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Congresswoman Joyce Beatty

Representing the 3rd District of Ohio

Brown and Beatty Lead Ohio Democratic Delegation in Calling on President Obama to Designate John P. Parker House a National Monument

Sep 12, 2016
Press Release

Brown and Beatty Lead Ohio Democratic Delegation in Calling on President Obama to Designate John P. Parker House a National Monument

Parker House in Ripley Served as a Stop on the Underground Railroad

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (OH) and U.S. Congresswoman Joyce Beatty (OH-03) led members of the Ohio Democratic delegation in calling for national recognition of the John P. Parker House in Ripley—an important stop on the Underground Railroad. In a letter to President Obama, Brown, Beatty, and U.S. Reps. Marcia Fudge, Marcy Kaptur, and Tim Ryan, urged him to designate the John P. Parker House a national monument within the National Park System to honor the legacy of former slave and abolitionist John P. Parker.

“The story of John P. Parker, a former slave who rose to become a leader in the abolitionist movement in southwest Ohio, deserves national recognition,” Brown said. “In a show of extraordinary strength, bravery, and selflessness, he risked his life to help guide others to freedom. Preserving his home as a national monument will ensure that his incredible story is preserved and future generations can reflect on the courage of those who stood against slavery.”

“John P. Parker devoted his life, even risking death, to helping hundreds of enslaved men, women and children gain freedom,” Beatty said. “Today, some 150 years later, his house still stands, buttressed by the hopes and dreams of all those who passed through its doors.” Beatty continued, “We must never forget the horrors and agony of slavery or the many courageous Americans, including Parker, who fought tirelessly to end it.”

John P. Parker was born into slavery in 1827. Initially living in Norfolk, Virginia, Parker was bought and sold multiple times before purchasing his freedom in 1845. Following his liberation, Parker moved to Cincinnati and ultimately settled in the Village of Ripley. Parker became an active member of the Underground Railroad. Historical records attribute Parker with helping to 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.

Parker also owned and operated a successful metal foundry, becoming one of the first African-Americans to receive patents for his inventions. During the Civil War, he made iron castings in his foundry for the Union, and he recruited soldiers for the two Ohio Civil War regiments of the United States Colored Troops.

In July 2015, following  Brown’s urging, the National Park Service (NPS) announced it will conduct the requested reconnaissance survey exploring the suitability of designating the John P. Parker House as a unit of NPS. The NPS Midwest Regional Office is currently conducting the survey.

In February 2015, Brown and Beatty introduced bipartisan legislation to begin the process of incorporating the John P. Parker House into the NPS. Fudge, Kaptur, and Ryan are cosponsors of the bill.

Full text of the letter is below.

September 9, 2016

President Barack Obama

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20502

Dear Mr. President:

As our National Park Service (NPS) celebrates its 100th anniversary and our nation reflects on the history of America’s iconic landscapes and historical sites, we commend your strong record of protecting our nation’s natural resources and permanently protecting more than 265 million acres of America’s public lands and waters.  With this spirit of celebration and preservation in mind, we write to respectfully request that, pursuant to your powers under the Antiquities Act, Pub. Law 59-209, you designate the John P. Parker House in Ripley, Ohio, as a national monument within the National Park System. 

Today, the Parker House, recognized as a National Historic Landmark, represents the enduring legacy of a remarkable conductor of the Underground Railroad.  After experiencing first-hand the horrors of slavery, John P. Parker purchased his freedom and devoted his life to liberating countless men, women, and children.  From his home in the City of Ripley, Parker led a dual life where by day he would operate an iron foundry, but by sundown, would set off into the night and traverse across the Ohio River to guide hundreds of slaves to freedom in the North.  When President Lincoln realized black men were needed to preserve the Union, Parker recruited soldiers for the two Ohio Civil War regiments of United States Colored Troops, and he contributed to the war effort by making iron castings in his foundry for the Union.  After the war he was an intrepid crusader for equal economic, social and political rights for all Americans.

Those who have visited have had the unique opportunity to pay homage to John P. Parker’s bravery and service.  The Parker homestead is the only remaining Underground Railroad station owned by a former slave.  Today, the site looks as it did in the mid-nineteenth century.  Including the Parker House within the NPS would appropriately honor an extraordinary person of color during a painful, but important chapter of our nation’s history, while educating and inspiring today’s generations and generations to come.  At the request of Senator Sherrod Brown, the NPS is currently conducting a reconnaissance survey of the John. P. Parker House, making the site well positioned for consideration as a National Monument. For these reasons, we respectfully request that you designate the Parker House as a part of the National Park System. 

Sincerely, 

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