The first thing to know about the Parish families over the generations is that many of the males have William as a first name. Many others share the name Varnum or Anthony. Of those named William, about half have Wallace as a middle name and the others named William are all Josephs. Don’t try to remember any of this. It’s impossible.
In 1987 I took a short drive from Chicago down to Momence, Illinois in Kankakee County for Anthony M. Parish‘s funeral. I remember meeting the third generation’s William Wallace Parish there, but not much else. I already knew his mother Ova Franz Parish from her visits to Chicago when I was a teenager.
When Ova went shopping in Chicago, she often set time aside for family visits to my mother, Mary Gwinn Bowe. My mother and I had reciprocated by visiting Ova in Momence. She and my mother had known each other over many decades and were fast friends. They had something else in common: both Ova and my mother were widowed within a year of each other in the mid-1960s.
Before his death in 1967, Ova’s husband, William Joseph Parish, and his brothers had owned and managed the Parish Bank in Momence. His father, William Wallace Parish, Jr. organized the bank in 1914 and his mother was Catherine Collette Canavan Parish, a daughter of Anthony Canavan, Sr. and Ann Hughes and my grandmother Ellen Canavan Bowe‘s sister.
Ova’s husband’s grandfather, William Wallace Parish, Sr., had helped found Momence in the early 1800s.
Ova and William Joseph Parish had two children, William Wallace Parish, whom I met that day in 1987 at his uncle Anthony’s funeral, and Catherine Parish (Skura). I first met Cathy, her husband John Skura and their first born, Michael Skura, on one of Ova’s visits to see my mother at our apartment in Chicago. Later Ova and Cathy and John Skura were all present when I married Cathy Vanselow in Chicago in 1979. After we spent two years in Nashville when I worked for the wire service United Press International, Cathy and I moved back to Chicago in the mid-1980s when I started working for Encyclopaedia Britannica. We then regularly saw the growing Skura family at our Christmas get togethers in the Chicago suburb of Northbrook.
However, I had never had had the chance to see Cathy Parish Skura’s brother William Wallace Parish again after that 1987 funeral in Momence. He had been busy with his own career as a lawyer and raising his family in Texas with Paty Parish Pitts.
In chatting with Cathy and John Skura during the COVID pandemic in 2020 , I explained I was in the process of creating a website with material on many of our extended Canavan-related families. Cathy was kind enough to put me in touch with her brother’s widow, Paty Parish Pitts. Paty explained that some years after her husband died in an accident, she had remarried Uel Pitts. She said that her children with William Wallace Parish (William Joseph Parish, Patrick Parish and Theresa Parish-Berry) typically joined her and Uel in spending Thanksgiving week at the original Parish family farm in Momence. She said they would be happy to have me visit them there and get to know everyone. As for me, I was delighted to have the opportunity to meet this branch of the Parish family and quickly accepted her invitation
I took a number of pictures of the family members present on my Momence visit, including pictures that were on display there of many earlier Parishes. Paty was also kind enough to later send me more pictures of Parish ancestors, as well as recent photos of her many grandchildren.
Many of these old and new Parish family images are incorporated in this short slideshow video. You’ll also see other historical Parish pictures I had received earlier from Cathy Skura. The music you’ll hear in the background is the George Shearing Quintet playing Lullaby of Birdland.