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1891 Isaac B. Merriman


IB Merriam 1891(Lived November 21, 1838 – November 19, 1919)

Born in Syracuse, New York, Isaac Merriman remained there until 1865, at which time he moved to Wisconsin to open a mercantile business.  In 1869, he moved to Dexter, Michigan to open a hardware store, and in 1872, he moved to Alabama to begin a hardware business.  In 1878, Merriman moved to Chattanooga and opened a wholesale grocery business, which quickly grew to have customers in Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia.  Eleven years later, Merriman partnered with other businessmen to open the City Savings Bank.  Merriman served as president of the bank for many years.  Merriman was elected to the Board of Alderman in 1889.  

Appointed mayor on January 15, 1891, upon the death of Mayor John Hart, Merriman led Chattanooga through an exciting year.  Mayor Merriman welcomed President Benjamin Harding to the city in April and personally escorted him on a three-hour tour of the city before President Harding spoke to a convention of Southern steel manufacturers gathered in Chattanooga.  On February 18, 1891, Mayor Merriman presided over the opening of the Walnut Street Bridge. At the ceremony, Mayor Merriman spoke of the promise of Chattanooga before the Mayor of Hill City (now North Chattanooga) spoke of how great the easier access to downtown Chattanooga would be for Hill City residents.  At the end of their speeches, the two mayors drove the first car across the Walnut Street Bridge.   Also during his short term, Mayor Merriman assisted with the laying of the cornerstone for Erlanger Hospital. 

Mayor Merriman did not run for re-election in 1891.

Photo by Phillip Stevens and Matt Lea