Theodore Parker.

Genealogy and biographical notes of John Parker of Lexington and his descendants: Showing his earlier ancestry in America from Dea. Thomas Parker of Reading, Mass., from 1635 to 1893 online

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Online LibraryTheodore ParkerGenealogy and biographical notes of John Parker of Lexington and his descendants: Showing his earlier ancestry in America from Dea. Thomas Parker of Reading, Mass., from 1635 to 1893 → online text (page 22 of 47)
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Creek Cemetery near that city. The mother survives.
I. Rev. Samuel H. Greene, D.D., his only son, wasb. Dec.
25, 1S25 ; expecting to continue in business with his father
was m. April 23, 1866, to Lucia A. Buzzell, but in Jan-
uary, 1S68, commenced a course of study with the min-
istry in view at Madison University, N. Y. Graduat-
ing from the college and theological seminary he was
ordained pastor of the Baptist Church in Cazenovia, N.
Y., June 24, 1875. In 1879 he accepted a call from
the Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, D. C, and
began his pastorate in December. He has now served
this Church 13 years and has been prospered in his labors.
During his pastorate moi^e than 1,350 persons have
united with this Church. It is the largest white Protes-
tant Church in Washington, save one. Rev. Mr. Greene
has been honored with the degree of Doctor of Divinity
by Norwich University, Rochester University and Col-
gate University, and is a trustee of the Columbian Uni-
versity. He has one son :
I. Samuel Harrison Greene, Jr.

2. Harrison Greene, b. Jan. 9, 1814; d. Feb. 23, 1818.

3. Samuel Parker Greene, b. Sept. 16, 1815 ; d. Oct. 7, 1815.

130. Lydia Parker (John,^ John,^ Josiah,^ John,^
Hananiah,^ Thomas^), dau. of John and Hannah (Stearns)




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Mr. and Mrs. Isaac Parker.


Parker, was b. in Lexington, July i, 1793 ; m. July 20, 1815,
Isaac Herrick of Brighton. He was a butcher. He d. in

T^heir children were :

1. Lydia Herrick, b. in Cambridge, June 9, 1817; m. in Brigh-

ton, Oct. 5, 1847, George Herrick (her cousin). Children:
I. Ella P. Herrick, b. May 31. 1852; m. in Everett,
Benjamin H. Howe, Jr., son of Benjamin H. and Han-
nah H. (Cutter) Howe, b. in Brooklyn, N. Y., July 25.
1853. The children, all b. in Maiden, were:

1. Charles H. Howe, b. June 24, 1879

2. George B. Howe, b. July 27, 1SS3.

3. Herbert P. Howe, b. March 7, 1887.

II. Georgianna Herrick, b. Dec. 25, 1855 ; d. Jan. 6, 1856.

2. John Isaac Herrick, b. in Cambridge, Sept. 21, 1819; m. in

Boston, Sept. 15, 1S44, Rebecca Marsh of Boston, b. in
Boston, Jan. 24, 1821, dau. of Joseph and Tryphosa C.
(Parker) Marsh. He is a mental physician ; resides in Mars-
ton, Wis. Their children were :
I. John Wilkins Herrick, b. in Detroit, Mich., Aug. 16,

II. Sarah Parker Herrick. b. in Detroit. Mich., Feb. 19,

1847; ^^- ^" New Lisbon, Wis., Sept. 16, 1S75,

Whittemore. Their child was :
I. Ethelwyn Whittemore, b. in Kansas Citj-, Mo., June 7, 1879.

131. Isaac Parker (John,^ John:= Josia/i,^ Jokn^i
Hananiah,^ Thomas^), son of John and Hannah (Stearns)
Parker, was b. in Lexington, Nov. 5, 1798 ; m. 1829, Martha
M. Miller, b. in Hillsborough, N. H., June 29, 1801, dau. of
James Miller (a native of Hillsborough ; farmer, mason and
miller), and wife Ann Macolley, who had ten children in Hills-
borough, nine daughters and one son. Isaac Parker first drove
the stage from Waltham to Boston, which he continued until
1832, when he returned to Lexington. He assisted his father
in his declining years and settled on the old homestead. He
was a farmer, knew also the trade of his ancestors, wood-
working. He made many farm implements. He did a good
business at pumpmaking.

Isaac Parker was esteemed as a man of character and a
gentleman. He was assessor of the town of Lexington during


the years 1846, '47, '48 and '50. He was slight but tall in

stature, and lived to a ripe old age.

