Professional advancement in the law is proverbially slow. The first element of success is, perhaps, a persistency of purpose and effort as enduring as the force of gravity. But, as in every other calling, aptitude, character and individuality are the qualities which differentiate the usual from the unusual; the vocation from the career of the lawyer. Less than fifteen years ago George Matthias Parsons was admitted to the bar, and within that time has gained an eminence for which older practitioners have striven a life time.
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He was born in Cambridge City, Indiana, on the 15th of January 1850, and is of English descent. His ancestors located in Massachusetts in colonial days, later removed to New York and were prominent factors in the early history of the country. One of the number Commodore Decatur, became eminent in connection with the navy of his native land, and William Parsons, the grandfather of the general, participated in the war of the Revolution and the war of 1812. He lived to be eighty-three years of age. His son, George L. Parsons, father of our subject, was born in Syracuse, New York, and after arriving at years of maturity wedded Miss Mary Elizabeth Matthias, of Ohio, who was descended from an old Virginia family that was early established in the south. Her father, Jacob Matthias, was born in the Old Dominion and removed to Ohio, be-coming one of the founders of the town of Hamilton, in which he long made his home, being numbered among its most influential and valued citizens. George L. Parsons died at the age of sixty-four years, and his wife passed away when forty-four years of age.
In the public schools of Cincinnati, Ohio. General Parsons of this review began his education, which was completed in the high school of Hamilton, Ohio. He was very large for his age, when, as a youth of fifteen years, he offered his services to his country and joined the “boys in blue” of Company F, One Hundred and Eighty-ninth Ohio Infantry. This was in the last year of the war. Thousands of brave men had fallen and thousands of homes had been made desolate by the loss of loved ones. The people realized now all that war meant with its sufferings, its horrors, and its sacrifices, and it required no small amount of courage for men to leave their homes and families for the battlefield. With a patriotism which would have been creditable to a man of twice his years, General Parsons responded to the call for more volunteers, and with his company was engaged in scouting duty in the mountains of Alabama until after the cessation of hostilities, when he was honorably discharged, in October, 1865.
Returning to his home, he completed his education and then followed various enterprises until 1871, when he came to Idaho. Since that time he has been an active factor in the public life and the development of the state, ever put-ting forth his best efforts for the advancement of its welfare and the promotion of its best interests. He was a member of the seventh and tenth general assemblies. In 1883-4 he served as judge of the probate court of Alturas County, and in 1885 was admitted to the bar, since which time he has engaged in the practice of his profession.
In 1892 he was elected attorney general of Idaho, and in 1894 was re-elected, serving in that important office for two terms most creditably. For many years he was a stalwart Republican, an active worker in the ranks of the party and an able exponent and advocate of its principles, but when, at the national convention in St. Louis, the party declared for the gold standard, with much regret he abandoned its ranks and gave his support to the cause of bimetallism, of which he is a firm believer. Soon afterward he identified him-self with the free-silver party of Idaho, by which he was once more nominated for attorney general, but on account of the division in the silver forces was defeated.
On his retirement from office he resumed the private practice of law. He is now a member of the firm of Kingsbury & Parsons, which holds rank among the leading and successful law partnerships of Idaho. Their fine suite of rooms in the Sonna Block, in Boise, is unsurpassed in any of the western states, and is supplied with a most extensive and valuable law library. Since coming to the west General Parsons has also successfully engaged in mining to a considerable extent. While he has won distinction at the bar and honors in public life, he has at no time failed in the performance of the least duty devolving-upon him, and at the time of the Indian outbreak in 1878 he raised a company and served as its captain, aiding in the suppression of the troubles. In 1875 General Parsons was united in marriage to Miss Mary E. Welply, of Brooklyn, New York, and a lady of superior culture and natural refinement, who holds membership in the Episcopal Church. In 1875 the General was made a Master Mason, in Alturas Lodge, No. 12, A. F. & A. M., has served as past master, and has been a most active worker. He is also a valued member of Phil. Sheridan Post, G. A. R., of Boise, is past commander of E. D. Baker Post, at Hailey, and was junior vice commander of the Department of Utah, Idaho and Montana. He is a man of fine physique, large and well proportioned. His entire freedom from ostentation or self-laudation has made him one of the most popular citizens of Idaho, with whose history he has now been so long and prominently identified.