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EARLY HISTORY

The Parkers Arrive

 

 

Elisha B. Parker, 1829-1898
 One of the first settlers in the area that became Parkerfield was Elisha Bates Parker. This blacksmith and farmer from Ohio had settled in Wisconsin before the Civil War. His wife and his oldest son had pneumonia for three winters in Wisconsin. The doctor told them that if they wanted to survive another winter, they had better move south. The Parkers moved to Kansas in 1867, first settling in Chase County. Elisha Parker claimed some land along Diamond Springs Creek, next to the Santa Fe Trail. Seeing how high the creek could rise, he started looking for a better location. According to his granddaughter, Mary Crumley, he went looking for a place farther south in 1868. He picked out a location in the area east of what would become Arkansas City. The family moved down either in the spring of 1869, in the Crumley account, or joined Elisha on the new place in 1871, in another version of the story. In either case, he was on the scene before June, 1870, when it became legal to file a claim on the former Osage land.

 Elisha Parker's 160 acre claim was on the north side of the road now called Birch Avenue. After he picked that location, he learned that his oldest son, Charles Parker, had arrived before him and taken the 160 acres across the road to the south. According to the Homestead Act of 1862, a settler could claim 160 acres, make certain improvements, pay $18 in fees, and receive a deed to the property afer living on it for five years. Apparently there was some fudging on the time requirement, as the United States deeded 160 acres to Elisha B. Parker and 160 acres to Charles L. Parker, both on September 1, 1873.

 

Charles L. Parker, 1849-1917

 

Parker School, District 32, 1928-29
 The following spring, on April 30, 1874, Elisha Parker sold the east half of his claim, 80 acres, to John P. Leach for $400. Four days later, on May 4, John Leach sold one acre to School District #32 for $10, twice what he had just paid for it. Although Leach sold the land for the school, Elisha Parker had settled the place, so the school was called Parker School. Before the school was built, one of Elisha Parker's daughters taught school in their home. From 1874 until consolidation put an end to the one-room school almost eighty years later, at least three different school houses stood on that acre.

 On July 23, 1874, Charles and Rosetta Parker sold twenty acres across the road from the school to Elisha Parker. This included two acres on the corner, where the cemetery was located. Elisha Parker deeded two acres to the Prairie View Cemetery Association on April 25, 1876, but burials apparently began in 1872. According to legend, the cemetery's first customer was a dead cow. Though the official name of the cemetery was Prairie View, everybody called it Parker Cemetery because it was across the road from Parker School, and so it is called today. People on the scene today sometimes don't realize how much this part of the country has changed. When the first settlers arrived, the only trees were along the streams. So when cedar trees were wanted for the new cemetery, the answer was a trip of more than seventy miles down into Indian Territory to bring back seedlings from along the Cimarron River.

 

Parker Cemetery, around 1930

 

 

Parker School and Cemetery, around 1915

 

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