The mother (1892), in her ninety-second year, still resides

at the old Parker homestead, a lady of remakable industry

and ability for one of her age. Her health is perfect, and her

presence is a great blessing to the many visitors which the

historical spot attracts. Her visitors' register contains many

hundred names. Their first two children were born in Wal-

tham and the remainder in Lexington.
Their children were :

Isaac Moore Parker, b. Nov. 10, 1829; d. about 1873.

304. Martha Ann Parker, b. June 16, 1831 ; m. William W.
Dingee of York, Pa.

Frances Maria Parker, b. Jan. 21, 1833 ; was a teacher.

Charles M. Parker, b. Feb. 15, 1835 ; resides upon the home-
stead, carrying on the farm together with his brother Theodore.
He enlisted from Lexington in the 24th Regiment in Aug., 1862,
for three years, which he served in the Civil war. It is he who
stands in the foreground in the picture, "The Lexington Parker

James Theodore Parker, b. Sept. 18, 1837 ; d. April 2, 1838.

Emily R. Parker, b. April 7, 1839; d. Aug. 6, 185S.

Theodore James Parker, b. April 21, 1841 ; resides upon the
homestead in Lexington.

George E. Parker, b. Jan. 2, 1843 ; d. Oct. 6, 1857.

132. Hiram Stearns Parker (John,^ Jokn,^ Josiah,^
yohii^i Hanaiiiah.^ Thomas^), son of John and Hannah
(Stearns) Parker, was b. in Lexington, Jan. 16, 1803 ; m. in
Lexington, Jan. 1, 1828, Nancy Leavitt, b. in Amherst, N.
H., April 7, 1803, dau. of Andrew and Elizabeth Leavitt of
Amherst. They lived in Lowell, where he was a carpenter
and builder. He d. in Lowell, Jan., 1852. She d. in Lowell.

Their children were :

305. Abigail Anna Parker; m. Charles William Rea of Here-
ford, P. Q.

Emma Frances Parker ; resides in Lowell.

306. Charles Leavitt Parker ; m. Minnie Barker of Lowell.

307. Susan Weatherbee Parker ; m. Col. George Edgar Went-
worth of Lowell.

Henry Theodore Parker.


^,-. Schoff from Dai bv Allen R Honon .


133. Theodore Parker (John,'' Jokn,^ Josiah,^ John'!'
Hananiah,^ Thomas^ ), son of John and Hannah (Stearns)
Parker, was b. in Lexington, Aug. 24, t8io, the youngest in
a family of 11 children.

" Let us do our duty in our shop or our kitchen, the market,
the street, the office, the school, the house, just as faithfully as
if we stood in the first rank of some great battle, and we knew
that victory for mankind depended on our bravery, strength and
skill." — Theodore Parker.

Theodore Parker, the distinguished American rationalistic
preacher and social reformer, as a boy was richly endowed
both intellectually and physically. At a very tender age he
began to show a remarkable moral feeling and curiosity,
which constantly grew as he increased in years. As has been
shown, his father, John Parker, was an enterprising man of
strong intellect as well as a prosperous farmer and mechanic ;
was studious, thoughtful and progressive ; he was ahead of
the age in which he lived.

Theodore's mother, Hannah (Stearns) Parker, was as re-
markable in her way as the father was in his. She was an
entertaining, poetic, loving, and very practical woman. She
took great interest in the moral culture of her children. Con-
science was her guide, gratitude and trust were interpreters to
her of the ways of Providence.

Theodore began going to school when nearly six years old.
He was distinguished as a scholar by his constant thirst for
knowledge. In childhood he learned by heart and retained
many pages of poetry, and knew at ten years of age the
names of all the trees and plants familiar to Massachusetts.
The plain district school-house was a mile distant by road,
but was brought nearer by a short cut across the lield and
over the brook. Through the efforts of his father to secure
good instructors, William Hoar White began teaching in
1820. He took home evening lessons which he always
learned and wanted more. At the age of ten Mr. White led

