Full circle – the story of Joseph S. Parker

Photo: E. Lane Gresham © 2021

Joseph S. Parker, [1858-1925] was a Clarkesville businessman. In the 1870 census 12-year-old Joseph and 11-year-old Faire were listed as mulatto house servants living in the household of Mitchell and Susan Parker, a white couple. 

Joseph and his wife Sarah Parker are buried at the Clarkesville Memorial Cemetery in a family plot with an impressive marker. A brick mason and an entrepreneur, he owned a bath house in the early 1900s. The site of the former bath house, located on Lot No. 22 as the village of Clarkesville was initially laid out, is now occupied by a recent home renovation owned by Stacy and Ivy Hall. More or less at the corner of Madison Street and Wildwood Circle, the parcel abuts a creek fed by the many springs that run throughout the city, mostly draining toward the Soque River. 

Barbara Whipple’s in Reflections of North Georgia, described the bath house as follows:

“𝘏𝘰𝘵 𝘰𝘳 𝘤𝘰𝘭𝘥 𝘣𝘢𝘵𝘩𝘴 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘧𝘶𝘳𝘯𝘪𝘴𝘩𝘦𝘥. 𝘐 𝘭𝘦𝘢𝘳𝘯𝘦𝘥 𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘦𝘴𝘵𝘢𝘣𝘭𝘪𝘴𝘩𝘮𝘦𝘯𝘵 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘲𝘶𝘪𝘵𝘦 𝘭𝘪𝘣𝘦𝘳𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺 𝘱𝘢𝘵𝘳𝘰𝘯𝘪𝘻𝘦𝘥. 𝘐𝘵 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘢 𝘱𝘳𝘪𝘮𝘪𝘵𝘪𝘷𝘦 𝘢𝘧𝘧𝘢𝘪𝘳, 𝘣𝘶𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘯𝘰 𝘰𝘱𝘱𝘰𝘴𝘪𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 – 𝘢 𝘬𝘪𝘯𝘥 𝘰𝘧 𝘸𝘢𝘵𝘦𝘳 𝘵𝘳𝘶𝘴𝘵 𝘰𝘯 𝘢 𝘴𝘮𝘢𝘭𝘭 𝘴𝘤𝘢𝘭𝘦. 𝘐𝘯 𝘢𝘥𝘥𝘪𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘵𝘰 𝘣𝘢𝘵𝘩 𝘵𝘶𝘣𝘴, 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦 𝘪𝘴 𝘢 𝘭𝘢𝘳𝘨𝘦 𝘱𝘰𝘰𝘭 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘮𝘦𝘯. 𝘛𝘩𝘰𝘴𝘦 𝘸𝘩𝘰 𝘵𝘢𝘬𝘦 𝘪𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘸𝘢𝘺 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘤𝘰𝘯𝘴𝘪𝘥𝘦𝘳𝘢𝘣𝘭𝘺 𝘴𝘩𝘰𝘤𝘬𝘦𝘥 𝘣𝘺 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘤𝘰𝘭𝘥 𝘴𝘱𝘳𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘸𝘢𝘵𝘦𝘳.”

As Ivy Hall worked to clear the property during the renovation, a plethora of hand-fired bricks emerged from the soil. Wild about local history Ivy Hall, knew that two of Joseph’s Parker’s children were interred at the Old Clarkesville Cemetery. A goodly quantity of the vintage bricks, likely created on site by Joseph Parker, are now being stored for future use at the historic cemetery. 

The first order of business is to create a surround for Joseph’s children – Ella [Aug. 1, 1876-Dec. 30, 1899] and Ollie [July 14, 1878, to May 12, 1898]. We don’t know how they died so young, but it was not uncommon during that time frame. We do know that it seems fitting to bring a piece of their father’s vocation back to mark their place in local history. 

A community-minded individual, Joseph Parker donated Lot No. 35 on Sept. 29, 1893, as a site for a colored baptist church in Clarkesville. Church organizers had three years to construct a sanctuary, which they did by raising funds through the “Nickel Club No. 2 Society. Lot No. 35, fronting on Madison Street, is now occupied by Dr. Cary Miller, Headwaters, LLC and a Clarkesville Baptist Church annex building. 

Mitchell and Susan Parker lived on Lot. No. 13, afterward occupied by the Spencer House, now home to Blake Rainwater & Associates and Shield Realtors, T.L. Phillips Financial, Keith Boger Investment Group and Adams Ellard & Frankum on the square. Mr. Mitchell Parker had a store on the same lot.

Interestingly, both Mitchell and Susan Parker are also buried at the Old Clarkesville Cemetery. Mitchell Parker is also listed as being on the first town council. See below: 

Thanks to Ivy Hall for research and collaboration support.


Images of bath house, information, Reflections of Northeast Georgia, copyright 1997, by Barbara Whipple.

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