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 Richard P Merrill

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Richard P Merrill

  • Birth 19 Feb 1844 Newville, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, USA
  • Death 13 Apr 1909 Arroyo Grande, San Luis Obispo County, California, USA
  • Burial Arroyo Grande, San Luis Obispo County, California, USA
  • Plot Section A
  • Memorial ID 74366324

Richard P. Merrill was born "Richard Best" on February 19, 1844, in Newville, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, the son of Henry & Catherine Best. In 1860, he was a student living in Newville and stood 5' 8" tall with brown hair and brown eyes. Other trades throughout his life included prospector, hotel clerk, and harness maker, to name a few.

A Civil War veteran, he enlisted in Newville August 6, 1862, and mustered into federal service at Harrisburg August 12 with Co. E, 130th Pennsylvania Infantry, at the rank of private. He saw action in the battles of Antietam, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville and was honorably discharged with his company May 21, 1863.

He used "Merrill" exclusively after moving to Cambria, California in 1872 (via St. Joseph, Missouri, Montana, and Arizona). His brother, William, never understood why, and none of his friends knew about his pseudonym until after his death. He remained closed-mouthed to everyone about his pre-California history and never joined the local G.A.R. He married his boss's daughter, Mary Ann Lingo, December 29, 1880, in Santa Margarita, San Luis Obispo County, as Richard P. Merrill, and Mary Ann never learned his real name until 23 years into their marriage. Their children were Georgia (b. @1884) and Florence (07/19/86). He broke up his time in California by living one year in the mining camp town of Total Wreck in Pima County, Arizona, working as night watchman for a silver mine. He also served several terms as deputy sheriff of San Luis Obispo County and constable of Cambria.

He was "a great sufferer" with recurring spells of dysentery that contributed to his death in Arroyo Grande.


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  • Created by: Ron West
  • Added: 3 Aug 2011
  • Find A Grave Memorial 74366324
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Richard P Merrill (19 Feb 1844–13 Apr 1909), Find A Grave Memorial no. 74366324, citing Arroyo Grande Cemetery, Arroyo Grande, San Luis Obispo County, California, USA ; Maintained by Ron West (contributor 47389384) .