Friday, May 16, 2014

52 Ancestors #17: Ebenezer Merriam - Printer

   Ebenezer Merriam was born Dec. 15, 1777 in Leicester (or possibly Paxton), Massachusetts, son of Ebenezer and Margaret (Jefferson). At the age of thirteen, he began a six year apprenticeship in Worcester, with Isaiah Thomas, the well known printer, and publisher of the "Worcester Spy."  Mr. Merriam spent a few months in Boston following his apprenticeship, and then, in 1798, established, with his brother Dan,  E. Merriam & Co., a printing and book binding business, located in the West Parish of Brookfield, (now West Brookfield.)  The company's first publishing venture was the a newspaper known as the "Political Repository or Farmers' Journal,"  which was sold at an annual subscription price of one dollar and seventy-five cents. Printed on a printing press which had formerly been used by Benjamin Franklin, its publication continued for a period of three years.  The number of subscribers and advertisers was insufficient to sustain the "Repository," even though the subscription price was lowered to a dollar and fifty cents fairly early in its publication; and thus, the brothers turned their attention to printing and binding law books, text books, dictionaries, and BiblesDan Merriam died in 1823, and Ebenezer continued in the business with Dan's son George, changing the name to E. & G. Merriam of West Brookfield.  The Merriam Printing Office building at the corner of West Main and Central Sts. was built between 1824 and 1829 (another source says 1810), and is still in use today.  George left the business in 1831, and formed the G. & C. Merriam Company in Springfield with his brother Charles.  Ebenezer continued in business in West Brookfield until his retirement in 1848. 

Merriam Printing Office Building as it appears today. ( From West Brookfield Reconnaissance Report 2008 for MA  Dept. of Conservation and Recreation)
   Ebenezer married Sally Hitchcock, the daughter of Moses and Hannah (Williston)Hitchcock, on Nov. 28, 1799 in Brookfield.  Three children were born to this couple.  They were Sarah Hitchcock Merriam born 1801, who married physician and surgeon, Phineas Royce and resided in Niagara Falls, New York; Caroline Maria Merriam, born 1802 and died 1819; and Ebenezer Parsons Merriam, born 1804, married Rachel Randall in 1831, and died in 1881.  Sadly, Ebenezer's wife Sarah died in January of 1805. 
   Ebenezer married second, in Brookfield in 1814,  Mary Cutler, daughter of Joseph and Martha (Brown) Cutler. He died of old age on Oct. 1, 1858, in West Brookfield. Mary died Nov. 4, 1861. They did not have children.

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