JAMES HARRISON PARRAMORE (1840-1917)

James Harrison (Colonel) Parramore, cattleman, son of William Warren and Rebecca Jane (Norwood) Parramore, was born in Early County, Georgia, on August 13, 1840. When he was two, the family moved to Mississippi, where they lived for six years. In December 1848 the family began a move to Gonzales County, Texas, and arrived the last of January 1849. As a young man, Parramore attended Gonzales College. At the outbreak of the Civil War he was elected third lieutenant of the volunteer military company known as the Gonzales Rifles, which was organized on May 25, 1861. On September 4, 1861, he became third lieutenant in Company I of Terry's Texas Rangers, or the Eighth Texas Cavalry, a regiment attached to Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston's army. Parramore was wounded at the battle of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, on January 1, 1863. A few months later he returned to the regiment. He was again wounded on July 30, 1864. This time he was forced to retire from the service. He held at the time the rank of captain. His injuries prevented him from returning to Gonzales until July 1865. On October 28, 1866, James Parramore married Mary Jane Goodson in Gonzales. Ten children were born of their marriage, but three died before reaching maturity. Parramore farmed 100 acres of land near Gonzales until 1875, when he gave up farming. He then ventured into the cattle business in a small way and raised mules, which were much in demand. He formed a cattle partnership, Parramore and Lewis, with Hugh Lewis, his brother-in-law and a banker. Parramore and his family moved to Runnels County in 1879. He set up headquarters on Elm Creek six miles north and east of the little community later known as Runnels City. On June 7, 1881, Parramore and Lewis made their first land purchase. They bid on seventeen different parcels for $153.83, plus the fee for the drawing up of each deed and bought a total of 8,565 acres. The next year the partnership bought the acreage on which the headquarters site was located. In 1886 the holdings of the partnership amounted to over fifty-eight sections. At first the Runnels County ranch was stocked with longhorn cattle, but in 1891 the partners restocked it with Hereford cattle. At this time Parramore became the sole owner of the ranch. The cattle to be sold were trail-driven to Dodge City, Kansas, and to Kansas City, Missouri, before railroad shipping was possible.

Upon learning of the route of the Texas and Pacific Railway, Parramore moved his family to a ten-acre tract of land in Abilene in 1881, the year the town was founded. Four years later he built a handsome residence in that city at a cost of $5,000. Parramore was in partnership with many others in various ventures. He was president of the Abilene Cotton Oil Company, which operated ginning plants in Anson, Eula, Mulberry Canyon, Buffalo Gap, and Abilene. The San Simon Cattle and Canal Company was organized in 1883 and incorporated in 1885 through a partnership of Parramore, Hugh Lewis of Gonzales, and Claiborne W. Merchant. The company owned the water rights in the San Simon valley in Arizona and western New Mexico. Around 15,000 calves were branded on this range in one year, and in 1892 one sale to the Standard Cattle Company of Nebraska amounted to nearly $60,000. In 1897 Parramore and Merchant bought a ranch called the San Simon in the San Simon geographical depression in southeastern New Mexico, a spot that provided some protection from severely cold weather. They obtained the right to graze from the Pecos River eastward to the Texas line with no designation of north-south boundaries, an area considerably larger than one million acres. In 1902, however, the two Abilene cowmen dissolved partnership; Merchant took the New Mexico ranch, and Parramore and Lewis acquired full ownership of the Arizona ranch. In addition, Merchant paid Parramore $2,000. The Arizona company was dissolved after Parramore's death.

During his lifetime, J. H. Parramore was active in promoting laws to protect cattlemen. He organized the General Round-Up Association, which promoted general roundups in several locations in west Texas, enabling ranchers to locate lost cattle. Parramore was also active in local, state, and national organizations for cattlemen. He served as a member of the executive committee of the Cattle Raisers Association of Texas (now the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association). In 1915 he was named honorary life president of the American National Live Stock Association at its meeting in San Francisco. In 1917 he was a member of the national executive committee. Parramore was a Baptist deacon and a Mason. He was one of the initial subscribers to Simmons College in Abilene and was a member of its board of trustees from 1894 until 1917. Parramore Field, the athletic stadium, was named in his honor, and in 1915 he gave $10,000 for a dormitory that was named Mary-Frances Hall in honor of Mary Parramore and Mary Frances Merchant. Parramore Post of the American Legion in Abilene, which was formed in 1919, was named in honor of J. H. Parramore. Abilene also has a Parramore Addition and a Parramore Street named for him. James H. Parramore died on July 4, 1917, in Abilene.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Abilene Reporter-News, April 8, 1956. Rupert N. Richardson, Famous Are Thy Halls: Hardin-Simmons University As I Have Known It (Abilene, Texas, 1964; 2d ed. 1976).

Eleanor Sellers Hoppe

Handbook of Texas Online, s.v. "PARRAMORE, JAMES HARRISON," http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/PP/fpa37.html (accessed October 18, 2005).

