This collection (3 linear feet) is made up of correspondence, diaries, documents, ephemera, and other items related to Hilon A. Parker and other members of the Parker family. Materials pertain to Hilon A. Parker's life in Plessis, New York; his service in the 10th New York Heavy Artillery Regiment during the Civil War; and his postwar work as a railroad engineer and administrator.
The correspondence (464 items) consists mainly of personal letters written and received by Hilon A. Parker between the 1860s and early 1910s. During the Civil War, Hilon A. Parker and his brother Harvey exchanged letters and wrote to their parents about service in the Union Army. Hilon served in the 10th New York Artillery Regiment. Thirza Parker, Hilon and Harvey's sister, provided news from Plessis, New York, while her brothers were away. Much of the correspondence from the late 1860s consists of letters between Hilon A. Parker and Mary Cunningham, his future wife. Hilon described the scenery and his work for railroad companies in Iowa, and Mary wrote about her life in Copenhagen, New York. After their marriage, most of the correspondence is comprised of incoming letters to Hilon A. Parker from personal and professional acquaintances. Parker received many condolence letters following Mary's death in early 1892. Later items include content related to Native American schools and to Parker's career in the railroad industry. A few late items sent to Hilon's daughter Florence in 1911 and 1912 concern his estate.
A group of 36 pencil and colored drawings and 32 letters relate to students at the Rainy Mountain Boarding School on the Kiowa-Comanche-Apache reservation in western Oklahoma. Kiowa schoolchildren gave the drawings as thank you notes to Hilon Parker, general manager of the Rock Island Railway, for a train ride he arranged for them in 1899. The children's ledger drawings show teepees, traditional Native American costume, and animals such as horses and buffalo. The children sent 13 letters to Hilon A. Parker on May 5, 1899. The Kiowa correspondence and drawings are accompanied by a group of 19 letters by grade school children in Chicago, Illinois, to Florence Parker Luckenbill, Hilon A. Parker's daughter, around 1925. The Chicago children commented on the Kiowa drawings and letters.
The Hilon A. Parker diaries (31 items) form a continuous run from 1860 to 1911, with the exception of the years 1896 and 1903. His brief daily entries concern life in Plessis, New York, in the early 1860s; service in the 10th New York Heavy Artillery Regiment during the Civil War; and work for the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railway Company. Lucinda Parker, Hilon's mother, kept 6 diaries covering the period from 1858-1865, excepting 1862. She commented on her daily activities and social life in Plessis, New York.
Hilon A. Parker made entries in a commonplace book from February 1863-August 1863 and in April 1866. The first section of the volume contains poems and brief essays composed at Fort Meigs in Washington, D.C. Many of the entries refer to military life and to the war. The later pages of the volume include diagrams of cannons, mathematics and physics notes, and definitions of military terms. Items glued into this section of the volume include a small paper flag and many clipped autographs.
The collection's military documents (39 items) include orders, passes, commissions, and other documents related to Hilon A. Parker's service in the 10th New York Artillery Regiment during the Civil War; one item pertains to his pension. Undated materials include a casualty list and a blank voucher form.
Nine account books belonging to Hilon's father Alpheus Parker span the years from 1853-1878. Some of the volumes pertain to Parker's accounts with specific banks. Hilon Parker's business papers contain 35 accounts, receipts, and other items related to his personal finances and to his work for the railroad industry; one item concerns his voter registration (October 19, 1888). Most of the later material, including contracts and other agreements, regard business agreements between railroad companies. Some of the accounts are written on stationery of the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railway Company.
Mary Cunningham's Hungerford Collegiate Institute papers (40 items) include essays, poetry, report cards, and newspaper clippings related to Cunningham's studies at the institute in the mid-1860s. The papers include a manuscript magazine called The Nonpareil, edited by Mary Cunningham (Vol. 5, No. 8: November 18, 1863).
Approximately 80 speeches, addresses, and essays written by Hilon A. Parker pertain to the Civil War, the Republican Party, and Illinois politics. Parker also composed speeches and essays about the life of Abraham Lincoln and about Native Americans.
The Hilon A. Parker family papers include 8 photographs: an ambrotype image of several members of the Parker family posing outside of the Parker & Fairman storefront in Plessis, New York, and portraits of Derrinda Parker Tanner (tintype), Isaac L. Hitchcock (daguerreotype), Lucinda and Thirza Parker (daguerreotype), two unidentified women (ambrotypes), Hilon A. and Harvey M. Parker in military uniform (card photograph), and Hilon A. Parker as a grown man (photographic print).
A scrapbook contains newspaper clippings, ephemera, and other items related to the life of Hilon A. Parker. Many articles concern Civil War veterans' groups (the Englewood Union Veteran Club and the Grand Army of the Republic) and other topics related to the war, such as an article regarding a reunion of the 10th New York Heavy Artillery Regiment, the fate of John Brown's wife and sons, memorial poems, and a map of entrenchments around Petersburg, Virginia. Other groups of clippings concern Illinois politics, liquor laws, the railroad industry, and the life of Hilon A. Parker.
The papers include newspaper clippings (21 items), biographical notes and writings (18 items), a hand-sewn US flag made by Thirza Parker for Hilon Parker while he served in the Civil War, a silhouette made in Denver, Colorado, in 1903, and other items.