June, 2008




This is a chronicle of the lineage of Leonard Walker Merritt (1896-1983), and all who went before, and all who carry on.


As you read this document, you will find yourself out on the edges of many branches of the family tree and it will be easy to get lost out there. To help you keep your focus on where we are going, here is the main trunk. You know how you relate to Leonard Walker Merritt, and here is his line:


                        Leonard Walker Merritt (1896-1983)

                              Son of Walker S. Merritt (1859-1899)

                                    Son of Joshua Calvin Merritt (1826-1892)

                                          Son of Sherrod Merritt (1798-1860)  

                                                Son of Mark Merritt (1771-unknown)

                                                      Son of James Merritt (1745-1797)     


This is a work in progress. Most of the research has been on the Internet. A lot of it includes research done by other families who share their information. Where possible, sources are verified. If there are conflicts with two sources, they are noted. Also, in genealogy assumptions must sometimes be made, some of which could prove to be incorrect as more historical information becomes available. Most of the first version of this document has already been rendered obsolete.   


Much of this research involves the census, land recordings and other records.  Prior to 1850 only the names of the heads of households were listed on the census.  The other members of the household were merely counted. The 1850 census was the first to list the names of spouses and children, so it gets more difficult to trace ancestors beyond 1850.  The 1880 census was the first to state the relationship of family members to the head of the household, so before 1880 questions of wife/niece/daughter brother/nephew/son relationships can arise.


Most of the 1890 census was destroyed in a fire in the basement of the Commerce Building in Washington D. C. in January, 1921. This census would have been invaluable in tracing many of our missing family.


Census records were hand-written, and census takers not necessarily diligent or neat.  The only qualification to be a census taker was to possess the ability to read and write, but that didn’t always equate to writing legibly, or being diligent, or being intelligent. Most citizens could not read and write and many couldn’t tell the recorder how to spell their own names, so taking the census or recording a land purchase was an exercise in creative guesswork. Census takers and clerks sometimes tried spelling phonetically, or used abbreviations, and sometimes they got it wrong.  The surname “Merritt” can also be found on the census and land records as “Merrit”, “Meritt”, “Merit”, “Merrett”, “Marriot”, “Marriott”, “Mariott”, “Marritt”, “Marrot”, “Marrotte”, “Mariatt”, “Maret”, “Mart”, “Maryott”, “Marryatt”, “Mariate”, “Merriott”, and dozens of other variations. You will see this occur as you read this document. 



“Merritt” was also a popular first name in the 1800s, so a Merritt might also be missed or incorrectly added because first names and surnames can sometimes be erroneously reversed on official records, as you will see. 


Another problem was the heavy script penmanship used in the 1800s and early 1900s, which makes census transcription difficult today.  Modern day transcribers sometimes make errors because a fair amount of guesswork is necessary to decipher the written record.


Also note that some families were missed altogether on many censuses.  They lived so remotely, or were working in the fields so constantly, that the census passed them by. And some census takers weren’t very diligent, anyway, as evidenced by a census taker in Tennessee who documented entire families and pages by recording only their initials.   


In some cases we can’t find someone because we don’t know what their real name is because they didn’t know what it was themselves. It was quite common for families to nickname kids and the kids to nickname each other. The younger kids grew up not even knowing their older siblings real name. Sometimes nicknames were not a variation of their given names, just names off the wall. For example, I had a cousin on my mother’s side, Jerold Reed, whom we always called “Shirley Bob”. I asked him how he got that nickname and he didn’t know. There is no doubt, however, that had he lived in 1860, we would find him listed on the census as “Shirley Bob Reed”. My wife Rhonda has an aunt whose name is spelled “Ouida”, but she is listed on the 1920 Lafayette County, Arkansas census with the accented phonetic spelling, “Weeder”.


Another problem is the commonality of names. Almost every family named children after other family members. There are dozens of James Merritts, Johns, Nancys, and so on. There are two separate, thus far unrelated, Joshua Merritts born in 1826. One, not known to be in our direct lineage, born in Wayne Co NC and married to Mary Bass, and the other, our lineage, born in Carroll Co TN and married first to Atlantic and then to Nancy. I researched the wrong one for months.           


This odd fact was documented by the Clemmons family in stories related by their ancestors. Tombstone engravers charged by the letter. Many family names were shortened (I.E., “Clemmons” to “Clemons”, “Merritt” to “Merit”), because the family was too poor to pay for the extra letters. Researchers transcribing those tombstones a hundred years later would never know. 


Finally, realize that times were hard, medicine primitive, and the country rural. The average life expectancy was almost half of what it is today. Children were born at home and delivered by family members or midwives, so Caesarian births were unknown and many women died in childbirth. Most Merritts were farmers and many died in accidents. The men in our family have served in no less than six major wars, and some did not return home. Divorce was rare, but early deaths were not, so many married multiple times, and many of those multiple marriages are not reflected in the records, especially first, or earlier, marriages.      












These are the standard abbreviations encountered researching genealogy, so I use them here where I need to save space.   


      abt.            about

      aft.       after

      b.         born

      bef.      before

      Co.       county

      d.         died

      m.        married





The term “about” abbreviated “abt.” is commonly used for dates that are calculated. For example, if a person’s birth date is unknown but it is known that they died in April, 1870 at the age of 70, they could have been born in, say, May of 1799 or November of 1800, so they might be listed as “b. abt. 1800”. Some researchers do not use “abt.” but list this information as “b. 1800 or 1801” or “b. 1800/1801”.     


Using the same example, birthdates are also calculated from the census. Birthdates were not listed on early censuses, but ages were.  If the 1860 census was taken in April and a person is listed as 10 years of age, that person could have been born in, again, May of 1849 or November of 1850.    


The terms “before” and “after” abbreviated “bef.” and “aft.” are usually estimates based upon census appearance and in the absence of any other documentation. For example, if an 80-year-old man appears on the 1860 census living with his wife, and then on the 1870 census he is not listed and his wife is listed as living with one of their children, it is safe to assume he died and his death would be listed as “aft. 1860”.       






















The Internet.  Online information continues to expand and improve in accuracy every day. Hundreds of sites exist for no other reason than to share genealogical information. Thousands are researching their families, and they gladly share their information and documentation. You get some, and you give some.    


The Internet site www.ancestry.com is one of the most comprehensive all-in-one genealogical research facilities available, including census, marriage, death, family history, and social security records. It is a membership site, and offers access to information available nowhere else. 


The Coggin/Coggins family is closely intertwined with the Merritt family and is well documented, and much of the information about the Merritts comes from the Coggin/Coggins family research.


The Clemons/Clemmons family is also close to the Merritts and is also well documented and some of the information about this line came from their research.


The Ragsdale family is also in the tree, and is well documented, and some of the information comes from the Ragsdale family research.


Lynne Turner of Salt Lake City spent several years researching the Merritts with her father and has written a multiple volume book, “The Merritt Families of North Carolina 1700-1850”, documenting their findings. I contacted her and the volumes are no longer available. They are widely cited by other researchers, and I continue to monitor EBay should one come up for sale. 


William P. Merritt of Greenbrier, Arkansas has done extensive research into our lineage of Merritts. He is descended from William Franklin Merritt, seen on the descendancy tree below as the brother of Walker S. Merritt. The descendants of William F. Merritt moved to Faulkner County, Arkansas, just as the descendants of Walker S. Merritt moved to California. I will include William P. Merritt’s lineage data on a later version of this history.


Richard Merritt of Camden, Ouachita County, Arkansas, has documentation on the southern Arkansas Merritts, who are connected to our line, as we will explore.


Elizabeth Dryer Humphrey of Stockton, California, whose family includes the Williams and Churchwells herein described, has family papers passed down from her husband’s great aunt Jewell. Those papers include the first of our line to appear in Arkansas. Elizabeth has done extensive research into her family, and although our line is on the extreme edge of hers, we benefit from her findings.














The American origin of our Merritt line at this writing is Virginia, and as we see the movements of our Merritts westward, several places will become apparent as the centers of activity for some time. A few adventurers will settle in a place, then more will join them, and then some move on while some stay. Here are a few of the place names we will encounter.




Essex County is located 45 miles east of Richmond and 100 miles south of Washington, D. C. It is within the protected coastal waters of the estuary of the Rappahannock River and was a primary disembarking center for ships arriving from the Europe and the British Isles.   


Many immigrants who landed there, fearful of moving too far too soon from civilization, just settled in and made Essex County their home. James Merritt, the oldest documented patriarch of our line, was born there.




Bute County no longer exists as it was split into Franklin County and Warren County in 1779, but it bordered Virginia due south of Richmond. Moore County is farther to the southwest in the south central part of the state. Cumberland County lies to the east of Moore County. References in this document to the “Cumberland Area” of North Carolina include Moore and Cumberland Counties. James Merritt was a Farmer in Moore County when the Revolutionary War began. 




Wilson County is in the north central part of the state. It borders Davidson County on the east, and the Davidson County seat is Nashville. Wilson County was the center for a major gathering of Merritts, and those who remained spread out to the surrounding counties of Rutherford (south), Cannon (southeast), and Sumner (northwest). The Merritt name is still prevalent in that area today.


I have read and heard stories, undocumented, of five wagon trains of Merritts that left North Carolina and made it as far as Wilson County when heavy weather set in, followed by winter. When the weather cleared in the spring most of them, having used their supplies during the winter, decided to stay.     




Carroll County is in the western part of the state about 150 miles east of the Mississippi River. Many Merritts of our line traveled west to Huntingdon, the county seat, and remained there. This was the launching point for most of the Merritts that ended up in Independence County, Arkansas. 


One explanation for the attraction of Huntingdon is that it was the last large center of commerce on the way west. In the mid-1800s, travelers who left Huntingdon were on their own until they reached Little Rock to the southwest or Fort Smith due west or Springfield northwest.






Independence County is in the northeast part of the state. The county seat is Batesville, which is about 250 miles due west of Huntingdon, Tennessee, or about 20 days travel by horse and wagon.


As we will see, the original Merritts in Independence County claimed War of 1812 bounty land grants in the 1820s. The catalyst for other Merritts to move from Tennessee to this particular part of Arkansas some 36 years later is unknown. We can only suppose that relatives of the original Merritts sent word back home that the new land was open for business.




Yell County is in the west central part of the state. The county seat is Dardanelle, about 80 miles northwest of Little Rock.


We might be able to make some educated guesses as to why Merritts were in Independence County, but we are at a loss to explain the attraction of Yell County. Regardless, they began to arrive after the Civil War and are documented on marriage certificates and on the 1880 census of Galley Rock Township.


Galley Rock is a corruption of the name Galla Rock, which was the original name of the area, named for a landmark bluff on the Arkansas River (French, “Galets de Rocher”, roughly translated “rock of pebbles.”).  There is an area east of Dardanelle and north of the Arkansas River known as Holla Bend, and the name “Holla” is also a corruption of “Galla”.  Galley Rock Township in Yell County was across the Arkansas River from Galla Rock Township in Pope County, and the Galla Rock Ferry crossed the river between the two sister townships, east of where the Dardanelle bridge is now located, and the Pope County site was a major steamboat landing.


Furthermore, the town now known as Pottsville, about five miles east of Russellville, was a renaming of “Potts Station”, but even that was a renaming of its original name, which was “Galla Station”.  It was a station of the Butterfield Stagecoach Line from Little Rock to Fort Smith.  In those days Kirkbride Potts owned the historic stagecoach station, which took its original name because it lies on Galla Creek (“Pebble” Creek), and in 1897 the town was renamed in his honor. Kirkbride Potts’ complete history is well documented on the Internet. 


Because people spelled things phonetically, the names Galla and Galley were used interchangeably, both unofficially and officially. But in Yell County, the census before 1890 stated “Galley Rock Township” and the census after 1890 stated “Galla Rock Township”. There is no 1890 census for Arkansas.    


An 1895 map of Yell County is in Appendix II.


Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Virginia maps, with counties outlined, are in Appendix III, IV, V, and VI.








