It is not surprising to find cousins marrying cousins in old England or in the frontier colonies of America. When I found Abel Parker marrying Lydia Parker I assumed her maiden name was lost. Research revealed she was indeed a Parker at birth. There are several examples of first and second cousins uniting in marriage. We also find half brothers and sisters marrying, and a daughter-in-law who marries her father-in-law when the son (and husband) dies too young in the hills of Kentucky.
The Parker family, on my wife’s side of the tree, was prolific in producing offspring in the remote areas of America. They were so prolific and the population so small, that their descendants were bound to run into each other and marry. One family could field two baseball teams. But, baseball had yet to be invented. The Parker family migrated from England to Connecticut. Who exactly was the first of the Parkers to come over on the boat is open for debate.
Many believe the first to appear on this side of the ocean was Edward John Parker (1622-1662). From what little is recorded he was a bit of a character as described in the early history of New Haven, Connecticut: “He was a likeable, irrepressible fellow who, when scolded for breaking one rule, would just turn around and break another. He was such an inveterate gossiper that this Parker family might well have been the original ‘nosy Parkers.’”
The Records of the Colony of New Haven relate an incident in which “Edward Parker was complained of for going up and downe spreading false reports to the defamation of Mr. Richard Malbon. Since Mr. Malbon was the judge, this was a very serious matter, and was probably the reason that the elders of the church tried to persuade the widow Elizabeth Potter not to marry Edward Parker, threatening to excommunicate her if she did. She did marry Edward and she was excommunicated by her church. She eventually made peace with the church.”
Researchers originally believed that Edward John Parker was born in England and immigrated here. Others believe it was his father, Sir William (Earl of Morley Handbury) Parker who was born in England and came to America.This would make for terrific family history if it were true. Sir William Parker, the Earl of Morley, never left England. He did set a record for playing both sides of the political fence as a Catholic, a protestant, a loyalist to the crown, a conspirator and a traitor to the crown. Lord William was involved in the Gunpowder Plot (November 5, 1605), celebrated to this day as Guy Fawkes Day. Roman Catholics hoped to blow up enough gunpowder under the floor of Parliament to kill King James I and most of his Parliament. Two of Parker’s brother-in-laws were involved in the plot: Francis Tresham and Thomas Habington. One of them sent a note advising Parker to miss the meeting in Parliament on November 5th as a plot was underfoot and the building would be a dangerous place. Parker turned the note over to the king’s men, they searched the building, found Guy Fawkes putting the gunpowder in place and they tracked down the conspirators. Debate raged as to whether Parker, a catholic had been in on the plot and then turned his friends and relatives over to the crown to save his own hide. Some felt he was a double agent. He announced he had been duped by Catholic parents as a boy and was now a protestant and a fan of the King. He couldn’t possibly have plotted anything like this! On his deathbed he wagered that God was Catholic and renounced his protestant ties, and pledged himself to the Catholic Church. Regardless, all attempts by Parkers in America to claim the character as a great grandfather are, in my opinion wrong. His kids and grandkids, all stayed put in England. I love a good story though and will continue to find a way to fit this guy into our tree!
A William Parker does appear on the records as a shareholder in several of the British corporations profiting from New World ventures. He was invested in Humfrey Gilbert’s attempt to find a Northwest Passage, in the Tea Company and in Gilbert and Sir Walter Raleigh’s attempt to colonize New England (New Haven Company) and Virginia. He actually sat on a Board of Directors with one of my great grandfathers, the previously mentioned William Davis of England. Our Edward John Parker shows up living with the New Haven Company in Boston and moving later to New Haven, Connecticut. It is possible he descends from this William, not the Earl of Morley.
The story of Edward John Parker and his relationships becomes even more interesting if you examine the Beecher branch of his tree. It is from this branch that the gun running preacher and abolitionist of Civil War fame, Henry Ward Beecher descends; as does the author, Harriet Beecher Stowe (Uncle Tom’s Cabin).
Edward John’s marriage to Elizabeth Wood Potter, widow of John Potter produces four children: Mary, John, Hope and Lydia. John is our ancestor. John was born 1648 and was baptized Oct. 8, 1648. John Parker married Hannah Basset, the daughter of WIlliam Bassett and Hannah Dickerman.
