Monday, January 19, 2015

The Parragin Story

As part of my on-going look into the Booher family line, I have reviewed land and will records in Indiana, Tennessee and Virginia. This has been useful in placing the Booher family in Sullivan County before Tennessee became a state. The will records have also provided context to the Sullivan County land referenced in my 7th-great-grandfather John Booher's will probated in Washington County, Virginia in 1820. But to better understand how the family came to this corner of the country, we need to return to Betty McCay's A History and Genealogy of the Booher Family, 1747-1964. The book contains a transcription of an interview with John Booher's youngest daughter, Elizabeth Booher Parragin. She lived to be 105 years old. Elizabeth's story was collected in October 1901 and read at the Booher Reunion in Montgomery County, Indiana on 3 September 1902.

Source: Library of Congress, Abingdon, Virginia
Source: McCay, pg 9.
The Parragin story has been published in other forms online (see New River Notes but be aware that there are typos with this transcription).  I have extracted out sections of interest, and the full story can be read in McCay's book. It begins at the Booher family reunion in 1900, when the family learned of a relative living in Clinton County, Kentucky who was 104 years old. Eva Booher recounts how she was designated to travel from Indiana to visit Elizabeth Parragin in Kentucky, since she was the only person in Montgomery County who recalled seeing her Aunt before the family moved from Sullivan County to Indiana. Eva wrote that she last saw Elizabeth on 25 August 1833, before her father moved to Indiana, and that she hadn't heard from her in 15 years, and thought she was dead.

Eva traveled with her cousin and her son-in-law to Cincinnati, where they picked up the Cincinnati Southern Railroad to Burnside in south-central Kentucky. From there they took a stage coach 25 miles to Monticello. They spent the night in Monticello and then hired a man who took them over a mountain 25 miles to Albany, Kentucky. "The road was one of the roughest it had ever been my experience to travel and in many places found it much more agreeable to walk than ride. I would call much of the country Godforsaken except for the consideration I have for the dear folks I found at the end of the journey and who must pass this way for 50 miles to get to the railroad which will take them to God's country in Indiana."

Elizabeth Parragin appears in the 1900 US Census in the household of her son, Judge Cyrus Parragin. In the story, the Boohers went to Cyrus' home and interviewed Elizabeth on her family history. "Her voice was clear and her hearing was not seriously impaired."

Elizabeth's Story

"My name is Elizabeth Parrigin and I am the youngest daughter of John Booher. I was born in Sullivan County, Tennessee January 11, 1797, and if I live till my next birthday I will be 105 years old. We moved within 4 miles of Bristol, Tennessee when I was 19 years old from Washington County, Virginia, Abingdon being the county seat. We moved to Clinton County, Kentucky one mile from where we now lived, October 17, 1858. I was married to Henry Parrigin August 18, 1821 at the age of 24 in Washington County, Virginia. We had seven children, 3 daughters and 4 sons: Amelia Ann, John Franklin, Martha Jane, Sabrina, Emery, Cyrus, and William Henry."

"My father, John Booher was of German parentage. My grandfather came from Germany to Pennsylvania but my father and mother were born in this country. My grandparents died when I was a child and my father went back to Pennsylvania when I was about 10 years old to get his legacy. Martin was my father's brother. My father had 10 children, 8 sons and 2 daughters. Their names were: Jacob, Mary (Polly), William, Benjamin, Jehu (died in infancy), John, Frederick, Isaac and Henry (twins), and Elizabeth.

Jacob lived in Tennessee until 1833 when he moved to Indiana and located near Darlington. His children were: William M., Mike, Elizabeth, Gurdianus (Curtis), Samuel, John M., Ambrose, Jonathan M., Jacob Jr., Mahala, Benjamin, Lucinda, Catherine, and Leander.

Mary (Polly) lived in Tennessee and had 13 children, her husband was John Booher and her cousin. The names of the children were: Frankie, Daniel, Rebecca, Peter, Samuel, John, Elias, Jacob and Mary (twins), Barbara, Eli, Elizabeth, and Lydia.

William had 9 children; 3 sons and 6 daughters. He lived and died within 4 miles of Kingsport, Tennessee. The names of the children were: Lucinda, Nancy, John, Adelaine, and Mary (Dolly). One boy died in infancy and the names of the younger girls I can not remember.

