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Josiah Parker Papers

Identifier: FMS-24

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of correspondence, account books, and business papers of Josiah Parker, a leading Quaker, farmer, and miller of the Richsquare community of Northampton County, North Carolina. It is rich in materials on Quaker life in North Carolina, the Quaker migration from North Carolina to Ohio and Indiana, the antislavery activities of North Carolina Friends, and the work of Friends in helping free people of color move from North Carolina and Virginia to Indiana. The Josiah Parker Papers reflect mainly the lives of Josiah Parker and his children. There are a number of letters from family and friends who had left North Carolina for Indiana and Ohio between 1800 and 1830, especially Josiah's older brother, Jeremiah parker (1767-1838), and Josiah and Martha's sons Samuel Parker (1793-1847), William Parker, and Nathan Parker (1803-1898). Their letters give vivid accounts of the journey west and north, of conditions in Indiana and Ohio, of conflicts among Friends like the Hicksite separation, and of attitudes about race and slavery. Of particular interest are a letter from William Parker, describing the experiences of a group of free blacks moving to Ohio in 1828, and a letter from one of the former slaves, Hannah Elliott, to Martha Parker in 1829. It is believed to be the oldest surviving letter written by an African American in Indiana.


  • 1787-1836
  • Other: Date acquired: 12/01/1991

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on access.

Conditions Governing Use

Some materials may be protected by copyright. Permission to reproduce and to publish for commercial purposes must be requested from the Archivist.

Biographical or Historical Information

Josiah Parker was born in Northampton County, North Carolina, Oct. 1, 1769, the son of joseph and Sarah (Katron) Parker, Quakers of the Richsquare community of Friends. Josiah was married at Richsquare, March 21, 1792, to Masrtha Peele, daughter of john and Mary (Norsworthy) Peele of Richsquare. She was born there March 17, 1769. Josiah and Martha spent all of their married life in the Richsquare Quaker community. They were the parents of nine children. Josiah Parker was active in the affairs of North carolina Yearly Meeting of Friends, serving as an elder of Richsquare Monthly Meeting. He also served as a member of the yearly meeting standing committee that was charged with the oversight and protection of certain slaves who had been deeded to the yearly meeting as a way of evading North Carolina's strict antimanumission laws. He farmed and also operated a grist mill and saw mill. Josiah Parker died at Richsquare in 1833. in 1837, Martha Parker and two unmarried daughters followed her sons to Rush County, Indiana. Martha died at Spiceland, Indiana in April 1850.

Note written by


2 Boxes

Language of Materials


Custodial History

The history of the Josiah Parker Papers after Josiah's death is curious. Apparently, when Martha Parker moved to Indiana in 1837, she turned them over to James Peele, a RichSquare Friend who was the executor of her husband's will so that he could collect debts owed to the estate. The papers were preserved by Peele's descendants.

Method of Acquisition

Purchase, Clarence A. Parker of Ahoskie, North Carolina, a great-great-grandson of James Peele.

Accruals and Additions

No additions or accruals are expected.

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Repository Details

Part of the Friends Collection and Earlham College Archives Repository