The Merritts migrated to North America from England. How they got to England is not verified. Several versions exist, and every version says the Merritts originated in France.


One version of the family origin states that the earliest Merritt family lived in Leicestershire, in the central part of England. Their name is supposedly a reference to the family's place of residence prior to the Norman Conquest of England in 1066. That residence being a place called Marriot in Normandy, France. There is no such place name (of any spelling) on any modern map of Normandy, but that does not mean it did not exist 1000 years ago.


Lynne Turner’s version of this same event is that three Merritt brothers were in the invading army of William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings in 1066, a decisive Norman victory in the Norman invasion of England. Their names were Rudolph, Augustus and William Merritt (Maryet/Maryot). From these three brothers in the county of Kent, the line descended to other locations throughout England.


In another version, researchers documented Jean Mariette, who was married to Jeanne Delatrobe. Their son, Miguel M. Mariette, was born Apr 5, 1667 in Mountaban, Tarn Et Garonne, France, and he married Esther Troube Oct 11, 1699 in Fr. Church, Spitalfields, Middlesex, England. Their four children were born in England and one, James (or Jacques), died in Killingworth, Connecticut, USA. So it could be that the name Merritt has nothing to do with a place in Normandy, but is a corruption of a name like Mariette, and we are descended from people who immigrated from France to England during periods and for reasons both unknown.    


Other Merritts are documented in Somerset, England in the 1600s, Cheshire, England in the late 1700s, and Wiltshire, England, in the early 1700s. Countless North American Merritts are documented simply as “born in England”.


The first Merritt in North America is believed to be Henry Merritt, born about 1590 in Tenterden, Kentshire, England, which ties in nicely with Lynne Turner’s version. Henry, with the Men of Kent, founded Scituate, Massachusetts, around 1626. He died in November, 1652.


There are several Merritt lines in Canada, most originating in Nova Scotia, and several lines also in Massachusetts, presumably because those were the landing points in North America established as the shortest routes from the British Isles. Early Merritts are found farther south in Greenwich, Connecticut; Rye, New York; and then in Virginia, and North and South Carolina. There are at least three lines in Virginia, and one or all of these could have landed in Virginia directly from the British Isles, skipping the northeast altogether. Research is ongoing to tie these Merritts together.


At some point, there was a Merritt migration due west from Massachusetts to Illinois and Indiana and points west, another from Virginia west to Kentucky and on to Missouri, another from North Carolina west to Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and on to California, another from South Carolina west to Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas, and finally one due south to Florida. This last migration resulted in the settlement of Merritt Island, Florida.       








With the exception of a jailor and a couple of wagon makers, our line of Merritts farmed for a living. In fact, Leonard Walker Merritt was the first of our line to leave the farm and take on another occupation, and his children were the first to spend their entire lives off of the farm (with the possible exception of Ruthie Mae). So the first Merritts who ventured west to Arkansas went there to farm. The original attraction to Arkansas to a farmer was very basic: free land.   


In 1836, the state of Arkansas was granted statehood and became the 25th state. Prior to that it was part of what was known as the “Indian Territories”. In preparation for statehood, the territory was surveyed and divided into counties and to each was assigned a county seat, and the city of Little Rock designated as the state’s capital and seat of government.


Prior to the Civil War, there was no draft or conscription, and the United States depended on volunteers to fight the various wars. As an incentive to volunteer, the United States Congress authorized the awarding of free land grants, referred to as “bounty lands”, to all those who volunteered and served to the completion of their enlistments.  The first bounty lands were allotted in the eastern states to veterans of the American Revolution, but as the country matured and the bounty lands were claimed, the allotments moved west.  By 1820, the allotments had reached Arkansas.


The Merritts began arriving in the years 1820 to 1825. Having served dutifully in the War Of 1812, they claimed bounty lands in the central and north central parts of the state.  From the bounty land records at the United States Bureau of Land Management (on the Internet at www.glorecords.blm.gov) we find the images of the actual land records for the Merritt claims.  These claims listed the name, the military service units, and the description of the land tract, including the county.  The listed Merritts are:


      James Merritt, Sherman's Company, 41st Infantry, March 21, 1821, Independence Co 

      Joel Merritt, Vail's Company, 7th Regiment, November 27, 1820, Pulaski Co

      George Merritt, Barker's Corps of Artillery, June 14, 1821, Monroe Co

      Daniel Merritt, 10th Regiment of Infantry, February 27, 1821, Faulkner Co

      John Merritt, Belsch's 35th Regiment, March 3, 1825, Izard Co


The enlistment records for the war of 1812 are still on paper and are not indexed. I have been to the National Archives in Washington, D.C., and after a week I gave up trying to find any of these records, which would give me the place of enlistment and details about their family. Until those records are on the Internet, probably years away, we have to make educated guesses.


Further research of family records mentioning the various military units shows that Joel, George, Daniel, and John all enlisted in Missouri.  It has not been documented that they were related to each other, and it has not been documented that they were related to our Merritts.


James Merritt, however, appears to be the first to have arrived from the east. He was from Virginia. Captain Edmund Sherman's Company was attached to the 5th Regiment of the 41st Virginia Militia. James’ bounty claim was 160 acres of land in Independence County, Arkansas, one mile west of what is now the town of Oil Trough and about ten miles northeast of the town of Pleasant Plains and 12 miles southeast of the town of Batesville.  He received his deed on March 21, 1821.


We should note here that just because bounty lands were claimed does not mean that the claimant lived there. Many lands were sold the day they were deeded and the claimant returned to his home state. James is never found on any census, which is not uncommon, but he is listed on the tax rolls for Independence Co, AR for the years 1835 and 1836, and thus far we have no other James Merritt there, and no record that his land was sold, so we believe he was there.


In the years that followed, the Merritt name began to appear on official documents in the bounty area. Two Merritts appeared in the 1840 Census.


Silas (Spelled “MERRETT” on the census) was in Lawrence County with his wife and young



South Carolinian Holloway W. Merritt was in Izard County, which borders Independence County on the northwest. He and his wife had 10 children. They were in Blue Mountain Township, which later became the town of Mountain View and was annexed to Stone County in 1873. By 1860, Holloway had moved his family to Lawrence County, bordering Independence County on the northeast. Among the children were 25-year-old Orsemus and 24-year-old Lewis, sometimes spelled Louis. On May 1, 1860, Orsemus and Lewis bought land of their own, Orsemus near Holloway and Lewis south of what is now Heber Springs, Arkansas.


In the 1850 and 1860 Independence County census, there was a 33-year-old wagon maker from Tennessee named Lewis Merritt who lived in Batesville in 1850 with his first wife, Elizabeth, then in 1860 with his second wife Louisa, and their 9-year-old-girl daughter Marey (Mary?).


On September 1, 1856, Arkansas land records show that a William Merritt bought fourteen acres of land in Lawrence County. We don’t know where this William came from and we don’t see him again. Holloway had a son named William but he was only 14 years old in 1856.    


At this point, we need to look at some non-Merritt land purchases.


In 1859, Pendleton Carroll Williams and Joseph A. Churchwell purchased land in Independence County.


Then, May 1, 1860, the same day Orsemus and Lewis Merritt bought their land, Pendleton Williams was back for another purchase, along with two more Churchwells, Wiley Churchwell and William Churchwell.  


All the Williams’ and Churchwells were from Huntingdon, Carroll County, Tennessee.


Also on May 1, 1860, Joshua Calvin Merritt, also from Huntingdon, Carroll County, Tennessee, who we will discuss in detail, bought four parcels of land in two sections. The tracts consisted of 124.2 acres in section 1 and 120 acres in section 24. Section 24 was two miles south of section 1 and three miles northwest of the town of Pleasant Plains, in southern Independence County.


Except for Holloway’s family, we can’t officially tie any of the Merritts together. We can only assume that if three Merritts showed up on the same day at the land office to purchase land, they at least knew each other. And they all had to be there because they all signed the deeds. 





We can, however, connect the others. After May 1, 1860, Joshua Merritt, Pendleton Williams, and the three Churchwells all had land holdings within the same seven-square mile area in Independence County, Arkansas (see Appendix I). They were related thusly. Joshua was married to Atlantic (Williams). Pendleton Carroll Williams was Atlantic’s brother, thus Pendleton was Joshua’s brother-in-law. Joseph Churchwell’s wife Polly (Williams) was the sister of Atlantic and Pendleton, thus Joseph was their brother-in-law (and Joshua’s by marriage). Wiley Churchwell and William Churchwell were Joseph and Polly’s sons.


The Williams Family research documents the year 1857 for the Merritt, Churchwell, and Williams move from Tennessee to Independence County. This is in agreement with the census and land purchase dates.


Also, the Williams family researchers document Pendleton Carroll Williams’ wife Martha J. Williams’ maiden name as Merritt. They also document the marriage date as 15 November 1859 -- after the move to Arkansas. We do not at this time know the relationship, if any, to Joshua, or if she traveled with him in 1857 or traveled later. On the 1860 Independence County, AR census, taken in August, Martha J. Williams is 26 years old which would make her birth date about 1834. Joshua’s sister Martha was born about 1834 or 1835, BUT, she is listed on the 1860 Carroll County, TN census, taken in September, as living at home with Sherrod. She can’t be in two places at once, so we have to assume for the time being that Pendleton’s wife Martha is not Joshua’s sister. Note that the census is very often incorrect, but I have not encountered an instance where someone was counted who wasn’t there. Note also that some Williams family researchers list Martha’s birth state as Kentucky, while others, including the 1860 Independence County census, list it as Tennessee. The search continues to determine Martha’s parentage and relationship, if any, to Joshua.     


Coincidentally, or perhaps not, Joshua’s land was only ten miles from James Merritt, whom we discussed earlier. Joshua arrived in Arkansas in 1857. Any relationship to James, who arrived 36 years before him, cannot be established. While James Merritt moved to Arkansas to claim bounty land, Joshua Merritt moved to Arkansas on his own accord. Despite the fact that James was from Virginia and Joshua from Tennessee, Joshua’s family was originally from Virginia, so the fact that Joshua Merritt moved from Tennessee to Arkansas ten miles from James Merritt in the mid-1800s is at least worth noting. 


Appendix I of this document is a map of the part of Independence County of interest with the location of the land holdings marked for reference.


Joshua’s arrival in Arkansas was the first of a wave of Merritts who would travel west out of Tennessee and eventually settle in Yell County.


A second, larger wave, traveled south from Tennessee to Mississippi, then west to southern Arkansas, settling in Baxter, Jefferson, and Ouachita counties. Some of these Merritts then moved farther north to Yell County.


During the same period, 1856-1861, when Joshua and the others were buying land to the north, David T. Merritt (Ouachita Co), Francis M. Merritt (Ouachita Co), James M. Merritt (Bradley Co), James W. Merritt (Ouachita Co), John W. Merritt (Columbia Co), Pinckney P. Merritt (Ouachita Co), and William N. Merritt (Bradley Co), were buying land in the southern part of the state, centered around Ouachita County. This is what we will call the “southern migration”.   


We should note that of the Independence County settlers, Joshua alone moved on. The Williams and the Churchwells remained in Independence County where some of their line carry on today.


Pendleton Carroll Williams is buried in the Palestine Cemetery, Hutchinson, Independence County, Arkansas. Martha’s grave has not been located, and neither have the original Churchwells’ graves.


