Hinckley Historian Magazine

Hinckley Historian Magazine No.27 - Dr Myra Merrick

Dr. Merrick - A Portrait Photograph by Theo. Endean of Cleveland, Ohio.
Dr. Merrick - A Portrait Photograph by Theo. Endean of Cleveland, Ohio.

(An account based on a document provided by Mary Musson. The document is entitled - Recollections of the Early Years in Ohio of the King and Ball Families... as remembered and told by Aunt Nellie (Mrs. Sarah Eleanor Booth) in her eighty-seventh year and written down by her grand-daughter, Eleanor Phelps, Carlisle, Ohio, 1927)

Hinckley has had a number of notable medical practitioners associated with its history and at least two have been noted in articles published in the Historian. The subject of this article did not practice in the town but had Hinckley as her birthplace. Myra Merrick, born Myra King, holds a notable place in the medical history of the United States and provides yet another example of the influence of Hinckley in the wider world.

The history of the King family could easily provide material for a number of articles in the Historian but the brief detail provided here is necessary to give the background to Myra Merricks career in the United States. Myra was born on August 15th of 1825, the third child of Richard and Elizabeth King. In the 1820s the prospects for young couples in the Hinckley area were hardly promising and Richard decided to go and find his fortune in the United States. Richard's wife, Elizabeth Ball, had married him in March 1821 and the King and Ball families made a joint decision to emigrate to the United States along with their cousins, the Jones family. The intention was to go to Taunt on, Massachusetts, where the families knew a number of English people working in the mills. Accordingly in June 1826 the group of Hinckley emigrants, "Boarded the 'Two Marys' at Liverpool

The King family had mixed fortunes in the New World and after living and working in Taunton, moved to East Liverpool, Ohio, in 184-0. Myra began work in the mills at Taunton, watching looms. At the age of 14-she was earning the handsome sum of seven dollars a week. The narrator of the story on which this account is based recalled in 1927, how as a child, one of the main articles in the household was, "Mother's bureau brought from Hinckley standing under the east window of the cabin”. In those days in developing Ohio, wild turkeys, quail and other gone was still abundant although bears and wolves had departed. The medical skills available to the new settlers were principally their own for the account continues, "Mother was nurse and often doctor for everyone". Here was the basis for the profession which Myra would follow. It was a dispensary for women and children. Gradually other doctors joined her in the enterprise and after her death in 1899 the dispensary was moved and renamed the ‘Myra Merrick Dispensary.

Besides her work as a doctor, Myra was also a busy mother with two children, Richard and Arthur. Unfortunately Arthur died shortly after his fifth birthday in spite of the ministrations of his mother.

Despite her success as a doctor, there was a limited amount of male opposition against which she had to fight. When a new hospital was organised on Huron Street, Myra was made a director and one doctor refused to join the board because of the presence of a woman. During the 1870s and 1880s Myra continued her practice in Cleveland which was a rapidly expanding city. In 1891 she became ill and at the end of the year ceased to practice as a doctor in the city where she had made her name. She lived with her son for the final years of her life, dying in November 1899. A daughter of Hinckley, she is perhaps less well remembered than Charlotte Brame, her contemporary. Nevertheless Myra Merrick deserves to be remembered as another notable figure from Hinckley’s past.

The Editor

Author: Hugh Beavin

Written for: Hinckley Historian Magazine