Biography - HENRY K. PARR
This widely known and popular retired agriculturist of Serena belongs to one of the earliest families, who made up the vanguard in the settlement of LaSalle county. He was born in Rutland township, this county, December 22, 1830. His father, William Parr, was born in Licking county, Ohio, reared there and brought up to do farm labor. He came to LaSalle county in October, 1830, and at once began to subdue the new prairie country by the improvement of his farm. Being the offspring of a sturdy foreigner, he inherited an industrious disposition. His father was an Irishman, of the working class, just the station from which to select material for good citizenship in a free land.
William Parr married Sally Trumbo, whose people were numbered among LaSalle county's settlers before the Indian tribes had yet forsaken the territory. They were Alsatian people, speaking probably the French tongue, and their descendants are numerous and prominent in the county to-day. William Parr passed from the scenes of earth in 1859, and his good wife in 1896. Their children were: Henry K.; Isabel, deceased, who married Orson Potter; Samuel Parr, of Ottawa; Mary, the wife of Samuel Groves, of Utica; and John, deceased.
Henry K. Parr's childhood was at a time when playmates were scarce, and therefore he became intimate with the little Indian boys, while his school days were passed in the old-time log cabin, where he underwent about as great development from the pure air and hickory gad as he did from the open text-book before him on the primitive slab desk. When it is remembered that there was but one other white family on the north side of the Illinois river between Ottawa and Chicago, one can form some idea how much nature had to do with the early training of our subject.
Mr. Parr began life for himself in Rutland township of this county, where, September 8, 1853, he married Elsie, a daughter of J. S. Armstrong, being the first native-born LaSalle county people to be married here. His beginning in life was very modest. A log cabin, a stove and the plainest of home-made furniture, being the only ornaments his farm home possessed. He came to Serena in the excessively cold and snowy month of January, 1855, and located on what is now known as one of the ideal farms of the township. He owns a half-section farm, from which he retired in 1890.
Mrs. Parr died February 9, 1889. Her children were: Florence May, the wife of Walter D. Strawn, of Ottawa, Illinois; Ida D., the wife of James W. Hupp, of McCook, Nebraska; Cora D., the wife of W. B. Miller, of Chicago; Estella, the wife of Dr. Logan, of Aurora, Illinois; and John S., deceased, who married Laura Leonard. Our subject's second wife was Mrs. Mary Maar, a sister of John Louis Marshall, of Serena. They were married in 1891. Mrs. Parr's first husband was John Maar, who died leaving three daughters, viz., Mary, Rosie and Lizzie.
Be it said to his credit, Mr. Parr has ever done his share toward the public service of his town. He has filled the offices of town clerk, assessor, justice of the peace and commissioner. Politically he is a "naturally born” Democrat and as he remarked to one interviewing him, “I was chopped out of a basswood log and fed on Democratic nourishment and breathed the Democratic air." Indeed it is as natural for him to be a Democrat as it is for a duck to take to water. He is outspoken and plain; everybody knows his views, and where he stands, and he expresses himself in the vernacular adjective, expletives and all - common to the time of his bringing up.
George Galloway, born in 1827; H. K. Parr, born in 1830, and H. H. Holdridge, born in 1831, were the first three white male children born in LaSalle county. They remained in it to be fifty years of age and had their pictures taken together in 1883!
Extracted by Norma Hass from Biographical and Genealogical Record of LaSalle County, Illinois published in 1900, volume 1, pages 373-375.