Note. In parts of this sketch I have been materially assisted bv both Rev.
O. B. Frothingham's and John Weiss's authentic biographies of Rev. Theodore
Parker, and by a masterly article from the pen of Rufus Leighton, Esq., 30
Pemberton Sq., Boston, written expressly for this genealogy. He is one of
those still living who knew the great reformer well. The Author,


him past the prescribed line of study and started him in Latin
and Greek. A desire for verse-making attacked him when
eight years old. His first composition on "The Starry
Heavens" disappointed his teacher by being too short. The
district school was open during the winter months only. He
was all the time a devoted and constant reader. He read
miscellaneously and everything. The extent of his reading
was astonishing. Whatever the schoolmaster could lend,
whatever the social or town library afforded, he devoured.
The father brought home nothing that the boy did not appro-
priate. If the cautious parent put a volume away on a high
shelf, judging it for some reason unfit for ^^outhful eyes, the
eyes espied it, and the hands reached it the instant the work-
shop absorbed the parental form. Before he was eight he had
read the translations of Homer and Plutarch, Rollin's Ancient
History and all the other volumes of history and poetry that
circumstances afforded. His marvellously retentive memory,
an inheritance from his mother, and which he later in life
treasured and kept bright with diligent care, enabled him to
remember all he had read and all the impressions which his
active mind received. He was always studying in school and
out. In the summer noons when others indulged in peaceful
repose under the trees he refreshed his mind with books.
The winter evenings and the summer mornings were long and
the hours were faithfully used. At the academy he went
through Colburn's Algebra in three weeks. The tuition for
one term in this institute, Huntington's Lexington School, was
four dollars. This was afforded by his self-denial in foregoing
the accomplishment of dancing, which the boys and girls of
his age were cultivating, in view of social festivities that were
the ruling passion about that time. Between the culture of
the two extremities, Theodore, on consideration, chose that of
the head. In the humbler virtues of toil and economy his
whole life was a school. He left no time for idleness, but he
seemed to find time for everything. Whether in the field or
in the workshop he studied Latin, Greek and mental philoso-
phy. Nor were his studies confined to books. The stars
interested him ; the trees, the shrubs, the flowers of the neigh-
borhood, the plants in cultivated gardens he visited, the for-


eign fruits he saw in the Boston market when sent there annu-
ally with the peach crop, all attracted his attention. The for-
mation of the hills, their direction and slope ; the minerals,
rocks and stones that lay about, or those that were brought
from a distance excited his curiosity. This constant thirst
for knowledge of natural objects began in mere childhood.
He strove to satisfy it every time an opportunity offered. He
made it a rule to "explore a subject when curiosity is awake,"
and when unable to do so he noted the subject in his "Com-
mon Place Book" for future research.

He had his mother's aptitude for committing verses ; could
repeat a song from hearing it once, the Sunday hymn while
the minister read it. He could carry several hundred lines in
his memory so as to recite them at a sitting. In mature
years, when his mind was burdened with stores, he could
appropriate as many as a hundred and fifty lines of blank
verse after a single reading. The gift of expression came to
him as readily as the gift of acquisition. He had the political
events of the country on his tongue's end while yet a school-
boy, and talked so intelligently about them that the political
gossips of the town, assembled in Dudley's Tavern, often
drew him out for the sake of hearing his opinion. At seven-
teen militia duties began and in these he was as active,
prompt and efficient as in all the rest. There was always a
touch of war-like spirit in him. The military reputation of
the ancestor who was at Lexington Common and chafed under
inaction at Bunker Hill was dear to his heart. He rose to
rank in the company, clerk he certainly was, perhaps lieuten-

He began his career of teaching at the early age of seven-
teen. The first winter, that of 1827, he took charge of the
district school in Quincy ; the second in North Lexington ;
the third in Concord ; and the fourth in Waltham. He worked
upon the farm during the summer, performing all kinds of
farm work, helping his broad-shouldered father in his shop
(the old Lexington belfry) mending wheels, repairing wagons,
making pumps, wooden screws and wooden rakes with no
less joy than he studied. He worked as if toil was his whole
occupation ; he studied as if study was his whole delight.


The day before his twentieth birthday, in August, 1830, he
went away, telling no one whither he was going. His father
had given him leave of absence from morning till night.
Theodore walked to Cambridge (eight miles), was examined,
passed examination, walked home and told his father, who
had already retired for the night, that he had entered Harvard
College. If the venerable parent wondered in the morning
where his son was going, he wondered more at night on
learning where he had been. "But, Theodore, I can not
afford it." "Father, it shall cost you nothing. I will stay
at home and keep up with my class." And this he did for a
year, working on the farm as usual, and going over to Cam-
bridge for his examination only.

