Our Parker Family History Table of Contents



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Our Parker Family History

Table of Contents


About This Book

Thanks to Cousins, Friends and Family 6

Loretta Pauline Leroy Parker 6

The Parker History Team 6

Grandmother Bess Carney Parker 7

An American Story 8

Other Resources For You: 9

The Parker Family in Ireland 10

Why So Difficult? 13

The Scarcity of Vital Records 14

Comparing Ireland with Iowa, 1860. 14

The Family in Ulster; County Down 14

Ballinteggart, Newry, County Down 16

Leaving Home 17

Arrival in America 20

Our Parkers Arrive in America 20

Landing at New York 20

West Again 20

Farming in Scott County; Making Friends 21

Settling in Cleona Township, Scott County, Iowa 21

Index 49


The Farm 22

The Times 23

Church 24

School 24

Neighbors, Friends and Relationships; Ross, Paul, Lavender 24

Robert and Susanna Buried at Durant 25

Life Without Father 25

West Again; New Homes 26

The Farm is Sold 26

Moving Near Gilman 26

Why Here? 26

New Generations, New Connections 26

Parkers Near Gilman 26

The Telephone Men 27

Iowa and the Parkers and the Telephone 27

Beginnings 27

Robert Lavender Parker, Telephone Pioneer 29

I Remember 29

Growing at Gilman and Grinnell 30

The Family of Bess Carney 32

Starting On and Down the Wires 32

The Traer Years 32

Moving and Building 33

To Illinois, Bloomington and Geneseo 33

In Geneseo 33

His Family 33

Back to Gilman 33

Robert Donald Parker, Telephone Man 34

His Youth 34

With Esther Pauline Swanson 34

Independent Telephony 34

With Mother Bell 34

Remembering Dad 34

My Side 34

Robert Marion Parker Family 34

With Mom and Dad 34

My Best Decision, Loretta 36

After Bradley 36

My Children, My Pride 36

The Places We Lived 36

Back to Story City 36

Diane Margaret Parker Little Family 36

Diane, My Sister 36

Roger H. Little 36

Their Children 36

Etc. 36


The Family in 2012 36

Our Parkers: Histories of the 16 Who Came 36

Introductions 36

Father Robert 38

Mother Susanna 38

Son James 39

Isaac 39

Mary Ann 39

Robert 40

Ester 40


Susanna 40

David 40


Jeane (Eliza) 41

Matilda 41

Agnes, 1st 41

Ellen 41


Isabelle 41

William 41

Richard 41

Samuel 43

Agnes, 2nd 43

Unanswered Questions 44

Sources and Resources 44

Grandmother Bess's Notes, a Family Treasure 44

Questions Remain 44

Notes from The Team 45

Stories 45

Web Sites 45

Photographs, Maps, Sketches 45

Sources. 45

Notes 47



About This Book

Why? I’m writing this because I am very proud of my family’s history, and I want to pass on all that I know about it to my children and grandchildren. Knowing our family history helps us to answer some questions that seem to be born in us. These questions seem to come to mind throughout our lives, as we try to understand who we are, why God gave us life and what should we do about our problems.



  • Where did I come from?

  • How did I get here?

  • Who were my ancestors?

  • What kind of people were they?

  • How am I like or different from them?

  • How does my own history suggest I should act now?

I have been very interested in the history of my family, my country and our human race since I was a little boy. I have been given hundreds of photographs, stories, memoirs and personal items from our ancestors. I hope this work will help you – my family – know yourselves and understand your heritage. I intend this book to be your guide to all of the information I have assembled about our ancestors. I want my heirs to be able to find in one place everything we’ve collected about our many ancestors and relatives. We should respect and be proud of them. They were all Christians and American Pioneers.
Who? Like most Americans, ours is a family of immigrants. Our Parkers – fourteen of them - came to Iowa from County Down in Northern Ireland in 1861. Here they met other families, some of whom had preceded them to Iowa. The earliest we have found to be Thomas Brown. He came from England in 1635, and settled in Newbury, Massachusetts. His descendants came across Iowa by stagecoach in 1853.

Bartholomew Carney (whose name may have been Cronin in County Cork) came over from Ireland in 1836, and began building railroads in Masssachusetts. He brought his family in a covered wagon to Poweshiek County in 1851. His son, John, became Grandmother Bess’s father at Gilman.


