FAMILY OF CAPTAIN BENJAMIN MERRELL AND JEMIMA SMITH

FAMILY OF CAPTAIN BENJAMIN MERRELL AND JEMIMA SMITH

CAPTAIN BENJAMIN MERRILL was born about 1731 in Monmouth/Hunterdon County, New Jersey, and died June 19, 1771 in  the yard of the Guilford Co., North Carolina courthouse.  He married JEMIMA SMITH before 1748 in New Jersey, daughter of ANDREW SMITH and ANNA MERSHON.  She died about  1803 in Rowan County, North Carolina.  Per Pat Trask of California, they moved to Rowan County, North Carolina about 1757.  He was head of the North Carolina Regulators and was hanged by Governor Tyron in the courtyard of the Guilford County, North Carolina Courthouse for insurrection against the Crown of England. Captain Merrill was a farmer and blacksmith/gunsmith. 

 FROM "CAPTAIN BENJAMIN MERRILL AND THE MERRILL FAMILY OF NORTH CAROLINA" BY WILLIAM ERNEST MERRILL, M.S.

 CHAPTER I - THE MAN

 Captain Benjamin Merrill, one of the first North Carolinians to give his life for the sake of Liberty, was hanged (North Carolina Colonial Records, Vol. S, Pgs 643-648) by the British at the Courthouse in Hillsborough on the 19th day of June, 1771.

 (Please note descent from Richard Merrill is questionable.)  He was a descendant of Richard Merrill ('Annuals of Staten Island', pgs 105-107 by J.J. Clute) who had come across form England about 1665 to make a home in the New World.  The freedom loving and adventurous spirit which marked his ancestors as far back as 1572 was very clearly shown in the life of Benjamin Merrill, for he, in his turn, left his home in Hopewell, New Jersey to make a journey into a far and little known southland, where he encountered many hardships and became known as a courageous and distinguished man.  Perhaps another reason, other than adventure, for his departure from New Jersey was the fact that his father died without giving him  a plantation as was the custom of that day.  Benjamin's southern journey ended in the Jersey Settlement of Rowan County, now Davidson County, North Carolina.  This particular part of the old North State was supposed to have been settled by a group of New Jersey Baptists.  The Merrill plantation was located about two miles east of the Jersey Church and on the edge of the settlement, which was about five miles south of the now prosperous little city of Lexington.  Land records (Deed Book 4, pgs. 363-365, Rowan County) show that he purchased 1042 acres in the Parish of St. Luke on the north side of the Yadkin River from George Smith on September 9 and 10, 1760.  The old plantation home was surrounded by a grove of beautiful and majestic oaks and cedars.  One old cedar stands today to mark the old house place.  One writer (Henry Sheets, 'History of the Liberty Baptist Association' pg. 159) laments the fact that these venerable old trees cannot speak, for they could tell us much valuable history of the eventful years between 1760 and 1800.  Tradition says that Benjamin was a gunsmith and that a small creek at the foot of the hill near where his residence stood afforded the power necessary to operate the simple machinery used in boring out the barrels.  In the evening, he would arrange a barrel for boring, start his crude machinery and leave it running all night.  By morning, the barrel was ready for the next step in its manufacture.

We know that our hero was in the Jersey Settlement by 1756, four years before any land deeds were recorded, for 'on January 24, 1756, Benjamin Merrill and others (were) named to appear (in court) to show reasons for not going out against the Owens, who it was thought committed several misdemeanors, etc. (Rowan County Minutes, 1756).  We know further that he was a young married man when he started to North Carolina.  He had married Jemima Smith, the daughter of Andrew Smith (Andrew Smith's will proved 1794, Liber 25, Folio 114.  Department of State, Hopewell, New Jersey) of Hopewell, New Jersey, and their second son, John (Pension Records of John Merrill, claim number S.7220, Veterans Administration, Washington), was born at Hopewell on December 11, 1750.  It is evident that the dangerous and weary trip to North Carolina Came in the five years between 1751 and 1756."

