Civil War Wiki

Selah Merrill, (May 2, 1837 – January 22, 1909) was an American Congregationalist clergyman, an educator, archaeologist of the American Palestine Exploration Society, and American diplomat.


Early life[]

He was born at Canton Centre, Connecticut on May 2, 1837 and died on January 22, 1909 at Fruitvale, California.[1] He was the son of Lydia Richards[2] and Daniel Merrill and was a member of the fifth generation of the Merrill family in America. The Merrills were descended from an old and esteemed Masschusetts family and his original immigrant ancestor was Nathaniel Merrill from Wherstead, County Suffolk, England and was one of the earliest settlers in Newbury, Massachusetts.


After graduating from Williston Seminary in Easthampton, Massachusetts, he studied at Yale College, but did not graduate. He studied theology at the New Haven Theological Seminary, graduating in 1863, and was ordained in the Congregational Church, at Feeding Mills, Massachusetts in 1864. He then spent two years (1868-1870) in Germany at the Berlin where he studied the ancient Hebrew language. He received the degree of A. M. from Yale College; D. D. from Grinnell College in 1875; and a LL. D. from Union College in 1884.

Military Service[]

He served as a chaplain of the 49th U. S. Colored Infantry, also known as the 11th Louisiana Regiment Infantry, at Vicksburg, Mississippi from 1864 until the close of the War.[3]


He married as his first wife in 1866, Fanny Lucinda Cooke, who died the following year.[4] In 1868, he married Mrs. Phila (Wilkin) Fargo, who died only two years later.[4] On April 26, 1875, at Andover, Massachusetts, he married Adelaide Brewster Taylor.[5][6] She was born on January 14, 1845 at Rochester, Monroe County, New York; and died on January 24, 1929 in Piedmont, Alameda County, California.[7] She was the daughter of Dr. Oliver Brewster Taylor,[8][5] an 1848 graduate of Harvard University, and Sophia Hale Hubbard. She was the great granddaughter of Dr. Oliver Wadsworth Brewster,[9] who served in Col. John Brown's regiment in the American Revolutionary War and was the first physician in Becket, Massachusetts. His home, built in 1786, is still standing and is currently occupied by the Becket-Chimney Corners YMCA.

She was a descendant of Mayflower passengers, Love Brewster, a founder of the town of Bridgewater, Massachusetts; Elder William Brewster, the Pilgrim colonist leader and spiritual elder of the Plymouth Colony; and William Bradford, Governor of the Plymouth Colony and the second signer and primary architect of the Mayflower Compact in Provincetown Harbor.[10][11][12] She was also a descendant of Martha Wadsworth Brewster,[13] a notable 18th-century American poet and writer

In the years following her husband's death, she was tirelessly active in furthering Selah's legacy. In 1915, She donated his unique Josephus collection to Yale University and was instrumental in the publication of his New Comprehensive Dictionary of the Bible.[14][15]


During the last year of the Civil War he was chaplain of the Forty-ninth United States colored infantry and in 1868 went to Germany, where he studied two years. In 1874–1877 he was in Palestine as archæologist of the American Palestine Exploration Society and was United States Consul at Jerusalem in 1882–1885, 1891–1893, and 1898–1907. While there he made important explorations and excavations to discover the second wall of Jerusalem and determine the site of Calvary. He taught at Andover Theological Seminary in 1872 and 1879 and became curator of the Biblical Museum there. In 1907 he became American Consul at Georgetown, Guiana.


  • East of the Jordan (1881; second edition, 1883)
  • Galilee in the Time of Christ (1881)
  • Greek Inscriptions Collected in the Years 1875–1877 in the Country East of the Jordan (1885)
  • The Site of Calvary (1885)
  • Ancient Jerusalem (1906)


  1. Selah Merrill at Find A Grave
  2. She was the granddaughter of Captain Samuel Richards who served in the American Revolutionary war in the 1st New Hampshire Regiment under Col John Stark. He saw action in the Battle of Bunker Hill and at Ticonderoga.
  3. Organized at Milliken's Bend, La., from May 23 to August 22, 1863, as the 11th Regiment, La. Volunteers; designated this regiment, March 11, 1864; mustered out, March 22, 1866.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Goldman, p. 216
  5. 5.0 5.1 Jones, p. 1040
  6. Jones, p. 1041
  7. Adelaide Brewster Taylor Merrill at Find A Grave
  8. Jones, p. 609
  9. Jones, pp. 269-271
  10. Jones, 54
  11. Jones, 86
  12. Jones, 142
  13. Burt, 71
  14. Goldman, p. 223
  15. "Selah Merrill Collection of Josephus". Yale University Library’s Judaica Collection. 2010. Retrieved 2010-05-20. 


  • Burt, Daniel S. The chronology of American literature: America's literary achievements from the colonial era to modern times Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2004. ISBN 0618168214
  • Goldman, Shalom. God's sacred tongue: Hebrew & the American imagination Publisher UNC Press, 2004 ISBN 0807828351
  • Jones, Emma C. Brewster. The Brewster Genealogy, 1566-1907: a Record of the Descendants of William Brewster of the "Mayflower," ruling elder of the Pilgrim church which founded Plymouth Colony in 1620. New York: Grafton Press, 1908.
  • Template:NIE

Template:US-scientist-stub Template:Archaeologist-stub