Biography of James M. Parker

JAMES M. PARKER. – There is no more worthy subject for the pen of the writer than the sturdy, faithful pioneer. Little will ever be said concerning that life compared with the amount that might really be mentioned in praise of this noble class of individuals. We are pleased to announce that the man whose name appears at the head of this article belonged to that number of praiseworthy men who opened this country, doing work here before the middle of the last century, and from that time until the present maintaining an upright demeanor, displaying good ability to properly fill the stations of life where he has wrought, and constantly laboring for the development of the country and for the welfare of all, while his priceless qualities of moral worth and intrinsic value have been a light to many on the pilgrim road.

James M. Parker was born in Surry county, North Carolina, on September 20, 1826, being the son of John Parker, a noted farmer of that region, and a prominent citizen of his state. There our subject was educated and at the tender age of fourteen years his adventurous spirit led him to begin the journey to the west, landing in Buchanan county, Missouri, in that year. He at once set to work for wages and six eyars were spent in steady employment in that county. Then being twenty years of age he was led to seek still further toward the setting sun and so in 1847 he joined one of the trains that dragged their weary way across the baked plain and rugged mountain, beset by hostile savages and innumerable hardships, toward the Pacific coast. Battles too numerous to mention individually were participated in, and well along toward the close of the journey they had a severe encounter with the redskins, and our subject received a serious wound in his right arm, the bone being fractured. No doctor was in attendance and it was with difficulty that the member was saved, and in fact, it was with great odds against his life itself that he endured. Fourteen days later he arrived where a physician was to be had. An amputation was ordered at once but the sturdy will of the subject refused all obedience to the physician, and the result was hat the arm was saved. However, the bone not being properly set, the knitting was not perfect, still he has had use in a measure of that improtant member since that day. As soon as he was able to work he took employment in a sawmill in the Willamette valley and spent two years there. Then he went to Linn county and took a half-section of government land. He went to buying and selling stock and for twenty years he did a thriving business. Then he sold out and came to Union county, taking a pre-emption claim, which later wa abandoned because of savages on the war path. He remained in the Grande Ronde valley, purchasing a quarter-section, the year being 1871. For twenty-six years he continued in this place, taking, in the meantime, a pre-emption for range, raising stock and buying and selling cattle. Success invariably attended him in his endeavors because of good judgment, careful attention to business and sagacity and industry displayed always. In 1896 he rented his place and purchased a couple of acres three-fourths of a mile east from Lagrande, built a house and retired form the activities of business. Mr. Parker has well earned his rest and is now enjoying his riper years in comfort and repose.

Mr. Parker married Miss Mary, daughter of Abraham Smith, an old pioneer of the Grande Ronde valley. This wedding occurred in 1853, and this worthy couple have become the parents of thirteen children, as follows: Emoline, single; Julia, married to Mace Young; Abraham, married to Eva Roberts; John: Sarah, wife of George Bloom; Martha, deceased; Ida M., wife of Bert Benton; William, deceased; Laura L., deceased; James, married to Emma Huntly; Bert A.; Frank; Viola, wife of Stephen Cady of Union.

Eight of the living children are in the Grande Ronde valley and two are in the Wallowa valley. Mr. Parker is a member of the I.O.O.F., and also takes a great interest in politics and the welfare of the county, and he is highly esteemed by all.



An Illustrated history of Union and Wallowa Counties: with a brief outline of the early history of the state of Oregon. Western Historical Pub. Co., 1902.

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