The Parrotts of Portland
Thomas Henry Parrott was born in Hever, Kent in 1836. He emigrated to Oregon from England to join his parents – Samuel Henry Parrott and Maria Everest – and siblings in 1857. Thomas had served an apprenticeship in England as a shoemaker, but when he came to Oregon from England he set up a music business.
Thomas played several instruments, most notably the piano and violin. He also composed his own music and organised the East Portland Brass Band.
Thomas had eight children with his wife Eliza Ann Rhodes – the Parrott family included seven sons and one daughter. The two oldest sons, Samuel Henry Parrott junior (1863-1911) and Armand Guido Dode Parrott (1865-1926) were both musicians like their father.
The Perrott family – Thomas Henry Parrott and Ann Eliza Rhodes with their eight children.
Samuel’s death notice in the Sunday Oregonian read as follows: Samuel H. Parrott, a well-known pioneer Portland musician, died at his home, at 49 East Ninth Street North, Friday after long illness. Mr. Parrott was the son of Thomas Parrott, a pioneer of this city, who died several years ago. He is survived by his widow, three children and five brothers. His brothers are: A.G., Thomas (the ballplayer), Jack, Archie and Richard Parrott. Mr. Parrott had followed music as a profession in Portland ever since he reached the age of maturity, playing in several bands and orchestras. He was a member of the Portland Musicians’ Union.
The third son in the family was Thomas William ‘Tom’ Parrott (1868-1932). Tom became a notable baseball player, said to be “one of the fastest pitchers or his time”, and after playing in Portland went on to pitch in the Texas league and national league. He was also a cornet player in the East Portland Brass Band.
Walter Edward ‘Jiggs’ Parrott was the family’s fourth son and, like his older brother Tom, he became a baseball player. At the age of 21 he signed for the Chicago Colts in the national league but was released a few years later. He fell ill in 1897 and died in Phoenix on 14th April 1898, aged just 26, from tuberculosis. He was the first of the Parrott children to die and both parents outlived him.
Next in the family after ‘Jiggs’ was another son, George Clarence ‘Jack’ Parrott (1874-1934). He is listed as a fireman on the 1900 US census, then worked for some time as a dock labourer, but later went to work with his younger brother Richard in farming, as evidenced by the 1930 US census.
The only daughter in the family was Jennie Lind B Parrott (1876-1943). The 1900 US census, prior to her marriage, gives her occupation as music teacher, so she clearly inherited the family’s musical talent. Jennie married Allen Francis Green, who is recorded working as a grocer on the 1910 US census. Jennie died in 1943 from a heart problem.
The sixth son was Archibald Arthur R ‘Archie’ Parrott (1879-1940). In 1893 the Morning Oregonian reported that: Archie, the 12-year-old son of Mr. Thomas Parrott, is visiting his uncle at Bay Center hunting and fishing. While out hunting last week with a 22-caliber rifle he heard a rustling in the bushes. Shortly the head of a black bear appeared over a log a few yards off. Archie took careful aim and fired, the bullet striking an eye of the bear and killing him.
Archie was a talented trap shooter in his later years, winning the Oregon trapshooting championship in 1932. He was also a semi-professional baseball player and competed in a number of sports including golf, bowling and billiards. Rather appropriately, he worked in the sporting goods department at Honeyman Hardware for 40 years.
Youngest of the family was Richard Lewis Parrott (1883-1963). The 1930 US census shows Richard and older brother George working as farmers at Yamhill, Oregon.
Thomas Henry Parrott died in 1899. His obituary appeared in the Morning Oregonian on 29th March 1899:
Thomas H. Parrott, a pioneer of 1857, died at his home on the corner of East Fifteenth and East Couch streets at 3 o’clock yesterday afternoon, after an illness of about three months. Since Saturday afternoon he had lain in a stupor, and his death had been expected at any time by his physician and family. His family are all here, except his sons, Thomas and A.G. The latter started for Alaska several weeks ago, and the former is in California. Arrangements for the funeral will be made later.
Mr. Parrott has been sick for the past three months with heart disease, complicated with other troubles. Over a week ago he was driven out to Mount Tabor to visit Henry W. Prettyman, an old friend. He came back chilled, and grew worse, his sufferings at times being very severe.
Thomas H. Parrott came to Oregon in April, 1857, and first settled in Yamhill county. His parents, Samuel and Maria (Everest) Parrott had already arrived in Oregon in the year 1854, with seven children, but [Thomas] remained in England to learn his trade of shoemaker. After arriving here he worked at his trade. In 1862 he came to East Portland, when there were but three houses in the place. On the corner of Union avenue and East Ash street he purchased the lot for $40, where he erected a dwelling and lived for 30 years, when he built his present home on the corner of East Fifteenth and East Couch streets.
Mr. Parrott was naturally a musician, having inherited a talent for music on his mother’s side, in whose family were many eminent musicians. His services along this line were early recognized, and he finally gave his entire time to it, playing in all the early theaters, including the Oro Fino and New Market. There are few instruments that he could not handle with a master hand, but he made a specialty of the violin and piano.
In 1861 he was united in marriage to Miss Eliza A. Rhodes, a daughter of the late A. Rhodes, a widely-known pioneer of 1846. To them were born eight children, one of whom was born in Yamhill, but all the others were born in East Portland. These are Samuel H., Armond G., Thomas W., Walter Edward, George Clarence, Jennie L.., Archie R. and Richard Parrott. Walter (Jiggs) died about a year ago. Mr. Parrott educated all his children as musicians. He composed much excellent music. Since his residence on the East Side he acquired considerable property, besides which he owns two farms in Yamhill. He is reputed to be worth between $40,000 and $50,000, accumulated by thrift, frugality and industry. While he had been a democrat he always maintained an independent position, voting for the best men on either ticket. He was a great sportsman, and it was highly interesting to hear him recount his exploits and hairbreadth escapes. Along all classes he had his friends, who entertained for him a high respect. The old-timers liked him and trusted him and his business judgments, and asked his advice.
The only time he ever took an active interest in politics was over two years ago, when the taxpayers’ league was organised through his efforts, which resulted in the nomination of Pennoyer as mayor. It is well known that it was not Mr. Parrott’s intention nor desire to create a poli tical party, but simply to organize a force to compel reduction of taxes, and the political action the league took was not by his desire or advice. He believed that more effective work could be accomplished by organising the taxpayers of the county into a force and compelling both parties to nominate the best man, but the league he started finally got beyond his control, and went beyond his purposes. James, John, William and Richard Parrott, of Yamhill county, are his brothers.