|Birth: ||Nov. 22, 1799|
New York, USA
|Death: ||Feb. 27, 1891|
He married Almeda Sophia Roundy (1829-1912) on Feb 3, 1846 in Nauvoo, Illinois. He also married Sophia's sister Samantha Roundy 1824-1906)
John Davis Parker
By Sophia Parker Stapley
As you can tell from all of the events credited to him, Grandfather Parker was an active and responsible man. He lived a full and exciting life. As has already been noted, he was born in Saratoga, New York as the first of 15 children. Because the family was so large, he was raised by a "German Aunt" (we're not sure who this was) and received a good education. He learned to speak seven different languages, four of which he mastered. This education was to serve him well in the years to come.
But he was restless, even as a youngster. At the age of only 13, he enlisted in the Army and became a soldier in the War of 1812! And served a full term, to boot. He was still restless after that, even though his aunt wanted him to stay with her. She was even willing to leave him her property and a large library of valuable books, if he would stay. But it wasn't what he wanted. He left home and at 17 years of age was working in a lumber business near Montreal, moving later to Nauvoo, Illinois. He became skilled in making wagons. The Latter Day Saints were located at Nauvoo at the time, and he came to know their leaders and their mission well. He embraced the Gospel and was baptized on May 1, 1832, by Shadrach Roundy and Steven Burnett. He was a member of the first Seventy Quorum in March, 1835; received the Patriarchal Blessing from the father of Prophet Joseph Smith in 1836; became an Elder on January 3, 1841; filled a Mission; and became a High Priest of the Church.
At Nauvoo, he met and married a Harriet Sherwood, who was deaf and dumb. They had four children, all of whom died in infancy -- named Dorcus, Moroni, Nephi, and Samuel. They later divorced.
Also at this time he became a commissioned officer, a Captain of the Militia of the State of Illinois, Nauvoo Legion, in 1842; and was elected a constable in Nauvoo in 1843. It was during this time that he began to play his important role of being a bodyguard for the Prophet. There are many stories about his deeds, doing this. I already told you about how he had gained the confidence of Sheriff John Williams, my great-grandfather, to learn of the plans the mobs had for threatening harm to the Latter Day Saints. He did this unbeknownst to the Sheriff, and used this secret information to help move the Prophet from one safe place to another. One night in particular, when danger seemed greatest, he "borrowed" a horse from a neighbor, silently crossed a river, moved the Prophet and his brother Hyrum to a safer place, came back across the river, and returned the horse to its proper place. The mob didn't find the Prophet when they made their raid that night and the family never knew that their horse had taken part in such an adventure.
Brigham Young appointed him to watch the Movements of the mob, and to stay the violence in Ward Carthage. Both he and Shadrach Roundy were selected by the Council to help move families and their goods from there into Nauvoo, for safer haven. It was daring and dangerous work and they responded to their mission. As you know, the Prophet and his brother were both killed by the mob, anyway, despite the efforts to protect them. The Prophet came out of hiding when he felt his people needed him, was jailed, and then killed while in jail. It was a terrible deed.
It was at Nauvoo that Grandfather Parker met two of the Roundy sisters, Almeda Sophia and Samantha, daughters of Shadrach. Following a courtship, he married them both in the Nauvoo Temple on February 3, 1846. It was a polygamous marriage, which was practiced in the Church at that time (the practice ended with the Manifesto in 1885).
When the decision was made in 1847 for the Latter Day Saints to move from Nauvoo to Utah, he and his wives were ready to join the first Company. But because he had become such a good wagon-maker, he was asked by Brigham Young to make wagons for others to use in crossing the Plains. They moved to a safer place -- the "Winter Camp" in Kanesville, Pottowami County, Iowa -- for this purpose, ending up spending about five years there. While he was there, the first three of his children were born. The first one died at birth, which brought great sorrow to them. He also served a term as County Sheriff. In all, he made 13 wagons that crossed the Plains. Then his shop caught fire, destroying two other wagons and his tools. Shortly afterwards, they decided it was time for them to make the journey to Utah also. Shortly afterwards, they decided it was time for them to make the journey to Utah Also.
