The Murder of Horatio and Eliza Merrill

The Graham County Bulletin

Volume XIII Number 49

Solomonville, Graham County, Arizona

Friday December 5, 1895


Found dead in the road six miles west of Ash Springs – Moccasin Marks discovered.

The Corner’s Inquest Wednesday morning

Frank Courtney of Duncan, brought news to Solomonville that a man and a woman had been murdered on the Solomonville and Sheldon road six miles west of Ash Springs. It was at once surmised that the murdered parties were Mr. Horatio H. Merrill and his daughter, who had camped near the residence of John Parks, Monday night. The dead bodies were discovered in the road near their wagon by J. L. T. Watters about 7 o’clock Tuesday evening as he was going home from Solomonville.

When he rode up the wagon was standing across the road and the horses had whirled and locked the front wheels and one of the horses had fallen under the tongue where it yet lay. The bodies of the man and woman were yet warm and the killing had only been a few moments before. Mr. Watters hurried on to Duncan and notified the Officers there and Justice Haynie and Deputy Sheriff Black gathered a Coroners jury and came at once to the scene of the murder.

An examination showed that the parties who did the killing was composed of five or six persons. All wearing moccasins, from which the natural inference is that Indians are responsible for the bloody deed and have added two more atrocious murders to the long list of human butcheries in Arizona.

The man was identified by papers found on his body as H. H. Merrill and his wagon was loaded with grain which he was hauling to the Clifton market. He was shot twice. Once through the heart and once through the head. His companion was his sixteen year old daughter. She was shot twice through the body. In the wagon was a provision box. It was carried away some two hundred yards and left empty. What provisions was not eaten was carried away.

Further on the trail some distance a pocket book belonging to Mr. Merrill was picked up. It contained only some papers and a small ring. Coroner’s Inquest The following is the proceedings of the coroner’s inquest, held by Justice J. R.S. Haynie Inquest held on Solomonville, and Clifton road, six miles from Ash Springs toward Solomonville.

The following jury was sworn to inquire into the cause of death of a man and a woman found in the road. Tom Windom, W. Holland, Joe Terrill, Lee Windom, John Clay, Chas. Holmes, Sam McMillan, John Woods, J. J. Putnam. After viewing the ground around the dead bodies and wagon, and discovering moccasin tracks of six persons.

J. L. T. Watters of Duncan, Graham County, Arizona was sworn in and testified.

J. L. Waters

J. T. Black of Duncan, was sworn and testified. I passed these two persons on this wagon on the mesa below here about 4 or 4:30 o’clock, and exchanged a few remarks with them. I was on my way to Duncan from Solomonville

J. T. Black

The verdict of the coroner’s jury was as follows: "We the jury, find this man and woman came to their death from the effects of gunshot wounds fired by persons to us unknown, supposed to be Indians.

Map picture

Sheriff Wight organized a posse immediately after receiving the news and started early Wednesday morning to take the trail. The posse consisted of James V. Parks, W. H. Parks, John H. Parks, Joe Terrel and Johnny Woods.

Horatio H. Merrill, the murdered man has been a resident of this valley for the past five years, living in the vicinity of Pima. He was probably 60 years old, a hard worker and a tender father to his family. He came here from Utah and settled on a piece of land in the vicinity of Cottonwood Wash where he spent his last dollar trying to make a home. He made a failure and moved into Pima where he has since lived.

His daughter who was murdered with him, was only fifteen years old, and was going to Clifton to work for W. M. Whipple and family.

Father and daughter left Pima Monday morning in a wagon loaded with grain, and camped at the residence of John Parks above Solomonville the same night.

Mr. Merrill leaves a wife and five children in dire circumstances. The oldest child is a boy 17 or 18 years of age. April 19, 1962:

Explanation following murders, according to Ira Lafayette Merrill, son of Horatio Harris Merrill, as given to Ira Elwin Merrill, his son. 

“After the Army posse got on the trail of the Indians within about two weeks after the killing, they came into the camp of a man and wife and a 12 year old girl, Indians in Old Mexico, and ordered them to surrender. They ran towards a cliff near by and the man in charge ordered the pair shot when he saw they were going over the cliff. They fired and the Indians dropped over the cliff dead. The troops went around below the cliff and found the bodies dead and buried them. The 12 year old girl was still in camp and the posse took her back to Fort Grant. In the camp they found a suit case of clothes, which was sent by a man to my mother, who identified them as the clothes as belonging to Eliza Ann, my sister."

Memorial Marker

IN MEMORY OF HORATIO HARRIS MERRILL born January 3. 1837 and his daughter, born July 27, 1881 who, while traveling by team and wagon from Pima, Arizona to Clifton, Arizona, were ambushed and killed by Indians with rifles, December 3, 1895, shortly after sundown.

Erected by the Merrill family organization in cooperation with the Arizona Highway Department.

Copyright (c) Lee Drew 2011-08-24 10:27:00
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