Wednesday, November 5, 2014 / by Chip Deacon
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:
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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