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home > historical markers > Dr. William Merritt and Dr. John Hamlett Merritt
This page last updated on January 14, 2008

Dr. William Merritt and Dr. John Hamlett Merritt
Location: US 501 North
Erected by: Person County Museum of History

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Dr. John Hamlett Merritt

Dr. John Merritt started his practice in the Bethel Hill community in 1906; the same community that his father had practiced medicine in beginning in 1850. He built a small four room office on the north side of his family home. The family home burned in 1970, but the office remained. Dr. Merritt furnished medicine to his office visit patients as well as house call patients, felling that the people were not able to go to Roxboro or South Boston, Virginia, to get the medicine they would need. Often he would not be paid for neither the visit nor the medicine or sometimes $.50 for both. Dr. Merritt was a man who loved people and had a wholesome sense of humor. He loved his community and saw the necessity of a well-developed body. As a result of this, Dr. Merritt financed the athletic field at Bethel Hill School at a time when the taxpayers were having to finance the one for Roxboro. He accomplished this by offering to cancel all debts from any person who would come and help with the work. The community citizens, blacks, whites, and Indians, turned out with mules, plows, and shovels. At his death, Dr. Merritt asked that all bills be burned so no one would be harassed to pay, because he felt if the people could pay they would pay. Dr. Merritt's office with its human skeleton, instruments, satchels, and apothecary sits in the back yard of the Person County Museum of History.


Dr. John H. Merritt's Office
Originally built along 501 North in the Bethel Hill community, this building was a four room medical office established ca. 1860 by Dr. William Merritt (1824-1904). His son, J.H. Merritt (1881-1944) followed in his father's profession, using the building for his own medical practice and adding two rooms in 1913. 

Today, the one-story structure maintains much of its original form with weatherboards, six-over-six windows, two exterior five-panel doors, crimped tin roof (a copy of the original) pierced by small front dormer and central corbeled chimney stack, interior four-room arrangement with library and waiting room, consultation and exam room, private office and medicine room. Some windows and frames have been repaired, although most of the glass and wood is original to the building. 

Instruments, furniture and books were Dr. Merritt's and have been cleaned and/or repaired by Museum volunteers.

Visit the doctors' office building on the Person County Museum of History site and learn more about the Drs. Merritt and how medicine was practiced here during these years.


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