Philip Merrill - Patriarch of the Western Maryland Line
Philip Merrill was the patriarch of the Merrill family in western Maryland. He established his family on lands in Allegany County at the turn of the 19th century. Over the next three decades, he would expand his land holdings and raise his children from two marriages. Two sons would establish farms near Oakland and Avilton in Garrett County, while others would migrate northward into Pennsylvania and westward to Iowa. Late in life, Philip Merrill would himself dispose of his lands and possessions and travel westward to Preston County, (West) Virginia, where he likely lived out his days near Kingwood.
Ancestry and early life...
Multiple published accounts trace Philip Merrill's ancestry to Richard Merrill (1642-1727) "The Immigrant" who left England for Staten Island, New York, sometime after 1679. The line of descent proceeds through Philip Merrill (1679-1739) followed by Nicholas Merrill (1728-1795). Various authors report the birthplace of our subject, Philip Merrill (son of Nicholas & Lydia), as Morris County, New Jersey. He apparently migrated to Loudoun County, Virginia, before settling in Maryland at "Wills Town" prior to 1800. The author has not substantiated this history with any primary or secondary sources to date.
There has been frequent misidentification of Philip Merrill of Allegany County in genealogic databases and family trees. The individual often confused with our subject is a Philip Merrill born in 1762 in St. Mary's County, Maryland. This Philip Merrill appears to have been a distant cousin of our subject, descending from Richard Merrill (1642-1727) "The Immigrant", through the older son William Merrill (1688-1714), and then Philip Merrill (1700-1744), and finally through Joshua Merrill (b.1730). Records of this Philip Merrill's marriage to Monica Truman in 1798 in Prince George's County, Maryland, are documented. The birth date, place of birth, and marriage information are often incorrectly attributed to our subject.
Birth date analysis...
The date of birth for Philip Merrill of Allegany County is not known. The date frequently noted on family trees and various genealogy websites as 1762 is incorrect, as explained above. An analysis of the census records allows an approximate birth date to be derived:
1800 Census - 26 thru 44 -- date of birth must be between 1756-1774
1810 Census - 26 thru 44 -- date of birth must be between 1766-1784
1820 Census - 45 & over -- date of birth must be before 1775
1830 Census - of 50 & under 60 -- date of birth between 1770-1780
1840 Census - 70 & under 80 -- date of birth must be between 1760-1770
The only date that satisfies all of the five census listings is "1770". Therefore a recommendation is made that "about 1770" be utilized for the birth date of Philip Merrill of Allegany County until more definitive evidence of date and place of birth becomes available.
Wills Town, Allegany County, Maryland...
The first documented evidence of Philip Merrill living in Maryland is found in the 1800 U.S. Federal Census, where he is listed as living in Wills Town, likely with his wife, three male children under age 16, and three female children under age 16.
"Wills Town" depicted on Hezekiah Veatch map from about 1787
"Wills Town" included lands from Cumberland to Frostburg
"Wills Town" is a historical designation for the lands extending from Cumberland on the Potomac River northwards into Pennsylvania following Will's Creek. "Wills Town" included the land along Jennings Run from Corriganville to Barrelville, and also the territory of present-day Mt. Savage and Frostburg. Philip Merrill appears to have been living in the section of "Wills Town" immediately north of what would become Frostburg. An analysis of his neighbors in the 1800 census shows that well over half of them continued to be listed in this district in the 1810 and 1820 federal census records, making it almost impossible that he had moved any significant distance from the site where he originally settled in Maryland before 1800.
Philip Merrill's first wife, whose identity is not known, appears to have died between the census in 1800 and his purchase of land in this region in 1805.
"Ridge" being 69 and 1/2 acres...
The land records of the Allegany County Court document the purchase of "Ridge" by Philip Merrill from Philip Hammond for $200 in November 1805. This tract of land was located north of the present-day town of Frostburg, situated adjacent to the military lots numbered 3635, 3636, and 3637, shown below.
Philip Merrill may have married Margaret Perry about the time of the family's move to the "Ridge" farm. Beginning with the birth of William Phillip in 1807, the couple would have several children together while living in this region. Their growing family is enumerated in the census records of 1810, 1820, and 1830 in this district of Allegany County. During this time Philip and Margaret Merrill would add to their land holdings in the region, including the purchase Military Lot No. 3635 (50 acres) in 1815, and William's Sheep Walk (20 1/2 acres) in 1836.
Removal to Preston County, Virginia...
In 1837 the land records of Allegany County record the sale of all of the properties of Philip and Margaret Merrill to Daniel Cobb of the City of Baltimore for four thousand dollars. The 1840 U.S. Federal Census finds an aging Philip, 70 years old or above, living in Preston County in what would become West Virginia. His wife and several family members are noted on the census records as well. They were apparently living on the Felix E. Jeffers farm in the Whetsell settlement, according to one published source. This area was located just southeast of Kingwood, in the Portland district east of the Cheat River.
Philip Merrill likely died on the Preston County farm after 1840. The 1850 census finds Margaret and son Joseph in Preston County with a farm valued at $2000. Philip's death and burial are not recorded in the records of Preston County. No land records are available for this county prior to 1869 due to loss in a fire.
Philip Merrill was responsible for establishing the Merrill family in western Maryland, where many descendants continue to live and work today. Research continues on this family line, and the Merrill family history will continue to evolve as new facts come to light and are added to this record.
§ Birth: about 1770 - Morris County, New Jersey (?)
§ Death: after 1840 - Preston County, (West) Virginia (?)
Known Children of Philip Merrill and unknown (1st wife)
§ Lydia Merrill (1785 - ?), married Isaac Workman
§ Jesse Merrill (1788 - 1882), married Nancy Hemphill
§ Stephen Merrill (abt 1800 - 1883), married Catherine Workman
§ Nicholas Merrill (abt 1800 - abt 1855), married Elizabeth Frost
Known Children of Philip Merrill and Margaret Perry (2nd wife)
§ William Phillip Merrill (abt 1807 - ?), married Francenia Holtzman
§ Andrew Merrill (abt 1809 - ?), married Mary A. (unknown)
§ John Merrill (1810 - 1859), married Eleanor Wheitzell
§ Joseph Merrill (abt 1815 - ?)
§ Drusa Merrill (abt 1820 - ?), married Sassena Stone
§ Catherine Merrill (abt 1820 - ?), married George Rhodes
used with permission from Todd M. Gerkin
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