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Ambrose Begley Parsons
Born November 1804


AMBROSE PARSONS, deceased; was born in Knox Co., Ky., in November, 1804, and, with his parents, moved to Monroe Co., Ind., when 11 years old. After reaching manhood, April 4, 1839, he married Miss Susannah Beall, of Bloomington, Ind. In the spring of 1836, they moved to Kane Co., Ill. In the spring of 1838, he came to Iowa, and arrived in Jones Co., at Fairview, on the 9th of May. He was one of the earliest settlers. Dubuque was only a small town, and was his nearest market. The first time he went to mill after he settled here was to his old home in Kane Co., I11. He went with an ox team, and was gone six weeks. He took up a claim according to the laws of the neighborhood, and engaged in farming and stockraising. Upon the removal of the county seat from Edinburg, he was one of the Commissioners to make the new location. He continued to live in Fairview, where he first settled, for thirty-five years, until his death, which occurred February 14, 1873. He was a man of great kindness of heart, socially and morally a good citizen, and noted for his integrity, and no man's word went farther than his. His funeral was one of the largest that ever took place in that neighborhood. He left a large estate, entirely unencumbered, which, by frugality and a life of industry, he had accumulated. Mr. and Mrs. Parsons had twelve children, ten of whom are living. One of his sons was the first person buried in the present Fairview Cemetery. Mrs. Parsons is still living on the old home place, west of Fairview.

Source: History of Jones County, Iowa, Western Historical Company, Chicago, 1879, page 570.

Ambrose Begley Parsons was born in Knox co. Kentucky and with his parents moved to Monroe Co., Indiana when he was eleven years old. April 4, 1829, he married Susannah Beall of Bloomington, in that state, and lived in Indianna until the spring of 1836, when he moved to Kane Co., Illinois. In the spring of 1838 he moved further west, undecided as to a location until he reached Fairview, Jones Co., Iowa, May 9th, where he has lived since. He died there last week (February 14, 1873). He was the father of 12 children, 8 boys and 4 girls. In June after his arrival, one of his boys died and was the first person buried in the present Fairview Cemetery. When he came to this community it was all new and had no roads, and Dubuque, then a small hamlet, was the nearest place where provisions and other necessities could be obtained. He hauled his pork and flour from that place across the prairie with an ox team depending on his own judgement to find his way, a distance of about 55 miles. The first time he went to the mill after he had settled here, was to his old home in Kane Co., Illinois, he traveled with an ox team and was gone six weeks. At that time the Iowa lands had not come into market and in this section did not come until 1840. He took up a claim according to the laws of the neighborhood and pursued his old calling as a farmer and a large stock grower. He always bought and sold but seldom exchanged. He never had a lawsuit and never went into debt. He was a man of peace, cool and calm in judgement, of ordinary height, very full in form and weighing about 240 lbs., reduced by his last illness to about 90 lbs.
At the time the question of removing the county seat from its old location at Edinburg was under way, Ambrose Parsons was one of the County Commissioners, and was one of the three who decided the exact spot now known as downtown and below Iowa street.
Socially and morally, he was a good citizen and neighbor, noted for his integrity, no man's word went further than his. His was the largest funeral held in that neighborhood, a neighbor counting 77 vehicles at his residence. His last sickness which terminated fatally was liver complaint, commencing about the middle of October. The liver gradually enlarged till the stomach could not act, and for the last four weeks the only nourishment was a small quantity of soup. He was rational to the last and spoke to within three minutes of his death. An hour before that event occurred, he called James Peet and told him to go to the cemetery and select a nice place for his grave.
In earthly effects Ambrose Parsons could have been called rich for those times, having left to his widow and heirs a large estate entirely unencumbered. Of all the male heads of families who were living in the township in 1838 and 1839, Ambrose was the last. Following are some of his traits of character preserved by his descendants. Mel Peet, his nearest neighbor said, "I lived by him for years and never saw him do a day's work. He would walk around with his hands behind him, overseeing. A true Kentuckian." He never wore a pair of gloves even in Iowa winter. He carried a pair in his pocket and sometimes shifted them from one pocket to the other. He could never be persuaded to have his picture taken and none exist.
He must have had a very close relationship with his stepfather, James Parsons, He bore the Parsons name all of his life and most of his descendents did not know that his rightful name would have been Begley.
Among his brothers and sisters children, Uncle Ambrose was held in the highest esteem and affection. When they had trouble, he was the first to help.

Source: Most of the material for the sketch of Ambrose Begley Parsons has been taken from his obituary, furnished to Merrill Parsons by Ambrorse's grandson, Clare Petty, and submitted by Beverly Burt

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