|Birth: ||Nov. 8, 1826|
|Death: ||Jun. 6, 1902|
Willis was part of a family, the Parkers, that helped Texas win its independence, fought in the Civil War and even helped in the first defense of our new country in the American Revolution. He was also a second cousin of Cynthia Ann Parker (born 1827), who was kidnapped by Comanche Indians and had a son, Quanah, the last chief of the Comanche. If anyone finds additional information specific to Willis, please email me and I will include it.
Willis was married to Mariah Jane (Larrison) Parker in 1849 and they had eight children. Mariah died in 1883 and was buried in the Larrison family cemetery east of Madisonville. After the death of Mariah, Willis married the much younger Nancy Adeline Ponton. Nancy died in 1898 and is buried nearby in the Old Mesquite Cemetery northwest of Lexington.
There is a story below written in 1901 that gives a more detailed account of Willis' life. A few details are incorrect, but hey...when you're in your 70's let's see how many details you remember. Anything in parentheses is an edit that I made.
Contributed for use in the USGenWeb by:
June E. Tuck
USGenWeb Archives. Copyright. All rights reserved
From the historical files of June E. Tuck who does not validate or dispute any historical facts in this article.
Dallas Morning News Nov. 2, 1901
Willis Parker, the subject of this sketch, is one of the oldest living native Texans in the State. The father of Willis Parker, immigrated from Kentucky in 1822, and located in Texas near old Nacogdoches, as a member of the Robinson Colony. There Willis Parker was born Nov. 8, 1825 (1824 or 1826?). Later on the family moved near Huntsville, where Mr. Parker was mostly raised. There and elsewhere in the State, the family have since lived, and evidences of their sojourn still remain in such names as Parker Fort and Parker County (both were named after Parkers not directly linked to Willis, ie. cousins/uncles). The residence of Gen. Sam Houston in which he died, stood on the land patented by the father of Mr. Parker. The battle San Jacinto, Mr. Parker distinctly remembers. He was then a boy nearly 11 years old. After the battle he and others of the family, being alarmed by a false report that Houston was defeated, walked to Nacogdoches to escape the Mexicans, as they thought. The general stampede occasioned by this report has since been known in history as the "Runaway Scrape." The father of Mr. Parker was in this battle; took sick before he left the service and never fully recovered, dying five years after (His father, Wiley, died in 1847).
Texas was then a wilderness full of Indians, revengeful and bloodthirsty. Mr. Parker has vivid recollections of a number of raids when he, with the other children, were rushed into hiding by their mother to escape the red men. Cynthia Ann Parker, whose romantic history every schoolboy knows, was a first cousin (actually second cousins) of Mr. Parker. Her father being Jim Parker (actually Silas M. Parker), an uncle of Mr. Willis Parker. He was within two miles of the scene when she was stolen, and was himself in hiding at the time. This occurred at what was then called Parker's Fort, when Willis Parker was about 13 years old. (Above it was stated that Willis was 11 when the Battle of San Jacinto occurred and the Fort Parker massacre happened within 3 months of San Jacinto. I believe he was around 12 during both.)
As a young man Mr. Parker fought Indians under Capt. Thomas and Wadkins, and ranged practically all over the State. At the outbreak of the Mexican War all his horses were pressed into the service, and his cattle taken also. In return he was given government scrip, which the Federal authorities forgot to repay. He afterwards entered the United States army and was detailed by Tom L. Smith to haul provisions for the Rangers from old Washington to Fort Gates. He remained in the service till the close of the war, and was at the battle of Monterey. His captain was Jim Gillespie, Jack Hays Regiment, in General Taylor's command.
Mr. Parker, having a large family to support, never entered the Confederate service, but furnished beeves for the penitentiary and frighted cotton to Brownsville, for which he was granted certain conditions of exemption from active services. He owned a number of slaves, cattle, horses and lands situated on the line of Walker county, all of which was lost as a result of the war, leaving him comparatively a poor man.
Being well stricken in years at the breakup, Mr. Parker was unable to retrieve his losses, but has maintained himself and family in comfort, and has not been assisted by either State or Federal government except a Mexican War pension, which he has been drawing the last several years.
Mr. Parker now lives in Lee county. He has been twice married, both wives now dead, and has been the father of eight sons and daughters, three of whom are still living. These themselves are now well up in years and have families of grown children.
"Uncle Willis" lives in retirement and seclusion, innocently unconscious of his importance as an historical figure. A man, he is childlike in his simplicity, loved by all his associates, and thankful that, through he is poor, he has been allowed to journey so long in the land of his birth.
E. McIntosh - Tanglewood, Lee Co., Texas
Mariah Jane Larrison Parker (1825 - 1883)*
Nancy Ann Ponton Parker (1859 - 1899)*
Hugh Wilson Cemetery
Created by: Shayne Archer
Record added: Aug 02, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 40204726