William Lamar Parham ~ Scholar, Athlete, Soldier

Some interesting stories are coming to light as the Berrien County Historical Foundation prepares for an exhibit on  Hometown Teams, A Smithsonian Exhibit, to open in 2016. One local sports standout was William Lamar Parham – a scholar, athlete and soldier of Berrien County.

William Lamar Parham, of Berrien County, GA. West Point Class of 1931.

William Lamar Parham, of Berrien County, GA. West Point Class of 1931.

William Lamar Parham (1907-1932) was a son of Charlie S. Parham and Lola Lee Giddens. His father came to live at Rays Mill (now Ray City), GA in 1898 where he met Lola, a daughter of  Fannie Baskins and  William Knight Giddens.  After marriage, his parents made their home in Nashville, GA.

A previous post on the Ray City history blog gave a sketch of  Lamar’s father, Charlie S. Parham, written in 1937, but  Bryan Shaw, of the Berrien Historical Foundation, noted the conspicuous absence of Lamar in that biography:

“The 1937 biography of Charlie S. Parham  indicates he had two children in 1936. Actually he had two children surviving at that time [Verne Parham, b. 1905; Lola Marie Parham, b. abt 1911]. Charlie and Lola actually had four children. One of their first children died in infancy, no name known. However they had another child, William Lamar Parham who was born in 1907.

Like his father, Lamar was an aggressive learner. He completed his high schooling in Nashville at the age of 16, and entered college … that same year. He earned a B.A. degree in three years, graduating in 1927, age 19.

At North Georgia Agricultural College (now the University of North Georgia), William Lamar Parham played football, basketball, and baseball. He was a member of the literary society and the Sigma Nu Fraternity.

At North Georgia Agricultural College (now the University of North Georgia), William Lamar Parham played football, basketball, and baseball. He was a member of the literary society, the Sigma Nu Fraternity, and the college band.

Lamar went to college  at North Georgia Agricultural College (now known as the University of North Georgia), at Dahlonega, GA.  North Georgia was founded as a military college, sometimes known as “Georgia’s ‘West Point’,” and Lamar enrolled as a military cadet.   Among others  from Berrien County who were in the Corps of Cadets at North Georgia  were Jonathan Perry Knight (1872-1953), Jamie Connell (1920-1973), James Arthur Grissett (1932-2010), and Joe Donald Clements (1931-2014).

Lamar completed his Bachelors degree at North Georgia and graduated in 1927.

He then was accepted at Army’s West Point Academy, where he spent 4 years, earning his commission. While at West Point he was on the varsity football, baseball, and wrestling teams, lettering in all sports. He was the starting tackle for two years on the football team, catcher and one of the best hitters on the baseball team, and had a winning record in the heavy weight class on the wrestling team.

William Lamar Parham. 1929 letterman, Army football team, West Point

William Lamar Parham. 1929 letterman, Army football team, West Point

At West Point,  Lamar joined another former North Georgia College football player, Charles Ingram “Polly” Humber, who became captain of the Army team. Lamar played football on the same West Point teams with Humber, Robert L. Carver, and Red Cagle, who were nationally known college football stars. After graduating from West Point Parham, Humber and Carver all went on to Army Flight School at Randolph Field, Texas.   Red Cagle, who was an All American college player,  left West Point to become a professional football player with the New York Giants and co-owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers football team. Cagle died at age 37, after falling down a stairwell in a Manhattan subway station. Polly Humber served in WWII as a Lt. Colonel and was captured by the Japanese in the invasion of the Philippines in 1942.  Humber died  at age 39, while being held as a prisoner of war on the infamous “Cruise of Death” aboard the Japanese transport ship Oryoku Maru.  Robert L. Carver, who quarterbacked the 1931 and 1932 West Point teams, died in 1935, age 28, when his plane crashed into a Florida swamp.  Lamar Parham would be the youngest of the four to be taken.

William Lamar Parham Nashville, Georgia Eleventh District, Georgia From sunny Georgia's peach orchards and cotton fields to West Point's grey walls and soggy dress coats is a step which few men could endure with the equanimity that has marked Blondy's four-year sojourn midst these hallowed halls. But then his nature is such that he regards classes and drills with their attendant miseries as mere trivialities, and that is essential to equanimity in this institution. Besides what is there in any textbook to bother a man already holding a university degree, who possesses at the same time a decided penchant for sleeping? Apparently none, and yet somehow Blondy has always been close to the top academically. Personality he called it, but others laid it to his natural ability to spout bigger words faster than anyone else. Argument was his best bet. Ask him why all light haired men aren't Swedes. Despite his violent dislike for physical exertion he found time to play football and baseball with wrestling as a mid-winter diversion. Football (4-3-2-1); Wrestling (4-2-1); Baseball (4-3-2-1); Gun Club; Camp Illumination Committee; Rifle Sharpshooter; Pistol Marksman; Color Line; Major "A"; Minor "A"; Corporal (2); Lieutenant (1)

