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Catharina Miar (Parrott)*

Born:  15 May 1743  

Birthplace:  Lehigh County, PA             

Death: Abt.1780   


Spouse: John Parrott       

Married: 1771

Father:  Henri Miar

Mother:  Barbara Miller (Miar)  

Children: John Parrott II, George Parrett, Henry Parrott


*Spelling variations include Miars, Meyers, & Meyer


Records & Information

John Parrott


    Johnís life began in Virginiaís Shenandoah Valley in 1740, probably a year after his parentsí marriage. As the oldest of at least nine children, John would have been expected to shoulder a large part of his fatherís responsibilities on the family farm. He must have been a substantial help to his mother as well. New siblings joined the family on a regular basis, first five brothers, then two sisters, and finally a younger brother, so John didnít lack for playmates. His parents were illiterate and there were no schools in the Valley during his childhood, so John likely never learned to read and write.

    When John was in his mid 20s, he married Catharina Miar (sometimes spelled Miars, Moyers, Meyers, or Meyer), the daughter of German parents Henri and Eva/Barbara, who, like the Parrotts, had migrated to the North Mountain tract from Pennsylvania. Catharina was born on May 15, 1743, in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania. The couple had two known children, John, referred to in later life as "Smoking Johnny," born June 24, 1773, and George, who may have been named for Johnís brother, born in July 27, 1776, and likely seven or eight more. A tax list compiled in 1783 indicates that there were ten people in John and Catharinaís household. One Parrott researcher, a descendant of John and Catharina, located a power of attorney associated with the estate of Henry Meyers (likely either Catharinaís father or brother), that lists a number of legatees whom she believes were John and Catharinaís children. The legatees, all from Cocke County, Tennessee, include John and George Parrott, probably John and Catharinaís sons mentioned above, and five others. Smoking Johnny was not born until 1773, when his father was 33. Given the child-bearing practices of the 1700s, it is probable that other children preceded Johnny, including some of those mentioned in the power of attorney. Power of Attorney

    John enlisted in the Revolutionary War for a three-year term on July 4, 1777, and served as a private in Colonel William Graysonís Virginia Regiment. He would have been 37 at the time of his enlistment, comparatively old for a soldier in those days. His age probably accounts for why he did not enlist earlier when his brothers did. It was undoubtedly a sacrifice for him to serve, for he left a wife of 17 years and a large family behind.

    Johnís regiment was one of sixteen organized by a congressional resolution in Congress in December 1777. Four of the sixteen units were composed largely of Virginians. Johnís commander, William Grayson, had been assistant secretary and aide-de-camp to George Washington at the time he was put in command of his regiment. John was assigned to Captain Thomas Triplettís company. By April 1779, the regiment, significantly reduced in size due to a smallpox epidemic, merged with Colonel Nathaniel Gistís regiment, where John served under the command of Captain Joseph Smith.

    There are 50 pay slips in John Parrottís Revolutionary War file that list his name variously as John Parrott, John Parrett, John Paret, Jno Parratt, Jean Poret, and John Paret. While all of these names are attributed to Colonel Graysonís or Colonel Gistís regiments, itís unclear whether they all pertain to the same individual. The pay slips indicate that Johnís regiment spent time in Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New York. On several occasions, John is listed as sick or in the hospital. A pay slip dated August 19, 1779 states that John deserted his regiment after serving only 14 months of his three-year commitment.

    One can only speculate about why John deserted his military unit. It appears that he was the only member of his family to do so. It was not uncommon during the Revolutionary War for soldiers to leave their troops for family emergencies. According to one source, "Unauthorized absence and desertion from military formations were not infrequent, and Germans share these rolls with other Virginians. The Revolutionary citizen-soldier, especially from the western countries, was an independent man, and plausible personal reasons to him often were paramount to all other considerations." (The Virginia Germans, p. 85) Circumstances suggest that John had what for him and the time may have been a plausible excuse for desertion. On June 27, 1781, just 22 months leaving military service, he married his second wife, Louisa Bean. Itís fair to assume that John left his troop because of the illness or death of his first wife. Either the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) was unaware of Johnís desertion or didnít find it significant enough, given the high desertion statistics of that war, to deny him a commemorative marker at his gravesite, a marker that was placed in 1783 and remains today.

    John was 41 at the time of his second marriage, which occurred in Shenandoah County. He would have courted Louisa with a war going on. His two known children, John and George, were eight and four, respectively, when he remarried. With a young family to care for, John undoubtedly felt an urgency to find a new mother for his children.

    There are no records that remain that shed any light on Louisa Bean, who is called variously Louise and Lucy in genealogy materials. There were a number of Beans who lived in the Shenandoah Valley area of Virginia, but Louisa has not been linked to any of them. A William Bean, from Scotland, was one of the original settlers of Tennessee, near where John and Louisa settled. He ran a ferry service at Bean Station. Records listing William Beanís descendants do not include Louisa, however, though she would have been the appropriate age to be his daughter. When one considers Louisa from 200 years later, one can only respect the pluck and courage of the woman who became a step-mother for Johnís numerous children and shortly thereafter set off to make a new home for them in the Tennessee wilderness.

