A Book is Born! The Parrett Migration

by Memoir Mentor on June 12, 2014

When I was a bride in my twenties (many years ago), my husband and I stopped at a farm in Locust Grove, Iowa, on a cross-country trip to the East Coast. The farm was owned by Ken and Lois Parrett, distant cousins of mine I had never heard of until that day. They took me on a tour of the area and showed me land my ancestors once owned and cemeteries where they were buried. That visit turned out to be Dawn Thurston, The Parrett Migrationone of those turning points that send your life in a new trajectory. I wanted to know more about these Parretts, whose name I’d carried since my birth. Over the years, between raising children and being busy with a thousand other projects, I occasionally set aside research time to visit genealogy libraries and communicate with distant cousins and various record keepers. It wasn’t until the last decade that my research took on an added focus. I was intent on writing a book that brought my paternal family to life.

And so it happened: I published my family history in late May and, book by book, readers are becoming acquainted with the Parretts–a family that had largely had been lost to history.

The five generations of Parretts profiled in my history left few records behind. As I became better acquainted with the eras in which they lived–America’s colonial and frontier periods–I began to realize that they took part in significant events in American history, including the major migration periods that spread the country’s borders ever westward. That realization gave me the theme that drove my story–and its title, The Parrett Migration: Their Story is America’s Story.

It’s been interesting to hear comments from readers. They tell me, “My ancestors were involved in these events, too.” Or, “I could write a similar story about my people.” It’s true. I suspect nearly anyone who reads my book will see their family’s story in the Parrett story. (And they should write their own version, shaping it to their family’s particular circumstances.)

My book was a challenge on many levels. Could I bring to life seemingly obscure people and tell an interesting story about them? Could I incorporate the writing techniques I stress in my classes? (I felt nervous about that one, for I knew I had strict judges!) Could I do justice to five generations without being too superficial? Could I finish such a mammoth undertaking?

I did finish, so I overcame at least one challenge. The jury’s still out about the others. However it’s ultimately judged by readers, I hope the book will stand as a sincere effort to honor my family and preserve their story for future generations.

To learn more about the book, go to http://www.ParrettFamilyHistory.com and purchase it at Amazon.com.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Betty Scheibel Pilous June 13, 2014 at 8:28 am

According to records, my father’s grandmother was Ida Parrot, who was born to HJ (or JH) Parrott andEliza Thurnes. HJ was the son of George Parrott and Nancy Fancher, and George was the son of John Parrott. Family stories also tell of a relative owning a plantation in the Carribean Islands. Do you have any information on this thread of our family?

2 Memoir Mentor June 13, 2014 at 11:35 am

Thanks for contacting me about your branch of the family. I was hoping that my book might pull some Parrett cousins out of the woodwork to help fill in the family tree. I discuss George and Nancy Parrett in my book, their move to Iowa, and a few things about George’s later years. I also present a brief history of the Fancher family. I don’t mention George and Nancy’s children, however. According to my records, their son Henry Jackson was third in line, born in Ohio in 1825–probably Fayette County. I have him married to a Jane who came from Illinois, though her name may have been Eliza Jane. I have only one son listed for Henry and Jane, David Garfield, with no additional information. It was common in that era for men to use their initials as their “call name.” Most of my Fayette County Parretts did that. It was helpful because so many of the Parretts had the same first name. There were a lot of Henry’s. Your George was the son of John, who went by “Smoking Johnny,” and Elizabeth Hall. That family figures prominently in my book, as do Smoking Johnny’s parents, John Parrott and Catharina Myers, and John Parrott’s father, Frederick. I have entire chapters dedicated to John and Frederick Parrott. If you have any information about Henry Jackson and Eliza, I’d appreciate it if you sent it my way.

3 Carolyn Wood Adamson June 17, 2014 at 5:01 pm

Dawn, it’s especially rewarding to see the publication of your Parrett book: not only have Steve and I been privileged to learn from you in several classes, but as you know, two of my great-great aunts, Sarah Katherine and Lucinda Kuhl, married two of your Parrett cousins, George Frederick and Frederick Franklin, back in mid-19th century Fayette County, Ohio. Thank you for being a model of perseverance!

