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This article is from the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, 6 volumes, edited by William S. Powell. Copyright ©1979-1996 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Parsley, Eliza Hall Nutt (Hallie)

By William S. Powell, 1994

13 Aug. 1842–11 June 1920

Eliza Hall Nutt Parsley, painting, date unknown. Image used courtesy of the United Daughters of the Confederacy North Carolina Division, Inc.Eliza Hall Nutt (Hallie) Parsley, founder of the North Carolina Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC), was born in Wilmington, the daughter of Louise and Henry Nutt. She was educated at St. Mary's School in Raleigh. On 2 Sept. 1862 she married William Murdock Parsley, a captain in the Confederate army. He was wounded three times during the war and was sent home to recuperate. Near Richmond, Va., a few days before the surrender at Appomattox, by then a lieutenant colonel, he was fatally wounded. Mrs. Parsley and their two young daughters, Amanda and Janie, were then refuging at Sleepy Hollow in Bladen County but soon returned to Wilmington. There she spent the remainder of her life, supporting herself and her daughters by teaching. In 1894 she opened her own school for small children at 619 Orange Street.

During the war Hallie Parsley had been occupied in caring for wounded soldiers and in offering what comfort she could to suffering friends and neighbors. After the war she continued her service to others, largely through the Confederate Memorial Association of Wilmington. Among other things, the members undertook to decorate the graves of the seven hundred Confederate dead there.

There were similar organizations elsewhere in the state and the members learned of the United Daughters of the Confederacy that had been established in other states. Mrs. Parsley was named chairman of a committee to inquire about the purpose of this body, and from the original chapter in Nashville, Tenn., she received information, a charter, and authority to establish units in North Carolina. In December 1894 she organized the Cape Fear Chapter of the UDC, and in April 1897 she formed the UDC's North Carolina Division. Mrs. Parsley was the division's first president, a post she held for two years. She soon became a public figure, advising women who wanted to create new chapters, traveling frequently throughout the state and elsewhere on behalf of the UDC. Her goal was to inspire love for the Southern states and to teach that Southern soldiers were heroes and not traitors. "In her speeches," it was said, "her soft voice was always animated by the love and devotion in her heart to the young soldier-husband who did not return." She also was involved in arranging the production of amateur plays, pageants, and musicals in Wilmington in the 1890s.

Mrs. Parsley spent her final years at her home on Red Cross Street, Wilmington, receiving friends and admirers. It was said that, like countless Confederate widows, she always dressed in black, her straight hair parted in the middle and combed back. When out of doors she wore a small black bonnet with a long crepe veil at the back. An Episcopalian, she was buried in Oakdale Cemetery, Wilmington.


Lucy London Anderson, North Carolina Women of the Confederacy (1926)

Charlotte Observer , 25 Apr. 1937

Confederate Veterans Magazine , 3–4, 6, 8–11, 15, 19, 23, 25, 28, 36, 38 [consult index] (1895–1930)

Eliza Hall Parsley Papers (Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina Library, Chapel Hill)

Louis H. Manarin, comp., North Carolina Troops, 1861–1865: A Roster , vol. 3 (1971)

Minutes of the Twenty-fourth Annual Convention of the United Daughters of the Confederacy . . . New Bern (1920)

Raleigh News and Observer , 14 Sept. 1937

Lou Rogers, Tar Heel Women (1949) and "Eliza Nutt Parsley," We the People 3 (November 1945)

Wilmington Morning Star , 12–13 June 1920

Tony P. Wrenn, Wilmington, North Carolina: An Architectural and Historical Portrait (1984)

Image Credit:

[Eliza Hall Nutt Parsley.] Painting.  Date unknown. Photo courtesy of United Daughters of the Confederacy
North Carolina Division, Inc. (accessed August 14, 2012).

Origin - location: