Biography of Albert Parsons

ALBERT PARSONS, expert in agriculture, cattle raiser, and dairy farmer of North Amherst, Massachusetts, was born June 1, 1883, in North Amherst, the son ‘ of Howard Albert Parsons. The family name of Parsons is derived from the Latin word persona, a mask. In early times actors wore a mask of wood to project their voices, a suggestion of the speaking-trumpet and telephone of later years. The actor came to be called after the mask he wore dramatis personae. The word had a two-fold meaning. In ecclesiastical language it was referable to a man of dignity, and bestowed upon one who had a benefice or living, who committed the cure of souls to a vicar. Thus actors and parsons derived their names from the same root. The early form, the parson’s son, or the parson’s John, was finally abbreviated to Parsons. The heraldic designs of this family were:

Arms-Gules, two chevronels ermine between three eagles displayed or.

Crest-An eagle’s leg erased at the thigh or, standing on a leopard’s face, gules.

Among those of the family in America most conspicuous for their attainments have been the learned Theophilus Parsons, Chief Justice of Massachusetts; Andrew Parsons, Governor of Michigan; Lewis P. Parsons, Governor of Alabama; and General Lewis B. Parsons. The oldest known Parsons of record, under the herald’s visitations, was John of Cuddington, A. D. 1284. In the roll of possessions of the Abbey of Malmesbury is the name of William le Parsons, 1307. It was of the south, rather than the north of England. Thomas Parsons was in the squirarchy and gentry of England and lived at Great Milton, Oxfordshire.

(I) Philip Parsons, immigrant ancestor, was among the first settlers of Enfield, Connecticut. He came from England, in 1690, already skilled as a tanner and cordwainer. He was a farmer also and he made a great deal of money in the purchase of real estate, until he was considered wealthy. His wife’s Christian name was Anna, and their children were: Philip; Nathaniel, of further mention; Shubael; Thomas; Sarah; and Ebenezer.

(II) Nathaniel Parsons, son of Philip and Anna Parsons, was born at Enfield, March 11, 1709-10. He or a son of the same name fought as a soldier in the French and Indian War in 1758 in Lieutenant David Parson’s company, under General Phinehas Lyman, Third Company, First Regiment. He bought land 0n the Scantic River, January 26, 1728-29; and various other property at Enfield. Another Nathaniel Parsons appears to have lived at Enfield at the same time. He moved to Somers, Connecticut, and his wife Mary died there in her eightysecond year. They had a son, Stephen, born February 20, 1730-31. Nathaniel Parsons, son of Philip Parsons, married Alice Collins, January 29, 1735-36. Alice (Collins) Parsons was born March 14, 1716, the daughter of the Rev. Nathaniel Collins, minister of the Enfield Church, who was graduated from Harvard College in 1697; married, in 1701, Alice Adams. She was the daughter of the Rev. William Adams, of Dedham, Massachusetts; and died February 19, 1755. The Rev. Nathaniel Collins was born June 13, 1681, died February 6, 1758. He was the son of the Rev. Nathaniel Collins who was born at Cambridge, Massachusetts, March 7, 1642, and died at Middletown, Connecticut, December 28, 1684; was graduated at Harvard College in 1660; and was ordained minister at Middletown, Connecticut, November 4, 1666. He was married August 3, 1664, to Mary Whiting, daughter of William Whiting. Deacon Edward Collins, father of the Rev. Nathaniel Collins, Sr., appearing in Cambridge as early as 1638; was deacon of the first church there. He was admitted a freeman, May 13, 1640; lived many years on Governor Cradock’s plantation, which he finally purchased. He was deputy to the General Court for many years; died in Charleston, April 9, 1689; aged eighty-six years. Alice (Adams) Collins was a descendant of Henry Adams, the immigrant, of Braintree, Massachusetts, ancestor of John Adams, and John Quincy Adams, presidents of the United States. Alice (Bradford) Adams, wife of the Rev. William Adams, was the daughter of Major William Bradford and of Alice (Richards) Bradford, a granddaughter of Governor William Bradford, and his wife, Alice (Carpenter) Bradford. Governor Bradford, the most distinguished of the “Mayflower” Pilgrims, was a son of William Bradford, of Yorkshire, England. Children of Nathaniel and Alice (Collins) Parsons, born in Enfield: Nathaniel; Asa, born February 4, 1742; Edward, born in 1745; died in Springfield; Ebenezer, born in 1748; William, born in 1750; Shubael, of further mention; and Alice.

(III) Shubael Parsons, son of Nathaniel and Alice (Collins) Parsons, was born in 1752, died at Enfield. He married and was the father of Eben, of further mention.

(IV) Eben Parsons, son of Shubael Parsons, was born in Enfield, Massachusetts, January 3, 1788, died November 5, 1844. He was a wagon and plow maker, making plows and shipping them mainly to the South. He married (first), November 27, 1811, Anna Hall, who died February 4, 1823. He married (second) Maria Reynolds Parsons, June 22, 1826. Children of first marriage: Lucy Ann; Albert, of further mention; Anna Livina, Filena. Children of second marriage: Endora Reynolds and Edward Field.

(V) Albert Parsons, son of Eben and Anna (Hall) Parsons, was born in Enfield, Connecticut, in 1817, and died in January, 1883. He was associated with his father in the manufacture of wagons and plows; and afterwards was in business with Ephraim Potter under the firm name of Potter & Parsons, which in time became Parsons & Potter, engaged in the manufacture of wagons and plows. They also did blacksmithing and painting. Mr. Parsons was active in the Congregational Church of which he was deacon for many years. He married Helen Maria Raynolds, of Longmeadow, Massachusetts, born April 26, 1826, died October 3, 1864, daughter of George and Eunice (Patten) Raynolds. Children: 1. Eliza Helen, born January 6, 1847; married Samuel Wilson. 2. Emily Raynolds, born November 26, 1848; married John Newton Colton. 3. Howard Albert, of further mention. 4. Henrietta Amelia, born July 28, 1862; married Edgar L. Peck.

(VI) Howard Albert Parsons, son of Albert and Helen Maria (Raynolds) Parsons, was born in Enfield, Connecticut, December 20, 1860. He was educated in the schools of Enfield, Connecticut, and Wilbraham (Massachusetts) Academy. He attended the Massachusetts Agricultural College for a short time. After leaving college he conducted a greenhouse, raising plants and vegetables. He came to Amherst, Massachusetts, in 1879, and settled on a farm in North Amherst, where he has lived ever since. He owns and operates a farm of some forty acres. He keeps a herd of twelve cows, raises milk and apples and gathers cream for the Amherst creamery. He is a member of the Grange, and of the North Congregational Church, of which he is deacon. He was superintendent of the Sunday School for twenty-five years. He married, April 5, 1882, Hattie Maria Harrington, of North Amherst, Massachusetts, daughter of Samuel Emerson and Sabrina Emeline (Warner) Harrington. They were the parents of five children: 1. Albert, of further mention. 2. Emma Harrington, born August 15, 1885; librarian at Easthampton, Massachusetts, and for a number of years with the library at Amherst College. 3. Samuel Raynolds, born June 23, 18&4; professor in the University of Arkansas, holding the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. 4. Edward Field, born November 25, 1897; a medical missionary in Tehchow, China, near Pekin; he married, June 20, 1923, Marion Elizabeth Tucker, of Washington, District of Columbia; they have a son, John Tucker Parsons, born September 16, 1924. 5. Clarence Howard, born July 16, 1904; a student in the Massachusetts Agricultural College.

(VII) Albert Parsons, son of Howard Albert and Hattie Maria (Harrington) Parsons, was born in North Amherst, Massachusetts, June 11, 1883. He was educated in the schools of North Amherst, and at the Massachusetts Agricultural College, from which he was graduated in 1903. After graduation he remained at the college for some time under Dr. Lindsay. His work consisted of testing cows for butter fat records for the cattle clubs, using the Babcock test; also was inspector of the Babcock machines of the creameries of Massachusetts and gathered stock feeds for State analysis. He afterwards went to the Hood farm in the environs of Lowell, Massachusetts, established and conducted by C. I. Hood, since dead, owner of a noted herd of Jersey cows. He went from the Hood farm to Waverly, Massachusetts, where he continued for a time. In 1907 he went to Honolulu, Hawaiian Islands, where he remained for five years as head of the Agricultural Department of the Kamehameha Schools. While in Hawaii he went to one of the other islands, breaking up land for homesteads. Returning to the United States, he went to Dover, Massachusetts, where he was manager of the Twin Ash Farm, owned by C. C. Pierce. He continued in Dover until 1913, when he came back to North Amherst and bought a milk route, and in 1917 bought a farm where he maintains a herd of blooded Ayrshire cows. He has devoted himself ever since to raising milch cattle and buying and selling milk. He is a member of the North Congregational Church and has served as clerk of the church since 1919.

Mr. Parsons married, June 30, 1909, Marion Sawyer, born in Maiden, Massachusetts, daughter of Eugene Neville and Harriet Ann (Parker) Sawyer. Mrs. Parsons is a descendant of Thomas Sawyer, one of the first settlers of Lancaster, Massachusetts.


Lockwood, John H. (John Hoyt); Bagg, Ernest Newton; Carson, Walter S. (Walter Scott); Riley, Herbert E. (Herbert Elihu); Boltwood, Edward; Clark, Will L. (Will Leach); Western Massachusetts A History 1636-1925; New York and Chicago: Lewis historical publishing company, inc., 1926

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