Isaac Duke Parker, farmer and state legislator, son of Isaac Parker and Lucy W. (Cheatham) Parker, was born on October 23, 1821, in Crawford County, Illinois. In 1833 his parents immigrated to Grimes County, Texas. Isaac Duke Parker married his first wife, Sarah Lucy Huntsman, in Madison County, Tennessee, on December 28, 1845. The couple had eight children. Sarah Lucy Parker died at the age of thirty-six on December 30, 1863. Around 1865 Parker married his second wife, Mary Priscilla Holt, a Texas native. This marriage produced seven children. Of his fifteen children, only five survived beyond the age of eighteen. On December 4, 1908, Mary Holt Parker died at the age of sixty.
The extended Parker family professed predestinarian Primitive Baptist beliefs and moved to Texas during the 1830s. In 1834 or 1835 Parker’s uncles Silas M. and James W. Parker co-founded Fort Parker in Limestone Country. In 1836 Fort Parker was attacked by a force of Comanches and their allies. Among the dead was John Parker, Parker’s grandfather; among the captured was nine-year-old Cynthia Ann Parker, Parker’s first cousin. Parker’s father served in the Texas Revolution in Elisha Clapp’s company of Texas Rangers, became good friends with Sam Houston, was prominent in public affairs in the Republic and early statehood eras, and was a member of the Convention of 1845. The family lived for several years in Houston County, where Parker served as justice of the peace and which his father represented in the Republic Congress and state Senate. The family subsequently lived in Anderson County and then Tarrant County. In 1855, as a member of the Texas House representing Ellis and Tarrant counties, Parker’s father led the effort to establish Parker County.
In December 1860 Cynthia Ann Parker was recaptured and brought to live in Birdville in the elder Isaac Parker’s log cabin, which had been built in 1848. Parker and his cousin Benjamin F. Parker were appointed as her guardians. On September 1, 1861, at the age of forty, Parker enlisted in the Confederate Army and joined Company G of the Sixth Texas Cavalry as a second lieutenant. His regiment saw action at the battles of Pea Ridge and Holly Springs and in the Atlanta campaign. Following the Civil War, he returned home to Tarrant County. Parker took charge of the family’s log cabin in 1872 when his father moved with his second wife to a farm near Weatherford in Parker County. In 1927 the cabin was purchased and restored by Amon Carter and subsequently donated to Fort Worth’s Log Cabin Village museum.
Parker worked as a successful farmer. In 1879 he employed workers year-round and paid $500 in combined wages to his employees. His farms produced 1,200 dozen eggs, 400 pounds of butter, and 48 pounds of fleece. In 1880 Parker owned more than seventy horses, forty-four sheep, forty chickens, thirty cows, fifteen pigs, and seven mules. He planted 100 acres of corn, 80 of cotton, 30 wheat, and 20 of oats and had a one-acre peach orchard. His land was valued at $7,000.
Parker was a delegate to the Tarrant County Democratic Convention in 1884, 1886, and 1888. In 1886 he organized the Democratic primary in Birdville. The following year he was appointed as a delegate to the Anti-Prohibition State Convention held in Dallas (seePROHIBITION). In 1888 Parker served as the precinct chairman of the Democratic party of Tarrant County for Birdville. On May 19, at the county convention, Parker served as chairman. He received the Democratic nomination for state representative for House District 34 (Tarrant County) and on November 6, 1888, he was elected to the Twenty-first Texas Legislature. He won by 721 votes against independent incumbent Elihu Newton.
Parker served on five House committees: Agricultural Affairs, Commerce and Manufacture, Irrigation, Public Debt, and Town and City Corporations. None of Parker’s bills or resolutions became law. His most notable proposals were House Bill No. 147, which aimed to use the work of state convicts on public roads; Bill No. 475, which sought to make it a misdemeanor for a father to neglect or refuse to provide for the support of his dependent wife and minor children; Bill No. 676, which would have granted a new charter to Fort Worth and allow the city to regulate tolls; and House Joint Resolution No. 26, to appropriate $1,500 for constructing a monument for the heroes of the battle of the Alamo in Austin.
In 1890 Parker ran for re-election but was defeated by James W. Swayne. Parker’s term ended on January 13, 1891, and he continued his life as a farmer in Birdville. He was a member of the Texas Veterans Association and the Robert E. Lee Camp of United Confederate Veterans at Fort Worth. In January 1901 he donated the land for Parker Cemetery, including a section for public burial, in Hurst, Texas. On October 28, 1902, Isaac Duke Parker died in Birdville, where he lived many of his eighty-one years of life. He was buried in Parker Cemetery, along with his mother, two siblings, both wives, and twelve of his children.
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Jim Dillard, “Isaac Parker: Parker County Namesake and Public Servant,” North Texas Star Storyteller & Rambler (November 2008). Fort Worth Daily Gazette, June 26, 1886; April 30, 1887; May 20, 1888; November 14, 1888. “Isaac Duke Parker,” Find A Grave Memorial (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/16841498/isaac-duke-parker), accessed June 25, 2022. Legislative Reference Library of Texas: Isaac Duke Parker (https://lrl.texas.gov/legeleaders/members/memberdisplay.cfm?memberID=3899), accessed June 25, 2022. “Once Upon a Dogtrot: Isaac Parker’s Little House of History,” Hometown by Handlebar (https://hometownbyhandlebar.com/?p=6146), accessed June 25, 2022. Michael Patterson, comp., “Civil War Veterans of Northeast Tarrant County: Isaac Duke Parker” (https://txgenwebcounties.com/tarrant/military/parker_isaac_duke.pdf), accessed June 25, 2022. William S. Speer and John H. Brown, eds., Encyclopedia of the New West (Marshall, Texas: United States Biographical Publishing, 1881; rpt., Easley, South Carolina: Southern Historical Press, 1978).
Regimental and Staff Officers
Politics and Government
Twenty-first Legislature (1889)
Late Nineteenth-Century Texas
Dallas/Fort Worth Region
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
“Parker, Isaac Duke,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed August 15, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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