of Jefferson County
"PARSONSVILLE. About seven miles east of Fairfield. P.O. Est.
22 Mar 1858; John J. Sharps, first postmaster; disc. 4 Apr 1865.
A railway station on the C B & Q, one or two stores, a tavern, a blacksmith
shop, a Methodist church and several homes, all now vanished."
The above information was compiled by Mary Prill and published in the Hawkeye Heritage, July 1967.
The following story was originally one of a number of articles in the Fairfield Ledger which was later included in the book Villages and Towns of Yester-year in Jefferson County by William R. Baker. We hereby include it on this page with the permission of the Fairfield Ledger.
Names mentioned in this article are as follows:
John Rush (Rust) Parsons; Chester Hickenbottom; George and Martha White; James H. Henricks; F. S. Toothacre; Diana Parsons; Elizabeth Shoemaker; R. Toothacre; Baldwin Parsons; Benjamin Archibald; N. Green; J. W. Toothacre; Peter Knight; John Knight; James Hickenbottom; C.C. Lindstrom; Loren Stark; Hiram Heaton; John Steward; Joseph Hickenbottom.
Rush Parsons, who is credited with settling
the Parsonsville Community about six miles east of Fairfield in 1837, blazed
a trail from the little settlement to the new town of Fairfield.
He didn't locate the route with surveyor's instruments but marked the route with a plow and oxen.
That was in the early 1840s. Information states Parsons took four yoke of oxen attached to a huge breaking plow thus marking the trail by one continuous furrow.
It is said that oftentimes the driver couldn't see the front yoke of oxen on account of the thick prairie grass which grew from six to eight feet tall. It is estimated it took two days for the oxen to make the trip.
The trail is now Highway 34 and its route has been changed very little since it was originally marked by the plow.
Parsonsville has passed from existence and there is no evidence a small community was located in the area.
There is one person who remembers the little town and where the buildings were located. He is Chester Hickenbottom, 91, who was born upstairs over the store at Parsonsville.
The family lived at that location for about a year after his birth and then moved to a farm nearby. He spent his early life in the Parsonsville and Glendale Communities.
During a recent trip to the area, Hickenbottom said he was standing in what was once Main Street in the little community.
Using his cane as a pointer, he pointed to the place where the church was located along with its parsonage. He said the blacksmith shop was located on the south side of the track and the post office was on the north side. The road then followed closely to the railroad track on the south side.
When Highway 34 was first paved in the late 1920s it was re-located at that point and moved south some distance.
In addition to the buildings listed above Hickenbottom said there were some homes located in the area.
He said there was no depot or agent at Parsonsville. It was served by a little lean-to building. Hickenbottom said a man living in the community met the passenger trains with a horse and rig and would take passengers anywhere they wanted to go in the area for a quarter.
Parsonsville was settled by John Rush Parsons who was born November 22, 1806, in Tucker County, West Virginia. After his marriage he and his wife and family started west toward Iowa in 1836. They traveled in a wagon drawn by six or eight oxen.
When cold weather set in they remained during the winter at Cairo, Illinois. They continued their journey the following spring and arrived in what is now Jefferson County in 1837.
Just why they chose Parsonsville for their home is not recorded. The territory at that time was government land, and available for settling at $1.25 per acre.
After staking his claim which included several hundred acres, Parsons built a log cabin. Much of the area was timber. He cleared some land and a few years later built another log house.
As more and more people settled in and near the little community there was need for a place of worship. Until 1874 all religious gatherings were held in the school house.
During the year 1874 Parsons took the lead in erecting a church. Others who played an important part included George and Martha White, James H. Henricks, F. S. Toothacre, Diana Parsons, Elizabeth Shoemaker, R. Toothacre, Baldwin Parsons, Benjamin Archibald, N. Green, J. W. Toothacre, Peter Knight, John Knight, James Hickenbottom, C.C. Lindstrom, Loren Stark, Hiram Heaton and John Steward.
Parsons furnished all the dimension lumber and most of the labor was donated. As a result the church was built at a minimum cost.
Shortly after the church was completed, it was announced at a meeting that it lacked only $100 of being paid for. Mrs. Parsons reached down in the large pocket of her dress, brought forth the $100 and commented, "There, now that will clear our church of all debt." For 75 years the church played an important part in the community. Not only did it serve as a place of worship, but it was also widely known for its oyster suppers during the winter, and ice cream socials during summer months.
Finally the little community dwindled. As its members vanished and the church was no longer active, it remained idle for a number of years. The church building was sold at an auction November, 1952. It was then torn down.
Hickenbottom recalled one of the major sources of income for farmers during that period was selling wood. At first trains burned wood. Farmers also hauled wood to Fairfield, parked their rig on the square and waited for someone to buy it.
Usually they didn't have to wait long. Most all stores and homes were heated with wood burning stoves.
Hickenbottom's grandfather, Joseph Hickenbottom, was among the early settlers in the Parsonsville area. As time passed the Parsons family moved westward toward Fairfield and the Hickenbottom family moved south and east from Parsonsville.
When the railroad reached Parsonsville from the east it was called the Burlington and Mississippi Railroad and it was single track. It reached Fairfield in 1858.
The Fairfield (Iowa) Daily Ledger, Feb. 25, 1960.
Transcribed by Char Hixon
SETTLED IN 1837, PARSONSVILLE PASSES INTO COUNTY HISTORY
When fire destroyed the Nova Harper home about seven miles east of Fairfield last week, it wiped out the last remaining structure that was once the thriving community of Parsonsville. During the peak of its existence the little village included one or two stores, a tavern, a blacksmith shop, a Methodist church and several homes. The village was settled by John Rush Parsons, who was born Nov. 22, 1806, in Tucker County, West Virginia...
The home that burned recently was originally the old Soloman Nelson home, and one of the several homes erected in the village. As more and more people settled in and near the little community, there was need for a place of worship. Until 1874 all religious gatherings were held in the school house. During the year 1874 Parsons took the lead in erecting a church. Others who played an important part in the establishment of the church included George and Martha White, James H. Hendricks, F. S. Toothacre, Diana Parsons, Elizabeth Shoemaker, R. Toothacre, Baldwin Parsons, Benjamin Archibald, N. Green, J. W. Toothacre, Peter Knight, John Knight, James Hickenbottom, C. C. Linstrom, Loren Clark, Hiram Heston and John Steward...
For 75 years the church played an important part in the community.
It not only served as a place of worship, but it was also widely known
for its oyster suppers during the winter months and ice cream socials during
Finally the little community dwindled, its members vanished, and the church
was no longer active. It remained idle for several years and the
church building was sold at auction in November, 1952. It was then
torn down. The church was located a short distance east of the house
that burned last week. The lane going back to the house was once
the main road now known as Highway 34.
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