Benjamin had 9 children; 4 sons and 5 daughters. He lived and died in Sullivan County, Tennessee. The names of the children were: John, Martin, Katherine, Sarah, James, Nancy, Esther, Leah, and Abraham; at last count only James and Esther were living.

John had 13 children: Benjamin, Jacob, William, Nathaniel, Samuel (died in infancy), Mary, Nathan, Margaret, Isaac, Elkanah, Catherine, Johnathan A., and Sylvanus. He migrated to Indiana.

Frederick lived and died in Virginia; he was the father of seventeen children, nine sons and eight daughters. One son died in infancy but the other children grew to manhood and womanhood. Their names were: Frederich, Samuel, James, John, William, Curtis, Jacob, Benjamin, Eliza Ann, Frankie, Elizabeth, Mary, Rachel, Melinda, Margaret, and Catherine. Joseph died in infancy of whooping cough.

Isaac had 10 children, 6 sons and 4 daughters. He lived and died in Virginia after raising 6 children. Their names were: Macgee, Lydia, Lossin, Susan Catherine, Isaac (died in infancy), three children were born dead.

Henry, when a child just able to walk, fell and bit his tongue in two and never talked plain. He never married but lived to be about 30 years old, and died in Virginia.

Jehu died in infancy.

Elizabeth, that is my name and I have told you about myself.

In conclusion, let me ask how many of us could give array of facts and that without hesitation? Aunt Elizabeth showed us some interesting relics among which was a pair of pothooks made in Tennessee by William Booher, a son of Jacob, and father of Elizabeth Booher (Aunt Bet) who is here today and now has the pothooks, the same being sent to her by Aunt Elizabeth. She also showed us a German Bible 127 years old and a bowl 125 years old which she had received from her mother.

But the saddest of my story is yet to be told, for since our visit to Grandmammy she was summoned to another world and today is no more among the living on earth. She died April 13, 1902 at four o'clock in the afternoon and was buried the next afternoon at three o'clock at the Springs Cemetery near her last home.

Her exact age at time of her death was one hundred five years, three months, and two days.
Back in the Census records, Elizabeth Booher Parragin and her family appear in the 1850 US Census in Washington County, Virginia.

Though the story is short, it provides an invaluable recollection of family history. From the interview with Elizabeth, it appears my 6th-great-grandfather Jacob moved in the summer of 1833 to Indiana. We know from the land records that Jacob sold the last of his land in Sullivan County in August 1834. From the story, Jacob was also the oldest son of John Booher Sr. Elizabeth's description of Henry Booher, twin of Isaac Booher, helps understand why John Sr asked Isaac to serve as guardian for his brother in the will, and to maintain the land in Washington County for Henry.

There is more to follow before turning to the Hampton family. John Booher Jr and Isaac Booher served in the War of 1812, and there are pension files for both on Fold3.


  1. What a treasure--both to have found this elder relative, and to have a transcribed copy of her story. The "institutional knowledge" of our families' elders is priceless, and in many cases, the only recollection of our families' micro-history in existence. How wonderful for you, Patrick, that that keepsake became part of your family's heritage!

  2. Thanks Jacqi. This is a great story that I had not expected to see when I started going back over this line. With so many children & grandchildren, there are probably many cousins out there who descend from John Booher. Her story is definitely invaluable for keeping all the Boohers from getting mixed together.

  3. Hello, many months have gone by since Patrick Jones posted here, but I am here to say today, that I am also a descendant of John Booher and Barbara Barnett of Pennsylvania, then Va. then Tn. My mother Lila Jane Booher Laws was a GGGG?Grandaughter of John Booher, through Isaac Sr. (brother of Jacob. I have also traced this line with help from the Parrigan story (very famous among both Booher and Fleenor ancestral researchers...all tracing back to Washington County Virginia, where I grew up. If interested you see my family tree on ancestry dot com- "Laws family tree" where I have many lines in Washington County Virginia and the entire area. Good to know you cousin! I have also met Eva Booher (married name) of Santa Monica CA, in 2011, as we met while My son was attending USC in Los Angeles. He now lives in Santa Barbara.


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