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John Parke, Sr. and John Parke, Jr.

In New Jersey and Virginia Sons of Immigrant Roger Parke, Sr.

Roger Parke’s son John, Sr. is found first in Burlington County, New Jersey, by about the late 1600s. His son, John, Jr. was born 1700/01 in Hunterdon Co., New Jersey. Early on in New Jersey the families seemed to be attached to St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Burlington County. But “…by 1731, the Parkes were listed as members of the First Presbyterian Church in Hopewell, Hunterdon County. The names included John Parke, Sr., John Parke, Jr….”.

John Parke I (ca.1674-1757)

“John Parke I (ca.1674-1757) came to Old Frederick County, VA during the early days of settlement and applied for a Fairfax grant, which he reassigned to a son named George Parks. His date of death has not been proven, but is believed to have been during the era of the French and Indian War.”

He received the grant in 1753, after George Washington surveyed the land in what is now Parks Valley, Hampshire Co., Virginia, in 1750. George was eighteen or nineteen years old at the time, but had been working as an apprentice surveyor for the Fairfax family since he was sixteen, according to Phillip Smucker in his 2017 book “Riding with George.”

“From 1750 to 1753, George Washington worked as a land surveyor and measured many of the properties in Northern Virginia. In 1750, at the age of eighteen years, George Washington surveyed land on or near the Capon River for John Park, Sr., and also for his presumed son, John, Jr., apparently an adult by that time. Records exist concerning three tracts thus surveyed: (a) a tract of 250 acres for John, Jr.: (b) a tract of 400 acres for John, Sr. (I); and possibly (c) a tract of 135 acres for an unknown John Park, Jr.

“In his letter of Sept 9, 1893, Moses’ grandson James Parks confirms that his grandfather spoke of seeing George Washington more than once at the home of his father (John Park (II)) while the surveys were in progress….

“Mrs. Northcutt notes in her 1957 paper that John Park, Sr. (presumably the owner, John I), served as a chain carrier for surveyor George Washington in 1750. That is apparently indicated by the name “John Park” at the ends of the survey documents. One wonders, however, if this could have been John, Jr. (II), as John (I) was no longer a young man by then.”

“There seems little reason to doubt that John (I) married Sarah Smith, daughter of the Hopewell pioneer Andrew Smith, and that they and their son John Park (II) and others left Hopewell some time after 1735. That year saw the conclusion of a legal battle and the failure of the Parks’ efforts to prevent Daniel Cox from ejecting them from the land around Hopewell on which they had lived for a generation. Possible the Parks and others went elsewhere in Hunterdon county, N.J. for a time, but no one is sure… It seems likely that John (I) and his brother-in-law Thomas Smith, Sr., were in Fairfax County by 1745.”

“….Both John and Thomas lost their land….due to a defect in their title. They forcibly ejected the new owners from their former land, and got into trouble with the law as a result.”

John Parke II (1700/01-ca 1758)

“John Parks II was born probably in Burlington County, N.J.,* and was possibly the John Parks who died in 1758 (near Cumberland, Md.), while serving in a unit of the Virginia Militia during the French and Indian War. John II married a woman named Mary, who died circa 1773. Either her maiden name was Davis, or, after John’s death, she remarried a man who was surnamed Davis. They received a Fairfax grant in Parks Valley, Hampshire County.”
* Later researchers put his birth in Hopewell Twp., Hunterdon Co., New Jersey.

North Carolina/Kentucky/Missouri Branch of the Parke/Park family

North Carolina

Ebenezer Park (1747-1839)

Ebenezer Park (1747-1839), son of John Parke II) was a man of unusual education for his day. Born in Virginia, he settled in North Carolina (perhaps as a result of the French and Indian War), where most if not all of his children were born. We don’t know exactly when the Park families moved from Hampshire County, WV, to Rowan Co., NC, by way of the Great Wagon Road of Pennsylvania, but the first record of Ebenezer in Rowan County is 1772.   He married Tabitha Mills in January of that year. Since the Mills family was staunchly Quaker for generations, it is likely that Tabitha was “disowned” or otherwise “shunned” for marrying outside the Society of Friends. She had married into a family of Baptists according to Eastern Kentucky University Library’s Archives and Special Collections section. Evidently not only was Ebenezer a Baptist minister, so were his son Ebenezer (1777-1860) and his grandson, John Mills Park (1806-1877).

“Several Parks lived in what was then called the Bald Mountain District of Rowan County. These were George, Moses, Ebenezer, Allen, Timothy, and Charles. It is not known exactly where in the District George lived, but the others were all in or near what is now Jackson Hill Township, in western Davidson County, on or close to the Yadkin River.”

“On August 8, 1778, Ebenezer was listed as one of many throughout Rowan County ‘who neglected or refused to appear before the Justice of their respective Districts and take the Oath of Affirmation of Allegiance to the State agreeable to Act of Assembly and who have omitted appearing at Court and rendering Excuse for such Neglect or Refusal.’ “ (He would not take the oath of allegiance to the State of North Carolina against the King.)

According to Doug Park, Ebenezer lived 24 years along Cabin Creek in the township of Jackson Hill, NC before going to Kentucky. But his brother Noah and wife Anna remained and died on their farm in NC. They are buried on that farm in a cemetery known as the Park-Bean-Wyatt Cemetery.

