- Prominent lawyer, Indiana congressman and boyhood friend of Muir.
- John Muir came to Indianapolis in 1866 because the city had many
manufactories, while being surrounded by “one of the richest
forests of deciduous hardwood trees on the continent” where he
could botanize in his free time. With a letter of introduction to Catharine
Merrill, one of the first women professors in America, from
Professor James Butler, Muir approached the home of the distinguished
Merrill family. The then ten-year old nephew of Catharine, Merrill
Moores, answered the door. Merrill later wrote: "One beautiful evening
... a tall, sturdy man with blue eyes and a clear ruddy complexion
as well as handsome hair and beard ... approached and asked if Mrs.
Moores and Miss Merrill lived there. He had a marked Scotch accent
and was obviously a working man, but was plainly and neatly dressed;
and he at once impressed me as the handsomest man I had ever met."
- In 1867, while working in a carriage parts factory in Indianapolis,
Muir had an accident which temporarily blinded him. Catharine
Merrill and her family helped him convalesce, and spent many
hours reading to Muir as he recuperated from the eye injury.
This eventually turned into a lifelong friendship between Muir
and Catharine, her sisters Julia Merrill and Mrs. Graydon,
and their children. Julia Merrill had three children: Merrill,
Charles and Janet. After Muir's recovery, Merrill, at age 11,
spent many weeks with Muir on a walking botanical excursion back
family home in Portage, Wisconsin.
- When telling the Merrills about his work at the carriage parts factory,
he told them how he had
invented a machine there that could “automatically make wooden
hubs, spokes and felloes and
assemble them into a fully completed wheel.” They asked if he
had taken out a patent on his
device. “No,” he replied, “all improvements and inventions
should be the property of the human
race. No inventor has the right to profit by an invention for which
he deserves no credit. The idea
of it was really inspired by the Almighty.”
Merrill Moores later
wrote “This machine was a success, and I am told that all wooden
wheels to this day are made by
machines following the plan on which Muir’s unpatented wheel-making
- Young Merrill, while staying at Muir's Wisconsin Farm, observed how
John Muir's father constantly found fault with John. Muir's father
"made no secret of his beief that the study of geology was blasphemous
and was accustomed to rebuke John uneasingly.... And I regretted to
discover that he regarded botany as almost as wicked as geology." but
the two spent some wonderful time together botanizing, including finding
a rare fern at the Wisconsin Dells near Kilburn.
- Five years later, in 1872, Merrill, then age 16, spent the summer
with Muir in Yosemite. Merrill's later unpublished manuscript
strongly suggests that in that year Muir met famed British geologist
John Tyndall, though no record by Muir recounts that event. Merrill
also spent a week with Muir and Asa Gray, the
Harvard botanist, exploring the Yosemite h igh country. The same summer,
Muir met other prominent scientists, including botanist John Torrey,
and corresponded with geologist Louis Agassiz. Merrill also accompanied
Muir and artist
William Keith and two other artists on their
first excursion together.
- Graduate of Yale University (1978) and law school in Indiana (1880),
practiced law in Indianapolis, Indiana. Served ten years as U.S.
Representative (7th District, Indiana, Republican) in U.S. Congress
beginning in 1915. As a congressman, Moores asked to assigned to
the national parks committee, so he
could carry on Muir’s work.
- Interestingly, Merrill shared the same birth day as John Muir,
- Sources: Biographical
Directory of the United States Congress;
Wolfe, Linnie Marsh, Son of the Wilderness: The Life of
John Muir (Madison, University of
Wisconsin Press, 1945, 1978), 99; Merrill, Samuel, “Personal
Recollections of John Muir,” in Sierra Club Bulletin,
XIII, 1, Feb.,
1928, 25, excerpted in Gilliam, Ann, Voices for the Earth:
A Treasury of the Sierra Club Bulletin
Muir in Indiana by Harold Wood (April 5, 2003) [PDF].
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