Parsons-Gerrish collection, 1795-1890 (majority within 1841-1869)
Using These Materials
- The collection is open for research.
- Parsons family and Gerrish family
- This collection is made up of correspondence, financial records, and other items related to the Parsons, Gerrish, and Lewis families of York County, Maine. Most of the material directly relates to Edwin Parsons; his first cousin, Abigail Lewis; and her husband, Benjamin H. Gerrish.
- 1 linear foot
- Collection processed and finding aid created by Meg Hixon, March 2013
- Scope and Content:
This collection is made up of correspondence, financial records, and other items related to the Parsons, Gerrish, and Lewis families of York County, Maine. Most of the material directly relates to Edwin Parsons; his first cousin, Abigail Lewis; and her husband, Benjamin H. Gerrish.
The Correspondence series (around 400 items) comprises the bulk of the collection; most items are incoming and outgoing letters of Edwin Parsons and Abigail Lewis Gerrish. Both Parsons and Gerrish received personal letters from their uncle, Usher Parsons of Providence, Rhode Island. Many of the earliest items are incoming business letters to Edwin Parsons and Edward's letters to his parents about life in Savannah, Georgia. Isaac Scott wrote to Parsons about cotton sales and specific business matters pertaining to the firm J. D. Carhart & Scott. He also mentioned his desire to purchase a male slave (January 15, 1846) and a house in Macon, Georgia. One of Edwin Parsons's letters refers to a woman's fear that her children would begin speaking in an African American dialect after living in Savannah (May 26, 1844). Around 1850, Abigail Lewis Gerrish began to receive personal letters from female friends and family members (often from Charlestown, Massachusetts). Her correspondents included her brother, William Lewis, who also occasionally wrote to her husband, Benjamin H. Gerrish. Though many correspondents wrote to Gerrish during the Civil War, few directly referred to fighting.
The Documents series (15 items) is comprised of indentures and other documents of Benjamin H. Gerrish and Oliver Parsons. Many of the items concern real and personal property; two pertain to the estates of Elizabeth Gerrish and Samuel Hill. One indenture binds Charles Tucker to Benjamin H. Gerrish to learn the art of farming.
Most of the Financial Papers and Receipts (around 130 items, 1785-1889) relate to the financial affairs of Benjamin H. Gerrish of South Berwick, Maine. Items include partially printed and manuscript account books, receipts, and other documents. Other individuals represented are Miriam Gerrish, Betsey Gerrish, Elizabeth F. Gerrish, Daniel Lewis, John Lewis, and members of the Parsons family. The materials relate to goods and services, surveying, railroads, and estate administration. The 7 account books belonged to Joseph U. Parsons, E[dwin] Parsons, and unidentified individuals. Accounts primarily relate to personal expenses, mostly in Savannah, Georgia. A book belonging to Benjamin H. Gerrish concerns land in South Berwick, Maine.
The Fragments and Miscellaneous series (26 items) is made up of manuscript, printed, and ephemeral items, including notes, calling and visiting cards, recipes, two lists of property on "Fairbanks Farm" in Holliston, Massachusetts, a blank form from the Maine Mutual Fire Insurance Company, and a copy of the Eastern Star newspaper (February 7, 1879). Thirteen items are fragments of letters, financial records, or other items.
- Biographical / Historical:
William Parsons (1743-1826) and his wife, Abigail Frost Blunt (1744-1818), had nine children: Joseph (1769-1854), Sarah (1771-1855), Abigail (1773-1842), John (1775-1858), Frances Usher (1778-1865), William (1780-1864), Thomas (b. 1783), Samuel (1785-1818), and Usher (1788-1868). Abigail Parsons married Daniel Lewis (1772-1833) in January 1798, and they had six children: William (b. 1798), Sally (b. 1801), Daniel (b. 1803), John (b. 1805), Abigail (1807-1886), and Catherine Dorothy (1812-1903). The younger Abigail Lewis married Benjamin Hill Gerrish (d. 1861) of South Berwick, Maine, on January 28, 1833; they had no children. Benjamin H. Gerrish was the son of Benjamin Gerrish and Miriam Rait Ferguson.
The younger William Parsons (1780-1864) and his wife, Mary Parsons, had ten children: Abigail (1814-1842), Joseph (b. 1816), William Usher (1818-1830), John (1820-1910), Edwin (1823-1895), Pamelia (1825), George (1826-1907), Charles (b. 1829), Frances (1832-1852), and William Usher (1835-1836). Edwin Parsons was born in Alfred, Maine, on April 25, 1823. He moved to Savannah, Georgia, in 1842, where he worked for cotton merchants J. D. Carhart & Scott in 1845-1846. After Isaac Scott, the junior partner, moved to Macon, Georgia, in 1846, Parsons took over the firm, which became Edwin Parsons & Co. George Parsons joined Edwin in Savannah in the late 1840s, and Edwin opened a second office in New York City in 1856; the Savannah office became George Parsons & Co. Edwin and George Parsons owned the Bank of Middle Georgia, which closed after the Civil War. They closed their Savannah office in 1861 and later focused on railroads and mining. Edwin Parsons married Mary Llewellyn Swayne (d. 1913) around 1872; they had no children. Edwin Parsons died on August 21, 1895.
- Acquisition Information:
- 1992-1993. M-2892.1, M-2896.1, M-2971.4 .
- Processing information:
Cataloging funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). This collection has been processed according to minimal processing procedures and may be revised, expanded, or updated in the future.
The collection is arranged in the following series:
- Series I: Correspondence
- Series II: Documents
- Series III: Financial Papers and Receipts
- Series IV: Fragments and Miscellaneous
Each series is arranged chronologically, with undated items placed at the end. The Calling cards and invitations have been placed at the end of the correspondence series.
- Rules or Conventions:
- Finding aid prepared using Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DACS)
- Additional Descriptive Data:
Parsons, Henry. Parsons Family: Descendants of Cornet Joseph Parsons, Springfield 1636-Northampton 1655. Volume 1. New York: Frank Allaben Genealogical Company, .
Parsons, Henry. Parsons Family: Descendants of Cornet Joseph Parsons, Springfield 1636-Northampton 1655. Volume 2. New Haven (Conn.): Tuttle, Morehouse and Taylor Co., .
Parsons, Usher. "The Descendants of Peter Hill of York Co., Me. with Some Incidents Relating to the French and Indian Wars-gleaned from Old Manuscripts of the Time." New England Historical and Genealogical Register 12.2 (April 1858): 139-145.
Parsons, Usher. "The Descendants of Peter Hill of York Co., Me. with Some Incidents Relating to the French and Indian Wars-gleaned from Old Manuscripts of the Time." New England Historical and Genealogical Register 12.3 (July 1858): 258-264.
Click on terms below to find any related finding aids on this site.
Administration of estates.
Cotton trade--United States.
Articles of apprenticeship.
Estate administration records.
Receipts (financial records)
J. D. Carhart & Company.
Gerrish, Abigail Lewis, 1807-1886.
Gerrish, Benjamin Hill, d. 1861.
Gerrish, Miriam Ferguson.
Lewis, John, b. 1805.
Lewis, William, b. 1798.
Parsons, Edwin, 1823-1895.
Parsons, Usher, 1788-1868.
Charlestown (Boston, Mass.)
South Berwick (Me.)
Using These Materials
The collection is open for research.
- USE & PERMISSIONS:
Copyright status is unknown
- PREFERRED CITATION:
Parsons-Gerrish Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan