The Parrett Migration: Their Story is America’s Story

The Parrett Migration is a family history of five generations of my paternal line, beginning with Frederick Parrett, who probably migrated to America in the 1730s and eventually settled in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, where he married Margaret Barbara Edwards and sired seven children. The narrative continues with the next four generations, focusing on families headed by John Parrott, Joseph J. Parrett, David Mann Parrett, and Joseph Parrett. Joseph was in the Ciparrett covervil War and died in the second decade of the twentieth century. The story spans nearly 200 years and highlights what it was like to live in the America during its colonial and frontier periods.

Nearly everyone who has read the book has said something like, “This story could be my ancestors’ story, too.” It’s true. The Parrett Migration is a quintessentially American story–hence, the subtitle of my book: Their Story is America’s Story.

As I wrote The Parrett Migration, I was mindful of the writing principles and techniques I’ve taught in my classes and seminars. I tried to bring to life obscure families by embedding them in their place and times and creating imagined scenes that show them living in their environment. I also included images, when I could find them, and hired graphic designers to create custom maps and drawings. You can learn more about the book at my website: Parrett Family History and at Amazon.


Dr. John Colletta, nationally known lecturer and author of Only a Few Bones, said this about the book:

In The Parrett Migration, Dawn Thurston has achieved an engaging saga of America’s formation. Inspired by the journeys her ancestors took over a span of 200 years—from the colonial East to 20th-century Pacific coast—Thurston follows in their footsteps—literally!—and takes us along. With easy, vivid prose and lavish illustration—maps, documents, engravings, photographs, and more—she leads us from one hearty, optimistic and energetic family to the next, generation to generation, from Virginia to Tennessee to Ohio to Iowa to California… Westward ho! This meticulously documented narrative is brought to life with scenes reimagined from the past—scenes always clearly introduced as such. This monumental work raises the standard for family historians who aspire to write narrative accounts of their ancestors’ lives. Thurston has transformed a personal quest into the quintessential human journey we can all understand, appreciate and enjoy.

Patricia Williams:

This is a book for all those who like history, story telling, memoir writing, and adventure. Dawn Parrett Thurston takes the everyday pioneers we all have in our own families and brings their stories and dreams to life within an impeccably sourced and documented genealogical and historical perspective. Their struggles, journeys, and inexhaustible drive to better themselves is a story that belongs to all Americans. For family history writers, it is a “how to” book on combining facts with well written scenes that invite you into the thoughts and dreams of these explorers. You might expect great historical or family photographs, but most people have not seen a contract for an indentured servant or a pay slip for a Revolutionary War soldier. How about the hyperbole of advertisements luring the brave into the uncharted regions of unexplored America? The broad wealth of intriguing information envelopes the characters so that the truth of their lives reads like a wonderful historical novel.

Lavina Fielding Anderson, author of Lucy’s Book:

The Parrett Migration tells the story of an 18th-century ancestor’s uncertain beginning in the German Rhineland. We sail with him to Pennsylvania’s shore and follow him into Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. We travel in the footsteps of the next generations, who carry seeds, tools, dreams, and DNA as they follow old Indian trails into Tennessee, Ohio, Iowa, and beyond. In her quest to reconstruct her family’s history, Dawn Parrett Thurston, heir of these dreams and DNA, has reconstructed America, one generation at a time.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Guy Smith March 3, 2015 at 11:48 am

Hi Dawn,
I was lucky in more ways than one to find a link to your Parrett history. I ordered a copy the next day in Rancho Mirage and got it from an Amazon locker yesterday when we arrived in Seattle. I see in the fly leaf that the copy was made on Feb 27, 2015 in San Bernardino, which was the day I after I ordered it. What a world we live in.
I don’t know how much time you can spend on questions about the book, but my great-great-grandmother was Elizabeth Parrott, born 1809 in Parrottsville to Smoking John and Elizabeth Hall. She married James Ross in 1829 in Fayette Co OH and they moved to Mercer Co where she had my g-grandfather Branson Miller Ross in 1834. Like everyone else, they moved to Iowa but they lived primarily in Oskaloosa, Mahaska Co. Elizabeth remarried after James’ death to a man named Matthew Campbell and she died in Wapello Co. in abt. 1857.
I’m wondering if you have a quick way to search your notes to see if there is any mention of this Elizabeth or Betsy Parrott. I see her siblings names mentioned in your book but not her.
Thank you very much for a wonderful, well written book about my ancestors.
Guy Smith – Seattle

2 Memoir Mentor June 9, 2015 at 6:08 pm

Sorry to have ignored your kind post for so long. I had taken a vacation from blogging and just found your comment today. I’ve checked my Parrott database and find your Elizabeth Parrott Ross Campbell in my file. The only information I have for her is her birth in Parrottsville on Feb. 25, 1809, marriage in Fayette, OH, on July 28, 1829 and death on August 25, 1857. I don’t have a death location for her, however (Wapello?), nor do I have her marriage to Matthew Campbell recorded. Do you have a date for that marriage? I have three children attributed to Elizabeth and James: Branson, born in 1834, Rebecca (abt. 1833), and Sarah (abt. 1835). You may have more complete information for these children, as well as additional offspring. I would love to be able to link Branson to you, so maybe when it’s convenient you can send me Branson’s line of descent to you.
All the best,

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