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Obed PARRISH clues in Braxton's Speech?
Posted by: Connie Jones Date: September 04, 2000 at 20:40:16
  of 2014

When I first began my search for Obed, it was so exciting to read that microfilm page containing his name and information. He was a real person. Then I found the court entry for Newberry County SC showing that he came and presented his credentials and was sworn in as constable. Then nothing more to attach him to any other family. That is the greatest frustration. There is only one other PARRISH in the Halifax District of Northampton County in the 1790 Census and that is Peter PARRISH, but I can find no connection between Peter and any other PARRISH in the area either. Obed is in Iredell County in 1810 and his family settles in Lincoln County after his death in 1815.

When he goes to Newberry, he settles near the family of Tabitha PARRISH WALDROP. I can identify Tabitha's family and there is no Obed in it. In fact, when he leaves SC after his great troubles, he wants to travel to GA or LA with members of this family, but his wife refuses to go. She insists upon going back to NC. This would strongly indicate that her family is there, but I have no clue as to her identity other than her name being Elizabeth. The fact that they named their first son Braxton PARRISH and their second son Thomas (my ancestor) may be a clue to either her or Obed's father's names, but nothing I can connect. The only other Braxton PARRISH of that period was in CT.

Perhaps it will be of interest to post a speech given by Braxton upon his retirement from the ministry:


The following is one of the best pieces of Franklin County, IL, history to demonstrate the life style of our pioneer ancestors.

Braxton Parrish was an early resident of Franklin County, a circuit riding Methodist preacher, and very much respected by our ancestors; for proof of this reverence you need only check any Franklin County census record and see the many families who named their children Braxton or Braxton Parrish.

This famous lecture by Rev Braxton Parrish was delivered at the Methodist Episcopal Church in Benton on Monday Evening, August 3, 1874.

"Ladies and gentlemen: I confess that I stand before you tonight feeling considerably more embarrassment than I usually experience, and that embarrassment is greatly heightened by the reflection that nothing could be more dissimilar than the education, dress and manners of the audience, and the rough but big hearted pioneers with whom my earlier years were passed, and of whose experience I propose to speak. Permit me, at the outset, to say that I am here by the special request of the president of the Franklin County Literary Society, and that I am very sure that I cannot, in the limited time I will occupy, by any means speak fully on all the topics mentioned in the announcement of this address in your local paper. I will give you my own experiences and observations, and by those you may get a very tolerable idea of the troubles that attended that hardy race of men and women who came here in my day; and you may, also, learn something of the trials of all the first settlers in a new country.

I was born in North Carolina on the 24th day of October, 1795. When but an infant, my parents moved to South Carolina, in what was called the 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 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 $100.00 and during that time I only lost three days after deducting half Saturdays that I walked home, ten miles. This $100.00 went to the support of my mother's family, which with the labor of my brother, Thos Parrish, who recently died in Jackson County, Illinois, and that of the other children, made them a living.

After working that year for the $100.00 I bought my mother a small farm in Lincoln County, NC and settled her and the children upon it. The next two years I worked for shares of crops, all of which went to 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 $7.00 per month, to drive a team from North Carolina to Boone's Lick in Missouri, as I desired to see the country and do what I could for myself. 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 original destination.

As I walked along, the reflection came upon me, that here I was a young man, twenty-four 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 and hour's walk I turned about and went back to the old man and voluntarily gave him all the money I had except $5.00. The old man shed tears from the depth of his gratitude, 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 a 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 for the summer's work a horse.

That fall after getting the horse, 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.

During the fall of 1820, while at work at the still-house, Margaret Knox, a young widow, and sister-in-law of my employer, came from Franklin County, Illinois, to visit him, in company with her father, John Thompson, and strange to tell, we, that winter, got bewitched with one another, and on May 12th, 1821, were married. I had no property in the world but a change of clothing and a horse, saddle and bridle, and what little effects she had were back in Franklin County, Illinois, for the reasons then that her father, mother, relatives and property were here, she wanted to come to Illinois. I had seen the constitution of the state, and being digusted with slavery, I wanted a home in a free state, and consented to move here.

I came to this country on horse back, and hunted over the entire territory, which now composes the counties of Franklin and Williamson, to find some sort of a carriage to take back to bring my wife here, but I could find nothing less than a four-horse wagon. I had no team to take such a vehicle, and if I had, we had nothing back there to haul in it. So I put a saddle and bridle on a horse which my wife had here and led it back to where I left her. We packed up what goods we had, put them and two little boys that my wife had by her former husband, on the two horses. My wife and I walked and led the horses, thus burdened, every foot of the way to Illinois.

