Mary Parker in 1885 Census

Mary (Murphy) Parker Found!

I’ve just had the most exciting genealogy breakthrough!

Here’s the first piece of background: My great great grandmother (one of them) was Mary Parker. She was born in Canada to Irish immigrants (both born about 1803) named Patrick Parker and Mary Murphy Parker in about 1841. The family came to Grant County Wisconsin and lived there at least from 1860 to 1870. She married William Dennis Ryan and died in 1874. That part part is all pretty established. But Patrick Parker and his wife Mary disappeared after that. I know of at least four other descendants of the Parkers who have been trying to find out what happened to them. Most of the children moved to Iowa between 1865 and 1875. We thought they might have dispersed after their parents died. One speculated that perhaps they moved back to Canada and that’s where they died. She even hired a genealogist to dig into cemetery records in the townships in Ontario where they were known to have lived. But no luck. (Some of the Parker grandchildren did emigrate to Canada.)

I’ve for sure found Mary (Murphy) Parker. I think I may have found Patrick Parker.

More background. This is somewhat involved. I describe it all because it shows the serendipitous trails these breakthrough take.

Since I will be doing the cross country road trip next month, I decided to flesh out my family tree some more so I could prioritize things to research when I go through Iowa. I’ve already have nearly complete trees for two of the children, Mary Parker Ryan and Stephen Parker. This spring I started on Patrick Parker’s son Patrick Parker. He married Carrie Ulrich of Eau Claire and they moved to Iowa where they had a number of children. I finished the basic portion of the tree Tuesday morning morning. It’s a big branch of the tree. I got about half of that done in 4 days, which was a lot of work.

I moved on to the next child, Alice Parker. Someone else already figured out she married a John Scallon. They moved to Iowa, then Chicago. Of course, I like to check everyone else’s work. One of the things I usually do is go look on Find a Grave which is attempting to catalog all graves using volunteers. Bingo! Alice Scallon’s grave is there, added and photographed just this August.

I looked at the photographer’s contributor page, and it has a link to a web site in which he has guides to several cemeteries in Franklin County Iowa area. One of them lists a Patrick Parker, died 28 Apr 1874, aged 72 years. Hmmm, I think. That’s an almost exact fit to what I know about my 3rd great grandfather.

Grave marker for Patrick Parker in Saint Mary's Cemetery, Franklin County Iowa
Grave marker for Patrick Parker in Saint Mary's Cemetery, Franklin County Iowa

But that’s a common name and there are probably four or five dozen Patrick Parkers that would match. Still, the presence of Alice Scallon in the same cemetery gives it some connection.

Next step is to see if any other site has information on the Patrick Parker buried there. does not. Neither does the W.P.A. grave catalog made in the 1930s. (To boost the economy during the depression, the feds paid people to transcribe all the cemeteries in Iowa.) And I checked the weekly Ackley World newspaper for the issues following 28 April 1874. Then I got the bright idea to see if I could find Mary Parker nearby in any of the census records.

Bingo! There’s a Mary Parker living in Osceola Township (Franklin County), Iowa in 1885, aged 83 and a widow. Again, it might not be her though. I added that record to my tree and tagged it speculative. Mary Parker is a common name.

Mary Parker in 1885 Census
Mary Parker in Osceola Township in 1885 Iowa Census

So the next thing I did was go back to the guide that fellow made and look at Patrick Parker again, in case I missed something. Only this time I accidentally hit next (when searching for Parker) twice, and lo and behold, there was another Parker in the cemetery: Elizabeth Parker Blake. And her birth date matched up with Elizabeth Parker, daughter of Patrick and Mary Murphy. So now there are two daughters of Patrick Parker buried in the cemetery, along with someone who could be my Patrick Parker.

But then I noticed something. Elizabeth Blake’s husband is Richard Smith Blake. And the family that Mary Parker is living with in the 1885 census is that of R.S. and Lizzie Blake.

That has to be my third great grandmother, Mary Parker) in the 1885 census. Got to be. Alive ten years after all the researchers thought her dead, and in a completely different location from where they’ve been looking (as far as I know).

I still don’t have confirmation that buried in the Saint Mary’s Cemetery is my third great grandfather. But it’s looking like a good possibility and worth researching. Hopefully I’ll be able to find something in the state archives when I visit Iowa.

10 thoughts on “Mary (Murphy) Parker Found!”

  1. Wow, that’s a lot of work to do a family tree like that and so amazing that you’ve tracked down more! I still remember when cousins contacted us from California saying they were coming to visit, they had tracked us down from a few generations back. It was so neat – and speaking of that I’m off to visit them again in a few weeks!

