Ernest Merrill may be the most photographed man in early Harrison history. Viewing so many photos of Harrison it became easy to spot Ernest Merrill in each photograph. The same jaunty hat, side posture and every so slight smirk was instantly recognizable. He appears in some photographs so removed from the scene that if there was Photoshop in the early 1900’s it may have been used to plop him in the back ground. This became a fun hide and seek as Cody Beemer and myself began to write and edit the book Harrison, published in 2014.
Imagine my surprise one day running across a wedding announcement of Ernest’s daughter Beverly. I see Bev on a regular basis at the library and the Trowbridge family has donated many historical items to the Library.
Ernest was born in Meredith, Michigan to John and Emma Merrill. John was a rail road man and his sons Charlie and Ernest followed in his footsteps. Ernest attended Harrison schools and went to work at a young age. He may have worked at the Heading mill in Harrison as he is featured in several photographs and we know he went on to work for the Flint and Pere Marquette R.R.
In 1923 Ernest’s brother Charles Merrill was killed in a railroad accident. A Pere Marquette R.R. passenger train derailed and overturned near Midland and killed Charlie and the engineer of the train Thomas Kelley of Saginaw. Kelley died at the scene and Charlie Merrill died on the train taking him to the Saginaw hospital after he had received treatment at the Dow hospital in Midland. The official cause of death on his death certificate is “nervous shock due to scalding in R.R. accident.”
Charles was already a widower having lost his young wife just three years before in 1920. Charles was buried with his wife in Saint Henry’s Catholic Church Cemetery in Isabella County.