Hon. Isaac Darwin Merrill, a well-known public man of Contoocook, is a son of Isaac and Mary (Wyman) Merrill, born October 1, 1814, in Hopkinton village, N.H. The father, a native of Hollis, Hillsborough County, born June 15, 1784, was a cooper by trade, and worked in Boston, Portland, and Troy, N.Y. When Isaac D. was about a year old, the family moved from Hopkinton to Hillsborough Bridge, where his father was employed at his trade. Later, more than sixty years ago, he settled in Contoocook, built the house where the subject of this sketch now resides, worked at his trade for some time longer, and died there, September 8, 1883, aged ninety-nine years, two months, and twenty-four days. He is well remembered in the community, among whom he is still spoken of as “Boss Merrill .” He was a man of strong frame and good health, industrious and apt to outdo his coworkers. Shortly before his death he became blind; and his last years were spent quietly at the homestead with his son, Isaac Darwin Merrill. He had three wives, whom he outlived. His first marriage was made with Mary Wyman, of Deering, who died May 31, 1843. She had eight children, six of whom, three sons and three daughters, reached maturity. The eldest, Clarinda, married Joseph L. Upton, of Contoocook, where she died after passing her eightieth year. Her husband, who was a wheelwright, built their house in Contoocook. The second child, the subject of this sketch, is the only one of this Milton Wyman, who did not marry, resided with his father, and died in 1856, at the age of forty years; James Madison, who was also a bachelor, and lived chiefly in New York and Boston; Emily, who married Alonzo Currier, of Contoocook, and died in February, 1896; and Annette, who married Levi F. Mason, of Marlboro, N.H., and died in 1892.
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When ten years old, Isaac Darwin Merrill went to live with an uncle, John Smith, on a farm at Newport. Here he remained until he was fourteen, doing much hard work, and often walking back the twenty-five miles from Hillsborough after visiting his family. After leaving Newport, he worked on a farm in Hillsborough, attending school in the winter and boarding at home. Having learned the cooper’s trade, he worked at it somewhat with his father and others in Contoocook. When about eighteen years of age his father placed him with a store-keeper, who was also, at that time, the postmaster of East Weare. At the age of twenty-one years or thereabout he went to Boston, and afterward worked as a hotel clerk there and in Malden for about five years. In 1842, having saved about eight hundred dollars, he returned to Contoocook, and in company with his brother, Milton W., started a store, to which he devoted his attention for several years, although it did not prove a very profitable venture. From 1853 to 1861 he served for much of the time as Postmaster, and in 1843 he was made Justice of the Peace. In the latter capacity he has served continuously for over half a century, doing the greater part of the conveyancing of Contoocook, officiating at many marriages, and settling many estates. Although not a member of the bar, he has an extensive knowledge of law, and receives the full confidence of those whose business he has conducted. As its Treasurer he handled the funds of the town for more than thirty years. In 1854 and again in 1856 he served in the State legislature, securing the incorporation of the local academy, which has been of much benefit to the village. His money is largely invested in his own town, where he owns much real estate. He has never married. Now, at the age of eighty-two years, Mr. Isaac Darwin Merrill, is a wholesouled, genial man, attending personally to his numerous affairs, in connection with which he visits, with something of his old energy, the business centres to which those duties draw him. Even at his advanced age he is still keen, shrewd, and active.