Maria Bagnell


September 9, 1825 - March 13, 1886


From "Memories of their Mother" by sons, Robert & Richard

Story recorded by Philip G. Parsons, August 17,1970

Photo of Maria, 1860


Maria Bagnell was born September 9, 1825 in a small village near Athlone, in the south west part of West Meath county, Ireland. Her father, Robert Bagnell, and mother, Maria (or Mary) Banks, had a large family, possibly eleven or twelve children, and her father had a brother, William, living at Terrell's Pass, Ireland, who was married but he and his wife had no children. When my mother was a girl in her teens, her Uncle William and his wife asked his brother, Robert, if he and his wife could not take Maria into their home to be one of the family, as his wife was a semi-invalid and had no children. They would raise her as one of the family.

This plan worked well until the wife died and another of her father's brothers began to come visit them frequently, and asked William for chairs and other furnishings of his home, and would take a small load of household goods with him each time he came to visit. Maria saw how this would end and told her uncle she was going to America. She picked up and came to America, much to the surprise of her uncle who didn't think his niece had so much spunk.

On the voyage, many people were seasick but it did not seem to bother Maria. One nice lady, a Mrs. McGraw, was so sick, and Maria felt sorry for her and her three small children. So she spent many hours with the McGraw little ones, telling them stories, playing little games, even trying to teach them a little song. As they neared the wonderful land of America, Mrs. McGraw had a long talk with Maria. She told her the McGraw's had a fine home in New York City and that she would like Maria to be governess for her children. She insisted that Maria accept twenty dollars for taking such good care of the children on shipboard. Maria explained that she was going to "Ohio country" to be with relatives and teach school.

On arrival, Maria found New York by far the biggest city she had ever seen. She also discovered that Ohio was very far away and that she did not have enough money to buy passage there. So it was that she found the address Mrs. McGraw had given her, and was greeted joyously by the little McGraws and their parents. After working some months in New York she journeyed up the Hudson to Albany then westwardly along the Erie Canal route, now a rough ride on Lake Erie and south through Ohio to Zanesville. Maria Bagnell, young, eager, industrious and capable arrived among her friends, the John Banks and Robert Banks families and Richard Parsons and Mrs. Hannah Banks-Parsons families, in Zanesville, Ohio.

On the 8th of December, 1851, she was married to Charles Parsons at Zanesville. To this couple were born six children; Mary, Hannah (Tallie), William, Charles, Robert and Richard, all born in the family home in Zanesville, Ohio. The family home was in Putnam on the west side of the Muskingum River, later called the Ninth Ward of Zanesville, and my father, Charles, had a shoe shop in one room of the home.

Photo of Charles Parsons

Maria's uncle William wa a prosperous energetic farmer and a good manager, except that he was sometimes over generous in helping his less fortunate relatives and neighbors. Maria had learned well from her uncle William and aunt Margaret and brought many nice things with her from Ireland. She had fine dresses, homespun linens and cloth she had made on spinning wheel and hand loom. She was an excellent penman and loved books and verses. Her notebook in her own hand is a joy to behold. The story of her growing family, its moves, its cares, its joys and its sorrows are told in the story of her son, Robert Parsons. So we say simply, Maria Bagnell-Parsons was an exceptional person, perfect physically and mentally, a loving wife and mother dear to all her children.

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