HENRY STRONG PARRISH
Son of Nathan and Rebecca Rhodes Parrish
Henry Strong Parrish was born 17 June 1818 in Brownville, Jefferson Co., New York, about 100 miles east of the Hill Cumorah. He was the tenth child of a family of twelve, seven boys and five girls. He came of Old New England stock, his ancestors being of English descent. Two brothers, Nathan and Joel, were among the early settlers of Vermont. Henry Strong Parrish’s family were descendants of Nathan.
While visiting at the Parrish home, Captain William Strong, an intimate friend of Henry’s parents, was informed that a new baby boy had been born to them. Capt. William Strong said, “Let me name the baby and I will give him my gold watch and chain.” It was agreed, but there being an older brother named William Parrish, Capt. Strong named the baby after his only brother, Henry Strong. Hence, the baby was named, “Henry Strong Parrish.” The father traded this watch for a cow, and when Henry was 16 years old, his increase was 10 cows. Henry spent his early life on a farm in New York. He was taken with ague which he was affected with for 14 months.
His father, Nathan Parrish, son of John Parrish, Sr., was born 14 May 1774 in Levingston Mannor, New York. His mother, Rebecca Rhodes, whose ancestors first settled Rhode Island, was born 10 Oct. 1776 at Danbury, Dutchess County, New York. He was among the pioneers of central New York and the Elders found them at Brownville, Jefferson Co. They and some members of the family readily accepted the Gospel message and were baptized in 1833. The father had a sudden illness, infection from a boil, and when he realized that he could not be with the family long (died in 1834), he requested Henry, then only 16 years old, to take care of his mother, the farm and the home. This request, which he loyally fulfilled, was the reason he did not marry until after his mother’s death, which occurred in 1858 at Bountiful, Utah, when Henry was 40 years old.
In the spring when 19 years old Henry, with his mother Rebecca Parrish, a sister Nance Sarepta, youngest brother George Washington, and a company of Saints, moved near Richmond, Ray County, Missouri arriving in June, about the time the mobs were driving the Mormons out, and stayed there until 5 March 1838 when they moved 55 miles south of Nauvoo, Illinois at Pigeon Creek, Pike County, Illinois where Henry was baptized 1 Sep. 1839 by Elders Rodgers and Gifford. They afterwards moved to Nashville, Lee County, Iowa four miles below Montrose near Nauvoo, Illinois. Lived there about 7 years farming, fishing, and boating over the rapids on the Mississippi River. This is where he lived when Joseph and Hyrum were martyred at Carthage, Illinois 27 June 1844. He was one of the minute men, and when a proclamation was issued by the Prophet, calling for aid to defend Nauvoo, her people and their rights, he was one of the first to respond, life and musket in hand ready for action.
When the Prophet selected a certain number of young men and crossed the Mississippi River to take up a line of march for the Indian country or Rocky Mountains, the Parrish family cooked up provisions for them, and their horses were quartered in the Parrish stables, saddled and ready to mount. But through the importuning of his friends, the Prophet returned and was confined in Carthage Jail where he lost his life.
Henry was a strong, well-built man over six feet tall and rather lean. He had dark brown hair and blue eyes with one slightly drooping eyelid which seemed to protect his eye, for that eye served him in his old age long after his sight had faded in the other eye. He was very fond of athletics. Several times he wrestled with the Prophet Joseph, who was the only man he ever wrestled with that excelled him. They were very intimate friends. He said he so loved the Prophet that, like many other of his friends, he would willingly give his life to save him. He rowed a boat across the river in the night with provisions for Joseph and some of the brethren who, by persuasion of their friends, were hiding for a time from the wicked mob. He put his hat on a dummy and it was full of bullet holes.
He was present at the laying of the cornerstone of the Nauvoo Temple and assisted in building that beautiful structure. He not only paid one-tenth of his earnings, but gave much of his time to the Church. He was present at the conference at Nauvoo when Brigham Young was chosen President of the Church and heard him speak in the voice of Joseph.
He left Montrose in 1846. Then moved to Council Bluffs, Pottawatoma County. Being naturally of a charitable and sympathetic nature, he assisted with work and means, helping many others to emigrate. He and his mother, brothers and sisters, did not come to Salt Lake until 1852. They started from Council Bluffs 23 July 1852 and arrived in Salt Lake Valley 11 Oct. 1852 with Capt. Clark’s company being just three months on the road.
The following April they came to Bountiful where he rented 22 acres of ground. Later, he purchased 10 acres off the same piece and built a two-room log house. Two years later, he bought land in East Bountiful, built a two-story adobe house, and lived there until 1878 when he moved back to the old farm and built an adobe house there and later on built a brick house on the front, which he retained until his death. His mother lived with him until her death on 15 Sept. 1858 at Bountiful.
