Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Albert C. Parker

Albert C. Parker was born on March 31, 1838, in Niagara County, New York.

In 1860 there was an Albert C. Parker living in Columbus, Chenango County, New York. In any case, Albert eventually left New York and came to Michigan sometime before the war broke out.

He stood 5’9’ with dark eyes, hair and complexion and was a 23-year-old mechanic who had just moved to Grand Rapids from Wyoming, Wyoming County, New York, when he enlisted in Company A on May 13, 1861. He was shot in the right hip on August 29, 1862, at Second Bull Run, and subsequently hospitalized in New York City. He was reportedly discharged on June 16 from City Hospital in New York City, and discharged from the army as a Corporal on October 31, 1862, at Armory Square hospital in Washington, DC.

Albert apparently returned to Michigan and reentered the service in Unassigned, Third Michigan cavalry on March 9, 1865, at Fair Grove, Tuscola County for one year, crediting Fair Grove, was mustered on March 30 in Flint, Genesee County. He probably never served in the field with the regiment -- which was in Louisiana by this time -- and was honorably discharged on June 22, 1865, at St. Louis, Missouri.

After the war Albert returned to Grand Rapids where lived the rest of his life.

He married New York native Susan (b. 1848), and they had at least five children: Daisie (b. 1870), Pansie (b. 1872), Lorenzo (b. 1876), Lulu (b. 1878) and Paul (b. 1879).

By 1880 Albert was working as a mechanic and living with his wife and children on Clinton Street in Grand Rapids’ Fifth Ward. For some years Albert and William Green operated Parker & Green, a cigar box manufacturing enterprise, and by 1889-90 it was located at 93 Campau in the city. By 1890 he was residing at 292 or 296 E. Bridge Street, and by 1891 had remarried one Libbie H.

He received pension no. 200,022, dated December of 1881, drawing $4.00 per month for a wounded right hip, and a member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association and of Grand Army of the Republic Custer post no. 5 in Grand Rapids.

Albert was killed in a fall in Grand Rapids on October 27, 1891.

He had suffered a brain concussion received during a fall at his place of work in Grand Rapids on the night of October 24, 1891. For several days following his accident there was much speculation throughout the community regarding the exact cause of his death. On October 25 the Grand Rapids Eagle reported that

At 11:25 last night police were notified by A. Hanish, who was on his way home, that there was a man lying dead at the foot of the stairway at 93 Campau Street. Sergeant Conlou and Detective Gates investigated and found A. C. Parker lying unconscious at the foot of the stairs leading to his box factory in the upper story of the block and bleeding at the mouth and ears. The unfortunate man was taken to headquarters and Dr. Roberts was called in to give what medical assistance he could. 2 concussions were found on Parker's head, one on the right side just above the base of the brain and the other over the right eye. The man's breathing was labored, and a gurgling sound came from his throat. The ambulance was called and took him to his home, 296 Bridge Street There was nothing to show how he was hurt, but the quite probable supposition is that he fell down the whole flight of stairs while coming out or going up to his factory. It is said that Parker is addicted to the use of liquor. He is a very dangerously injured man and at a late hour this morning there was little hope of his recovery.

Doubts regarding the nature of Parker’s death continued to surface throughout the community. On October 27, the Evening Leader reported that although “His relatives believe there was foul play connected with his death. Officer Duga, however, saw him a few moments before the accident and said he was very drunk.” The Democrat, too, raised the suspicion that Parker had died by the hand of another. On October 28, the paper asked,

Was it murder? This is the question that hill residents are asking each other regarding the alleged accidental death of A. C. Parker. An air of mystery surrounds the affair. Mr. Parker was found late Sat. eve. lying on the sidewalk in front of his place of business on Campau Street near the jail, in a state of insensibility. He was taken to police headquarters and Dr. M. C. Roberts attended him there and afterwards, when he was removed to his home at no. 293 East Bridge Street. He never regained consciousness and died about 3 o'clock yesterday morning. Since the report of his death was first circulated, various rumors have been afloat concerning the case, and some of the statements made by those who are familiar with the whole affair would seem to indicate that a thorough investigation of the matter should be speedily made. Dr. Roberts was seen last evening by a reporter for the Democrat, and talked as followed concerning the case:

“When I arrived at headquarters that evening I found my patient in a very serious condition. In fact he was almost dead. I immediately administered a hypodermic injection and his breathing and heart action rallied. I watched the progress of the case with interest, giving it my whole attention. His breathing had become stertorious, and I found that a clot of blood inside the skull was pressing against the brain. After removing the clot, his breathing became more natural and easy, and he began to move his right arm. I noticed large fractures in the right side of the head, each about an inch and a half or 2 inches long. After performing the operation of trepanning he was much improved at 8 o'clock next morning, but shortly after that symptoms of brain irritation were apparent, caused by hemorrhages deeper down. I called in Drs. Marvin and Fuller to consult, but we could do nothing more for him. One thing that struck me as being very peculiar about the case was the fact that there was not the slightest abrasion of the skin around the fractures, as would be the case if he had fallen and scraped his head along a rough surface. It looked to me decidedly like a hard blow struck by a sand bag. I do not say that this is the case, but it has that appearance. I think it is a case that should be investigated.”

Mrs. Parker was seen at her home. She bore the evidence of great suffering, but spoke calmly of the matter to the reporter. “I feel that this should be looked into,” she said. “There are certainly grounds to suspect foul play. Thursday night my husband retired rather earlier than usual, and some little time after I entered the bedroom and picked up his pantaloons, which were lying on the floor. As I raised them something fell from one of the pockets. It was a canvas sack that he used to carry money in, and I opened it and found that it contained a large roll of bills and a lot of silver. He had been out collecting that week, and I felt worried at the time at his carrying so much money with him.

“We have learned from the foreman at the factory that he was out collecting both on Friday and Saturday, yet all the money found in his clothes when they brought him here was 2 cents. His bank book shows that he has deposited nothing since Oct. 16, and we have forced open the safe and found only 8 cents there. I cannot account for the disposal of the sum of money he must have had that Saturday. His coat did not have any dust or dirt on it, as would have been the case if he had rolled down the stairs. I shall not feel right about the matter until an investigation has been made.”

Dr. Marvin thought there were some very queer things about the case. He said that Parker was a heavy man, and a fall down a long, steep stairway would have bruised him considerably in various places, but not a mark could be found on his body, except about the head, as he stated. “It will be easy to trace him through the whole of that day,” he said, “as he was a very well known man and many people will remember having seen him. I think that should be done at least.”

Dr. Fuller was not inclined to express an opinion, but intimated that some sensational developments might be expected after an inquest had been held.

The neighborhood is pretty thoroughly roused over the matter and all sorts of theories are advanced. Coroner Penwarden will hold an inquest this morning at 10 o'clock, and will then decide whether to empanel a jury or not. The police are very reticent about the matter and not disposed to make public any information they may possess.

The following day the Democrat published the coroner’s findings.

Coroner Penwarden and Dr. Fuller held an inquest on the body of A. C. Parker, whose death under mysterious circumstances was noticed in The Democrat of yesterday morning. During the course of the autopsy a fusion of blood was discovered on the side of the head, with indications of apoplexy. Their theory is that he was taken suddenly with an apoplectic stroke and fell heavily, striking on his head. What became of the money he is supposed to have [had] with him is still an open question, and until this and other points about the case are cleared up many of his friends will be dissatisfied with the results of the post mortem.

Albert was buried in Oak Hill cemetery: section Q lot 94.

In November of 1891 his widow applied for and received a pension (no. 973401).

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