1931 West Point Yearbook
William Lamar Parham
Nashville, Georgia
Eleventh District, Georgia
From sunny Georgia’s peach orchards and cotton fields to West Point’s grey walls and soggy dress coats is a step which few men could endure with the equanimity that has marked Blondy’s four-year sojourn midst these hallowed halls. But then his nature is such that he regards classes and drills with their attendant miseries as mere trivialities, and that is essential to equanimity in this institution.
Besides what is there in any textbook to bother a man already holding a university degree, who possesses at the same time a decided penchant for sleeping? Apparently none, and yet somehow Blondy has always been close to the top academically. Personality he called it, but others laid it to his natural ability to spout bigger words faster than anyone else. Argument was his best bet. Ask him why all light haired men aren’t Swedes.
Despite his violent dislike for physical exertion he found time to play football and baseball with wrestling as a mid-winter diversion.
Football (4-3-2-1); Wrestling (4-2-1); Baseball (4-3-2-1); Gun Club; Camp Illumination Committee; Rifle Sharpshooter; Pistol Marksman; Color Line; Major “A”; Minor “A”; Corporal (2); Lieutenant (1)

After graduating in 1931 from the West Point Academy, Parham entered Army flight school, first at Kelly Field then at Randolph Field, TX.

Douglas BT2B biplane at Randolph Field, TX. William Lamar Parham, of Berrien County, GA was on a solo training flight in a Douglas BT2B Basic Trainer, when his plane suddenly dived into the ground. Parham was the first airman killed at Randolph Field.

Douglas BT2B biplane at Randolph Field, TX, 1931
William Lamar Parham, of Berrien County, GA was on a solo training flight in a Douglas BT2B Basic Trainer, when his plane suddenly dived into the ground. Parham was the first airman killed at Randolph Field. Image source: The Portal to Texas History.

Parham was training solo at Randolph Field, Texas when his plane crashed and he was burned to death in 1932. He was just 24.

The Texas newspapers first reported the story:

William Lamar Parham, Berrien County, GA

William Lamar Parham, Berrien County, GA Dies at Randolph Field, TX, Corsicana Daily Sun, March 21, 1932

Corsicana Daily Sun
March 21, 1932

Student Officer
Randolph Field
Dies in Crash

      San Antonio, March 21. Second Lieut. William Lamar Parham, 23, of Nashville, Ga., student officer at Randolph Field, near San Antonio, was killed today when the plane he was flying crashed near Marion, a mile west of the huge airdrome.
      The crash was the first fatal accident for a Randolph Field flier since the field was opened last November.
      Lieutenant Parham was practicing maneuvers outlined by his instructor for basic training when the accident occurred. He was flying alone when the plane suddenly fell and burst into flames. The pilots’ body was badly charred.

——————†——————

1932-mar-22-abilene-reporter-william-lamar-parham-killed

Abilene Reporter
March 22, 1932

Randolph Field Student is Killed

San Antonio, March 21. – Funeral arrangements for Second Lieutenant William Lamar Parham, 24, student officer at Randolph Field, who was killed when his plan crashed and burned near Marion this morning were delayed tonight pending word from his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Charles S. Parham of Nashville, Ga.
Services will be held at the field with full military honors Tuesday or Wednesday. A board of three officers, consisting of Major D. N. Grant, medical corps, Captain George W. Polk, Jr., engineering officer, and Lieut. Albert F. Glenn, operations officer, has been appointed to investigate the accident.
Lieut. Parham had just completed a dual flight with a instructor and was practicing various maneuvers solo at the time of the crash.

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william-lamar-parham-military-funeral

San Antonio Express, March 23, 1932

 

San Antonio Express
March 23, 1932

Air Victim Given Military Funeral

Classmate Will Escort Body To Home in Georgia

Full military honors were accorded Second Lieut. William L. Parham, who was killed Monday when in a plane crash near Marion, Tuesday afternonn, in the Zizik-Kearns Undertaking Company chapel, Chaplain W. B. Hill officiating. All student officers in the basic class at the field, classmates of Lieut. Parham at West Point attended the services.
Lieut. Boyden E. Beebo Jr., a classmate, will escort the body to Nashville, Ga., Wednesday, for burial.
The officer died when his plane dove into the ground from an altitude of about 300 feet. It burst into flames as it crashed, burning the pilot beyond recognition.
He is survived by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Charles S. Parham. He was 24 years old.

