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Family Notes December 2016
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Family Notes - December 2016

This is a sample of the information provided to members of the P*rr*tt Society in the most recent edition of Family Notes. Family Notes is a 56-page printed magazine that is distributed to society members every quarter.

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Ten cents and two sticks of dynamite: the town of Parrott, Virginia and its namesake, John Henry Parrott

By Wayne Parrott

Chris Perrett recently found a token from Parrott, Virginia, on eBay and posted it on the P-rr-tt Society Facebook page on August 15 of this year (Figure 1). Thus I set out to uncover the story behind the token, which was worth 10 cents at the company store (but worth $81 on Ebay!). It turns out that in remote areas such as mining towns, tokens known as 'scrip' were used as currency, given that these locations were too inaccessible for US currency to reach. I have since found another scrip token, worth 2 dynamite sticks (Figure 2).

The town of Parrott is in Pulaski County, and was one of those isolated towns for many years. It is nestled in the Appalachian Mountains in the western part of the state of Virginia. In the last US census, it had all of 435 residents. Although he never lived there, the town was named after John Henry Parrott, Jr. (1847-1930), who started the Pulaski Anthracite Coal Mine there in 1902, and was the mine’s general manager and probable shareholder.

Also known as the Parrott Mine (Figure 3), it was the most prolific mine in the county, and was in operation some 40 years. The mine itself was located on Little Walkers Mountain, and had 130 employees by 1915. It is remembered for having exploded on January 18, 1932. Shortly after the night shift had started, two miners surreptitiously tried smoking 3000 feet underground, causing the mine to explode at 5:30 pm and killing six miners. Eighteen miners survived the explosion, and were described as being so ‘dazed and stupefied by the mad rush over the debris and through the deadly gases in the shaft that they stumbled and fell as they reached the outside.” The bodies of the dead miners were recovered by midnight.

Figure 1 – Ten-cent scrip token found by Chris Perrett on eBay

Figure 2 – another scrip token from the Pulaski Anthracite Coal Co., in Parrott, Virginia, this one for two sticks of dynamite.

Figure 3 – The tipple at the Pulaski Anthracite Coal Co., in Parrott, Virginia. A tipple is a building in which the coal gets loaded onto train cars. Image is used with the permission of the Historical Photograph Collection, Special Collections, University Libraries, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University [https://imagebase.lib.vt.edu/view_record.php?URN=lh374&mode=popup]

John Parrott managed other mines as well. Among these were the American Coal Company of Alleghany County, New Jersey, the Pawama Coal and Coke Co. in Matoaka, West Virginia, the Algonquin Coal Co. in Algonquin, West Virginia, and the Deparren Anthracite Coal Co., also headquartered in Parrott, Virginia.

The greatest insight into John Parrott’s lifestyle and personality come from his brushes with the tax collector. In 1925, John Parrott appealed a decision by the Internal Revenue Service, so that he could recover $22,915.25 for taxes he had paid under duress, plus accrued interest on them.

As shown in the appeal transcript, in 1920 John received $10,500 for managing the American Coal Company, and $8,750 for managing the Pawama Coal & Coke Company. His combined income of $19,250 from these two mines would be worth a little over $230,000 at today’s values, or approximately £174,000. The American Coal Co. also gave John a bonus of stocks worth $35,000. John considered this bonus to be a gift, and thus not taxable; the Internal Revenue Service decided it was income, and collected taxes on it accordingly.

John won the appeal, but his tax troubles were not over. In 1924,the US Congress passed the Revenue Act of 1924, which created the Board of Tax Appeals on June 2nd of that year, a year when John had received another $7000 from the American Coal Company. The very first action of the new Board—just 3 months after its creation-- was to declare that John’s $7000 did not meet the criteria to be a gift, and were therefore taxable.

John was one of seven children born to John Henry Parrott Sr. (1809-1994) & Elizabeth Elias Edmonds (1811 – 1881) in Virginia. The older John reportedly was educated by private tutors and attended William and Mary College and the University of Virginia. He went on to become a merchant, owning and managing several stores in Virginia.

John Henry Jr. himself spent most of his life as a bachelor. Around the age of 50, he married Josephine Cromwell ca 1896, who was 20 years younger. They had four children, the descendants of which still live in Virginia. Although John Henry Parrott came from a well-to-do family, the family origins are very poorly documented. His great grandfather, John Parrott, was a plantation owner in the 1700's in King George County, Virginia, and fought in the Revolutionary War (Pension application S 8932). All known descendants of John come from Augustine, his son. An enduring mystery is why Augustine moved to Mathews County, Virginia, as there was another Parrott family there. The move could be entirely coincidental, or it might indicate a relationship between the Parrotts of King George County and those of Matthews County.

