Underground Railroad Travel Itinerary Header

John P. Parker House John P. Parker House
John Parker (1827-1900), a former slave, lived in this house, which has been designated a National Historic Landmark, from about 1853 until his death, and from this location planned many rescue attempts of slaves held captive in the "borderlands" of Kentucky. Born a slave in Norfolk, Virginia, Parker was sold at the age of eight to a doctor in Mobile, Alabama. The doctor's family taught Parker to read and write and allowed him to apprentice in an iron foundry where he was compensated and permitted to keep some of his earnings. Persuading an elderly female patient of the doctor's to purchase him, Parker, at the age of 18, bought his freedom from the woman with money earned from his apprenticeship. Parker moved to southern Ohio and around 1853 established a successful foundry behind his home in Ripley. Patenting a number of inventions from his foundry, Parker was one of only a few African Americans to obtain a U.S. patent in the 19th century. Though busy with his business, Parker was also active in the Underground Railroad and is believed to have assisted many slaves to escape from the Kentucky side of the Ohio River. Parker, who was well-known by regional slave-catchers, risked his own life when he secreted himself back into slave territory to lead fugitive slaves to safety in Ripley. Once the slaves were in Ripley, Parker would deliver them to Underground Railroad conductors in the town, such as John Rankin, who would harbor the fugitive slaves and help them to the next depot on the network. In the 1880s, Parker recounted his life as an Underground Railroad conductor in a series of interviews with journalist Frank M. Gregg. These interviews have recently been edited by Stuart Seely Sprague and published as His Promised Land: The Autobiography of John P. Parker Former Slave and Conductor on the Underground Railroad.

The John P. Parker House is located in Ripley, Ohio, at 300 Front St. The house has recently been restored, and is open on weekends from May through the second weekend in December. Tours are offered 10:00am to 5:00pm on Saturdays, and 1:00pm to 4:00pm on Sundays. Tours can be scheduled at other times by calling 937-392-4188 to make an advance appointment.

Previous | List of Sites | Home | Next

Comments or Questions
Last Modified: EST