The name of this gentleman is so inseparably connected with the history of Franklin, its up-building and its progress along commercial, educational and church lines, that no history of the southeastern section of the state would be complete without the record of his useful career. He was one of the first to locate in Franklin and is numbered among its honored pioneers. A native of England, he was born in Barrowford, Lancastershire, April 12, 1831, a son of William and Charlotte (Rose) Parkinson, who were likewise natives of that country. He was only six months old when his father died, and two years later his mother married Edward Berry, a gentleman who was very fond of travel and who took his wife and stepson to many foreign ports, including the Cape of Good Hope, Africa, thence to Sydney, Australia, to New Zealand, to Valparaiso, in South America, and then back to England in the fall of 1846. They were shipwrecked in the Irish channel, were rescued in lifeboats, and were landed in Ireland at the time of the severe famine in that country. Mr. Parkinson’s stepfather expended nearly all his means in relieving the distress of his relatives in that country, and in the spring of 1848 he sailed with his family for New Orleans and thence to St. Louis, where our subject first heard the teachings of the Latter Day Saints and embraced that faith.
The cholera was raging in the year 1849 and by that dread scourge of the race he lost his mother. The people died in great numbers, and burials occurred not only in the daytime but at night, as well. Three years later, in 1852, Mr. Parkinson was happily married, in St. Louis, to Miss Arabella Ann Chandler, and in the spring of 1854 they crossed the plains to Utah bringing with them their first-born son, Samuel C. Parkinson. Our subject had a team of mules, but the train was principally composed of ox teams. They left St. Louis, June 1, 1854, and reached Salt Lake, September 25, after a dangerous and difficult trip, in which they were in constant fear of Indian attack. They drove their wagons two abreast and were frequently surrounded by Indians. At night they chained their wagons together in a circle and every man slept under his wagon with his rifle ready to be used in the defense of his life, family and property, and a guard was maintained all night long. About the time they reached Fort Laramie the terrible Indian massacre occurred there. The Indians flocked to the fort in large numbers to receive the presents which were annually given them, and some of their number killed a white man’s cow. Complaint was made to the soldiers and an officer was sent to the chief to demand the delivery of the culprits. The officer, however, was intoxicated, and told the Indian that he would blow his head off if the guilty parties were not instantly delivered. The chief stood there, and with a wave of his hand called attention to the large number of his followers, saying, “If you shoot me you will be instantly killed.” The officer repeated his threat and killed the chief, and at this the Indians killed the officer. Then the Indians charged the fort, killed every soldier, helped themselves to the presents, and destroyed everything they did not want.
Mr. Parkinson was then ten miles west of the fort, and when his party heard of the massacre they expected to all be killed. However, they divided the company into two sections, and Mr. Parkinson, having a mule team, was sent in the lead of the first section. They drove all night and made the best possible time to get out of the reach of the excited savages. After a hard journey across the plains they at length arrived safely in Salt Lake City, where stood the little houses which had been built by the first emigrants. Mr. Parkinson aided in building the Temple. A canal was constructed on which to float the rock from the quarry toward the building. After his work there was completed our subject located at Keysville, twenty-five miles north of Salt Lake City, where for the first time he engaged in farming. It was very hard to obtain water there, however, and in 1859, with two or three others, he started to seek a better location. Crossing the mountains to Hunsaker valley, they arrived at the present site of Wellsville, and found that the land there had been mostly claimed, so Mr. Parkinson continued on to Logan, then a town of four or five houses, while two or three more were being builded at Providence and at Smithfield. In the spring of 1860 an attempt was made to start a town at Richmond, but the company came to the present site of Franklin and being so well pleased with the country they sent for their families, and soon about fifty families were here gathered, and the work of building houses in the form of a hollow square was begun. Mr. Parkinson, Thomas Smart and Mr. Sanderson were appointed to survey the land. They had no compass, and the lines were run by means of the north star. The land was surveyed in five and ten acre lots, the latter to be used for farming purposes, the former for meadow land, and who should occupy these was decided by casting lots, the most perfect harmony prevailing through it all. After this the town property was surveyed in one and a quarter acre lots and the substantial residences that now compose the town were erected on these. In the fall President Young visited Franklin, named the place and appointed Preston Thomas as bishop. A log schoolhouse was erected and was also used for a meeting-house. Mr. Parkinson and Mr. Smart built the first sawmill and then furnished the lumber for the town. The former also started a little store and brought his goods from Salt Lake, a distance of one hundred and ten miles, carrying produce to that place and returning with merchandise. He also procured the first threshing machine seen in the locality. It was a chaffpiler and another machine followed to clean up the grain. In 1869 or 1870 a cooperative store was established, a branch of the great cooperative store at Salt Lake City, from which place they obtained their goods. The citizens took stock and divided the profits, which made the goods very cheap. Shares were sold at ten dollars each, everyone got the goods at the same price, and each family was expected to own at least one share. The store was controlled by a board of directors, and Mr. Parkinson was elected its manager, carrying on the business for fifteen years, after which his sons William and Franklin, in turn, acted as superintendent for a number of years. In the meantime other stores were established and a proposition was made to unite them all, which resulted in the formation of The Oneida Mercantile Union, which has continued to carry on business to the present time, Mr. Parkinson serving as one of its directors from the beginning.
