California Genealogy and History Archives
In the town of Orange, Washington county, Vt., near Knox mountain and in view of Camel’s Hump, Mr. Parker was born April 5, 1822, his parents being E. P. and Laura (Flanders) Parker. In 1827 he was taken by his parents to Washington, Orange county, where until seventeen years of age, he attended the common schools and diligently applied himself to his studies. He then went to Brownington Academy and afterward taught school for a year, following this by attending a theological school and pursuing his studies, with the exception of the winter terms, when he was engaged in teaching. At Norwich Military University he finished his school education, but continued teaching several years longer, and after retiring from that profession turned his attention to farming, lumbering and manufacturing starch from potatoes.
On October 14, 1847, Mr. Parker and Cynthia Adaline Roberts were united in marriage by Rev. Ely Ballou, of Montpelier, Vt. Mrs. Parker was also a native of Vermont, being born in Williamstown, June 20, 1821. Their first child, Pitman Wilder, was born October 1, 1848, and the following year Mr. Parker set o9ut for the gold fields of California. After a rough passage on a steamship from New York to Chagres, an exciting trip across the Isthmus and a lingering delay in Panama, he obtained passage on the steamship Senator, which had just rounded the Horn, Charles Minturn being agent. Late in October of 1849 Mr. Parker landed in San Francisco, where he found his brother Wilder, who had come to this state a year previous and was at that time keeping a boarding house on Sacramento street. Being afflicted with Panama fever contracted in Panama by lodging in a room with eighteen invalids, Mr. Parker was unable to do much, and so remained in San Francisco until February, 1850. He then took another trip in the Senator to Sacramento, going to Marysville in a row boat and from there to Long’s Bar on the Yuba river, where he engaged in mining until June with moderate success. At that time the placer diggings seemed to be exhausted and he returned to San Francisco just in time to see the big fire of 1850, which consumed most of the business part of the city. July, August and September were spent in prospecting on the river Tuolumne, but being dissatisfied with the regular returns of the mines, he again went back to San Francisco, and in December with two parties, Needham and Allen, settled on Joyo Rancho and followed farming and stock-raising for four years.
At the expiration of that time, in December, 1852, Mr. Parker returned to Vermont for his family, and in June of the following year arrived in California with his wife and son Pitman. During the summer, one of his partners, John Allen, was drowned in San Francisco Bay by the sinking of a boat that contained four persons; Allen, Knox and an Indian were drowned, and Wheeler was saved. In December, 1853, Mr. Parker purchased his present place and here his other children were born: Gelo Freeman, January 17, 1854; Alma R., February 14, 1856; Laura Ada, January 25, 1858 (died October 6, 1864, and George W., born July 4, 1860. There being no school in the vicinity, Mr. Parker educated his son Petman mostly at home, having him get his lessons and recite them to him while he was attending to his milk, butter and cheese. He pursued the same plan through all the common branches of study, from the spelling book to geometry, and being an advocate of a practical education, he procured type and a printing-press and established a family newspaper in which all the members of the family took part. Mr. Parker is deeply interested in educational matters, having been a school trustee for many years. His son Pitman was county superintendent of schools in Alpine county, Nevada, and later was proprietor of the daily and weekly Astorian in Oregon. His son Gelo is also in Astoria, Ore., where he has served as county and city surveyor. His daughter Alma became the wife of Hon. James Hynes, now deceased, by whom she had one son, Wildrick Hynes. About two years after the death of Mr. Hynes she became the wife of David Walls, who is also deceased, his death occurring at Haystack Landing. He left one son, B. Walls. His widow now resides in Petaluma. George W. Parker is a resident of Oregon. Twelve years after the death of Mrs. Parker, which occurred June 4, 1867, Mr. Parker was united in marriage, January 18, 1879, to Mrs. Eliza Jones, a native of Ryegate, Vt., but after one year they agreed to separate, and she has since died.
Mr. Parker is and has been for many years much interested in all true reforms that tend to save time and money and elevate the people to a position of independence and make them honest, just, intelligent and self-reliant. Literature, philosophy, stenography, phonetic printing and spelling reform have received his hearty support for many years. He was educated according to the partial salvation doctrine, but after much thought and consideration on the subject, he became a Universalist and later a Freethinker, now believing that the more superstitious and ignorant we are, the less we are fitted to take care of ourselves and help others, and on the other hand the more we know the better we are prepared to meet and manage all difficulties; facts about this world are important, but “One world at a time” is his motto.
Mr. Parker’s ranch is located three miles south of Petaluma on Petaluma creek, hunters from San Francisco making it their resort, and a Parker House Club of seven members come here twice a week during the hunting season. This rendezvous with its cheery, interesting host, now in his ninety-first year, is well known to the surrounding country, and many an absorbing hour is spent in listening to the man of much learning and of such strength of character that he is an inspiration to all with whom he comes in contact.
Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011