1.  "Eli T. Merriman, Pioneer Newsman, Succumbs Here." 

Eli T. Merriman, Pioneer Newsman,

Succumbs Here


Funeral Services To Be Held At Episcopal

Church Monday

Eli T. Merriman, who at 88, had never learned to grow old, died at 9:10 o’clock last night.

One of the founders of the Caller,  life-long resident of South Texas and a man who gave a lifetime of service to his community fought until the last.  But a fall sustained last Monday afternoon occasioned shock which was too much for him.

Funeral services will be held at 10 o’clock Monday morning at the Church of the Good Shepherd with the Rev. William C. Minds officiating.  Burial will be in the old Bayview Cemetery with David T. Peel in charge of arrangements.  Grandsons will serve as pallbearers.

Survivors include two daughters, Mrs. Genevieve Holworthy of Austin, Mrs. A. Clemmer of Corpus Christi, a son, George J. Merriman of Corpus Christi, three brothers, Jeff T. Merriman of Laredo, George Merriman of Muskogee, Okla, and John Merriman of Hondo; six grandchildren, Alfred Holworthy of Austin, Mary and Robert Clemmer of Corpus Christi, Dr. George J. Merriman, Jr. of Dallas, Mrs. Jay Kirkham and Mrs. Tom Matthews, both of Corpus Christi and a great-granddaughter, Kay Anne Kirkham.

Merriman, often called “the dean of Texas newspapermen,” was born near Brownsville, May 15, 1852, and had lived in Corpus Christi since 1865 with the exception of a short stay in Galveston where he worked on the Galveston News, oldest newspaper in Texas.  He was the son of Dr. and Mrs. Eli T. Merriman who moved here from Banquete at the close of the Civil War.

When he was only 18 years old Eli T. Merriman started on his journalistic career, accepting work as compositor or typesetter in the offices of the Nueces Valley, a newspaper published in Corpus Christi in 1879 by Judge B. F. Neal.  For four years Merriman worked as a foreman and local reporter for the Nueces Valley.  In 1874 he went to Galveston to accept a position on the Galveston News, one of the earliest Texas newspapers.  He returned to Corpus Christi to spend the holidays at his home and decided to remain here, going into the office of  the Corpus Christi Gazette which was published by Barnard and Son.

Merriman was one of the founders of the Corpus Christi Caller, the newspaper which he later owned and published for many years.  In 1876 he and William H. Maltby had formed a partnership, launching a new publication in the city, the Corpus Christi Free Press.  Maltby earlier had published the Corpus Christi Advertiser.


Gains Wide Circulation

The Free Press was a weekly publication which soon had gained a wide circulation in Nueces and adjoining counties.  When Maltby died in 1880 Merriman purchased his half interest in the paper and continued its publication until 1883 when he sold the business to the Caller Publishing Company which he joined, taking stock and becoming one of the editors and managers.

On January 20, 1883, the first edition of the Caller was published.  Merriman’s two partners retired from the business within a few years and he published the Caller alone for 29 years during which period it became one of the outstanding Texas papers.  He disposed of his interest in the newspaper in 1911, selling it to Mrs. H. M. King, widow of Capt. Richard King.

In the years following retirement from the newspaper business Merriman engaged in real estate and insurance, but he never lost interest in the Caller.  Until a few years ago he continued to contribute letters to this newspaper.  He was the inspiration of the Caller-Times staff and his picture hangs in the hallway of the Caller-Times building.

Also among his interests until the day of his death was the Knights of Pythias Lodge and the Church of the Good Shepherd.

He was the oldest member of the church and for many years was a member of the vestry.  He also served as senior warden and treasurer and was senior warden emeritus at the time of his death.

His scrapbooks are the source of valuable information.  They record the growth of Corpus Christi from the time it was a sleepy village until today.

The veteran editor and publisher was the last survivor of the original Pioneer Fire Company, organized here in 1873.  He was present at the driving of the first spike if the city’s first railroad, Thanksgiving Day, 1876.  The line was called the Corpus Christi, San Diego & Rio Grande - now the Texas-Mexican.  He also worked incessantly to raise bonuses for later railroads and fought for year for a deep water port - realized in 1926 long after he had retired from active newspaper work.

Merriman helped save the old Bayview Cemetery established here during the time General Zachary Taylor’s army was in the city - and for the last 10 or 12 years personally supervised the care of this cemetery where he will be buried by the site of his wife.  Many pioneers of the city are buried at the plot of Ramirez and Topo streets.

Monday morning “Uncle” Eli was busy with his many interests, the Caller, the lodge, his family and others.  Monday afternoon he fell and was taken to a hospital.  Last night the man who never grew old died.


Source:  Corpus Christi Caller, January 26, 1941.     

Transcription by:  Corpus Christi Public Libraries


2.  "Funeral Service Held for One of Founders of Caller." 

Funeral Services

Held for One of

Founders of Caller


Munds Officiates

At Rites for

Eli Merriman


Funeral services were held at 10 o’clock this morning at the Church of the Good Shepherd for Eli T. Merriman, a lifelong South Texan and one of the founders of the Caller, who died early Saturday night from shock caused by a fall last Monday.  He was 88 years old.

The Rev. William C. Munds, rector of the Church of the Good Shepherd, officiated and burial was under the direction of David T. Peel Funeral Home.

Merriman is survived by two daughters, Mrs. A. Clemmer of Corpus Christi and Mrs. Genevieve Holworthy of Austin; a son, George J. Merriman of Corpus Christi; three brothers, John Merriman of Hondo, George Merriman of Muskogee, Okla. and Jeff T. Merriman of Laredo; six grandchildren, Alfred Holworthy of Austin, Mary and Robert Clemmer of Corpus Christi, Dr. George J. Merriman, Jr. of Dallas, Mrs. Jay Kirkham and Mrs. Tom Matthews, both of Corpus Christi, and a great-granddaughter, Kay Anne Kirkham.

