Wayne County Biographies

Part of the Indiana Biographies Project

Mordecai Parry

Deeds are thoughts crystallized, and according to their brilliancy do we judge the worth of a man to the country which produced him, and in his works we expect to find the true index to his character. The study of the life of the representative American never fails to offer much of pleasing interest and valuable instruction, developing a mastering of expedients which has brought about most wonderful results. The subject of this review was a worthy representative of that type of American character and of that progressive spirit which promote public good in advancing individual prosperity and conserving popular interests. He has long prominently identified with the business interests of Richmond and Wayne county, and while his varied affairs brought him success they also advanced the general welfare by accelerating commercial activity.

Mr. Parry was of Welsh ancestry and possessed many of the strongest and best characteristics of the people of that little rock-ribbed country. About 1690 Thomas Parry and his wife, Eleanor, came with their family to America, locating at Radnor, Pennsylvania, where the wife and mother was buried, in 1701. The father afterward removed to Philadelphia, and later to Montgomery county, Pennsylvania, where his last days were spent. His children were Edward, Thomas and Mary. The second Thomas Parry, the great-grandfather of our subject, was born in Cardiganshire, Wales, in 1680, and came with his family to America, at the age of ten years. During the greater part of his life he resided at or near Willow Grove, then known as Parry's Mills, now Morgan's Mills. Throughout his business career he carried on the milling business and was the owner and operator of Parry's mill. His death occurred there May 18, 1749. He was a member of the Society of Friends. His wife bore the maiden name of Jane Philips, and to them were born ten children, nine of whom married and had families.

Of these Isaac Parry, the grandfather of our subject, was born in Pennsylvania, in 1738, and died October 18, 1802, on his farm in Montgomery county. In early life he followed the stone-mason's trade, and later carried on agricultural pursuits. He married Grace Comly, daughter of Robert and Jane (Cadwallader) Comly, in 1764, and they became parents of nine children, six of whom grew to mature years, while three died in infancy. The youngest of the family was Joseph Parry, father of our subject. He was born in Montgomery county, Pennsylvania, December 1, 1788, and died September 1, 1870. On leaving his native county he located in Chester county, Pennsylvania, whence in the spring of 1828 he came to Richmond Indiana, where his remaining days were passed. He was a plasterer by trade and followed that vocation throughout his entire life. In 1809 he married Sarah Webster, daughter of Naylor and Martha (Fisher) Webster, and they had a family of eight children, two of whom died in infancy, and five of whom lived beyond the age of seventy years, the youngest being sixty-nine at the time of his death. They were: William; Robert, a plasterer; Isaac, who was also a plasterer, and removed to California; he returned to his home in Norristown, Pennsylvania, where he died; Grace; Mordecai; and George, who went to California in 1849, and died there in 1889.

Mordecai Parry, whose name introduces this review, was born in Montgomery county, Pennsylvania, July 4, 1818, and when ten years of age was brought by his parents to Richmond, where he was reared to manhood. He learned the blacksmith's trade, which he followed for thirty years, but his energies were by no means confined to one line of endeavor. He was a man of resourceful ability and extended his field of operations from time to time. To his blacksmithing he added the manufacture of carriages, and subsequently he established a coal, wood and lumber yard, building up an extensive trade in those commodities. He also erected many houses and engaged largely in the real-estate business, handling his own property, which was acquired through judicious investment of his savings. He also owned a drygoods store in Plainfield, Indiana, and a carriage repository there; but in 1867 he disposed of all his interests save the real estate. He continued his residence in Richmond until 1872, when on account of impaired health he moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he died July 31, 1892. He was the owner of extensive and very valuable real estate, both in Minneapolis and Richmond, and acquired a handsome fortune.

Mr. Parry was married three times. He first wedded Gulielma Henley, of Richmond, a daughter of Micajah and Gulielma (Charles) Henley, January 4, 1845, and they had two children: Martha, the wife of Lindley A. Hawkins, of Wayne township, Wayne county; and Webster, a real-estate dealer of Richmond, who is also vice-president of the Richmond Home Telephone Company. He managed his father's real-estate business in Richmond from the age of twenty years, and upon the death of the latter succeeded to the business. He married Miss Lou M. Lefferts, of Oakland, California. Mrs. Gulielma Parry died August 5, 1849, and Mr. Parry, May 23, 1855, was united in marriage with Sarah Bell, of Henry county, Indiana, and a daughter of Thomas and Jerusha (Strattan) Bell. By this marriage there were six children, of whom two are living,—Joseph E., of Minneapolis, Minnesota, who married Elma Mulford, of Richmond, Indiana; and Sarah B , also of Minneapolis: she is the wife of Dr. George D. Head. The other children, excepting Gulielma, died without issue. Gulielma became the wife of Milton D. Brown, and had two children,—Alice L. and Sarah B.,—and died November 3, 1884. One of the sons, Charles M. Parry, who died in Minneapolis, March 17, 1894, was one of the most promising young men in the Flour City. The mother of the above named children died January 22, 1880, and on the 9th of March, 1882, Mr. Parry married Martha E. Hill, of Richmond, a daughter of Benjamin and Sarah (Hoover) Hill. She still survives her husband, and resides in Richmond, of which place Mr. Parry was so Jong an honored and influential citizen. Not only in business affairs was he well known: he was active and earnest in his advocacy of all measures for the public good, was a very zealous member of the Society of Friends, contributed liberally to its support, and also built Parry Hall, of Earlham College. In early life he exercised his right of franchise for the benefit of the Republican party, and afterward was a Prohibitionist. A friend of temperance, he did all in his power to promote sobriety, morality and Godliness among men, and his own upright, honorable life formed an example well worthy of emulation. Mrs. Parry, like her husband, shares in the high regard of a large circle of friends. She is a representative of two of the most prominent and honored pioneer families of Wayne county,—the Hoovers and the Hills,—and as such is well deserving of mention in this history.

Biographical and Genealogical History of Wayne, Fayette, Union and Franklin Counties, Indiana, Volume 1, The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, 1899