The Parish Family
The Parish name in America has been traced back to New England in mid-1600.  Known originally
as Parrish, the immigrant ancestor was John Parrish, born March 8, 1642.  He settled first in
Braintree, Norfolk County, Massachusetts, where he was married to Miss Hannah Jewell (born
December 12, 1643) on June 30th, 1664.  They had four children.  He would marry a second time
and have ten more children before he died in 1715.

The original Parish family had moved to Connecticut around 1700 and subsequent generations
continued to reside there until after the Revolutionary War when they moved to Vermont.  The
family genealogy shows the complete lineage.  Then in the early 1800's, Smith Parish decided to
explore western New York, eventually settled in Portville, and became a very important person in
our town's history.  
The Portville Historical and Preservation Society
17 Maple Avenue
Portville, NY 14770

www.portvillehistory.org
Portville, New York
Hon. Smith Parish, son of Jeremiah and Thankful
(Abbott) Parish, was born in Stockbridge, Vermont, on
October 29, 1804.  His father, a native of Connecticut,
was a soldier in the Revolutionary War and married in
1787.  Smith was the youngest of their seven children:  
Alice, Nehemiah, Jared, Phoebe, Harvey, Lydia, and
Smith Parish.  

In 1807, he moved with his family from Stockbrige to
Cherry Valley, N. Y.  In 1818 he settled in Luzerne,
N. Y.  At the age of fourteen Smith Parish lost his
mother, and in August 1819, he started on foot with a
companion (Mr. Benjamin Wyatt of Haskell Flats) for
the Holland Purchase. They walked the whole distance
of nearly 350 miles in six and a half days, first locating
in the town of Pike, in Allegany county.  

After working and inspecting the forests and country
generally, he concluded to make this new country his
future home.  Consequently, the following spring he
returned to his native home with the purpose of
persuading his father to locate in this new section
known as the "Holland Patent Purchase".  In the spring
of 1820 he persuaded his father to come and again, on
foot, they traveled to Farmersville, where they joined
his (Jeremiah's) brother, Nehemiah, and where Smith's
father settled, taking a contract for one hundred and
eighty acres.
Hon. Smith Parish (1804 - 1887)
Jeremiah Parrish (1765-1851)
- father of Smith Parish and Revolutionary War Veteran
Smith Parish I
Smith Parish, a victim of paralysis in his later years, sits on his front porch at 1 N. Main Street.
For the next ten years, Smith resided alternately in Cattaraugus County, in Luzerne, and in
Chittenden County, VT.  In the spring of 1829, he went to Quebec on a raft of timber.  In May,
1830, he visited Olean looking for work in a saw mill, having worked in saw mills on the Hudson
river.  He went to work for Paul Reed in a mill where Weston Brothers mill is now located, working
about a month.  He then went to Olean to work for F. S. Martin.  

In 1832, he rented a saw mill from Mrs. Bartlett on Haskell Creek and sawed lumber for the
pioneers on shares and selling the lumber to F. S. Martin for dry goods and provisions.  Common
lumber was then at $2.50 per M. and $5 per M. for clear.  He bought one hundred and eighty acres
on lot 49, having over three million feet of pine, at $3 per acre.  In the spring of 1833 he rafted his
first lumber down the Allegany.  In the years that followed, his success was established and in
1841, he sold his interest on Haskell Creek, about 1900 acres in all.  He moved further south, which
was named Portville after Olean was divided, where he bought and manufactured lumber and
shingles.  In the spring of 1849, he ran twenty Warren rafts, about three million feet of lumber and
about three million shingles, employing more than one hundred and fifty men.

In 1831 he joined the temperance society and ever afterwards was an earnest worker for
temperance.  In 1832 he joined the M. E. Church and was a liberal supporter until the day of his
death.  His house was always opened for the traveling preachers of the pioneer Methodist church.  
He was the principal founder of the Methodist Episcopal church of Portville, giving the land for the
church and the parsonage, together with a large proportion of the expense in building.  He aided in
building churches in Smethport, Eldred, Friendship, Bolivar, Cuba, Hinsdale and the Episcopal
church in Olean.  

