When I first began researching my family tree, I contacted all of my Merry/Hanford cousins in order to collect a digital copy of every photo and document about our family that had been passed down to our various branches. It seems that my grandparents divided up the family items between their three children – Mary Ann Merry Hanford, Jane Alice Merry Belles and James Merry. Each group of cousins now possess a different collection of family heirlooms.
My Merry cousins in Arkport, NY, have a wonderful collection that includes some notes in my grandmother’s (Kathryn Hinman Merry’s) handwriting. Our Nana was a great source of family stories and made an effort to record what she knew of the Merry family genealogy.
The following is a transcription of Nana’s notes – as written. As with all of our oral history, these “facts” should be taken with a grain of salt. Throughout my research, I have verified most of what Nana wrote, but some has been proven false. Oral history is like a game of “telephone”. Bits and pieces of these stories get lost or changed as they are passed from generation to generation. Oral history is a great starting point for genealogical research, but without documentation, it’s really just hearsay. It is not evidence of anything. (See post – “Our Oral History” – for an example of this.)
However, in my mind, notes such as these are among the most precious things in my collection of family items. In addition to Nana’s notes about our ancestors, I have a letter from Pop, written to cousin Kristen, about the Donovan family history. I have a booklet of family history written by my Uncle Jim about the Merry clan. From Sally’s side of my family, I have audio tapes recorded by my father-in-law, Tom Baker, as he interviewed his grandfather in order to preserve his oral history. Mike Cringle, one of Sally’s distant cousins in England, wrote and published a small book about his family stories. All of these things are precious to me. Not only are they a jumping off point for my research, they also bring me closer to all the amateur genealogists in the family.
So, “Thank You” Nana and Pop, Uncle Jim, Tom and Mike. It’s good to know we share a passion for our family history and understand the importance of making a record of it. I’m not the only nut in this family tree!
Alice Violet Fielden & George Howard Merry
Alice Violet Fielden (Fielding in US)
Born about 1876 – Hamilton Ontario, raised in Hamilton, learned to be a tailor and hat maker. About 1898-1900 emigrated to Utica NY to be with her brother Bill. He drafted to Boer War in So. Africa. She then supported her family until she married Geo Merry. Family then broke up because Father drunk, mother insane. Later she made Carhart clothes in her home, always employed. Difficulty in childbirth. Had many children. Only Fred and Stafford survived. Stafford killed at age 10 about 1920 when car ran over him. She and Geo operated Service Sta. in Utica from 1925 – 1947. She drove a car from 1913 on. Died 1958 – Parkinson’s disease.
George Howard Merry
Born Beaver Falls NY, (Lewis Co.) 5/18/81. Raised around Lewis Co. until he was 16 yrs old. Went with his bro in 1897 to Utica to learn to be a machinist. His brother was a butcher there. He was machinist for inventor. Later Fisher Knitting machine set-up man – travelled all over US. Worked as a loom fixer for Utica Knit. Also, supervisor at Utica Knit. In business with Alice at service station then basket shop on Rt. 5 in Vernon NY. Hobbies – Hunting, Fishing, carpentry, photography. He could do anything. He had a quiet nature similar to his mother. The rest of his bro and sisters were noisy. He was quiet not shy. Also, not the best looking of the family. About 5’ 8” – 155 lbs. No sicknesses. Died Vernon NY, 2/9/62.
Alice violet merry’s parents
Rosetta Silverstein Fielden
Born London England about 1840? In the Jewish Ghetto. Her parents were jewelers specializing in crystal and glass. She died insane at Hamilton, Ont about 1901.
Born Lancashire in the north of England. Educated a stationary Engineer in England, produced steam for a large mill in Hamilton, Ont. His sister Jane came to Ont, had a farm at Dundas. Her family still there. James died an alcoholic in Utica NY about 1903.
William Fielding, wife Magna from Norway. 3 children – Olive, Nils, Bill. All had children and live in the Portland Maine area. All very successful.
Janet Fielding Hurst – no children – lived to be 112
George wadsworth merry
George Wadsworth Merry
Born – town Watson, Lewis Co. NY, August 13, 1838. Died Jan 4, 1930. Buried West Carthage. Married Martha Banning fall 1863 while on leave from the Civil War. She was born Sept 1843. She died of a heart attack after shopping for hats in the winter of 1910 or 1911.
Geo. W. traveled to Strawberry Point, Iowa with his parents as a child. Did not return after their trip back East. Was in Civil War in its entirety. He was in Calvary. Acted as scout, also Corps of Engineers where he learned Joiners trade. After Martha died, he married Francis Coonrad and lived many years in Boonville. Other Children: Minnie 1879-1968, Florence 1885-1977, Bertha 1883-1952, Elbert 1875-1938, Ida died as a child, Jess 1867-1954, Clara 1865-1932.
Picture taken 1905 in house on South Main, West Carthage. Martha Banning Merry and Geo W. Merry retired in this house.
Picture includes: Standing Left Fred Smith, Elbert (Bill) Merry R. Seated: Jessie Merry Smith, Geo W. Merry, Martha Banning Merry, Clara Merry who later married Frank Stafford who took the picture. Clara and Jess lived in Little Falls, each married to wealthy men who operated woolen mills there. Neither had any children. Elbert Merry married Rose ______ from Ganonoque, Ontario. They had a farm in Evans Mills, Jefferson Co. NY. For many years he also was a butcher. Rose Merry’s son’s people still occupy the farm. The rest of the land has been sold for Camp Drum.
Frederic merry & susan cone merry
Born: Lowville NY 1812 (raised at Merry Hill, Boonville)
Died: 1900 – never any known medical ailments. Buried Beaches Bridge.
Lived town Watson, Lewis Co, NY. For many years – Strawberry Pt., Iowa and Saratoga, Wisconsin.
Occupation: Pioneer, Farmer (at Beeches Bridge, Lewis Co.)
Built log cabins, cleared land with oxen, built wagons, (perhaps canal boats). He knew how to do or build most anything.
Characteristics: Very outspoken, (illegible), good dancer, social person. He marched to his own tune. Geo H. (his grandson) stayed a lot with him as a child.
Stature – 5’ 10” about 165 lbs – as a young man good looking.
Susan Cone Merry
Born: 1813 Died: 1899
Her family had (illegible) and land grant maybe near Talcotville. Her family felt she married into a very hard life. They felt she had the most promise of their 14 children.
Occupation: Operated hotel in Strawberry Point, Iowa – 10 yrs; boarding house in Watson; midwife training. She did it all. Sod buster. Paper hanger. Fred drove (illegible).
Other children who grew up – Adelbert, Bruce, Helen, John, ___, ___, ___ – 10 in all.
Characteristics – very hard worker, intelligent, pleasing personality handsome when young. Rather quiet. Proud nature. Very helpful. Honest. She was tutored at home, for her time well educated.
Stature: 5’ 9” – 150 lbs – very healthy.
list of merry generations
Frederick Merry (ancestors)
John Merry IV 1790 – 1813 Born Merry Hill, Boonville
John Merry III 2/24/1760 – 1840? Born Pittsfield, Mass; Died Boonville NY
John Merry II 3/28/1720 – 1/7/1792 Born Martha’s Vineyard; Died Pittsfield
John Merry 9/17/1689 – 10/4/1771 Martha’s Vineyard
Samuel Merry 11/16/1669 – 10/6/1739 Martha’s Vineyard
Joseph Merry 1607 – 1710 Joseph born N. Ireland; went as prisoner to New Hampshire – age 30. Died at Martha’s Vineyard