Having discovered the travesty committed to the grave of Aurora resident John F. Parker, I was compelled to find out more about this man. Who was he? How long had he been at Aurora? Where did he come from and did he have any living family in today’s world?
So as my research continued I soon found perhaps more than I could ever have imagined.
When enumerated at Aurora on the 1900 census, John F. Parker stated his birth date to be “Sept. 1831.” Using that year and his place of birth, I searched for him in the 1850 census via Ancestry.com. Since many of the people who had come to Nevada came in from California in the early years, I narrowed my search of the 1850 census to that state but without luck.
Using a broader search format, I used his year of birth (give or take two years), his place of birth (Illinois), and his place of death (Nevada), but still had no luck. I then went back to the standard form for searching the 1850 census only and searched for “John Parker”, year born 1831 (plus or minus two years) in Illinois. Using these criteria there were six results nationwide for a John Parker. There were two named John Parker, one John G. Parker, two John L. Parkers, and one John W. Parker. There was no John F. Parker.
Of the John Parkers listed, only one had a year of birth of 1831 and was living in Illinois at the time. Knowing that in 1900 the Aurora John F. Parker had given 1831 as his year of birth, I clicked on the census image to see if there might by any information that would indicate he was the John F. Parker we have buried at the Aurora Cemetery. There wasn’t. All it told me was the name of the head of household, Jacob Parker, that John was 19 years old, a laborer and was born in Illinois, and listing the names of others in the household enumerated in District 13, White County, Illinois.
I went back to the full list of John Parkers, but was strangely drawn back to the census image I’d just reviewed. I looked at the names of the others in the Parker household and was drawn to three other names – Jacob, the head of household, “Theophalus” and Thomas G. Parker. Jacob, the head of the household, and presumed father, was 45 years old and a native of Kentucky. “Theophalus” and Thomas G., both born in Illinois, were five years and one year old, respectively. Jacob Parker’s birthplace of Kentucky is consistent with where John F. Parker stated in the 1900 census that his father was born.
In the back of my mind, I strained over those names. There was something eerily familiar about them so I went to an old binder I’d put together for my family members as Christmas gifts in 1990 and looked up my maternal family line connecting to my great-great-grandfather, James Parker.
There were the same three names – Jacob T. Parker, born Kentucky, MY great-great-great grandfather and Theophilus and Thomas G. Parker, born Illinois, Jacob’s sons from his second wife.
That’s when I first felt that the John Parker at the Aurora cemetery and the one on this 1850 census image were possibly one and the same and a member of my very own family line – something that when originally researching and writing about the Aurora Cemetery I had not ever considered.
But there was a hitch.
My great-grandmother’s family notes which she’d written on little scraps of paper, did not include the name John Parker as a “Whole B.” (whole brother) to my gg-grandfather. She did include, however, the names of “Theo.” (for Theophilus) and Thomas G. as “Half” brothers to him. But none of the remaining names was a John. There was only a William and a “Flecher” Parker, who were both listed as whole brothers to my gg-grandfather.
James Parker, brother of John F. Parker
My gut reaction to this continuing review was that, while it was possible that John F. Parker, the man whose grave was desecrated at Aurora, “might” be a relative, there was nothing in my notes to even remotely suggest that this was so. Still, I had to know one way or the other and so further research began.
With the knowledge that Parker had accumulated large parcels of land in the area of Aurora, I began checking land patents that were issued for those sections of land. I found the federal government hadn’t issued him a patent so I checked the Nevada State Land Patent database to see if he had received a patent from the State. I discovered four State patents had been issued to him. Three of the patents were in the name of John F. Parker.
One of the patents issued in 1890 was in the name of John Fletcher Parker. There was that name from my great-grandmother’s notes – “Flecher” – and there was that name “Fletcher” on the Nevada State land patent. In genealogical terms, this is as good as it sometimes get in proving up a relationship to someone.
