Parks Family

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PARKS. The Parks family, whose name is perpetuated in the list of townships--the one in which the founder of this line is Armstrong county settled being called after him, belongs to that class of reliable, responsible citizens who go to make up the real backbone of true American citizenship. Representatives of this family are to be found among the substantial people of the various communities to which they have gone, and none has failed in civic or private duty. The family history is interesting, and worthy a place in the records of Armstrong county.

The great-grandfather of Robert G. and John W. Parks, of Parks township, served as a valiant soldier in the Revolutionary war.

Robert Parks, their grandfather, born in Mifflin county, Pa., came to Armstrong county in 1814, making the trip with his wife and six children overland. Their entire earthly possessions were contained in a covered wagon, drawn by one horse. Arriving in the county, Mr. Parks took up 200 acres of land in what was afterwards to become his namesake township, and 150 acres in another tract. The first one is now owned by his grandson, Robert G. Parks, and lies along the Kiskiminetas river. The hardy pioneer cleared his land, on which he put up the log cabin in which the family resided until it was replaced, in 1841, by a substantial brick house, still the homestead residence. This house is in excellent condition, as is the barn, which is still in use, though erected in 1835. These buildings are a monument to the quality of work done in those early days, when materials and labor were much cheaper, and plenty of time was taken for the construction of work which was designed to last for generations. Robert Parks rounded out a long and useful life, attaining his ninetieth year, dying in 1858. His remains were interred in a private burying ground on the farm. He was a member of the Presbyterian Church, and an upright, good man, one of the leading residents of his district, whose word could be relied upon implicitly. Politically he was a Democrat. His wife, Jane (Bratton) Parks, died Oct. 21, 1847, aged seventy-eight years. Their children were: John; James Bratton; William George; Margaret, who married Joseph Shields; Isabella, who married Andrew Arnold; Phoebe, who married James E. Brown; Elizabeth, who married Thompson Crawford; Sydney, who married Samuel LeFevre; Maria, who married James Fitzgerald; and Sarah, who married Alexander Gordon.

James Bratton Parks, born Nov. 1, 1810, in Mifflin county, Pa., was brought to Armstrong county by his father when he was four years old. After the demise of his father he took charge of the family, rearing the children, and lived on the farm the remainder of his days. His death occurred in 1892, when he was eighty-two years old. He married Lucinda Hill, born Nov. 19, 1824, died Jan. 27, 1878, daughter of Jacob and Hannah (Ulam) Hill. Both Mr. and Mrs. Parks are buried in the private cemetery upon the farm. Mr. Parks was a Democrat, and served as school director of Allegheny and Parks townships, tax collector and auditor, always taking an active part in political matters. When the public schools were first established, he taught school, and succeeded as an instructor, for he was a well-read man and intelligent thinker. A fine penman, he made his own copies for his pupils to follow, and was often called upon to engross various public papers. For many years he served as elder of the Presbyterian Church, of which he was a consistent member. He and his wife were the parents of children as follows: Jane died unmarried at the age of twenty-four; Robert G. is mentioned below; Hannah U. died unmarried in 1909; Jacob H. is a druggist at Leechburg; Isabella, who married T. J. Elwood, died at Leechburg; John W. is a resident of Parks township; Phoebe married Samuel C. Boale, of Leechburg; Thomas J. is living at Apollo; Ella died young; Dr. William F. lives at St. Louis, where he is practicing dentistry; Sydney P. married and is living in Allegheny county; Ellis died young; Blanche died young; Edmiston died in Pittsburgh.

ROBERT G. PARKS, a retired farmer of Parks township, residing on the homestead taken up by his grandfather, was born July 9, 1843, on this farm, and was reared a farmer. After the death of his father he took charge of the property, where he has always had his home. A strong Democrat, he was elected justice of the peace in 1897 and reelected in 1902, serving in all a period of ten years. For twenty-eight years he has been school director of Allegheny and Parks townships, and president of the board for many years. Mr. Parks was one of those who secured the division of Allegheny township to form Parks, Gilpin and Bethel townships. Like his father and grandfather, he is a Presbyterian, and is now acting as trustee of his church.

Mr. Parks married Margaret J. Cline, daughter of Daniel and Elizabeth (Jack) Cline. Six children have been born of this marriage: a son, born 1866, died in infancy; Frank B., who married Elizabeth Stegner, is now farming the homestead and conducting a milk business; Harry, who married Ida Truby and (second) Robrena Riggle, resides in Leechburg, where he is a roller in the Hyde Park mill; James C. died at the age of twenty years; Ellis G., who married Rebecca Riggle, sister of his brother Harry's wife, lives at Leechburg, where he too is a roller in the Hyde Park mill; a daughter died in infancy.

JOHN WALTZ PARKS, a farmer of Parks township, was born on the Parks homestead Sept. 11, 1850, son of James B. and Lucinda (Hill) Parks, and brother of Robert G. Parks. During his boyhood he attended local schools and Leechburg academy, and then during the winter of 1868-69 taught the home school, known as the Hills school. Following this Mr. Parks went to the oil fields in Clarion county, Pa., where he spent ten years. Upon leaving there, he worked along different lines until his marriage, when he located at Leechburg. In 1896 he returned to Parks township, and taking one half of the homestead has operated his 100 acres ever since, with profit to himself and to the further development of his valuable property, which is regarded as one of the best farms in his locality.

Mr. Parks is a member of the Presbyterian Church. Politically he is a Democrat, and has served as school director of his township, giving the board the benefit of his practical knowledge of educational matters.

On March 10, 1887, Mr. Parks was married to Enna M. Bladen, daughter of Thomas Bladen of Armstrong county. They have had seven children: Melva C., a teacher in the Leechburg schools; Tai Ulam; James Bratton; Pauline Waltz; Marie Bladen; Harry B.; and Gladys D.

No men of Parks township are better known than Robert G. and John W. Parks. They have always been in favor of progression along all lines, especially those which would tend toward a betterment of educational advantages and the general moral uplift.

Source: Pages 454-456 Armstrong County, Pa., Her People, Past and Present, J. H. Beers & Co., 1914
Transcribed September 1998 by James R. Hindman for the Armstrong County Beers Project
Contributed for use by the Armstrong County Genealogy Project (http://www.pa-roots.com/armstrong/)

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