FROM "SOME NEGLECTED HISTORY OF NORTH CAROLINA" BY WILLIAM EDWARDS FITCH, M.D., PAGES 240-241

One of the most amusing incidents of Tyron's Campaign occurred on June 1, 1771, just after the army crossed Abbott's Creek and went into the camp on Benjamin Merrill's plantation, a valuable tract of well cultivated land in the Jersey settlement, near the Yadkin River.  The horses belonging to the army had been turned loose at night to graze, each animal having a bell tied to its neck to aid in finding any which might stray.  In the immediate neighborhood was the residence, gardens and grounds of Benjamin Merrill, a planter, who owned and took a great deal of pride in an extensive apiary which was located in the gardens.  A foraging party from Tyron's army were attempting to steal honey from this place, and in the darkness, several beehives were overturned and the bees began stinging both men and horses.  The horses thereupon began to run pell-mell at a full gallop around and through the camp, ringing several hundred discordant bells, the sound of which made the night hideous.  The sentinels, guards and pickets fired off their pieces, and the cry "Stand your arms" rung throughout the camp.  Tyron no doubt thought all the regulators in the world had suddenly swooped down upon him.  However, in the cause of the tumult was soon ascertained and quiet was restored.  (State Records of North Carolina, Vol. 19, p. 849).

CAPTAIN BENJAMIN MERRILL

Captain Messer, who, as you remember, was captured just after the Battle of Alamance, along with the poor unfortunate few, who was hanged on the battlefield without trial by jury or by court martial, was to have been hanged the following day, but owing to a very affecting incident already noted, he was reserved for the Hillsborough fete, June 19, 1771.

Captain Benjamin Merrill, of the Jersey settlements, near Salisbury, was another of the unfortunate victims of Tyron's brutal tyranny.  He was on his way to join the Regulators at Alamance with a company of more than 300 men, when he intercepted General Hugh Waddell and forced him to flee to Salisbury, after taking most of his command prisoners.  Captain Merrill was within one day's march of the Alamance when he heard the cannonading, and soon afterwards heard of the victory of the Governor's (Tyron's) army.  He is said to have regretted that he was not present with his men to have bled with those who fought for liberty.

After hearing of the defeat of his comrades, he disbanded his men and returned home.  He was taken prisoner (State Records of N.C., Vol. 19, p. 849) by a detachment under Colonel Fanning, and brought to Tyron's army, encamped at the "Jersey Settlement Camp", on Saturday, June 1, 1771; put in chains with the other prisoners, and dragged through the country to Hillsborough, where with his life he paid the forfeit.  In this trying situation, he gave his friends satisfactory evidence that he was prepared to die, for he not only professed his faith in Christ, his hope of heaven, and his willingness to go, but sang a psalm very devoutly, like the Covenanters in the grass market in Edinburgh, and died like a Christian and Soldier.  On being permitted to speak just before the execution, he said that fifteen years before, he had been converted, but had back-slidden, yet now felt that he was freely forgiven and that he would not change places with any ones on the grounds.  In conclusion, he referred feelingly to his wife and eight children, saying, "I entreat that no reflection be cast upon them on my account" and requested that some part of his estate be spared for the widow and the fatherless.  It is said that one of Tyron's soldiers was heard to declare that if all men went to the gallows with a character such as Captain Merrill's "hanging would be an honorable death".

If Captain Merrill with his 300 men had reached the Alamance the day before the battle, the Regulators would have had a commanding officer and the result might have been quite different from what it was.  These men might have been rash, but they were not cowards; they may have been imprudent, but they were suffering under wrong and outrage, and the withholding of justice and the proper excise of the law.  "And if oppression and extortion will make a wise man mad," then ten years of oppression and extortion which these men suffered would have proved them fit for subjection had they been submissive.

Governor Tyron with his own hand fired the first shot at the Battle of Alamance, which killed Robert Thompson, the first to die at Alamance, Thursday, May 16, 1771.  It was here that the first blood was shed for American freedom and independence; it was here that the British first met the Americans - The Regulators, on the battlefield.  The Battle of Almance, not the Battle of Lexington was the first battle of the Revolutionary War.

