(Parsons Family Letters)
Collection of Letters and Ephemera pertaining to the Parsons family of Gilmanton and Bennington, New Hampshire, 1813-1879

36 letters, 87 manuscript pages, (no envelopes), dated 1847-1879. Of the 36 letters, five are not dated and fifteen are from the year 1848, the others are from 1847 (1), 1849 (1), the 1850s (11) and from 1869 (1) and 1879 (1). Also included in this collection are 56 pieces of paper ephemera, mainly manuscript, but also partially printed, all dated between 1813 and 1872. Of the ephemeral material, one item is from 1813, another from 1829, a couple from the 1830s and 1840s, but the rest date mainly from the 1850s to early 1870s. The ephemeral material consists largely  of manuscript receipts, as well as a couple of speeches of Chase P. Parsons, plus a two page manuscript copy of William Parsons' will, dated 15 April 1833.

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 Parsons family of Gilmanton and Bennington, New Hampshire

Josiah Parsons, Esq., son of Abraham and Abigail (Burleigh) Parsons, was born September 26, 1781, and grew up on his father's farm at Gilmanton, New Hampshire. He was a tanner, currier and shoemaker by trade, and carried on business in Gilmanton for over twenty years, but devoted most of his time during the last thirty years of his life to public service. In politics he was a Democrat. For seventeen years he was postmaster at Gilmanton, and twenty-seven years in succession was town clerk and treasurer, and in that he never had any competitor for the office but once. Before his death he had a stroke which completely paralyzed his left side. At the next town meeting his friends and supporters took him in a chair to the town hall, seated him at his desk, and before the adjournment of the meeting re-elected him to the offices he had held for so long. He died December, 1842. He served as a lieutenant in the War of 1812.

Among the ancestors of the Parsons family were those who were very prominent in the religious, educational, military, and civil history of Gilmanton; notably Rev. William Parsons, son of Rev. Joseph Parsons, both of whom were graduates of Harvard College.

Rev. William Parsons became one of the proprietors of Gilmanton, and was employed by the corporation to preach to the settlers, which he did for ten years. He was also the first schoolmaster in the town, and continued teaching even after he had closed his ministry.

Josiah Parsons married Judith Badger, daughter of Joseph Badger and his wife, Elizabeth (Parsons) Badger. Judith was a descendant of a family that was quite illustrious in the early history of New Hampshire, members of which included General Joseph Badger of Revolutionary fame; his son, Hon. Joseph Badger; and his grandson, Hon. William Badger, ex-Governor of New Hampshire.

The children of Josiah and Judith were: Joseph B., who died in infancy; Emily P., who died at the age of seventy-five, she married Rev. Charles Tenney, a Congregational clergyman who was ten years preceptor at the Gilmanton Academy; Sarah B., who died in infancy; Mary Elizabeth, who married Rev. E. N. Hidden, Congregational minister, and lived to at least the age of ninety-three (1907); Lewis Neal, a teacher; Joseph Badger, who became a physician and settled at Bennington, New Hampshire; Daniel Jacobs, born April 15, 1821, died 1897, he pursued his preparatory studies at Gilmanton Academy, read law in the office of Hon. Ira A. Eastman, and practiced at Rochester; Sarah Jane, unmarried, who lived to at least eighty-three years of age, in Concord, New Hampshire; Hannah Cogswell, who died  December 9, 1842, at age nineteen; and Charles P., who was principal of Atkinson Academy, of Gilmanton Academy, and principal of the high schools at Evansville, Indiana, where he died at the age of forty-six.

William Moody Parsons was also one of Josiah and Judith's sons. Dr. William Moody Parsons was born in Gilmanton December 30, 1826; his boyhood was passed with his brothers and sisters at the old family home. His educational advantages were those of the district schools of the time, supplemented by a classical course at Gilmanton Academy.  At the close of the academic course having a taste for the study of medicine, he commenced under the tuition of Dr. Nahum Wright,  practitioner of Gilmanton, where he remained three years, during which time Dr. Parsons attended a course of lectures at the Dartmouth Medical College, and then went into the office with his brother, Dr. Joseph B., at Bennington, New Hampshire, where he commenced medical practice, remaining about one year; he then attended his final course of lectures at the Vermont Medical College, where he graduated in June 1851, and returned to Bennington, practicing in company with his brother until 1855, when his brother sold his interest to Dr. William M., and moved to Haverhill, Mass.

The Parsons family correspondence details the domestic lives of the various family members, who write to each other, concerning the events of their lives, news from home, news from friends, about medicine, and politics. The largest recipient of letters is Dr. William Moody Parson, who receives sixteen of the letters and writes an additional two letters.  Dr. William's brother, Dr. Joseph B. Parsons, is next, receiving five letters and writing three, with Chase P. Parsons writing five letters and receiving two. The brothers are usually writing to each other (at least nine of the letters). Other letters are written to the brothers by their sisters Emily (1) and Sarah (1) and their brother Lewis (1). A brother-in-law, E. N. Hidden, also writes two letters to William. The remaining letters are from friends or associates, or are letters from other correspondents.