William ParrishWilliam Parrish was my great-great grandfather.  This is not the first time that I’ve spoken of him, although the last time it was about William simply being a common ancestor whom I was referring to in regards to meeting my cousin. Today it’s all about making him a little more real to those of you who have been kind enough to keep coming back to read.

He was born 1 Oct 1830 in Crawford County/Marion County, Ohio – the son of John and Sarah (Brown) Parrish. He may have been born in central Ohio, but he did not spend much time there growing up. By the time the 1840 census taker came around, his family had moved to Putnam County, just west of the small village of Kalida, and that’s where he grew up, met his wife, and started a family of his own.

Sarah Lucretia Comer, the great-great granddaughter of Christopher Comer. She and William were married in July 1858, presumably in Putnam County, Ohio as both sets of parents are showing as early settlers in the county. As written about previously, very little is known about Sarah Comer Parrish. She and William were the parents of five children, and she was still living in June of 1870 when the US Census was taken and accounted for the family. It is believed that Sarah died sometime that year or the following year, although no record of her death or possible burial site has ever been located. A written family history states that she died when her youngest son, Charles was only a baby of 18 months old, making the death of this young wife and mother in August of 1871.

It is recorded that in 1872, William moved from Putnam County to neighboring Paulding County. His father having already passed, his mother was now living there with William’s youngest brother, and while mourning the death of his wife, being surrounded by family would have brought comfort to a grieving William, who also had his hands full with five young children. Perhaps, just perhaps, a match may have been in the works for William to meet the woman who would step in as a mother to his children.

This is where things get a little tricky, possibly confusing, but interestingly come around…hold on tight as I attempt to explain –

William Parrish’s uncle, Deliverance Brown was married to Rebecca Troxell, who was first married to Henry Shisler. Henry and Rebecca were the parents of five children, one being a daughter, Melissa. I wonder if William’s mother, Sarah, might have looked at this woman who although not a blood relative,but like a niece in her heart, and saw the potential she had as being both wife and mother for her son and her grandchildren. However the two may have met, William and Melissa were married on 29 November 1873, and together they had four children of their own.

In the family history written by my cousin, Irene Parrish, she has transcribed many of the family letters that are in her possession. A letter written by Melissa Parrish’s oldest son, Joshua – dated 6 March 1902, he writes to an aunt letting her know that both his mother and father had come down with small pox at home. Due to the seriousness of the disease at that time, the family living there at home would have been quarantined and unable to send mail out. Therefore, the next letter that arrived was sent from a neighbor of William and Melissa’s. It spoke of the seriousness of William’s illness, and how Melissa, who was although somewhat ill, still managed to care for the household.

And then a letter arrived that was dated March 20, 1902 from William’s daughter, Rose, to her aunt Ethel. It was a letter giving the details of the death of William Parrish who died of small pox on March 17:

“…no one was here except Ma and Josh Jim George and I (** referring to Melissa and their four children)…O how sad none of the other children (**from his first marriage) ever saw him but John Henry before he got down bad John came to the window and talked a little while to Pa. … Ethel he saw Grandma Brown he told us so before he left us and smiled and said he would soon be there. … He wanted to tell us so much before but could not for his throat would not let him talk….O if his throat would have let him talk he would have told us something great.”

Due to the highly contagious nature of this disease, there would be no immediate public funeral, and William’s sons would bury their father at night to keep the public away. A death notice reads:

Wm. Parrish, an old and respected citizen of Jackson twp., and pioneer of Palding county, died of smallpox last Monday morning.
The circumstances of his death are very sad, as the children and friends were not permitted to visit him duringhis sickness, or to pay the last sad tributes of respect as we are informed.

Melissa Parrish continued on for almost another 40 years after the death of her husband, before passing away at the age of 93 years young. At the time of her death in 1941, she left behind 31 grandchildren and 45 great-grandchildren.

William & Melissa Parrish