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Major Richard H. Parham

Written by William "Bill" Boggess...billboggess@webtv.net 


Father of education law in fifth constitution.

MAJOR RICHARD H PARHAM was apparently born ca 1834 in Sussex county,
Virginia to Henriette and Richard H PARHAM where raised in his early
years. United States sixth census (1840) for Sussex has listed under
"free white persons", 26 females and 8 males, 20 years or younger and
for over 20 years, 5 females plus one male. His parents possibly (?)
were operating a school.

Between 1840 and 1850 the Parham family migrated westerly about
seven-hundred miles to northern Marshall county, Mississippi, were among
the 29,089, listed in the 1850 northern Marshall county census, with
father, "planter and $25,000 of real estate". Richard Jr, had an older
sister, Mary and brother, William C, plus a younger sister and three

Marshall County, Mississippi, with its very fertile ground is southeast
from Memphis, Tennessee, created from Chickasaw Indian territory 8
February 1836, shipping most Indians up the Arkansas river to what now
is Oklahoma and where school year 1859/60, O C & Virginia GRAY, taught
northwest from Holy Springs, boarding on plantation operated by
WILLS/WELLS/WALLS(?), with three daughters, one a red-head and sixteen
slaves, near, if not at site of the famous Martin Mission of the
Presbyterian Church established on old "Pidgeon Roost Road" about 1824
or 1825:

"Marshall County received its full share of settlers during the early
rush of emigration into the newly opened Chickasaw cession. By the year
1840 it had a population of about 17,500, and by 1850 the population was
29,089. Among these were many prominent families and wealthy planters."

1860 census, the only Richard found born around 1834 in Virginia, is in
Alabama shown born 1824. His family still in Mississippi's Marshall
county, with post office at Lagrange.

The 1870 census finds a Richard H PARHAM born "abt 1834", Virginia in
District 2, Carroll, Tennessee with post office, Trezevant, ---- however
after October 1869 Major Richard H PARHAM is noted, many times, in
Little Rock, Arkansas, as is his wife Ora, and older apparent brother,
Colonel William Cuningham PARHAM, both college professors. Both are
found within Virginia GRAY's 1867-1872 diary kept on her son Carl
Raymond GRAY (1937, vice-chairman Union Pacific Railroad). Her hubby was
Colonel Oliver Crosby GRAY, since 1867 professor at St Johns' College of
Arkansas, president 1871 to 1874, before he and wife Virginia L were
offered "first chairs", she Drawing & Painting, he Civil Engineering,
(plus "existing chair" of mathematics and head of R O T C) at Arkansas
Industrial University in Fayetteville, Arkansas, its first classes were
January 1872 with seven male and Anna PUTMAN.

Masonic's St Johns' College of Arkansas' staff published for 1873/74
consisted of:

"President [Colonel Oliver Crosby] GRAY, Professor of Pure and Mixed
Mathematics: Colonel Luke E BARBER, LLD, Professor, Belles Letters;
Colonel William Cuningham PARHAM, 1850 graduate of The College of
William & Mary with his A M, Professor of Greek and Latin Languages: and
since 1869, Major Richard H PARHAM, Professor of Physical Science and
Applied Mathematics."

It was year of "The Brooks-Baxter War" that Major Richard H PARHAM, as
one of Arkansas', General Assembly Democratic elected legislators
introducing his legislation which became law within Arkansas' fifth
constitution. This, October 13, 1874, was approved three-to-one majority
by the people in a special election. His law still governed the state
with over 300 public school districts and a student enrollment of about
445,000, November 2002.

Major Richard H PARHAM became fifth and final distinguished president of
St Johns' College of Arkansas (1850-1882) the first chartered
institution of higher learning in Arkansas, conducting her last classes

After St Johns', Major Richard H PARHAM, joined what now is Little Rock
School District, continuing to distinguish himself as an outstanding
educator and leader.

He with wife Ora, are found living with their only daughter, Ora and her
husband, attorney Powell CLAYTON on 1900 census, in their home, 1301
Welch. A street named after Rev Thomas Rice WELCH (1834SC-1891AR), who
organized two of towns Presbyterian churches, and is located within
Masonic Addition of Little Rock. Same street of which St Johns' backed
upon since 1857, till lost to fire.

1909, the Little Rock school district honored him by building Parham
School at 15th & Vance streets, enlarged in 1929 and 1954, which served
the public seventy years before being removed in 1979 for I-630

Major PARHAM is now, --- all but forgotten, --- as are so many of
Arkansas' truly notable pioneer school educators, replaced with modern
day politician names. Pris Weathers of <www.Arkansasties.com> on 2 July
2007 wrote:

"...it just so happens that I went to Parham Elementary in I believe 76.
It was a very interesting school on the inside. It was replaced with
Rockefellar Elementary."

"Major Richard H. Parham, for whom the school was named, taught in
Little Rock schools in the 1880s. He was principal of the Scott Street
School in 1887 and the Kramer School in the early 1900s. He later
returned to the classroom at Little Rock High School, teaching many
different subjects, and finally retired as the school's librarian some
time around World War I. During this time he also was an examiner for
the County School Board. Parham died in 1924."

"After his death, the Alumni Association of Little Rock High School
established the R.H. Parham Memorial Loan Fund in his honor "for the
benefit of deserving students."

Little Rock School District archives.
Quapaw Quarter Chronicle. August 1978, p. 9.Newspaper article pasted in
Parham School scrapbook [article origin unknown]; scrapbook at Museum of
Discovery, Parham School collection. Copy of article in LRSD archives.

1910 census finds Major PARHAM without wife at son-in-law's home,
reportedly, later retiring from school district following his overall,
nearly fifty years educational & leadership service to Arkansas' youth,
its future leaders, then dying 1924.

Richard's apparent older brother, William Cuningham, is noted ca 1985 by
daughter of a resident in Fordyce, Arkansas as follows:

"He received an AM degree from Wm & Mary, taught mostly ancient
languages, in private schools in VA [Virginia] and MS [Mississippi] from
1857-1860. Vice principal at [Princeton Female?] academy at Princeton
1861-64. ? (can't make that out [St Johns'?]) Masonic Institute 1868-69:
Prof. of Latin and Greek at McKenzie College, TX, 1864-65; St. John's
College, LR [Little Rock], 1869-75; AR Female College, LR, 1875-1877;
Central Collegiate Institute, Altus, AR; 1884-1885; Millersburg Female
College, KY, 1887-91; Galloway Female College, Searcy, AR, 1891-93;
president of Masonic Female College, Marshall, TX, 1899-1909."

"Prof. Parham was 2nd [in command] at St. John's College when
Brooke-Baxter [war] affair occurred. Now conducting a private training
school at Benton(1906) and hopes to retire with 60 years of pro. work.
Now entering 52 years as teacher--done about 40 years in AR--probably
the senior teacher in the state."



Parham Elementary Class of 1947 - http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/River/1800/