January 2, 2014

Traces of Laurel: Hon. Edward Parker

By Jan Sparkman

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — In “Glimpses of London and Her People,” Charles Kellogg devotes three long columns to the Hon. Edward Parker. I don’t have that much space to give so I’ll try to hit the highlights of Parker’s life which was obviously long and service-oriented.

Kellogg starts out by writing:  “We give below a plain, unembellished resume of the principal events in the life of Hon. Edward Parker, one of those in London who has attained to a prominence in political and public life.”  He ends his sketch by saying:  “It is unnecessary to enumerate all of Mr. Parker’s good qualities of heart and soul as they are innumerable and my pen is far too weak to do him justice, but suffice it to say that the people of Southeastern Kentucky will, at no distant day, thrust honors upon him thick and fast.”

In between these two glowing commendations we find that Edward Parker was born in Laurel County in 1854.  His father was of English and his mother of German descent.  He was educated in local schools, including Laurel Seminary, taught school for a while and served one four-year term as the county’s Superintendent of Schools.  He was then elected to the Kentucky House of Representatives where he served on a number of important committees and became a leader for the Republican Party in the House.

At some point, Parker studied law and became, Kellogg says, “One of the most successful attorneys in this end of the state.”  He was elected to the Kentucky Senate and “ranked in that body as a man of brains and as a leader feared by the Democratic leaders for his quick and impulsive way of dealing with measures that would not add to the public good.”           

Parker was one of several Laurel County men to contract with the U.S. Post Office to deliver mail across the country.  Kellogg says that Parker did the largest business of this kind of any firm in the country, traveling to every state and territory via rail, stage, and horseback to set up the mail routes.  (I will save the story of the business of mail contracting during this era for another time.)

Kellogg says that Parker was one of the most public spirited men in London at that time, always ready to help “financially and otherwise” any enterprise that would benefit the town.

Parker married Matilda Lovill in 1880.  Their oldest child, Nannie, died just before her sixteenth birthday and was buried in a family plot on land Parker owned just south of town.  He later donated six acres adjoining this to the city and, with further land donations and acquisitions from other citizens, the space grew into what is now A.R. Dyche Cemetery with Nannie Parker being the first to be interred there.

According to “London Area Cemeteries” (Laurel Co. Historical Society publication), Matilda Parker is buried near her daughter, Nannie, but I see no listing for Edward; therefore, I cannot say when Edward Parker died nor where he is buried. A.R. Dyche seems the logical place for him to be.  I have not gone to the cemetery to see if his grave is there but somehow got left off the listings.

If you have further information about Edward Parker, I would like to hear from you.  Email me at or call 606-224-3767. 

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The Laurel County Historical Society is located at 310 W. 3rd St., London, (formerly the Laurel County Health Department).  The library is open on Mondays and Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. until 12 noon.

 For further information, contact 606-864-0607 during library hours, or 606-224-3767 at other times.  Email the society at or Jan Sparkman at