In 1863 he was elected Member of Assembly and was appointed one of the canal committee only
accepting the nomination for the purpose of aiding the appropriation for the Genesee Valley Canal, at
that time the only outlet east for the lumber of this section.  He was a firm friend and supporter of
Hon. R. E. Fenton and was prominent in the councils of the republican party.  He had held town
offices from Supervisor to Justice of the Peace.  He was defeated once for Supervisor by barely
two majority.  The next year he carried the town for temperance and it remained a temperance town
for some time even after his death.  He also gave liberal aid in establishing the early OLEAN
TIMES.  

Mr. Parish was married twice, his first in 1834 to Catharine Wales (born September 15, 1815).  
They had five children:

David Lathrop Parish (April 19, 1836 - September 24, 1896)
Mary Ellen Parish Scofield (July 19, 1838 - December 7, 1912)
Clark Watson Parish (May 6, 1841 - )
Catherine Parish Archibald (May 17, 1843 - October 8, 1886)
Lavinia Parish (July 9, 1846 - July 22, 1899)

Catharine became ill soon after the birth of their fifth child and died in 1849.  In 1850, Smith Parish married Lavinia C. Howe and had two more children:

Fred Parish (October 30, 1855 - April 7, 1908)
Frank Parish (February 14, 1859 - September 20, 1913)

In 1864, Hon. Smith Parish had a stroke of paralysis and became an invalid.  He died at his home in
Portville on July 24th, 1887.  He was one of the most highly respected pioneers of this
area.  His wife, Lavinia, died on January 8, 1907, aged 84. in Portville on July 24th, 1887.
Jeremiah Parrish of Plainfield, Connecticut, and Stockbridge, Vermont, was born in Canterbury,
Connecticut on February 17, 1765, and died in Portville, New York, on July 16, 1851, at the home
of his son, Smith Parish.  

In June 1780, Jeremiah enlisted in the Connecticut Troops in Canterbury, Connecticut, for three
months as private under the command of Captain James Dana.  He enlisted again on May 7, 1783,
until September 20, 1783, as private under Captain Benjamin Durkee, Connecticut Troops.  His
pension records of 1832 stated that he served as a private in the Connecticut Continentals under
Colonel Willis.  

In the year 1787, he married Thankful Abbott, who bore his seven children:

Alice Parrish (b. 21 November 1788), married John Sanderson
Nehemiah Parrish (b. 10 January 1790), moved to Louisiana and died there
Jared Parrish (b. 6 September 1792), married Lucy Granger of Woodstock, CT
Phoebe Parrish (b. 4 September 1794), married Jacob Rice
Harvey Parrish (b. 29 August 1796 d. 1881), married Sybil Sykes
Lydia Parrish (b. 27 August 1800)
Smith Parish (b. 27 October 1804 d. 1887 Portville), married Catherine Wales and Lavina
Howe

Jeremiah's wife, Thankful Abbott, died in 1818.  Soon after her death, in 1820, at the insistence of
his son, Smith, Jeremiah came to Western New York.  Jeremiah's brother, Nehemiah (1759-1832),
was already here and farming in Farmersville.  Jeremiah bought a farm there himself, a contract of
180 acres, and eventually remarried a woman named Sarah Porter.  Another son of Jeremiah and
Thankful, Jared, came to Western New York and settled in Hinsdale.  Jared's three sons, Lester
Julius and John G. remained in this area.  John is the most known to us in Portville, as he later
became the foreman at the Mersereau Sawmill.

Jeremiah Parrish died at the home of Smith Parish in 1851 and is buried in the Chestnut Hill
Cemetery in Portville.


Photos of the Parish family can be viewed in the attached PDF file (13 pages).