Parrett Family History

The Parrett Migration: Their Story is America's Story

5 Generations...200 Years of American History...The Parretts were ordinary farmers, lost to the ages--until now...As it turns out, their story is America's story. Winner of the 2015 National Indie Excellence Award for historical biography.



 A rainy day in the Netherlands, the last leg of my journey down the Rhine River, tracing Frederick Parrett's general route to America in the eighteenth century 

My Journey with the Parretts

Until I married and changed my name to Thurston, I didn't like my Parrett maiden name. I had endured too much teasing on the playground. You know . . .  "Polly, want a cracker?" It wasn't a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but embarrassing taunts like those can wither a school girl's confidence--as it did mine. Ironically, all that changed when I married and became a Thurston (no teasing there). My new husband loved genealogy and it wasn't long when, under his influence, I did, too, and also fell in love with the Parretts in my pedigree. 

But before the Parretts became my focus, I honed my skills by researching my maternal line. The first time I saw my Scottish grandmother's birth certificate glowing from the library microfilm reader, I was hooked. I published a short family history about that grandmother, Bella Bullock Miller, and her coal miner husband, Bill, in 1996, and shortly afterward began teaching family history writing classes at Santiago Canyon College in Orange County, California. That was nearly two decades ago. Today, hundreds of students later, I'm still teaching. 

After I finished my history of the Millers, I turned to the Parretts. The Parrett Migration is the result of years of research and multiple drafts. The book's prologue describes the joys and tribulations of what became an exhaustive (and exhausting) journey that took me to Switzerland, France, Germany, and a half-dozen states. There were times I thought I'd never finish, because I was writing about five families whose lives spanned 200 years of history. Because much of what I found about them came from census and land records, I soon realized I would have to embed them in their era and locale to get a sense of who they were.

It has been an extraordinary endeavor, a true labor of love, and, I might add, it has been many years since I've been embarrassed by my Parrett name. I'm proud to be a Parrett, just as I'm proud and grateful for the Parretts who have come alive for me through my book. 

Other things...

  • BA in English from UCLA and MA in communications from Cal State University, Fullerton
  • Co-author (with my husband) of Breathe Life into Your Life Story: How to Write a Story People Will WANT to Read, published by Signature Books in 2007
  • Professional speaker on the subjects of family history and memoir writing
  • One husband; six children; five grandchildren; one dog
  • Fan of Jane Austen, Downton Abbey, and . . . frankly, anything that comes with an English accent.
  • Visit my blog at and my website at

Foy history writers, it is a "how to" book on combining facts with well written scenes that invite you into the thoughts and dreams of these explorers. You might expect great historical or family photographs, but most people have not seen a contract for an indentured servant or a pay slip for a Revolutionary War soldier. How about the hyperbole of advertisements luring the brave into the uncharted regions of unexplored America? The broad wealth of intriguing information envelopes the characters so that the truth of their lives reads like a wonderful historical novel.