—————«♦»—————

William Lamar Parham killed in plane crash. Atlanta Constitution, March 22, 1932

William Lamar Parham killed in plane crash. Atlanta Constitution, March 22, 1932

Atlanta Constitution
March 22, 1932

GEORGIA BOY DIES IN ARMY AIR CRASH

Second Lieutenant William Lamar Parham, 23, of Nashville, Ga., one of the most promising students of the army aviation school at Randolph field, San Antonio, Texas, was instantly killed during maneuvers there Monday, when the plane he was piloting crashed.

Lieutenant Parham had been regarded as the topmost aviation student during his courses at Kelly field, before he was assigned to Randolph field. He was graduated from the Kelly field class in September of last year as honor student flier, and had been assigned to Randolph field since that time.

The son of Mr. and Mrs. Charles S. Parham, prominent Berrien county citizens, Lieutenant Parham was graduated from the Nashville High School in 1923, after which he attended North Georgia Agricultural and Mechanical College, Dahlonega from which he graduated in 1927.

Following his graduation from North Georgia College Parham was nominated to West Point, and was graduated from that institution in 1931 with rank of second lieutenant. During his West Point career he was one of the leading athletes of the institution, being a member of the varsity wrestling, football and baseball teams. He was a close friend of “Red” Cagle and “Polly” Humber, playing tackle on the same teams as those two famous grid stars.

Advices Monday from San Antonio stated that Lieutenant Parham’s plane dived suddenly during manoeuvers, and burst into flames the moment it crashed about a mile west of the huge aerodrome at Randolph field. The young officer’s body was charred.

In addition to his parents, Parham is survived by one brother, Charles V. Parham, of Atlanta, and a sister, Miss Marie Parham, of Nashville. Funeral arrangements will be announced following the arrival at Nashville of the body.

—————==≡≡≡≡≡≡≡==—————

1932-mar-23-atl-const--william-lamar-parham-funeral

Atlanta Constitution
March 23, 1932

Funeral Rites Held for Lt. W. L. Parham

San Antonio, Texas. March 22. Military funeral services for Second Lieutenant William L. Parham, who was killed Monday when his plane crashed and burnd near Marion, were held here this afternoon with Chaplain W. B. Hall officiating. All student officers in the basic class at Randolph field, who were classmates of Lieutenant Parham at West Point, attended the services.

The body will be taken to Nashville, Ga. tomorrow for burial, with Lieutenant Boyden E Boebe Jr., also a member of the basic class, as escort. The accident occurred when Lieutenant Parham’s plane was circling to the ground and suddenly dived earthward from an altitude of about 300 feet.

He is survived by his parents Mr. and Mrs. Charles S. Parham, of Nashville, Ga.

——————†——————

Bryan Shaw concludes, “His body was returned to Nashville and was buried at the Old City Cemetery across from the Methodist Church. His death was the first to occur at the Randolph Field. The Lt. W. L. Parham Youth Center at Randolph Field is named in his honor.”

Grave of William Lamar Parham (1907-1932), Nashville, GA

Grave of William Lamar Parham (1907-1932), Nashville, GA

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Charles S. Parham ~ A “Sandlapper” Comes to Rays Mill

According to sciway.com, the term Sandlapper is a friendly nickname for South Carolinians. Charles S. “Charlie” Parham was a  transplant to Berrien County,  a “Sandlapper” originally hailing from South Carolina, and at other times living in Alabama , Florida, or Georgia.  He came to live  in Rays Mill, GA (nka Ray City) around 1898, when he was about  25 years old. Although he had just completed a program of study at the Georgia-Alabama Business College, he occupied himself in farming upon his arrival in Berrien county.  His brother,  Edwin P. Parham,  had previously settled in Berrien County and  was living at Rays Mill when enumerated in the census of 1900 and again in 1910.  Charlie Parham  farmed at Rays Mill for a couple of years and continued his studies.  He does not appear in Rays Mill in the Census of 1900, perhaps being away at school at the time the census was taken.  Around 1901 he spent a year in Abbeville, Ga attending Georgia Normal College and Business Institute. He taught many years in Berrien schools and served on the county school board.

By 1902 Charlie Parham was living in Nashville, Ga  and on February 8, 1903  he married Lola Lee Giddens of Rays Mill, GA.  She was a daughter of  Fannie Baskins and  William Knight Giddens.

Marriage Certificate of Charles S. Parham and Lola Lee Giddens,  February 8 1903, Berrien County, GA.

Marriage Certificate of Charles S. Parham and Lola Lee Giddens, February 8 1903, Berrien County, GA. Image Src: http://cdm.sos.state.ga.us/u?/countyfilm,187825

In Nashville, Charlie Parham found employment clerking in the local stores. He also found time for public office and taught in local schools.

