Portman, Brown, Wenstrup, Beatty Applaud Committee Passage of Their Legislation to Study Addition of John P. Parker House to the National Park System

Parker House in Ripley Served as a Stop on the Underground Railroad

July 22, 2022 | Press Releases

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and U.S. Representatives Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) and Joyce Beatty (D-OH) applauded the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources and U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources for advancing their legislation which will begin the process of incorporating the John P. Parker House and museum, an important stop on the Underground Railroad, into the National Park System. The Parker House is located in Ripley, Ohio. This legislation now goes to a vote in the full House and the Senate.

“John P. Parker was an inventor, entrepreneur, abolitionist, and a former slave who risked his life to help hundreds of others gain freedom. As an Underground Railroad Conductor, he crossed the Ohio River to bring those seeking freedom out of Kentucky. He is an American hero – one who is worth honoring and whose legacy we should strive to preserve,” said Senator Portman. “I am pleased that my bipartisan legislation to authorize a special resource study of his home in Ripley, Ohio, the next step in making it a unit of the National Park System, has passed favorably out of committee in the House and Senate and hope that Congress will move to pass it quickly.”

“John P. Parker was not only a successful businessman, but a champion in the abolitionist movement,” said Senator Brown. “As a former enslaved African American, he risked his life to help others secure their freedom. Adding this home into the National Park System is an appropriate honor for this heroic, selfless, and trailblazing American. John. P. Parker is an example of the best of Ohio and I look forward to this legislation passing in both the House and the Senate.”

“John P. Parker played an instrumental role in America’s abolitionist movement, shepherding enslaved people on their journey to freedom along the Underground Railroad,” said Rep. Wenstrup. “I am glad to see this legislation moving in the right direction in both the House and the Senate, and urge my colleagues to pass this legislation to preserve and honor the legacy of John P. Parker.”

“Like many other conductors on the Underground Railroad, John P. Parker risked his life by helping guide fugitive slaves from the South to the North,” said Rep. Beatty. “I am excited to see the progress being made on legislation to preserve his legacy. By preserving his station on the Underground Railroad, we can ensure that generations to come will learn his story.”

“The Board of the John P. Parker House is excited to have both the House Bill and the Senate Bill moving forward. We are thankful for the work that Senators Portman and Brown and Representatives Wenstrup and Beatty have put into these bills. John P. Parker was an amazing man and an American Hero. We believe that everyone should know about Parker's contributions to American History. We feel that becoming a unit of the National Park Service would let the whole country know about Parker's life and times. The Bills call for a Resource Study as the next step in becoming a unit of the National Park Service,” said Carol Stivers, President of the John P. Parker Historical Society, Inc. DBA The John P. Parker House & Museum in Ripley, Ohio.

“We believe the John P. Parker house in Ripley deserves consideration for unit status in the national park system. And we are thankful and elated that legislation introduced by Senators Brown and Portman and Representatives Beatty and Wenstrup authorizing the National Park Service to conduct a study to determine whether the landmark meets criteria for this designation has passed committees in both the House and Senate this week,” said Charles Nuckolls, Trustee of the John P. Parker Historical Society, Inc.

John P. Parker was born into slavery in 1827. Initially living in Norfolk, Virginia, Parker was bought and sold multiple times before securing his freedom in 1845. Following his liberation, Parker moved to Cincinnati and ultimately settled in the Village of Ripley, Ohio, located in Brown County. Parker went on to own and operate a successful metal foundry, becoming one of the first African Americans to receive patents for his inventions.

In addition to his successful business, Parker became an active member of the Underground Railroad. Historical records attribute Parker with helping secure the freedom of hundreds of enslaved African Americans through the Underground Railroad. Parker worked with abolitionist John Rankin, and together they supported a robust abolitionist movement on the Ohio River. The John P. Parker home is located on North Front Street in Ripley and has operated under the John P. Parker Historical Society since 1996. 

The legislation would require the National Park Service to conduct a special resource study to help determine the feasibility of the Parker house being added to the National Park System.