Henry Merlau, one of the prominent and successful farmers of Hancock county, Indiana, was born in Arnshein Hesse, Darmstadt, Germany, on May 18, 1835, the son of Henry Adam and Anna Katherine (Stump) Merlau. The parents came to America in an early day and after a long voyage in a sailing vessel they landed in Baltimore from which place they traveled by railroad and canal boat to Pittsburgh and then down the Ohio to Cincinnati. From Cincinnati they came to New Palestine by wagon, which required two weeks to make the journey. The family landed at their new home on September 15, 1846. It was here that a new home was made and the children grew to manhood and womanhood. They had the following children: John, Conrad, Elizabeth, George, Catherine, Anna M., Henry and Mary.
Lucinda Katherine, the daughter of Henry Merlau and wife, is the wife of George W. Hickman, of Marion county. They have an adopted daughter, Blanche, Henry Merlau was united in marriage to Malinda, the daughter of William and Lucinda (Shockley) Leachman, the former of whom came from Ohio with his two elder brothers and was an early pioneer of the county. He and his brothers, George and Thomas, entered land on the banks of Sugar Creek in 1824. The country at the time was a dense woods and after remaining here for a time they sold their tracts and entered more land southwest of New Palestine. William Leachman walked to Indianapolis and with one hundred dollars entered the farm just west of the home place, and it was here that Malinda Merlau was born, in sight of their present residence. The mother died here when Mrs. Merlau was but two years of age. Many times she would accompany her father to the woods where she would watch him while at work cutting down the big trees. For a time her father worked for her uncle, Jacob Murnan, whose wife did much of her trading with the Indians. It was at the death of their twin babies that the present Crown Point cemetery was first dedicated. The grave for the children was dug by William Leachman and was the first in the cemetery, at that time called the Murnan burying ground. Henry Merlau is at present one of the directors of the ground. It is here that many of the family are buried.
Mr. Merlau is the owner of one of the most valuable farms in this section of the county. Here he has one hundred and sixty-six acres of well improved and highly cultivated land. The house is a large and splendid structure and the barn is seventy by forty-two feet. On his other farm, west of the home place, he also has a barn fifty-four by forty-two feet.
Mr. and Mrs. Merlau have seen many transformations in the county. In the early day there were many wild animals in the dense woods that extended in all directions from their homes. Mrs. Merlau recalls seeing bears while in the woods with her father. Game was plentiful and the hunter was greatly rewarded for his efforts. The conveniences of the present day were, of course, unheard of, or even dreamed about. An old clock in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Merlau is evidence of the good workmanship of those days, it is a twenty-four-hour lock with wooden works throughout and which is still in good repair and keeps good time.
Transcribed from History of Hancock County, Indiana, Its People, Industries and Institutions by George J. Richman, B. L., Federal Publishing Co., Indianapolis, Indiana, 1916. Page 992-993.
Submitted by Sylvia (Rose) Duda, Laingsburg, MI October 22, 2001.
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