Henry Wilson Merriam

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Biographical Encyclopedia: Successful Men of New Jersey

Frederick W. Ricord, Librarian of the New Jersey Historical Society
Volume 1, Page 47,
New York
New Jersey Historical Publishing Co., 1896

Henry Wilson Merriam, manufacturer, son of Elisha Jones and Lucy Rebecca (Lane) Merriam, of Merriam Hill, Mason, New Hampshire, was born June 20th, 1828. The foundation of his education was laid in the common schools of his native town, but while yet a boy he attended the public schools of North Brookfield and Worcester, Mass., and his studies were completed at Appleton Academy, New Ipswich. When sixteen years of age he removed to Worcester, Mass., where he reside until he attained his majority, when he located in New York City.

From 1851 until 1861 young Merriam was in the boot and shoe jobbing business in New York City (associated with J. T. Patten and John J. Lane), which had been successful, but owing to the conditions brought about by the war, the firm was dissolved, and Merriam soon commenced the manufacture of shoes for the army, and during the war period manufactured for and disposed of to the Govermnetnt a large quantity of those goods. After the close of the war Mr. Merriam turned the product of his factory to that of shoes for ladies, misses and children, producing for a period more than half a million pairs annually, which were distributed by jobbers in New York and other large cities.

His business had grown to such large proportions, and had become so sucessful, that in 1873 he was prompted to move his plant to Newton, N. J., where he could be relieved of some of the oppressive conditions exacted by the officers of labor associations. Up to that time there had been no manufacturing concerns of magnitude in Newton, but when Mr. Merriam’s factory, which was fully equipped with machinery of the most approved kind, came into operation it opened up a new erea, not only for Newton, but for the whole of Sussex County, and to-day the Merriam Shoe Facotry is looked upon as a matter of pride for the place, and no doubt it will continue to be, as it was the first extensive manufactory of note in that section.

In all his long business career in New Jersey Mr. Merriam has never had any trouble with his employees, but, on the other hand, he has always been held in the highest esteem by both his workmen and his brother citizens. An example of the generous manner in which he treats those to who he gives employment was exhibited on his sixty-fourth birthday, which occurred in 1892, when he distributed ten thousand dollars among those in his emply as a testimonial of his appreciation of their faithful performance of duty.

June 16th, 1859, Mr. Merriam was married to Frances P., daughter of George F.and Mary (Bush) Gulliver, of North Brookfiedl, Mass., who traces her ancestry back to Lord Howe. They have no children.

Mr. Merriam has always declined to accept any political position. He is a member of the Presbyterian Church, and has served for many years as president of the board of Trustees of the Church of Newton. He is the treasurer of the H. W. Merriam Shoe Company Building and Loan Association; also a director and one of the executive committe of the Merchants’ National Bank, of Newton, and president and treasurer of the H. W. Merriam Shoe Company. He was executor of the estate of his brother, Samuel L. Merriam, and guardian for his children. He was also appointed executor of the estate of his mother, and of the estate of Mrs. John J. Lane, and guardian for her children.