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The restored John P.
Parker house in Ripley, Ohio.


John P. Parker (1827 – February 4, 1900) was an African American inventor, industrialist and abolitionist who secretly participated in the Underground Railroad resistance movement. His housemarker in Ripley, Ohiomarker is a National Historic Landmark [138799].

Parker was born in Virginiamarker, the son of a white father and slave mother. He was also a slave who was sold a number of times until he was finally purchased by a doctor from Mobile, Alabamamarker. He worked as a servant in the doctor's house and secretly learned to read and write. After an aborted escape attempt and becoming too difficult to control, he was removed to another position in New Orleansmarker where he earned enough money to buy his own freedom for $1,800. He married Miranda Boulden and they had six children (including Hortense Parker) in Ripley, Ohiomarker. He joined the Underground Railroad while in Ripley, leading hundreds of slaves to freedom. He continued in spite of a $1,000 bounty placed on his head and after the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 meant that his forays into Kentucky endangered the freedom he had worked so hard to buy.

He also patented a number of inventions and founded the Ripley Foundry and Machine Company which he managed.

John P. Parker was born in Norfolk, Virginia. Also, in the book Trouble Don't Last, (Shelly Pearsall) he is portrayed as "The River Man" since he helped so many runaway slaves cross the Ohio River.

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