October 29, 2022

Moses Merrill, 1803-1840 [RG2242.AM]


RG2242.AM: Moses Merrill, 1803-1840

Papers: 1832-1937
Bellevue, Douglas County, Neb.: Missionary
Size: 0.5 cu.ft.; 1 box and 1 reel of microfilm


Moses Merrill was born on December 15, 1803. His parents, Daniel and Susannah, lived in Sedgwick, Maine, where his father served as pastor of the Baptist church. Most of Moses’ young manhood was spent in teaching in Sedgwick and, in April of 1829, he was licensed to preach.

In October of that year Merrill moved to Michigan Territory where, with his brother, he taught, studied and preached preparatory to entering the mission field. On June 1, 1830, he married Miss Eliza Wilcox and two years later they were appointed missionaries at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. From there the missionary family went briefly to Shawnee Mission, Kansas, and in October of 1833, to Bellevue, Indian Territory (now Nebraska).

At Bellevue they established a school for Indian children and offered the natives medical as well as spiritual treatment. In 1835 the Oto moved to a new location six miles from the mouth of the Platte River on its northern bank. The mission family moved that same year to remain with the Oto Indians. By 1839 Merrill, who had been physically frail from boyhood, contracted tuberculosis. After slightly more than six years at Bellevue, Moses Merrill died on February 6, 1840.


This collection consists of one manuscript box of diaries, correspondence, reports and clippings arranged in six series: 1) Diaries, 1832-1841; 2) Correspondence, 1832-1842, 1886, 1892, 1913; 3) Addresses to the Indians by Moses Merrill, 1839; 4) Historical & biographical material; 5) Scrapbook, 1912, 1937; and 6) Miscellany.

The bulk of this collection relates to the missionary and personal affairs of Moses and Eliza Merrill, 1832-1842. Series 1 is comprised of diaries kept by them, in both original and typescript form, which detail their experience with the Oto Indians in the 1830s at Bellevue. Series 2 contains correspondence & reports relating to their designation as missionaries and the eventual operation of the Oto mission. In addition to correspondence to and from Moses and Eliza, there are letters from Peter Zweible and John Bates relating to twentieth century use of the Merrill Mission. Series 3 consists of two addresses by Merrill to the Oto in 1839. Series 4 and Series 5 contain later-day biographical material. Series 6 holds contemporary fragmentary material relating to Mrs. Merrill.

Selected documents have been microfilmed and the film can be found in the Reference Room under MS0432. Microfilmed material is marked with an asterisk on the inventory.


Series 1 – Diaries, 1832-1841

Box 1

  1. Diaries (Merrill), Nov. 29, 1832 – May 14, 1834 (Original)* (also on microfilm)
  2. Diary (Merrill), Nov. 29, 1832 – Sept. 14, 1839 (Typescript)
  3. Name Index to diary, Nov. 29, 1832 – Sept. 14, 1839
  4. Diary, Eliza Wilcox Merrill, May 20, 1832 – July 13, 1841 (Original)* (also on microfilm)
  5. Diary, Eliza Wilcox Merrill, 1832-1841 (Typescript)

Series 2 – Correspondence and Reports, 1832-1913

  1. Moses Merrill – letters, papers, reports, 1832-1842, and 1886 (Original)* (also on microfilm)
  2. General correspondence and reports, 1832-1842; 1886 (Typescript)
  3. Moses & Eliza Merrill to Thomas Merrill, 1883-1838
  4. John Dougherty to Moses Merrill, 1834-1837 (Original)* (also on microfilm)
  5. John Dougherty to Moses Merrill, 1834-1837 (Typescript)
  6. Eliza Wilcox Merrill to Moses Merrill, June 1839* (Typescript)* (also on microfilm)
  7. Peter Zwiebel & John Bates, 1913

Series 3 – Addresses by Moses Merrill to the Indians

  1. Addresses given in August and September, 1839 (copies)

Series 4 – Historical and Biographical Material

  1. Obituary, M. Merrill
    Merrill Mission narrative accounts
    Brief genealogy
    Memorial to the Merrills* (also on microfilm)

Series 5 – Scrapbook, 1912, 1937

  1. Clippings about the Merrills

Series 6 – Miscellany

  1. Fragmentary correspondence & account, “Traditions of the Otoes,” by Mrs. Merrill (Original)


Subject headings:

Bellevue (Neb.) — History
Dougherty, John, 1791-1860
Indians of North America — Missions
Indians of North America — Religion and mythology
Merrill Family
Merrill, Eliza Wilcox
Merrill, Moses, 1803-1840
Missionaries — Nebraska
Oto Indians — Religion and mythology


nd   06-16-1997
DHH/ct   12-17-1975
Revised TMM   05-17-2008; 01-30-2024

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