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William Hamilton Merritt

William Hamilton Merritt was a respected veteran of the War of 1812. Captain and leader of a volunteer militia of 50 dragoons, or horse mounted infantry.

Merritt House, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada
William Hamilton Merritt

Stationed at Chippewa, the idea for the Welland Canal struck him while patrolling around Niagara Falls.

Illness did keep him from major events. Including the Burning of Buffalo. But he was ready for the Battle of Lundy’s Lane. It occurred at today’s location of Drummond Hill Cemetery.

Drummond Hill Cemetery, Niagara Falls

Merritt captured and kept prisoner in a POW camp in Cheshire, Massachusetts.

He remained there for 8 months until the end of the War, but not by choice. Many British constantly tried escaping.

Happening so often that the American soldiers threatened them with cannons. With this in mind, they stored weapons around the camp in case any tried to run. Merritt was officially released in March 1815.

After the War he bought and ran a Grist Mill. His life almost dedicated to this pursuit. If not for a problem that set his mind elsewhere… lack of water.

This lead to developing a canal flowing water to his mill at Twelve Mile Creek. Which lead to Upper Canada’s approval of a project to connect Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.

Alfred Barrett, the engineer behind the older Erie Canal put in charge. The Welland Canal officially opened in 1829.

Oak Hill, also known as the Merritt House, built in 1860. This was after William’s old house burned in 1859. Set by an unknown arsonist.

And good it did!  Ah, in a way.  That’s why the Merritt House’s history is amazing.

Next up… How Merritt House was Part of US Slave History & A Personal Ghost Story inside the House

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