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Merickel's travels and his final days

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We continue this week with the story of Arthur Jesse (A.J.) Merickel and the Merickel family, detailing the man's travels and his last days.

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In 1918 there appeared a long article in the newspaper detailing a trip A.J. and his wife made from Florida back to Minnesota.

The statistics were: "We left St. Petersburg, Florida, April 15th at 1:30 in a five passenger National touring car. We traversed a distance of 2,561 miles in eleven days, making a little better than 223 miles a day, and making about 12 miles to a gallon of gasoline. We were out longer than 11 days but laid over a day or two in several places to rest and on account of rain. We had but one tire puncture on the whole trip and no other trouble at all."

A.J. went on to describe the trip in detail as to road conditions, weather, crops, etc.

Also that year A.J. applied for passports for himself, his wife Nellie and two daughters Marjorie and Marian to visit Cuba and the Isle of Pines.

In 1920, A.J. purchased the Swanson grocery property at 122 Jefferson South consolidating his holdings of that corner of Jefferson. (Home of the Bridal shop in 2009.) He stated that he paid $10,000 for the lot. He stated that the price was a long one but that it gave him 75 feet on Jefferson on which he hoped to build a three story business block, the first floor for the First National Bank and the upper floors for offices. However, this did not materialize.

In 1921, it is noted that A.J. Merickel, among others spoke to a large gathering in Wadena, advocating establishing a Community Club of Wadena people to work in conjunction with the Lincoln Farmer's Club of Wadena township. I find no further reference to this effort.

In 1923, the Journal reports that W.D. Merickel, formerly in partnership with his brother Arthur at Wadena and moving to California about 1912, had leased a forty acre tract of land in the Huntington Beach oil fields which was highly productive and on which he had a very lucrative offer from a large oil company. According to the article this definitely made him a very rich man.

A later article tells of A. J.'s visit to his three brothers and three sisters in California and stating that on W.D.'s oil property at Huntington Beach that a well had been drilled about a mile deep at a cost of $300,000 without results and was finally abandoned.

In 1924, A.J. sold his controlling interest in the First National Bank and semi retired. He still retained his interest in local affairs and dabbled in real estate.

In 1925, it was reported that a fire at the Merickel home starting in a main floor fire place did considerable damage with linens and curtains all over the house badly scorched and smoked up.

In 1927, A.J. sold his interest in the Wadena Manufacturing Company to the Skog Brothers. Old timers will recall this building just back of where the Dairy Queen sits today.

In 1888, A.J. married Pauline Patrick at Belle Plaine, Minn., and to this union were born four children, Harry Arthur, Maurice Jessie, Frances Merickel Bradford and Anne Merickel Felknor. Pauline died in 1905. In 1912, A.J. married Nellie M. Hatch Halley in the Methodist Church at Eagle Bend, Minn. She preceded him in 1934. This marriage was blessed with three children, Marjorie Merickel Ledin, Marian Merickel Palmer and Franklin.

A.J. in earlier years was a member of the Masonic Order, Order of the Eastern Star and the Knights of Pythias.

A.J. died at his home in Wadena on Oct. 16, 1946 from a cerebral hemorrhage after an illness of about three weeks. He was buried in Eagle Bend alongside his wives, Pauline and Nellie.

At one point the following was written: "Mr. Merickel is a farmer by taste and nothing delights him more than the development of the farming community. He is a practical farmer himself and today has a fine farm near his former home of Eagle Bend, which under his direction is becoming a model farm. Due to this kindred feeling to farmers, he has during his stay in this city, encouraged all farmer organizations, such as the cooperative creamery, potato growers association, farmers clubs and whatever aims to the betterment of farms and farming.

W.D. died in 1934 at Whittier, Calif., from diabetes and complications, having moved to California after disposing of his Wadena business interests and returning only occasionally to visit. He was survived by a wife and nine children. A.J. was at his brother's bed side at his death.

The Historical Society at 603 North Jefferson Wadena has much more detailed information on the Merickel family.

This article which has gotten much too long will be continued at a later date chronicling the history of later generations.

It is plain to see that A.J.'s traits transferred to later generations.

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