Eli T. Merriman (1852-1941) was a Corpus Christi pioneer and one of the city’s most respected civic leaders. A constant promoter of the city’s development, Merriman owned and edited the Corpus Chrsiti Caller. As such, he was prominent among Texas newspaper professionals. Born near Brownsville, he moved with his family to Corpus Christi in 1865. At age eighteen, he worked for the Nueces Valley, a Corpus Christi newspaper. He also worked briefly for the Galveston News in 1874, but returned to Corpus Christi to be employed by the Corpus Christi Gazette.In 1876, Merriman and William H. Maltby established a newspaper called the Corpus Christi Free Press. After Maltby’s death in 1880, Merriman purchased his partner’s half of the paper. In 1883, he sold the business to the Caller Publishing Company which he joined, becoming an editor, manager, and stockholder. After his two partners left three years later, Merriman published the Caller alone for twenty-nine years. He sold the paper to Mrs. Henrietta King, widow of Captain Richard King in 1911. Thereafter, Merriman dealt in real estate and insurance. Never losing his interest in the Caller, he continued to contribute articles, letters, and advice. He was a charter member of the Texas Press Association and eventually became its president.
Merriman fought for nearly sixty years to have a deep-water port for Corpus Christi which was realized in 1926. He likewise was instrumental in promoting railroad construction to Corpus Christi and waged a campaign to save the old Bayview Cemetery. Upon his death in 1941, Eli Merriman was one of Corpus Christi’s most revered citizens.
Consisting of approximately four cubic feet, the Eli T. Merriman History Collection includes Merriman’s journals and scrapbooks, correspondence, newspapers and clippings, articles, and maps. The collection contains some especially interesting Civil War items. The Merriman Collection was generously donated to A&M-Corpus Christi by Dr. and Mrs. George J. Merriman, Jr.
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