In this book, our family includes all of the people living now who are related to me, Robert Marion Parker, plus all of our ancestors. My ancestors begin with my father and mother. I have many resources on the other branches; on Dad’s side there were Browne, Carney, Lavender, Paul, and Ross people. Mom’s side includes the Swanson and Bartlett people. And there are Loretta’s family, the Leroys. The earliest we find in America was Simeon Leroy, a master carpenter who was born in France and died in Kingston, New York, in 1711.

Your ancestors begin with your father and mother. The ancestors of your son or daughter begin with you. I might have a family tree with 700 people in it, but my grandson or granddaughter will have a much bigger family tree because of the people added by my wife’s family and the families of my daughters and sons. And so the trees get bigger and bigger as the generations of our family succeed us.

I have been using two family tree programs for some years; Ancestry.com and Family Tree Maker. Both are known as “Parker Family Tree 1,”and are publicly available. You should be able to access them.

Thanks to Cousins, Friends and Family

Loretta Pauline Leroy Parker

My principal enabler for the last 55 years has been my wife, Loretta. Not only has she given me our five very good children, but she has understand and supported my engagement with our family’s history. God Bless You, Loretta.

The Parker History Team

A few years ago, in November of 2007, two distant cousins and I got together to research the backgrounds of our Parker ancestors. John Parker1, farmer at Gilman, Iowa and Richard Frances Ross2, who has homes at Ames, Iowa and South Pasadena, California are distant cousins of mine.

John David Parker owns and farms land that has been in his (our) family more than one hundred years. John is a graduate of Simpson College. His great grandfather was Richard Parker, one of those who came in 1862. He is our link with the many Parkers who stayed near Gilman. John is also acquainted with several other Irish emigrant families who were neighbors and friends and even married with our ancestors in Scott, Marshall, Jasper and Poweshiek counties in Iowa.

Dr. Richard Frances Ross retired from Iowa State University, where he taught and studied veterinary medicine and was Dean of both the College of Veterinary Medicine and the College of Agriculture. He was raised on a farm near Westchester, Iowa. His great grandmother was Mary Ann Parker Ross, a child of Robert and Susanna Parker. The Ross family were neighbors of our Parkers in Cleona Township.

Colin Rodgers joined us about two years ago. Colin is an anesthesiologist who lives in Carlisle, England very near the border with Scotland. He is related to us through families that were known to our ancestors in Ireland and in the early days in Iowa. Colin still has close ties with his people in County Down. He’s made trips to Ireland and discovered many old records of importance to us.

I want to thank Richard and John and Colin for their cooperation. I am proud to know them. I wish I had found them many years ago. The four of us are still working to uncover the exact location and circumstances of the Parkers in County Down. From here on in this story I shall refer to the four of us as “The Parker History Team.”


Grandmother Bess Carney Parker


Bess Carney Parker, my grandmother, was through her long life a wonderful family historian. She was mostly responsible for my own lifelong interest in the history of our family and our country. A great many of the facts and stories concerning her pioneering Browne and Carney families and her husband’s Parker family were passed on to us by Grandmother Bess. I loved her very much.

Here is a photograph of Grandmother Bess taken in 1949, when I was 14 years old. It is the way I remember her most.



Grandmother Bess was a lady, personified. Born Annie Elizabeth Carney at Gilman, Iowa on February 17, 1881, she was the great historian of our Parker family. She studied and wrote about the history of her mother Martha Emma Browne’s family, who arrived by stagecoach in Blackhawk County in 1853. She researched and wrote about her father John McCormick Carney’s family and their covered wagon journey from Pennsylvania to Poweshiek County in 1854.1 She met grandfather Robert Lavender Parker at a young persons’ church party and married him on the last day of December, 1901.

Their marriage produced three children; Winifred, Muriel and my dad, Robert Donald Parker. Until her last days she wrote of Parker history. Bess made charts and maps and notes and stories about our Parkers, sometimes handwritten, sometimes typed and sometimes drawn by hand. She died in 1974. She passed them on to me and her granddaughter Carol Beachler. These materials fill more than one filing cabinet drawer. You’ll see many of them quoted or referenced in this book. Some are included in computer files, some still handwritten or typed by grandmother Bess. There are many photographs, which I hope to index and pass on to someone who will cherish them as I have.

I wrote a small booklet about Grandmother Bess in 1993. I won’t repeat all of it here, but will see to it that readers can access it. May God bless Annie Elizabeth Carney Parker!



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