The story of the Parker family begins with the Elder John Parker who was born in Baltimore, Maryland on September 6, 1758, a descendant of Puritans who had fled from England to escape religious prosecution.
Sometime before 1777, John and his family moved to Virginia as part of the Baptist religious movement know as the Period of the Great Prosecution (1768-1770). During this time, Baptist ministers, because of their rejection of the established religion and their insistence upon separation of church and state, moved south to escape prosecution. In 1777, John volunteered to fight in the American revolution. Two years later, after the war, John married Sallie White. Shortly thereafter, John was drafted to fight an additional year. Upon his return from that service, John and Sallie had their first child, Daniel Parker.
The Parker family moved to Georgia in c.1785, when Daniel was 5 or 6. Daniel was raised with a Baptist education and grew to become a God fearing man with strong religious convictions.
At age 21, Daniel, his parents, his seven brothers and sisters, his wife Patsey, (who he married in 1802) and his five month old daughter moved with the rest of the Parker family moved to Tennessee. In 1805, Daniel established a Church along with other members of his family, including his father, John. Daniel grew to become an influential and sometimes controversial Baptist preacher.
In 1816, Daniel visited the Wabash area in the southern territory of Illinois. A place in which he felt..." the errors of the christian society (so called) were taking deep root there , and the truth of God in the Baptist cause was not fully maintained in some parts of that country, I thought perhaps I might be of as much use there as any place I could go." In 1817, he moved there and Elder John, Sallie, their 11 children (Daniel, wife, and children included) all traveled by wagon train to Illinois.
During their time in Illinois, Daniel got involved in politics and the anti-slavery movement of the early 1800s. He also established the Lamotte Baptist Church and became a great civic participator. Although he spent a good deal of time in public service, he always made time for his passion of religion. During his time preaching in Illinois, he often encountered antagonists to his cause (one to mention is John Mason Peck who, in 1822, described Parker as "...raised on the frontiers of Georgia without education, uncouth in manners, slovenly in dress, diminutive in person, unprepossessing in appearance, with shriveled features, and a small piercing eye.."). Because of this, a desire to start again without constant bickering became him and (legend has it) in 1832, Daniel and his brothers Benjamin, James, and Joseph made a trip to the wide open spaces of the territory known as Texas. While there, Daniel asked Stephen F. Austin for permission to establish a Church in the area and received it. In the fall of 1833, the Parker clan made their way for Texas.
They first headed south for Louisiana and then west into Texas, passing through such settlements as Nacogdoches and Bedias Bayou, from which they settled only a few miles south. In 1835, James and Silas (with the help of others) built Fort Parker, near present-day Groesbeck. Daniel decided to make his homestead near present-day Elkhart where a replica of his pilgrim church stands today. As the Parker clan settled in, the fight for Texas independence was unfolding. During this time, several of the Parker men served as Texas Rangers instead of joining the Texas army as a symbol of their desire for peace rather than war. As the Mexican troops moved further and further inland, the Parkers joined a large number of other settlers making their way for the refuge of Louisiana in the United States, rather than fighting.
News of Texas' victory came on April 23, 1836 and the Parkers returned to continue their lives. However, doom was to befall the settlers not more than a month later on May 19, 1836.
Quotes and historical references from Frontier Blood by Jo Ella Powell Exley |
(c)2001 Texas A&M University Press