According to one Williams researcher, Atlantic Williams died in Searcy, White County, Arkansas (south of Independence County), and is buried there. That has not been verified, and her grave has not been located.












































01 (STEPHEN MERRITT -- Tentative, see notes which follow)

            Joseph m. Sarah (Unknown) -- Tentative

            Benjamin -- Tentative

02---->John Sherwood Merritt (see notes which follow)

02---->James b. Mar 1, 1745 Essex Co VA d. 1797 Moore Co NC

      JOHN b. 1770 Bute Co NC d. aft. 1850 Wilson Co TN

            Ezekiel (or Zebedee) b. bef. 1810

            Harold b. bef. 1810

            Elihu (Eli) b. 1810 Wilson Co TN d. aft. 1880

            Mary Polly b. 1813 Wilson Co TN d. bef. 1860

            Cynthia b. May 1815 Wilson Co TN d. aft. 1900

            Malinda Linna b. 1820 Wilson Co TN                   

      MARY ANN “Molly” b. Aug 28, 1772 NC d. aft. 1860 Wilson Co TN

            Willis b. 1795

            Nancy b. 1797

            John b. 1799 d. 1866

            Merritt b. 1803 NC d. 1863 m. Sophia Billingsley

            Emmett Lovet b. 1804 d. 1874

            Mary b. 1807

            Mary Polly b. 1819 d. 1894

            Elihu b. 1813 d. 1892

JAMES Jr. b. abt. 1774 Bute Co NC





      Sarah (Sally) b. abt. 1809 Wilson Co TN

      Elias b. 1811 Wilson Co TN  

LEWIS/LOUIS b. 1775 Bute Co NC d. 1864 Wilson Co TN

NANCY b. Oct 22, 1777 NC d. 1826 Wilson Co TN

      Levin Ragsdale b. 1802 Moore Co NC      

Rhoda Ragsdale b. 1805 NC    

Laura Ragsdale b. 1806 NC     

Silas Merritt Ragsdale b. Jan 2, 1810 NC

Jane Mcgarner Ragsdale b. 1810 Wilson Co TN  

Nancy Ragsdale b Apr 24, 1814 Wilson Co TN     

SARAH (Sally) b. 1779 NC d. 1842 Green Co MO

      Louise Lavina Ragsdale b. 1803 Wilson Co TN    

Luthy Ragsdale b. abt. 1807 Wilson Co TN     

Richard Jordan Ragsdale b. Dec 29, 1807 Wilson Co TN       

Nancy Ragsdale b. Apr 24, 1814 Wilson Co TN  

William Mitchell Ragsdale b. 1820 Wilson Co TN      

PRISCILLA b. 1781 d. aft. 1860 m. Robert Coggin

Levenia Coggin b. 1833 d. abt. 1913

James Coggin b. 1837 d. Sep. 16, 1858

Mark Merritt Coggin b. 1838 d. Sep. 19, 1887

Sarah Coggin b. 1842

Nancy Coggin b. 1847


RHODA b. 1785 Moore Co NC d. aft.1850 Wilson Co TN

OBEDIAH b. 1787 Moore Co NC d. Jan 29, 1863

Elizabeth (Betsy) b. 1825 Wilson County, TN d. 1886 Dallas Co, TX

                  MARY (POLLY) m. Lorenzo James Graves

SILAS b. 1792 Moore Co NC

      Sylvanus P.

      Martha b. 1815

Nathaniel b. 1816 m. Nancy Ragsdale Dec 29, 1835

SYLVANUS b. 1795 NC d. 1862 Wilson Co TN

            Brantley b. 18 Mar 1825 d. 24 Dec 1891 TX

Hicksey b. Jul 22, 1831 TN d. Nov 23, 1898 Fitts Hill, Franklin Co, IL

                  EMELINE b. 1833

                        Manson b. abt. 1855

                        Tennessee b. abt. 1858

                  LEWIS W. b. 1837 m. Mary unknown

                  BURRELL b. 1840

                  MARTHA b. 1843


03--------->MARK b about 1771 Bute Co NC

            John b. abt. 1800 Bute Co NC d. aft. Jul 1870 Carroll Co TN

                  HADLY b. 1820

                  ANDERSON HACKNEY b. 10 Nov 1822 Wilson CO TN,

                        Granville Harrison b. 10 Dec 1850 Carroll Co TN

                              WADE MCCALL b. 28 Dec 1884 Carroll Co TN

                                    William Floyd b. 5 Sep 1918 Atwood, Carroll Co TN

                                          CHARLES GARY b. 9 Oct 1943 St Louis MO

                  ANDREW J. b. 1827

                  LOUISA b. 1832

                  NANCY b. 1834

                  JOHN b. 1836

                  SARAH b. 1838

                  REBECCA b. 1841

            Nancy b. May 14, 1801 NC d. Nov 17, 1863 Wilson Co TN

                  GREEN ASBURY KNIGHT

James W. b. aft. 1801 NC

      ALBERT b. abt. 1828 Wilson Co TN

      PINCKNEY b. abt. 1833 Wilson Co TN

      MARION b. abt. 1836 Wilson Co TN

      DAVID TILDON b. abt. 1838 Wilson Co TN

            Paul Lynch

                  CHARLES P.

                        Richard b. 1953 Ouachita Co AR

      MILAS T. b. abt 1841 Tippah Co MS

      LATTIMON b. abt. 1842 Tippah Co MS

      JOHN T. b. abt. 1845 Tippah Co MS

                        Colonia Ann b. Dec 9, 1848 Tippah Co MS,






Rebecca b. 1807 NC m. Levin Ragsdale b. 1802 NC  

      POLLY A. b abt. 1836 TN

      JOHN C. b. abt. 1839 TN

      SARAH J. b. abt. 1842 TN

      ALBERT b. abt. 1843 TN

      ELIZABETH A. b. abt. 1846 TN

      GEORGE W. b. abt 1848 TN

Elizabeth (or Susan “Suki”) b. 1812 Wilson Co TN

Priscilla b. Aug 25, 1813 Wilson Co TN. d. Apr 13, 1853 Wilson Co TN


04-------------->Sherrod b. abt. 1798 NC d. aft. 1860 Carroll Co TN  

                  RILEY N. b. Jan 1824 TN d. Dec 21, 1917 Wilson Co TN

                        Sherrod H. b. abt. 1848 TN

                                          WILLIAM R. b. abt. 1873 AR

                                          OLA J. b. abt. 1879 AR

                                          HENRIE R. b. abt. 1880 AR

                                          NAPOLEON (POLE) b. Sep 1, 1883 AR d. Jul 13, 1927 AR

                        John W. b. abt. 1851 TN

                        Julia A. b. abt. 1850 TN

                        Joseph C. b. abt. 1857 TN

                        Sarah E. b. abt. 1859 TN

                        Nancy F. b. abt. 1861 TN

                        Madison M. b. abt. 1863 TN

                        Cora E. b. abt. 1871 TN

                  ELMIRA CASSIDANY b. Mar 1829 TN

                  JINSEY C. b. abt. 1832 TN d. 1881  

                  MARY J. b. abt. 1833 TN            

                  MARTHA b. abt. 1835 TN   

                  SARAH E. b. Mar 1840 TN d. aft Jan 1910  

                  JAMES HENRY b. abt. 1841 TN

                  WILLIAM b. 1844 TN     


05------------------>JOSHUA CALVIN b. 1826, Carroll Co TN d. abt. 1892 Yell Co AR

                        William Franklin b. Dec 18, 1854 Carroll Co TN

                              ALFRED LUTHER b. May 16, 1878 Caruthersville MO

                                    Royce Alfred b 3/22/1908 Greenbrier AR (Faulkner CO)

                                          WILLIAM PRESTON b 9/12/1934 in Greenbrier AR

                              VOILAR b. Oct 12, 1880 Greenbrier AR

                              ROXEVA A. b. Jan 17, 1883 Greenbrier AR

                              MATTIE F. b. Jan 23, 1885 Greenbrier AR

                              OSCAR C. b. Mar 19, 1887 Greenbrier AR

                              WILLIAM ARTHUR b. Feb 15, 1891 Greenbrier AR

                              SARAH ELZIE b. Mar 15, 1892 Greenbrier AR

                              JOHN C. b. Jun 29, 1894 Greenbrier AR

                              KATIE MYRTLE b. Jul 9, 1897 Greenbrier AR

Needham Carroll b. 1857 AR

Francis M. b. 1868 AR





06---------------------->Walker S. Merritt b. February 24, 1859 d. Feb 22, 1899

                              SOPHIA b. Feb 1886 Yell Co AR

                              WILLIAM LEE b. Feb 26, 1887 d. Jun 1974 Yell Co AR

                                    Thelma b. Jul 13, 1908 d. Jul 24, 1923

                                    Henry b. Dec 26, 1913 d. Mar 5, 1998 Yell Co AR

                              ATHAN B. b. May 9, 1889 d. Dec 1977 Somerset CA

                                    Lamar W. b. Dec 9, 1917

                                    Elaine b. 1919, Perry Co AR

                              HENRY CALVIN b. Mar 5, 1891 d. Nov 1964 Yell Co AR

                                    Nathan Denver b. 1912 Yell Co AR

                                    Dana b. 1919 Yell Co AR

                                    Elizabeth b. 1921 Yell Co AR

                                    Delma Columbus b. abt. 1924 Yell Co AR

                                    Harold Christian b. 1933 Yell Co AR

                              JULIA A. b. Nov 1892     

                              RUTH J. b. abt. 1893

                                    Ocia b. abt. 1910

                                    Julia b. abt. 1912

                                    Mamey b. abt. 1913

                                    Dorothy I. b. abt. 1915

                              BERTHA M. b. abt. 1901

                                    Sybil J. b. abt 1912    

                                    Alvin Hershel. b. abt. 1918

                                    Flora L. b. abt. 1925


07--------------------------->LEONARD WALKER

                                    Dyton Herbert

                                          HERBERT DYTON

                                    Ruthie Mae

                                    Ruby Arbelle













                                                Raymond Phillip  

                                                      RAYMOND LEROY

                                                      LINDA CAROLYN

                                                Michele Ann






                                    Vivian Wilma

                                          LARRY LEROY

                                                Diana Lynn

                                                      Dustin Mitchell Bjorneboe

                                                      Dalton Lee Bjorneboe

                                                Lori Ann

                                                      Ciera Nicole Denigris

                                                      Kiley Paige Denigris


                                                Ronda Lee

                                          LINDA CAROL

                                                James Edward  

                                    Earvin Leonard


                                          DONNA FAYE

                                    Alva Cleveland

                                    Eddie Kenneth 

                                          PAMELA JEANNE

                                                Jesse Aric

                                                Samuel Jasper

                                          KENNETH EUGENE

                                                Christopher E.

                                    Harold Lee

                                    Bobby Hanes

                                          BOBBY WAYNE

                                                Paul Wayne

                                                      Zachary Wayne

                                                Tara Lottie

                                                Stella Amy Elizabeth

                                          DENNIS LEE

                                                Aaron Gregory

                                                Corey Wayne  

                                    Leonard Levane





















Several Merritt researchers list Stephen Merritt as James’ father. This relationship is not yet documented. Several researchers are attempting to prove or disprove this link. Pending the results of further research, this name is tentative.


One researcher lists Stephen as “from Scotland”. Note that this only means he arrived from Scotland and does not mean he was Scottish, which he most likely was not. In the 1600s and 1700s, if one wanted to come to the colonies, one booked fare wherever it was available. There were two factors to consider in booking fares on ships to America, vacancies and cost. Ships weren’t sailing every day, and they weren’t necessarily sailing from close to home, and they booked up quickly. If a vacancy was aboard a ship leaving from Scotland, or if cost was paramount and the cheapest fare was aboard a Scottish vessel, then one traveled overland to Scotland.          


Another researcher lists Stephen as migrating from the Isle of Wight in the Mid-1700s, disembarking at New York, and eventually settling in North Carolina. Note that this does not necessarily conflict with the first researcher’s data. Some researchers might interpret “born on the Isle of Wight” as “embarking from the Isle of Wight” which might not be true. Stephen would have had to travel the length of England to embark in Scotland, though he could have already been in the North of England for any reason.


Many Merritts are documented as “from Scotland” or “from Ireland”, but the name Merritt is neither Scottish nor Irish, nor are any of its variations. There is no Merritt tartan.


Finally, another researcher adds to Stephen’s line from James thusly.


            Jacob b. abt. 1630 Kent, England 

                  Rone b. Apr 12, 1650 Kent, England

                        Edward b. Dec 11, 1685 possibly Dover, England

                              Stephen b. Jan 17, 1719 NY

                                    James b. Mar 1, 1745 VA


and it appears he can document everything except the Stephen-James link. Notice that this Stephen did not immigrate but was born in New York.


