Highland News Leader

Dr. Edgar G. Merwin was Highland’s physician in the ‘horse and buggy’ days

Roland Harris
Roland Harris

Dr. Edgar G. Merwin and family is a follow up of last week’s column of the Peter D. Merwin family and Ida Stoecklin (Albert) Merwin family.

Peter Merwin and his first wife had six children. Peter’s wife Emilie Reynolds Merwin died in 1876. In 1877, Peter Merwin married Miss Sophia Walter, the daughter of Franz and Cecelia Buchmueller (Buchmiller) Walter. Peter and Sophia Merwin had only one son, Edgar Garfield Merwin, on July 5, 1879.

Edgar’s father died when Edgar was only 18 months old in 1881. His mother remarried to John Peter Schnert, and they made their home in Pierron, later moving to Edwardsville. Dr. Merwin’s mother Sophia Walter Merwin Schnert died when Edgar was only 11 years old. He then lived about 10 years with his uncle Franz “Frank” S. Walter Jr. of Saline Township.

Edgar only attended school until he was 13 and for the next four years worked at various jobs. At the age of 17, he again entered school and three years later became a prescription clerk for Dr. Pogue Drug Store in Edwardsville. He continued to study, reading medicine for 2 ½ years, after which he matriculated as a student in the Medical School of Washington University in St. Louis.

On Oct. 22, 1903, Edgar married Caroline “Kitty” Nowotne of Edwardsville. As a member of the class of 1907, he received his medical degree of doctor of medicine. Dr. Merwin was strictly a self-made man, his education having been obtained through his own self-directed endeavors.

After graduation, Dr. Merwin immediately set up his office on Main Street in Highland, in the east end of the Columbia Hotel, just west of the Lory Theater, where he initiated the active practice of his medical profession. Dr. Merwin practiced there on Main Street until 1910, when he purchased 908-910 Broadway. He either built or remodeled the home into an office on the east side, with his residence on first and second floors. His splendid achievements show him as an earnest and hard worker. He had risen to prominence in the medical world.

Their daughter, Imogene Hope Merwin, was born in 1910. She married Cletus “Clete” Zimmerman, on June 12, 1929 and the following information is from his sCletus Zimmerman and their granddaughter, Marge Zimmerman Capelle.

Dr. Merwin practiced medicine in the “horse and buggy days” and delivered over 1,500 babies. His last delivery was on July 5, 1951, when he delivered his own great-grandson, David Capelle, which was also Dr. Merwin’s 72nd birthday.

Dr. Merwin retired from practice in 1954 and died Sept. 30, 1955, at the age of 76. Until his final illness, he was active in two sports, bowling at the local bowling alleys and golf as a member of the Highland Country Club. He was also a member of the Highland Rotary Club, Highland Masonic Lodge, Royal Arch Masons, Woodmen of the World, Knights of Pythias, Highland Board of Health and served on the Highland School Board for 18 years.

The Merwin Park playground at the south end of Highland was named in his honor.

The next family to live in the Merwin home on Broadway was Dr. and Mrs. Cletus Muick and their daughters. Clet Muick also had his optometrist office on the east side and a few years later. Dr. Muick reenlisted and was assigned to Wright-Patterson Air Base in Dayton, Ohio.

The next family was Mary Kyle Merritt and her new husband Henry Miener.

There were many changes after that, including a vacuum cleaner store; the office of accountant James Apken; It’s in the Bag, a handbag store; Wells Fargo office of Ray Hereford; and then Leroy’s Barber Shop at 910 Broadway, Suite B, plus two apartments.

The Merwin Building was owned by Mike Bruegge.

On a side not to the Steiner family information from a few weeks ago, another early Steiner family, maybe the fourth Steiner family, could be Vincent Steiner, who married Louisa Kaiser Steiner. Vincent is in the Frey Book and Roy Worstell also has him in his genealogy, which will be my next column. This large Frey family history is remarkable. It is large and complete, covering over 400 pages. The genealogy contains another 138 pages. The index is three columns to a page and 21 pages in length. If you are related, some of the original 1,000 volumes that were printed are still available from Mark Frey.

Information for this column is from Merwin, Reynolds, Thorp genealogy by Roy Worstell. More Merwin information was from the late Clete Zimmerman, Marge Zimmerman Capelle, Ray Hereford and Leroy Mikulait. Other information from the “1912 History of Madison County,” “Sesquicentennial History of Highland” Roland Harris’s files; plus, “The Johann Peter Frey Family” book by Mark C. Frey, Mae L. Drake Jacober and Kathy M. Gooch Frey, published June 26, 2000.