James Parton was Born February 9 1822 in England. Died October 17, 1891 in Newburyport, MA
Parton was one of the most popular biographers in America. Some of his books Horace Greeley, Aaron Burr, Andrew Jackson, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and Voltaire. He authored a number of other historical works as well. Read his Revolutionary Heroes, And Other Historical Papers
His first wife, Sara Payson Willis Parton, sister of N. P. Willis, and widow of Charles H. Eldredge (who died in 1846), writer under the pen-name Fanny Fern. They were married in 1856. In 1876 Parton controversially married Ethel Eldredge, his first wife's daughter by her first husband. Parton, James, 1822-1891. James Parton correspondence and other papers, 1831-1891: Guide.
His adopted daughter, Ethel, the daughter of Grace Eldrege (daughter of Fanny Fern’ and writer Mortimer Thomson AKA Philander Doesticks), was adopted by Parton in 1872. Ethel Parton became a famous writer of children’s books about 19th century life in Newburyport, MA, published in the 1930s and 1940s. James had two children, Hugo and Mabel. Hugo had a child James Parton (1912-2001) was founder and publisher of American Heritage.Thank you Cheryl Follanbee for furnishing more info
Parton Home on High Street Newburyport MA
Personal Monday, August 2, 1869 Register (Salem, MA)
|Sarah Payson Willis (1811-1872) d. of Nathaniel Willis and Hannah Parker|
|Collection Smith College Fanny Fern and Ethel Parton Papers|
Shipping News October 23 1891
Sarah Payson Willis was born in Portland, Maine, to newspaper-owner Nathaniel Willis and Hannah Parker; she was the fifth of eight siblings, including journalist Nathaniel Parker Willis. Another brother, Richard Storrs Willis, became a musician and music journalist known for writing the melody for "It Came Upon the Midnight Clear". Her other siblings were Lucy Douglas (born 1804), Louisa Harris (1807), Julia Dean (1809), Mary Perry (1813), Edward Payson (1816), and Ellen Holmes (1821).
Her father had recently become very religious after being inspired by Reverend Edward Payson of Portland's Second Congregational Church and intended to name his fifth child after him. When his fifth child turned out to be a girl, he instead decided to name her after Payson's mother, Grata Payson, though the Reverend urged the Willis to reconsider, noting that his mother never liked the name. Her name was to change often in her life throughout three marriages and with the adoption of her chosen pen name "Fanny Fern". She decided on the name because it reminded her of childhood memories of her mother picking fern leaves. She felt that this name was a better fit for her, and used it even in her personal life; eventually, most of her friends and family called her "Fanny."
Fern attended Catharine Beecher's boarding school in Hartford, Connecticut; here, although Beecher later described her as one of her "worst-behaved girls" (adding that she also "loved her the best"), she got her first taste of literary success when her compositions were published in the local newspaper. She was also sent to the Saugus Female Seminary. She then returned to her parents' home, where she wrote and edited articles for her father's Christian newspapers, The Puritan Recorder and The Youth's Companion.
Fern married Charles Harrington Eldredge, a banker, in 1837, and they had three daughters: Mary Stace (1838), Grace Harrington (1841), and Ellen Willis (1844). After seven happy years, tragedy struck: Fern's mother and younger sister Ellen died early in 1844; then, in 1845, her eldest daughter Mary died of brain fever; soon afterward, her husband Charles succumbed to typhoid fever. Fern was left nearly destitute. With little help from either her father or her in-laws – and none at all from her brother Nathaniel – she and her two remaining daughters struggled to make ends meet. Her father persuaded her to remarry and she soon followed his suggestion.
Fern married Samuel P. Farrington, a merchant, in 1849. The marriage was a mistake; unable to cope with her new husband's intense jealousy, she scandalized her family by leaving him in 1851 and they were divorced two years later.Fern first published a few short satirical works in the Boston newspapers Olive Branch and True Flag. In 1852, again on her own with two daughters to support, Fern began her writing career in earnest. She sent some samples of her work using her real name to her brother, Nathaniel Willis, who rudely refused them and said that her writing was not marketable outside Boston. Her brother was proved wrong, as newspapers and periodicals in New York and elsewhere began printing the "witty and irreverent columns". She began writing a regular column in the New York newspaper Musical World and Times that year, becoming the first woman to write her own regular column; the next year, 1853, she published both Fern Leaves from Fanny's Portfolio, a selection of her more sentimental columns, and Little Ferns for Fanny's Little Friends, a children's book. The former sold 70,000 copies in its first year.
James Parton a biographer and historian, who was editing the magazine Home Journal, owned by Fern's brother Nathaniel Parker Willis, was impressed by Fern's work. He not only printed her columns but invited the author to come to New York City. When Nathaniel Willis discovered this he forbade Parton from printing any more of her work. Parton refused to obey the request and promptly resigned as editor of the magazine.
Fern's first book, Fern Leaves (1853), was a best seller. It sold 46,000 copies in the first four months, and over 70,000 copies the first year. She received ten cents a copy in royalties, enough for her to buy a house in Brooklyn, New York, and live comfortably. Just three years into her career, in 1855, she was earning $100 a week for her column in the New York Ledger, making her the highest paid columnist in the United States. Her first regular column appeared on January 5, 1856, and would run weekly, without exception, until October 12, 1872, when her last edition was printed two days after her death. Fern also wrote two novels. Her first, Ruth Hall (1854) describes her few years of happiness with Eldredge, the poverty and humiliation she endured after he died, and her struggle to achieve financial independence as a journalist. Most of the characters are thinly-veiled versions of people Fern knew, and several – those individuals who treated her uncharitably when she most needed their help, including her father, her in-laws, her brother Nathaniel, and two newspaper editors – are put in a most unflattering light. When Fern's identity was exposed shortly after the novel's publication, some critics were scandalized at this lampooning of her own relatives, and decried her lack of filial piety and her want of "womanly gentleness" in seeking revenge in this manner. The criticism wounded Fern deeply, and her second novel, Rose Clark, is less autobiographical in nature and features a conventionally sweet, gentle heroine; a secondary character, however, reenacts the debacle of Fern's marriage of convenience to Farrington.
In Fanny's Ledger column from May 10, 1856, she defended Walt Whitman when she wrote a favorable review of his controversial Leaves of Grass. In particular, she noted his fearless individualism and self-reliance, as well as his honest and "undraped" portrayal of sex and the human body. She was criticized for her admiration, but her outspoken support marked her as a champion of literature that was ahead of its time. It has been suggested that Whitman imitated her Fern Leaves in his choice of cover art for the first edition.
Sara Willis and James Parton were married in 1856. She and her husband lived in New York City with one of her two surviving children , they also raised a granddaughter, Ethel, the orphaned child of Willis's daughter Grace, who passed away in 1862.In 1859, Fern moved to a brownstone in Manhattan at what is now 303 East Eighteenth Street near Second Avenue; she would live in this house for the next 13 years until her death. Fern continued as a regular columnist for the Ledgerfor the remainder of her life. She was a suffrage supporter and in 1868 she co-founded Sorosis, New York City's pioneer woman's club. Fern battled cancer for six years and died October 10, 1872. She is buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts next to her first husband. Her gravestone was inscribed simply "Fanny Fern." After her death her husband, James Parton, published Fanny Fern: A Memorial Volume