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Parrish has roots in Florida's early history.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014   /   by Chip Deacon

Parrish has roots in Florida's early history.

The History of Parrish is a notable one for a small town of Florida...  The following text is on a monument in Oak Hill Cemetery:



"Oak Hill" Parrish Florida


Captain William B Hooker acquired this land from the US Government in 1850. William H Johnson raised Sea Island cotton on the land with Hooker. Both were prominent soldiers during the Third Seminole war. Major William Iredell Turner (1812-1881) moved here from Tampa in 1865. His son Charles A Turner purchased the property from Hooker in 1866 and then deeded it to Major Turner in 1867.


Major Turner who named the plantation Oak Hill was an outstanding soldier during the Second Seminole war and the War Between the States. He was commander of Ft Brooke in Tampa for a period during the last mentioned war and later commanded Turner’s Independent cavalry C.S.A, in which he served as major. He is credited with naming Gainesville with leading the founder of Palmetto to that place and with establishing “Braidentown” and was the first postmaster of that town. He was chairman of the first Manatee County School Board. Was a Manatee County Commissioner and formerly had been a State Senator from Hillsborough County. When Major Turner and Major John T. Lesley were helping confederate secretary of State Judah P. Benjamin escape following the collapse of the confederacy, they hid Benjamin in a swamp behind Major Turners House. He remained there for several days until they were sure the area was cleared of federal soldiers. He was then transported to Gamble Mansion.


The settlement of Oak Hill the name of which was later changed to Parrish grew up around this plantation.


Erected by Gen Robert E Lee Camp Sons of Confederate Veterans Older Florida Flavor Homes


Major William L Turner Chapter Military Order of the Stars and Bars And the Turner Family 1985. The late Ola Mae Sims acted as mayor of Parrish for a great number of years keeping the black community up to date with all the current information within the county. There is a park named after Ola on Erie Road to keep the legacy of helping each other alive.



Parrish is named after one of its first settlers, Crawford Parrish (1811–1899) who came to Manatee County in 1869. He purchased land at Oak Hill from Major William Turner, on which Parrish farmed food crops as well as tobacco, citrus, cattle and hogs. He also homesteaded many acres and in 1885 was awarded a 40-acre land grant signed by President Grover Cleveland. He and his wife, Mary, had eight children many of whose descendants still call Parrish home. Crawford and Mary Parrish are buried at Fortner Cemetery.


Crawford and Mary Parrish’s son John Parrish (1857–1918) was influential in the early years of Parrish. Like many of his neighbors. Parrish made much of his income from citrus, which had to be hauled by mule and wagon to waiting boats in Bradenton. Parrish knew that a railroad stop at Oak Hill (as Parrish was then known) was crucial to the towns development. He convinced railroad and government officials to build a depot at Oak Hill and he donated land for the depot, water tank and four miles of track. The depot brought packing houses, grocers, doctors, druggists and other merchants to town. Parrish thrived until the Great Depression destroyed much of its commerce and farmers and ranchers were forced to leave for work in big cities. Packing houses and grocers closed down and would take decades for many families to recover. But the Parrish name lives on, as dozens of descendants of Crawford Parrish still call the area home and are active in local government, churches rural health and civic associations.


Parrish (from historical marker in front of old school house located on US 301 in middle of village)


The first documented settlers in present-day Parrish in early part of 1850 were William B. Hooker and William H. Johnson. Here they found the ideal climate, fertile soil and a nearby river, all suitable for establishing a plantation for their ill-fated joint venture in growing sea island cotton. After the partnership was dissolved, Major William Iredell Turner acquired Hooker’s plantation in 1867 and named it "Oak Hill". Among the other earlier settlers were Crawford and Mary Bratcher (Vanzandt) Parrish. When the post office opened, the name was changed to "Parrish". The railroad provided mail and travel service by 1902.


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