By Charlene Shields
Notes from the White County Historical Society as they appear in "The Carmi Times."
Copyright ©2002 by "The Carmi Times" Permission to reprint granted to Cindy Birk Conley and the ILGenWeb by Tammy Knox, editor, "The Carmi Times."
The next few columns will be quoting a lecture by the Rev. Braxton
Parrish. This was delivered at the Methodist Episcopal Church in Benton
in 1874. It appeared in the Dorris Newsletter in December 2001.
"I was born in North Carolina on the 24th of October 1795. When but
infant, my parents moved to South Carolina, Newberry district. We
remained there until 1811 or 1812. To that place cling my first
recollections, and there my youthful mind received its first
impressions. When I first knew my father he was, as matters then went,
well off, and was a deputy sheriff of the Newberry district. He was a
very generous man and could not refuse his friends such favors as they
might ask. He went their securities, generally, and as the result, he
was broken up. Somewhat disheartened, he sold out, with a view of going
to Louisiana. My mother did not want to go there, and finally after much
entreaty, prevailed on him to go back to North Carolina.
"In 1815 my father died, leaving a widow and eight children, and I the
eldest. I never knew what became of the estate. In 1819, I left the
state. These facts will give you an idea of the chances I had for
education. We had no free schools then, and but little interest was felt
upon the subject of education. It was supposed to be the duty of every
man to educate his own children, and the general impression seemed to
prevail that it was entirely superfluous to educate the children of the
poorer classes to any degree whatever. My own education in schools,
during life, amounted to three months, and that time was devoted to the
old Dillworth spelling book.
"After my father's death I worked for my mother and sisters. The first
year I worked for wages, and for the entire year's labor received $100,
and during that time I only lost three days after deducting half
Saturdays that I walked home, ten miles. This $100 went to the support
of my mother's family which, with the labor of my brother, Thomas
Parrish, ...and that of the other children, made them a living. After
working that year for the $100, I bought my mother a small farm in
Lincoln County, N.C. and settled here and the children upon it.
"The next two years I worked for shares of crops, all of which went
the support of my mother and family. I left my crop on the field the
last year for them, and hired to a man for $7 per month, to drive a team
from N.C. to Boone's Lick in Missouri. When we got to Reedieville,
near Stone River in Tennessee, the winter set in very hard, and the
family concluded to remain there all winter. My employer paid me off. I
bought what was then called a wallet, being a piece of cloth sewed up
with an opening in the center like saddle bags. In this wallet I placed
what little extra clothing I had, and with but very little money,
started with my wallet on my shoulder afoot for Boone's Lick, my
"As I walked along, the reflection came upon me, that here I was a young
man, 24 years of age, with the whole world before me in which to make a
living, my mother and children comfortably situated, while the old man,
my late employer, with a large family of girls and very short of means,
was encamped in a strange country, exposed to the hardships and rigor of
a long winter. So strong did my sympathies work on me that, after an
hour's walk, I turned about and went back to the old man and voluntarily
gave him all the money I had except $5. The old man shed tears...and I
felt that indeed, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'
"I then went down Stone River about three miles and got employment at
sawmill for the winter. It had an old fashioned water mill with an
upright saw. The next summer I worked in the vicinity for a carpenter
named John Farr and received in payment a horse for the summer's
work...I set in to work at the still-house of Joseph Ballow near
Reedieville. Then we did not think it any harm to make liquor and drink
it too, in moderate quantities, and nobody drank to excess in those
days, but we did not make such poison as they manufacture nowadays."
Next week: The author marries and heads for Southern Illinois.
The Genealogy Library is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m.
Address letters to Genealogy, White County Historical Society, PO Box
121, Carmi, IL 62821.
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