Appalachia, B.C. Harris, Branchland, Carlos Hatfield, Chapmanville, Chauncey, E.M. Jeffrey, genealogy, Guyandotte, Guyandotte River, Henlawson, history, Huntington, Island Creek, J.D. Parsley, J.F. May, Lincoln County, Logan, Logan Banner, Logan County, Mud Fork, Omar, West Virginia, Williamson
From the Logan Banner of Logan, WV, we find the following story dated 29 March 1927:
All doubt as to the body of the woman found a mile above Chapmanville last Friday being that of Mrs. J.D. Parsley of Omar was removed that evening. Identification was positive on account of her wedding ring and her shoes.
So badly decomposed was the body, the flesh of the face having wasted away, that identification would have been impossible except for the ring or bits of clothing. In fact, its condition was such that it was recovered with sand at the place where found, after the identification was completed and after Undertaker B.C. Harris reached the scene, it being decided to await instructions from Mr. Parsley. The body had been in water more than three months, for it was on December 21 that she was drowned in the flooded waters of Main Island Creek near her home between Omar and Chauncey. From that point to the point where the body was found is 22 miles, according to estimates of some deputy sheriffs who are familiar with Logan county distances.
Friday evening Mr. Parsley was located in Huntington, whither he had moved a few weeks ago to engage in the real estate business.
Mr. Parsley came to Chapmanville on the Saturday morning train, bringing a casket with him. Sunday the body was brought on a railway motor to Henlawson and then was taken by way of Charleston to Wayne county for burial. This was done because of the certainty the railway company would not transport the body from Chapmanville to Huntington or to any other point on a passenger train.
Mr. Parsley, it is said, recognized a scar on his wife’s body–a scar left by a surgical operation.
The finder of the body was a Scarberry boy who lives near the place where it was found. It was lying near the shore, partly covered by silt, with the head wedged under a log or between two logs, according to reports heard here.
From the day of Mrs. Parsley’s tragic death till the body was found scandal-mongers busied themselves circulating reports that she had not drowned but had gone away of her own accord. As late as last Wednesday a Banner reporter was told that she was living in Guyandotte.
Concerning the drowning of Mrs. Parsley The Banner on Friday December 24 published the following account:
In the swollen waters of Main Island Creek Mrs. J.D. Parsley was drowned near her home between Omar and Chauncey at about 5:30 Tuesday evening.
Stepping into a necessary outbuilding that stood on the creek bank behind her home, the building suddenly toppled over and crashed into the swirling tide. Her screams were heard by several persons, among them Carlos Hatfield, a neighbor, who rushed to the rescue. When he reached the bank he saw Mrs. Parsley struggling in the water close to the shore and at the same time being carried swiftly forward by the stream. Just behind her was the building from which she had extricated herself. He waded into the waters and was almost within reach when the building turned over on her and shoved her beneath it out of sight. Before she reappeared on the surface she was too far down stream and too far out in the swift current for Hatfield to reach her.
Reports received here indicate that a son of E.M. Jeffrey of Omar was attracted to the scene and got a glimpse of either Mrs. Parsley or the building, or probably both, and followed along the bank until he saw the building crash into the bridge at Chauncey. The impact shattered the frail structure into pieces that were soon carried from view.
During the night and Wednesday forenoon searchers scanned the banks of the creek in what proved to be a futile effort to find the body.
Mrs. Parsley was nearing her 40th birthday. Her maiden name was Clay, according to her neighbors, and it is said her parents live at Branchland. She leaves no children, though Parsley is the father of several children by a previous marriage.
The Parsleys moved to the present home last August, when he leased a garage from Oscar Napier. This is located near the home of Dr. J.F. May and also close to the garage of Carlos Hatfield, previously mentioned as having tried to rescue the drowning woman. Before moving to the Omar-Chauncey neighborhood, Parsley had a grocery store at Mud Fork. At one time he was in the merchandise business at Williamson.
When the drowning occurred Parsley was at work in his garage. Word came to him that a woman had drowned, but it was half an hour or more before he realized that the victim was his own wife.
Source: “Body Found at Chapmanville is Identified as that of Mrs. Parsley Drowned at Omar on December 21,” Logan Banner, 29 March 1927.
Mrs. Parsley’s death record is found here: http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view2.aspx?FilmNumber=1953328&ImageNumber=3233