4 Memoir Mentor June 17, 2014 at 7:06 pm

Thanks, Carolyn. I think you may enjoy the Parrett history. While, I don’t focus on your great-great-aunts, I tell a lot about the families of the men they married and describe their migration from Virginia to Ohio in 1814. I hope you’ll get a good sense of what their lives were like in Fayette County, Ohio. Who were the Kuhls’ parents?

5 Jim Rubis July 25, 2014 at 11:02 am

Just the type of book my wife finds interesting. After checking the book out from the Fairfield Public Library we found that we currently own the Sec 21 portion of the Locust Grove Parrett farm. We will be digging out the abstract to learn more. It is really great to learn some of the early history of our farm. As I was the librarian in Fairfield from 1972 – 2005 I may have met you or spoken to you. One last coincidence — Lois Parrett who is pictured in the book arranged for me to do one of the first programs I did as a fresh new librarian — for the Cross Lanes Club — women from that neighborhood.

6 Memoir Mentor July 26, 2014 at 2:32 pm

This is an amazing coincidence. I’m so grateful your wife found my book in the Fairfield Library. And to think you own land that was in the Parrett family for several generations. In some ways, it feels like my story has come full circle.

7 Jessica Parrett August 11, 2014 at 6:55 pm

I have also been doing research on our family and I haven’t been able to find anything past Fredrick Parrott. I am Joseph John parrett’s great-great-great-great-great granddaughter.

8 Memoir Mentor August 12, 2014 at 8:27 am

It’s good to hear from another Parrett cousin. Your name gave me pause because my mother is Jessie Parrett. I assume since you mentioned Joseph John Parrett that you mean the man I refer to as Joseph J. Parrett in my book. I’ve always figured the J stood for John, but I never found anything to prove it, so I didn’t mention it in the family history. If you’ve found anything to verify it, please let me know. I’m Joseph J.’s fourth great-granddaughter. I’d like to know how you descend from Joseph J. Please contact me at thurstondawn@gmail.com. As for your question about Frederick’s parents, I covered all my speculations about that in the book, but this summer I’ve been looking into it more deeply, reviewing original Swiss baptism records in the Salt Lake City archives. If I find anything definitive enough to feel good about, I’ll get the word out. Meanwhile, I’d be interested in your thoughts on Frederick’s heritage. Have you been to my website ParrettFamilyHistory.com?

9 Anna smith (birth name Alice Jones) March 6, 2016 at 12:05 am

My Father was George Jones, Maria parrott (the only spelling I have) was my Grandmother Andrew Baxter Parrott was my Great Grandfather. I was adopted when I was 3 yrs old and I don’t know very much about my heritage. Can you tell me where I can aquire a copy of your book.

10 Memoir Mentor May 16, 2016 at 11:31 am

Sorry to be so tardy getting back to you, Anna. I do not have your Andrew Baxter Parrott listed in my genealogy records, but I searched for him on Ancestry.com and I found a marriage record of a man by that name who was married in Wapello County, Iowa, to Margaret Ann Mendenhall. The marriage date is August 25, 1852. Could that be your great-grandfather? If so, you are probably related to my family, for they settled in that area in the 1850s. My book does not mention your ancestor, however. I primarily discuss my direct family line–from the pre-Revolutionary War immigrant ancestor who came from the French/Germany area to the Civil War ancestor who settled in Jefferson County, Iowa. It’s possible that your Andrew may have been related in some way to George Parrott (1796-1888) and his wife, Nancy Fancher Parrott (1787-1870), who came to Wapello County, Iowa in the 1840s, I believe. I didn’t see Andrew’s name mentioned among their children, though I’ve only found three children listed for George and Nancy. There may have been more. George Parrott was the nephew of one of my direct-line ancestors.

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