    On 1783, two years after his second marriage, a land record indicates that John sold the 100 acres his father had deeded him to Paul Haman for 120 pounds. In the fall of the same year, a land office supervised by John Armstrong opened in Greene County, North Carolina. A 640-acre parcel of land in that county was surveyed for John on October 22, 1783.Armstrongís office was open from that October until the following May and during that time handled such a flurry of business that the seven-month period is called by one source "the great land grab." John received a warrant for that land in September 1784 and a grant in September 1787. 

    Johnís land grant states that he paid 10 pounds per hundred acres (34 pounds) for his Greene County parcel, a typical land price for that time and area. To meet this obligation, he had the 120 pounds he had received from the sale of his Shenandoah land as well as a 12-pound sum his father-in-law had given him as a settlement after Catharinaís death. Henri Meyerís undated note written in German and translated reads: "I, Henrich Meyer have already given to my son-in-law Johann Parrot as part of the inheritance of my daughter, Catharina, before he moved to Chacky in sum twelve pounds, seventeen shillings and ten pence, thus according to law."

    One wonders why John decided to move away from his family and the community he had known for his entire life. He owned a sizeable amount of property that by that time would have been cleared and cultivated. For that time period, John, at 41, would be considered old to be embarking on such a life-changing adventure.

    However, after selling his North Mountain property, John had the means to triple the amount of land he owned by moving into new territory. Like his father fifty years before, he would be one of the first settlers in a new area. A clever man with enough determination could make a name for himself in such circumstances. To a person of independence and adventure, the lure of such opportunities might prove irresistible. Chief Justice John Marshall, whose father and brothers left Virginia to settle in Kentucky, said, "Those who explore and settle new countries are generally bold, hardy, and adventurous men, whose minds, as well as bodies, are fitted to encounter danger and fatigue; their object is the acquisition of property and they generally succeed."

    How did travelers make the journey from Virginia to Tennessee in the 1780s? Most likely the Parrotts packed all the belongings they could take with them on horseback and in farm wagons, perhaps tethering the family ox and a pig or two to the wagon and tying wire pens to the side to transport chickens. Taverners or pub keepers ran public houses located at strategic points along the main trails. John, Louisa and their children may have stayed at one of these. It is more likely, given the size of their traveling party, they camped along the roadside.

    John's younger sister, Mary Catherine, and her husband Phillip Fent (or Faent or Fine) are found in Cocke County, Tennesse, records at the same time period, so it is possible that the two families, and maybe others, caravanned together. 

    The children listed below are attributed to John and Louise, though there may have been others, since Rachel, the oldest for whom we have a birth date, was born seven years after their marriage.  

  1. Rachel (1788-    ) md. William Schaeffer (10 May 1805)
  2. Joseph J. (1792-1859) md. Rebecca Fancher (abt. 1812)
  3. Catherine (1796-1859) md. George Hershel Hughes (1825)
  4. Jacob (1799) md. Amelia Swaggerty
  5. Vashti (no records have been found for this child)
  6. Bethany

    According to the North Carolina State Archives, John Parrott was issued a grant (warrant #244, grant #300)  in Greene County, Tennessee, on 20 September 1787, for 640 acres of land on Clear Creek, a branch of the French Broad River. The land was surveyed on 22 October 1783, the same year Greene County was established in what was then North Carolina, and the same year that the land office opened to sell property in that area.

    The land had been the hunting ground of the Cherokee Indians, and records show that the early Greene County settlers were the victim of frequent Indian attacks. In the latter part of 1783, Indians began to steal cattle and horses from the early settlers and escape across the mountains into North Carolina. In 1787 a blockhouse was built on Abraham Swaggertyís property (which adjoined the Parrott parcel) over a spring near the banks of Clear Creek. The blockhouse, one of only two that still remain in Tennessee today, served as a fort to protect nephew the settlers from Indian attack.

    John Parrott died around 1798-1800 and was buried in the Yett Cemetery, located on a bluff above the main road that runs through Parrottsville. The condition of the cemetery has deteriorated with time, with the majority of the gravestones missing or broken. Two gravestones mark John's grave, however. The older of the two states that he died in 1798. A newer stone placed by the D.A.R. in 1983 states that he died in 1800 and that he was the founder of Parrottsville. John's wife, Louisa, is supposed to be buried in the same cemetery, but no grave marker remains. There are stones for their son, George, and George's wife, Sarah. The cemetery borders a farm belonging to the Blazer family, whose forbears go back to Parrottsville's beginnings. The current owner of the Blazer property told me that many Revolutionary War soldiers and Parrottsville settlers are buried in the cemetery, but their identities vanished with their grave markers.

    After John's death, two of his sons, George and Jacob, ran a popular tavern, the Parrott Tavern, on the Parrott property. It had some financial success because of its location on the Old Stage Road which led from Washington, D.C., to Jonesboro, the state capitol. The road was used by hog drivers and wagoners hauling merchandise to market. According to several sources, Andrew Jackson stayed at the tavern on his way to his presidential inauguration in Washington, D.C.