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Below is a family biography from the book, History of Kentucky, Edition 8a by J. H. Battle, W. H. Perrin and G. C. Kniffin and published by F. A. Battey Publishing Company in 1888.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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CHARLES BOOTH PARSONS. In the space allowed by the plan of this work it is impossible to do justice to the memory of this remarkable man. Yet we have deemed it appropriate that a record of the salient points of his life should be made in the biographical portion of this volume. Charles Booth Parsons was born in Enfield, Conn., July 23, 1805, of humble, but respectable parentage. He was the eldest of four children, and having the misfortune to lose his father when fifteen years of age it became necessary for him to leave home in search of some means by which he could maintain himself. He went to New York; where, being of an active temperament, he soon found a situation as store boy in the lower part of the city, whereby he obtained his board and occasionally a trifle besides. He learned that his companions in the store were members of an amateur dramatic society, and was early induced to enroll himself as a disciple of the Muses. In the hall, where the juveniles performed, regular actors were often present to witness their efforts. On one occasion, when young Parsons had been “cast” to appear as Sir Edward Mortimer, in the play of the “Iron Chest,” someone in the city papers compared the acting of the chief character to the elder Kean, who was then esteemed great in the part. This fired the ambition of our subject to become an actor. Accepting a position in a company being formed for a Southern theater, he embarked on a little coasting schooner that had been engaged to take them to Charleston, South Carolina. After a perilous voyage he made a successful debut, and by dint of hard study, and the unceasing cultivation of the talents with which nature had favored him, he continued on a course of almost unparalleled success for about fifteen years. At the time when his fame in the world of histrionism was at its height a change took place which revolutionized the whole course of his life and turned his eminent talents to account in another field of labor. We quote an account of these events from that gentleman himself in “Pulpit and Stage:” “There was to be a communion in a Presbyterian church where I had been attending meeting in the afternoon of the Sabbath, to which the preacher invited all to attend who felt interested in that ordinance, whether they were professors or not. They might show by their presence that they desired to honor the feast, though they might not be entitled to participate in it at the present time. It was a stormy afternoon, but I determined to attend. When I arrived at the church I took a seat back and by accident on the left hand. It might have been providential. It so happened too that I was the only person present who was not entitled to partake of the sacred elements. The preacher very touchingly alluded to the circumstance in his prayer, the full force of which fell upon my heart — the isolated stranger who was on the left of the fold, who had come through the storm to be a spectator to the feast. He prayed that the stranger might be converted and be admitted to the fellowship of the righteous through the spirit of God. My heart said ‘amen’ while a flood of tears I could not restrain attested to myself at least the sincerity of my feelings. I retired to the hotel after service, and, locking myself in my room, knelt down by my bed side overwhelmed with agony of mind and almost the victim of despair. The prayer of the poor publican was uppermost in my mind, and I exclaimed aloud: ‘Lord be merciful.’ What was that? Did someone speak? A voice close to me seemed to say: ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou hast eternal life.’ I raised my head and gazed around the room, but saw no one. I then looked under the bed, thinking some one of my friends perhaps in order to play me a trick had concealed himself there. But all was vacant and silent. Again I addressed myself to my prayer, and again seemingly the same response was made. ‘Surely,’ thought I, ‘this is the Lord and so I will receive it.’ My heart beat heavily and seemed to labor within me as if difficult to keep life within me. My tongue faltered, but faith helped me to ejaculate: ‘Lord, I do believe; help thou my unbelief.’ A flood of light flashed through the room; I sank down in rapture upon the floor, my head grew joyous, and I was a converted man.” Having traced this great and good man to the point of conversion we may remark that he had previously perfected professional engagements for nearly a year ahead, which, after much anxious thought and earnest prayer, he concluded it was his duty to fulfill, although he knew it would subject him to the uncharitable criticisms of many in the religious world. At length he bade farewell to the stage forever, and as he was possessed of new objects and aims, he devolved himself to the study of the scriptures with an earnestness that be spoke his gratitude. He soon became a local preacher in a Methodist Episcopal, Church, and after a probation of one year, dating from June 1, 1839, the probation was renewed, and on the 15th of