The Parker House in Ripley, Ohio is an Underground Railroad site.
It has been awarded the status of a National Historic Landmark which is the highest award given by the National Park Service to historic sites. It is the former home of John P. Parker, who was born a slave, bought his own freedom and became a successful businessman. Parker was an abolitionist and a conductor on the Underground Railroad. By day he ran the Phoenix Foundry making all types of farm machinery and iron products and by night he helped fugitive slaves escape. He frequently crossed the Ohio River to transport those seeking freedom on the first leg of their journey north.
Parker was an amazing man. At age eight he was sold, chained to other slaves and made to walk ragged and barefoot from his original home in Virginia to Mobile, Alabama. It was on this journey that his spirit was ignited with the anger and hatred of bondage that would fuel his lifelong passion for helping others to freedom.
In Mobile, Parker was sold to a doctor. There he was taught to read, illegally, by the doctor’s sons. Several years later, Parker made multiple daring attempts to escape, but was returned to Mobile. In 1845, he was allowed to purchase his freedom by earning extra money at a foundry. Parker then moved to Ohio where he married Miranda Boulden of Cincinnati, and by 1849 the Parkers had settled in Ripley, Ohio a thriving abolitionist town of about 5000 with 300 members in their anti-slavery society. Parker worked with other Ripley conductors on the Underground Railroad, such as, the Rev. John Rankin and the Collins brothers.
Parker was successful in many arenas. During the Civil War, Parker was a key recruiter for the 27th Ohio Volunteer Infantry (Colored) Regiment. Parker’s foundry was a major employer in Ripley, employing both blacks and whites. He was a successful entrepreneur and inventor. Parker had three U.S. patents for agricultural inventions, among the earliest granted to an African-American.
Parker died in January 1900, leaving behind his wife, Miranda and six college educated children.
At the Parker House you will hear about the life and times of Parker and see beautiful paintings depicting Parker’s life. In the 1800’s Room, you can walk on the very floors that Parker walked and look through the windows from which Parker looked when he and his family lived in this home.
For more information about Parker check out his autobiography “His Promised Land” or the website www.johnparkerhouse.org.
To visit his restored home/museum contact: John P. Parker Historical Society, Inc., 300 N. Front Street, P.O. Box 246, Ripley, Ohio 45167.
Hours of Operation are May through November, open Friday & Saturday 10:00 a.m.- 5:00 p.m. and Sunday 1:00-5:00 p.m. Admission: Adults $4, Students (7-18) $2. Group tours available year-round by calling 937-392-4188.