Remarkable Ohio

Serpent Mound Marker
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4-8 History WORKS II Teachers at the Rankin House in Ripley, Ohio.

485_4462.jpg Ripley, OhioThumbnails4-8 John Parker House in Ripley, OhioRipley, OhioThumbnails4-8 John Parker House in Ripley, Ohio

Side A: Ripley. Ripley was incorporated as the village of Staunton in 1812. Its name was changed in 1816 to honor General Eleazer Wheelock Ripley, a hero of the War of 1812. In the years before railroads, Ripley was a principal Ohio River shipping center. Also important were its extensive boat-building, tobacco, pork, and timber industries. Ripley too was the home of saw and planing mills, iron foundries, and a piano factory. Such varied commerce enabled Ripley to remain vibrant throughout the nineteenth century. Although noted as a port, Ripley is best remembered as an abolitionist stronghold. Many of its citizens, including Rev. John Rankin and John P. Parker, served as conductors on the famed "Underground Railroad." The notoriety of Ripley's anti-slavery network perhaps eclipsed that of nearby Cincinnati, earning the town a reputation as the "Black Hole of Abolitionism." (Continued on side two) Side B: The John P. Parker House. (Continued from side one) This is the restored home of John P. Parker, a noted African-American entrepreneur, inventor, and abolitionist. Born into slavery in Virginia in 1827, Parker purchased his freedom as a young man in Alabama. Parker later settled in Ripley, where he became a self-trained iron manufacturer, established the Phoenix Foundry, and invented the Parker Portable Screw Press (for tobacco) and a soil pulverizer. Parker was one of the few African-Americans to obtain a U.S. Patent before 1900. During the Antebellum years, Parker became an important, if unheralded, conductor on the Underground Railroad, risking his life to aid more than nine hundred fugitive slaves in their journey to freedom. Parker also recruited soldiers for the Twenty-seventh United States Colored Troops during the Civil War. The story of Parker's efforts to guide escaped slaves across the Ohio River is told in his autobiography, entitled His Promised Land. The Parker House received designation as a National Historic Landmark in 1997.