yesterday's tennessee

Yesterday's Tennessee


November 11, 2007
bvy Gayle Vernon Parrish

Preface: The letter below, which is incomplete, was written by Henry Lawson Parrish, youngest son of Isaac Aaron Parrish, Sr. and Adeline Burgeous. They moved to Henderson County with their immediate family and other relatives about 1850. He was writing to his daughters, Virgie and Bessie on March 5, 1949. “Uncle Henry” was the last person of that generation living at that time. The letter came from Virgie Parrish’s estate in Henderson , TN. Information in parenthesis are my comments to help clarify
the information.

Henderson, TN
March 5, 1949

Dear Virgie and Bessie,

This is my birth month and my mind runs back to my childhood when I first began to go to school. I was the youngest child of eight children in my family.

I want to write a script to you as everything is always in such a rush I cannot be with you long enough to talk to you about my life with your Grandfather Parrish’s family (Isaac Aaron Parrish, Sr.). He passed away before you were born.

My father was reared in Pittslyvania County, Virginia and my mother  was reared in Mississippi. Her name was Adeline Burgeous. That was before the Civil War. My grandfather Burgeous owned a bunch of slaves. My father was a slave overseer and a farmer. My father came to Tennessee as an overseer and worked for his uncle, Daniel Chattin Muse, near Henderson, TN. (in the Plainview Community between Jacks Creek and Henderson, TN.). He brought his younger brother, John A. Parrish, with him. The little Faucit (Fawcett, sp?) place is where they lived when they first came to Tennessee. That land belonged to Uncle Daniel Muse at that time. That is where my oldest brother was born in 1855. (Thomas Noah Parrish, who married Nannie Barham. They were the parents of Plezzie, Sr., Joseph and Manley.)

My father soon bought a farm in Henderson County west of the hamlet of Middlefork, TN before Chester County was formed. He bought the farm from Mr. Beaver, who was a wealthy man. He owned quite a bit of land. He and my father were close neighbors. That was a fine neighborhood for that day.

Later children were Betty, William, Sally (Clara’s mother), then Isaac, Jr. (Uncle “Ike” who married Callie McCall) and then Josie. Their ages were two years apart. Then three years later, Mattie was born. She lived only two years. Three years after Mattie’s birth, I was born. This made me the eighth child and the youngest.

My parents both had a good education. Daddy sent his girls to the best schools in the county at that time. Bettie received her education at Spring Creek and Lexington. Josie went to Montezuma. There were no colleges at that time. So when Bettie finished high school, she came home and taught school in the neighborhood. She taught me in both literary and Sunday School. I was born and reared in a Christian home. My mother was a Methodist. My father was a Christian man but his belief was Primitive Baptist.

In that day and time, there wasn’t any good way of transportation except horseback, hacks or wagons. So, the people couldn’t go too far to school or church. Daddy and lots of the other neighbors went together and built a Methodist church building and a school house (west of Middlefork, no date given) on the old Mifflin-Saltillo Road just in sight of our house. I remember well when the building was built. It was a strong and well-built frame structure with nice lumber on the ceiling. The walls on the inside were plastered….the least little sound could be heard all over the church. It was named Mount Gilead.

The preacher had two churches to preach every Sunday as they had to go on horseback. They had preaching at our little church once a month. Every Sunday the preacher would always come by for dinner with us because our house was on the road near the church.

I remember the first preacher that came by on the circuit. His name was brother Fisher. He would take me up in his lap and call me his little preacher. My mother and daddy all thought a lots of him. Back then, those were happy days in that neighborhood .  They would have the biggest meetings I ever saw. They had a good Sunday School too!

That is the first and only place I ever went to Sunday School. They also had singing school there. Some of the members were so gifted to sing and to pray. They would always kneel when they prayed. One member, Mr. Pollard would get happy every time he prayed. Others would pray beautifully and pray heart-warming prayers.

[Unfortunately,the rest of the letter is missing.]

Notes on the letter above

Henry Lawson Parrish’s parents  and most of the immediate family are buried in the Parrish Family Cemetery on the original farm (known now as the Duck farm)purchased from the Beaver’s mentioned in the letter above. Henry and his wife are buried at Unity Cemetery.

John A. Parrish, Sr. (uncle Johnny) mentioned in this letter was a Civil War veteran. He was wounded in the battle of Franklin.  Old family information says he was shot in the face. I remember seeing  an obituary from an old newspaper when I was young. He is died in 1909 and was buried at Unity Cemetery near Jacks Creek, TN. He was Isaac Sr.’s brother. Uncle Johnny’s son, John Jr. killed himself three months later because of grief from his Father’s death and is buried beside his father. Josie mentioned in the letter, married and moved to Oklahoma. I’m not sure who she married but remember it may have been a “McKelvey”.

Isaac Aaron Parrish, Sr.’s parents who lived near Chatham, Va. were Thomas A. Parrish and Martha Stone. The Stone family genealogy is well documented in Pittsylvania County, Va. The Stone’s, Muse’s, Hart’s and Parrish’s from that early and mid-1800 era are all closely related. They moved to Henderson County close to the same time. I do not know the Mississippi connection to the “Burgeous” family mentioned in the letter other than Adeline was a Burgeous or this could have been spelled “Burgess”.

Isaac A. Parrish, Sr. and two neighbors are noted in the Goodspeed’s History of Tennessee as bringing an injunction trying to stop the formation of Chester County in the late 1870’s. They lost the suit and Chester County was formed. They were disgruntled that the county line would split their farm property.

“Uncle” Daniel C. Muse is buried in the Hart Cemetery in what is now Chester County in the Plainview Community on Spears Road south of Highway 100 between Jacks Creek and Henderson, TN. His son was a prominent lawyer who lived in Jackson,TN  in the late 1800’s. The Muse name was well noted in Jackson in the early 1900’s.

The Methodist Church, Mt. Gilead, mentioned in the letter above was torn down shortly after 1900 and the lumber was used to build Brown School approximately 5 miles north of the original site (near the Garnertown Community in Henderson County). The building is standing today as a private dwelling near the intersection of Highway 200 and Brown School Road. A few bricks from the original foundation are still on the original site on the Wadley farm and north of Middlefork Rd (the old Mifflin-Saltillo Road).

Mr.  Carmen Duck purchased the original farm from the Parrishes in 1960, cleared the land and raised cattle. The farm has since been sold and divided.

A Dr. Phelps from the late 1800’s is also buried with the Parrish family at the cemetery on the farm.
I was told that a tree fell on him and killed him one stormy night as he was traveling on horseback to deliver a baby. I cannot document this and cannot find any other information on this story.

Plezzie Lafayette Parrish, Sr., my grandfather, was killed in 1927 in an accident involving a mule he was trying to break. He was either thrown from the mule or kicked as he was alone at the time it happened. My dad, Burl Odell Parrish was 10 years old at the time. His younger brother, Plezzie, Jr, was born 9 days after the accident. My grandmother was Daisy Inez Clifford who was reared at Mifflin, TN.

Anyone with any information on the Parrishes and relatives may contact Gayle Parrish by e-mail at:

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