For more information on John H. Parrott’s family, see http://tinyurl.com/AugustineParrott

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It's In the Papers

This time we’re looking at P*rr*tts and transportation – specifically, those who were less fortunate and met with accident or prosecution …

The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate (Australia) – 20th May 1927

On Friday afternoon a lad, named Bobby Perrett, aged 7, son of Mr. and Mrs. Perrett, of Cambridge-street, Merrylands, had a very painful experience. He was riding on the back of his sister’s bicycle and, having no shoes on, one of his big toes caught in the cogs of the chain wheel. The toe was so badly injured that the boy was taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital, Auburn, where it was amputated at the first joint. The patient is now recovering satisfactorily.

Queanbayan Age (Australia) – 12th June 1914

Mr. Dave Perrott had an exciting experience on Tuesday. He was driving five horses attached to a waggon containing two tons of loading, down the 20 mile hill towards Uriarra Bridge, when the brake broke and the horses got beyond his control. The horses in their mad career collided with a fence, the impact throwing Mr. Perrott out of the vehicle. Besides receiving a severe shock and shaking Mr. Perrott received a nasty wound in the calf of one of his legs. He was conveyed with all haste to the local hospital where 14 stitches were inserted in his leg. On inquiry this morning we were pleased to learn that the patient is making good progress.

Buckingham Advertiser and Free Press (UK) – 11th January 1930

Cecil Allan Parrott, hackney car owner, of High Street, Winslow, was summoned by Supt. Bryant for not having two independent brakes on his motor car in proper working order, as required by the Motor Cars (Use and Construction) Order 1904. – The offence was committed at Adstock, the facts being stated by P. C. Smith. – Defendant explained that the particular brakes on his car were ineffective in wet weather. They were alright now. – He was order to pay the costs, 4s.

The Bridgeport Times and Evening Farmer (USA) – 21st November 1918

The condition of Mrs. Anna Parrott, of 79 Rocton avenue, who sustained a fractured skull when hit by an automobile driven by Pasquale Pugilo Tuesday evening, was reported as slightly improved at the St. Vincent’s hospital today. It is expected that Mrs. Parrott will recover from the accident. Pargoli was arrested on a charge of reckless driving, and is now at liberty under bonds. (Ed: the differing surnames of the driver are as reported in the newspaper, not a transcription error)

Gloucestershire Echo (UK) – 1st January 1908

Among those who arrived at Plymouth on Wednesday from New York on the Majestic was John Henry Parrott, who is wanted by the London police in connection with the alleged fraudulent sale of a motor-car belonging to Mr. Andrew Fletcher, a Scotch gentleman. Parrott left later by train for the metropolis, accompanied by Detective-Sergt. West, of Scotland Yard. It is stated that Parrott went to America from London with a young lady whom he intended to marry.

Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette (UK) – 10th June 1909

We are glad to learn that the injuries to Mr. W. J. Perrett, of 2, Lansdown Road, sustained on Sunday morning through the failure of the brakes of his bicycle while he was descending the Lansdown Road, are not so serious as first feared. Though a good deal bruised and shaken, Mr. Perrett had a very lucky escape from severe injuries, and has been able to go out.

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Sketch of George Hitchings Perrott (or possibly his father Walter). George was born on 10th December 1778 at Bosherton, Pembrokeshire. He married his first wife, Martha Davies, at Llanelli on 27th June 1797. Following Martha’s death, George married for a second time – on 18th March 1815 – to Harriet Williams.
Chris Perrott (935) found this photograph for sale as part of a lot on eBay recently. It shows Ralph Parrott with Egyptian Army Officers during WWII. Ralph was the son of Frederick John Parrott of Whitchurch, Buckinghamshire – his given name was actually Sheldon but it appears that he must have preferred to be known as Ralph. He married Pamela Mead in 1949 and his death was recorded in 1996.
Thomas Parrott (1825-1907) was a solicitor from Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire. He was knocked down and killed by a Great Western Railway train on 12th November 1907 while on a walk with his daughter Catherine. The coroner recorded a verdict of accidental death and advised the railway company that speed should be reduced at level crossings, with more frequent use of the whistle and a better look-out kept.

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Last modified: 22 July 2018