Looking Back

Looking Back

Mesa’s First Historian: W. Earl Merrill

By Angie Sullivan

Nearby News Mesa Contributing Writer

Born in 1908, W. Earl Merrill was the descendent of two pioneer families and a lifelong Mesa resident.

He was the son of Orlando Merrill and the great nephew of Philomon C. Merrill, who along with Daniel Webster Jones settled a new community for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints known as Lehi.

He attended Lehi Elementary School, Mesa Union High School and Tempe Normal School.

He earned his teaching degree and taught grades three through eight for many years in Mesa schools in addition to working for five years with the Mesa Post Office.

Merrill was an active member of the LDS church and was a charter member of the Mesa Historical and Archaeology Society.

History became Merril’s avocation while he supervised assembling the historical materials for Lehi’s 75th anniversary celebration.

His first newspaper column, “This Week in Mesa’s Past,” appeared in the Mesa Tribune on January 16, 1967. These columns eventually became a series of four books, One Hundred Steps Down Mesa’s Past; One Hundred Yesterdays; One Hundred Echoes from Mesa’s Past, and One Hundred Footprints on Forgotten Trails.

Merril was preparing a fifth and final book, A walk Between Familiar Hills, at the time of his death in November 1975.