Josiah Parker Papers


This collection consists of correspondence, account books, and business papers of Josiah Parker, a leading Quaker, farmer, and miller of the Rich Square 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 anti-slavery 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. 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.

The letters have been transcribed as closely as possible to the originals. This means that spellings, capitalization, etc., are often erratic or eccentric. To give a sense of the original, we decided to retain the "script s," which looks like an "f." Thus, for example, "success" may appear as "succefs."