Merritt was originally from Maine and moved to California. He bought land in what is now the city of Oakland in 1852 and moved there in 1863.
In 1867, he donated 155 acres (627,000 m<sup>2</sup>) of dammed tidal water from the headwaters of Indian Slough which became known as "Merritt's Lake" and later as Lake Merritt.
He left plans for a hospital and nursing school to be built in his name after his death. His dream was realized in 1909 when Samuel Merritt College and Merritt Hospital opened. He is buried in Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland.
from Camron-Stanford House Preservation Association