|Birth: ||Apr. 29, 1833|
|Death: ||Aug. 25, 1902|
William Fletcher Parmater was born on April 29, 1833 in Louisville, New York. He was the son of Charles Parmater (1790-1870) and Rhoda Stone (1801-1850. On January 19, 1861, he married his first wife, Arzetta Wilcox. They had one son, Elmer Nathan, who was born on February 24, 1862. Their second child, Charlie, was born on February 23, 1864. Arzetta passed away on April 12, 1864 in Madrid, St. Lawrence County, New York, when Charlie was only two months old. Charlie then passed away three weeks later.
He married his second wife, Harriet Levantia Maine, on January 24, 1865, in Excelsior, Wisconsin. The ceremony was conducted by Rev. Ossie B. Kilborn. Harriet would have taken care of William's three-year old son with his previous wife, while he went to war a month after he got married. William and Harriet had four sons and five daughters. Their youngest son, Wilbur, was born with mental retardation and lived with his parents as an adult child. In Harriet's application for William's pension, Wilbur was considered "entirely helpless."
William was a corporal in Captain Harvey Childs Company "E" of the Forty-ninth regiment of the Wisconsin Volunteers during the Civil War. He signed up in Baraboo, Sauk County, Wisconsin toward the end of the war on February 24, 1865. On his way from Chicago to St. Louis, he was forced to ride on a train in an open box car. There was terrible cold spell and he came down with bronchitis and developed a back problem. He was discharged on July 2, 1865 without seeing any fighting. His discharge papers indicated that he was five feet, six and half inches tall.
After being discharged from the service, William settled down with his wife in North Freedom, Sauk County, Wisconsin. There they had their first four children before following his brother, Nathan, to Northern Michigan. Near Elmira in Otsego County, he was a farmer. He and his wife had additional four children while living there.
Elmira is 13 miles northwest of Gaylord, the county seat of Otsego County. The first settlers began arriving in Gaylord in 1873. A new railroad was extended from Lake Otsego to Gaylord in the fall of 1873. William and Harriet arrived in the area in spring of 1875, which would make them among the earliest inhabitants in the area, especially since they located near Elmira which was even further into the wilderness. This would match family stories that the Parmaters were among the first white people in northern Michigan. At one point, Indians came to the Parmater household looking for food. Harriet was very scared because William was not at home at the time. Once the Indians were fed, they left much to Harriet's relief.
In 1776, William was chosen to chair the America's centennial celebration in Elmira. It was held between the Porcupine Lakes. The Declaration of Independence was read and the Star Spangle Banner was sung. The local pastor gave a stirring speech about the events that led up to the Revolutionary War. On November 10, 1877, William as a county supervisor was appointed to select a site for the County Courthouse in Gaylord. A property owned by Orlando Barnes, secretary of the railroad, was selected. Gaylord was incorporated as a village in 1881.
On July 5, 1883, William was among twenty early pioneers who homesteaded in Elmira Township. He received 160 acres in Northern Michigan. The farm was in Section 12 of Township 31 North, Range 4 West, which is on the east side of Shaff, north of Theisen. When he was not farming, William was an itinerant Methodist preacher. This did not sit well with his wife who was saddled with ten children at home. It is difficult enough being a pastor's wife but in Harriet's case, her husband was gone much of the time. According to family stories, Harriet became very bitter. This was very common among families of itinerant preachers. Being this type of preacher was so stressful that the Methodist Church recommended that preachers be unmarried. "The meager income of most circuit riders made it impossible for them to maintain families without ‘locating' when they married." Most "gave themselves to lives of solitude, but for those who ventured to raise a family the hardships of the ministry were compounded considerably. Though he might reside in a given community, the preacher was still responsible for a broad area, and even his residence had to be periodically uprooted due to the two-year maximum any preacher was allowed to spend on a given circuit." Many itinerant preachers burned out after a couple years.
Life for William was equally difficult. Traveling preachers traveled by horseback and for that reason had to travel lightly. The only thing that they could take with them was what they could fit in their saddlebag. We don't have any record of where his circuit was nor how many years he was on the circuit. But we know that northern Michigan was still sparsely populated in the 1800s and very wild. He was probably gone for days at a time ministrying and evangelizing in isolated settlements. Many times, people were not receptive to the message of the preacher. Persecution was very common. As difficult a job as it was, many Methodist congregations in Michigan, both large and small, were started by these itinerant preachers. He died on August 25, 1902 in Gaylord, Michigan and is buried in Hallock Cemetery.
Created by: Nelson Huseby
Record added: Nov 30, 2008
Find A Grave Memorial# 31839527
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