September, 1841, he was admitted on trial to the traveling connection. In this position he remained two years, preaching with happy effect in the Jefferson Circuit. In 1843 he was admitted into full connection, and during the conference was ordained a deacon, in accordance with the rules and usages, by Bishop Morris. He was then sent to labor in Frankfort, Kentucky, where he remained two years with much acceptance. At the conference of 1845, on the 14th of September, he was ordained elder by Bishop J. Soule, at Frankfort. He was clothed with the full power of a minister and sent to St. Louis, Missouri, to become the pastor of the Fourth Street Church. This was October, 1846. Here he was unusually successful and gathered numbers into the fold. During his term of two years at this station the degree of Doctor of Divinity was conferred upon him by this board of curators of St. Charles College, Missouri. In 1854, after his return to Kentucky, he was requested to return to St. Louis to preach the dedication sermon of a large and magnificent church, and in 1855 he was pressingly called to become the pastor of the same. Here, having at first but few members, he labored with such effect that at the close of his administration they numbered over five hundred souls. His name was again registered upon the roll of the Louisville conference in 1857 or 1858, and he was made presiding elder of East Louisville District, comprising several churches and circuits. Subsequently to this he was appointed by the conference regular pastor of the Walnut Street Church. It may be observed that this church was erected under the administration of Dr. Parsons, and that he was at different times its pastor, greatly beloved by the people. We believe he was again called to St. Louis and served the third term in that city, but at precisely what date we have been unable to ascertain. In the celebrated church difficulty among Methodist brethren Dr. Parsons was appointed one of the peace commissioners for the settlement of the same, and after adjustment of the matter by a division between the North and South he cast his lot with the latter branch, where he remained till the breaking out of the war; but always true to his manhood when affairs assumed such shapes as produce unpleasant feelings with his brethren, he severed his connection there with and returned to the mother church, where his views were in harmony with those with whom he was associated. The latter portion of his life was therefore spent in the ministry of the original Methodist Church. About the middle of the year 1868, while suffering from disease of the heart, he went to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to dedicate a church. This was more than his system could endure, although he completed the object of his visit and took passage for home without any perceptible injury. But on reaching the Louisville wharf early in the morning he found he had become paralyzed in his lower limbs. During his protracted affliction every available means was resorted to and frequently encouragement was given to himself and friends, at least to hope for a partial restoration of health. But all was in vain; the disease progressed until it became too evident that it would soon terminate in death. He died December 8, 1871, his last hours being marked by a confidence in Jesus Christ as his all in all. Dr. Parsons was married to Miss Emily C. Oldham. Mrs. Emily C. Parsons is still living. She was born in 1813, and has five children living. She is a daughter of William and Elizabeth (Field) Oldham, both born in Jefferson County, Ky. Her maternal grandfather, Captain Reuben Field, a native of Culpeper County, Va., immigrated to Kentucky before the close of the last century; was a prominent pioneer and served as captain in the war for American Independence. Hon. Edward Y. Parsons, who was elected to congress in 1875, and died the following year, was a son of this eminent divine, the subject of this sketch, as is also Mr. Frank Parsons, a brilliant young lawyer at the Louisville bar. All through life Doctor Parsons maintained a most honorable character. Even when engaged as an actor it was impossible to know him without being struck with the marked propriety and dignity of his conduct. As a minister he was one of the most able and eloquent in the pulpit. Possessing in an eminent degree all the requisites of a true orator in happiest combination, great emotion and passion, with correct judgment of human nature, genius, fancy and imagination, gesture and attitude, intonation and countenance, his whole nature blended to accomplish the mighty purposes of his heart. He was a good citizen as well as a successful minister. He was a devoted husband and an affectionate father, and in fact faithfully discharged all the duties of the various stations in life which he was called to fill. Requiescat in pace.

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This family biography is one of 195 biographies included in the Jefferson County, Kentucky section of the book, The History of Kentucky, Edition 8a published in 1888 by F. A. Battey Publishing Company.  For the complete description, click here: History of Kentucky, Edition 8a

View additional Jefferson County, Kentucky family biographies here: Jefferson County, Kentucky Biographies

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