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JOSEPH E. PARSON


For more than a quarter of a century Joseph Edward Parson has been one of the best known, and, so far as the criminal element is concerned, one of the most feared men in that section. He was born at Lynchburg, Va., on January 5, 1871, so it will be seen that he is now (1922) just turning into fifty. His parents were William Murrell and Mariah Steward. He grew up in Lynchburg, where he attended the public schools, which was the extent of his education, so far as books and school were concerned. In the practical affairs of life, however, he did not cease to learn.

With the development of the Flat Top section of West Virginia, he came into the state and located in McDowell County, where he has since resided.

In politics Mr. Parson is a life long Republican, and soon after coming into this territory, was made Deputy Sheriff of McDowell County, a position which he held for more than twenty years. In fact, for the last 27 years he has been either deputy sheriff or detective. In that time he has made a record that is unique and remarkable. Out of seventy arrests made for murder, there have been sixty-five convictions. He has had to deal with almost every class of crime, from murder down. This has brought into his hands what is said to be the largest single collection of criminal relies in the United States. During the Spanish-American war he enlisted as a private and rose to the rank of 1st Sergeant. He is now (1922) in the employ of fourteen of the great coal companies.

No one has ever questioned his courage either as an officer of the law, as a soldier or as a detective. Mr. Parson now has his own detective agency and has several men in his employ. He is a member of the Republican State Executive Committee. He belongs to the Baptist church and among the secret orders is identified with the Masons, Odd Fellows, Pythians and Elks. It is not strange that in his work he has traveled extensively, having been over the whole of the United States and much of Canada and Mexico. His favorite reading consists of the Bible and the Life and work of Abraham Lincoln.

On February 21, 1906, Mr. Parson married Miss Aileen Smootz, daughter of Beverly and Mary M. Smootz, of Huntington, W. Va. She was educated at Institute and was before her marriage an accomplished teacher. They have two children, Joseph E. Parson, Jr., and William Watson Parson.

Mr. Parson has been able to observe conditions far and wide and he is of the opinion that progress of the race is to be promoted by "unity in social and political problems, by organization and by thrift.


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