On to Kentucky

In 1796 he and Tabitha “followed Daniel Boone into Kentucky using the Wilderness Trail and was considered to be a Pioneer of Madison Co. They traveled on pack horses with their ten children and settled near the town of Richmond. Later Ebenezer moved to Station Camp, where he lived for many years. He finally settled on the waters of Drowning Creek in Madison County, where he lived and died. In the marriage bond, signed by John Hawkins, Ebenezer spelled his name “Parke.”

Ebenezer bought four hundred acres of land on Station Camp Creek, Madison Co., Kentucky, practically at the mouth of Middle Fork. To his four oldest sons he deeded one hundred acres each. He made a most remarkable division of this land. To Asa he gave the lower tract, to Ebenezer, Jr., the upper tract, and to Jonathan the next lower tract. These three tracts were located on the east side of Station Camp Creek. To John he gave the land on the west side of the creek. The four hundred acres were so divided that each son received the same number of acres of low land and each son received the same number of acres of hill land and each had Station Camp Creek watercourse.

Son John Park (b. 1773) became sheriff and magistrate of Estill County, Kentucky. When he died he owned twelve Negro slaves.

Son William (b. 1784) was a Calvinist preacher who later joined the Christian Church. Many Estill County young folks were united in marriage by William.

Migration to Missouri

Jesse Park (ca 1790-bef 1845)

Son Jesse (ca 1790-bef 1845) was the only child to leave Kentucky, and he did so for the promise of land in Missouri by his wife’s father. He eventually owned land in Franklin Co., in the area of Krakow. His wife, Winnie Ann, was the oldest child of Samuel Dent of the Dent family living in Charles Co., Maryland. Samuel had moved to Madison Co., Kentucky in 1795, later on to Franklin Co., Missouri where he received a land grant in 1818 near Krakow. He purchased more land in 1831 and 1835.

Champion City Grist Mill, built in the 1800s, and served that area of Franklin County.

Jesse and Winnie’s family included William (b. 1810), the oldest child, who later served as administrator for his father’s estate, and also for his own son James’ estate. William married Mary (Polly) Cromer in1843. Together they had seven children.

Eli Bailey and Melinda Olive Thompson Park

William’s son Eli Bailey (b. 1846) married Melinda Olive Thompson in 1867. Before his marriage, he served as a Private in Company I under Captain Crowe, in the 26th Regiment of Infantry Volunteers. He enlisted on 21 Sep 1861 at Union, Missouri and mustered in December at Pacific, Missouri. William was discharged Nov. 21, 1862 at St. Louis.

Eli explained to a granddaughter how he lost one of his fingers during his service in the Civil War, and she passed on the story:

“It was when he was in the war between the North and South. The war was over, but he had been taken prisoner by the South (and was still being held by them). It was late in the afternoon and he was with a bunch of other prisoners in the back of a wagon. They came to a big cornfield that covered many acres. The captain of the North said, ‘Some of you fellows get out and gather enough corn and we will stop and build a fire and roast it for supper.’ Grandpa and the next guy to him jumped out and he picked up a hatchet out of the wagon to take along. They ran down the rows of corn and when they were out of sight they just kept going. When they got to the end of the field, there was another road. They went across into the woods and tried to hide. After dark, they decided to roast some corn to eat.”

“Grandpa took out his hatchet, started cutting wood for a fire, but hit his finger and cut it off. It was winter and had it not been so cold he probably would have bled to death, but as it was, his finger froze as it began to bleed and froze it over. About the time this was happening they heard a wagon coming, so they hid under a brush pile until the wagon went by. When it was far enough away they built a fire and roasted the corn and tried to wrap up Grandpa’s finger. They walked back the other way until they thought they were over the northern line and then slept until the sun came up. They ran into some of their (northern) men and kept walking and getting a ride on wagons until they got home.”

In their later life, Eli and Melinda lived in Stanton, Missouri, close by the cemetery where they are now buried.

Eli Oscar Grover and Effie Louella Blackwell Park

Eli Oscar Grover Park (b. 1884), one of Eli’s sons, became my grandfather when he married Effie Louella Blackwell in 1906. They began their married lives in Franklin Co., Missouri, and lived for a while in Champion City.  Four of their five children were born in Missouri, and the youngest in Illinois.

There are stories of Grover and Effie square dancing in or near Meramec Caverns during their youth. But after their marriage in 1906, work was not easy to find. They pulled up roots and moved first to two southern Illinois communities—Carlyle and Taylor Springs–where Grover worked in the coal mines. One day Grover met a man who knew a farmer from Illinois needing help. So, in 1913, with four children in tow, they moved to Central Illinois in order to work on the farmlands of Alvin Sperling near the small village of Fisher.

He also worked on the farm of John Teuscher, a family that attended the East Bend Mennonite Church near Fisher. Grover was so impressed with the life of this family that the Park family became members of the Mennonite community, and several children married Mennonites, including my mother, Laura Mae Park.

Sources

  • Possible Origins of some Park Families in the Eastern Part of Old Rowan County, North Carolina, Percival David Park, Aug 1994
    Settlements and Settlers in Old Frederick Co. VA – History of the Parks Family of Old Frederick County and Eastern Hampshire County, Wilmer L. Kerns, Ph.D
  • Park of Kentucky, 1747-1929, Nell Park Gum, 1929
  • Parke & Cobb Family Genealogy, http://home.att.net/~parkefamilyheritage/index.html
  • Abstracts of Minutes III, Madison County, KY  p. 40, 4:169 and p.42, 4:173.
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