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William R. Parker


Posted By: Fran Hunt, Volunteer
Date: 10/5/2001 at 22:50:38

From the Portrait and Biographical Album of Jefferson and Van Buren Counties – 1890
William R. Parker is a representative of one of the pioneer families of Van Buren County, residing in Birmingham, was born in Keosauqua, August 12, 1852, his parents being George and Hannah C. Calhoun Parker. His father, a native of Lewis County, West Virginia, was born December 22, 1814, and having remained under the parental roof until 1835, he went to Illinois, where he remained some time. Eleven years later, he made his appearance in Van Buren County Iowa. He was without capital, yet by splitting rails, digging wells, etc. he succeeded in accumulating a small sum, with which he began merchandising in a log store in Birmingham. Business at that time was done in a very primitive way. The proposed purchase of a barrel of molasses would be announced before hand and on its arrival all would be there with their jugs, waiting to be supplied. He continued in business until the war and in that way became widely known throughout the community. In 1851-52, he was County Treasurer and during his term of office lived in Keosauqua. He helped hew the logs for the first county jail and in other ways was connected with the early history of the community. Mr. Parker was married on December 23, 1847, and from that time until his death devoted himself to his family and the advancement of their interests. His wife was born December 25, 1825, and like her husband was an active and faithful member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, to which they also made liberal contributions in money. His beneficence however did not extend to the church alone, but also to the poor and afflicted. He died in June of 1888. Thus another pioneer, whose life was a blessing to all with whom he came in contact, passed away. His wife still survives him. In their family were five children, but only two of the number are now living—William R. and Jesse F.
The subject of this sketch has spent his entire life in Van Buren County, and was educated at the Birmingham schools and at Bailey’s Commerical College, from which he graduated. At the age of eighteen years he began life for himself and since that time has been dependent upon his own resources. He was then quite young for such an undertaking, but he purchased the Birmingham Enterprise and after running it alone for six months he took as a partner C.L. Sheward. Together they operated the paper successfully for twelve years, at the end of which time. On account of failing health Mr. Parker sold out to this partner. Having disposed of his interest in business, he took a trip to California where he spent the winter. Shortly after his return he went to Pennsylvania, where for a paper published in Beaver Falls, he acted as city solicitor until he was taken sick and brought home.
On June 10, 1877, in Birmingham, Mr. Parker was joined in wedlock with Miss Mary J. Randall a native of Illinois, and a daughter of Capt. William Randall, who was killed in the war. She belongs to the Methodist Episcopal Church and is the leading milliner of Birmingham, having carried on a store for four years. Her exquisite taste, which is an important factor in the selection of goods, together with her pleasant and affable manner, makes her a favorite with the ladies and has brought her an excellent trade.
In political sentiment, Mr. Parker is a Republican. He is engaged in mercantile pursuits being senior member of the firm of Parker and Cramer, who carry a large stock of general merchandise, and is also interested in the dairy business, having engaged in that pursuit, in company with his brother since the spring of 1890. They own sixty head of cows, which are pastured upon their four hundred and thirty-five acre farm. As a citizen, he cheerfully performs every duty devolving upon him and as a businessman of enterprise, as well as a representative of one of the pioneer families of the community, he is deserving of a representation in this volume.
I am not related, and am only copying this for the information of those who might find this person in their family.


Van Buren Biographies maintained by Rich Lowe.
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