THESE ACCOUNTS WERE SENT TO ME BY PAT TRASK OF  CALIFORNIA

 THE REGULATOR PAPERS

 PAGE 495 -  ...On the ninth of June I returned with the army through the Northern part of Orange County to Hillsborough where the Judges were waiting at an Especial Court of Oyer and Terminer to try the prisoners taken in battle, twelve of whom were capitally convicted as traitors, and two acquitted, of which twelve, six were executed the 19th of June near the town of Hillsborough, and by the solicitation of the Officers of the army I suspended the execution of the other six til his Majesty's pleasure should be known; as soon as I can transmit their names I shall solicit in their behalf having in the hurry of obedience to comply with His Majesty's commands to repair this Government, left many papers at Newbern for Governor Martin to this service which I now find I stand in need of.  The executions being over on the 20th, the army marched to the southward and I had received the 13th of June by one of the Judges your Lordship's Dispatch requiring me to take upon me without loss of time the Government of New York, I left the Army early the 20th arrived the 24th at Newbern and on the 30th I embarked with my family for this country.  Benjamin Merrill a Captain of the militia, at the hour of execution left it in charge to the officers to solicit me to petition His Majesty to grant his plantation and estate to his wife and eight children.  He died under a thorough conviction of his crime and the justice of his sentence, and addressed himself to the spectators to take warning by his suffering.  His Majesty's indulgence to this request, would I am persuaded be dutifully and affectionately received by his unhappy widow and children.

 PAGE 529 - ...In the last letter I received from Mr. Tyron relative to the affairs of North Carolina, and which is dated from New York, he expresses a wish that the plantation and estate of Benjamin Merrill, a Captain of the Militia, and who was one of the six rebels executed on the 19th of June may be granted to a wife and eight children he left behind him, and I have it in command from the King to signify to you His Majesty's pleasure, that you do accordingly take the proper measures that whatever property belonging to that unhappy person became forfeited to the Crown by his Conviction, should be regranted to his Widow and Children.

FROM INFO RECEIVED OF LINDA MCCREARY OF ALABAMA

A gunsmith and deacon of Baptist church in Rowan Co.  Purchased 1042 acres in St. Luke Parish - his plantation was about 5 miles south of Lexington, NC - there is a monument to Capt. Ben. Merrell in the courthouse square in Lexington, NC

 FROM THE COLONIAL RECORDS OF NORTH CAROLINA BY WILLIAM L. SAUNDERS, SECRETARY OF STATE, VOL. VIII - 1769 TO 1771

 p. 613  From Ms. Records in the Office of the Secretary of State.

 A Proclamation.

 Whereas, I am informed that many Persons who have been concerned in the late Rebellion are desirous of submitting themselves to Government, I do therefore give notice that every Person who will come in, either to mine or General Waddell's Camp, lay down their Arms, take the Oath of Allegiance, and promise to pay all Taxes that are now due or may hereafter become due by them respectively,  and submit to the Laws of this Country, shall have His Majesty's most gracious and free pardon for all Treasons Insurrections and Rebellions done or committed on or before the 16th Inst., provided they make their submission aforesaid on or before the 10th of June next.  The following Persons are however excepted from the Benefit of this Proclamation, Viz. All the Outlaws, the prisoners in Camp, and the undernamed persons, Samuel Jones, Joshua Teague, Samuel Waggoner, Simon Dunn, Jr., Abraham Creson, Benjamin Merrill, James Wilkerson, Sr., Edward Smith, John Bumpass, Joseph Boring, William Rankin, William Robeson, John Winkler and John Wilcox.

Given under my Hand and the Great Seal of the said Province at Kaiway Camp this 31st May A. Dom. 1771.

Wm. Tyron, God Save the King

pp. 617-618 From Ms. Records in Office of Secretary of State

A Proclamation.

 Whereas I am informed that many Persons who have been concerned in the late Rebellion are desirous of submitting themselves to Government, I do therefore give Notice that every Person who will come in either to mine or General Waddell's Camp, lay down their Arms, take the Oath of Allegiance and promise to pay all Taxes that are now due or may hereafter become due by them respectively and submit to the Laws of this Country shall have His Majesty's most Gracious and Free Pardon for all Treasons, Insurrections and Rebellions done or committed on or before the Sixteenth of May last.

 Provided they make their submission aforesaid on or before the Tenth of July next; the following Persons are however excepted from the Benefit of this Proclamation, Viz., all the Outlaws, the Prisoners, all those concerned in blowing up General Waddell's Ammunition in Mecklenburg County, and the under named Persons to wit, Samuel Jones, Joshua Teague, Samuel Waggoner, Simon Dunn, Jr., Abraham Creson, Benjamin Merrill, James Wilkerson Sen., Edward Smith, John Bumpass, Joseph Boring, William Rankin, William Robeson, John Winkler, John Wilcox, Jacob Felker and Thomas Person.

 Given under my Hand and the Great Seal of the Province, this eleventh day of June A. Dom. 1771.

 (Signed)  Wm. Tyron,  God save the King.

p. 639 - If the foregoing Letter contains the Truth of Facts, what a Pity it is that Benevolus in his Harangue in the Massachusetts Gazette last Thursday, has been so impolitic as to couple Tyron and H---n or rather that his glorious Triumvirate should consist of Bernard, H--- and Tyron.

 By accounts from North Carolina we are informed, that Captain Benjamin Merrill, who was lately executed for high Treason in opposing the Career of Governor Tyron, died in the most heroic Manner, his Children being around him and animating him at the Place of his Execution.  He declared that he died in Peace with his Maker, and in the Cause of his oppressed Countrymen; and that he would not exchange Conditions with even the Governor himself.

 Governor Tyron has been addressed in New York, with all the expression of Court Sincerity.

 pp. 642-643 - To The People Now Assembled in Arms, Who Style Themselves Regulators

 In answer to your Petition, I am to acquaint you that I have ever been attentive to the true interest of this Country, and to that of every Individual residing within it; lament the fatal necessity to which you have reduced me, by withdrawing yourselves from the Mercy of the Crown and the Laws of your Country, to require you who are assembled as Regulators, to lay down your Arms, surrender up the outlawed Ringleaders, and submit yourselves to the Laws of your Country, and then rest on the lenity and mercy of Government:  By accepting Terms in one Hour from the delivery of this Dispatch you will prevent effusion of Blood, as you are at this Time in a state of War and Rebellion against your King, your Country and your Laws.

 It is observable that the Governor does not vouchsafe, even at so critical a time, when the effusion of Blood might have been prevented, and the honor of the government saved by it, to give them the least encouragement, that he would hear their petitions or redress their grievances; but on the contrary, if the following article from the Philadelphia Papers may be credited, he fired upon them with his artillery in breach of his own Terms:

 Extract of a Letter from the back parts of North Carolina, May 26.

 "If Governor Tyron had been as fond of checking the officers of government for their unheard of oppressions to the poor back inhabitants, as he was of shooting these unhappy people, Carolina would not now have felt the horrors of her children murdering one another.  He pretended to give the oppressed people two hours to consider, whether they would fight or surrender, but as soon as their chief men got into a consultation, he began with a dreadful fire on them, from his artillery, with grape-shot, which did great execution.

 The Supreme Court of Oyer and Terminer, for the Tryal of the Regulators in the Back Country, began in Hillsborough the 30th of May, and continued to the 20th of this Instant June; during which, Twelve were tryed, and condemned for High Treason.  The Governor was pleased to suspend the Execution of Six, till his Majesty's Pleasure be known; the other Six were executed on Wednesday, the 19th Inst. at Hillsborough.  Among these last, the most distinguished was Benjamin Merrill, who had been a Captain of the Militia in Rowan County.

When the Chief Justice passed Sentence, he concluded in the following manner:

"I must now close my afflicting Duty, by pronouncing upon you the awful Sentence of the Law; which is, that you Benjamin Merrill, be carried to the Place from whence you came, that you be drawn from thence to the Place of Execution, where you are to be hanged by the Neck; that you be cut down while yet alive, that your Bowels be taken out and burnt before your Face, that your Head be cut off, your Body divided into Four Quarters, and this to be at his Majesty's Disposal; and the Lord have Mercy on your Soul."