Theodore opened a private school in Watertown in the
spring of 1832. During the first 3^ear the scholars numbered
35. Subsequently it increased to 54. The charge was not
high, five dollars a quarter, but rather than turn a deserving
boy or girl away because the modest fee could not be paid, he
would take the applicant gratis, and bestow as much care on
him or her as on all the rest. Religion was the first interest
with him ; he was unhappy if he could not make his school-
boys feel its power and charm. He made the trees, flowers,
birds and animals his texts as he rambled with the boys in the
woods. He encouraged a thirst for general knowledge among
his pupils, while he entertained them with unlimited informa-
tion. He had a way of making scholars answer their own
questions and remove their own difficulties, such as only com-
plete masters of their art possess. During this time he also
pursued his botanical studies. He walked to Cambridge and
to Charlestown every Saturday afternoon for instruction in

In April, 1834, ^^ took up a theological course at the Cam-
bridge Divinity School. Here there was a chance for him to
exercise his intellectual powers as much as he desired. He
studied 14 hours a day. He met his expenses partly by
teaching five private pupils in addition to his studies. He not
only followed the usual course of study at the college, but
made acquaintance with a large number of languages, includ-
ing Hebrew, Chaldee, Syriac, Arabic, Coptic, Ethiopic, as



well as the classical and the modern principal European lan-
guages, which last he learned to speak fluently. His power
of getting at the secret of a language was wonderful. Hebrew
he himself taught to a class of collegians. "The Swedish
language is easy," he wrote, "and I expect to get much
amusement and instruction from it. The Danish presents
more difficulties than Swedish, and I shall not study it exten-
sively, but soon make it give place to some other." The Rus-
sian he mastered sufficient to become acquainted with the dia-
lect used by the priests. The German furnished him rich
material for thought in theology and mental philosophy. He
applied serious work to the Anglo-Saxon alphabet and on the
derivation of the Celtic and Gothic tongues. He studied the
rudiments of the ancient, the Indian and the heathen religions.
Constantly adding to his immense store of knowledge, Theo-
dore was looked upon by his fellow-students as "a prodigious
athlete in his studies." His journal, which he commenced in
1835, and kept through life, throws a little light on the mar-
vellous extent of his researches at this period. During the
two months of November and December of that year the
names of 65 volumes are given as having been read. Some
were in German, others in Latin, Danish, Greek and includ-
ing Dr. Channing's essay on slavery, which was an important
seed, perhaps, of the tree which spread so widely in ten years.
"At this time," writes his biographer, Rev. O. B. Frothing-
ham, "Theodore's power of speech and of moral feeling was
attracting attention. He was the best debater, though not the
best writer, in the school ; always speaking vigorously and to
the point with an independence of thought, an enthusiasm of
manner and a freshness that gave promise of greater pulpit
power than was at first displayed."

After his year was up at the college Theodore prepared his
mind for the great work which he from boyhood had craved
to perform. He began preaching in Watertown to his old
friends and neighbors with a success that surprised those who
had heard only of his prodigious feats of learning. For several
months he was a travelling minister, at first for a month in
Barnstable, then in Northfield and Greenfield. Later he inter-
ested congregations in Portland, Lowell and Billerica. In


June, 1837, he accepted an offer of a pastorate in West Rox-
bury. While at Watertown he became superintendent of the
Sunday-School. Among the teachers of the school was Miss
Lydia Cabot, the only daughter of John Cabot of Newton.
She resided with an aunt in Boston, but was boarding in
Watertown at this time. An attachment grew up between
them and they were married three years later, April 20, 1837.
They settled on Spring Street. He lived very happily, dili-
gently preaching and pursuing his studies and researches. In
the pleasant weather he was much out of doors, planting and
trimming in his garden. He took long walks, visiting Boston
and the neighboring towns on foot, doing his ten, fifteen and
twenty miles a day without fatigue. In summer his pedestrian
exploits would have tasked the vigor of any but a very strong
man. He once journeyed from New York to Boston on foot,
making about 30 miles a day. He walked easily through the
White Mountains, ascending Mount Washington from the
Notch and back the same day, and starting off the next morn-
ing for Franconia. His healthy exercise, his mirthfulness,
social temperament and the variety of his studies saved him
from the oppression of overwork. He made weekly, even
daily plans for his work, both physical and mental.

Up to this time he was only known as the promising
Unitarian Minister of West Roxbury, whose congregation
were delighted with his interesting sermons. But from his
early boyhood he appears to have settled instinctively in his
mind some of the vexing points of theology, and decided
against the worst dogmas of the Orthodox Church. His future
studies and researches strengthened this conviction and opened
to him a boundless field of labor, requiring the highest charac-
ter, the most inflexible determination, the firmest courage and
endless self-denial on the part of who so might engage in it.
Millions of men were to be emancipated from a belief in the
terrible doctrines set forth by Calvin and his successors, which
made their lives miserable and their future a matter of doubt,
and brought under the benign influence of a form of religion
which recognized God not as a capricious, malignant and
revengeful being, but as the Father and Mother of us all,
infinite in love, justice and mercy, and perfect in all his attri-


butes ; and which consisted not in observance of forms and
belief in creeds, but in love to God and man. Others, also,
who had discarded the Orthodox theology and had no settled
belief in any form of religion, were to be shown that there
was something better than the churches had hitherto offered
for their spiritual help and guidance.