It would be nice to make a positive connection between James and Stephen and add any of these versions to our Descendancy Tree. Unfortunately, the corroborating data is not there at this time. But we will keep looking. 















There is a descendancy line that is tentatively placed on the Descendancy Tree at the same level as James. It is the line of John Sherwood Merritt. This might change. The line is as follows:


      John Sherwood Merritt b. 4 Sep 1780 VA d. 30 Sep 1866 Cherokee CO TX

m. Sarah (last name unknown) b. 4 Feb 1785 GA d. 13 Apr 1833

Hiram C. b. 20 Sep 1803 York SC d. 5 Feb 1881 Cherokee TX

      m. 14 Dec 1828 Morgan CO GA Susannah Prather b. 1802 d. 1865

Eli b. 7 Oct 1805 York SC d. 18 May 1874 Calhoun/Grenada MS

James b. 3 Aug 1807 York SC d. Nov 1883 Nevada

Miles Matison b. 8 Apr 1809 York SC d. 23 Nov 1865 Claiborne Parish LA

      m. 12 Sep 1833 Henry CO GA Elizabeth Tines Adkins

b. 4 Dec 1812 York SC

d. 5 Jun 1880 Claiborne Parish LA

she is buried in Adkins Cemetery, Claiborne Parish LA

Dorcus M. b. 5 May 1811 York SC d. aft. 1860

      m. 7 May 1833 Henry Co GA John Spears b. unknown d. bef. 1860 LA

Caroline D. b. 15 May 1813 d. 16 Feb 1844 GA

Barney T b. 16 May 1815

Jerome F b. 11 Jun 1817 GA d. bet 1870-1880 Desoto/Claiborne Parish LA

      m. 24 May 1853 DeSota Parish LA Elizabeth Cato

Lawson Taylor b. 13 Oct 1819 GA d. 27 Dec 1864 Winn Parish LA

      m 18 Mar 1858 Mary Hinton

Sherwood Randolph b. 3 May 1822 Morgan Co GA d. 17 Aug 1918 TX

      m. 13 Jan 1848 Mobile AL Sarah Skinner b. 1825 d. 1852 Ft. Smith AR

      m. 17 Jul 1856 Claiborne Parish LA Keziah Jane Watson

            b. 27 Feb 1827 AL

d. 5 Jul 1913 Kerrville TX

                  she is buried in Hunt-Japonica Cemetery, Hunt TX

Sarah Ann b. 26 Dec 1824 d. 17 Mar 1883

Elizabeth J. b. 8 May 1827 d. Walker Co GA

m. Samuel Hill


This line was documented by Shelly Hughes (wildwoods1951@yahoo.com) and has been connected through her DNA to James. The exact connection, however, is unknown. Based upon his birth date of 1780, he could be a son, but the children of James and Nancy are well documented, and John Sherwood is not one of them. (James’ son John was born in 1770.)


Either the connection is previous to James or John Sherwood is James’ nephew. James’ siblings are unknown, and we do not know John Sherwood’s parentage.


We will continue searching this line, but in the meantime we will record it here because it is a branch of our family tree, and one day we will document a connection.


The DNA comparisons are posted on the Internet at








We are positively connected to James through DNA evidence. Charles Gary Merritt of St. Louis, Missouri has documentation (Family Bibles, wills, etc.) that links him all the way to James. William Preston Merritt of Greenbrier, Arkansas, compared his DNA to Charles Gary’s, and it is a match. Both of these lines are on the Descendancy Tree above.  


The DNA comparisons are posted on the Internet at




James was born in Essex County, Virginia, and he might have been the first American born of our line, his father most likely having immigrated to Virginia from the British Isles.


In his early twenties, James began to move south, into North Carolina. He married Nancy Ann Coggins about 1768 in Chatham, North Carolina (just across the border from Virginia).


Nancy Ann Coggins was born about 1748 or 1749 in Virginia.


“James was a soldier in the Revolutionary War. He was a farmer in the Cumberland area

when British soldiers invaded. He fought in the battle of King's Mountain in South Carolina

October 7, 1780, where the British (or more accurately, British supporters) were defeated and

the tide of the Revolution changed in the American’s favor.” (Source: The Bly Genealogy,

David Lewis Ramage)


James and Nancy’s first children, the ones born before James entered the Revolutionary War, were born in Bute County, North Carolina, which bordered Virginia.  


After the war, in 1788 or 1789, they settled in Moore County, where their last three children were born.


James died in Moore County in 1797.


Many of James and Nancy’s children were a part of the post-Revolutionary war migration westward. After James’ death, Nancy joined them. She died in April 1850 in Wilson Co, Tennessee. She died from a cold at the age of 101 years. She was living with her son, Lewis, and her daughter, Rhoda, when she died. Her date of death was provided by Lewis. Nancy is buried in the Louis Merritt Cemetery, Wilson Co, TN. (Source: Al Ragsdale, Birmingham, AL).
















The following is a transcript of a handwritten copy of the Will of James Merritt. It was written March 6, 1797, and executed in August 1797.






In the year of our Lord 1797, March 6th.


Item: To my loving wife Ann Merrett I leave one hundred acres of land with the houses and improvements and at her death to be divided between my dear sons Sylvanus, Obediah and Silas.


Item: To my loving children John, Mark, Molly, James, Lewis, Nancy, Sally, Priscilla, and Roda, I bequeath the remaining three hundred and thirty acres to be equally divided or sold and the money equally divided between them.


Item: To my loving wife Ann Merrett I lend all my stock of horses, hogs, and cattle with my household furniture and plantation utensils during her widowhood or life and then to be divided between all my children equally except my son John Merrett.


This is my last will and testament and I commend my soul to God from whence it came.


(Signed) James Merritt


Witnesses Present:


Dan Ragsdale and John Ragsdale


Moore County, August Term, 1797


The above will was duly proved in open court by the oaths of Dan Ragsdale and John Ragsdale and ordered to be recorded.



(Moore County, N.C. Wills and County Court Minutes - Book A Page 44/194)


We do not know if the misspellings came from James, the transcriber (who recorded the will) if there was one, or the translator.  












JOHN married Betsy Arundel (or Runnels or Reynolds) after 1800 Moore Co NC.


JOHN is found in the 1840 Wilson Co TN census living next door to LEWIS. Though names of other household members are not given, according to the ages we can assume that Betsy is with him.


JOHN is found in the 1850 Wilson Co TN census at the age of 80 living with his daughters Cynthia and Linna, spelled “Lynna” on this census, and two younger children, 14-year-old John and 6-year-old Fanny.


We can assume that Betsy died sometime after 1840.


PRISCILLA’S (James and Nancy’s daughter) husband Robert Coggin is listed by the Coggin family as born 1807 and died 1861 in GA.


MARY ANN has the nickname “Molly”, sometimes spelled “Mollie”. She married Moses Caraway about 1793. Moses Caraway/Carraway born Nov 11, 1772 Dobbs Co NC died either 1857 (Source:  The Bly Genealogy, David Lewis Ramage) or 1852 (Source: Caraway/Carraway family history) Wilson Co TN and is buried in Lewis Merritt Cemetery, as is his mother-in-law, Nancy Ann Coggins. (Source: Bly/Caraway as previous).


The 1860 census for Wilson Co, TN shows Mary, wife of Moses, 88 years, living with their son Elihu. This would indicate Moses had died.


The following is from the records of Mrs. Thelma Landrum, November 2000:


      Moses and Mary are buried in the Lewis Merritt Family Cemetery located on the Homer

      Hancock farm on Sinking Creek, off Chicken Road, one mile east of Baird's Mill. Their

      graves are unmarked, as are all the others. This cemetery has been abandoned and is no

longer in use, but is still intact.


      The information on the cemetery was given to Mrs. Thelma Landrum by Mr. Dixon L.

      Merritt, now deceased, who was a descendant of one of Mary Merritt Caraway's brothers and

      was a lifetime resident of Wilson Co, and who was familiar with the Caraways of Tennessee.


JAMES Jr. married Mary Polly Coggins date unknown.


JAMES Jr. is listed by one researcher as born 1778, so these dates are in dispute. Also in dispute is whether he was actually a “Junior”.


SYLVANUS married Priscilla Bennett 19 Aug 1823, Wilson Co TN.


SYLVANUS’ daughter Hicksey married George Briant (Bryant?) Apr 8, 1855 Wilson Co TN.


SYLVANUS’ son Brantley married Melvina Grissom date unknown.


SYLVANUS’ daughter Emeline married John Bryant Mar 7, 1852 Wilson Co TN.



LEWIS is the spelling on all family records. Sometimes on the census he is found as “LOUIS”.


LEWIS is found on the 1840 Wilson Co TN census with SYLVANUS, incorrectly listed as “Sylvester”, living next door on one side and JOHN on the other.


LEWIS is found on the 1850 Wilson Co TN census, living with RHODA, who never married. Note that it has been documented that their mother Nancy was also living with them, but she died in April before the census was taken in October. They live next door to Green B. Merritt (whose relationship, if any, has not been established) on one side and SYLVANUS on the other and two doors down from OBEDIAH and Priscilla.


LEWIS, this time spelled “LOUIS”, is found in the 1860 Wilson Co TN census at the age of 84 living alone, still next door to SYLVANUS and Priscilla. His occupation is “Farmer”, the value of his real estate is 2262, and the value of his personal estate is 2525, triple that of SYLVANUS. The reason for his high personal estate value is this: according to the 1860 slave schedule, LEWIS owns two slaves, a 70-year-old female and a 56-year-old male.  


We can assume that RHODA died sometime after 1850.


SYLVANUS and Priscilla, in the same 1860 Wilson Co TN census, have their daughter Emeline and two of her children living with them. Emeline’s husband, John Bryant, is not there. In that census, their last names are spelled “Bryan”.


SYLVANUS and Priscilla’s son LEWIS lives next door with his wife Mary, on the other side from Sylvanus’ brother LEWIS.


Both NANCY and SARAH married a Daniel Ragsdale.


NANCY’s husband Daniel Ragsdale was the son of John Ragsdale and Ann May and was born 1786 Moore Co NC and died 1814 Wilson Co TN. They were married about 1790 Moore Co NC.


Among NANCY and Daniel Ragsdale’s Children was Levin Ragsdale, who later married

NANCY’s niece, Rebecca, daughter of NANCY’s brother MARK.  


SARAH’s husband Daniel Ragsdale was the son of John R. Ragsdale and Rebecca Mitchell and was born Mar 15, 1777 Moore Co NC and died Oct 1, 1820 Wilson Co TN. They were married Oct 27, 1803 Moore Co NC. 


SARAH is listed by one researcher as born 1780 died 1852, so these dates are in dispute.


SARAH was a daughter and daughter-in-law of Revolutionary War soldiers. Sarah's father, James Merritt, and her father-in-law, John Richard Ragsdale, were neighbors when the British invaded the Cumberland area, and they served together at King's Mountain in South Carolina. Later, both families moved to Tennessee. (Source: The Bly Genealogy, David Lewis Ramage).






OBEDIAH’s lineage is a mess. He married Priscilla Thompson Clemmons Sep 13, 1813. Priscilla was his first cousin, the daughter of his mother’s sister, Martha. Follow this (Source: Elaine Clemons): 


OBEDIAH’s aunt Martha married Samuel T. Clemmons.

            Among their daughters was Priscilla, whom OBEDIAH married.

            Among their sons was Ethelred Clemmons.

                  Among Ethelred’s sons was James Clemmons. James Clemmons married Nancy

                  Castleman, who died in March, 1850, leaving him with six children under the age of

                  ten. He needed a wife, bad.




      OBEDIAH’s daughter, BETSY, was about 25 and unmarried. She needed a husband, bad. So

      in August, 1850, barely five months after the death of Nancy Castleman, she married James

      Clemmons. One of the things they had in common was their great-grandfather, the father of

      Martha and Nancy Ann Coggins.   James and BETSY then had five children of their own.