pp. 643-647  next follows an accounting of the events leading up to the trial from which I will excerpt..."Thus they marched till they crossed the Alamance Run, in Orange County, on the 16th of May, 1771, without any opposition:  There the 4,000 rebels met them, and sent James Hunter and Benjamin Merril with a petition to the Governor, and orders to treat with his Honour for peace:  To which the Governor answered by his Aid de Camp, that the people must come in, deliver up their arms, pay off their taxes, swear to be subject to all laws of their country, and deliver such men as he should name to be put to death, otherwise there would be bloodshed in one hour and ten minutes.  Before the expiration of the time the Aid de Camp returned, and asked if they wanted more time; they answered, Yes:  He then promised to get them two hours more, which gave the people great hopes of an accommodation.  They army, during this, was marching up, and the people moved off to give them room; and as soon as the Aid de Camp returned, a field piece was fired in the midst of the people, which killed one man, and frightened 3,700 from off the ground, leaving only 300 to settle the matter, who returned the fire briskly for some time, when the Governor hung out a flag, and beat a parley; but they, knowing nothing of the mode of war, continued their fire, on which the Governor concluded that they were determined to give no quarter, and again fired on them, which continued about two hours and a quarter, when Hunter and his men fled, and left the field to the Governor.  How many of the country were killed is uncertain; however, this we know, that there are but thirty missing:  Some say there was but nine killed, and that the Governor lost a great number of men; how that matter is, time only must show.  The Governor took some prisoners, of whom he hanged seven:  The first man was hanged in the camp, because Mr. Famming said he helped pull down his house, when in fact the poor man was not there at the time.  Benjamin Merril was one of the number hanged; a man in general esteem for his honesty, integrity, piety, and moral good life.  The Governor now calls in the inhabitants by proclamation, declaring that the King's pardon shall be given to all that come in:  They immediately go in and comply therewith.  He then proceeds, on the 21st of May, (the day that their accounts by their bonds, was to have been settled) to the houses of those people that entered into bonds as above, and destroyed everything that was in his power to destroy by fire and sword, then marched his army back, with orders to punish all such as should be so hardy as to complain; and thus his Honour returned victorious to his place at Newbern."

"O that my head was water and my eyes a fountain of tears,  That I might weep day and night for the slain of my people."

pp. 648-651 (from Tyron's Letter Book - Letter from Governor Tyron to Earl Hillsborough, New York, 1st August 1771.  I will again excerpt from it as the text is lengthy.)

...On the ninth of June I returned with the army through the western part of Orange county to Hillsborough, where the Judges were waiting, at an especial Court of Oyer and Terminer to try the prisoners taken in battle, twelve of whom were capitally convicted as traitors, and two acquitted, Of which twelve six were executed the 19th of June near the Town of Hillsborough, and by the solicitation of the officers of the army, I suspended the execution of the other six till His Majesty's pleasure should be known, as soon as I can transmit their names I shall solicit on their behalf, having in the nurry of obedience to comply with his Majesty's commands to repair to this Government, left many papers at Newbern for Governor Martin relative to this service, which I now find I stand in need of.  The executions being over, on the 20th the army marched to the southward and as I had received the 13th of June (by one of the Judges) your Lordships dispatch, requiring me to take upon me without loss of time the government of New York, I left the army early on the 20th arrived the 24th at Newbern, and on the 30th embarked with my family for this country.  Benjamin Merril a Captn of militia, at the hour of execution left it in charge to the officers to solicit me to petition his Majesty to grant his plantation and estate to his wife and eight children.  He died under a thorough conviction of his crime and the justice of his sentence and addressed himself to the spectators to take warning by his suffering:  His Majesty's indulgence to this request, would, I am persuaded, be dutifully and affectionately received by his unhappy widow and children....."

pp. 654-657 - Reprinted From Morgan Edwards' Ms.  History of The Baptists in North Carolina*  NOTE:  Morgan Edwards made a tour through North Carolina in 1772, gathering the material for his history of the Baptists in the province.  The extracts given are reprinted from Benedict's "General History of the Baptist Denomination in America" edition of 1813.  Benedict printed from Morgan Edwards' works in manuscript. - EDITOR

 "Next to Virginia Southward is North Carolina, a poor and unhappy province where superiors make complaints of the people, and the people of their superiors, which complaints if just, shows the body politic to be like that of Israel in the house of Isaiah "from the sole of the foot to the crown of the head without any soundness, but wounds and bruises and putrefying sores."  These complaints rose to hostilities at Alamance Creek May 16th 1771, where about 6,000 appeared in arms and fought each other 4,000 Regulators killing three Tyronians and 2,000 (Tyronians) killing twelve Regulators besides lodging in the trees an increditable number of balls which the hunters have since picked out and killed more deer and turkies than they killed of their antagonists.