But still not convinced I went back to the census and other public records information now available online and searched for “Fletcher Parker” and for “John Fletcher Parker” who was born around 1831 in Illinois. There was not one piece of information posted online identifying that any man with that name, born in 1831, existed anywhere up to the time of John Fletcher Parker’s death in 1906. A John F. Parker, who had been born 1828 in Illinois, was enumerated in Missouri in 1860, but this man died in 1889 and is buried in Missouri.
By failing to find information on any man with the name of Fletcher Parker and, after all these years of studying and writing about the deaths at Aurora and the burials in the Aurora cemeteries, I am convinced that, “J. F. Parker” (as it is written on his gravestone), is the full brother of my great-great-grandfather, James Parker, making him my great-great-uncle.
Going one step further, I ordered a copy of what was called the “Parker Family File” from the Mary Smith Fay Genealogical Library in Carmi, White County, Illinois. In the 1850 census the enumeration of the town of Carmi is also listed as being in enumeration District 13, just as was the location for the Jacob Parker family.
Within this file was a transcription from the writings of Dr. Victor Hill Parker, titled “Geneology (sic) of the Parker Family,” which began the family’s ancestry with Jacob Parker, a native of England who had died in Maryland at the age of 50 years. This Jacob’s wife’s maiden name was Tucker which then explained the origin of my great-great-great grandfather’s name of Jacob Tucker Parker.
Jacob Tucker Parker (1804-1880)
Dr. Parker, who died in 1920, identified the generations following the English Jacob Parker to his father, Jacob Tucker Parker and the latter’s two wives; first, Margaret Dockery and their seven children and second, Mrs. Amelia (nee Tanquary) Beauchamp and the couple’s additional eight children. The seven children of Jacob Parker and Margaret Dockery included my great-great grandfather, James Parker (born Dec. 30, 1827, Illinois), James’s brother William Parker (born January 12, 1833, Illinois) and John F. Parker (born Sept. 29, 1831, Illinois). These were the names listed by my great-grandmother on her notes, except that she listed John F. Parker as simply “Flecher” Parker.
Victor Parker provided as much background on the family members as he had available to him, including that his half-brother, James Parker, had married a “Miss Enzer” [sic=Ensor] and to them was born a son, George, who had gone west. James Parker afterward “married Sarah Drew, of New York…Had one child Allie, who married LePaige…They had two daughters, Margaret (sic) and Madeline (sic)…They are living in Calif.” The “Margaret” mentioned was my grandmother, Marguerite LePaige.
Dr. Parker also noted that his half-brother, William Parker had married a Mary Cory and his half-sister, Rachel Parker had married Alfred Tanquary, who was killed in the Battle of Shiloh in the U. S. Civil War. Victor did not include any additional information about John F. Parker, not even information as to date and place of death. This tends to indicate the family had lost contact with a family member over the years.
Much of the information provided by V. H. Parker was that which I had never known before, but a good portion of it confirmed the scribbled notes of my great-grandmother, Alice Parker LePaige.
If I had even imagined that the man named J. F. Parker in the Aurora cemetery might have been a distant ancestor of mine, I would certainly have included that information in my book. Not in my wildest thoughts did I ever once consider it.
I know that today DNA is being used to identify if family members are interrelated, but without John Fletcher Parker’s DNA to compare to, it is next to impossible to prove he is actually my relative.
Although I did not do the research on those at the Aurora cemeteries to satisfy any personal connection to anyone there, I nonetheless find myself having connected with a family member I knew only as “Flecher Parker”, brother of my great-great grandfather.
Sadly, this discovery started because of the desecration of this “Pioneer’s” grave and the disgust I felt that anybody could do that to someone’s remains.
And as the 1960 headline read, it turns out that J. F. Parker truly was a “Pioneer” of the town of Aurora, Nevada. For the majority of time from about 1864 to his death in 1906, John F. Parker worked and lived in Aurora, leading a quiet, industrious life. He could never have known that his own great-great-niece would one day find him.