When James Clemmons died about 1886, BETSY married George Pollard. (Source: Elaine Clemons)


SILAS married Nancy Edwards date unknown.


MARK and his family will be discussed in detail.






























Mark is a mystery. We know little about him. Mark is also called Marcus and Markus on several family trees. Mark could be a nickname.


Mark married back into the Coggins clan in 1797 in North Carolina. Sarah (Sally) Coggin, the daughter of James Coggin (mother’s name unknown) was born about 1777 in Isle Of Wight Co, Virginia. She and Mark were third cousins, since Mark’s mother was Nancy Coggin and her line can be traced directly to Sarah.  


Both Mark and Sarah seem to have disappeared after 1832. We know Sarah moved from North Carolina to Wilson County Tennessee, but we do not know if Mark was with her.  


Most of the information about Mark comes from the Coggin/Coggins family research.








































JOHN married Nancy Bond date unknown.


JOHN’s son Anderson Hackney married Mary Jarrett Jun 10, 1847 Carroll Co TN.


JAMES W. married Sarah (Sallie) Farrington 1827 Wilson Co TN. Farrington is also spelled Ferrington in some records.


JAMES W. and Sarah are found in 1850 in Tippah Co MS. Some researchers spell the name of their daughter Clona. Some spell it Cleona. On the 1850 Tippah Co MS census, it is “Colonia Ann”. A general census search turns up no Clona anywhere, but many Colonias.


      Colonia Ann married James H. Lusby 1865 Ouachita Co AR.


Note that relatives of JAMES W. and Sarah are part of the Merritt southern Arkansas migration that traveled from Tennessee through Mississippi to southern Arkansas and centered mostly in Ouachita Co.   


NANCY married James Knight Feb 19, 1822 Wilson Co TN (Source: Tom Knight).


NANCY’s son Green Asbury Knight born Feb 25, 1825 Wilson Co TN died after 1886 Howell Co MO married Reatha Anne Keelin date unknown.


ELIZABETH married John Timms date unknown.


PRISCILLA married Robert Coggin date unknown.


SHERROD and his family will be discussed in detail.

























SHERROD was born in North Carolina and died in Carroll Co, in western Tennessee, which was the launching site for many of the Arkansas Merritts.


He married Tabitha Edwards Jun 19, 1821 in Wilson Co TN. The Lynne Turner book and the Tennessee archives document the marriage.


SHERROD’s 1840 Carroll County, TN census (his name is spelled “Sherod Merit”) shows only:


      Head Of Family        Males 10-15 15-20 40-50        Females under 5 5-10 10-15 15-20 30-40

      -----------------------             ------   ------  ------                      --------  ------  ------  ------  -------                           

      Sherod Merit                           1          1        1                              2         2        2       1         1   


SHERROD’s brother John was also in Carroll County and is listed on the 1840, 1850, and 1860 censuses.


Here is SHERROD’s 1850 Huntingdon, Carroll County, TN, census entry, taken in September. In this census, his name is spelled “SHEROD MERRETT”. 


      Dwelling   Family       Name               Age      Sex      Occupation            Place of Birth

      -----------   --------       -----------------      -----     -----     ---------------         ----------------

      215            215            Sherod             51        M                                       NC

                                          Tabitha            47        F                                        NC

                                          Cassidany        21        F                                        TN      

                                          Jinsey C.          18        F                                        TN

                                          Mary S.           16        F                                        TN      

                                          Martha             14        F                                        TN

                                          Sarah E.           11        F                                        TN

                                          James H.          7          M                                       TN

                                          William R.      6          M                                       TN


The value of Sherrod’s estate is 150 dollars. No occupations are listed.


Riley and Joshua are missing on this and the 1860 census which follows. Each has his own household.


According to the U. S. Mortality Schedule, 1850-1880 for Carroll Co TN, Tabitha Merritt died a month after the census in October, 1860, from the “Use of opium”.


It is easy to assume that “Jinsey” should be “Linsey”, and some researchers have assumed that. However, if a comparison is made between the census taker’s “L” and “J”, then it is certainly a “J”. That alone is not enough, but ten years later, in the 1860 census which follows, another census taker, although spelling the “Jincyle”, also used a “J”. Also, this could be a misspelling of the name “Jensie”, which was a popular girl’s name at the time, and is still found in the southern U. S. today. It could also be a phonetic misrepresentation of “Jane C.”, and in fact some researchers list her only as “Jane”, while others list her as “Jensey (Jane)”.  



“Cassidany” is most likely a phonetic misspelling of something else. Whether it is her first or middle name is unknown, but she went by the name “Elmira” and she married an Abbett. In 1880 she is widowed and living in Benton Co TN with her daughter and son. In 1900 she is in Carroll Co TN sharing a house with Riley. Since she went by the name Elmira, I listed that as her first name on the Descendancy Tree, though it may have been her middle name.


Here is Sherrod’s 1860 Huntingdon, Carroll County, TN, census entry, taken in October. In this census, his last name is spelled “MERRETT”.


      Dwelling   Family       Name               Age      Sex      Occupation            Place of Birth

      -----------   --------       -----------------      -----     -----     ---------------         ----------------

      1412          1392          Sherrod           61        M         Jailor                     NC

                                          Jincyle             28        F                                        TN

                                          Mary J.            27        F                                        TN      

                                          Martha             25        F                                        TN

                                          Sarah               21        F                                        TN

                                          Henry              19        M         Day Labor             TN

                                          William           16        M         Day Labor             TN


The value of Sherrod’s personal estate is listed as 300 dollars. Everyone in the household can read and write.


There are four girls over the age of 20 still living at home. This was highly unusual in 1860.


Note that Sherrod was the Carroll County jailor.  Here is a transcription from the “Carroll Patriot” newspaper, Volume 1, Number 48, dated January 20, 1859.


      “Committed to the jail of Carroll County on Oct. 20, a negro boy who says his name is

      Stephen that he belongs to JAMES LEE, escaped from Lee at Memphis while moving from

      North Carolina to Arkansas.

Owner requested to come forward.

Posted by SHERROD MERRITT, jailor”


Also, in the book “Acts Of The State Of Tennessee, Volume 1865-66”, Chapter XXXIX, Page 162, is found the following:


      “AN ACT for the relief of Sherrod Merritt, Jailor of Carroll County.

                  Section 1.  Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Tennessee,

That the Treasurer of the State, be, and he is hereby authorized and instructed

to pay Sherrod Merritt seven hundred and seventeen dollars, for which the

Comptroller shall issue his warrant to said Sherrod Merritt; and that this act

shall take effect from and after its passage.

                                                      WILLIAM KEISKELL

                                          Speaker of the House of Representatives

                                                      JOSHUA B. FRIERSON

                                          Speaker of the Senate


Passed February 2, 1866”






Sherrod’s son Riley, Joshua Calvin’s brother, remained in Tennessee until his death in 1917, but his sons Sherrod H. and John W. moved to Yell County, Arkansas with Joshua, so we should know more about this family.


Riley married Sarah J. Rumley b. about 1831 d. 1 Dec 1888. They married 23 Mar 1847 in Wilson Co, TN. Sarah’s birth state on the 1860 census is TN, but on the 1880 census it is KY. 


Here is Riley’s 1860 Huntingdon, Carroll County, TN, census entry, taken in October.


      Dwelling   Family       Name               Age      Sex      Occupation            Place of Birth

      -----------   --------       -----------------      -----     -----     ---------------         ----------------

      1381          1361          Riley               35        M         Tenant                   TN

                                          Sarah J            29        F                                        TN

                                          Sherrod H.       12        M                                       TN      

                                          John W.           9          M                                       TN

                                          Julia A.            5          F                                        TN

                                          Joseph C.         3          M                                       TN

                                          Sarah E.           1          F                                        TN


The value of Riley’s personal estate is listed as 150 dollars.


“Tenant”, short for “tenant farmer”, is the census designation for what we know as a “share cropper”.   


Joseph C. is significant. His full name is Joseph Calvin. On the 1900 Carroll County census he is listed as Calvin J. Regarding Joshua C. Merritt, we have only one reference that his middle name is Calvin because on all official records he is simply “Joshua C.”. With Joseph, we at least know that others in the family carried the name.


Here is Riley’s 1880 Huntingdon, Carroll County, TN, census entry, taken in June. A lazy census taker used initials only. This is not all bad. Now we know Riley’s middle initial.


      Dwelling   Family       Name               Age      Sex      Occupation            Place of Birth

      -----------   --------       -----------------      -----     -----     ---------------         ----------------

      125            125            R. N.                56        M         Farmer                   TN

                                          S. J.                 48        F          House Keeper       KY

                                          J. C.                 28        M         Farmer                   TN

                                          S. E.                21        F          At Home                TN

                                          N. F.                19        F          At Home                TN

                                          M. M.              17        M         At Home                TN

                                          C. E.                9          F          At Home                TN


Riley’s Occupation is now “Farmer”, which indicates land ownership. Joseph is also a “Farmer”. Either could be erroneous, because we already know this census taker is not very diligent. 


Julia is missing, whereabouts unknown.




There are three new children since the 1860 census, daughter N.F., son M. M., and daughter C. E. From the 1870 census we know that “N. F.” is Nancy and “M. M.” is Madison. We also know that “C.E.” is Cora because in 1910 Riley is living in Carroll Co TN with Cora, her husband Boyd Wilson, and their two children. Sadly, on this census there is one missing child.  On the 1870 census is James R., who should be 12 years old in 1880.


Note from the Carroll County Democrat.


      “Carroll County Democrat Huntingdon, Tennessee

Friday, December 7, 1888 Vol. I, No. 47

MRS. MERRITT, wife of RILEY MERRITT who lives near town, died last Saturday. She was fifty odd years old and quite an estimable lady.”


Sherrod H. and John W. are in Yell County, Arkansas, and Sherrod will be discussed in detail.








































Sherrod H. appears on the June 1880 Galley Rock Township, Yell County, census as “Sheridan H. Merritt”, with his brother living with him. Here is the entry:


      Dwelling   Family  Name              Age      Sex    Occupation        Place of Birth      Relationship

      -----------   -------- -----------------     -----     -----   ---------------           ----------------  ---------------

      126            137      Sheridan H.    32        M       Farmer                     TN

                                     Sarah A          38        F        Keeping House        TN             Wife

                                     John W.         27        M       Farm Laborer          TN             Brother

                                     William R.     7          M                                       AR             Son

                                     Ola J.              2          F                                        AR             Daughter

                                     Henrie R.        4 Mo    F                                        AR             Daughter


This entry is listed again later to show his proximity to the other Merritts.


Sherrod H. married Sarah A. McMullen in Yell Co AR, Sept 11, 1870.


Sherrod’s brother, John W., is accounted for, but we do not find him anywhere after this census.


His daughter Henrie is listed by various researchers as Henrie O., Henrie P., Henrie R., and others. Due to the ornate script used by the census taker, the middle initial is difficult to decipher. On the 1900 Galley Rock, Yell County census it is an unmistakable “R”, so I put that here.


Sherrod H. Merritt Later appears on the 1900 Galley Rock Township, Yell Co AR, census as “Shird H. Merritt”, on the 1910 Galla Rock Township census as “Sherod Merritt”, and on the 1920 Galla Rock Township census as “Sherd Merritt”. We can imagine the census taker asking Sherrod his name, and we can imagine him answering in his best Arkansas accent, “Shird”.


Here is the May, 1900 census entry:


      Dwelling   Family  Name              Age      Sex    Occupation        Place of Birth      Relationship

      -----------   -------- -----------------     -----     -----   ---------------           ----------------  ---------------

      18                  18    Shird H.          52        M       Farmer                     TN

                                     Sarah A          57        F        Keeping House        TN             Wife

                                     William R.     27        M       Farm Laborer          AR             Son

                                     Ola J.              21        F                                        AR             Daughter

                                     Henry R.         20        F                                        AR             Daughter

                                     Napoleon        15        M       Farm Laborer          AR             Son


Ola married I. A. Booth, or Boothe, Jr. in Yell Co AR, Dec 16, 1900.


