Provenance – D.D. Meriam

In April of 2003, I purchased a cane from an e-Bay seller who described it as follows: Carved walrus ivory handled walking stick from the late 1800’s. Kind of a scroll at the top of the handle with a rope type carving, a rose and a leaf, with previous owner’s name scrimshawed on the handle, ‘D.D. Meriam, Quincy, Ill.’ It is joined to what appears to be a rosewood shaft with a metal collar and ends with a 2-part metal ferrule that is 2-1/2” long, handle being 5” tall from the collar, about 1-1/4” thick, with great patina to the ivory. Overall length is 36 inches. Very little wear.”

The cane arrived and I quickly assessed it to be all original, and in fine condition. I made a phone call to the Historical Society of Quincy and Adams County. I spoke with a woman, who was indeed familiar with the surname Meriam, and promised to research the stick and send me any information she found. Several days later, I received information regarding an A.S. Meriam, born in Brandon, Vermont, in 1847, who settled with his family in Quincy, IL in 1858, and who “worked in the lumber business since 1875.” He was an alderman, and very active in Quincy politics. He made his home “in one of the handsomest stone houses in the city” {Taken from 1879 History of Adams County}.

However, you will recall that the inscription on my purchase was for a D.D. Meriam, not an A.S. Meriam. I was also provided a page from the Quincy Directory as part of the information sent to me, and on that same page was an entry for a D.D. Meriam, born in Brandon, Vermont in 1821, and moving to Adams County in 1857. D.D. Meriam was a lumber dealer who, with his son C.M., managed a lumber business, D.D. Meriam & Son.  Was A.S. Meriam another son?

I once again contacted the Historical Society of Quincy and Adams County and asked whether or not D.D. Meriam was buried in Quincy, and also requested any other family information on record that they could provide. I learned that D.D. Meriam had died in 1893, and was buried in Woodland Cemetery in Quincy, IL, along with his wife and two of his three children, one of whom was A.S. Meriam. Woodland Cemetery is described as one of the most beautiful in the Midwest, with a panoramic view from the bluff above the Mississippi River. I was provided a picture of the Meriam family stone, as well.

By uncovering the past through the purchase of a cane and discovering the provenance for D.D. Meriam, I have, for a moment, brought back to life a family who lived more than 100 years ago.

079- Merriam ivory 079- Detail 079- D.D. Merriam ivory

For antique cane and walking stick enthusiasts