I was a recent convert to religion, but had no bible. I inquired of my wife if they had any bibles in Illinois. She said no. Coming thru Nashville, Tenn, on our way here, I saw the sign of a book store, I thought I would go in there, but said to my wife, there was no use, as I had no money to spare to buy one. She said, "go in and price them," which I did. The cheapest one was $2.50, such a one as you could now get for 25 cents. I was afraid to buy it for fear our money would give out. She said, "Buy it and trust to providence for means to get to Illinois." We would not have had money to get there, but for the fact that on the other side of the Ohio River we were overtaken be a man named Heath, an entire stranger. From his conversation I soon learned that he was a recent professor of religion, also, and strong in the cause of his Master.

When we came to part he insisted that we should go with him and rest a day or two; that the Lord had blessed him with plenty, and he wanted us to go and share it. We went with him as he lived only a short distance from our direct route; remained with him three days and nights, and when we got ready to leave, he filled our wallets with bread, meat, honey and came with us to the river and paid our ferryage across the Ohio to the Illinois shore. When we left I thought very strongly of my wife's remark in Nashville to "buy the bible and trust to providence." When we got as far as the neighborhood of Alexander McCreery in this country, we met McCreery in the road. He was well acquainted with my wife and she introduced me to him as her husband.. I then had my bible under my arm. McCreery asked me many questions as to my future intentions. McCreery was then for the country, a rich man, but something of a scoffer of religion and religious people. A short time after, McCreery, in going through the neighborhood collecting his interests, etc, said he had met a poor devil coming into this country to make a living with a bible under his arm, and he thought he had better have a grubbing hoe on his shoulder. The remark soon came to my wife's ears and she was much exercised about it, but I pacified her by telling her that that was a very natural conclusion for a worldly minded man to come to. When I arrived here I had but 18 3/4 cents in money. It troubled me to know how to dispose of it to the best advantage, more than any money has troubled me since. We settled about six miles east of where Benton now is, in the winter of 1821-22; went right into the woods and cut logs and hauled them upon what was then called a "lizard", a kind of dray made out of the forms of a tree. After getting the logs dragged up, the next thing was to get them put up. We invited in the whole neighborhood, far and near, and got the services of six women and four men. The men kept up the corners and the women lifted the logs up to them, and we did an admirable job. We put the walls cabin fashion, weighted down the clapboard roof with poles, cut openings for door and fireplace, all in one day. The next day we moved into it, on the frozen earth among the chips and snow. Soon raised a wooden chimney daubed with mud, as high as the mantel piece. We split trees and made puncheons for a floor, laid it down and then we felt pretty comfortable. My wife says: "Now I can spin on this floor," and by the light of the fireplace, I took the cards and she the wheel and we soon had three cuts of cotton yarn spun. We then had prayer, and in that rude structure, erected in the woods, surrounded by howling wolves and panthers, we went to bed, slept soundly and were supremely happy, such happiness as comes to but few of us in a lifetime. After this we built the chimney out with sticks and mud, and daubed the cracks of the cabin. My wife carrying me all the mixed mud for that purpose. While we were working it, it snowed so hard that I could hardly see her to the clay hole. I wanted to quit, but she said no, and we finished it that night. We made a door shutter out of clapboard, fastening them on with wooden pins, as nails were not to be had nearer than sixty miles. We made our table out of slabs split from a walnut tree. Our bedstead was nothing more that a platform made on forked sticks, and all our furniture and utensils were of a like rude character, such as we could make ourselves with the aid of an auger and an axe. And yet we had plenty to eat. The country was full of game, bear, deer, turkey, as well as panthers, wolves, and wildcats, and wild honey was found in great abundance. We could hear the wolves howling every night. The first sow I ever owned was killed by a bear near my dooryard. I once chased a bear over the very site of this town. This was, even in that day a fine country. Our cattle were fat winter and summer, without any care of feeding them. In the winter the lowlands and bottoms were covered with a grass we called "winter grass", which sustained our stock in fine condition during the most rigorous weather. Peavine, grass and weeds were so thick that we could trail a bear or horse all dayl There was no underbrush in the woods except now and then a little patch which we called "bear-roughs", where the fire had not reached.

