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Parsons, Mary Jane, 1842-1938



  • Existence: 1842 - 1938


Mary Jane Higgens was born in 1842 in Rochester, New York, the daughter of Sydney Higgens and Francis Roberts. Following the death of her father in 1843, Higgens lived with her grandparents, moving to Wisconsin with them when she wasstill a young child while her mother remained in New York. When her grandparents decided to return permanently to New York, Higgens chose to stay with her aunt and uncle in Palmyra, Wisconsin and never saw her mother or grandparents again.

In 1861 Mary Jane Higgens married Byron Parsons and the couple set up housekeeping in a one-room loghouse that had previously belonged to Byron's parents. They had four children: George Leonard, William Sydney, Alfred Norris and adopted daughter Maude May. In 1864, when their first child wastwo years old, Byron Parsons went to fight in the Civil War. Parsons recalls in her memoir, "I told Byronwhen he went to the war, 'If you ever come home alive, we are going to pull for the west.' He got home in July 1865 andin September we were on the road for Iowa." In 1866 the Parsons purchased an 80-acrefarm in Springvale near Dakota City, Iowa and built a slab shanty. Four years later they built a two-story stone house where they lived, farmed and raised their family. Byron Parsons died in 1915. Mary Jane Parsons died in 1938 at the age of ninety-six.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Mary Jane Parsons papers

 Collection — Folder 1
Identifier: IWA0517

Reflections on her pioneer life from Rochester, New York to Dakota City, Iowa.


One folder, shelved in SCVF.

Dates: 1935