1824 - 1893
||Mary Jane Tachett |
||17 Mar 1824
||, , Virginia
||27 May 1893
||Parker Canyon, Santa Cruz, Arizona
- Parker Family History
Parker Canyon Lake
by Howard Lindsey
Early in 1849, rumors that gold had been discovered in California the year before reached William Andrew Parker, a farmer in Springfield, Missouri. Like many men across the nation, William decided he should go west to the gold fields to find his fortune. His wife, Jane, was reluctant to go along with his plan to mortgage their farm so he could make the trip. She finally gave in and William began his journey of discovery.
He entered Mexican territory, which at that time included present day New Mexico and Arizona. He reached the San Pedro River, followed it for several miles, and reached the Huachuca Mountains. Crossing the mountains to the west, he came to the verdant San Rafael Valley, so beautiful it would remain in his memory for 30 years. He traveled to Tucson and set out for San Diego, a trip of slightly less than three months.
In San Diego, he joined a group bound for the gold fields of Northern California. Though the country they passed through was luxuriant grassland with rivers teeming with fish for the taking, the group held a steady northward course.
In the gold fields, they found all the streams being worked by other miners, but a determined William headed up a river out of the congestion. There, he staked out and filed on a claim which he sold at a handsome profit a short time later. Taking the money, he headed out of the gold fields, planning to return to Missouri for his family and then settle elsewhere in California.
In mid-1850, William boarded a boat in San Francisco, landed in Panama, walked across the isthmus to Colon and took a boat to New Orleans. There, he took a riverboat up the Mississippi to St. Louis and then went by stagecoach to his farm and family. He had been away for more than a year.
It was late fall when he arrived home, and Jane and the boys, John age 6, and James age 3, were very happy to see him. It wasn't long before he had caught up on the local news and what had happened during his absence. Soon, he was telling Jane of his plans for their future.
"Well, Jane, I'm going back to California. I came to get you and the boys and we are leaving this place and going to a land of sunshine where the climate is warm and healthy. There are too many people here and I don't like to be fenced in," he told his wife.
His plans did not sit well with Jane. She was reluctant to leave the security of her little log cabin in the beautiful Ozarks for the hardships of the trail and an unknown future in California. The Missouri winter was hard and William was persuasive, and by springtime, Jane was ready to start for California.
William learned that a caravan would be leaving Independence, Missouri in the early spring and decided the Parkers would join it. He had paid off the mortgage on the farm and now he sold it to his uncle, Abe Potter, who would take possession when they left for Independence.
William bought two Conestoga wagons and outfitted them with water casks and a chicken coop on the back for some hens. Jane selected articles to take and gave things they couldn't take to friends and relatives. As departure time neared, Jane realized she was pregnant, and it made her and William happy to think the baby might be a girl this time.
By the middle of March, the Parkers were packed and ready to go. They hitched the oxen to the wagons and set out for Independence. There, they joined a group of 60 wagons starting the arduous journey to California.
A meeting of adult males was held to select a captain, council and other officials to govern the group on the way west. William was elected captain, as the others thought he was honest, dependable and had a courageous but friendly disposition.
The trip was time consuming and difficult. After they rested a few days before heading into the Sierra Nevada Mountains. They had been told the grades were steep and long with narrow, rough ledges. The women and children walked to relieve the straining oxen of their weight.
Jane knew her time of delivery was near - she had been feeling poorly and knew the baby would be born before the end of the journey. The train reached a final summit and pitched camp. At about 10 p.m. Jane wake William and asked him to call Mother Wear, the midwife. Mother Wear arrived quickly and had William rebuild the fire and put water on to boil. In a few hours, Sarah Elizabeth, the first girl of their family was born. It was Sept. 3, 1851.
William believed a heavy snowstorm was coming and was afraid the group would be caught on the mountain. The fate of the Donner party was well known and evidence of the tragedy was still visible. He told Jane they should leave the mountain as soon as possible, and was relieved when she agreed.
"Jane, you are a brave woman and I shall never forget it," he told her in admiration.
William roused the camp and all were soon loaded and moving down the mountain. The grade was steep and progress was slow, but they did not stop until they had passed the snow line at 4:00 in the afternoon.
On Sept. 8, 1851, still on the trail, young Jimmy Parker celebrated his 5th birthday, and his baby sister was five days old.
After the train was disbanded and the settlers went their separate ways, the Parkers began the search for their part of the California dream. After viewing many areas, they finally chose a place not far from the Pacific Ocean, near a spring close to the Russian River. With help from friends, William built a one-room log cabin with a large fireplace at one end. He bought a small building in nearby Healdsburg to be used as a blacksmith shop.
On Oct. 27, 1852, daughter Nancy was born, and on Oct. 28, 1853, baby daughter Martha Melvina arrived.
William traded his oxen for some cattle and registered a brand. The years were prosperous: his herd increased and life was good. However, the community was growing and in about 1859, William was once agian showing signs of "suffocation." He told Jane a rancher near San Luis Obispo had offered to let him run his cattle on shares with the rancher's cattle for 3 years, and he wanted to accept the offer. William sold the blacksmith shop and the farm to his partners and the Parkers were once again ready to move.
