Lieut Philemon Christopher Merrill

Photo added by Schott Family

Lieut Philemon Christopher Merrill

Son of Samuel Merrill & Phoebe Odell

Married Cyrena Dustin, 20 Sep 1840, Nauvoo, Hancock, Ill

Children- Sabrina Lodena Merrill, Philemon Christopher Merrill Jr., Lucy Cyrena Merrill, Melissa Jane Merrill, Morgan Henry Merrill, Albina Atamira Merrill, Thomas Stephen Merrill, Seth Adelbert Merrill

Married Mary Jane Smith, 5 Apr 1851

Children- John Smith Merrill, Jedediah Grant Merrill, Hannah Ann Merrill, Cyrena Imogean Merrill, David Elmer Merrill, Joseph Lot Merrill, Henry Morgan Merrill, Peter Herbert Merrill

Married Rhoda Sylvia Collett, 9 Oct 1873

Children- Adrian Collett

Enlised July 16, 1846 at Council Bluffs as Private Company B, promoted 3rd Lieutenant of the Company at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, in August; promoted 2nd Lieutenant and appointed Battalion Adjutant, to suceed Lieut. G.P. Dykes, on the Rio Grande near Socorro, N.M, October 30, 1846; marched with the Battalion across southern Arizona and honorably discharged as 1st Lieutenant at Los Angeles, July 16, 1847.

Philemon Christopher Merrill went through the early hardships, persecutions and trials of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was born Nov. 12, 1820, at Byron, Genesee County, N.Y., to Samuel Merrill and Phoebe Odell.

At the age of 11 he accompanied his parents to Nauvoo, Ill., arriving in 1837. He was baptized into the Mormon Church in March 1839 and filled a mission to Wisconsin in 1840-41.

On Sept. 20, 1840, he married Cyrena Dustin and went into housekeeping in Nauvoo. Philemon worked on the Temple which the Saints were trying hard to complete. He was closely associated with the Prophet Joseph Smith and tradition says he was one of the Prophet's bodyguards. Philemon helped evacuate Nauvoo when persecutors drove the Saints out, and he was one of the guards to cross the Mississippi River with Church records.

Philemon enlisted as a volunteer in the Mormon Battalion Company B and endured the long march to the Pacific Coast. He left his wife and three children in Iowa to await his return.

Once in California, Philemon stayed at headquarters in San Diego until the army discharged him in 1847.

Philemon Merrill's sisters also were in the Mormon Battalion, they are Albina Marie Merrill Williams, wife of Thomas Stephen Williams. and Phoebe Lodema Merrill, she served as a nurse. From Diary of Albina Merrill Williams: "Spring came at last and then the word was conveyed to the isolated little colony that a start had been made by the pioneers at Council Bluffs to find a new home in the far west. No time was lost in bidding farewell to the old fort on the Arkansas. Captain Brown's Company fell in the wake of the pioneers and all but overtook them before the Valley of the Great Salt Lake was reached. As a matter of fact, some of the Battalion people came in with the pioneers, but the wagon containing Mrs. Williams and her sister did not arrive on the banks of City Creek until five days after President Young had pitched a tent there." --Heart Throbs of the West, Vol. 2, 1940, page 72.

He then made his way back to Iowa to rejoin his family; however, Philemon never saw his youngest child again because she had died shortly after his enlistment. In the spring of 1849 the Merrills made ready and crossed the plains to Salt Lake Valley, arriving Oct. 16, 1849.

With the permission of Cyrena, Philemon entered plural marriage April 5, 1851, with Mary Jane Smith. Then in June 1853 Philemon left to fill a mission for the Church to England until 1856. After his return, the Church called him to help settle parts of southern Idaho. The two families moved to Liberty, Idaho, near Bear Lake in 1869 and then to Soda Springs, Idaho. While at Liberty, Philemon married a third woman, Rhoda Sylvia Collett, on Oct. 9, 1873.

In 1877 the Church called Philemon to help settle parts of central and southeastern Arizona. By then his second wife had died, so he took his two remaining families in August 1877 and headed for the San Pedro Valley.

They had a great deal of faith, for the departure was with provisions only enough to last two days. The company made camp about one half mile south of the present town of St. David, Arizona, building a small stone fort of six or eight rooms. Philemon had first seen the area with the Mormon Battalion in 1847. It was here in 1878, while nearly all the settlers were suffering with chills and fever, that Erastus Snow set apart Philemon to preside over the Saints in the area. In 1881 Philemon asked that he be relieved of his responsibilities as Presiding Elder and left St. David in 1890, settling in Safford, Ariz.

He later held the office of Patriarch, being ordained by John Henry Smith. Philemon was a good public speaker and loved to talk about the Prophet Joseph Smith. About 1900 he moved to San Jose, Ariz., and died at his home there Sept. 15, 1904, at the age of 84.

Mormon Battalion members

Many thanks to Mike H. for these wonderful photo's





  • Created by: Schott Family
  • Added: 10 Aug 2008
  • Find A Grave Memorial 28923146
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Lieut Philemon Christopher Merrill (12 Mar 1820–16 Sep 1904), Find A Grave Memorial no. 28923146, citing Safford City Cemetery, Safford, Graham County, Arizona, USA ; Maintained by Schott Family (contributor 46932087) .