Warren County Iowa Genealogical Society




    Martha PARRISH

    Spouse: Ruben PARRISH

    Source: County Conservation News, Warren County Conservation Board, Winter, 1986-1987

    Friends of Conservation

    "If you like to see natural growth and habiat - visit one or all of the Warren County Conservation Parks. Take a walk down the nature trails that wind through the timber. On either side you will see many kinds of trees, bushes, and vines in all shapes.

    At this time of year the leaves are on the ground instead of on the trees and bushes. Therefore there are more grey, black and brown colors to see. If there is snow on the ground, then there is white to add to the other colors you see. Walk quietly and listen to the birds as they flit among the bushes. A rabbit may jump from his hiding place where he has been sitting in a clump of dead grass. The squirrels can be seen hopping along on the ground lookiing for nuts that they have buried for their winter food. They dig a hole a couple of inches deep and find the nut that has been buried earlier. They always seem to know just where to dig. Nature has given them the instinct as to where the food is.

    Let's help the conservation people make these parks available for all to enjoy. Find out what you can do to make the parks more beautiful. Let us enjoy, not destroy!"  --Martha PARRISH

    Warren County can boast of many fine couples whose sense of commitment and generosity serve to inspire others. Ruben and Martha Parrish of Indianola are one such couple. I met the Parrishs soon after I had arrived in Warren County. Martha was donating flowers from her garden to plant at the Conservation Center. I drove to her house to pick them up.

    What a delight! Hybiscus, balloon flowers, red hot pokers, surprise lilies... The tour through the Parrish's flower beds was like a fragrant, colorful dream to a person already captivated by blossoms, like myself. Their willingness to share their knowledge made their garden even more intriguing.

    Raising beautiful flowers seems to come second nature to Ruben and Martha. That's not too surprising given their farm backgrounds. Both spent most years of their childhoods on farms in Clarke County

    One crop that Martha's familly harvested was sorghum cane. Martha described how as child she would help harvest it to make molasses. "After the plant grew up, we would strip it with a wooden 'paddle' to get the leaves off of it. Then we cut the plants and brought them to a cane press, a horse drawn grinder." Later, Martha's family would boil the juice from the sorghum cane. When enough water had evaporated the juice turned into molasses.

    Even as children, Martha and Ruben loved the outdoors. Like other youngsters, they hunted rabbits and squirrels. This was not only a favorite pastime but quite often a necessity. Many times wild game provided their families with their only source of meat. Ruben seemed to be a better tracker, but he conceded that his wife was a better shot with a .22.

    Even though Martha and Ruben went to different schools, they met each other through various scholastic events. Eventually, they married, surviving hard times such as Ruben's imprisonment in a German prison camp during World War II. Ruben, a tank driver, was taken prisoner along the Rhine River in January, 1945. The same day, his brother was killed in action at the front. "I was one of the fortunate ones," said Ruben. He had been injured and an American doctor, also a prisoner of war, treated him. Even though Ruben was liberated in March of 1945, he did not return to the U.S. until May, coincidentally on the date of his wedding anniversary.

    After the war, the Parrishs helped to operate a turkey farm in Clarke County until a back injury forced Ruben out of farming. The couple moved to Indianola, where Ruben began to work for Butler's 66 and later, Warren County Oil. That was thirty-two years ago. Now, Ruben and Martha are "retired."

    If you can call it that! Camping throughout Iowa, gardening, and volunteering their time at agencies like the WCCB, keeps them busier than ever! Our hats are off to these fine citizens and steadfast conservationists!