Parsons – Surname Saturday

Brown-Sanford-Parsons Line
By Don Taylor

Origin of the Parsons Surname

Ancestry indicates Parsons is an occupational name for the servant of a parish priest or parson, or possibly, the parson’s son. I ignored other meanings for Parsons, from Irish and Scottish origins, because my Parsons immigrant ancestor came from Dorset in the 1600s. According to Forebears, the surname is most common in Wiltshire, while it is also numerous in counties around Wiltshire, including Dorset.

Geographical

In World: Today, Parsons has the greatest incident in the United States, with over 86,000 people having the surname.

In Dorset, England, where my earliest ancestors lived, there are 881 people with the surname.

In the US, there is a greater incidence of Parsons living in California and Texas. In the 1880 Census, the most incidences of Parsons were in New York and Massachusetts. My Parson ancestors left New York in the 1820s and were in Michigan during the 1880 Census.

Direct Parsons Ancestors

51 – Mary Electa Parsons(1828-1888) – 3rd Great Grandmother
102 – Chester Parsons(1799-1887) – 4th Great-Grandfather
204 – John Parsons(1764-1813) – 5th Great-Grandfather
408 – John Parsons Sr. (1737/38-1821) – 6th Great-Grandfather
816 – Timothy Parsons (1695-1772) – 7th Great-Grandfather*
1632 – Samuel Parsons (1653-1734) – 8th Great-Grandfather*
3264 – Joseph Parsons (1620-1683) – 9th Great-Grandfather*
6528 – William Parsons (___-___) – 10th Great-Grandfather*

* Note: I have not fully reviewed or recearched ancestors #816 or higher.

Historical

In 1840, Chester Parsons was living in Saline, Washtenaw County, Michigan. His household included himself, his wife Deborah, and six children. There were eight Parsons families in Washtenaw County during the census. Chester and his brother lived in Saline.

In 1880, Chester’s father, John Parsons Jr,  was the head of the household in Sandisfield, Berkshire County, Massachusetts. His household included a wife and one child.  Chester’s Grandfather, John Parsons Sr., was also the head of a household. John’s household consisted of himself, five females and three males. They were two of the nine Parsons households in the county.

My earliest known Parsons immigrant ancestor is Joseph Parsons. He came to the colonies between 1629 and 1646. It isn’t clear whether he first came to Massachusetts (where he died) or Connecticut (where he married Mary Bliss in 1646).

Photographic History

Chester Parsons

A drawing of Chester Parsons was printed in the History of Washtenaw County, Michigan. His is one of the earliest ancestor images I have.

There is a copyrighted drawing of his home in: York, Saline, Ypsilanti, Lyndon, Sharon (Mich.) Township residences, ca. 1874; 1874. Page 105. University of Michigan Library Digital Collections. Accessed: April 02, 2018.

There are photos of the Parsons family marker and Chester’s individual marker via Find-a-Grave.

Likewise, there is a photo of the marker of John Parsons, Jr., on Find-a-Grave.

Direct Parsons Descendants

My earliest known ancestor, William Parsons, married Margaret Hoskins sometime before 1620, probably in Beaminster, Dorset, England.  My records have identified 868 direct-line descendants of William and Margaret.

My most recent, known Parsons cousins are children of Alfred David Parsons (1830-1908) and Percia Tallmage (___-___). They had five children between 1861 and 1873, all were born in Saline, Washtenaw, Michigan. They are 1st cousins, 4x removed.

Sources:

  • Ancestry Surname Page: http://www.ancestry.com/learn/facts
  • Forebears Surnames Page: https://forebears.io/surnames
  • Ancestry – Don Taylor’s Roberts-Brown 2021 tree (Private) accessed 23 July 2021.

Ancestor Sketch – Mary “Polly” Wolcott Parsons

Brown-Sandford-Parsons-Wolcott
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.Mary Wolcott was born in 1767. She married John Parsons in 1788. After she was widowed in 1813,  Mary lived another 43 years living in several households. She died in 1857 at the age of 89.

