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Chronicles of Oklahoma
Volume 13, No. 1
March, 1935

Edward Merrick


Page 127

EDWARD MERRICK was born at Okawville, Washington County, Illinois, July 19, 1861. He was a son of John and Margaret Merrick who formerly lived in Baltimore, Maryland. He attended the Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, Illinois, studied law in the office of C. M. Foreman, and in 1880 was admitted to the bar in his native state.

In 1885 Mr. Merrick was appointed corporation clerk in the office of the Secretary of State for Illinois. At the expiration of his term he opened a law office in Nashville, Illinois, which he conducted while his partner was serving as a member of Congress.

While living in Nashville Mr. Merrick became acquainted with Thomas B. Needles who later became a member of the Commission to

Page 128

the Five Civilized Tribes, commonly known as the Dawes Commission. His health became impaired and he went to Ashville, North Carolina, hoping that the higher elevation would benefit him. Later, at the suggestion of Col. Needles, he came to Muskogee, March 4, 1901, where he became a law clerk with the Dawes Commission, a position he held for thirty years.

Mr. Merrick's fine legal mind and judicial temperament early impressed his superiors, who frequently called him into conference on matters of importance relating to the broad field of the Dawes Commission. Mr. Merrick's studies of the Indians, their laws and customs, and the application of those subjects to the changing conditions the government was engaged in producing, developed in him a sound and mature judgment that commanded the respect of the Bar of Eastern Oklahoma. He was long considered by the Dawes Commission, the best informed man on these subjects and on the legal complications arising in the administration of Indian affairs. He was often called as a witness to testify in important law suits concerning Indian laws and customs.

Mr. Merrick was married August 7, 1902, to Miss Lona Cummings, a member of the Creek Nation, and a daughter of Rev. David Cummings, a Baptist minister at Hanna, Oklahoma. Miss Cummings for a number of years before her marriage, had served as Creek Interpreter in the office of the Dawes Commission, and was regarded as one of the best interpreters in the Indian Service.

With the coming of statehood, Mr. Merrick, a Republican, resigned his position with the Dawes Commission, and was elected from Muskogee County in the Second Session of the Legislature of Oklahoma. At the end of the special session in 1910, he resumed his work with the Commission.

After thirty years of service at Muskogee, Mr. Merrick was retired under the law in 1931. The sundering of the ties that had bound him to the service, deeply touched his 139 friends in the Indian office, who tendered a banquet to him and his wife as an expression of the strong affection in which he was held by them, and of deep regret at the termination of their long and pleasant association. Many beautiful and touching speeches were made, testifying to the affection in which Mr. Merrick was held, and telegrams and letters were read from prominent men in high official positions in the Indian Service in Washington, expressing their regret that they could not be present to testify to the high esteem with which he and his service were regarded in the Indian Department.

Edward Merrick was a member of the First Methodist Episcopal Church, and of all the Masonic bodies, including the Shrine. He had been a member of the Odd Fellows for nearly fifty years. He died November 4, 1933, at his home in Muskogee. He was survived by his widow, by a brother, Dr. Charles H. Merrick, and his sister Mrs. J. W. Miller, both of Okawville, Illinois. Other survivors are Mr. C. R. Harriman and Mrs. Rachel Harriman of Shawnee, Oklahoma.

The funeral services at the First Methodist Episcopal Church in Muskogee, were conducted by Rev. W. E. Robinson, and the mortal remains of Mr. Merrick were buried at Greenhill Cemetery, Muskogee, November 6, 1933.

—Grant Foreman.

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