The new location proved satisfactory, with better forage for the cattle and the ocean near enough for William and the boys to go fishing. The Parkers' sixth child, third son, William Andrew Jr. was born while they lived at San Luis Obispo.
The rancher died before the lease was up and William took his cattle and half of the herd increase, leaving the rest for the heirs. He moved his cattle to at tract of land he had filed on near where the city of Downey is now located.
In the late 1860's, the Parkers' eldest daughter, Sarah Elizabeth, married Bill Fentner and they moved to his home state of Arizona. A few months after the move to Phoenix, their small son Henry died. He was the first white child buried in the Phoenix cemetery. In 1871, the Fentners' daughter Minnie was born: the first American child born in the settlement. There were only five other families living there.
Jane was very happy in her new home in Downey and hoped this would be a permanent situation. However, when Sarah wrote to William extolling the virtues of the Phoenix area, Jane could see William was having suffocation symptoms. When he said, "This country is gittin' too danged many people in it. It's time to move. I would like to go to Arizona."
Jane refused to go and said that he would probably get tired of the dust and heat and would want to return to California. In 1870, William went to Phoenix, and he was not there long before he wrote to Jane to sell everything and come to Arizona. She was not happy about it, but she did as she was told. She sold everything whe could, loaded up two wagons and with son John driving one and Jane driving the other, they joined a caravan leaving for Arizona Territory. The trip took three weeks, and William was waiting for her at Maricopa Wells, about 28 miles from Phoenix.
In Phoenix, son Jimmy met Emmie Coggin and married her on April 18, 1872, the second white couple married in Phoenix. By 1880, they had three children and Jimmy thought Phoenix was getting too crowded for his rapidly increasing family. Jimmy told Emmie about the beautiful country his father had seen on the west side of the Huachuca Mountains when he was going to the gold fields in 1849.
He and Emmie, joined by Bill and Sarah Fentner and the small children of both families, decided to cross the desert through wild Apache country to find the place their father had remembered.
Jimmy and Emmie settled temporarily in Ramsey Canyon on the east side of the Huachucas, while Bill and Sarah went on to Harshaw. Jimmy and his oxen were hired to haul lumber from the mill in Ramsey Canyon to Charleston. When he wasn't working, he was riding horseback looking for the place his Pa had talked about.
One day he reached a summit on the southern end of the mountains, and looking down, said, "This is the place Pa talked about." He saw before him a wide canyon extending westward to the valley of the Santa Cruz River. A swift stream of water was running the length of the canyon from its source high in the mountains. He went home, loaded up his family and spent 10 days traveling around the north end of the Huachucas into what would later be named Parker Canyon.
In exchange for a horse and saddle, Jimmy and Emmie received a three-room log cabin with a fireplace and mantel. They moved into the cabin on April 24, 1881, the day their small son, Duke, was one year old. They immediately arranged to leave for Phoenix to get their cattle and the two children who had stayed in Phoenix with relatives.
In Phoenix, William and Jane heard Jimmy's story and decided they would move to the canyon, too. William was getting old and depended on Jimmy for help. With their combined herds, they could work together on the ranches. The older Parkers settled in an old log cabin near Jimmy's place where they spent the rest of their lives. William had plenty of room and there was enough space for any of the children who wanted to move to the canyon. Soon, Melvina, her husband, Ahriah "Hi" Sorrels and their three children settled on a ranch in the area.
William died on Jan. 2, 1891, and two years later, on May 27, 1893, Jane died in her sleep. They were buried side by side under an old tree in the Parker Canyon cemetery.
Their youngest son, Billie, grew up in the Huachuas and became a cowboy working for some of the big cattle ranches in the area. He married Evy Landers when they were both quite young. They lived at the nearby Korn Ranch and were the parents of six children.
||7 Oct 2011 |
||William Andrew Parker, b. 9 Aug 1824, , , Tennessee , d. 2 Jan 1891, Parker Canyon, Santa Cruz, Arizona |
||1 Jan 1842
||Springfield, Cedar, Missouri
| ||1. John Young Parker, b. 27 Dec 1844, Springfield, Cedar, Missouri , d. 21 Jan 1933, Parker Canyon, Santa Cruz, Arizona |
|>||2. James Parker, b. 8 Sep 1847, Springfield, Cedar, Missouri , d. 28 Jan 1924, Nogales, Santa Cruz, Arizona |
| ||3. Sarah Elizabeth Parker, b. 3 Sep 1851, Sierra Nevada Mountains, , California , d. 31 Aug 1924, Tucson, Pima, Arizona |
| ||4. Nancy Fatima Parker, b. 27 Oct 1852, Mendocino City, Mendocino, California , d. 17 Jun 1919, Hanford, Kings, California |
| ||5. Martha Melvina Parker, b. 28 Oct 1853, Healsburg, Sonoma, California , d. 29 Nov 1931, Nogales, Santa Cruz, Arizona |
| ||6. William Andrew Parker, b. 3 Aug 1860, San Luis Obispo, California , d. 16 May 1946, Nogales, Santa Cruz, Arizona |
||8 Jul 2004 |