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 old man remembers
(This is the conclusion of a speech delivered by the Rev. Braxton
Parrish in 1874 in Benton. During the preceding segments, the Rev. Mr.
Parrish has detailed his life beginning in North Carolina and going
westward until he and his family settled in Williamson and Franklin
"You no doubt wonder why the early settlers all made their farms on
high and poorer lands. The reason is obvious. The low grounds were too
wet and miry, and on the prairies the green-headed flies were so
numerous and severe that the cattle could not live there. At sunup they
would rush from the prairies to the woods, and up above here in the
prairie, Mr. Rawlings at certain seasons had to build fires to keep the
flies from eating up his cattle.
"How wonderfully the country has improved, none but the old pioneers
can fully realize. Today we are surrounded by all the advantages
attendant upon a high state of culture, and more than average degree of
wealth. Yet occasionally we see an eastern man who turns up his nose at
us and calls this a rough country. He ought to remember that we made
this country, while the one he came from was made to his hands a century
before he was born. This reminds me of the story I have heard of the
eastern woman, who in answer to an inquiry as to the character of this
country said, 'It was a paradise for men and dogs, but hell for women
"The experience I have detailed is not my own alone, but that, in a
degree, of all the early settlers here. Now you have school houses,
churches and all the attendant blessings of a highly cultivated people,
and we only refer to the past, that our appreciation of the present may
be heightened and that when we hear others sneer at our limited
advancement, looking back to our starting place, we may see how far we
have traveled upon the road of progress. How profoundly we have been
moved by the impulses of the age.
"In one thing I think we have not advanced. In the old time, if a man
committed a crime, we all turned out to hunt him, a scoundrel was kicked
out of decent society. That is not always true now, I am sorry to say.
But the old man will not cavil with the age that in so many respects is
superior to his own.
"My friends, tomorrow I leave this country to go to my daughters and
never see you again, but my kindest wishes will be ever with you. Do not
entirely forget the old man, but give him such remembrances as you
think his character as a man, a pioneer and a citizen entitle him to."
And that is the last I've heard of the Rev. Braxton Parrish--born in
North Carolina in 1795 and died in Southern Illinois sometime after
The Genealogy Library is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m.
2 p.m. This month most of our visitors seem to have been from out of
Address letters to Genealogy, White County Historical Society, PO Box
121, Carmi, IL 62821.
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