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


Parker House in Ripley served as a stop on the Underground Railroad

February 22, 2022


Press Releases

WASHINGTON DC – 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, a major stop on the Underground Railroad, in 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 former slave who risked his life to help hundreds of others gain their freedom through the Underground Railroad.” said Senator Portman. “To honor and help 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 of the abolitionist movement”, said Senator Brown. “As a former African-American slave, he risked his life to help others secure their freedom. The addition of this home to the national park system is a fitting honor for this heroic, selfless, pioneering American. John. P. Parker is an example of Ohio’s best.

“After gaining his freedom, John Parker was instrumental in the abolitionist movement. His home, located in our own Ripley, Ohio, was crucial in guiding slaves to freedom on the Underground Railroad. Ensuring that his home – and its history – are properly preserved is a fitting way to honor his legacy and teach younger generations about his devotion to freedom,” said Rep. Wenstrup. “John Parker’s heroic deeds have helped our nation, as the song American the Beautiful sings, ‘Mend All Our Flaws Right,’ which is why I’m proud to join in the bipartisan, bicameral effort.”

“After gaining his freedom from slavery, John P. Parker worked tirelessly as an abolitionist to help free countless slaves. Like many other Underground Railroad conductors, Parker risked his life helping to guide runaway slaves from the south to the north.” Rep. Beatty said. “We should honor Parker’s life and legacy by preserving his station on the Underground Railroad in Ohio and ensure that future generations learn of his story.”

“Our thanks to Senator Portman and Senator Brown for their joint efforts in developing and introducing a bill in the U.S. Senate requesting a resource study for the John P. Parker home in Ripley, Ohio, to become a unit of the National Park Service We thank both parties for their support of this bill The Parker Board of Directors is delighted and looks forward to the resource study We hope that John P. Parker will receive recognition nationality he deserves. John P. Parker (1827-1900) was a former slave who bought his freedom, was an abolitionist and Underground Railroad conductor, helping hundreds of people escape to freedom. Parker was also a foundry owner, an inventor with 3 pre-1900 patents, an entrepreneur and a proponent of education for all. It’s a wonderful month to introduce this bill – during Black History Month 2022. The Parker Board is grateful to everyone who helped prepare and introduce this bill to the U.S. Senate,” said Carol Stivers, president of the John P. Parker Historical Society, Inc.

“We believe the John P. Parker House at Ripley is worthy of consideration for unit status in the national park system. And we are grateful and delighted that Senators Brown and Portman and Representatives Beatty and Wenstrup have introduced legislation authorizing the National Park Service to conduct a study to determine if the monument meets the 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 many times before gaining his freedom in 1845. After his release, Parker moved to Cincinnati and eventually settled based 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.

Along with his successful business, Parker became an active member of the Underground Railroad. Historical records credit 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 House is located on North Front Street in Ripley and has been operated by the John P. Parker Historical Society since 1996.

The legislation, introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representatives Brad Wenstrup and Joyce Beatty, would require the National Park Service to conduct a special resource study to help determine the feasibility of adding the Parker House to the national park system.



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