Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Hill Country Stories Told In Stone: SHELBY RAY PARHAM Story Continues

by Terry Thornton
email: hillcountrymonroecounty@gmail.com

Almost a year ago, I posted a brief "Story Told in Stone" about Shelby Ray Parham. The article contained primarily just the following photograph of his memorial marker at New Hope Cemetery, Parham, Monroe County, Mississippi. That article today is in the archival materials on the CD, Terry Thornton's Cemeteries of the Hill Country, # 16, November 10, 2008.

In that first article I stated that I hoped to write more about Shelby Ray Parham --- a draft article was prepared and I've waited for replies to inquiries sent. I've decided to present what information I've found --- and encourage anyone with information which will help to "write" the
story of Shelby Ray Parham to either post a comment below or to send an email.


The only available census report I've found upon which Shelby Ray Parham is listed is the 1930 Federal Census of Monroe County, Mississippi. There in Beat 1, along the Smithville and Hatley Road, are found these individuals:
Ira J. Parham, head of household, 40
Patra Parham, wife, 35
R. Arnold Parham, son, 16
R. Frances Parham, son 14
Shelby R. Parham, son 9
Josephine Parham, daughter 7
P. Allan Parham, son, 3 5/12th

ra and Patra Parham had seven children according to Marjorie Parham Hailey, In A Pear Tree (a book about the Parham family). Those children were:
Rupert Arnold Parham [1913 - 1979]
Riley Francis Parham [1913 - 1978]
Kathlyn Parham [1917 - 1920]
Shelby Ray Parham [1920 - 1944]
Josephine Parham (Shelton) [1922 - ]
Phillip Allen Parham [1926 - ]
John Harold Parham [1930 - 1986]

Ira, Patra, Riley Francis, Kathlyn, and Shelby Ray Parham are buried at New Hope Cemetery, Parham, Monroe County, Mississippi.

There in that peaceful rural cemetery, Shelby Ray Parham's memorial stone reads simply
"Shelby Parham 1920 - 1944 Lost In Plane Crash Blue Ridge Mts."

In Hailey's book is found the entry, "Shelby Ray Parham. b 21 February 1920, Monroe Co. MS, d 12 Aug 1944 Worked at Knoxville Atomic Bomb Plant. Lost in plane crash over Great Smokies. Hunters found plane wing 2 1/2 years later. A memorial stone placed in New Hope Cemetery."

In an Introduction As An Aviation Cadet (Biographical Notes Relating to The Earl E. Myers Story) by Earl Myers and Chuck Stone is this reference which places Mr. Parham as a Flight Instructor from Shelby, North Carolina. Here is the direct quote and photograph:
"We received 10 hours dual in a Piper Cub. My Flight Instructor was Shelby R. Parham, certificate #28056, from Shelby N.C. I have a picture of him in my first log book with 10 hours of dual logged, one of eight log books and the first one that I accumulated in my flying career. He was dressed in a coat and tie, the same as every instruction ride, and sitting in the rear of a Cub at the Charlotte, N.C. Airport at Cannon Aircraft Sales and Service. The contract provided for the Cubs used in the training."

"He was a fine instructor, was very strict with his students, and very thorough with all five of us. He was a gentleman and it was an honor to be one of his students. Some of our classmates had wished that they had him and wanted to know how we were so lucky. My first logged flight was 9-7-1943 and the last flight at Charlotte was 9-26-1943."

It appears from this statement that in 1943, Mr. Parham was a flight instructor at Charlotte NC --- and that he was the flight instructor for military pilots looking for that first flight rating to get them into military fight school.

It is not known if the photograph included within this reference is that of students with Shelby Ray Parham; more research is needed.

Inquiries about Mr. Parham were sent to the library which archives the newspaper from Cleveland County, Tennessee. No reply about the circumstances of the airplane crash or about Mr. Parham has been received. Updates to the Shelby Ray Parham Story Told on Paper will be made as more information is obtained.

If you have information about Shelby Ray Parham, please consider sharing it with the readers of Hill Country.


Hailey, Marjorie Parham. In A Pear Tree: The Story of Some of the Parhams in That Tree. Edinburg, Texas: New Santander Press, 1987. Pages 322 - 23.

Parham Family Census Information, 1930 Federal Census, Monroe County, Mississippi. Information transcribed from images available at Ancestry.com.

Shelby Ray Parham grave marker. New Hope Cemetery, Parham, Monroe County, Mississippi. Photograph by Terry Thornton, 2008.

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