MARIA LOUISA (SAMPSON) MERRILL
Born: April 15, 1825 – Duxbury, Massachusetts
Died: April 15, 1913 – Francitas, Texas
Buried: Graveyard Unknown – Francitas, Texas
Written and Contributed by Clay Stubbins, December 27, 2007
Maria Louisa Sampson was born on April 15, 1825 in Duxbury, Massachusetts. Her parents were William Sampson and Caroline Sprague, who were also born in Duxbury. As a direct descendant of both the Sampson and Sprague families of Duxbury, Maria’s ancestors extended back to some of the original settlers of the Plymouth colony in Massachusetts.
Maria had five sisters and two brothers. Besides Maria Louisa, children born in Duxbury were Caroline Amelia Sampson (1817), William Henry Sampson (June 1819), Virginia Sampson (July 15, 1827), Marietta Sampson (1830), and Josephine Sampson (May 24, 1832). Fredonic Sampson (1836) and Elizabeth Julia Sampson (1838) were born in Whiteside County, Illinois.
In 1834, when Maria was 9 years old, the Sampson family moved from Massachusetts to Whiteside County, Illinois, settling in the area that would eventually become the town of Como. Not much is known about what the family did for a living, but it is highly probable they were farmers. The 1840 census shows William Sampson, his brother Henry Briggs Sampson, and a Simeon Sampson (possibly another brother or a cousin?) all living in Whiteside County with their families.
On September 27, 1848, in Whiteside County, Illinois, Maria Sampson married Amos Coburn Merrill. Amos Merrill was the son of Henry Leonard Merrill (1794-1875) and Polly-Marie Dewing (1792-Unknown). Henry Merrill was originally from New Hampshire and was a veteran of the War of 1812, and was a descendant of William Merrill, one of the early settlers of the colony at Newbury, Massachusetts. Polly-Marie Dewing was from Connecticut. Amos Merrill was born in Pennsylvania. The Merrill family at some point moved to Illinois, but it is not known when. Amos’ father, Henry, died in Como, Whiteside County, Illinois on May 24, 1875. Amos’ mother’s death is not recorded.
Amos Merrill and Maria Sampson had seven children, all born in Como, Illinois. They were Charles Parker Merrill (June 8, 1849), Frederick Andrew Merrill (September 7, 1851), Edward Eugene Merrill (March 27, 1853), William Henry Merrill (March 23, 1855), Clifford Sampson Merrill (December 17, 1856), Clara Augusta Merrill (October 13, 1860), and Amos Coburn Merrill Jr. (December 22, 1865). Charles died as an infant in 1850. Frederick and Edward were killed on May 2, 1878, along with 16 other men, in the Washburn ‘A’ Mill explosion in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The four youngest children all lived long and productive lives.
The 1870 census shows Amos and Maria still living in Whiteside County, Illinois, although the township was now called Sterling, with Amos working as a bookkeeper. Their oldest sons Frederick and Edward were working as “day laborers”, and the other children were all in school. The value of Amos’ land holdings was listed as $2,000 and the value of his personal effects as $200.
Prior to 1878, the family had moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota. On the 1880 census, children William, Clifford, Clara and Amos Jr. were still living at home. Frederick and Edward, of course, had tragically been killed in 1878 in the Washburn ‘A’ Mill explosion.
The 1900 census shows Amos and Maria living in St. Paul, Minnesota. Although now 76 years old, Amos was still working as a bookkeeper. Amos Jr., though by now almost 35 years old, was still living at home and working as a telegraph operator.
Amos Coburn Merrill Sr. died in Chicago, Illinois, at age 79, on January 12, 1904. He and Maria may have been there visiting one of Maria’s sisters, Josephine Sampson Thompson, who was living in Chicago at that time. He was buried in Graceland Cemetery in Chicago.
After Amos’ death, Maria returned to Minnesota to live with her daughter, Clara Augusta Merrill, and her son-in-law, Louis Friederich Funk. In November 1911, Louis purchased land in Francitas, Texas. Louis, Clara and Maria, along with Louis’ and Clara’s son, Bryard and his family, all moved to Francitas to establish themselves in what was then a newly developing community. By all accounts, they only stayed there a few years.
Maria Louisa Sampson Merrill died in Francitas, Texas, on April 15, 1913, her 88th birthday. Maria was buried in the Francitas, Texas area, but research to date has not been able to find her gravesite or an obituary.
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Two documents written by Maria Louisa Sampson survive. One is a letter she wrote to her sister, Marietta, on September 23, 1848. The other is an undated letter where she talks about some of her distant ancestors. Transcriptions of these documents are on the following pages.
