Among the younger business men of Rock Island County few have demonstrated their ability in as many different fields as has John W. Parker. City bred, and trained originally for commercial pursuits, he has been successful alike in trade, manufacturing, politics and ‘even agriculture. In addition, he has through his own efforts, secured a liberal education, including a fair knowledge of law, although dependent upon his own resources since the age of sixteen.
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Mr. Parker was born November 1, 1870, at Henry, Illinois, the son of Samuel and Anna Parker. His father was a native of Ohio and his mother was born in Ireland of Scotch-Irish ancestry. He attended the grammar and high schools of Chicago before going to work at the age of sixteen as stock-keeper for the Western Electric Company. He advanced rapidly, becoming timekeeper, pay-master, assistant cashier and purchasing agent, finally resigning after six years to engage in the real estate business. Two years later he took up the study of law in the offices of William E. Mason, at the same time being employed as teacher in the Chicago public night schools. During Mr. Mason’s successful campaign for the United States Senate Mr. Parker was his secretary and active political lieutenant, acquiring in this way an intimate acquaintance with the leading men of the State.
In 1896 Mr. Parker was appointed assistant City Sealer for Chicago, serving two years and until his appointment as assistant Secretary of the State Board of Charities by Governor Tanner. This office he resigned to accept the chief clerkship of the Western Hospital for the Insane at Watertown. After four years service there he resigned and became general manager of the Tri-City Pasteurized Milk Company, for whom he planned and developed the large dairy farm in Black Hawk Township. In 1905 he purchased an interest in the Rock Island Skirt Company, becoming manager of that concern, although continuing as secretary and director of the Milk Company until January 1, 1907, when his connection with it ceased. Mr. Parker is also actively engaged in local timber operations, owning several tracts of standing timber in the County.
From his father, who ‘s one of the oldest newspaper writers in the State and a life-long Republican, Mr. Parker inherited an interest in public matters which has manifested itself in his active work in politics. This has been more than local, his counsel carrying weight among the State leaders. He has been secretary of the Illinois League of Republican Clubs and later president of that organization, also having been one of the executive committee of the National Republican League.
Mr. Parker, during his residence in Rock Island, has been active in almost every movement for public good. Several years ago his personal efforts brought the then Secretary of War, Elihu Root, to inspect the Arsenal, resulting in greatly increased appropriations for the small arms plant. Mr. Parker was also one of the committee of fifty which raised the $100,000 factory fund, and is a director of that organization. Fraternally, he affiliates with the Masons and Modern Woodmen.
Mr. Parker married Sarah Nichols June 23, 1906, at Chicago. They have but one child, Samuel.