Portrait from the History of Lewis County, New York, 1883.
Just a few days following a write up on Lewis County, New York assemblyman Rutson Rea, an oddly named contemporary of his receives a profile, Eliada Sanford Merrell. A former District Attorney of Lewis County and county judge for over a decade, Merrell served in the latter office at the same time Rutson Rea sat in the state assembly (1886). The son of Seth and Mabel (Sanford) Merrell, Eliada Sanford Merrell was born on November 21, 1820, in Schoharie County, New York. In addition to Eliada Sanford, the Merrell family also boasted another prominent political figure, his younger brother Nathaniel Anson Merrell (1829-1896), a resident of De Witt, Iowa. Following his removal to that city, Nathaniel Merrell was elected as its mayor and served multiple terms in both the Iowa house of representatives and senate between 1872 and 1896.
Removing with his family to Copenhagen, New York while still a child, Eliada Merrell worked his family's farm during his youth and studied at various schools in the Lewis and Jefferson County area, including the Denmark High School, the Lowville Academy, and the Black River Literary and Religious Institute in Watertown. After deciding upon a career in law in the early 1840s Merrell began to study in the offices of Ruger and Moore in Watertown, and continued his studies in Lowville and Lyons Falls, reading under New York state senator and Lewis County judge Francis Seger in the latter town.
Admitted to the state bar in 1846, Eliada Merrell began his law practice in Copenhagen and married in June 1850 to Emeline Anderson Clark (1821-1904). The couple's forty-eight-year marriage saw the births of two sons, Lorenzo Eliada (1851-1862) and Edgar Sanford Keene Merrell (1865-1942). Of these children, Edgar S.K. Merrell would follow his father into law, serving as Lewis County judge from 1903-09 and was elected to the New York State Supreme Court in November 1909. In the years following his son's births, Merrell would relocate his practice to Lowville, where he continued to reside until his death.
Eliada S. Merrell made his first entrance into Lewis County politics in November 1850 when he was a successful candidate for Lewis County District Attorney, besting Edward A. Brown by a vote of 1,942 to 1,619. He would continue in that post until November 1856, when he was defeated by Henry Turner, and in November 1867 was again elected to that office, serving from 1868-70.
Judge Merrell's home in Lowville.
After several years away from county politics, Eliada Merrell was returned to public office in November 1874 when he was elected to a six-year term as County Judge and Surrogate for Lewis County. He would win a second term in November 1880 and served until January 1, 1887. A member of the Trinity Episcopal Church following his judgeship, Merrell "took a deep interest" in the affairs of that church until his death at his Lowville home on Independence Day 1898. The Watertown Herald attributes Merrell's death to pneumonia, which he had come down with ten days prior. He was survived by his wife and son Edgar, all of whom were interred in the Merrell family plot at the Lowville Rural Cemetery.
From the Watertown Daily Times, July 5, 1898.