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James A. Merritt
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Birth: 1765
Westchester County
New York, USA
Death: 1811
Seneca County
New York, USA

On March 9, 1811, James A. Merritt, son of Roger Merritt, spouse of Mary Merritt, and father of six children, wrote his last will and testament. By our reckoning James was not an old man, having been born no earlier than 1865, judging from relevant census records.' In 1811 he could not have been older than forty five and may have been in his thirties. But early in 1811, James A. Merritt must have been a sick man who expected to join his Maker soon. His last will and testament reads as follows:

In the name of God, Amen

I, James Merrit, of the County of Seneca and State of New York - being weak in body but sound and perfect mind and memory (Blessed by Almighty God for same) do make and publish this my last will and testament in manner and form following, which is to say

First that all my debts be payed (sic] and the overpluss if any there be I give and bequeath unto my beloved wife Mary Merritt all my personal estate, goods, and chattles (sic:chattels] of what kind and nature soever whom I hereby appoint sole executrix of this my last will and testament, hereby revoking all former wills by me made. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal. Nineth (sic:ninth) day of March in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and eleven." - (signed] James Merrit

The will was witnessed by Tompkins C. Delavan, Thomas Blain, and James Demott. James Demott, also known as Judge Demott, was a well known early settler in the Ovid/Romulus area.

James Merritt passed away within a month of writing his will. We do not have the exact date of his death but we know from Seneca County records that his estate was inventoried on April 8, 1811. His death therefore occurred after March 9th and before April 8, 1811. The inventory of the estate of James Merritt was submitted to the Surrogate's Court in Seneca County on June 9, 1811, and it was witnessed by Tompkins C. Delavan and Thomas Blain, two of the three gentlemen who had attested to James's will. The appearance of those two names on both the will and the estate inventory seems to confirm that these two men were close neighbors and good friends of the Merritt family.

James Merritt was a farmer and lumber dealer, reportedly a man of "powerful physique". Unfortunately we know little more about him. As a lumber dealer he presumably cut, split, and sawed timber into planks, rails and boards, and then sold them in his community. As we shall see later, James Merritt was not a large scale farmer, and probably cultivated only enough land to feed his family and create a small surplus for sale.

We assume that Mary and James were church goers. There were several churches in the area during the decade 1800-1810. Romulus had a Baptist church as early as 1795, and a Presbyterian church was established shortly thereafter. Ovid had several churches as well, the earliest in 1803. James and Mary may have been Presbyterians because one of their sons, Joseph, studied for the Presbyterian ministry.

By 1800 there were almost 5,000 people residing in Seneca County, of whom 1,025 lived in Romulus Township. However within a decade the population of the County had more than tripled to a total of 16,609. That gives us some idea of the influx of settlers and the general movement westward toward the new frontiers.

During their residence in Romulus, James and Mary did their part to add to the growth of the population, with at least three and perhaps five of their six children born there. Their children were: [Jane, birth date unknown, but census data shows one daughter, unnamed, born during the period 1794-1800, and that may have been Jane; Eleanor, born about December 7, 1801; William - born 1804 or 1805; John, born Ovid, February 23, 1806; Joseph, born December 13, 1807; and Mary Ann, born March 10, 18l0.

We do not know if Mary and James had other children, but they possibly did. In those days many children died of disease before reaching adulthood. Unlike today, vaccination was not widespread. Smallpox, now almost eliminated from the face of the earth, was a major killer of children. Another childhood disease, diphtheria, was a great danger until a vaccine was developed. In those days tuberculosis was much more common and killed both children and adults. While some people lived to be quite old, the challenge was to survive childhood diseases and reach adulthood. Given the health conditions of those days it is not unlikely that Mary and James lost one or more children.

We assume that all of the Merritt children received the customary frontier education of a few years of elementary education. The first school in the area was held in 1799 in a home set aside for educational purposes. A few years later new buildings were erected solely for use as schools. Every child was expected to learn basic elementary skills reading, writing and arithmetic. In those days secondary schools were uncommon on the frontier, but that was of little matter because the average child received but a few years of school. In larger towns various kinds of "academies" sprung up, and these academies often constituted the only secondary education available at that time. The first public library at Ovid was organized in 1805.

Family links: 
  Mary Hendrix or Hendrickson Merritt (1771 - 1856)*
  Jane E. Merritt Voorhes (1798 - 1875)*
  Eleanor Merritt Hicks (1801 - 1875)*
  William Merritt (1804 - 1861)*
  John William Merritt (1806 - 1886)*
  Joseph H Merritt (1807 - 1898)*
  Mary Ann Merritt Dennis (1810 - 1854)*
*Calculated relationship
Non-Cemetery Burial
Specifically: We know that James A. Merritt died in 1811 because of his last will and testament filed in Seneca County, New York on March 9, 1811
Created by: Carlyle & Averil Mosher ...
Record added: Nov 25, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 80950243


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