Online Archive of Terry's Texas Rangers

Runnels County Pioneers

Colonel James Harrison Parramore

Out in Runnels County, in what was then the exclusively range cattle era of Western, Texas, . . . . James H. Parramore began his career as a cattleman, a career which took him through all the ups and downs, the vicissitudes of cold weather and drought, and the fluctuations of markets, and until finally he had advanced to a place among the cattle kings of this State. He has been for many years one of the prominent leaders in the Texas Cattle Raisers Association, a member of its executive committee, and in many ways identified with the organized efforts of the cattle raisers of the State.

The most conspicuous fact in his career, however, is not so much the ultimate success which he attained as the condition of its beginning. Mr. Parramore is like most successful men, who have won their way fairly and honestly, very modest about his own ability and achievements, and really gives most of the credit for his successful performance to the kindly cooperation and counsel of his wife. Mrs. Parramore died several years ago and her husband is still devoted to her memory, and esteems her as one of the best and noblest women that ever lived. When he gook his family out to Runnels County, many years ago, his first home was a dugout dwelling standing isolate on the prairie. A few months later they moved into a two-room lumber house he had built. That day Mr. Parramore characterizes as one of the happiest of his life. In that shelter, bare of all the luxuries and nearly all the practical necessities of comfortable living, Mrs. Parramore lived contentedly with her six children during the years of hardships and discomforts imposed in getting a substantial start in the cattle business. She not only did much to soften the hard conditions of living for the family and provided for their wants, but at the same time, instilled in her children the principles of Christian life and virtues of manly and womanly character which are now evidenced in the young men and women who represent and do credit to her rearing.

Colonel James H. Parramore was a son of William Warren and Rebecca Jane (Norwood) Parramore. Both parents came from old and highly respected families who were among the early settlers of Florida and Georgia. In ancestry the Parramores were of French origin, and the family history is that three brothers prior to the Revolutionary War came from France, one settling in Kentucky, one in Florida and one in Virginia. The Norwoods are of Irish descent, and were prominent citizens of Georgia. Both parents lived to the age of fifty-four years and died in Gonzales County, Texas. James H. Parramore was born in Easly County, Georgia, August 13, 1840. When he was two years old, his father moved to Mississippi and the family lived in that State until December 1848, when they moved from there to Gonzales County, Texas, arriving there the last of January 1849. Mr. Parramore grew to manhood in Gonzales County, and what education he attained was acquired in Gonzales College. Mr. Parramore is a veteran of the Civil War. He enlisted September 4, 1861, in Company I, of Terry's Texas Rangers, better known as the Eighth Texas Cavalry. This regiment was attached to General Albert Sidney Johnston's army. Mr. Parramore went through the war and was wounded at the battle of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, on January 1, 1863. A few months later he returned to the regiment and was again wounded on July 30, 1864, so seriously that he was compelled to retire from the service, holding at the time the rank of Fourth Captain of Company I. He did not get home until 1865, in the month of July, and was crippled up for some months after the war. He finally was able to work and began as a farmer, an occupation which he continued until 1875. He owned a farm of one hundred acres and as it was his nature to be ambitious and energetic, he over-worked in managing this estate, and was finally told by his doctor that he could no longer live in that section of the State in order to keep his health. For a time he was engaged in the cattle business in Gonzales County, and then in 1879 came out to Runnels County. There was no trans-state railroad in existence at the time and Runnels County was really on the frontier. The only inhabitants of the entire region were ranchers and traders and some of the remaining buffalo hunters. In Runnels County his beginning as a cow man was on a very small scale, but he succeeded almost from the start and has long since been known as one of the largest operators in West Texas, owning many thousands of acres of ranch and grazing lands and every year being one of the largest shippers of cattle and other livestock out of this State. Mr. Parramore is now living largely retired from active service in Abilene, where he built a beautiful residence some years since. It was in that home that his beloved wife passed away on February 26, 1908. Before her marriage, she was Miss Mary Jane Goodson, and their marriage occurred on October 28, 1866. Ten children were born to their marriage, three of them now being deceased and the other mentioned as follows: Hugh C., a cattle man at Ballinger, Texas; Eunice, living at home in Abilene; Doc Dilworth, who is a rancher in Sterling County; John Norwood, a rancher and large cattle raiser in King County; Sue, now Mrs. E. V. Sellers, a rancher of King County; Mary, wife of E. W. Douthit, a cattleman of Big Spring, Texas; and James H., Jr., who is a rancher in King County. The sons, Doc D. and John N., are twins. Mr. Parramore has always been a Democratic voter but has never accepted any official honors. The family are all active members of the Baptist Church and he is affiliated with the Masonic Order through the various degrees of the York Rite and is a member of the Mystic Shrine.

(Reference: Miss Willie M. Floyd in Bulletin of The West Texas Genealogical Society, Abilene, Texas, Volume VI, No. 2, April, 1964, pages 29-30)

Jenkins, Frank D., ed. Runnels County Pioneers. Ballinger, TX: The Ballinger Bicentennial Commission, 1975.