Nicholas Merryman

Cattle breeder managed historic Hayfields farm

March 30, 2009|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,

Nicholas Bosley Merryman, a farmer and Hereford cattle breeder who managed the historic Hayfields property in Cockeysville, died of Alzheimer's disease March 25 at his Parkton home. He was 96.

He was born at Hayfields, where his family had resided for more than 200 years. To distinguish himself from other Merryman cousins, he used the name Nicholas Bosley Merryman of John.

Family members said he thought of becoming an engineer. In 1930 he enrolled at the John Hopkins University but soon left school and became a seaman aboard the freighter Anniston City on a round-the-world voyage.

"One night when on the deck, instead of seeing the waves, he imagined fields of hay, and knew his calling was agriculture," said his daughter, Eleanor W.M. Hardy of York, Pa.

When he returned home, he discovered that hard times had forced the family to sell the farm to a cousin, Gen. John Merryman Franklin, who was president of the steamship company United States Lines.

Mr. Merryman enrolled in the University of Maryland and earned a degree in agronomy. He then became a traveling salesman for Larro Feeds and worked in North and South Carolina. He was also playing semiprofessional baseball for the Tarboro Tar Babies in North Carolina's Coastal Plain League.

Family members said that General Franklin realized his cousin would be a good farm manager and offered him the chance to restore Hayfields to the agricultural prominence it once enjoyed.

"It was a tall order," his daughter said, explaining that in 1824 the Marquis de Lafayette presented Col. Nicholas Merryman Bosley with a silver tankard inscribed "By the hand of Lafayette, Hayfields, the best cultivated farm in Maryland."

Mr. Merryman was a cousin of Wallis Warfield Simpson, the Duchess of Windsor, and helped entertain her - and her husband, the Duke of Windsor - at Hayfields.

"His reputation as a cattle breeder brought respect and kudos," his daughter said. "He was recognized as a prominent member of Maryland's agricultural community."

Mr. Merryman served as president of the Maryland Hereford Breeders Association, and was founder and president of the Maryland Simmental Association. He raised championship breeding stock of horned and polled Herefords and Simmental cattle.

Mr. Merryman managed Hayfields for 39 years and retired to his Clover Hill farm in Parkton in 1977.

In addition, he was a member of the Sons of Colonial Wars, the Bachelors Cotillon, the L'Hirondelle Club, the Maryland Hunt Cup, the Wednesday Club, the Baltimore County and Maryland historical societies.

His wife of 59 years, the former Nell Williams, died in 1999.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Tuesday at Sherwood Episcopal Church in Cockeysville.

In addition to his daughter, survivors include a son, John Merryman of N. of Sparks; another daughter, Frances Love Merryman of Sewickley Heights, Pa.; five grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

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