The oldest member of the Church of Good Shepherd, Merriman was for many years a member of the vestry and also had served as senior warden and treasurer.  He was senior warden emeritus at the time of his death.  Merriman also took active interest in the work of the Knights of Pythias Lodge.

Closely associated with the growth of Corpus Christi, Merriman kept valuable scrap books which trace the growth of the city from a small town until today.  He was the last of the original Pioneer Fire Co., which was organized here in 1873, and was present at the driving of the first spike of the Texas-Mexican Railway, the city’s first.  His realization of a deep water port for Corpus Christi came in 1926, after he had retired from active newspaper work.

The State National Bank, of which is son is vice-president, closed its doors during the funeral services this morning, as did the Corpus Christi National Bank.  Judge W, B. Hopkins of the 28th District Court closed his court until 2 o’clock this afternoon because of Merriman’s death.

Pallbearers were George Kunkel, George Henry Guy, Earl Thomas, Jay Kirkham, Tom Matthews, III, and Robert Clemmer.


Source:  Corpus Christi Times, January 27, 1941

Transcription by:  Corpus Christi Public Libraries


3.  "A Tribute to Eli Merriman by Another Pioneer Texas Newman."



 By J. W. Falvella

LAREDO, Jan. 26 .  Brushing aside the cobwebs from the archives of memory and retrospecting to the days of three score years and ten and reviewing the conditions that existed in one’s chosen line of work is enjoyed by very few men, but Eli Todd Merriman, 88, dean of the Texas newspaper fraternity, who died in Corpus Christi on January 25, had that privilege.  As an employee of his in the old Corpus Christi Caller office back nearly a half century ago, I knew him intimately and fully studied the characteristics of a man I always found sincere and earnest in all his undertakings.  

As perhaps the second oldest employee of the Caller, superseded only by Reuben Holbein, now a ranchman of Jim Hogg County, who was a printer in the Caller office back in 1892 when I was transferred there with the late Jeff McLemore from the old Gulf News, I spent 16 years in the employ of the Caller, learning the printer’s trade in that office in 1893 under Ruben Holbein after having served two years as printer’s devil on the Gulf News conducted by McLemore and W. E. Cooke starting in 1891, and under the Caller mechanical force beginning late in 1892 when the Gulf News ceased publication.  I went through all branches of the printing business in the Caller office under Eli Merriman, beginning as printer’s devil, job press feeder, printer, job printer, ad setter and reporter, and also served as manager of the Caller during several weeks that Merriman spent at the St. Louis World’s Fair.

I remained with the Caller until 1898, when I was laid off for a new man put on the city desk and then started my own newspaper, the Corpus Christi Herald, with W. F. Baum as my partner, who later disposed of his interests to E. R. Rice, and finally I acquired full ownership and brought Jeff McLemore back to Corpus Christi from Mexico and he worked as my editor.  The Herald continued publication until 1910, when I disposed of the business at a good profit and moved to Houston, where I remained until 1911, then came to Laredo and am still in the editorial department of the Laredo Times.

But this is not a story about myself, it is of Eli Merriman.  In 1890 I became a newsboy and substitute carrier on the Corpus Christi Caller.  I remember many a time in those days around 50 years ago when Merriman would roundup the newsboys after he had heard something pertaining to prospective dredging and deep water work around Corpus Christi and would tell us boys, “When you get out on the streets you want to yell out ‘All About Deep Water at Aransas Pass,’” or perhaps later it would be “‘All About Deep Water at Ropes Pass’” or  “’All About Deep Water at Corpus Pass.’”  For the past 50 years his hobby had been that of making a deep water port of Corpus Christi.  He lost no opportunity to boost that hobby.  He was always heart and soul behind every movement that had for its purpose the making a greater city of Corpus Christi.

He was a fine Christian gentleman, a member of the Episcopal church.  He reared a fine family and was held in the highest regard by all who knew him.  He had started his newspaper career in Corpus Christi in 1870 in the office of the Nueces Valley, published by Judge B. F. Neal, and in  1874 went to Galveston, where he served as a reporter on the Galveston News, then late in the same year returned to Corpus Christi to work on the Corpus Christi Gazette.  In 1880 he became associated with W. H. Maltby and published the Corpus Christi Weekly Free Press.  In January, 1883, Merriman in company with W. P. Caruthers and Ed Williams, began publication of the Corpus Christi Caller, his associates withdrawing after a few years and Merriman continuing management of the Caller until 1912, when he retired after being with the Caller 29 years.  But he still had the urge for newspaper work in his blood during his latter days of life and offered his writings at intervals for publication.

Going back to this hobby of “deep water” for Corpus Christi, when I visited him last in 1940 at his room in the Nueces Hotel he told me: “Jim, we have one of the finest ports here to be found anywhere, the city is growing fast, we are getting a great naval station here and in a few years from now old Corpus Christi is going to be one of the largest cities in Texas.”

I am happy that Eli Merriman lived to see full realization of his dreams of a half century past and that he saw a great port arise with ships from all ports of the world docking there.  I also believe that the Corpus Christi of today owes much to Eli Merriman and his persistence to establish a great port there and should perpetuate  his memory long after he is laid away in the arms of Mother Earth erecting a suitable monument to him.


Source:  Corpus Christi Times, January 27, 1941

Transcription by:  Corpus Christi Public Libraries

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