  2. ha! That is really cool. I totally get the giddy post you made…I can’t really imagine what it feels like to break through that information barrier.

  3. Very interesting – and sounds like a ton of work. My sister and I are interested in our family history but have no idea where to start. Have listed a couple of sites you’ve mentioned. Hope you uncover more to the mystery during your trip.

    Safe travels.

  4. I’m sorry to barge in here, but… hi there, cousin! Here’s how we’re related: My mother is Phyllis Parker Newton
    Her father was William Cyril Parker
    His father was Frances Parker
    Who’s parents were Patrick Parker and Mary Murphy Parker!
    I’m a rookie at this genealogy thing, but every now and then I just Google someone’s name to see if anyone new has done more research. Quite some time ago I became enthralled with the Mary Murphy and Patrick Parker story. If what I was finding is factual, there should be a movie! What I read was that Mary Murphy and her brother, Batt came to Canada on the Peter Robinson Expedition. This was the first “experiment” to see if the idea of shipping rowdy and poor Irish to lower Canada in order to rid the English landlords of them would in turn gain their loyalty over the possession of homestead land and they’d help defend the Canadian/US border from invasions by the US. Confirming that the Mary Murphy on this particular ship is our grandma would be huge to me. I’m wondering if there has ever been a marriage document found in Canada between Mary Murphy and Patrick Parker that might show her birthplace as Clogheen Ireland? Or a death record that you may have found? And who her parents were would interest me because of my interest in the political climate in southern Ireland at the time of the Expedition. What drove Mary and her brother to sign up? Where were their families? Was their father perhaps involved with the White Boys that fought the English? If I knew for sure that Mary Murphy Parker was indeed from Clogheen Ireland and came over on that ship, I’d love to take a journey to Ireland to learn more. Unbeknownst to me at the time, but 17 years ago I was at the ruins of a penal colony in Tasmania, Australia where many Irish were imprisoned. Recently I found a prison listing on-line and there were a few Murphys. Is that where Mary and her brother’s father was sent so they felt the need to therefore get out of Ireland for Canada? As you see, my imagination can get the best of me. But it depends on getting Mary confirmed as being the Mary Murphy on the ship. I also found an interesting story which deals with Patrick’s family. The Parker name isn’t that Irish, so I knew there must be a connection to the English. Sure enough, and it’s a wonderful love story. English official’s son falls in love with the Irish maid. They are shunned and sent away to Ireland. They try settling in Canada, have a son, try to go back as far as Ireland to get back good with the rich English Parkers, didn’t work, they have more kids, then go back to Canada for good. Patrick I think was one of their kids. Isn’t that a beautiful story? Again, that’s all just internet heresy, though. King Rat, I have a photo of Mary Murphy Parker. I’ll attach it to an email if you reply. Word of warning… she wasn’t a show pony. 🙂

  5. Guess I didn’t say much about me. I live in Glendive, Montana (born 1958). My widowed mom lives here (born 1926) as does my sister and one of my brothers. Our family are cattle ranchers and wheat farmers. Mom was born here but the Parker farmstead was about 25 miles East of here in Wibaux, Montana. When mom was, I believe, 12 yrs old they moved to Sandpoint, Idaho. Her cousins brought her back for a weekend to introduce her to a young rancher new to the area (my dad) and as they say, “the rest is history”.

  6. Well, hello again cousin! Hope all is well with you. I appreciate all the research you have done regarding the Parker genealogy and was happy to discover your very interesting site.

    Just to reiterate, my father was James Joseph Parker;
    his father was James Leland Parker; and
    his parents were Patrick Parker and Mary Murphy Parker.

    My father was 6 months old in 1911 when his parents came to Canada and farmed west of Simpson, Saskatchewan.

    I am very interested in obtaining a photo of Mary Murphy Parker. Would you be able to provide Connie Newton Hilger with my email address as I would like to connect with her in regard to sharing Parker history. I reside in Regina, Saskatchewan.

    Thanks in advance.

  7. Um, hi, so I discovered this randomly looking up things about my family. The thing is, we are somehow related. Mary Murphy-Parker and Patrick Parker are my great-great-great-grandparents. I have proof that I am related to them, as I’m one of the descendants of Thomas Parker, through his son Richard Parker. I know the name of Richard’s wife, the name of their children, example, their three daughters, Margaret, Dorothy and Patricia, and their children, and their children’s children, and their children. That might have been confusing, but still, I know the entire family, up to Patrick’s father, and why he was kicked out of the family.
    I don’t know if you’ll believe me, but I hope you do. I also have pictures of Mary Murphy and Patrick, if you want to see them, but they are “morphed” due to age.
    Anyway, thanks for the time, bye.

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