To make the trip, they joined the Company of Captain Abraham D. Smoot. It was a terrible journey, because of a "scourge" (cholera) which struck many members of the Company. In all, 68 became sick and 14 died. Those who were stricken with it got it suddenly and were very ill. Those who didn't get it tried to take care of those who were sick. The weather was hot, and for those who died there was no time to make coffins. They were wrapped in their blankets and buried on the prairie. Every known method of combating the disease was tried. One method that seemed to work best was this. The afflicted person was either dipped in cool water or had it poured over the body. Then a starch-like mixture was made of whiskey and flour, and administered by mouth. Most of them made it through. Heading the list of those credited with doing their utmost to care for the sick was Grandfather Parker. The list also included Brigham Young, John Tanner, Nathan Tanner, and Heber C. Kimball. They arrived in Utah on August 28, 1852, with the five members of their family, a wagon, four oxen and two cows. They first settled in Centerville, Morgan County, and my father Charles was born there the following year, on December 30, 1853.
Grandfather's good education helped him become a leader among the early settlers of Utah. While living in Centerville, he was elected to two terms in the State Legislature, and one as a Probate Judge. His family and others were then called on to help settle Kanab, Cane County, Utah; and then later they moved to Kanarra in Iron County.
His fighting days were not over though. He fought during the Civil War of 1861-1965, when he was in his 60's, with a sword no less! It may have been the same sword he owned that had been a relic of the Revolutionary War. He cherished that sword. Anyway, after that he served in the Madisonian War to gain the right to naturalize.
Esther had a nice closing to grandfather's story. Here is how she tells it:
My grandparents lived in Kanab and from there they moved to Kanarra (North), the original location of the town, then to the new town after it was moved and rebuilt. They built a log cabin on the N.E. corner lot, of the block which stands N.E. corner lot, of the block which stands N.E. from the Church square, where Brother Platt's garden now stands. The family was raised in the log cabin. Later they bought a new home from Doc Brown.
They were a devoted family. Grandpa displayed many acts of kindness to both of his wives; also to his daughter-in-law, Elizabeth, to whom he was very devoted, after his son Charles was married. Their warm affection and devotion lasted throughout their lives. At the time when the Marshals came on their rounds in search for Polygamists, grandpa talked with them but never was taken.
Because grandpa was quite old when he began raising his family (48) most of the responsibility of caring for the family fell on Charles' shoulders. Grandpa was 54 when Charles was born and 73 when his last daughter, Samantha was born. Charles then was nineteen years old. Grandpa did all he could to carry his load, such as chopping wood, shucking corn, feeding the stock, etc. But Grandma did the gardening. Charles did all the farming and hauling wood.
Grandpa was not too thrifty, that is, he didn't save very much money; however, he always managed to pay his full amount of tithing to the Church and was forever a very faithful member, always helping the other less fortunate families, especially the needy widowed families.
His lifelong habit of snuffing and chewing tobacco was broken during the last years of his life. He was often seen cracking and eating the pits from the Pottowomi plums, which could have been his means of substituting something else to help himself break his tobacco habit. I was only five years old when grandpa died but I do often remember seeing him sitting in his chair by the stove, enjoying the warm wood fire that heated the house. By his side was a little stool, on which his cat sat, sharing this comfortable place. They looked so contented warming themselves and napping there together. During that last cold winter, Grandpa developed pneumonia. He was then ninety-two. He went outside to cut his last armful of wood and as he entered the house he said that he would not ever be cutting any more wood. He went to his chair by the fire, and it was there where he took his final nap. He died in his favorite chair, with Kitty curled at his side.
Malinda Parker Roundy (1851 - 1937)*
Charles Parker (1853 - 1935)*
Betsey Jane Parker Smith (1859 - 1951)*
Almeda Sophia Parker Taylor (1868 - 1947)*
Samantha Ann Parker Berry (1873 - 1915)*
Created by: Max Turpin
Record added: Jun 15, 2007
Find A Grave Memorial# 19913347