WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and U.S. Rep. Joyce Beatty (OH-3) introduced legislation to begin the process of incorporating the John P. Parker House, an important stop on the Underground Railroad, into the National Park System. The Parker House is located in Ripley, Ohio.
“In addition to being a successful businessman, John P. Parker was a champion in the abolitionist movement,” Brown said. “As a former slave, he risked his life to help others secure their freedom. Adding this home into the National Park System as a national monument is an appropriate honor for this dedicated, selfless, and trailblazing American. John. P. Parker is an example of the best of Ohio.”
“After securing his freedom from the bondage of slavery, John P. Parker worked tirelessly as an abolitionist to help liberate countless slaves. Like many other conductors on the Underground Railroad, Parker risked his life by helping guide fugitive slaves from the South to the North,” Rep. Beatty said. “We should honor the life and legacy of Parker by preserving his station on the Underground Railroad.”
“The Board of Trustees of the John P. Parker Historical Society, Inc. is excited to have had Senator Brown introduce Senate Bill #2610 in the Senate, requesting a suitability and feasibility study of the Parker House Museum, an Underground Railroad site, to become a unit of the National Park System,” Carol Stivers, President of John P. Parker Historical, Inc. said. “If we would become part of the National Park System it would bring longevity to our facility and more national recognition to John Parker's life and his contributions to American history. The economic impact of increased tourism and the possibility of more jobs to Southern Ohio are what the John P. Parker Historical Society Board of Trustees are hoping for in the future. We are grateful to Senator Brown who is very sensitive to the needs of Southern Ohio.”
John P. Parker was born into slavery in 1827. Initially living in Norfolk, Virginia, Parker was bought and sold multiple times before securing his freedom in 1845. Following his liberation, Parker moved to Cincinnati and ultimately settled in the Village of Ripley, Ohio, located in Brown County. Parker went on to own and operate a successful metal foundry, becoming one of the first African-Americans to receive patents for his inventions.
In addition to his successful business, Parker became an active member of the Underground Railroad. Historical records attribute Parker with helping secure the freedom of hundreds of slaves through the Underground Railroad. Parker worked with abolitionist John Rankin, and together they supported a robust abolitionist movement on the Ohio River. The John P. Parker home is located on North Front Street in Ripley and has operated under the John P. Parker Historical Society since 1996.
The legislation, currently cosponsored by U.S. Representatives Steve Chabot (OH-1), Marcy Kaptur (OH-9), Marcia Fudge (OH-11), Pat Tiberi (OH-12), Tim Ryan (OH-13), and Steve Stivers (OH-15) would require the National Park Service to conduct a special resource study to help determine the feasibility of the Parker house being added to the National Park System.