 Very remarkable things may be said of the church (Sandy Creek Church) worthy a place in Gille's...It began with 16 souls (1755) and in a short time increased to 606 spreading its branches to Deep River and Abbots Creek which branches are gone to other provinces and most of the members of this church have followed them; insomuch that in 17 years it is reduced from 606 to 14 souls.  The cause of this dispersion was the abuse of power which too much prevailed in the province and caused the inhabitants at last to rise in arms and fight for their privileges; but being routed May 16th 1771 they despaired of seeing better times and therefore quitted the province.  It is said that 1,500 families departed since the battle of Alamance and to my knowledge a great many more are only waiting to dispose of their plantations in order to follow them.  This is to me an argument that their grievances were real and their oppression great, notwithstanding all that has been said to the contrary.

 Governor Tyron is said to have represented the 'Regulators as a faction of Quakers and Baptists who aimed at overturning the church of England.'  If the Governor said as here suggested he must be misinformed for I made it my business to inquire into the matter and can aver that among 4,000 Regulators there were but 7 of the denomination of Baptists; and these were expelled from the societies they belonged unto, in consequence of the resolve of the Baptist Association held at Sandy Creek the Second Saturday in Oct. 1769, "If any of our members shall take up arms against the legal authority or aid and abet them that do so, he shall be excommunicated," &c.  When this was known abroad, one of the four chiefs of the Regulators with an armed company broke into the assembly and demanded if there were such a resolve entered into by the Association?  The answer was evasive, for they were in bodily fear.  This checked the design much; and the author of the Impartial Relation is obligated to own, page 16, "There (in Sandy Creek) the scheme met with some opposition on account that it was too hot and rash and in some things not legal, " &c.  One of the seven Baptists by the name of Merrill was executed; and he, at the point of death, did not justify his conduct, but bitterly condemned it and blamed two men (of very different religion) for deceiving him into the rebellion.

 "His speech at the gallows was as follows:

 "'I stand here exposed to the world as a criminal.  My life will soon be a change.  God is my comforter and supporter.  I am condemned to die for opposing Government. All you that are present take warning by my miserable end when I shall be hung up as a spectacle before you.  My first seducers were Hunter and Gelaspie.  They had often solicited me, telling that a settlement only was contended for with regard to publick officers who they said had oppressed the people; and that unless these measures were taken there would be no remedy or redressed hereafter.  Thus they pressed me on by assuring me the disputes (as they called them) then existing might be settled without shedding of blood.  I considered this unhappy affair and thought possibly that contentions in the country might be brought to some determination without injury to any, and in this mind I joined the Regulation.  After I had entered under the banner of the Regulators I was ever after pressed to be made a leading man among them, and was one of the number who opposed Colonel Waddell with his troops; information prevailing that the Governor was on his march to lay waste the country and destroy its inhabitants, which I now find to be false, and propagated to screen old offenders from justice.  As to my private life, I do not know of any particular charge against me.  I received, by the grace of God, a change fifteen years ago; but have, since that time, been a backslider; yet Providence, which is my chief security, has been pleased to give me comfort, under these evils, in my last hour; and altho' the halter is now round my neck, believe me, I would not change stations with any man on the ground.  All you, who think you stand, take heed lest ye fall.  I would be glad to say a few words more to you before I die.  In a few moments, I shall leave a widow and ten children; I entreat that no reflection may be cast upon them on my account; and if possible, shall deem it as a bounty, should you, gentlemen petition the Governor and Council, that some part of my estate may be spared for the widow and fatherless; it will be an act of charity, for I have forfeited the whole, by the laws of God and man.'

