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Below is a family biography included in the Biographical Review Volume of Biographical Sketches of The Leading Citizens of Hampshire County, Massachusetts published by Biographical Review Publishing Company in 1896.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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MRS. HARRIET ELIZA PARSONS, residing at 7 Old South Street, Northampton, is the daughter of Nathaniel and Eliza (Hubbard) Sears, and widow of Enos Parsons, Esq., who died here, February 8, 1892, aged seventy-six years and eight months. A faithful likeness of Mr. Parsons appears on the opposite page. He was for many years a prominent lawyer of this city, being a partner with A. T. Crossley in the long-established firm of Parsons & Co. The name of Parsons has been honorably connected with the social and industrial development of this part of Massachusetts for two hundred and fifty years, the first of the name in these parts having been Joseph Parsons, who, tradition says, emigrated from Great Torrington, England, with a brother Benjamin about 1630, probably coming in the same vessel with William Pynchon. It is known that he was in Springfield, Mass., in 1636, and then called himself sixteen years of age. He was a tiller of the soil, and removed from there to Northampton in 1655. Seven years later he testified that he was a witness to a deed of the lands at Springfield, given July 15, 1636, and to the bargain between the Indians and Mr. Pynchon, by which the latter was to give eighteen fathoms of wampum, eighteen coats, eighteen hatchets, eighteen hoes, and eighteen knives for the land.

As soon as Northampton was incorporated Joseph Parsons was chosen Townsman, or Selectman; but afterward he paid the town twenty shillings not to elect him to any office during the next year. He, however, served in official capacities seven years after that, and was one of the chief founders of the town. He was extensively engaged in the fur trade, and acquired a large estate. He was the first owner of land bought from the Indians in Squakeag (Northfield) in 1671, and was active in the settlement of that town. He married Mary Bliss, a native of Hartford, Conn., but later of Northfield; and they lived in Northampton until 1679, when they removed to Springfield, where they died, he in 1683 and she in 1712. His home lot in Northampton contained four acres, and was bounded on the west by the highway (now Market Street), on the east by Pine Plain (now Cemetery Park), on the north by the land of John Bliss, and on the south by Bridge Street.

Joseph Parsons was a large landholder, owning land in Springfield, Boston, and other places. He was one of the first persons in Northampton authorized to keep an ordinary, or tavern. He was cornet, or color bearer, of a cavalry company, then an officer in rank, and was known as Cornet Joseph Parsons. Of his seven sons and five daughters all grew to maturity but one; and the first birth of a white child recorded in Northampton was that of his son Ebenezer, May 1, 1655. In 1674 Mary, wife of Cornet Joseph Parsons, was accused of witchcraft, and voluntarily appeared in court in Springfield that year, desiring to clear herself of such a heinous crime. She was indicted by the Grand Jury in Boston in May, 1675, and committed to prison to await her trial, being finally acquitted May 13.

Nathaniel Sears, the father of Mrs. Harriet E. Parsons, was of the seventh generation in direct descent from Richard Sares, an early settler of Yarmouth on the Cape, the emigrant ancestor of the Sears family in New England. Nathaniel was a son of Rufus Sears, who was born in Yarmouth in 1770, and was left an orphan when very young, his father, Captain Nathaniel Sears, having been lost when on a sea voyage. Rufus became one of the well-to-do farmers of Hawley, where he settled after his marriage. He was a Deacon in the Congregational church. Nathaniel Sears and Eliza Hubbard were married in 1824 at Williamsburg, where Mr. Sears was a prosperous manufacturer of woollen goods. Mrs. Eliza H. Sears died when only twenty-nine years old, leaving but one child, Harriet E., Mrs. Parsons. Mr. Sears subsequently married Miss Cordelia Morton, who bore him one child, Lorenzo, now Professor Sears, of Brown University. Mrs. Cordelia M. Sears, an intelligent and estimable woman of eighty-five years, makes her home with her son. In 1863 Mr. Sears moved to Northampton, and here lived retired until his death, in 1888. He had accumulated a good property through energetic industry and thrift.

Sylvanus Hubbard, the maternal grandfather of Mrs. Parsons, was likewise a tiller of the soil, locating at first in Sunderland, but removing from there to Williamsburg, where he improved a fine farm. He married Abigail Thayer; and they became the parents of six children — three sons and three daughters — one of whom is now living, Sylvanus, a resident of Williamsburg.

Harriet E. Sears was reared in Williamsburg, and received her education at Mount Holyoke Seminary. She became the wife of Enos Parsons in 1861. The only child born of their union was a son, Frank Sears Parsons, M.D., now a successful physician of Dorchester, Mass. He began the study of medicine at the Harvard Medical School, and was graduated from the College of Physicians and Surgeons at New York City. He married Bertha Saxman, of Latrobe, Westmoreland County, Pa., on the 5th of September, 1891; and their union has been blessed by the birth of one son, Frank Enos Parsons, a winsome little fellow of three years. The fine brick house in which Mrs. Parsons resides was erected some forty-three years ago by Mr. Parsons, his first wife, formerly Mary Ann Crafts, having selected the rugged and picturesque site on the side hill, overlooking what was then the Mill River meadow, but which is now platted and covered with beautiful residences. Mrs. Harriet Parsons is a woman of much force of character, actuated by the highest Christian principles, and is held in universal respect and esteem. She is a valued member of the Jonathan Edwards Church, of which her husband was a generous supporter and one of the founders, he having contributed liberally to the building fund.

Mr. Parsons was a man of great influence and of sterling integrity and worth. He was a stanch Republican in his political principles, but always firmly declined elective office, although he was uniformly interested in local affairs and improvements. Before the establishment of the District Court for Hampshire County he was one of the Trial Justices, and was active in his practice as a lawyer until about the time of his decease, retaining his intellectual vigor to a remarkable degree. He took great interest in military tactics, and was familiarly known as Captain Parsons, having been appointed to that rank in a Northampton company in 1838. For eighteen years prior to 1890 Mr. Parsons was the attorney for the Massachusetts Central Railway Company and its successors, and without doubt settled more land claims than any other man in Hampshire County since the time of its formation.

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This family biography is one of the numerous biographies included in the Biographical Review Volume of Biographical Sketches of The Leading Citizens of Hampshire County, Massachusetts published in 1896. 

View additional Hampshire County, Massachusetts family biographies here: Hampshire County, Massachusetts Biographies

View a map of 1901 Hampshire County, Massachusetts here: Hampshire County Massachusetts Map

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