John Henry Parker, now living retired in Valparaiso. derives his income from investments in property there and
from other holdings that represent a life of activity and well directed thrift. He was born upon a farm in Green
county, Kentucky, January 24, 1847, a son of william M and Margaret Ann (Thomas) Parker. The father's birth occurred
in Green county, Kentucky, in 1821, and when on a trading trip to the south in 1850 he died of cholera near New
Orleans. His wife, who bore the maiden name of Margaret Ann Thomas, was born in Hardin county, Kentucky, November
13, 1822, and passed away in Martin county, Minnesota, February 1, 1914. They were married in 1842 and had a family
of four children.
John Henry Parker is a self made man who deserves commendation for what he has accomplished. He had the opportunity
to attend school for only three months, for the father at his death left the family in straitened financial circumstances
and he was early thrown upon his own resources, working out for the meager sum of four or six dollars per month.
In 1861, when a youth of fourteen years, he went to Illinois and there remained until 1868, when he made his way
to Martin county, Minnesota. He was ambitious to engage in business on his own account and. in that locality rented
land and carried on farming for five years. During the succeeding three years he purchased cattle for Illinois
parties and then went to Jasper county, Iowa, where he spent the winter season working by the month. In the spring
he rented a farm, which he operated for two and one half years and in the fall of 1878 he removed from Iowa to
Saunders county, where he carried on general farming for eighteen months. He then drove across the country to Martin
county, Minnesota, where he engaged in the cultivation of rented land for seven and one half years but in 1888
he again came to Saunders county, where he once more rented a farm for about three years. During this period he
carefully saved his earnings and in 1890 felt justified in making a purchase of eighty acres on section 35, Newman
township, where the town of Touhy now stands.
The tract was then raw prairie, entirely destitute of improvements, and his cash capital amounted only to thirty
five dollars, but undeterred by these conditions, he began to break the sod and as soon as possible put in his
crop. He also erected a dwelling and induced the Union Pacific Railroad to make a spur to his land. He also persuaded
a Wahoo firm to erect an elevator and sold to that firm four acres of land for forty dollars per acre. Continuing
the work and recognizing the possibilities, he was instrumental in securing the platting of the town plot. In 1893
he sold the remainder of his eighty acre tract and purchased an eighty acre farm on section 17, Oak Creek township,
northwest of Valparaiso. With characteristic energy he improved that property, erecting thereon an eight room residence
with good barns, sheds and outbuildings for the shelter of grain and stock. He also planted an orchard and a grove
of two acres and thus enhanced the pleasing appearance of his place, which he sold in 1895. His next purchase made
him owner of eighty acres on section 5 of the same township and again in similar manner he carried on the work
of general improvement and development, including the planting of an orchard and grove. After two years he disposed
of that property, selling in 1897, after which he purchased the southwest quarter of section 18, Oak Creek township,
on which was a shack. He erected a good residence and other buildings, set out a grove and orchard and lived there
for three years, when in 1900 he again sold. At that date he purchased the old home place on section 17, Oak Creek
township, and a forty acre tract adjoining, thus making his farm one of one hundred and twenty acres. This he cultivated
for more than a decade or until 1912, when he disposed of that property and retired. Each change has indicated
a profitable transaction and year by year he has won added success, becoming in time one of the prosperous and
substantial residents of the community. He now has a good block of residences in Valparaiso, together with his
own home, which is an attractive place.
On the 16th of September, 1877, Mr. Parker was united in marriage to Miss Minda Gesford, of Galesburg, Jasper county,
Iowa. They are the parents of three children, namely: Fred, an agriculturist residing in Valparaiso; Alminda, who
is the wife of F. C. Johnson, of Oak Creek township; and Harry, at home.
Fraternally Mr. Parker is identified with the Masons, belonging to Square Lodge, No. 151, A. F. & A. M., being
the oldest member in jurisdiction and a past worshipful master. He is also connected with the Ancient Order of
United Workmen, in which he was the first candidate initiated and is a past master workman. His political allegiance
is given to the democratic party and while in Minnesota he served as a township trustee. At the present time he
is a member of the ton council and is serving on several important committees. He belongs to the Christian church
and his life has been guided by its teachings. All who know him speak of him in terms of warm regard. They admire
him for his enterprise and determination, respect him for his integrity and reliability and know him as a citizen
of value and worth.
Past and Present Saunders County, Nebraska
A Record of Settlement, Organization,
Progress and Achievement
Charles Perky Supervising Editor
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
Saunders County, NE
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