was used for sleeping. A root cellar was built to keep canned goods and potatoes in the winter. The chimney was built out of rocks and located on the east side of the house. A smaller house was built nearby to use for cooking.
Lytle Merrell raised horses, as well. One summer day, a horse got loose. It was a hot summer day, and Lytle got hot from running after the horse. He stopped by a cold spring to get a drink and lay down to rest. But he never got up. He died at the spring.
He was buried next to his parents and grandparents at Merrell-Patton Cemetery on Brush Creek in Fairview.
Lytle and Mary’s Seven Children
1. Thomas Merrell was born on June 17, 1852. He married Flora Oates.
2. John Merrell was born on March 28, 1854. He married Martha Towe.
3. Jacob Merrell was born on May 11, 1860. He married Lou Hill.
4. William Merrell was born in May 1864. He married Nannie Brewton.
5. Jane Merrell was born in 1866. She married John Morrison.
6. Benjamin Merrell was born on December 25, 1868. He married Sarah Hill.
7. Mollie Merrell was born on September 9, 1871. She married Sidney Wall.
Bruce Whitaker documents Fairview-area genealogy. To get in touch with him, contact the Crier at [email protected] or