A Bit of Parks Family History



Thanks to the efforts of my dad and several of his relatives, a lot is known about our branch of the Park family tree. The geneaology has been traced back to England in the 1600's when family members were known as the "Perk" family. Apparently the family name became Park when descendants migrated to Framingham, Massachussetts. The surname persists today. But my last name is Parks. According to my dad, who used Park when he was growing up, the "s" was added onto his official paperwork when he enlisted in the Navy in the 1940's. Instead of trying to get the error corrected, he decided that it would be easier to use "Parks." So the Park branch of the family tree now has a twig known as the "Parks"!

We have recently learned many details of what our family was up to in the 1800's. This was the era of my great-great grandfather and my great-grandfather. The Internet was the key. It turns out that the Park family house of the of the 1840's has been preserved as a historical site in Canada. It is The John R. Park Homestead (http://www.erca.org/conservation/area.john_r_park_homestead.cfm) near Windsor, Ontario Canada. It is literally on the northern shore of Lake Erie. The homestead consists of the main house, barns, and several other buildings. It has been outfitted with furnishings and machines from the period when it was in our family. Re-enactors provide demonstrations and discussions on what life was like on the homestead. My parents and sisters were able to travel to the Homestead recently. Even though none of the furnishings were actually used by any of the Park family, it was still pretty neat for them to re-live that time period of our family history. Prior to our discovery of the homestead, the family names from those times had just been names on paper.

Here is the basic family story from the 1820's:

1. My great-great grandfather John R. Park emigrates to southern Canada on Lake Erie(Windsor, Canada) in the 1820's with two of his brothers, Thomas and Theodore. In the 1830's they purchase acreage to farm and open a sawmill. The brothers are also involved in other business endeavors--merchantiles, Great Lakes shipping, etc. Thomas and Theodore move to a nearby town to manage the trading business while John stays on the farm. In 1842, the current house on the Homestead is built. He and his wife have six children. It is through his son Ernest that my family descends. It is the branch that continues the Park Family name. All of the other males either did not marry or had only daughters. John R. Park sold the farm in 1871. The next family kept the homestead for nearly 100 years afterward. John R. Park died in 1880 at 79.

2. Ernest Park, my great-grandfather, one of the sons of John R. Park was born in 1845 and lived in the Windsor area his whole life. He was a businessman--owned a stationery store and was a postmaster for 40 years. He passed away in 1921 of a heart attack while walking across a street. Ernest and his wife had 7 children. One of his sons Walker Jack was my grandfather. Ernest's wife and children, at some point in time, moved to live in California leaving her husband in Canada.

3. Walker Jack Park, my grandfather, was a son of Ernest Park. He came to California with his mother as a child. How he spent his youth is largely unknown. There are stories that he worked as a teamster in the Death Valley area as a young man. During his time in the Hayden area, he was known as a skilled handyman. He did carpentry work, installed windmills and worked as a cat-skinner. Compared to the lifestyle of his grandfather, his life was much more simple. He was born in 1881 and passed away in 1954.


The House built in 1842

Boardwalk next to Lake Erie

My Mom and Dad inside the house

Coal fired heater

A Bedroom

Dining Room

A young re-enactor talking about life
on the homestead

Antique Farm Machinery

Blacksmith Shop

My Dad checking out the Blacksmith Shop

Steam Engine used to run sawmill

The Saw Mill



John R. Park

Ernest G. Park

Walker Jack Park