The census taker first decided Henrie was a male and entered an “M” for sex and wrote “Son” for relationship, then decided “he” must be a “she” and wrote an “F” over the “M”, and “Daughter” over the “Son”, but the name is incorrectly left with the masculine spelling.   


Note the addition of Napoleon. His nickname was “Pole” and he is listed on the 1910 and 1920 Galla Rock, Yell Co AR censuses as “Pole Merritt”.  Napoleon was born 1 Sep 1883 and died 13 Jul 1927. Napoleon married Ruth Bullard abt. 1912. Napoleon is buried in Petillo Hill Cemetery. The census gives his birth year as 1884, but his tombstone states 1883. After his death, Ruth married Lee Robert Sexton about 1929.     

In the April, 1910 Census Sherrod, Sarah, and William (who apparently never married) are still at home.


In the January, 1920 Census Sarah has died and Sherrod has remarried. William, called “Billie” on this census, is still at home. Here is the entry.


      Dwelling   Family  Name              Age      Sex    Occupation        Place of Birth      Relationship

      -----------   -------- -----------------     -----     -----   ---------------           ----------------  ---------------

      36                  36    Sherd              72        M       Farmer                     TN

                                     Della              45        F        Home                       MO            Wife

                                     Billie              47        M       Farm Laborer          AR             Son

                                     Bonnie King   5         F                                        AR             Stepdaughter


To date I have not found the marriage record for Sherrod Merritt and Della King, nor have I found Della prior to this census.    


Sherrod H. Merritt has not been found on the 1930 census, but he died April 29, 1931 in Yell County. He is listed on the Arkansas death index as “Sherrod W.”, probably because the transcriber mistook an ornate “H” for a “W”. At the time of his death, Sherrod H. Merritt was the oldest Justice of the Peace in Yell County.


































Joshua Calvin Merritt was born in 1826 in Carroll County, Tennessee. William P. Merritt has found proof of his birth there. He died in 1892. His gravesite is unknown.


Here is Joshua’s 1860 Pleasant Plains, Independence Co AR census entry, taken in August.


      Dwelling   Family       Name               Age      Sex      Occupation            Place of Birth

      -----------   --------       -----------------      -----     -----     ---------------         ----------------

      1684          1673          Joshua C.         35        M         Farmer                   TN

                                          Atlantic           36        F                                        SC

                                          William F.       5          M                                       TN      

                                          Carroll N.        3          M                                       AR

                                          Columbus S.    3/12     M                                       AR


They live, by the way, between Pendleton C. Williams who is at dwelling 1683, and William P. Churchwell who is at dwelling 1685.


The value of Joshua’s real estate is stated to be 400 dollars ($9,200 in 2007 dollars) and the value of his personal estate is 150 dollars ($3,400).


Joshua and Atlantic married Apr 4, 1849, Carroll Co TN.    


Atlantic Williams born about 1824 in South Carolina.


Carroll N. was most likely named after Atlantic Williams’ brother Pendleton Carroll Williams, previously described.


This census is in error. Columbus S. should be Walker S., even though the age, listed as 3/12 or 3 months, is wrong (reference follows). Walker S. was born February 24, 1859, as stated on his tombstone, and was one year old at the time of this census.


NOTE: It is remotely possible that Walker S. is simply missing on this census and Columbus S. is a child who later died, but no such child is documented by the Williams’ or any other source. But the Williams’ knew Walker intimately, as you shall read. It is more likely that the census is incorrect.  


Elizabeth Dryer Humphrey (see Sources) initially provided Joshua’s middle name. In her family papers, Joshua Merritt is known as Calvin Merritt and Ms. Humphrey was unaware of his first name until we exchanged information. Since then, Joshua’s middle name has been found also in his application for Civil War disability pension.


Ms. Humphrey’s papers also indicate the following:


They knew William F. Merritt as Bill Merritt.

Columbus S. is Walker. They knew him as Walker, Jr.

The “N” in Carroll N. is “Needham”. They knew him as Needham Carroll Merritt.

      Atlantic Williams possibly had a twin named Pacifica.

      They also provide the date, 1857, for the move to Arkansas.



Obviously, Walker was not a Junior. Atlantic had a brother named Walker. Walker S. (could the “S” have been “Sherrod”?) was no doubt named after him and thus the nickname “Junior”.


Joshua served in the Civil War. He entered service on January 1, 1864 and served in the 4th Arkansas Mounted Infantry of the Union Army. He worked as a nurse in the hospital in Batesville. He served only a short time before, on April 1, 1864, he had a stroke which paralyzed his right side. He was treated in the same hospital where he worked. He was discharged July 12, 1864 for having “disease of the head” at De Vall’s Bluff, AR. After being discharged, he tried to return to his farm in Independence County, but since he had served in the Union Army his life was threatened by southern sympathizers, forcing him to leave. He abandoned his home and returned to Carroll County, Tennessee.


Joshua’s Civil War service is detailed separately in his Application for Pension.


We do not know Atlantic Williams Merritt’s date of death. The Williams researchers show that she lived in Searcy, Arkansas, and might have died there. That makes sense. Since her husband was serving in the Union Army southern sympathizers may have forced her to leave the farm in Independence County ad move to a larger town where she was unknown. Whether she died before or after Joshua returned to Carroll County is unknown. Regardless, when she died Joshua was left with three small children and was disabled and could not work.


By 1866 Joshua was in Carroll County, Tennessee, and on April 28, 1866, he married Nancy C. Merritt, a widow whom he probably knew or was related to by marriage (source: Karen Merritt in Carroll County Tennessee). Nancy was quite a lady, because she married him knowing he was disabled and could not work, and that she would have to care for both his children and him.


Sometime after their marriage the family moved first to Hot Springs, Arkansas, and then by 1880 they were in Yell County, Arkansas.


There is no paper trail to tell us the route the family took to get from Carroll County, Tennessee, to Hot Springs, Arkansas, to Yell County, but there are bits and pieces of undocumented oral evidence indicating that Joshua may have traveled through Mississippi. His son, Walker S. Merritt, detailed below, married Martha Alverson (who was from Alabama but already in Yell County in 1880). Among Walker S. Merritt’s children were Athan, Ruth (Robertson), Henry, and Lee. On the 1920 census, Ruth stated that her father was from Arkansas and her mother from Alabama, but Athan, Henry and Lee all stated that both their father and mother were from Mississippi. One possible explanation for this is that the boys heard stories of their passing though Mississippi on the way to Yell County. For years, I thought my mother’s family came from Oklahoma (they came from Georgia) because I heard many stories from the family about life and times in Oklahoma, where they actually lived only briefly.


This Mississippi connection is speculation, but we cannot discount it, because such speculation often leads to documentation. We know other members of our line went through Mississippi. For example, James W. Merritt, son of Mark, brother of Sherrod Merritt, and uncle of Sherrod H. Merritt, was in Tippah County, Mississippi in 1850. Most of his family went on to Arkansas. If Joshua made such a trip, evidence may never be found. Mississippi records were a shambles for years after the Civil War. This search continues.





In 1880, Joshua and his family are listed on the census in Galley Rock Township along with three other Merritt families. None of our Merritts are anywhere in Arkansas on the 1870 census, taken in July, but Sherrod H. Merritt married Sarah A. McMullen in Yell County in September of 1870, so if the census is to be trusted (that takes a lot of faith) we can assume they arrived sometime in the summer of 1870. Joshua could not have traveled alone, so it is reasonable to speculate that they traveled together. In those days, there was truly safety in numbers.      


Here are the Merritts from the June, 1880 Galley Rock Township, Yell Co AR census.


      Dwelling   Family       Name               Age      Sex      Occupation            Place of Birth

      -----------   --------       -----------------      -----     -----     ---------------         ----------------

      59              63              Joshua C.         54        M         Farmer                   TN

                                          Nancy C.         46        F          Keeping House      TN

                                          Nedom C.        23        M         Farmer                   AR

                                          S. Walker        21        M         Works On Farm     AR

                                          M. Francis       12        F          At Home                AR


      Dwelling   Family       Name               Age      Sex      Occupation            Place of Birth

      -----------   --------       -----------------      -----     -----     ---------------         ----------------

      123            133            William           25        M         Farm Laborer        TN

                                          Sarah F.           23        F          Keeping House      TN

                                          A. Luther         2          M                                      MS


      Dwelling   Family       Name               Age      Sex      Occupation            Place of Birth

      -----------   --------       -----------------      -----     -----     ---------------         ----------------

      126            137            Sheridan H.     32        M         Farmer                   TN

                                          Sarah A.          23        F          Keeping House      TN

                                          John W.           27        M                                      TN

                                          William R.      7          M                                       AR

                                          Ola J.               2          F                                        AR

                                          Henrie R.         4 Mo    F                                        AR


      Dwelling   Family       Name               Age      Sex      Occupation            Place of Birth

      -----------   --------       -----------------      -----     -----     ---------------         ----------------

      127            138            Jackson C.       44        M         Farm Laborer        TN

                                          Missouri          27        F          Keeping House      TN

                                          Amanda           8          F                                        TN


The occupational designation “farmer” indicates land ownership, while “farm laborer” indicates no ownership.     


Dwellings were numbered in the order they were encountered and families in the order in which they were interviewed (in the case of multiple-family dwellings), so Sheridan (Sherrod) H. and Jackson C. lived next door to each other, and William was only three houses (acres?) away. Joshua was further away.


Joshua’s last name on this 1880 census is spelled by the census taker as “MERRETT”.


Joshua C. Merritt is noted as “paralysis right side”.



Columbus S. is missing, but Walker S. is listed as S. Walker. We believe we are correct to assume that “Columbus S.” on the 1860 Independence County census is actually “Walker S.”, and the census taker misstated both the name and age on that census. It is not all that unusual for this to occur.


Nedom C. is listed on the previous 1860 Independence County census as Carroll N. The Williams and Churchwell family researchers list him as “Needham Carroll”. “Needham” is probably the correct spelling. A census search turns up no “Nedom”s (of any spelling) but “Needham” was a common name. Regardless, we are unable to find him. 


M. Francis appears for the first time, the only child from the union of Joshua and Nancy. She seems to have disappeared completely. We have found no clue of what happened to her. If Francis was indeed her middle name, then the search for her is complicated by the fact that she is listed as M. Francis and her first name is hidden from history. However, we know that Walker’s correct name should have been “Walker S.” and not “S. Walker”. So “M. Francis” is probably “Francis M”. That doesn’t help much because we still can’t find her.  


The only problem with assuming name reversals on this census is that in William Franklin’s household, A. Luther is indeed Alfred Luther. Sometimes this census taker got it right.


“Sheridan H.” is actually “Sherrod H.”, and has been detailed earlier. He is listed here to show his proximity to the others.


We meet Jackson C. Merritt for the first time, in from Tennessee. We do not yet know his relationship, nor do we see him again.  


Joshua’s son William Franklin is on his own and is married to Sarah. William Franklin Merritt Married Sarah Francis Benton Dec 13, 1876, in Huntingdon, Carroll Co TN. He did not travel with Sherrod H. Merritt, who arrived in 1870.


William and Sarah’s two-year-old son, A. Luther, is listed as being born in Mississippi. This is an error. William P. Merritt is Alfred Luther’s grandson and documents Alfred’s birth as May 16, 1878, in Caruthersville, Missouri. This is further collaborated on the 1900 Faulkner County census where Alfred Merritt, spelled “MERRIT”, and again on the 1910 and 1920 Faulkner County censuses, states his birth state as Missouri.

















William P. Merritt, in April, 2008 related the following:


“I don't believe that William F. and Sarah Francis ever went to Mississippi.  They stopped in Caruthersville, MO. for my grandfather Alfred Luther to be born and stayed until they felt he was grown enough for them to continue on.  Grandmother Sarah Francis' Brother, John Benton, had settled in Greenbrier (AR) and they stopped for a visit with him and continued on to Yell County, AR where they stayed for about 2 years and then decided to return to Faulkner County and settle near John.  Gggrandfather Joshua C. had land in Independence County and this would have been in line with Caruthersville.  I know that he had gone back to TN and married Nancy--a Merritt widow--and he may have never returned to his land there.  My dad stayed with Ggrandfather W. F. and Ggrandmother Sarah Francis when he was the largest grandson still at home and was in Greenbrier for quite some time as W.F. had had a stroke and they lived close to the Greenbrier School and my Dad finished school there instead of the school where grandfather Luther homesteaded and lived at that time.  Dad (Royce) told me this many, many times before passing away!  Gggrandfather William F. lived until just 5 and a half years before I was born and I have heard the story over and over!”      


