Biography of Caleb B. Parker

The late Caleb B. Parker, of Providence and West Greenwich, who had served in the offices of United States marshal, deputy sheriff and chief of police, was a descend ant of two of the oldest families in America—the Parkers and the Tillinghasts—tracing back to the earliest Colonial times. He was a citizen of high reputation, a champion of the law and its orderly processes, and a cooperative spirit in the various spheres of civic advance in the communities in which he resided.

George Parker, the American ancestor and founder of the family, was born in England in 1611, and came to America in 1634 at the age of twenty-three years in the ship “Elizabeth and Ann.” He resided in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, and in 1638 was admitted as a freeman at Aquidneck. He died in that same year.

George Parker, the first of the name in direct line, married Catherine Cole. They resided in West Greenwich.

John Parker, son of George and Catherine (Cole) Parker, was born June 8, 1731. He was a captain in the Revolutionary War, and the owner of a large tract of land in West Greenwich. He was also a judge, having received his commission under King George III. He married Hannah Jordan.

Stephen Parker, son of John and Hannah (Jordan) Parker, was born in West Greenwich. He was a farmer and a man of prominence in the community. He married Lydia Ladd, in 1798.

Calvin M. Parker, son of Stephen and Lydia (Ladd) Parker, was a prosperous landowner and farmer of West Greenwich, where he was a highly respected citizen and a devout member of the Baptist Church. Possessing an excellent voice, he was leader of the church choir. Quiet and unostentatious in manner, he had many friends, and he was extremely fond of children. Calvin M. Parker married Phebe Tillinghast, daughter of John and Mary (Sweet) Tillinghast, and a descendant of Rev. Pardon Tillinghast, the American progenitor of the family of that name. This Pardon Tillinghast was born in Sussex, England, in 1622, and is said to have been a soldier in Cromwell’s army. He came to America in 1645 and was one of the original proprietors of the Providence Purchase, where he was a leading merchant; also served as as assemblyman, town councilman and town treasurer. For forty years he was a minister in the Baptist Church, and one of the early preachers of the Baptist Church founded by Roger Williams. The present First Baptist Church of Providence was built with money received from the sale of the first meeting house in Rhode Island, which was built at Pardon Tillinghast’s own expense, in 1700, and of which he was the first minister. He preached without salary. He built the first wharf in the city of Providence, and did many other things to advance the commercial and political life, as well as the religious tone, of the community. From him has descended a long and vigorous line, in which are to be found outstanding men and women, who have inherited the best traditions of the race.

Caleb B. Parker, son of Calvin M. and Phebe (Tillinghast) Parker, was born on the old Parker homestead in West Greenwich, November 12, 1851. He attended the public schools of the district until he was seventeen years of age, meanwhile working on his father’s farm. Having learned the trade of a mason, he later became the superintendent of the Thomas J. Hill farms, continuing in that capacity until 1880. In the latter year he removed to Pawtucket, where he joined the police force. He was promoted to sergeant and later was made chief of police of the night detachment.

From service as superintendent of the factory of L. B. Darling in Pawtucket, he went to Helena, Montana, where he was commissioned a United States marshal. In 1890 he returned to this State and accepted the position of superintendent of the Sayles farms and stockyards at Lincoln, Rhode Island, and Thompson, Connecticut. He held at the same time also the offices of chief of police and deputy sheriff in Lincoln. His fraternal relationship was with Ionic Lodge, Free and Accepted Masons. He was a staunch Republican of the old school, and a faithful member of the Baptist Church.

Caleb B. Parker married Caroline D. Wood, daughter of Jonathan N. and Caroline (Greene) Wood. Jonathan N. Wood was a son of Squire Greene and Amy C. (Nichols) Wood, and a grandson of Major Jonathan and Elizabeth (Johnson) Nichols. Major Jonathan Nichols held his commission in the Revolutionary War. Caleb Wood, father of Squire Greene Wood, was a soldier also in the Revolution. Mr. Caleb B. Parker was a well-known sportsman of his day, enjoying the out-of-doors, and extremely fond of hunting and fishing. He was a brother of John T. Parker, United States customs inspector of Providence, and of Mary Brown Parker, who was the first to be appointed police matron of Providence. Children of Caleb B. and Caroline D. (Wood) Parker:

  1. Lula P.
  2. Calvin Mason, attended Bryant & Stratton’s Business College, studied two years at Tufts College, and graduated from Philadelphia Dental College, 1902. He practiced first at Valley Falls, Rhode Island, and since has been in practice at Bristol, Connecticut, where he is prominent in his profession. He married Almine Louise Clark, daughter of John Clark, of Cumberland, Rhode Island, and they have a son, Sheldon Clark.
  3. Caroline D., graduated from the Moses Brown School, 1908; married Ralph C. Patton, president of the Patton-MacGuyer Company, manufacturers of electrical brass findings and jewelers’ findings. They have a daughter, Caroline Lindsey Patton, a student at the Classical High School, Providence.

The death of Mr. Parker, which occurred May 28, 1924, removed one of the most exemplary citizens of his community and there was general regret at his passing. His life and service were a fitting complement to a fine old family name and its history.

Source: Carroll, Charles. Rhode Island: Three Centuries of Democracy, vol 3 of 4. New York: Lewis historical Pub. Co., 1932.

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