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The Parker Family

Part 3

Milton Kasper Parker left home to work in the coal mines near Middlesboro in Bell Co., Ky. At first, he may have lived with Grant Seals and his family although we do not know how the Seals and Parker families knew each other at that time. Here's Milton Parker's draft registration card from Sept. 12, 1918 indicating he was living in Bosworth, Bell Co., Ky. and working as a miner for the Yellow Creek Mining Co. Whether he was living with Grant Seals or on his own, it was likely that he met Grant's younger sister, Margaret Jane Seals, when she and her mother came to visit. Apparently, it was love at first sight. They developed a romance by mail and soon decided to get married. It was said that Margaret, being the youngest daughter in a large family, was pretty well guarded, but she managed to go into the town of Tazewell for an Independence Day celebration where she met Milton and the two were married in front of the court house on July 4, 1919. There is no contemporaneous record of this marriage that we can find, so maybe they met a preacher there, got married and then told everyone they got married at the court house. [There is a 1942 record of their July 4, 1919 marriage which is signed by the Claiborne County Court Clerk. Was this an attempt to set the record straight? We may never know.] Margaret had come to town with her girlfriend, Ora Cope, who later married Margaret's brother, Tom, after a 40 year courtship. [Apparently they were not as anxious to tie the knot as Milton and Margaret were.] By the time the emumerator stopped by to take the 1920 census on Jan. 15, 1920, Milton and Margaret were living in the Bennett's Fork precinct in Bell Co., Ky.

Milton and Margaret Parker
Milton K. and Margaret J. (Seals) Parker

It's not known when the newly married couple returned to Tennessee, but Margaret must have gotten pregnant soon after the enumerator stopped by for the 1920 census. It's said that when she became pregnant with her first child, she returned to her mother's house to deliver her baby. Hers and Milton's first born son, Warren G. Parker, was born at the old homestead on Oct. 26, 1920. The country was in the process of electing a new president and Margaret's father, being a staunch Republican, insisted on naming him for his favorite candidate, Warren G. Harding, even before he was elected in early November.

Esther Ruth Parker
Esther Ruth Parker

As soon as the new mother and baby were ready to travel, Roxie Treece and her new baby girl Ruby came to Tazewell to help her brother move his wife and son back to the farm in Caryville. Margaret, being very well educated for that time, became the bookkeeper for the Parker family's records on the Free Soil Farm. There also, her daughter Esther Ruth Parker and son Charles Hubert Parker were born. Sadly, in 1925, Margaret became ill and doctors were unable to diagnose her condition of gallstones. She was very ill for a short time and died on Oct. 1, 1925. The doctors said that her gall bladder had ruptured. Milton and his three children moved into the big house to live with his parents. At this time, his two sisters Carrie and Stella were living at home. Charles, being only 9 months old when his mother became ill, was cared for by his Aunt Carrie. He called her "Mama" until she left home a year or so later. When Milton married Louise Rutherford in 1926, his family, especially his mother, refused to let him take their baby with him to set up a new home. When Carrie Parker left home, Charles started calling Stella "Mama." Since she raised him, his children also called her "Grandma." Most people thought she was his mother and, in effect, she really was.

The Parker family left the farm in 1929. Barney and Louisa moved to a smaller house in Caryville with Stella and Charles, where they lived until Stella married William Arby Russell. At this time, Barney sold this house and bought the house in which Stella later lived with her family. Louisa Jane (Wagoner) Parker died on March 19, 1936 in Campbell Co., Tenn. Barnett J. (Barney) Parker died on Sept. 5, 1942 in Campbell Co., Tenn. Both are buried at Sharp Cemetery, Campbell Co., Tenn. Margaret Jane (Seals) Parker is also buried at Sharp Cemetery.

Milton K., Esther Ruth, Charles and Warren Parker
Milton K. Parker and Esther Ruth, Charles and Warren around 1926

Children from the marriage of Milton Kasper Parker and Margaret Jane Seals were:

In 1925 walking home from his young wife's funeral, M. K. Parker heard a voice saying, "Now you'll preach." Seems that Margaret wanted him to preach and he was reluctant to do so. Milton then went to visit his friend, J. W. Wright, who was a Baptist minister, and thus began his journey to the ministry. He began by speaking in local churches. It was on one of his missions to a church in Vasper, Tenn. that he met and fell in love with the beautiful young Agnes Louise Rutherford (b. Nov. 6, 1907 in Taswell, Claiborne Co., Tenn.) who was the daughter of George and Ruby Rutherford. She was the oldest in a rather large family and had practically raised her younger siblings. Louise accepted his proposal becoming his wife and mother to his three young children. They were married by the Reverend J. W. Wright on May 14, 1926 (see Marriage Record). The following year, Milton Parker was publicly ordained a Baptist minister at First Baptist Church of Caryville, Tenn. on Oct. 29, 1927. Children of the marriage of Milton Kasper Parker and Agnes Louise (Rutherford) Parker were:

Parker Children Around 1954
The Youngest Children of Milton and Louise Parker - Around 1954

Roxie, Gerald, Louise, Gifford and Ruby Treece; Ruth, Warren, Stella and Charles Parker - around 1930
Roxie, Gerald, Louise, Gifford and Ruby Treece; Ruth, Warren, Stella and Charles Parker - around 1930

Milton and Louise Parker remained in the Caryville area for eight years. In the early years of their marriage, Milton continued to work on the Free Soil Farm. When Barney Parker left his superintendant job in 1929, Milton had to look for other work and the 1930 census indicates that he was again working as a coal miner. However, the record also indicates that he, like several other miners, was unemployed at the time of the census and therefore appeared on a separate Unemployment Schedule that is lost to history. It's likely that he was earning some money as a preacher, but not enough to consider that his occupation. According to the census, they were living on a non-farm rental property that cost $5 per month, much higher rent than others living around them. No one in their immediate vicinity lived on a farm, but a few were farmers and retail workers. Most, however, were coal miners, suggesting that they lived in a somewhat densely populated coal mining community, perhaps controlled by one of the many mining companies in the area. Milton Parker's daughter, Esther Ruth (Parker) Pruiett remembers the period between 1929 and 1934 as a time when they moved quite often to places where her father pastored at different churches. In 1934, Milton Parker moved to Lincoln County, Kentucky to pastor two churches there, Maywood Baptist Church and Fairview Baptist Church. Warren and Ruth stayed in Caryville with Barney and Louisa Parker in order to finish the seventh grade. They joined their parents and their one-year old half sister, Clautee Meridith, in Kentucky in 1935 when Warren was 14 and Ruth was 12. Thus began a new chapter for the Milton K. Parker family.

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