In fact, when Joshua Merritt and the Williams’ and Churchwells moved from Tennessee to Arkansas, they could have very well crossed the Mississippi at Caruthersville, which was due west of Huntingdon, Tennessee. On the Caruthersville City website, at




there is a painting of a steamboat loading cypress lumber in 1857, the year of the Merritt/Williams/Churchwell move. Caruthersville, even then, was a budding center of commerce.  


Sometime between June 1880 (when the census was taken) 1880 and September 1883 (when Joshua applied for a disability pension) William Franklin moved to Greenbrier, Faulkner County, Arkansas. Joshua went with him. We do not know if his family also went, but we can assume they did.


By November, 1884, Joshua was back in Yell County, where we assume he died in 1992. Many of the later documents in his pension file were executed in Dardanelle, Yell County. William stayed in Faulkner County where many of his family, including W. P. Merritt, live today.  



















WALKER S. born February 24, 1859, Independence County, Arkansas, died Feb 22, 1899. He was only 40 years old when he died.


The Alverson family researchers record his middle name as Sherrod, but they do not give their sources and I haven’t found independent verification of that.


He is buried in Petillo Hill Cemetery, Yell County AR. On his headstone, the engraver first carved his death date as Feb 22, 1999, and then went back in and made the first “9“ an “8”, and didn’t do a very good job of it. I hope the Merritts got a discount for the headstone.


He married Martha Alverson Oct 1, 1882 in Yell Co AR. Martha was born Feb 20, 1863 in Saint Clair County, AL and died Mar 27, 1938. She is buried in Needmore Cemetery, Yell Co AR.


It is always fascinating to learn how two people each came from far away places to find each other. We have already followed Walker S. Merritt to Yell County. Here is Martha.  


Wade Alverson, born 1821 in South Carolina, made his way to Tennessee where he married Nancy Gilstrap in Lauderdale Co Aug 26, 1847. (Source: Gilstrap descendent Vicki Hill. Note that the birth date of 1821 agrees with the 1870 census, while other Alverson chroniclers date his birth at 1826, which agrees with the 1860 census.)   


In 1860, the Alverson family was found in Branchville, AL, about 20 miles northeast of Birmingham where Wade was farming. In 1870, they were in Cropwell, a few miles south of Branchville, and 7-year-old Martha was accounted for. But sometime between 1870 and 1880, some unknown catastrophic event tore the family apart.   


In 1880, Wade and Nancy are nowhere to be found and the four children that are still at home are living with older sisters in Galley Rock Township, Yell County, Arkansas. Three of the children, Jackson, Margaret Caroline, and Saphronia E., live with 27-year-old Mary and her husband Solomon Cheser (or perhaps Chesen, or Chiser, or Chisen, hard to tell).


17-year-old Martha lives with her sister Sarah Jane and Sarah’s husband James Alverson.


Here is James Alverson’s 1880 Galley Rock census, taken in June. There are two serious errors in this entry.


      Dwelling Family  Name                      Age   Sex   Occupation      Place of Birth      Relationship

      ----------- --------  -----------------       -----   ----- ---------------   ----------------  ---------------

      117           127    Alberson, James        25      M                                AL

                                              S. Jane        23      F    Keeping House      AL             Wife 

                                              Irving            4       M                                 AR             Son

                                              Solly             2       M                                 AR             Son

                                              Oll              1Mo   M                                 AR             Son     

                                              Martha A.    17      F    At Home                AL             Sister





First, the census taker wrote “Alberson” rather than “Alverson”. Though Alberson was a common surname, we know this name should be Alverson. Secondly, Martha is not James’ sister. Martha’s brother James was 30 years old and living in Alabama in 1880. According to the Alverson chroniclers, this James was from a different line. However, Martha’s sister, Sarah Jane, was 23 years old in 1880, and there is no doubt this is she. James Alverson, and Sarah Jane Alverson, same last name but from different lines, were married in Yell Co AR Aug 25, 1872.

The census entry is in error because Martha is the sister of Sarah Jane, not of James. (This is the same census taker who butchered the Merritt and Cheser entries previously described.)


At dwelling 117, the Alversons lived only six dwellings from the nearest Merritt, William Franklin at dwelling 123. It is reasonable to assume that Walker, at dwelling 59, visited his brother often, and he would have had to pass dwelling 117 to get there. Two years later Walker and Martha were married.           


In 1900, Martha and Nancy C. are found in Galley Rock Township in Yell County. Both Walker and Joshua have passed and their widows carry on. In this census, taken in June, the last name is spelled “MARRITT”, and Martha is the head of the household. Here is the census entry:


      Dwelling   Family   Name                   Age   Sex   Occupation      Place of Birth      Relationship

      -----------   --------   -----------------    -----   ----- ---------------   ----------------  ---------------

      10              10          Martha A.            37      F                                   AL

                                      Sopha                  14      F                                    AR             Daughter 

                                      William L.           13      M                                   AR             Son

                                      Athan B.              11      M                                   AR             Son

                                      Henry                  9        M                                   AR             Son

                                      Julia A.                7        F                                    AR             Daughter

                                      Rutha J.               5        F                                    AR             Daughter

                                      Leonard W.         4        M                                   AR             Son

                                      Nancy C.             66      F                                    TN             Mother-in-law


By 1910 Martha has moved the family to Rose Creek Township, next door to Lee (William L. is William Lee, but he was always called Lee (my father spoke often of “Uncle Henry” and “Uncle Lee”) and 10 doors down from Henry, who both have families of their own. Here is the 1910 census entry, taken in May, in which the last name is spelled “MERITT”.


      Dwelling   Family  Name              Age      Sex      Occupation      Place of Birth      Relationship

      -----------   --------  -----------------     -----     -----     ---------------   ----------------  ---------------

      33              33        Martha A.        47        F                                       AL

                                    Athan B.          20        M                                       AR             Son

                                    Leonard W.     14        M                                       AR             Son

                                    Bertha M.        9          F                                        AR             Daughter

                                    Tom Cannon    21        M                                       AR             Boarder


Nancy C. died just before this census was taken.


Tom Cannon’s father’s birth state is Alabama. He could be related to Martha.






Note the presence of 9-year-old Bertha who was not listed on the 1900 census. There is almost no doubt that Martha was pregnant with Bertha when Walker died. But he died in Feb 1899 and Bertha was not listed on the June, 1900 census, and in 1910 she is 9 years old, not 10, and that is a real complication. Note that the 1900 census listed birthdates, so Rutha J., born Sep 1884 and not found again after 1900, cannot be confused with Bertha. Some wild speculations could be made here, but best to chalk this one up to another irregularity in the census and assume that Bertha M. is Walker and Martha’s daughter.    


In 1920, Martha has not been found. In 1930, she is living with her daughter Bertha and son-in-law Hiram A. McVay in Casa, Perry Co AR.












































SOPHIA married William Robison/Robinson about 1902. In the June, 1900 census above, still at home at age 14, she is “Sopha”, and in the 1910 Casa, Perry Co AR census, now married, she is “Sophia Robison”, while in the 1920 census she is “Soffia Robinson”. In 1910 and 1920, her husband’s first name is William. We have not located William and Sophia after 1920.


SOPHIA is actually somewhat controversial. There is a line of the Shepherd Family in Yell County at the same time as the Merritts. Clinton Shepherd is shown at the age of 21 still at home in Centerville, Yell Co on the June, 1900 census. In the Shepherd Family Genealogy, Clinton is stated as marrying Sophia Merritt in 1900. The Arkansas Marriage records show Clint Shepherd marrying Saphra Merritt August 2, 1900 (as we have seen, spelling errors on official documents are common). The Shepherd genealogy further states that only four years later, in 1904, Clinton Shepherd married Katie Mae Wells (whom we cannot locate before the marriage).


On the 1910 Yell County census Clint, age 29, and Katie, age 20, are in Rose Creek. The census states that they have been married five years and this is Clint’s second marriage. Meanwhile, on the 1910 Perry County census, Sophia, age 23, is married to William Robison/Robinson, age 25, and they are also in Rose Creek. They have four children and they state that they have been married for eight years, so Sophia married William at age 15 or 16.


So IF, and it’s a big IF, the Shepherds and the Merritts are documenting the same person, it is entirely possible that Sophia married twice by the age of 16. First in 1900 at the age of 14 to Clinton Shepherd in a marriage that ended abruptly, then in 1902 at the age of 15 or 16 to William Robison/Robinson. Note that Sophia and William’s eldest child in 1910 is a daughter, Flossie, age six and Clinton and Katie’s eldest child is a son, Hershel, age four. So if there was a Clinton/Sophia marriage, there are no known children as a result. Note also that, according to the census, Katie could have been 14 when Clinton married her, so if the records are all correct, Clinton could have married two 14-year-old girls within four years.


ATHAN’s 1920 Walnut Grove, Perry Co AR census entry, taken in February, 1920 follows. In this census, his last name is spelled “MERRETT”.


      Dwelling   Family  Name              Age      Sex      Occupation      Place of Birth      Relationship

      -----------   --------  -----------------     -----     -----     ---------------   ----------------  ---------------

      86              88        Athan              29        M         Farmer                   AR

                                     Edith               24        F                                        AR                   Wife

                                     Lamar             2          M                                       AR                   Son

                                     Elaine             4Mos   F                                        AR                   Daughter


Athan lists both his father and mother as having been born in Mississippi. Remember the Joshua C. Merritt’s possible trip through Mississippi discussed above?  


Also, Edith lists her father’s birth state as MS and her mother’s as GA.






ATHAN’s second wife was Mazie Alexander (Source: Carole Hutchings. See Leonard Walker Merritt, below).


      Lamar W. born Dec 9, 1917 died Jul 28, 2006 Carmichael, Sacramento Co CA.


The following is from Raymond L. Merritt, May 2000:


            “I spoke by telephone with Lamar, Athan’s son, who lived in Somerset, CA. He told me

            that Athan left Arkansas in 1923 to work in the oil fields around Tulsa. When Lamar was

            old enough, he went to California. When Athan got too old to work, he followed Lamar

            to Somerset, where he lived until his death in 1977.”  


            “According to several of my aunts and uncles, in his later years Athan was in a

            convalescent home near Sacramento. Leonard Walker, who lived in Stockton, visited

            Athan there and also attended the funeral when Athan died.”


LEE married Ola born about 1886, marriage date unknown.


HENRY married Nora born about 1891, marriage date unknown.


JULIA married Emmett Doshier, marriage date unknown.


RUTH married Walter Robertson Oct 18, 1908 Perry Co AR.


BERTHA married Hiram A. McVay born about 1897.    





























LEONARD WALKER born Jan 29, 1896 Yell Co AR died Apr 1983 Stockton CA.


The California death index record for Leonard Walker Merritt lists his mother’s maiden name as Alverson.


He is buried in Linden Cemetery, Linden, CA.


Leonard Walker’s first Marriage was to Hattie Faye Grice Apr 7, 1914. (Source: the records of Dyton Herbert Merritt)


Hattie Faye Grice born Nov 2, 1897 died Jul 5, 1936. She is buried in Needmore Cemetery, Yell

Co, AR.


Hattie Faye’s father was William P. Grice and her mother was Arbella, both from Mississippi. William had a tough childhood because in 1860, at the age of four, he and his two younger brothers are found living with relatives in Lawrence County, Mississippi. We don’t find him at all in 1870. 


In 1880 William and Arbella are in DeKalb, Grant County, Arkansas, with their 2 children. William J., age 2, was born in Mississippi, but Winston C., five months, was born in Arkansas.    


