Thursday, January 30, 2003

Ohio Moments

Ex-slave John Parker helped others escape

On Jan. 30, 1900, John P. Parker, a former slave, inventor and conductor on the Underground Railroad, died. Parker was born in Virginia in 1827. By working as a stevedore, he was able to save $1,800 to purchase his freedom in 1845. He traveled north to Indiana looking for work, but became involved in helping two young slave girls escape across the Ohio River from Kentucky near Cincinnati. Parker later moved to Ripley, where he helped some 1,000 slaves escape to freedom.

In 1854, Parker built a small foundry near Ripley that grew to employ 25 men. His foundry produced casings for the Union during the Civil War, while Parker recruited men for the 27th Regiment U.S. Colored Troops. Parker obtained patents for two screw tobacco presses he invented. He was one of the few African-Americans to be granted a patent before 1900. His Ripley home has been restored.

Rebecca Goodman

Ohio Moments will appear here daily during 2003. Have a suggestion? Contact Rebecca Goodman at or (513) 768-8361.

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