In 1880 C. F. is still C. F., and living in Empire. I looked on the census hoping for a first name. He was born in 1831, so he is probably Merida's father or uncle. Given the scarcit of HININGs in California at the time, I'd guess father, but I'm only guessing; the abstract doesn't say.
If I can remember, I'll look for Merida in the History of Fresno County next week. I didn't find anything for either "Merida Hining" or "Hining Merida" in google.
C. F. is born in Prussia, Merida's father in Russia, on the 1880 census. That sounds to me like CF is the father, and one enumerator got it wrong.