Maria L. Sampson Letter
Marietta Sampson was a younger sister of Maria Louisa Sampson and was 18 years old at the time of this letter. William Sampson was Maria Louisa’s older brother and was 29 years old at the time of this letter. Maria Louisa Sampson was 23 years old when she wrote this letter, and just four days later she married Amos Coburn Merrill.
Addressed to “Miss Marietta Sampson, Chicago, Illinois, Care of William Sampson.”
Como (Illinois), September 23, 1848
I received your letter last Sunday and was very glad to hear from you all. I should have answered it before this time, but I have not had time. I have been making a drape and Flora has been sick so I have had to help Virginia. (Virginia was one of Maria Louisa’s younger sisters. Flora was Virginia’s oldest daughter, who was 18 months old at the time of this letter. Virginia had married Henry Gurnsey in 1845.) She has had the ague (chills, fever and sweating) and she had a very hard fit. She has now got to be quite smart. I suppose that you sometimes think of Como and all of the folks but you must not get homesick. I am glad to hear that father has gone into business. (This reference to ‘father going into business’ means that her parents, William Sampson and Caroline Sprague, had probably recently moved to Chicago. Both William and Caroline lived out their lives in Chicago and are buried in Graceland Cemetery there.) Hope that he will do well.
Lauriston and Elmira came here the same night that you went away and boarded with us until last Tuesday morning and then went to housekeeping. You want to know when Amos and myself are coming out there. Well, we are going to start next Wednesday morning. Everything goes on here about the same as ever. Ann Roy is to be married in a few days. Peaches are now ripe. We have had considerably many. Caroline sends them to us. Virginia is going to preserve some today. Caroline’s folks are all well as was the last time I was there which was about two weeks ago. I think that I shall go there tomorrow which is Sunday.
Frances has moved into her house and grand-ma has gone with her. Frances has had another of those horrid sores on her face. She is now quite smart I believe. I am very glad that William Henry and little Clifford have got well. (William Henry Sampson was Maria Louisa’s older brother and John Clifford was William Henry’s son. William Henry was 29 years old and John Clifford but one month old at the time of this letter.) You wrote that you saw Mr. Randall. How did he look? Quite natural, I suppose. I should like to see him very much if he should call to see you. Give my respects to him and tell him I think I shall be in Chicago a week from tonight if I have good luck. Little Flora would like to see you all very much. If we ask her if you are gone she will say yes. You must have that trunk ready for me when I come.
Mrs. Pitts and the rest of the folks are all well. Give my love to all. Excuse this as I am in a great hurry.
Yours in haste,
Maria L. Sampson
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Undated Letter Written by (probably transcribed from) Maria Louisa Sampson Merrill
Maria Louisa Sampson Merrill
Born April 15, 1825 – Died April 15, 1913
On April 15, 1825, I was born in Duxbury, Massachusetts, a beautiful little town about twenty-five miles from Boston and about nine miles from Plymouth where the Pilgrims landed. It is now a quiet suburb but formerly a great many vessels were built there and my father and uncle owned several – the Manila Angler, Freetrade and the Faithful.
When a child I often went to the shipyard and gathered sprucegum from the spars but had no idea that gum chewing would become as popular as it now is. In the south part of the town is a high hill called Captain’s Hill at the base of which Miles Standish built his house and now on the hill is a fine monument erected to his memory. At the other end of the town is the old John Alden house which I have visited many times.
Now I will tell you something about my ancestors. I am descended from Miles Standish, John Alden and Henry Sampson. Longfellow was also descended from Henry Sampson. I am of the sixth generation. Henry Sampson was a youth of sixteen and John Alden was twenty-one when they came over on the Mayflower. You all know that he married Priscilla Mullens so I will tell you a little about the wedding. One of my grandfathers was Job Sampson and the father was Seth Sprague. Job Sampson was a seafaring man and on one of his voyages he and his crew were taken captives by people that had never seen a white man and they stripped them and paraded them through the place after which they were put in a dungeon. My grandfather was afterwards taken out and put in a field at work but someone became a friend to him and helped him to escape and he came back to the United States. My other grandfather Seth Sprague history says grandfather Sprague was the father of fifteen children that all lived to be married. Eleven girls were married in the same room and I think that Roosevelt (probably a reference to Teddy Roosevelt) would be satisfied with that number.
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P.S. (Added in another person’s handwriting, probably her grand-daughter, Alma Alseth Funk) : Merrill was grandmother, 88 years old when she passed away in Francitas, Texas – where she is buried. She had two sons who were killed at the big explosion at the Pillsbury Flour Mills long ago in Minneapolis, Minnesota. A large monument erected for all those killed is in a large cemetery in Minneapolis with names of all those killed – always remembered by the people of Minneapolis.
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