Special Collections Department
David Bigelow Parker
Manuscript Collection Number: 385
Accessioned: Purchase, 1956.
Extent: 1 item
Access: The collection is open for research.
Processed: February 1999 by Anne E. Krulikowski
Special Collections, University of Delaware Library
Newark, Delaware 19717-5267
Table of Contents
At eighteen, Parker entered the army as a member of the 72nd New York Volunteers. Quickly achieving the rank of lieutenant, he served throughout the Civil War. General Hooker placed Parker in charge of the postal service in the Army of the Potomac. Commended by Grant for his ability, Parker personally carried dispatches between Grant and Lincoln after the Battle of the Wilderness. In 1863, he introduced the money order system in the Army. On the day of Richmond's fall, Parker took over the post office of that city and re-established its service.
After the war, Parker remained in Richmond to reconstruct the mail service in Virginia. Riding horseback into every county, Parker established new post offices and postal routes, while investigating offenses against the mails and prosecuting the offenders. Presidents Johnson and Grant appointed Parker as United States Marshal for Virginia. Governor Wells of Virginia made Parker a member of his staff, with the honorary title of "colonel."
Parker resigned in 1874 to go into private business, but was called back to the postal service by President Grant, who asked Parker to investigate a corruption case in Louisiana involving Grant's brother-in-law. After exposing the corruption and clearing Grant's relative, Parker was sent to reorganize the postal service of California, Oregon, and Washington, while handling numerous depredation complaints. In 1876, Parker accepted the position of Chief Post Office Inspector in the Department of Mail Depredations, a unit of postal detectives. While in this position, Parker was one of a group of men who worked to initiate and perfect the railway mail service, rural free delivery, the use of registered letters, and the money order service.
In 1883, President Arthur offered Parker the position as Postmaster at Washington, D.C., but Parker decided to join the Bell Telephone Company, an infant enterprise at that time. Parker started with the New England Telephone Company in Boston. He then became general manager of the New York Telephone Company. Because of deteriorating health, he next moved to the position of vice-president and general manager of the Bell Telephone Company of Buffalo, near his home. Suffering from severe rheumatism, Parker retired in the summer of 1898. After receiving extended treatment at Virginia Hot Springs, Parker returned to Ellicottville for the last ten years of his life, during which he lived as an invalid.
In the last years of his life, Parker dictated his reminiscences, published by the Boston firm of Small, Maynard and Company in 1912 as A Chautauqua boy in 61 and afterward, with an introduction by Albert Bushnell Hart. Parker's life story was recently augmented by Patricia Appleyard Parker in A Chautauqua family: 1800-1996 (Jamestown, NY: The author, 1996). This account is largely based on the research of Ronald L. Brake, Sr., who has also initiated a campaign to have Parker represented by a United States Postal Stamp. Further information may be obtained from the Harmony Historical Society in Lakewood, New York.
Cutter, William Richard, Editor. Genealogical and Family History of Western New York. New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1912.
Obituaries of David Bigelow Parker. For information about the obituaries, please ask Manuscript Librarian for assistance with the Collection Folder.
Scope and Content Note
Ms 97 Item 057 Jessie Southard Parker Journal, 1899-1916. 9 volumes.
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