Roberts/Brown – Ancestor #205

List of Grandparents

Mary “Polly” Wolcott Parsons (1767-1857)

Birth

Different researchers seem to disagree about where Mary Wolcott was born, but all seem to agree she was born 20 May 1767 to Samuel and Prudence (Robbins) Wolcott. I’ll know more when I research Mary’s parents. Chandler Wolcott, in Wolcott Genealogy, indicates that Samuel Wolcott located to Sandisfield, MA, in 1764, three years before Mary was born, so it is my current opinion that Mary was born in Sandisfield, Berkshire County, Massachusetts.

Childhood

Mary was the third of seven children. Her siblings included

    1. Prudence Born 1763      Married John Baxter
    2. Samuel Born 1765      (the 4th generation named Samuel Wolcott)
    3. Mary Born 1767      Married John Parsons, Jr.
    4. Thomas Born 1769
    5. Abiathar Born 1772
    6. William Born 1774
    7. Abigail Born 1781      Married John Chapel.

Her father was a patriot, serving in the revolutionary war when Mary was only 9-years-old. It hat to have been an exciting time for a kid to grow up.

Marriage

Mary married John Parsons, Jr., in 1788 in Sandisfield, and the couple had their first child, Samuel, the following year. Their first five children were born in Sandisfield.

    1. Samuel Born 1789
    2. Polly Born 1792      Later married Jeremiah Miller.
    3. Orrin Born 1794
    4. John Born 1796
    5. Chester Born 1799      My 4th Great-grandfather.

The Columbia Turnpike opened up in 1799 from Berkshire County to Catskill, in Greene County, New York.[1]  In the spring of 1802, the Parsons located to Windham, Greene County, New York, probably using the Columbia Turnpike. Consequently, their next two children were born in New York.

    1. Permelia (?) Born 1805      Married (FNU) Clark.
    2. Prudence Born 1811      Possibly married Benjamin Miller.

Adulthood

I have not successfully found John and Mary Parsons in the 1810 Census (See: John Parsons, Jr., & the 1810 Census.)

Mary’s husband John died on 7 April 1813 in Windham, Greene County, New York.

I have not been successful in finding Mary in the 1820 Census. (See: Mary Parsons & the 1820 Census.) However, I am pretty sure that Mary was living with Albert Parsons during the 1830 Census. I am still hoping to determine precisely who Albert is.

In 1840, Mary was the head of the household comprising of her and a male 50 to 60 years old. I believe this male to be her son, Samuel.

In 1850, Mary was living in the household of Samuel Parsons (her eldest son).

In 1855, Mary is still living with Samuel in Greene County, New York.

Death

Mary (Wilcott) Parsons died on 26 Marth 1857 at the age of 89 years, ten months, and six days old. She is buried with John at the Pleasant Valley Cemetery, Ashland, Greene, New York.

Events by Location

  • Massachusetts, Berkshire County, Sandisfield – Birth, 1790, 1800
  • New York, Greene County, Windham – 1802, 1830, 1840, 1855, Death

Further Actions / Follow-up

  • Determine who Albert Parsons is
  • Find John & Mary Parsons in the 1810 Census.
  • Find Mary Parsons in the 1820 Census.

