Biography of Cyrus Strong Merrill, M. D.


AMONG the noted professional men of Albany no name shines with greater resplendency in a special department of science than that of Dr. C. S. Merrill, the eminent oculist and aurist. On the 21st of September, 1847, in the town of Bridport, Vermont, he first saw the light. His parents were Edward Henry Merrill and Sarah Wilson Strong, whose ancestors were among the earliest settlers of that state and exerted a marked influence on its affairs before, as well as since the revolution. From his earliest years the natural inclination of his genius was plainly manifested. While a mere boy he delighted in the studies of natural science, especially in anatomy, physiology and chemistry. He was thus, unconsciously, laying the foundation of his future celebrity as a physician; and while other boys of his age were indulging in the more boisterous sports of the town or field, or wasting their time in idleness, young Merrill was absorbed with books illustrative of the first principles of medical science. His parents, witnessing with pleasure his studious habits, determined to gratify his tastes by giving him a liberal education, and accordingly he was early placed under the care of competent private tutors. He was next sent to the Newton academy, where his acquisition of knowledge was very rapid, and where he was carefully prepared for college. In 1863, he entered Middlebury College, where he remained for one year and then went to Amherst College, “beautiful for situation,” and so noted a seat of learning. It was then under the presidency of the late venerable Dr. Stearns, and in a very flourishing condition. From this institution he graduated with honor in 1867. While at college Dr. Merrill was a most diligent student, and besides attending faithfully to his regular studies, took special courses in the natural sciences, thus unconsciously preparing himself for the work of later years. On his graduation from college Dr. Merrill was fully determined on what profession he should select. Of course it was that of medicine. He was now in his true element, studying with the greatest interest all the standard text-books in his chosen profession. With a mind well versed in general literature, and thoroughly trained in the elementary principles of medical science, he was soon fully prepared to enter a first-class medical college. Selecting one of great reputation he went to New York, and became a student of the College of Physicians and Surgeons in that city, graduating at this excellent institution in 1871, at the age of twenty-four, having thus early obtained his merited diplomas by close study and untiring perseverance. He was now ready for the great work of an active practical life; and he lost no time in undertaking such a work with a brave heart, and with strong, diligent, skillful hands. It was about this time that the singular talents and tastes of the young physician in a special department of medical and surgical knowledge were more openly displayed – a department in which he has gained a most enviable and extended reputation and successful results in his treatment. Soon after leaving the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Dr. Merrill became the resident surgeon of the Brooklyn Eye and Ear hospital, where he continued a little over a year, performing many a difficult and delicate operation with the greatest success.

In 1872, having determined to obtain all the knowledge he possibly could of the nature and proper treatment of cases in his specialty, he went to Europe, and there studied with great care the various modes of operation and treatment adopted by the celebrated surgeons and physicians of the old world. Choosing Germany, France and England as the best fields for the most thorough investigations and the latest discoveries, especially in his favorite department, he first studied in the universities of Zurich, Vienna and Heidelberg, and afterward, following up the same course of study, observation and the latest scientific investigation, he went to Paris and London.

Dr. Merrill remained abroad more than two years, and returned to his native land in 1874, with his mind more richly stored with scientific knowledge, more polished and expanded by mingling in the society of learned men, and more highly instructed by beholding the beauties of natural scenery, the noble works of the fine arts, and the famous old places visited.

Taking up his permanent residence in Albany, he soon gained a large and lucrative practice which has been continually on the increase to the present time, when his fame as an oculist and aurist has spread all over the country.

In 1874, Dr. Merrill was appointed ophthalmic and aural surgeon to St. Peter’s hospital – one of the best institutions of the kind in any city – and soon after he occupied the same position in the Child’s hospital, and a little later was invited to take charge of the eye and ear department of the Troy hospital. In 1876 he was chosen professor of diseases of the eye and ear in the Albany Medical college, the medical department of Union university, and ophthalmic and aural surgeon to the Albany hospital – all which positions he still fills with consummate ability and rare skill.

In 1875, Dr. Merrill married Miss Mary E. Griffin, the only child of Hon. Stephen Griffin, 2d, a wealthy lumber dealer of Warrensburg, Warren County, N. Y., who in 1874 represented his district in the assembly. In his handsome and pleasant home, No. 23 Washington avenue, the doctor may be found every day to receive with kind words and careful attention all patients who come to him for consultation or treatment. Between his college and hospital duties and his extensive private practice, he is kept very busy from early morn till late in the evening. At his private residence there are often crowds of patients waiting for their turn to come for examination. It may be stated in concluding this brief sketch of one so eminent in his profession, that Dr. Merrill’s most remarkable success, especially of late years, has been the operation for the removal of cataract, and so wide has been his reputation in this respect that patients from many states of the Union have come to him for operations, which have been successfully performed, and whose dim eyes have thus been made to sparkle with their formed brilliancy, and whose desponding hearts have beat anew with joyous hopes.

We congratulate the doctor on the grand success he has already achieved in the very prime of life in his thorough and scientific treatment of two of the most serious and important classes of diseases that so often afflict humanity – those of the eye and the ear. Dr. Merrill has also been a frequent contributor to current medical literature.



Noted living Albanians and state officials , A series of biographical sketches. 1891.

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