Parramore, James Harrison (1840–1917)

By: Eleanor Sellers Hoppe

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: April 25, 2019

James Harrison (Colonel) Parramore, cattleman, son of William Warren and Rebecca Jane (Norwood) Parramore, was born in Early County, Georgia, on August 13, 1840. When he was two, the family moved to Mississippi, where they lived for six years. In December 1848 the family began a move to Gonzales County, Texas, and arrived the last of January 1849. As a young man, Parramore attended Gonzales College. At the outbreak of the Civil War he was elected third lieutenant of the volunteer military company known as the Gonzales Rifles, which was organized on May 25, 1861. On September 4, 1861, he became third lieutenant in Company I of Terry's Texas Rangers, or the Eighth Texas Cavalry, a regiment attached to Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston's army. Parramore was wounded at the battle of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, on January 1, 1863. A few months later he returned to the regiment. He was again wounded on July 30, 1864. This time he was forced to retire from the service. He held at the time the rank of captain. His injuries prevented him from returning to Gonzales until July 1865. On October 28, 1866, James Parramore married Mary Jane Goodson in Gonzales. Ten children were born of their marriage, but three died before reaching maturity. Parramore farmed 100 acres of land near Gonzales until 1875, when he gave up farming. He then ventured into the cattle business in a small way and raised mules, which were much in demand. He formed a cattle partnership, Parramore and Lewis, with Hugh Lewis, his brother-in-law and a banker. Parramore and his family moved to Runnels County in 1879. He set up headquarters on Elm Creek six miles north and east of the little community later known as Runnels City. On June 7, 1881, Parramore and Lewis made their first land purchase. They bid on seventeen different parcels for $153.83, plus the fee for the drawing up of each deed and bought a total of 8,565 acres. The next year the partnership bought the acreage on which the headquarters site was located. In 1886 the holdings of the partnership amounted to over fifty-eight sections. At first the Runnels County ranch was stocked with longhorn cattle, but in 1891 the partners restocked it with Hereford cattle. At this time Parramore became the sole owner of the ranch. The cattle to be sold were trail-driven to Dodge City, Kansas, and to Kansas City, Missouri, before railroad shipping was possible.

Upon learning of the route of the Texas and Pacific Railway, Parramore moved his family to a ten-acre tract of land in Abilene in 1881, the year the town was founded. Four years later he built a handsome residence in that city at a cost of $5,000. Parramore was in partnership with many others in various ventures. He was president of the Abilene Cotton Oil Company, which operated ginning plants in Anson, Eula, Mulberry Canyon, Buffalo Gap, and Abilene. The San Simon Cattle and Canal Company was organized in 1883 and incorporated in 1885 through a partnership of Parramore, Hugh Lewis of Gonzales, and Claiborne W. Merchant. The company owned the water rights in the San Simon valley in Arizona and western New Mexico. Around 15,000 calves were branded on this range in one year, and in 1892 one sale to the Standard Cattle Company of Nebraska amounted to nearly $60,000. In 1897 Parramore and Merchant bought a ranch called the San Simon in the San Simon geographical depression in southeastern New Mexico, a spot that provided some protection from severely cold weather. They obtained the right to graze from the Pecos River eastward to the Texas line with no designation of north-south boundaries, an area considerably larger than one million acres. In 1902, however, the two Abilene cowmen dissolved partnership; Merchant took the New Mexico ranch, and Parramore and Lewis acquired full ownership of the Arizona ranch. In addition, Merchant paid Parramore $2,000. The Arizona company was dissolved after Parramore's death.

During his lifetime, J. H. Parramore was active in promoting laws to protect cattlemen. He organized the General Round-Up Association, which promoted general roundups in several locations in west Texas, enabling ranchers to locate lost cattle. Parramore was also active in local, state, and national organizations for cattlemen. He served as a member of the executive committee of the Cattle Raisers Association of Texas (now the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association). In 1915 he was named honorary life president of the American National Live Stock Association at its meeting in San Francisco. In 1917 he was a member of the national executive committee. Parramore was a Baptist deacon and a Mason. He was one of the initial subscribers to Simmons College in Abilene and was a member of its board of trustees from 1894 until 1917. Parramore Field, the athletic stadium, was named in his honor, and in 1915 he gave $10,000 for a dormitory that was named Mary-Frances Hall in honor of Mary Parramore and Mary Frances Merchant. Parramore Post of the American Legion in Abilene, which was formed in 1919, was named in honor of J. H. Parramore. Abilene also has a Parramore Addition and a Parramore Street named for him. James H. Parramore died on July 4, 1917, in Abilene.

Abilene Reporter-News, April 8, 1956. Rupert N. Richardson, Famous Are Thy Halls: Hardin-Simmons University As I Have Known It (Abilene, Texas, 1964; 2d ed. 1976).

  • Education
  • School Trustees and Regents
  • Ranching and Cowboys
  • Ranchers and Cattlemen

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Eleanor Sellers Hoppe, “Parramore, James Harrison,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed July 01, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

April 25, 2019