Sources

  • 1790 Census, 1790 Census – Page 34 – John Parsons, Jr. & John Parsons (Sr.) – Sandisfield Town, Berkshire County, Massachusetts. “Heads of Families – 1790 Census – Massachusetts – Page 34, Column 1, Persons 3 & 4. – Accessed 2 August 2020. https://www.census.gov/library/publications/1907/dec/heads-of-families.html.
  • 1800 Census (FS), Family Search, 1800 – John Parsons Jr. – Sandisfield, Berkshire, Massachusetts (3rd from bottom). “United States Census, 1800,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XHRZ-J6J : accessed 31 March 2018), John Parsons Jr, Sandisfield, Berkshire, Massachusetts, United States; citing p. 175, NARA microfilm publication M32, (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 13; FHL microfilm 205,611. https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XHRZ-J6J.
  • 1830 Census (FS), Family Search, 1830 – Albert Persons – Windham, Greene, New York. “United States Census, 1830,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 20 February 2021), Albert Persons, Windham, Greene, New York, United States; citing 99, NARA microfilm publication M19, (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 110; FHL microfilm 17,170. https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XHP7-SGK.
  • 1840 Census (NARA), 1840 Census – Mary Parsons, Southern, Greene, New York. “United States Census, 1840,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XHRP-CWF : 8 December 2020), Mary Parsons, Greene, New York, United States; citing p. 149, NARA microfilm publication , (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll ; FHL microfilm. https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XHRP-CWF.
  • 1850 Census (NARA), 1850 – Samuel Persons – Windham, Greene, New York. “United States Census, 1850,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MCYF-ZJR : 23 December 2020), Samuel Persons, Windham, Greene, New York, United States; citing family , NARA microfilm publication (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.). https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MCYF-ZJR.
  • 1855 New York Census, Family Search, Samuel Parsons – New York, Greene, Windham. “New York State Census, 1855,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K6S5-GCD : 3 March 2021), Samuel Persons, Windham, Greene, New York, United States; citing p. , line #7, family #130, county clerk offices, New York; FHL microfilm 480,076. https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K6S5-GCD.
  • Daughters of the American Revolution, “Ancestor Search”, DAR, Parsons, John – Ancestor # A088240. Accessed 31 July 2020. . https://services.dar.org/public/dar_research/search_adb/default.cfm?p_id=A088240.
  • Daughters of the American Revolution, “Descendants Search”, DAR, Ruth Evelyn Hill Carr – Nat’l #: 445593 – Ancestor #: A016639.
  • Daughters of the American Revolution, “Descendants Search”, DAR, Ruth Evelyn Hill Carr – Nat’l #: 445593 – Ancestor #: A088240. Accessed 31 July 2020.
  • Find a Grave, Internet, Mary “Polly” Wolcott Parsons – Memorial 118318771. Find a Grave, database and images (www.findagrave.com/memorial/118318771/mary-parsons : accessed 28 April 2021), memorial page for Mary “Polly” Wolcott Parsons (20 May 1767–26 March 1857), Find a Grave Memorial ID 118318771, citing Pleasant Valley Cemetery, Ashland, Greene County, New York, USA ; Maintained by Mookie (contributor 47515129). https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/118318771/mary-parsons.
  • History of Washtenaw County, Michigan (Chicago, Chas. C. Chapman & Co., 1881), Google, Pg 1371. Chas. C. Chapman & Co. (2012). History of Washtenaw County, Michigan: Together with sketches of its cities, villages and townships, educational, religious, civil, military, and political history ; portraits of prominent persons, and biographies of representative citizens : history of Michigan : embracing accounts of the pre-historic races, aborigines, French, English and American conquests, and a general review of its civil, political and military history. Salem, MA: Higginson Book Company.
  • History of Washtenaw County, Michigan (Chicago, Chas. C. Chapman & Co., 1881), Google, Pg 1405. Chas. C. Chapman & Co. (2012). History of Washtenaw County, Michigan: Together with sketches of its cities, villages and townships, educational, religious, civil, military, and political history ; portraits of prominent persons, and biographies of representative citizens : history of Michigan : embracing accounts of the pre-historic races, aborigines, French, English and American conquests, and a general review of its civil, political and military history. Salem, MA: Higginson Book Company.
  • Massachusetts, Town Clerk, Vital and Town Records, 1626-2001, Family Search, PAGE 335 – 4TH SECTION (After Manley, Crane, & Spelman) – PARSONS (John Parsons, Jr. and Mary, his wife.
  • New York, US., State Census, 1855, Ancestry, Greene County, Windham, Image 8 of 34, Lines 7 – Samuel Parsons.
  • Chandler Wolcott, Wolcott Genealogy – The Family of Henry Wolcott (, 1912), Internet Archive, Page 119 – LXXIII – Samuel Wolcott.

