Back to former Iowa governors
Samuel Merrill

Gov. Samuel Merrill

  • January 16, 1868 - January 11, 1872
  • Republican
  • August 7, 1822
  • August 31, 1899
  • Maine
  • Married three times--Catherine Thomas, Elizabeth D. Hill (four children), Mary Greenwood
  • National Guard


SAMUEL MERRILL, Iowa’s seventh governor, was born in Turner, Maine on August 7, 1822. His education was limited and attained in the common schools of Maine. In 1847, Merrill and his brother established a successful mercantile business in Tamworth, New Hampshire. Nine years later he moved west, and settled in McGregor, Iowa, where he opened a branch of his mercantile business. Merrill entered politics in 1854, serving as a member of the New Hampshire state legislature, a position he was reelected to in 1855. He also served as a member of the Iowa state legislature in 1859. During the Civil War, he was commissioned a colonel of the 21st Iowa Infantry, was seriously wounded in the Battle of Black River Ridge and resigned from his military duty in June 1864. After his military service, Merrill served as president of the First National Bank of McGregor. In 1867, he won the Republican gubernatorial nomination and was elected governor. He was reelected to a second term in 1869. During his tenure, construction was authorized for the building of the new state house, railroad development was advanced, and revisions were approved for the state’s insurance laws. After leaving office in January 1872, Merrill retired from public service. He stayed active in his business affairs and became president of the Citizens National Bank in Des Moines. Governor Samuel Merrill died in Los Angeles on August 31, 1899, and was buried at the Woodland Cemetery in Des Moines, Iowa.



Annals of Iowa, 5 (1902): 335-51.

The Political Graveyard

Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 2, Westport, Conn., Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.

Recent Iowa Governors