Gradually he came to the conviction that he must enter this
field and this was to be his life-work. In 1837, ^^^ long alter
his settlement as minister of the Church at West Roxbury, he
wrote two sermons on "The Historical, Scientific and Moral
Contradictions of the Bible," and kept them in his desk for
more than a year before he dared to preach them, and then
did so with much doubt as to the result.

At a convention called in Groton in 1840 by Come-outers
and Second Adventists, he said in a speech, that we must
come back to what Jesus demanded, not a belief, but a life, —
a life of love to God and love to man, and set forth distinctly
the difference between mere dogmas and rational religion.

In 1841 he preached the famous South Boston sermon on
the "Transient and Permanent in Christianity," which brought
matters to a crisis between him and the Unitarian clergy.
With few exceptions they turned upon him, refused him fel-
lowship and declined to exchange pulpits with him. A torrent
of opposition and abuse was poured out upon him from the
press and the pulpit. But the opposition only served to make
him more brave, to increase his zeal and determination.
Although debarred from the aid or the encouraging helping
hand from any of his brother ministers, he boldly took the
reformer's stand against the religious shams and the social
evils of the time ; moreover, he was bound to overthrow them.

In the autumn of that year he delivered five lectures in
Boston upon "Matters pertaining to Religion," in which he
elaborated fully his ideas of God, of man, the relation between
them, the Bible, the prevaiHng theology, and other matters
collateral to these. He set forth freely, with great clearness
and vigor, in his pulpit and the lecture room, the new views
which had caused such an outcry, and gradually his hearers
increased and his influence widened.

Theodore Parker was a natural reformer. The best blood


of New England ran in his veins. He inherited those lofty
and sterling qualities which characterized his ancestors for
many generations back, to which were added others peculiar
to himself, not less lofty and admirable. By birth, by early
training, by circumstances which compelled him to habits of
industry and hard labor, by education and self-development in
various forms, combined with his wonderful faculty for assimi-
lating knowledge of all kinds, his keenness of conscience, his
tenderness of heart and sympathy with the oppressed and suf-
fering, his moral courage and unconquerable desire to enlist
in their behalf and his marvellous abilit}' to bring to bear his
vast learning and scholarship in fighting their battles, — he
was eminently fitted to engage in those great works of reform
in which he labored so zealously and incessantly, and in
which he achieved such grand success.

He was very open spoken at all times, and was too much
self-sacrificed to his cause to fear the rebuke which popular
opinion must give him. He was never backward to denounce
forcibly any and all evils of Church and society ; on the con-
trary he believed it effective and practiced it regardless of
consequences. It was thus that he acquired his most stubborn
enemies. One sentence from his first sermon in Melodian
Hall shows us how he so easily achieved the commendation
of the common people, but at the same time drew upon him-
self the strong enmity of the clergy :

" A Church truly Christian must lead the way in moral enter-
prises, in every work which aims directly at the welfare of man.
But look at the Churches of this city : do they lead the Christian
movements of this city, — the temperance movement, the peace move-
ment, the movement for the freedom of man, for education ; the
movement to make society more just, more wise and good ; the grfeat
religious movement of these times? Not at all."

Theodore was too generous hearted to allow any one sect
to bound his sympathies. His religion was one of deeds, not

"My friends," said Theodore to an audience composed largely of
ministers, " if you receive the notions about Christianity which
chance to be current in your sect or Church solely because they are
current, and if this is all your religion, alas for you ! The ground


will shake under your feet if you attempt to walk uprightly and like
men. You will be afraid of every new opinion, lest it shake down
your Church ; you will fear, ' lest, if a fox, go up, he will break
down your stone wall.' If on the other hand you take the true word
of God, and live out this, nothing shall harm you. Men may mock ;
but their mouthsful of wind will be blown back upon their own face.
. . . And alas for that man who consents to think one thing in his

Online LibraryTheodore ParkerGenealogy and biographical notes of John Parker of Lexington and his descendants: Showing his earlier ancestry in America from Dea. Thomas Parker of Reading, Mass., from 1635 to 1893 → online text (page 22 of 47)