Biography - Lemuel Parker

LEMUEL PARKER. Among the farmers of Shelby County who have materially added to its prosperity by developing its rich agricultural resources, and at the same time have accumulated a handsome private property. Mr. Lemuel Parker is well worthy of mention in this volume. For many years he has carried on farming in Moweaqua Township, and as the result of his persistent and well-directed labors has a farm that is equal in improvements and cultivation to the best in its vicinity.

September 6, 1827, is the date of the birth of our subject in Cayuga County, N. Y. Mathias Parker was the name of his father, and he was a native of Canada. He in turn was a son of one Lemuel Parker, who was a pioneer of the town of Niles, and was thereafter engaged at his occupation as a farmer in Cayuga County until death closed his mortal career. The maiden name of his wife was Tacy Niles, and she too died on the farm in Niles Township. His son, Mathias, though born in Canada was reared on the family homestead, and he followed farming in New York State until his demise in 1830, while yet in life's prime. His widow, whose maiden name was Susanna Armstrong, is still living, making her home with her son, our subject, and retains to a remarkable degree her mind and memory and physical faculties, although she has reached the ninety-first milestone that marks a long life, having been born April 28, 1800, in Genoa, Cayuga County, N. Y. She was married a second time in 1833 to Owen Dewitt, who came to Illinois with his family in 1853. He lived in Pike County for a time, and then came to this county to spend his remaining days, dying here in 1866.

His maternal grandfather of our subject, Andrew Armstrong, was one of the first settlers of Cayuga County, N. Y. He bought a tract of timber land in the township of Genoa, and established a home in the primeval forest, building a log cabin for shelter. Much of the great Empire State was then in a wild, sparsely settled condition, and there were no railways or canals for years to facilitate communication with the outside world. There were no mills near where Mr. Armstrong settled, and he and his fellow-pioneers had to reduce their grain in iron mortars. They lived off the products of their land and from wild game, which was abundant. The grandfather of our subject cleared a farm, and dwelt thereon until death deprived him of the companionship of his wife in 1818. He then sold his place, and the few years that remained to him boarded until he was called to his long home in 1822. His wife bore the maiden name of Polly Bowker. She was born on the banks of the Susquehanna River, and was a daughter of Silas and Esther (Hobbs) Bowker. Her father and three of her brothers served in the Revolution. She was carefully trained in all that went to make a good housewife in the olden days, and was an adept in carding, spinning and weaving. She imparted those arts to her daughter, the mother of our subject, who for many years after her marriage made all the cloth in use in her family, coloring that which she made into garments with the simple vegetable dyes formerly used, and she spun her own thread.

After his father's death, the subject of this biographical notice went to live with his grandparents, but they died when he was in his eighth year, and from that time his home was with strangers until he established one of his own, and he had to earn his living, getting his board and clothes in re-payment for his work as a chore-boy and farm hand for a farmer, with whom he lived for several years. When he was seventeen years old he began to receive wages, earning the sum of $7 a month. He continued to work out by the month in his native State until 1849. In that year he took an important step in life whereby his worldly prospects were much advanced, as he then came to Illinois to try farming on the fertile soil of the Prairie State, and in due time became an independent farmer. In coming hither he journeyed by Erie Canal to Buffalo, from there by the lakes to Chicago, and then on the canal and Illinois River to Pike County, where he tarried a few years, finding employment as a farm laborer. In 1856 he came to Shelby County, and invested his hard-earned money in one hundred and twenty acres of prairie land, a mile and a half from the village of Moweaqua. He has since bought other land, and at one time had three hundred and forty acres, of which he still retains two hundred and sixty acres, all of it being finely improved.

A measure of Mr. Parker's good fortune is attributable to the devoted assistance of his good wife, who has ever been to him a cheerful helper, has given him wise counsel when needed, and has contributed to his comfort and well-being, as well as to his financial prosperity by her careful guidance of household matters. Her maiden name was Cena A. Parker, she was a native of the same county as her husband, and they were wedded in 1855. They have three children — Willis E., Charles M. and Lydia A. Mrs. Parker is a consistent Christian and a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

Mr. Parker is a sensible man, with sound views on all subjects in which he is interested, especially in regard to politics, and we find him to be a steadfast Republican. As a farmer he stands high in the community, and he bears an unsullied reputation as a man and a citizen.

Extracted 17 Jun 2019 by Norma Hass from 1891 Portrait and Biographical Record of Shelby and Moultrie Counties Illinois, pages 635-636.

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