As I said, we had plenty of everything to eat, but how to get money was the problem, we had none. Notes were given, not for money, but for raccoon skins or articles of personal property. I remember that I once went down to Dorris' store at Old Frankfort, to get some domestic for my wife, who was sick. I told Dorris our condition; that we had been sick and got bare of clothing, and asked him how much I could pay him for the cloth we needed so much. He asked me, "are you a hunter?" I said, "No sir." Says he, "Will you hunt?" I said, "Why so you want to know that?" "Well," says he, "If you will hunt and let me have all the skins and deer hams you get, you can have what you want." I agreed to his proposition and bought twenty-four yards of cotton domestic at 50 cents a yard. When I took it home I told my wife how I got it. She shed tears and said we were in debt, that we could never get out. This affected me somewhat, but I told her that we did not get the goods before we needed them, and I thought there would be some way provided to pay for them. This was in the winter and whether was very severe. The next morning I was up before daylight to go hunting. When I reached Middle Fork Creek it was frozen over hard, but I found an airhole, or open space in the ice, and while looking at it I spied an otter stick his head up, before I could shoot, it dodged under the ice. The water was clear and I could see it swimming under the ice. I followed it down the creek until I saw it go into a hole in the bank under the water. I then went back home and got some tools and my dogs and went digging, and soon unearthed and captured three large otters. The skins were worth $4.00 apiece. So that you see I paid for the cloth I had bought by one hunt before breakfast. I took the skins to my wife and told her we would now get out of debt, She said she would never distrust providence again. At this time I could not read or write intelligently, nor cipher any, but by the light of the fireplace at night, after working hard all day, I tried to improve myself in reading, writing, and arithmetic, and by perseverance in this way, I got a fair knowledge of these branches, though, of course, by no means perfect.

I cleared my own farm, cut and split the rails and carried them on my shoulder and made a fence, as I had no wagon to haul them. There were no plows to be had nearer than Shawneetown, fifty miles away, and I had no money to buy one had they been nearer. I borrowed a "bull-tongue" plow of my father-in-law, - stocked it myself. It had no iron about it except the plow and bolt, - had a wooden clevise, wooden singletree, etc. For harness I had a shuck collar, hickory bark lines. With this rigging I broke up my ground, and covered my corn with a cooper's adze, having no better tool for the purpose. One night a trifling dog had eaten up my deer-skin backband. I went into the house and got my gun to shoot him to get his hide to make another back band, but the dog seemed to know what was up and got away from me, so I had to make another deer-skin one. With these implements we made corn in abundance.

The nearest mill in the country was on the Wabash River where Carmi now is. I once took a load of corn to that mill and had it ground. We had no wheat in those days. On our return we upset in a small creek which was swollen by a freshet and lost most of our meal. We then concluded we would go back there no more, and had to resort to other means to make meal. For the most part we beat out our meal in wooden mortars, but finally I rigged up a kind of hand mill of my own out of a couple of old stones that I procured down at the Old Jordan Fort in Williamson County. The only objection I had to the arrangement was that I had to grind before eating. It was either grind or no bread. During one summer the meal that we ground on our little hand mill got to tasting bad and it was a long time before we found out what the matter was. At first we attributed it to the corn, but upon taking up that stone we found
furrows of them full of white wood lice that had gone in between them to eat the meal. They had been shortening your bread for a long time. I have heard since that these lice are good for the yellow jaundice, and I suppose they must be, for we have not to this day been troubled with that disease.

Among the most prominent settlers when I came to this county, were Alexander McCreery, Henry Yost, Nathaniel Jones, Nathan Clampet, John Crawford, James Aiken, Herrin Taylor and two old men named Webb, living in Webb's Prairie. West of Benton lived John Browning and Mr. Hutson. Frizell and Estus lived in Frizell's Prairie, Michael Rawlings in this Prairie above, which now bears his name, and in Garrett's Prairie lived the man whose name it bears, and in Frankfort a few families, together with Simon Hubbard, who was the circuit clerk, county clerk and probate judge, and I believe, also master in chancery. We were all peaceable, friendly and happy, and neighbored from John Browning's to Frizell's Prairie. We all strove by all means in our power, to assist each other in business necessarily, attending log rollings and house raisings. Most of these men have passed away but their descendants are worthy of their noble sire, and I feel the highest degree of satisfaction in saying that those descendants are, to this day, the pride of our country. Take the Webbs, Brownings, Crawfords and other names I mentioned, and you will find them today the most respected of our citizens, who have kept pace with all the advancement of this progressive age, and I feel happy in the further reflection that all of my own family have been, and are esteemed as honorable men and women.

The first Methodist class meeting was formed at Mr. Nathan Clampet's at the place Dr Carter now lives, in 1822, and was composed on seven persons. We had rails for seats and one occasion when more came than expected, Mr. Crawford rolled some large pumpkins and made seats of them. I can remember when the first school house was built. My children went to the Dillon settlement school, a distance of four miles. When I was elected judge, about 1832, the county was $300.00 in debt, and we thought that terrible. We had no court house then, nor was there a bridge in the county, and it was a question of how to raise funds and pay the debt and build a court house. We finally raised the taxes from 20 to 25 cents on the $100.00, which created much dissatisfaction.

You no doubt wonder why the early settlers all made their farms on the 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 on them. 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 h--l for women and oxen."

The experience I have detailed is not my own alone, but that, in 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, and how profoundly we have bee 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 daughter's, and may never se 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."

(Extractor's note: Braxton Parrish is buried at the Old Benton
Cemetery, now known as the Veterans Memorial Cemetery. It is located in
the 300 block of First Street in Benton, IL.)

Does this give anyone any new possibilities to explore? Let me know.

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