Merrell Williams, who gave (or sold) tobacco documents to Scruggs, dies at 72

Longtime Oxford folks may remember Abbie’s Irish Rose, one of the first bars in Oxford, that opened in what had been the lobby of the Henry Hotel, later renamed the Abbey (because it had windows from a prior occupant of that space, the Methodist Church), in the mid-70s. Its owner, Merrell Williams, came to town driving a Bentley and with a lot of stuff that was the remnants of an English pub. He set it all up and opened, I think in the Summer of 1975. I don’t think he lasted a year there, the bar closing down (later to reopen, one of a long sequence of ends/beginnings at that location), and he moved on. Williams wasn’t heard of thereafter…

Until the release of stolen tobacco documents erupted on the scene. I can’t remember when it dawned on me that this Merrill Williams was that Merrill Williams; it was certainly by the time Micheal Orey published Assuming the Risk, his account of the tobacco cases, and did a reading in Oxford where he brought up Williams’ tale.