William John “Linkapee” Merriman


William John “Linkapee” Merriman

Morgantown, Morgan County, Indiana, USA
Death 12 Jul 1906 (aged 73)
Brown County, Indiana, USA
Burial Fruitdale, Brown County, Indiana, USA
Memorial ID 85041840 View Source

He was born on the eastern end of Mahalasville Rd. He grew up there clearing the land and did plenty of farm labor. He went to school at Morgantown.

He was the son of William and Catherine (Hudiburgh) Merriman. He was the grandson of Francis and Mary (Sublett) Merriman. His maternal grandparents were Thomas and Polly M. (Carter?) Hudiburgh (See below for more insight.). Francis was a Revolutionary War veteran. Some say that William was a War of 1812 veteran but that claim still needs researched.

"John" married Rachel Catherine Franklin on August 2, 1859, Monroe Co., Indiana. Rachel was living with the Eller family at Ellettsville or possibly closer to Bloomington in the 1850s. Her parents had passed away some years before that.

The family resided in Morgan Co. until the early 1870s when they moved to northern Jackson Twp., Brown. Co. By trade John was a farmer, fruit farmer and gold panner. He and his family had an orchard and took a lot of apples to market. He had kidney problems and left a lot of the work to his sons.

It was around this time that he started panning for gold. First, in Brown County and then in Morgan County. He was a pioneer gold hunter. Some of the places that he frequented are Lick Creek, Indian Creek, probably Thunder Creek and Briar Creek, Bear Creek, Gosport Hollow as well as Gold Creek near Mooresville. According to a booklet by W. S. Blatchley entitled Gold and Diamonds in Indiana: "The largest "nugget" he ever found was taken on Bear Creek and weighed 132 grains, valued at $5.50." This was a fair amount back at that point in time.

He found diamonds as well as gold in this region. These were found in Lick Creek. Numerous articles were written over the years about his pursuit of gold. He later made a trip to the gold fields, streams of Newcastle, California in the 1880s.

The Indianapolis News, May 31, 1902, Sat., Page 13


John Merriman’s Blue Diamond

Royse’s discovery that the shining stone that Old Man Stanley found was a diamond has put all the Morgan and Brown county gold diggers into a state of nervous excitement, and the diamonds have already begun to roll in. Over in Brown county, “old John” Merriman has just found a stone that has indications of being a perfect blue diamond without a flaw.

It is at least a diamond, and weighs over a karat. If it is blue when cut, it is asserted that its value will be in the neighborhood of $1,000.

“Old John” has been washing gold in Brown and Morgan counties for over forty-eight years. He is very quiet, and he generally tells the truth when he says anything.

“In the goin’ on forty-nine year that I have been scalpin’ in these ‘ere parts,” he said, “I reckon I have found nigh onto fifty ‘en more of these shinin’ pebbles, but I hadn’t no idee that them were diamonds. I sent a few to a man in Indianapolis, but I never he’rd anything from them, and I stopped pickin’ them up, until Old Man Stanley found his big one on Gold crick, and we found out that it war a real sparkler.”

Since Stanley’s discovery, Merriman has found several precious stones and three or four real diamonds.


None has been found this large since then, but if the find made by Merriman proves to be a blue diamond when cut, it will run many times the Stanley diamond’s value.


John Merriman has found and sold at a good figure, one true amethyst.

The Indianapolis News, May 31, 1906, Thu., Page 8

Still Picking Up Flakes of Gold.

[Special to The Indianapolis News.]

NASHVILLE, Ind., May 31. – John Merriman, near Bear creek, continues to find gold in paying quantities, and it is said he has over $100 of the precious metal in his possession. Mr. Merriman refuses to tell in what neighborhood he finds the gold.

He was the father of 9 children: Lewis Jackson 1860, William Monroe 1863, Laura Ellen 1865, Margaret A. 1868, Amanda Sophia 1870, Ivy Francis 1872, George Christian 1875, James Walter 1878 and Ira Anderson 1885. Ira was likely named after the Andersons who were relatives of Rachel on her mother's side.

Thanks to the work of previous researchers for preserving knowledge about this family: Nova May (Turner) Mertens, Gladys (Merriman) Fritch Fishel, Dora Belle Merriman, Earl and Exie (Williams) Merriman. Woodrow Wilson Fleener provided a few key missing details as well. More recently, Kathey King and Julie Miller have been an immense help in updating the Hudiburgh tree and have delved into a few mysteries.

William John's grandmother was Polly Hudiburgh and, according to some early Hudiburgh research, her maiden name was McCarter. To date I have not found any DNA matches to the McCarter family. There is a 1 in 8 chance of receiving no DNA from a gr-gr-gr-grandparent. However, current researchers think her name may have been Polly M Carter instead of McCarter. If so, this would explain the lack of matches. While Polly was certainly his grandmother, her family members remain obscure. The 1880 Census listing of one of Catherine's sister's shows that their mother (Polly) was born in Virginia. This is a starting point but further research is needed.

William John and Rachel are buried with Rachel's family in the Fleener Cemetery, also known as the Coon Cemetery. Rachel was a niece of the cemetery founders, Jacob and Hannah (Lair) Fleener.

Grandfather: Private Francis Merriman, a Revolutionary War Veteran.

Updated May 27, 2019.


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