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Below is a family biography included in the book, The History of Knox County, Missouri published by Goodspeed Publishing Company in 1887.  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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Capt. H. R. Parsons. Perhaps no other man has been so prominently identified with the banking and financial interests of Knox County, understands them more thoroughly, or has made a more enviable record in connection therewith, than Capt. Henry R. Parsons, of Edina. He assisted in the organization of the Knox County Savings Bank, in 1872, and has been connected with that popular and solid institution ever since, first as its vice-president, and subsequently, and at present, as its efficient cashier. Capt. Parsons was born in Ontario County, N. Y., July 25, 1838, and is the son of Bissell and Mary (Ensign) Parsons, both of New England stock. His father located in Adams County, Ill., in 1838, and died two years later. Capt. Parsons remained in Illinois upon a farm with his widowed mother, until 1835, when he came to this county, which has since been his home. Voting for Stephen A. Douglas in 1860, when the civil war broke out, he obeyed the dying injunction of the “Little Giant,” and became an armed defender of the Union, the Constitution, and the enforcement of the laws.” In the summer of 1861 he joined Capt. Valentine Cupp’s company of Union Home Guards, at Goodland. In the summer of 1862 he again entered the Federal service, this time as second lieutenant of Company G, Fiftieth Regiment Enrolled Missouri Militia. In the following winter he was promoted to the captaincy of his company, and April 1, 1863, was detailed and placed on special service as captain of Company K, Second Provisional Regiment, Enrolled Militia. In October, following, he was dismissed from the militia service by Gov. Gamble, without a trial, or, so far as is known, without investigation of any sort. This incident in his career need not, however, be considered in the least degree discreditable to Capt. Parsons, or as at all reflecting upon him as an officer or man. The circumstances connected therewith are thus related in the “History of Marion County, Missouri,” page 846. “In September, 1863, Sheriff W. B. Phillips arrested a Federal officer, Lieut. C. S. Hussey, who had spirited away some negro men, and was at West Quincy with them endeavoring to cross the river to enlist them in the Federal service. The sheriff brought the officer to Palmyra, and placed him in jail, and the negroes were returned to their masters. Capt. H. R. Parsons, of Knox County, of Company K, Second Provisional Regiment, was in command of the post at Palmyra, with his own company, and Company F, of the same regiment, as a garrison. The militiamen were very indignant at the arrest and imprisonment of the officer, who declared that he was regularly authorized by the Secretary of War, through Col. Pile, to recruit colored men. Threats were made to release him by force. Sheriff Phillips telegraphed Gen. Guitar, at Macon, and the General ordered Capt. Parsons to have the jail well guarded, and to prevent any interference. Capt. Parsons ordered Lieut. Silas Keath to place a guard of ten men about the jail, which was done. At night the guard was doubled, and a patrol sent out to arrest all soldiers about the streets, and send them to their tents. There was great excitement. In spite of all precautions, the jail was broken open, and Hussey released, the guard at the jail making but a mock resistance, and readily fraternizing with the rescuers. Upon the representations of Gen. Guitar and others, Gov. Gamble dismissed Capt. Parsons from the service, with the loss of all pay, some $1,200 and emoluments. [The order as to loss of pay was subsequently revoked.] This was done because Parsons failed to prevent the rescue of the officer, although it would seem from the sworn testimony of the other militia officers present, that he honestly did his whole duty in the premises, and that he ought not to have been held so strictly accountable.” [See Report of Legislative Committee to Investigate Conduct of Militia; 1864; page 126 et seq.] Had any fair examination been had, doubtless Capt. Parsons would have been held in service, but once made, the order of dismissal was very difficult of revocation under the circumstances. Gov. Gamble was a stringent “Conservative,” and Capt. Parsons a “Radical.” After his dismissal from the State service, Capt. Parsons assisted in the organization of a regiment of colored troops, known in the records as the “First Missouri Infantry of African Descent,” afterward called the Sixty-second Regiment, United States Colored Infantry. He served in this regiment until the close of the war as captain of Company A, being mustered out at Fort McIntosh, Tex., January 19, 1866. Capt. Parsons may fairly be considered one of the founders of Lincoln Institute, the colored Normal School, at Jefferson City. He and some of his brother officers originated the idea of establishing a school in Missouri, for the education of colored pupils, and started a fund for the purpose. The amount was swelled to considerable proportions by contributions from the colored soldiers of the Sixty-second Regiment, and of other commands, while in Texas, and the institution would have been established even if the State had not taken it under its patronage. Upon his discharge Capt. Parsons was breveted major by President Johnson. Returning home he was elected county assessor, and served during the years of 1867-68. In the latter year he was elected sheriff and collector, and by re-election held the office four years, or until 1872, engaging in banking at the close of his service. He made a most efficient and acceptable officer. His accounts were always satisfactory, and, indeed, some years after his term of office had expired, it was discovered that he had overpaid them to the amount of $400, which sum was returned to him. Aside from his banking interests Capt. Parsons owns a fine farm, whereon stands an elegant and commodious residence, one mile south of Edina. He has a small but well-selected herd of Jersey cattle of excellent register, and some pure-blood Poland-China (registered) hogs. He is well known as an active, public-spirited citizen, enterprising, liberal and useful. At present he is commander of James Marquess Post, G. A. R., Edina, and in Masonry has reached the degree of Knight Templar. Originally a Democrat, the Captain has been a Republican in politics since 1862. He was the nominee of his party for State senator in 1885, but although he carried his own county, then strongly Democratic, and ran more than 600 votes ahead of his ticket in the district, he was defeated by the overwhelming natural majority against him. While he is in no sense a politician, yet on more than one occasion, certain political managers and directors of combinations have learned, in their discomfiture, that he can put in some very effective “work,” when the occasion and his interests demand it. February 13, 1859, Capt. Parsons was married to Miss Sarah A. Hutchinson, a native of Macon County, Mo. They are the parents of five living children. Lewis H. married Miss May Fox, of Edina, and is the present assistant cashier of the savings bank. The other children are Fred B., Edgar O., William Lee and Pearl.

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This family biography is one of 204 biographies included in the Knox County, Missouri portion of the book,  The History of Lewis, Clark, Knox and Scotland Counties, Missouri published in 1887.  For the complete description, click here: Knox County, Missouri History, Genealogy, and Maps

View additional Knox County, Missouri family biographies here: Knox County, Missouri Biographies

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