Again, we miss the 1890 census.


By 1900 they are in Fourche LaFave, Perry Co Arkansas. On that census, 2-year-old Hattie’s name is sometimes misinterpreted as “Cattie” because the ornate “H” used by the census taker can be mistaken for a “C”. On that census, she had three sisters and two brothers.


They are nowhere to be found in the census of 1910, but they were around, because Hattie Faye Married Leonard Walker in Yell County in 1916. 


Here is Leonard Walker’s 1920 Casa, Perry County, Arkansas census entry. On this

census, taken in January, his name is spelled “Lenard W. Meritt”.


      Dwelling   Family  Name              Age     Sex    Occupation    Place of Birth  Relationship

      -----------   -------- ----------------- -----   -----   ---------------   ----------------  ---------------

            20           22     Lenard W.       23          M        Farmer                 AR

                                     Hattie F.         22          F         None                    AR             Wife

                                     Diatin H.        1 11/12  M                                   AR             Son

                                     Ruthie M.       1 7/12    F                                     AR             Daughter

                                     Rubie A.         4/12       F                                     AR             Daughter


Note that the birth dates for Dyton (misspelled) and Ruthie don’t quite work. Dyton should have been 2 11/12.


I haven’t located the family’s 1930 census entry.


Hattie Faye’s death July 5, 1936 was due to complications during the birth of Leonard Levane (June 29, 1936-July 12, 1936).


In 1939, Leonard Walker moved from Yell County to Pine Bluff, AR, where he worked in

the Pine Bluff Arsenal manufacturing munitions for World War II. During this time, he remarried.


Leonard Walker’s second Marriage was to Eva Evelyn (Evaline) Gray Evans, Apr 1940. (Source: Carole Hutchings, see below).


The following is from Carole Hutchings, September 2000:


      “My grandmother's second husband was Leonard Merritt (April 1940). She was Eva

      Evelyn (Evaline) Gray Evans. Her first husband was Alonzo Evans with whom she had

      four children: Aileen, Gaylord, Olin and Dorothy. My mother is Aileen. She says that

      Ruth was married to Walt Robertson, and that Bertha was married to Lonnie McVay of

      Casa. Lee had both a son and brother named Henry. The brother lived at Dardanelle.

      Athan Merritt lived in OK. Maizie Alexander was Athan's second wife.”


      Note that part of the above recollection is incorrect. Bertha married Hiram A. McVay, not

      Lonnie (Hiram’s brother).   


Eva Evelyn Gray born Feb 15, 1901 died Aug 6, 1954 Stockton, San Joaquin Co CA. 


In 1944, with the war effort and the Pine Bluff Arsenal winding down, Leonard moved the

family to California where he worked in the orchards picking fruit.


The following is from Bob Merritt, June 2007:


      “I rode in the car with dad when we moved to California, and I remember hearing on the

      radio that the war (World War II) had ended.”


The following is from Raymond L. Merritt, May 2007:


      “My family traveled from Little Rock, Arkansas to Stockton, CA, several times then I

      was a child. On the first trip I remember anything about, my grandfather, Leonard and his

      wife at that time, whom we knew as Evelyn, lived in a large tent with a dirt floor. On a

      subsequent trip, they owned a house and Leonard worked in a hospital.”        


Leonard Walker’s third marriage was to Zella Ethelene Graham, date unknown. 


Zella Ethelene Graham born Aug 5, 1912 AR died Feb 22, 1986 Stockton, San Joaquin Co CA.


















      Born Feb 15, 1917 Casa, Yell Co, AR died Feb 8, 1992 Lathrop, San Joaquin Co, CA. 


The California death index record for Dyton Merritt lists his mother’s maiden name as Grice.


DYTON’s first Marriage, Mary Pauline Ewton, Oct 24, 1936, Yell Co AR. Her name is

spelled “Emton” on some records, but the name “Emton” is not found in AR while the Ewton

family in Yell Co AR is well documented.   


      Mary Pauline Ewton born Jun 29, 1919 Liberty Hall, Yell Co, AR died Sep 20, 1991

      Dardanelle, Yell Co AR. She is buried in Petillo Hill Cemetery, Yell Co AR, the same

      cemetery as Walker S. Merritt. Other members of the Ewton family are also buried there.


Herbert Dyton born Mar 19, 1939 Dardanelle, Yell Co AR died Apr 10, 2000

      Texas City, Galveston Co TX.


      Herbert married Margaret Ann Stanley Jul 3, 1959 Morrilton, Conway Co AR.


                  J. Timothy Unknown

                  Beth married unknown Andersen

                        Ian unknown

                        Rose unknown


DYTON second marriage Grace Mourine, 1963, Reno, Nevada.





      Born Jun 19, 1918 died Jan 8, 2006 Wabbaseka, Jefferson Co AR.


      Marriage Herman Lynch Feb 9, 1935, Yell Co AR.


      Herman Lynch born May 16, 1916 died Dec 1976, Wabbaseka, Jefferson Co AR.


      Ruthie and Herman are buried in Memorial Park Cemetery, Pine Bluff, Arkansas.















      Born Sep 6, 1919.


      Married Boyd Deaton born Aug 20, 1913, AR died Nov 30, 1991 San Joaquin Co CA.


      The California death index record for Boyd Deaton lists his mother’s maiden name as



Leonard born September 17, 1938

Leonard Marriage Margaret (unknown)

      Wayne born December 19, 1957

      Mike born July 4, 1959

      Pamela born July 29, 1962


            Thomas born October 5, 1940

            Thomas first Marriage Martha (unknown)

                  Terrie born June 8, 1961

                  Tracie born March 26, 1968

                  Lena born November 6, 1971

            Thomas second marriage Sandy (unknown)


            Jim Born March 18, 1944

            Jim first marriage Cathy

                  Jeff Born September 6, (unknown)

                  Evan Born October 29, 1972

            Jim second marriage Brenda (unknown)


            Wendell born April, 1945

            Wendell marriage Nancy (unknown)

                  Amanda born January 18, 1993    





      Born Dec 2, 1920 Casa, Yell Co AR died Apr 7, 2001 Fayetteville, Washington Co AR.


      Married Taletta Merle Harp May 12, 1941.


      Taletta Merle Harp born Feb 24, 1921 Ola AR died Aug 27, 2006 Lowell, Benton Co AR.


      Raymond was awarded two bronze stars and the Purple Heart during the Battle of the Bulge

      in WWII. He is buried in the National Cemetery in Fayetteville, Washington Co AR.    


            Raymond Leroy born Mar 20, 1942 Little Rock, AR.

            Raymond Leroy first marriage Judy Sicking May, 1970 Dallas TX.

            Raymond Leroy second marriage Rhonda E. Poe May 12, 1984 San Antonio TX.


            Linda Carolyn born Nov 13, 1950 first marriage Ellery Steele Little Rock AR.

                  Michele Ann married Joey Kerr date unknown.

            Linda Carolyn second marriage Steve Graham Fayetteville AR date unknown.



      Born July 21, 1922. 


      Married Leroy Underwood Oct 14, 1949 Yell Co AR.


Leroy Underwood born Apr 13, 1919 Centerville, Yell Co AR died Jan 12, 1996 Manteca,

San Joaquin Co, CA.


      The California death index record for Leroy Underwood spells his first name Leeroy and lists

his mother’s maiden name as   Cossey.


            Larry Leroy born Apr 3, 1943 AR married Doris Ann Grimm born Dec 7, 1943.

                  Diana Lynn born July 9, 1963 in England (Larry and Doris were in the Air Force).

                  Diana Lynn first marriage Douglas Bjorneboe date unknown.

                        Dustin Mitchell born Dec 2, 1988 Stockton CA.

                        Dalton Lee born Apr 14, 1992 Stockton CA.

                  Diana Lynn second marriage Leslie Rogers born Mar 22, 1963 date unknown.  

                  Lori Ann born Sep 28, 1967 Stockton CA.

                  Lori Ann married John Dieter DeNigris born Apr 26, 1965.

                        Ciera Nicole born Aug 26, 1995 Lodi CA.

                        Kiley Paige born Apr 23, 1997.


            Ronald born Feb 1, 1946 Stockton CA first marriage Susan Brogan date unknown.

                  Ronda Lee born May 24, 1973 Manteca CA.

Ronald Second marriage Cheryl Prater born Feb 6, 1956.


            Linda Carol married Jeffrey Lee Severin born Apr 21, 1953 date unknown.

                  James Edward born Apr 26, 1984 Stockton CA.


The following is from Raymond L. Merritt, May 2007:


            “Leroy and my father, Raymond Phillip Merritt, hung out together as young boys. I used

            to listen to them talk about jumping a train in Ola, Arkansas and riding to Little Rock for

            the weekend. Then they jumped another train back to Ola on Sunday. Along the way,

            they read the hobo signs which told them which houses to stay away from and which

            ones would give them a free meal. Sometimes they played “Rock, paper, scissors” to see

            who went to the door to ask for the meal, but usually Leroy went because he was always

more successful than Raymond.”       















      Born Nov 4, 1923 Yell Co AR died Jun 10, 2004 Fordyce, Dallas Co AR.


      First Marriage Dorothy Langford April 22, 1944.


      For many years, before moving to Kingsland, Earvin and Dorothy lived in Wabbaseka, a

few doors down from Ruthie Mae and Herman Lynch, and across the street from Alva and

Fern Merritt.


      Second marriage Jean (unknown) date unknown.


      Earvin is buried in Kingsland Cemetery, Kingsland, Arkansas.


            Randall born unknown married unknown.

            Donna Faye born unknown married unknown Harrison.




      Born Aug 20, 1926 died May 29, 1956, Wabbaseka, Jefferson Co AR.


Married Fern A. Skinner, date unknown.


Fern A. Skinner born about 1924, Faulkner County, Arkansas.


Fern was a school teacher at the school in Wabbaseka, which was at the end of School Street

on which all of the Merritts and Lynches lived. Fern taught Donna Faye Merritt in the second

and third grades.


Prior to his marriage to Fern, Alva lived with Ruthie Mae and Herman Lynch for several

years. While Herman was a farmer, Alva worked at W. P. Garrett Mercantile in Wabbaseka. 

After their marriage and until Alva’s death, Alva and Fern lived just down the street from

Ruthie Mae and Herman Lynch.


Alva is buried in Memorial Park Cemetery, Pine Bluff, Arkansas.




      Born Mar 29, 1930. 


      Married Gladys Edith Brockman Jun 12, 1948.


            Pamela Jeanne born Sep 11, 1953 married John Taliaferro Aug 25, 1973.

                  Jesse Aric born Jul 14, 1974.

                  Samuel Jasper born Nov 11, 1984.


            Kenneth Eugene born Mar 15, 1955 married Tracey Clapperton Apr, 1984.

                  Christopher born Jun 21, 1983.


      In September, 1993, Kenneth and Gladys retired and moved from Stockton, CA to

      Anacortes, WA, where they reside at this writing.



      Born Apr 24, 1933.


      First marriage Kay (unknown) date unknown.


      Second marriage Pauline (unknown) date unknown.




      Born Nov 13, 1934.


      Married Virginia Ann Waterman born Jan 22, 1935 married Jun 9, 1952, Minden NV.


            Bobby Wayne married Joan Mullican.

                  Paul Wayne born. Nov 15, 1972 married Kristen (unknown) born Jan 1, 1963.  

                        Zachary Wayne born Apr 25, 1998.

                        Danielle Beauregard born Mar 04, 1993

                        Justin Beauregard born Apr 27, 1988


            Dennis Lee married Gwen Bridges.   

Aaron Gregory

Corey Wayne  


      Bob and Virginia, both from Arkansas, met in Linden California. They lived in California

until 1975, when they moved to Russellville, AR, where they reside at this writing.




      Born Jun 29, 1936 Yell Co AR died Jul 12, 1936 Yell Co AR.


      Leonard is buried in Needmore Cemetery, Yell Co AR .




















The search continues. 


Raymond L. Merritt

April, 2008