Lincoln County, Wis.

From “Lincoln County Centennial 1874-1974”

Transcribed by: Ken Wood


The city of Merrill was known by several names before finally adopting its present name in 1881 in honor of Sherburn Sanborn Merrill, who was general manager of the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad. The rapids on the site had once been known as ‘Bull Falls.’ In 1847, Andrew Warren built the dam and christened the settlement ‘Jenny Bull Falls.’ The name was changed to ‘Jenny Falls’ and eventually shortened to Jenny.

The first permanent settlement was made in 1847 by Andrew Warren, Jr. Other early settlers were Capt. Space, H. Streeter, T. P. Mathews, A. C. Norway, Henry Goodrich, Orville Jones, O. B. Smith, George Strowbridge, Joseph Newcomb and William Averill.

The first church was the Methodist Episcopal Church which was organized in 1875. Also in 1875 the first daily mail service was begun and the post office was erected in 1916. The railroad was extended to Merrill in 1880 by the Wisconsin Valley Railroad Company which later became part of the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul system. With the advent of the railroad mills sprang up all along the river. In 1892 when lumbering was at its height eight mills were in operation and the total cut for that year was approximately 150,000,000 feet of lumber and 86,000,000 shingles. The population continued to grow until it reached a height of 12,000 in 1890. In 1874 Merrill, then Jenny, was designated as the seat of county government and the first courthouse was built in 1881.


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