He had his endowments 8 Mar. 1854 in the Salt Lake Endowment House and was ordained a Seventy by Jacob Gates 8 Mar. 1856 and assigned to the Fourth Quorum. He was Constable of North Canyon Ward in 1863. On one occasion there was some disturbance with the soldiers from the Fort who were interfering where they had no right. Although there were several in number on horses and well armed, when Henry ordered them to give up their arms, dismount, and get into the wagon to be taken back to the Fort, they readily obeyed orders but remarked that they wouldn’t have taken those orders from anyone else but Old Hank Parrish. He belonged to the Home Militia or Home Guard under Capt. Jude Allen, James Fackrel’s roll, 24 Sept. 1856.
On 3 Feb. 1861, he was married to Mary Millesant Parks by Bishop John Stoker. After three children were born, they were sealed in the Old Endowment House 3 Mar. 1866. Ten sons and five daughters were born to them.
He was present at the laying of the cornerstone of the Salt Lake Temple 6 Apr. 1853 and also just forty years later when the capstone was laid. With his two ox teams he assisted in hauling the rock for that beautiful edifice. He also assisted in building the East Bountiful Tabernacle in 1861, and the old mud wall around the townsite, and the two meeting houses in West Bountiful. He helped in building school houses, roads, bridges, fences, mills, etc. incident to the pioneering of new country.
Nothing pleased him more than when one of his sons, George W. Parrish, was called to fill a mission to the Eastern States and he gladly assisted with means, encouraging words, and in every way possible.
He was of a retiring disposition and told his children never to put themselves forward into anything, but always to respond to any call from the Church or government. He was adverse to seeking public office. Later in life he was not often seen in public, but most thoroughly enjoyed his friends coming in to chat, dine, and lodge with him. He and his wife were charitable to a fault and no one was ever turned from the door. He abhorred debt. His motto was: “Pay as you go, and live within your means.” He was an exemplification of the Mormon Creed, “mind your own business.” He had a strong mind, a keen intellect, an excellent memory, and a very sensitive nature. He never forgot favor or an injury. He was a good farmer, an occupation that he followed all his life with the exceptions of a few years that he spent boating on the Mississippi River.
One year he raised the earliest wheat in Sessions Settlement. Before the harvest time, food became very scarce and he was offered a very high price for his wheat, but he wouldn’t sell it. President Brigham Young asked if he would sell some of his wheat at a good price and he told him he wouldn’t sell one pound of it, but he took it and distributed it in ten-pound lots among the poor widows and hungry children. He loved animals and always gave them good care. He owned a very fine team of horses, named John and Sampson, and took great pride in keeping them fat and shining. One of them he trained to step to music.
He owned a molasses mill and made molasses for himself and many others in Davis County who would haul cane to his mill. The molasses he and his sons made was very good and took first prize at the State Fair.
He was a great reader, and although he didn’t have the opportunity of attending school but six weeks in his life, he was very well educated. Many winter evenings of his boyhood days were spent in spelling matches, the boys in the town challenging the boys in another town. Later in life some of his neighbors’ boys that were attending the University of Utah would come in every few weeks with a new list of difficult words to test Brother Parrish. They always went away disappointed, but with a determination to catch him next time. They were always out-generaled in their efforts.
He liked to see the young people enjoy themselves, and would often surprise them by appearing in costume at their parties and singing or reading for them.
He was a good father, a kind husband, a peaceable neighbor, and an honest man, true to his friends and family and always ready to defend the work of God and its leaders.
Some of father’s favorite sayings: “A place for everything and everything in its place.” “Anything worth doing is worth doing well.” “First know you’re right, then go ahead.” “Honesty is the best policy.” “Where there’s a will there’s a way.”
On one occasion at the age of 80 years at an old folks’ outing at Lagoon, they were having boat racing and he challenged several of the much younger men that were considered skilled oarsmen and won first prize in the race. He had learned this art while boating on the Mississippi and evidently he hadn’t forgotten how to handle a boat.
He passed peacefully away Saturday morning, 10 Nov. 1906 at his home in West Bountiful at the age of 89.
Funeral services were held in the West Bountiful Chapel 12 Nov. Patriarchs Tolman, Barlow, and Briggs and Elder Israel Barlow, Jr. and Bishop Muir, all old neighbors, spoke of his many sterling qualities. He was laid to rest in the Bountiful Cemetery. His neighbor, Joseph Argyle, was the funeral director.