William Bassett was one of the original settlers in New Haven, involved in the establishment of the government and economy. He was also a bit of “foole” per one of the early authors of New Haven. It was written that he had “trouble with his gun, a trouble which most young men of that day shared. He was fined for firing foole gunns, He was fined for coming late with it on the Lord’s Day; fined later because the gun had defects; fined at one time because he didn’t have the gun, and at another time because he did.” Guns were important for safety and security in frontier towns. So also was the night watch. A man had to be on duty when so scheduled. Bassett failed: on several occasions he was a no show. The community did not accept the boy he sent in his place to do a man’s job. Bassett was fined and openly rebuked for neglect of duty.
John Parker’s wife, Hannah, was a malicious, deadly gossip monger. She accused a mother and daughter of witchcraft in 1697. It would be the last of the witchcraft trials in Connecticut. But, it would bring great harm to the Benham family. Winifred Benham Sr (b. c.1640) and Winifred Benham Jr (b. 1684) were tried and acquitted. Joseph and Winifred Benham had been among the original settlers in Wallingford in 1670. Winifred Jr. was the youngest of their 14 children. Despite the innocent verdict, the family was shamed into leaving Connecticut and moved to Staten Island, New York. John Parker’s sister Mary also got involved in going after the Benhams. She was instrumental in bringing in her husband the Deacon, John Hall who prosecuted the Benhams.
John Parker and Hannah Bassett had eleven children that we know about. Two of the eleven are important to our tree: Eliphalet Parker (1682-1760) married Hannah Beach (1783-1749). They had a son Gamaliel (1718-1770) and 12 other children. Eliphalet’s brother Joseph (1682-1758) married Sarah Curtis Yale (1687-1760). They had a son Ebenezer (1713-1797) and about ten more munchkins. They lived out their lives in Wallingford, Connecticut and were kept busy providing for their large families. The surname of Yale and Beach would come together in the name of Moses Yale Beach (1800-1868), American inventor, entrepreneur and founder of the Associated Press.
The Beach, Parker, Curtis and Yale families were all the earliest settlers of Connecticut and successful merchants and farmers. The village of Wallingford was home to the Parkers for five generations. Established as a municipality by the Connecticut General Assembly in 1670, it was home to thirty-eight planters and freemen and their families. Resting on a ridge above the sandy plain of the Quinnipiac River, just north of the Long Island Sound and the city of New Haven, CT. the village had been divided into six acre lots. With the advent of the industrial revolution Wallingford was ideally situated on the river for textile manufacturing and also became a hub for the silver industry.
Gamaliel Parker married Elizabeth Blakeslee (1721-1782) in Wallingford. Ebenezer married Lydia Barnes (1716-1761). In true Parker fashion Gamaliel and Elizabeth had 12 children. Sadly they had to use the name Gamaliel three times. The first child, so named, died at age 10. They then named the first son born after that death Gamaliel and that child died in infancy. Fortunately the third time was the charm and a Gamaliel, Jr lived from 1756 to 1799. Such were the fortunes of humanity in providing healthcare in the 1800’s. The first born of Gamaliel, Sr. and Elizabeth was our own Abel Parker I (1741-1826).
Meanwhile, down the street in Wallingford, the Ebenezer Parkers were doing their best to keep up with Gamaliel and Elizabeth. Ebenezer and his wife Lydia had ten children including Lydia Parker (1745-1809). Abel Parker I would marry his second cousin, Lydia Parker. The motivation is unclear, but Abel I and Lydia Parker pack up their belongings and head over the Appalachian foothills to Wells, Vermont. They would raise nine children including Abel Parker II (1772 – 1839). Lydia passes away in 1809 and Abel appears to remain a single man until his death in 1826. This was unusual as many of the frontier men chose not to remain single for long. But Abel and Lydia’s children had all moved out of the house by this time and Abel apparently chose bachelorhood. There was a another man named Abel Parker from Rhode Island who settled in Vermont and he creates some confusion living out his life as a Revolutionary war soldier, married to a woman named Lydia just up the road from Rutland. [A problem that I certainly understand. The last time I counted there were 50,000 men with the name Steve Smith (including variations) in the midwest alone.]
It is from Rutland, Vermont that an interesting twist takes place in the annals of family travel and history. The move is a turning point in the story of the Slaymakers and Whittingtons. Abel Parker II marries Clarissa Stephens (1782-1812) and she and Abel II have six children. The children include Abel Parker III (1805-1857). Clarissa dies shortly after the birth of her daughter Sarah. Her tombstone records her name affectionately as “Clarry”. Unlike his father before him, Abel II does remarry, to Eleanor Howe (1789-1869) of a long established name in New England. They have several more children including Jacob Parker (1814-1881) and his older brother David.
Abel Parker III (son of Clarissa and Abel II) marries Amanda Goodspeed (1806-1866), descended in the Goodspeed family that dates back to the early settlement of Massachusetts and then Vermont. They have seven children including our Delos Parker (1835-1897).
Jacob Parker (son of Abel II and Eleanor Howe) was a mechanic and carpenter. He had worked the woolen mills of Vermont and he and his parents (Abel II) followed Jacob’s brother David to Illinois. Jacob brought his parents household furniture as cargo via a ship across the Great Lakes. An 1885 Whiteside County History comments that Jacob built what was considered “an aristocratic home” in section 15 of Garden Plain Township. He and his wife Elizabeth Baker (1823-1894) offered their home as a place of worship for fellow Christians until such time as a church could be built. Jacob was also quick to establish a fine barn and out buildings on his property. Abel Parker III (Jacob’s half brother) chose to remain in and live out his life in Vermont with his wife Amanda Goodspeed. Abel and Amanda’s son Delos will head off to Illinois with his uncles, David and Jacob Parker. Delos motivation for leaving his parent’s home in Vermont is made obvious when he marries his cousin, Jacob’s daughter Mary Eleanor Parker, in Garden Plain, Illinois in 1860.
The Whiteside History written in 1885 had this to say about Delos Parker: He was a Sedimentarian, that is he farmed section 28 in Garden Plain Twp. The Parkers were the first settlers of Garden plain. It was a family pattern. The Parkers were the first to settle into Rutland, Vermont, and the the first to settle into Connecticut with the New Haven Company. “Ansel Goodspeed, Delos’ maternal grandfather, was Town Clerk of Wells, Vermont for 46 consecutive years. Ansel was also a Justice of the Peace and a Representative in the General Assembly of the Green Mountain State. Delos Parker was brought up on his father’s farm, and educated in the public schools of his native town. At 14 he engaged with a carpenter and joiner to acquire a knowledge of the business in which he was employed two years. He then clerked one year in a drug store. In 1853 he came West to find a home and business. At Chicago he entered the employ of the Chicago & Galena Railroad corportaion, in whose interests he operated until the spring of 1855, when he came to Whiteside County, and worked at the business of a carpenter one year. He then engaged in mercantile affairs at Garden Plain Corners. In 1860 he sold out and went overland to Pike’s Peak, arriving at his destination after about 60 days travel. He spent a few months in prospecting and mining and returned home on account of ill health. He turned his attention to agricultural pursuits and in 1863 bought a farm on the southeast quarter of section 28. The place was under partial improvement, having a small frame house and a few acres of prairie, which had been plowed. The place is now supplied with a valuable set of farm buildings, trees and shrubs of different varieties. The proprietor is engaged in mixed husbandry, and is interested in raising cattle and sheep, and also in conducting a dairy. Mr. Parker was married Dec. 25, 1860 to Mary E. daughter of Jacob L. and Rosina (Baker) Parker, and they have six children; Wilbur, Harry J., Fred L., Jessie E., Albert John (1873) and Nellie Edith. Minnie died in infancy. Mr. Delos Parker is the representative of the children of the first marriage of his grandfather, Abel Parker II.”
Albert John Parker married Bertha Belle Jordan (1878-) and they had two children: Harold Delos Parker (1901-1983) and Josephine Alberta Parker (1901-1960). On June 25, 1924, my wife’s grandfather, Bruce Isaac Slaymaker (1904-1980) married Josephine Parker (grand daughter of Delos) and united the two families (Parkers and Slaymakers) whose journey to America and through America, was driven by deep religious conviction.