Endnotes

[1] Family Search Wiki – Sandisfield, Berkshire County, Massachusetts Genealogy.

John Parsons, Jr. & The Family Search Wiki

John Parsons, Jr. & The Hartford – Albany Turnpike

By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.Sometimes, the obvious eludes me. After my first pass on an individual searching Family Search, Ancestry, and drafting up a basic sketch for an individual, I like to go to my “stage 2” activities. That is to go through my hundreds of bookmarks looking for other potential sources. Virtually every ancestor I have came from somewhere different.  For example, my eight great-grandparents were born in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

Likewise, they died in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, and “unknown.” Many of my ancestors began on the East Coast and migrated west every other generation or so, to Western New York, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, the Dakotas, Minnesota, and so on to me who was born in Oregon. That results in many places for me to learn how to research. It gets exhausting and overwhelming.

The Family Search Wiki

I’ve long advocated using the FamilySearch (FS) Wiki to help find specific things. I even manage the page for Scarborough, Cumberland County, Maine Genealogy. But, I never thought about using the FamilySearch Wiki as the basis for my “stage 2” research. Then, I watched a Roots Tech 2020 talk on “Unlocking the Power of the FamilySearch Wiki” and reconsidered my lists of links. I thought I’d give it a try. To start, I’d use the FS Wiki and look at the entries for the towns my ancestor of interest lived in. My current work relates to John Parsons, Jr. He was born in 1764 in Sandisfield, Berkshire County, Massachusetts. He lived and married there. Then in 1802 moved west to Windham, Greene County, New York where he died and was buried.

This file is attributed to DiltsGD and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.

The FS Wiki page for Sandisfield had this really cool little map showing the “Routes and Turnpikes” that people used to migrate to and from Sandisfield. One of those routes was the Massachusetts 10th Turnpike dated 1800. References indicated to see the map between pages 56 and 57 and to see pages 76 to 78 of The Turnpikes of New England and the Evolution of the Same Through England, Virginia, and Maryland by  Frederic J. Wood(Boston: Marshall Jones, 1919), and provided a link to the Internet Archive version online.

Besides a nice map of the area showing the pikes, the accompanying article on pages 76 to 78 provided a lot of information. The 10th Mass Turnpike Corporation was created by an act passed in 1800. It began at the Connecticut line and ran thirty-six miles. It was known locally as the “Hartford and Albany turnpike.” The date the 10th Mass. Turnpike went into service isn’t given, however, I suspect that opening up the road helped John Parsons and his family locate west to Windham, Green County, New York in 1802.

Update to John Parsons, Jr.’s Ancestry sketch:

In 1800, the Tenth Massachusetts Turnpike Corporation was created to form a link in the turnpike system connecting Hartford with Albany. Known locally as the “Hartford and Albany turnpike” the road commenced at the Connecticut line and followed the Farmington River up the valley through Sandisfield, Tolland, Otis, and Becket, thence through Lee, Lenox, Richmond, and Hancock, to the New York Line. The new pike probably played a role in John Parsons, Jr. and his family’s relocation to Windham, Greene County, New York in 1802.

There wasn’t anything else in the FS Wiki Page of interest on the Sandisfield page. I wonder if there is something of interest on the Windham page….

Ancestor Sketch – John Parsons, Jr.

