A few months ago, I wrote a history article about my great-great Aunt Josephine Hawkins Parrish. She grew up in Dekalb County, Ala., and spent some of her later life in Dade County, but her married life was spent in Walker County, Ga. She married C.C. Parrish of Walker County, a widower with grown children. One of his grown children, John C. Parrish, was a deputy sheriff in Walker County. Sadly, in February of 1922, Deputy John C. Parrish was gunned down in an ambush, along with his 15-year-old half-brother Cecil Parrish, the only son of my aunt Josephine.
This was during Prohibition and the ambush was staged by moonshiners. One of them was killed by Deputy Parrish and the others were tried and convicted of the double murder.
Sometime after this article appeared, it came to the attention of Sheriff Steve Wilson (right) of Walker County. He contacted me by email, asking for more information about Deputy Parrish and his family. It was his intent to submit Parrish’s name to be honored at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, DC. The purpose of this memorial is to honor officers who fall in the line of duty. He felt that Parrish should be recognized for giving his life while serving in the Walker County Sheriff’s Office.
Sheriff Wilson contacted me again later to see if I could help him locate any of Parrish’s living descendants or family so that they could be notified. Also, they needed to identify a survivor in order to submit the application. I turned to Ancestry.com to see if I could identify any relatives.
Deputy Parrish was a bachelor who lived with his father and stepmother until his death in 1922, so he had no descendants. His only brother and one sister died young, the same year—1892. His remaining sister, Susan Emma, married Benjamin Autry and they had eight children. All of these children are now deceased, but I thought perhaps some of them still had family in the area.
I passed this information on to Sheriff Wilson, but he was unable to locate or identify any relatives in Walker County to support Parrish’s application for the memorial wall.
Finally, Sheriff Wilson asked if I would agree to be listed as Deputy Parrish’s survivor. We are only related through his father’s marriage to my great-great aunt, but I was glad to do so. This week I received a letter from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund asking me to confirm the information they had on Deputy John C. Parrish. It reads, in part:
“It is our honor to inform you that the name of Deputy Sheriff JOHN C PARRISH (EOW: 2/2/1922) of the Walker County, Georgia, S.O. has been approved for inclusion to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial (NLEOM) in Washington, D.C. The name will be formally dedicated on May 13, 2017, at the 29th Annual Candlelight Vigil during National Police Week.”
My name is listed as Mr. Parrish’s survivor, but I feel like there may be closer relatives who might be interested or even want to attend the ceremony. I can get invitations if any come forward.
The children of Susan Emma Autry were Rose, Ada, Charlie, Henry, Mary, Melvin, Beulah and Dorothy. I know that Rose, Charlie and Melvin all had children and Rose’s children’s last name would be Oliver. If anyone knows any of their descendants, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I appreciate Sheriff Steve Wilson for taking the time and making the effort to honor this fallen officer. Parrish’s memorial will read as follows:
JOHN C PARRISH
Walker County, Georgia, S.O.
End of Watch: 2/2/1922