 The man bore an excellent character, insomuch that one of his enemies was heard to say, "That if all went to the gallows with Capt. Merrill's character, hanging would be an honourable death.'  All pitied him and lamed the wicked Hunter, Gelaspie, Howell, Husband, Butler, and others who deceived and seduced him.  Upwards of 70 bills were found at the time, but Merrill was the only Baptist found among the number.  The four principals in the Regulation are well known to be of other religious denominations.

 I thought it necessary to say so much, lest the Governor's words should in time make the North Carolina Regulation another Muster Tragedy."

 FROM HISTORY OF TENN. BRANCH OF MERRELL FAMILY

 Benjamin Merrell married Jemima Smith, daughter of Andrew Smith of Hopewell, NJ.  He moved with his young family to the Jersey Settlement of Rowan Co, NC - now Davidson Co.  The governor of NC from 1765-1771 was William Tryon.  The government was dominated by the eastern aristocracy and the people of the western part of the state suffered from excessive taxes and dishonest officials.  The people appealed to the Governor for relief but were ignored.  Finally the farmers could endure no more and organized a group called the Regulators in Orange Co.  They hoped to bring about a more moderate system of taxation.  They met at Maddock's Mill near Hillsborough on April 4, 1767 and vowed to against the abuse of power of the King's men.  Tryon took every opportunity to throw the Regulator leaders into prison.  The clashes between the two groups went on for some time.  Finally Gov. Tryon decided to put down the Regulators for good.  They were told not to assemble again and to disband.  Tryon assembled 1,100 men at Alamance Creek in Orange Co. on May 14, 1771.  When the news spread of Tryon's army, about 2,000 patriots of this area organized and assembled about 5-6 miles west of Tryon's camp.  Few of these men had guns, and they hoped Tryon would listen to their complaints and help settle their grievances.  On May 15th, they sent a message to Tryon asking him for consideration of their grievances.  He promised to answer by noon the next day.  The next day Tryon marched his men to within a half mile of the Regulator's camp and sent them a message to disband, go home and obey the King.  The Regulators knew they could no longer expect help from Tryon, nor could they agree to obey unjust laws and corrupt officials.  Tryon gave the order to fire and the battle lasted about two hours.  The Regulators had few arms and soon dispersed to escape capture and death.  When Tryon returned to Hillsborough, he sentenced 6 of the leaders to be hung on the 19th of June 1771.  These were the first American lives given in the cause of freedom from tyranny on American soil.  Long before the actual Revolution, these men dreamed of freedom and were willing to buy it with their lives if necessary.  Benjamin Merrill was a Capt. of the Rowan Co. Militia prior to the Regulator movement.  He was also one of the victims of Tryon's greed and tyranny.  On his way to join the Regulators at Alamance with about 300 men, he intercepted Gen. Waddell and took most of Waddell's men prisoners.  They didn't get to Alamance in time so he disbanded his men and went home.  He was later taken prisoner by Col. Fanning and take with the other prisoners to Hillsborough where on 19 June 1771 he was hanged.  12 men were tried for high treason, but Tryon suspended the execution of 6 of them until he heard from the King.

FROM "ABSTRACTS OF WILLS AND ESTATES RECORDS OF ROWAN COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA 1753-1805 AND TAX LISTS OF 1759 AND 1778" BY MRS. STAHLE LINN, JR., C.G. 1980

C:321  JEMIMA (x) BUTNER.  7 May 1801.  No probate. date.  Eldest son Samuel Meril to have 14 pounds which I paid for improvements whereon Smith Meril now lives, also 27 pounds I paid in taking up judgment against him.  Sons:  John Meril, Charles Meril, William Meril and Elijah Meril.  Son Andrew Meril to have negro boy James.  Son Jonathan Meril to have negro boy David.  Dau. Nancy to have negro woman Hagar.  Dau. Elliner to have negro girl Rose.  Exrs:  sons Andrew and Jonathan Meril.  Wit: Thomas Durham, Azariah Merrell.

CHILDREN OF CAPTAIN BENJAMIN MERRELL AND JEMIMA SMITH

 

   

L.L. Kight 2004