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THE MERRIMAN FAMILY - 1890

'Near Tragedy' - By Bud Loomis


In 1890, Fred Merriman and his mother, Mrs. Albert Merriman, came into the Quinault and took a claim below what is now Merriman Falls. They were soon joined by Fred's sister and husband, the Websters. Shortly after their arrival Mr. Webster got out on the river in a canoe, upset, and apparently drowned. (According to Belle Fairbairn he was later discovered in Seattle).

The family was in bad circumstances - no money. So, Fred went outside to work, leaving the two women alone for the winter. A hunter and trapper - a confirmed bachelor by the name of Neil McCarthy - lived up above them. He cut most of their wood and kept them in elk meat and fish. May have loaned them some money too, for staples.

The women came down in the spring and said they had decided they couldn't live there any longer. They wanted to move out. There wasn't any pack trail those days. They had several trunks and other belongings and wanted me to take them out by river. I said I willing to take the women but I couldn't take them and their baggage in one canoe. I suggested that they get McCarthy to take his canoe, too.

He had been so nice to them, the old lady was stuck on him and would have given anything to have him marry her daughter. But, he was a confirmed bachelor. The woods was his life. He was shy of women.

I said, "If you can get Mac to go along, I think he and I can take the stuff in two boats."

He didn't want to go. Wasn't a very good canoeman, and his boat wasn't the best. It was too wide and short, with straight sides. But, he agreed against his will. We went up to Merriman's and got the stuff and brought it down to Ziegler's landing.

McCarthy and Mrs. Merriman and Mrs. Webster stayed at our house over night. Next morning, as we walked down to the Lake, I said to the old lady, "I think Mrs. Webster would enjoy going in Mac's canoe. You know Mac would probably rather take you, but I will arrange it. It was a forty-mile trip down the river, and raining. I took her by the arm and got her into my boat right where I wanted her. That left the widow to go in the other boat. Mac was a little red in the face, but I said, "Mrs. Webster, you get into Mac's boat". I started out ahead, and they followed.