Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Parker Kelley Wilcoxen

Parker Kelley Wilcoxen was the only son of Nathan Baker Wilcoxen and Rutha Wilcoxen. Nathan and Rutha were cousins who married on June 3, 1830, in Columbiana County, Ohio. Their son was born January 30, 1835, near Galapolis, Ohio, and was probably named for his uncle, Nathan's brother Parker. His middle name Kelley most likely came from his mother's side of the family where there are connections to an Ohio Kelly family. The family was still living in Gallia County, Ohio, in 1850, but by 1860 had relocated to a farm near Gessie, Indiana, in the county of Vermillion. Nathan and Rutha also had three daughters, Aletha, Rebecca and Christina.

Parker married Lucinda Ellen Niccum on July 16, 1863, in Vermilion County, Illinois, which adjoins Vermillion County, Indiana, on the state line. The Niccum family lived on the Illinois side of the line, while the Wilcoxen family lived on the Indiana side. The families would remain in the area, crossing back and forth across the state line, leaving a trail of records in two states.

Parker & Lucy Wilcoxen, center front,with children
Tilman, front left and Edward, front right
standing, left to right, Oscar, Jane and John
photograph taken
about 1904/1905
in Union Corner, Danville Township, Illinois
(photo obtained from Carolyn Wilcoxen)

Census records and Parker's obituary report that Parker was a farmer. Parker and Lucy had 11 children, but only the 5 shown in the picture above would live to see adulthood. Four of their children remained in the Danville area. Tilman moved his family to Wharton County, Texas, in an effort to alleviate his rheumatism (according to family legend) and founded the Texas branch of Wilcoxens. Tilman and Matilda Wilcoxen returned to the place of their birth to attend the funeral of Parker in 1917:

The Danville Press, May 12, 1917
Mr. and Mrs. Tilman Wilcoxen of El Campo, Texas, have arrived to attend the funeral of the former's father, Parker Wilcoxen, who died at his home near the Union Corners church Thursday afternoon at the age of eighty-two years. Funeral services will be held at the residence at 2 o'clock Saturday afternoon with the pastor of the Union Corners church officiating, and burial will be made in the Niccum cemetery.

Parker's obituary has a few discrepancies with the known facts, though this is quite common when obituaries are written under stress and quite often by someone other than immediate family:

The Danville Press, May 11, 1917
Parker K. Wilcoxen, Resident of Vermilion County Nearly Eighty Years Passed Away.

Parker K. Wilcoxen, a resident of Vermilion county nearly eighty years, and one of the oldest and most prominent farmers in this section of the state, is dead. Mr. Wilcoxen, who had resided in the Union Corners neighborhood, about eight miles southeast of Danville, practically all of his life, passed away yesterday afternoon, May 10, 1917. His death occurred at 4:30 o'clock, following an illness of about two weeks duration from a complication of diseases. His demise, which was hastened by organic heart trouble, while not wholly unexpected by the members of his immediate family and his wide circle of friends, came as a great shock to those who knew him.

Parker K. Wilcoxen was a native of Ohio, and was born in that state 82 years, 3 months and 11 days ago. He was a son of one of the oldest settlers in Ohio, who removed to this state and settled in the then unbroken wilderness eight miles southeast of Danville when the decedent was about two years of age. For eighty years the decedent resided on the place where his death occurred.
[This conflicts with the 1850 census records which indicate the family was still living in Gallia County, Ohio. Parker is shown on that 1850 census record as 15 years old.]

Besides the aged widow Mr. Wilcoxen is survived by five children. Nine children were born to him, but four of them preceded him in death. [Information passed down in the family indicates two additional children who died as infants.] The surviving children are Tilman Wilcoxen, who resides in Texas, and Edward, John and Oscar Wilcoxen and Mrs. Melinda Hess, who reside in the neighborhood of Union Corners.

Funeral services for Mr. Wilcoxen will be held from the last home Saturday afternoon at 3 o'clock. The pastor of the Union Corners church will officiate and the body of the aged man will be laid to rest in the Niccum cemetery.

Two years ago I made the journey to Vermillion County, Indiana, and Vermilion County, Illinois, and visited the graves of Parker and Lucinda Wilcoxen in the picturesque Niccum cemetery.


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