220 History of Wake Forest College
terms of the will a tract of land of 613 acres about two miles and a
half southwest of Chapel Hill, on Morgan's Creek, was left to the
College, it being stipulated that the land should be sold and the
proceeds invested in interest-bearing securities which should con-
stitute a permanent fund, the revenue of which should be used for the
education of young ministers of the gospel. The estimated value of the
land was $2,000, and for that amount probably by understanding of
the purchaser with Mr. Merritt before his death, it was sold to Rev. G.
W. Purefoy, a close friend and neighbor of Mr. Merritt's. The price
was paid in four equal annual installments of $500 each, the last in
May, 1855, at which time a deed was given to Mr. Purefoy for the
As was told above, the Merritt fund, which in May, 1862,
Proceedings, pp. 78, 82, 105. The following facts about Rev. W. H. Merritt are
compiled from sketches in Purefoy's History of the Sandy Creek Association, and
from the Biblical Recorder, June 14, 1850.
William Henry Merritt, son of a minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church, was
born in Chatham County, seemingly the northern part, February 19, 1779. He came
to adopt Baptist views from reading the New Testament in school. At the time of the
Great Revival, 1801-02, he professed religion under the preaching of Elder George
Pope at Haw River Meeting House. Soon after he became a member of the church at
Prichard's, which afterwards was moved to Mount Carmel on Morgan's Creek, two
miles southwest of Chapel Hill. Many years before he became a minister he was
impressed with his duty to preach, and got such preparation as he could from
reading the Scriptures, especially the New Testament, a copy of which he nearly
always had on his person. He was licensed in 1824, and was ordained in 1827.
Though he preached haltingly at first, he persevered under the encouragement of
such men as Elders Robert Daniel, and John Purefoy, and became one of the most
useful and successful ministers of the Sandy Creek Association, laboring in all sec-
tions of Chatham County, and serving in pastorates at Emmaus, which he helped to
constitute, Rock Spring, Gum Spring, Mount Olive (Lick Creek), which also he
helped to constitute, Mount Carmel, Antioch (Haw River Mountain), Fall Creek,
Bear Creek and Mineral Springs. He also gave most liberally to the building of
meeting houses. In his last years he conceived the purpose of building a Baptist
church at Chapel Hill. With reference to this Purefoy says: "The church owes a debt
of gratitude to the late Elder William Henry Merritt for his zeal and liberality in
their behalf. He was probably the first in conceiving and presenting the idea of
planting a Baptist church at the University of the State. For this purpose he
purchased the lots on which the church building and the female academy now stand.
In addition to these lots he made bequests amounting to about $1,200 towards the
erection of the church edifice." Mr. Merritt was a successful farmer, prosperous in
business, and most liberal to the poor. He died July 3, 1850, leaving two children.
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