Brown/Sanford/Parsons Line
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.One of my processes is to tentatively accept conflicting data regarding an individual. As I continue my research, I look for info to help corroborate either fact. When I finally do my ancestor sketch, I analyze the conflicting facts and make a decision as to what I think is correct and provide my analysis bout what I think is incorrect and why.  In the case of John Parsons, Junior, I have conflicting facts regarding both John’s birth and his death.  But, more about that in a bit.

Roberts/Brown – Ancestor #204

List of Grandparents

  • 6 – Grandfather: Clifford Brown| aka Richard Earl Durand | aka Richard Earl Brown (1903-1990)
  • 12 – 1st Great-grandfather: Arthur Durwood Brown(1869-1928)
  • 25 – 2nd Great-grandmother: Marion Sanford(1846- c. 1895)
  • 51 – 3rd Great-grandmother: Mary E Parsons(1828-1888)
  • 102 – 4th Great-grandfather: Chester Parsons (1799-1887)
  • 204 – 5th Great-grandfather: John Parsons, Jr. (1764-1813)
  • 408 – 6th Great-grandfather: John Parsons, Sr.
  • 816 – 7th Great-grandfather: Timothy Parsons*[i]
  • 1632 – 8th Great-grandfather: Samuel Parsons*
  • 3264 – 9th Great-grandfather: Joseph Parsons*
  • 6528 – 10th Great-grandfather: William Parsons*

John Parsons (1764-1813)

Birth

John Parsons, Jr., was born on 18 November 1764, the third child of John and Hannah (Wadsworth) Parsons. Some researchers have suggested he was born in Windham, Greene County, New York[ii]; however, I’m sure he was born in Sandisfield, Berkshire County, Massachusetts. Five of John’s siblings were all born in Sandisfield, including siblings both older and younger.  John moved to Windham in 1802, so it is easy to understand how someone could have make a mistake and entered the wrong place.

It must have been exciting times that John grew up in. His father was a lieutenant in the Massachusetts Militia during the Revolution. Samuel Wolcott’s. Living in far western Massachusetts, I suspect that young John was eager for the latest in news of the Revolution.

Sadness did strike in 1777, when John was 12 years old, and his mother died.

There is probably a romantic story to find about John’s courting of Mary Wolcott, the daughter of his father’s Captain during the Revolution. In any event, although it is not clear when John and Mary married. The birth of their first child, Samuel, in April 1789 suggests John and Mary likely married in 1788. John and Mary had seven children:

Children of John & Mary (Wolcott) Parsons, Jr.

Child Born
Samuel 1789 – Sandisfield, MA
Polly 1792 – Sandisfield, MA
Orrin 1794 – Sandisfield, MA
John 1796 – Sandisfield, MA
Chester 1799 – Sandisfield, MA
Parmelia 1805 – Windham, NY
Prudence 1808  – Windham, NY

1790 Census

John and his father were both enumerated as heads of households next to each other in the 1790 Census.

Parsons, John, Jr. 1 1 1

The John Parsons, Jr. household consisted of:

  • One male 16 & older, who has to be the head of the household, John Jr.
  • One male under age 16, who apears to be Samuel who was born in born 1789.
  • One female who appears to be John’s wife, Mary.

1800 Census

By 1800, the John Parsons, Jr. household had grown.

John Parsons, Jr.  3 1 – 1 – | 1 – – 1 –

Three males under 10:   Likely Orrin (Age 5), John (Age 4), & Chester (Age 0)

One male, age 10-16:     Likely Samuel (Age 13)

One male, age 26-45:     Obviously, John Jr. (Age 36) who is the head of the household.

One female under 10:     Likely Mary/Polly (Age 8)

One female 26-45:       Clearly Mary (age 33) his wife.

In 1802 John and his family moved from Sandisfield to Windham, Greene County, New York.

1810 Census

I have searched at length for John in the 1810 Census. I have not been successful in discovering John Parsons (Jr.) in the 1810 Census. I believe he is probably living with one of his children in Greene County, New York. As such, if I research each of his wife and all of his children, I may well find John living in someone else’s household.

