The Handbook of Texas is free-to-use thanks to the support of readers like you. Support the Handbook today.

Font size: A / A reset

Support Texas History Now

Join TSHA to support quality Texas history programs and receive exclusive benefits.

Become a TSHA Member Today »

Parks, Harris Braley (1879–1958)

Horace R. Burke Biography Entry

Harris Braley Parks, apiculturist, entomologist, botanist, and general naturalist, was born on June 10, 1879, at Carlinville, Illinois, to William Stewart and Sarah (Cowdry) Parks. He received a B.S. degree from Blackburn University in 1900, then taught at Sitka, Alaska, from 1907 to 1911 and later at Dorland Institute in North Carolina. Parks also taught at Palmer College in Missouri and served as dean of that school. He was awarded an honorary doctorate by Blackburn University in his later years.

Parks moved to Texas in 1917 with the United States Department of Agriculture to do special work with the Extension Service. The next year he joined the Texas Agricultural Extension Service and in 1920 transferred to the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station as apiculturist (see AGRICULTURAL EXPERIMENT STATION SERVICE). After spending time in commercial work in 1921, Parks rejoined the Agricultural Experiment Station and in 1922 established the Apicultural Laboratory near San Antonio. He remained at the San Antonio laboratory until 1945. For many years he was chief of the Division of Apiculture in the Experiment Station. In 1945 he entered modified service and moved to College Station, where he became curator and botanist of the Tracy Herbarium at the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas (now Texas A&M University). He fully retired from state employment in 1949.

Parks's chief interest was bees, which he collected extensively, especially in Bexar County. In collaboration with V. L. Cory, he published Flora and Fauna of the Big Thicket Area (1936), the first comprehensive survey of the flora and fauna of that area. He also worked with Cory to compile the first catalog of the vascular plants of Texas, Catalogue of the Flora of Texas (1936). Parks also wrote and published Valuable Plants Native to Texas (1937). His other publications include articles on bees, honey plants, and butterflies.

Parks married Mabel Gary on December 16, 1905. They had two daughters and a son. Parks died on November 19, 1958, at San Antonio and is buried in that city.

Journal of Economic Entomology, April 1959. V. A. Little, A Brief History of Entomology at the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas (College Station: College Archives, 1960). San Antonio Express, November 20, 1958.

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Horace R. Burke, “Parks, Harris Braley,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed April 11, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

May 1, 1995