Family History

The Parkins family emigrated to America from Wales and settled in colonial Williamsburg, Virginia. The branch of the Parkins family of interest to this web centered in Blount County, Tennessee in the mid-19th Century.

Bill's parents 

Undated photo, marked "Bill's parents." The child is unknown. From the condition and quality of the photo, it would appear to have been taken after 1910.

Wm. A. Parkins 

William A. Parkins, ca 1914

The Parkins and LaRue family lines merged in the early 20th century with the marriage of William A. Parkins to Lettie LaRue. William and Lettie lived in Jackson, Minnesota and later in Shenandoah and Clarinda, Iowa. After their separation in 1927, Lettie returned to Jackson to raise their three sons, Donald, Harry, and Milton.

Left to right: Harry, Don, and Milt Parkins. Taken about 1920 in Clarinda, Iowa. The boys remained close throughout their lives.

Don, in his retirement years, bought a personal computer and took a writing class at the Coon Rapids, Minnesota Senior Center. Here is his account of life in Iowa, written ca 1991:

Life In Shenandoah

We moved to Shenandoah, Iowa from Jackson, Minnesota in 1915 where my father worked as an automobile mechanic for Piper Motors.

One thing I remember was the streets were paved with wooden brick and after a heavy rain the bricks would swell, pop out of place and would wash down the street. Later after the bricks dried out a city work crew were busy hauling them back to replace them.

My Mother told of a time when I was about four years old, we were out for a stroll with Mother pushing little Harry in the buggy with Milton and I walking along we met an elderly lady walk toward us. I stopped in front of this lady and remarked, "Whose Grandma are you?"

She said, with a big smile, "I am little Mary May's great grandma."

Mary May's father was Earl May, owner of the Earl May Seed Company.

The Earl May Seed Company, not to be out done by Henry Field and radio station KFNF also started radio station KMA in Shenandoah.

In the fall of 1917 we moved to Clarinda Iowa where my father went to work for Fred Driftmier in a tire and battery store. Mrs. Driftmier was a sister of Henry Field. In later years she started the Kitchen Klatter program on KFNF radio station that was owned by the Henry Field Seed Co. in Shenandoah.

In the early 1920's Henry was always selling his seeds on the radio and after he had been talking quite a long time so Milton thought the sales pitch was a little long, stood in front of the radio speaker and shaking his fist toward the speaker said, "Come out and fight like a man!" at Henry's remarks.

The Berry Seed Company in Clarinda also built a radio station KSO. In 1926 a tornado hit Clarinda destroying thirty homes, removed part of the roof and one transmitting tower from the Berry Seed Co. So after the station was back on the air the County Agriculture agent was giving a lecture on flies. He stated that there was the fruit fly, the horse fly and the house fly. But in last June there was also a radio station fly (from the tornado).

In February 1927 I was hired to deliver the Clarinda, Iowa, Journal, a twice weekly newspaper. I was thirteen at that time. The first day, as the previous carrier quit the route, I had to find the subscribers from the address printed on each paper. I also was not familiar with the southwest section of Clarinda although I knew the street names there. To top it off, being February, it was raining heavily. If it had been in Minnesota with the colder temperature it would be a blizzard. It took me three days to complete the first trip and then to start all over again the next day taking about three hours. This route had one subscriber who lived a block south of the Berry Seed Company's plant, just outside the city limits without sidewalks, graveled, or paved streets.

Don C. Parkins
Coon Rapids, Minnesota

The Day the Sky Turned Green

It was a warm still day on June sixteenth in nineteen twenty six. My brothers and I were out in the yard when Milton looked at the sky that had developed a strange green color. We called to our mother just as it started to rain with the wind whipping through the trees. She told us to head for the basement and followed us there.

Then we heard a loud noise as though a train was coming toward our house with the wind and the rain beating against the house.

When the rain stopped we came out of the basement and started looking around the yard as there were tree branches leaves, and other deris scattered about the yard. As we walked around the yard I discovered part of another garage roof in the alley next to our garage that had came from the Griswald farm, the first buildings to be struck by the twister. All the buildings on their farm were destroyed.

Two tornados had hit their farm as a "hedge apple" hedge on the edge of their farm had two large portions torn out of the ground.

Being inquisitive we started south toward our friends house discovering that nothing was left of their house and that they had ran down the road, lying down in the ditch, had excaped the storm without getting injured.

Mrs. Griswald had tried to call us to come out and help pick strawberries but her line was busy, as most farm lines were, with a dozen or more subscribers on a farm line in the twenties. Otherwise we could have been in that ditch also in the rain.

Mr. Griswald, the county farm agent, was in Shenandoah twenty miles away, when the storm came roaring across the farm. Hearing that the tornado had destroyed the south part of Clarinda he rushed home expecting to find his family badly injured, with deaths reported from the storm.

When He arrived home, finding his family okay, Mrs Griswald started to cry and stating that "Every thing was gone!" His reply, "Every thing was there," because she and the five children were safe and unhurt.

Mrs. Griswald had just finished canning over a hundred quarts of strawberries and they were blown away in the storm, even if they had been carried to the basement they would have been destroyed as everything in the basement was sucked out by the tornado.

rev-4/91 dcp

Parkins brothers, 1941 

Don, Milt, and Harry: taken in 1941 in Jackson, Minnesota.