Death

John Parsons died on 7 April 1813 in Windham, Greene County, New York. He was buried in section 1 at the Pleasant Valley Cemetery (also known as the Ashland Cemetery), about 2 and a half miles west of Windham. He was survived by hie wife, Mary, all seven of his children, and his father.

Events by Location


Massachusetts, Berkshire County, Sandisfield Town – 1764 thru 1801 – Birth, childhood, marriage, and birth of his first five children.

New York, Greene County, Windham – 1802-1813 – births of his two youngest children and his death.

New York, Green County, Ashland – 1813 – Burial at Pleasant Valley (aka Ashland) Cemetery.

Further Actions / Follow-up

  • Research each of John’s children and both his and his wife’s siblings for their location during the 1810 Census. Were John and Mary with them.

Continue reading “Ancestor Sketch – John Parsons, Jr.”

John Parsons, AGBI, and the 1790 Census

Census Sunday
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.Sometimes you encounter sources that don’t make sense. Recently, I encounter several trees that identified John Parsons being in the American Genealogical-Biographical Index (AGBI), Volume 131, Page 462, and that the AGBI was the source. The AGBI isn’t really a source, rather, it is a finding aid. It is an index that points to actual sources. In this case, it directed the researcher to “Heads of fams. at the first U.S. census. Ms. By U.s. Bureau of the Census. Washington, 1908. (363p.): 34.”

Heads of Families – 1790 Census – Massachusetts:

Page 34, Column 1, Persons 3 & 4 show John Parsons, Jr. & John Parsons (Sr.) in Sandisfield Town, Berkshire County, Massachusetts.[i]

Parsons, John, Jr. 1 1 1

1 Male 16 & Older        John Jr. (Head of Household)
1 Male < 16                   Appears to be Samuel born 1789
1 Female                       Apparently Mary, John’s wife.


Parsons, John [Sr.] 2 2 5

2 Males 16 & Older

  • John (Head of Household)
  • Possibly Simon (17), Timothy (21), or Ashbel (24)

(Note: Frederick died before 1790)
(Note: John, Jr., was enumerated above.)

2 Males < 16

  • Apparently Gibson (age 8)
  • Apparently, Frederick (age 6)

5 Females

  • Clearly John’s 2nd wife, Mercy
  • Apparently daughter Sally (age 2)
  • Apparently daughter Mercy (age 12)
  • Apparently daughter Martha (age 15)
  • Possibly Roxey (age 23), or Mary (age 29)

(Note: John’s daughter, Hanna, died before 1790.)

Analysis

John Junior’s household exactly fits expectations for his household in 1790.

John (Senior’s) household fits expectations for John with his second wife (Mercy) and their children. Plus, there are several individuals in the household The only household individuals of question are several of his children from his first marriage. Which were still at home and which had either moved out or had died.

Neither Simon, Timothy, nor Ashbel appear to be enumerated elsewhere. So, the second male over 16 could be any of them.

Likewise, I haven’t found any records for marriages or deaths for John’s daughters, Roxey or Mary, so the fifth female could be either of them. 

Follow-up:

  1. Search for Simon, Timothy, and Ashbell in other records for 1790 to eliminate them from being in the household of John Parsons, Senior.
  2. Search for marriage records for Roxey and Mary. If married before 1790, verify if they might be in the census record of their husband(s).
  3. Search for evidence of death for Roxey, Mary, Simon, Timothy, or Ashbell prior to 1790. Eliminate them as being in John Parsons Senior’s household in 1790.

 Endnotes:

[i] 1790 Census – John Parsons, Jr. & John Parsons (Sr.) – Sandisfield Town, Berkshire County, Massachusetts. “Heads of Families – 1790 Census – Massachusetts – Page 34, Column 1, Persons 3 & 4. – Accessed 2 August 2020. https://www.census.gov/library/publications/1907/dec/heads-of-families.html.