Sunday, May 24, 2015

Two Parramore Boys Drown, August 4, 1900

A while ago, on one of my many visits to Sunset Hill Cemetery in Valdosta, Georgia, I visited the graves of my paternal 2nd great grandparents, Susan Dasher and Noah Parramore. While there, I photographed all of the headstones on the Parramore lot

The Noah and Susan Dasher Parramore family plot in Sunset Hill Cemetery, Valdosta, Georgia

I was intrigued by the headstone for two young Parramore boys—Frank and Herman, sons of John and Martha Parramore. They have one headstone divided into two parts. The dates on the headstones are hard to read, but it appears they died the same day in 1900, and it looks like they are buried in the same grave. 

Double headstone for Frank and Herman Parramore who drowned on August 4, 1900

Later, my Parramore/Roberts cousin Lilla Kate told me Frank and Herman drowned together, and our uncle John Young Roberts, who was just a boy at the time, rushed to town to bring the sad news about his young friends. Lilla Kate said the incident was written up in the Valdosta newspaper, so I headed to the library to look it up on microfilm.
The article in The Valdosta Times is dated Tuesday, August 7, 1900, and titled, “A Double Drowning Saturday, The Sad Death of Little Frank and Herman Parramore.” On Saturday afternoon, August 4, twelve-year-old Frank and ten-year-old Herman were with a group of boys and girls headed to the branch on my paternal great grandfather A. S. Pendleton’s property north of town for a swim. Then several of the boys, including ten-year-old John Young Roberts (son of my maternal great grandparents John T. Roberts and Catherine Young), Frank and Herman Parramore, and ten-year-old Fred and twelve-year-old Albert Pendleton (sons of A. S. Pendleton and Susan Parramore; Albert was my grandfather) and some other boys decided to go to Pine Park. (Pine Park was the fair grounds at the time.) They wanted to swim in the pond there that had been used for diving horses the previous year. 

Location of Pine Park in Valdosta, northeast of the current location of Valdosta State University (Map from Google maps. Boundaries for Pine Park from Streetcars in Valdosta)

A wire had been strung across the pond, and the boys used it to hold themselves up in the water. When Frank, Herman, and Fred were holding onto the wire, it broke. Fred was able to get to shore, but Frank and Herman slipped underwater. Neither one of them could swim.
Some workmen nearby heard the screams of the group of boys and ran over. One of the men dived in to look for Frank and Herman. They had been under water about ten minutes by the time they were brought out. Men from the Edgewood Dairy hurried over and helped with resuscitation, but Frank and Herman could not be revived. They were wrapped in a sheet and loaded on a wagon from the dairy to be taken to town.
In the meantime, John Young Roberts jumped on his pony and rode to town to bring the sad news. He “was so excited that he could hardly talk,” so the family hoped what he told them wasn’t true. Frank and Herman’s father John and Dr. Ben Burton immediately headed for the pond but met the wagon carrying the boys on the way. The newspaper article said, “the grief stricken father stood mute and motionless over them. His frame shook with emotion, but the great grief which had come so unfairly upon him was too deep for tears.” Dr. Burton pronounced Frank and Herman dead, and their bodies were taken to the Parramore home on Central Avenue.
The funeral for Frank and Herman was held on Sunday, August 5, at four o’clock in the afternoon, and their two coffins were put in the same grave. The funeral procession was one of the largest “ever seen here and deep sorrow was felt by all.” The article noted that their mother Martha had had a premonition “of a great bereavement” some time before her sons drowned. She had already lost two children in the month of August (Susie in 1896 and Thompson in 1898). She had told a friend that she dreaded to see that month come. Now, two more of her children had died in August.
I can’t imagine the sorrow and pain in losing a child. John and Martha Parramore lost four children within a four-year time period.


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