In 1879 he went to the east to procure machinery for the first woolen mill built in the state, making his purchases mostly in Buffalo, New York, and the mill was started in the spring of 1880. In 1893 he engaged in the sheep-raising business, but the price of wool steadily declined for some time, and it was difficult to realize anything from his business. He persevered, however, and since the advance in wool has been meeting with good success, recently selling out at a good profit.
Mr. Parkinson has been a Republican since the organization of the party, but has never sought nor desired office. In his church he has been a useful and valued member, and has served as teacher, elder, a seventy, and as bishop’s counselor at Franklin. In 1873 he went as a missionary to Arizona, for the purpose of colonizing that territory, and was there five months, but it became so dry that the settlement had to be abandoned, although the original plan has since been accomplished. He is still bishop’s counselor and has been an honored patriarch in the church for years.
By his first wife Mr. Parkinson had the following named children: Samuel C, now a prominent citizen of Franklin; William C, president of the Pocatello stake; Charlotte C, the twin sister of William C, and now the wife of William Pratt; George C, president of the Oneida stake; Franklin C, who is engaged in the sheep business; Esther C, wife of Henry T. Rogers; Clara C, who became the wife of Charles Goaslind, and died January 20, 1897; Caroline C, present wife of Charles Goaslind. In 1867 Mr. Parkinson was married to Miss Charlotte Smart, daughter of Thomas Smart, a highly respected pioneer of Franklin, and their children are as follows: Annie S., wife of Ossian L. Packer; Lucy S., wife of Charles Lloyd; Joseph S.; Frederick S., who is now on a mission in the northeastern states; Leona S., wife of Walter Monson; Bertha S., wife of Nephi Larson; Eva S., Hazel S., Nettie S. and Vivian S., all at home. In 1869 he married Miss Maria Smart, a sister of his second wife, and they have been blessed with the following children: Thomas; Samuel S.; Luella S., wife of Matthias F. Cowley, an apostle in the Church of the Latter Day Saints; Arabella S., wife of Robert Daines; Sarah Ann S., wife of George T. Marshall, Jr.; Olive S., wife of Ezra Monson; Edmund S., who is now on a mission in the southern states; Clarence S.; Susan S.; Hazen S.; Henry S., who died at the age of thirteen years; Cloe S., who died in infancy ; Lenora S., who also died at infancy; and Glenn S., who completes the family. In all there were thirty-three children, of whom twenty-seven are living. There are sixty-nine grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. All of the members of this numerous family are highly respected citizens of Idaho, and Mr. Parkinson is entitled to great credit for the manner in which he has reared and educated his children.
Mr. Parkinson is a polygamist in his religious faith and has followed the dictates of his own conscience. In 1879 he was arrested, tried and acquitted. In 1886 he was again arrested for the same alleged offense, taken to Blackfoot, examined by the grand jury and held for trial. He acknowledged in a most manly way that he had three wives and thirty children, and that he had been married to the last wife over twenty years. His lawyer defended him. in a speech in which he stated that Mr. Parkinson was a pioneer citizen of the state, of the very highest respectability, and had been a potent factor in the development and improvement of the county Mr. Parkinson then asked the judge if he might speak. He said he loved his family all of them as much as any man could; that he had entered into a solemn covenant with them to take care of them; that they were his for time and for eternity, and he would suffer himself to be hung between the heavens and the earth before he would either deny or forsake them. Judge Hayes then said: “You have left me no alternative but to convict you,” and sentenced him to six months in the state penitentiary and imposed a three hundred dollar fine, but told the warden to treat Mr. Parkinson well and not to shave him, and remarked that when he visited Boise he would go and see him. Mr. Parkinson thanked the judge and went to the penitentiary, where he served out his time, but was allowed a month off for good behavior, after which he returned to his family and friends. In 1884 he built a large and commodious residence in Franklin, and there the good pioneer and patriarch, surrounded by his numerous family, is spending the evening of a faithful and exceedingly useful life, enjoying the high esteem of a host of warm friends.