Portman, Brown, Wenstrup, Beatty Introduce Bill to Study Addition of John P. Parker House to National Park System

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

February 22, 2022 | Press Releases

WASHINGTON, D.C. – 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) introduced legislation to begin the process of incorporating the John P. Parker House, an important stop on the Underground Railroad, into the National Park System. The Parker House is located in Ripley, Ohio.

“John P. Parker is an American hero. He was an inventor, entrepreneur, abolitionist, and a former slave who risked his life to help hundreds of others gain freedom through the underground railroad,” said Senator Portman. “To honor and help to preserve his legacy, I am proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation, which will authorize a special resource study of his home in Ripley, Ohio — the next step in making it a unit of the National Park System. May other Americans be inspired by his courage, ingenuity, and selflessness.”

“In addition to being a successful businessman, John P. Parker was 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.”

“After securing his freedom, John Parker played an instrumental role in the abolitionist movement. His house, located in our very own Ripley, Ohio, was crucial in shepherding enslaved people to their freedom on the Underground Railroad. Ensuring his home – and his story – are properly preserved is a fitting way to honor his legacy and teach younger generations about his dedication to freedom,” said Rep. Wenstrup. “John Parker’s heroic deeds helped our nation, as the song American the beautiful sings, ‘mend our every flaw,’ which why I’m proud to join in the bipartisan, bicameral effort.”

“After securing his freedom from the bondage of slavery, John P. Parker worked tirelessly as an abolitionist to help liberate countless slaves. Like many other conductors on the Underground Railroad, Parker risked his life by helping guide fugitive slaves from the South to the North,” said Rep. Beatty. “We should honor the life and legacy of Parker by preserving his station on the Underground Railroad in Ohio and ensure that generations to come will learn his story.”

“Our thanks to Senator Portman and Senator Brown for their joint effort in drawing up and introducing a bill in the U.S. Senate to ask for a Resource Study for the John P. Parker House in Ripley, Ohio to become a unit of the National Park Service. We are thankful for both parties supporting this bill. The Parker Board is delighted and look forward to the Resource Study. It is our hope that John P. Parker will get the national recognition that he deserves. John P. Parker (1827-1900) was a former slave who bought his freedom, was an abolitionist and Underground Railroad Conductor, helping hundreds escape to freedom. Parker was, also, a foundry owner, inventor with 3 patents before 1900, an entrepreneur & a promoter of education for all people. This is a wonderful month to have this bill introduced – during Black History Month 2022. The Parker Board is thankful to all those who helped in preparing & introducing this bill in the U.S. Senate,” said Carol Stivers, President, John P. Parker Historical Society, Inc.

“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 Senators Brown and Portman and Representatives Beatty and Wenstrup have introduced legislation authorizing the National Park Service to conduct a study to determine whether the landmark meets criteria for this designation,” 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, introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Reps. Brad Wenstrup and Joyce Beatty 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.