Learn more! Article: Ripley’s Keepers of Freedom’s Flame by Judge Thomas Zachman



* Born into slavery in 1827, John P. Parker purchased his freedom at 18 and settled in Ripley, Ohio in the 1840’s where he built and operated the Phoenix Foundry and Machine Company.

* Parker’s company manufactured about twenty different products.

* The Centennial Exposition of the Ohio Valley and Central States held in Cincinnati in 1888 awarded Parker a Bronze Medal for his tobacco press.

* A biographical essay on Parker was published in the new American National Biography.

* His Promised Land: The Autobiography of John P. Parker, Former Slave and Conducto r on the Underground Railroad was published by W.W. Norton, 1996.

* The John P. Parker house was dedicated a National Historic Landmark by the National Park Service in 1997.

* The White House Millennium Council of the National Millennium Commemoration of Save America’s Treasures named the Parker site an Official Project of Save America’s Treasures in 2000.

* The John P. Parker Historical Society received a grant from the Ohio Arts Council to have an architect document the restoration project for the Parker house.

* Interpretative educational programs were developed with grants from the Ohio Humanities Council, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

* An archaeological survey of the Parker site was conducted with a grant from the National Park Service.

* The Parker society joined the Friends of the Ripley Library in presenting three history programs in February 2001.

* The Parker house was designated an official site of the National Millennium Trail project.

* The Board of Education of the Cincinnati Public Schools recently named an elementary school The John P. Parker School.

* The Parker and Rankin houses in Ripley were selected by Elizabeth Brownstein, author of If This House Could Talk: Historic Houses, Extraordinary Americans , Simon & Schuster, 1999, to tell the story of the antislavery crusade and the underground railroad in Ripley.

* The Cincinnati and Hamilton County Public Library mounted an exhibit on John P. Parker during Black History Month 2000.

* The story of John P. Parker appears in Black Pioneers, An Untold Story by William Loren Katz, and in Freedom River by Doreen Rappaport. Both books were written for young readers.

* The Ohio Historical Society has designed a Bicentennial historical marker for the Parker site.

* The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center created the John P. Parker Freedom Conductor Award in 1999 to recognize contemporary “freedom conductors” who have given exceptional service to the preservation, promotion and advancement of the Underground Railroad movement.

* The National Park Service has accepted the Parker Historic Site and A Forge for Freedom, the Parker interpretative educational program, for inclusion in the NPS National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom.

* The John P. Parker Reading Room will be established in the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center with a gift from the Cincinnatus Association.

* The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center has established a Freedom Station at the John P. Parker Historic Site.

The National Park Service awarded (2002) the John P. Parker Historical Society $25,000. to complete interior restoration of Parker house.