1926 Poplar Springs Consolidated School opening. Inscription on building reads "Poplar Springs School District, Minerva Academy. Trustees: A. J. Guthrie, Chairman, J. L. Hughes, Secretary and Treasurer, N. L. Singletary; Originators of Consolidation, Moses G. Sirmons, S. M. Green, Dr. J. R. Lasseter; William G. Avera, Designer of Building, W. E. Register, Builder 1926." Teachers, Annie Lee Nix Maddox, Golie Spells, _____Sike, Charlie E. Parham, Alice Knight. (It is thought that many of the above-named persons are in this photo; Wm (Bill) G. Avera, School Superintendent, is the man with left hand against his chest, near middle of 2nd row.) Image courtesy of berriencountyga.com

1926 Poplar Springs Consolidated School opening. Inscription on building reads “Poplar Springs School District, Minerva Academy. Trustees: A. J. Guthrie, Chairman, J. L. Hughes, Secretary and Treasurer, N. L. Singletary; Originators of Consolidation, Moses G. Sirmons, S. M. Green, Dr. J. R. Lasseter; William G. Avera, Designer of Building, W. E. Register, Builder 1926.” Teachers, Annie Lee Nix Maddox, Golie Spells, _____Sike, Charlie E. Parham, Alice Knight. (It is thought that many of the above-named persons are in this photo; Wm (Bill) G. Avera, School Superintendent, is the man with left hand against his chest, near middle of 2nd row.) Image courtesy of berriencountyga.com

In the 1920s, C.S. Parham was situated with Miller Hardware & Furniture Company, his name appearing on the company letterhead.  At that time the firm had stores in Ray City, Nashville, and Milltown (Lakeland), GA.   

  
C.S. Parham appeared on the letterhead of Miller Hardware & Furniture Company in the 1920s.

C.S. Parham appeared on the letterhead of Miller Hardware & Furniture Company in the 1920s.

In 1937, the Nashville Herald ran a biographical sketch of Charles S. Parham that included additional details.

Nashville Herald
May 6, 1937
Flowers for the Living: CHARLES S. PARHAM

The subject this week is a South Carolina “Sandlaper” [sic] by birth, but a Georgian by preference.  Mr. C.S. Parham, known locally as Charlie, was born and reared in Malboro county, S.C. in 1873, making him 64 years old at this writing.  His father was the late C. J. Parham, who died in 1914 at 75 years of age, and his mother passed away in 1887 at 40 years of age.  Both were natives of South Carolina and lived all of their lives in that state.
       At the age of ten years Mr. Parham moved to Florida where he lived for the next ten years.  At twenty years of age he came to Georgia, enrolling at the Georgia-Alabama Business College in Macon.  The following year he was graduated.  It is strange to learn that prior to his business college education he had attended school only three weeks.  The education he had acquired was soaked up through his teens of his own accord.  He applied himself well for the chance he had.
In 1897 he left for Montgomery, Ala. where he worked for a year.  From there he came to Ray City, (old Rays Mill), his first time in Berrien county, where he farmed two years, and at the same time attending school at Lakeland (then Milltown). After that he took a teacher’s course at Abbeville for one year.  Since that course he taught school off and on for twenty years.
       He came to Nashville to live in 1902, and here he has resided ever since.  He first clerked for A. E. Bullard, General Merchandise, later taking a job in the store of S. T. Tygart, hardware dealer, which he held for over six years. During his time with Mr. Tygart he was elected Clerk of the Berrien Superior Court. This was in 1910.  He served two successful terms, four years, then offered and was elected county treasurer.  Before he could take over his duties, the office was abolished. This was his last time offering for public office.
       However, he has over the years served twelve years on the Nashville school board, and one term as city councilman. He is a member of the Nashville Baptist church and for years has been church clerk.
In 1903 he was married to Miss Lola Giddens, sister of Rev. A. H. Giddens of Nashville. There are two children, Mr. C. V. Parham of Atlanta, and Mrs. Charles Norwood of Nashville.  There is only one brother, Mr. E. P. Parham of Brooks county.
Mr. Parham is strictly a business man, and does not have much time for foolishness.  He does, however, like to go fishing when they bite, but does not care for hunting, explaining that there is always too much walking.  He likes to see a good basketball game.
      He is known to be one of the county’s most able business men, attending to his duties, which practice has brought him success and financial stability. He is honest, clear-cut in his views and frank to say what he thinks and believes.  No one can accuse Charlie Parham of being two-faced, the worst feature of so many.  He will certainly call his shots as he sees them. This is one of his most admirable traits. At present he operates a number of farms near Nashville, and   each year makes money.
      Mr. Parham is a good citizen, and Berrien county people are glad to know they have a “sandlaper” in their midst. He is highly regarded and for a very good reason.

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