Rev. Seth Parker

Rev. Seth C. Parker

The subject of this sketch died at his residence in Greenfield township, Huron County Ohio, October 19th, 1868.

He was born in Brutus, Cayuga county, New York, July 7, 1802. From thence he emigrated February 3, 1820, to Ohio, arriving at Norwalk on the 28th, in company with his father, Thomas Parker, and his brother-in-law, Luther Hodges, and their families. They at once commenced pioneer life in earnest on the Parker tract, in the 4th section of Peru, Aug. 14, 1823. He was married to Jane Ammerman, daughter of Simon Ammerman, one of the early settlers of Bronson.

In 1828 he and his wife made a public profession of religion and joined the Free Will Baptist Church of Greenfield, of which he remained a worthy member for about forty years, until his Savior called him home. In May, 1838, he was licensed to preach, and was ordained in December, 1838. In 1835 he was a deligate to the General Conference at Byron, New York, and again in 1839 to the one at Conneaut, Ohio. His labors in the ministry were mostly within the bounds of Huron and Seneca Quarterly Meetings, and of course witnessed great changes in the life and prosperity of churches within that time.

He taught the first district school in District No. 3, Peru, in the winter of 1828-9. In March, 1850, he was elected by the General Assembly of Ohio as one of the Associate Judges of Huron County. In 1835 he was elected as a Trustee of the Free Will Baptist Publication Society, located in Dover, New Hampshire.

As a public man he was compelled to meet the moral questions of the day, and, to his honor be it said, he was always for the right. The fields of Freedom, Temperance, Sabbath Schools, the Bible cause and Missions of all denominations always found in him a zealous and hearty co-laborer. But in connection with the Firelands Historical Society was he best known.

In truth, he was its projector. March 30, 1857, the following article appeared in the Sandusky Daily Register, then edited by Henry D. Cooke, Esq: A County Historical Society

The Pioneers -- the trappers and the hunters who but little over half a century ago divided their game with the Indians, in the unbroken forests of Northern Ohio, have passed away. The earlier settlers, too, who followed close upon their footsteps with their families and their implements of husbandry and handicraft, have left among the more recent growth of the population only an occasional remnant of their hardy band. One of their number, the Rev. Seth C.Parker, of Steuben, Huron County, has written a letter, calling our attention to a project which will especially interest all of this class in Huron and Erie Counties -- the organization of a Joint County Historical Society.

He says: "Such societies exist in all, or nearly all the counties in the eastern part of the Reserve, and it is due to us who reside in the two western counties, to meet as soon as convenient, -- say about the middle of May next -- to take the preliminary steps for a similar organization. As Huron and Erie counties were for a long time embraced in the limits of a single county, it is thought by many that it would be best to have them unite -- at least for a time--in the proposed historical society. The history of the "Fire Lands," the sufferings the early settlers before and during the war of 1812, together with the history and settlement of the several townships by the earnest and bold pioneers, are subjects of which but little is known by thousands of those who now reside in our pleasant towns and ambitious cities, and who reap anually in the rich fields which their fathers cleared from the forest."

Mr. Parker adds: "Will you please give the matter such notice as you think it deserves? I would suggest that at our first meeting the Township Clerks of both counties, with as many of the old settlers as can be found, who have lived longest in the several townships, be earnestly invited to attend, and that Hon. E. Cooke of Sandusky, and James Williams, Esq., of Norwalk, be invited to be present and give each an address, or "talk" to their friends of "Old Lang Syne;" and that others having in their possession any information of historical interest connected with the settlement of the two counties, come prepared to furnish a transcript thereof, to be incorporated in the records of the Society."

Our correspondent has stated the case so well that it was superflous to add to his valuable suggestions. That they will be adopted by those who yet remain of the energetic men who subdued a wilderness we have no doubt. The record of their sufferings, their privations, their labors and their triumphs should not be allowed to die with them. Such an organization as is suggested is due no less to the future than to the past, no less to the present generation than to that which is passing away. It will be the means of reminding us of our obligations to the early settlers, and will help us to keep in remembrance their noble and self-sacrificing example."

The suggestion there made was persistently presented by him to leading pioneers and friends, and resulted in the meeting for organization May 20th, 1857, at Norwalk. Platt Benedict was chosen President of the Society then organized, and Judge Parker one of the Vice Presidents. In that capacity or as Biographer he continued his active efforts for the Society till death. In season and out of season, untiring and unflagging, it may be said no one did more than he to stir up and keep alive an interest in its work. In his own language written in view of his not distant end: "In laboring with others to create an interest in the organization of our Historical Society, I look back with pleasure to the pleasant hours spent with the noble and true who were fellow laborers in accomplishing the end already attained in the formation and perpetuation of one of the most successful Historical Societies in the State. May the blessing of Providence rest upon it and its officers and members together with all its numerous friends. May they toil on in their labor of love until their earthly labors are closed is the ardent and sincere desire of one who had lobored from the beginning for the prosperity of our beloved Society, and that it may prosper and be a blessing to others when myself and others of the early friends have passed away. Which may God grant for his Son's sake. Amen!"

"Steuben, Huron County, Ohio, April 8, 1868."

His last contribution to the Society was made May 1, 1868, and closes with these words: "My health is failing, and I am admonished that I have little longer to stay in this vale of tears. The Lord's wii be done. My trust is in the Blessed Savior. Yes, I can say with Paul; 'It is better to depart and be with Christ.' Amen!"

His last sickness and death are best described in the following, written by the surviving partner of his joys and sorrows: "His death was occasioned by a cancer which first made its appearance in the winter of 1859 It was the left side of his upper lip, and at first had the appearnce of a slight blister. In the course of the year it grew harder and looked more like a wart, and continued to slowly increase in size until the summer of 1866, when it began to be painful and discharge. He visited several physicians, but all to no purpose. His disease began to develop internally, and the last months of his life was a scene of almost unintermitting suffering.

"At the burial of another of our Pioneers (Erastus Smith) while standing at the open grave in company with Elder Laird, of Fairfield, who remarked to him that for all the knowledge of the 'Glorious beyond,' the grave was still a gloomy-looking place, 'Not so to me,' he replied,'for to me it looks like a place of rest.'

"Owing to the paralysis of one side of his head and tongue, for some weeks before his death his speech was often unintelligible. On the night preceding his death our eldest son and I were watching with him. During the night he was very restless and in great pain until about 3 0'clock in the morning, when he sank into a seeming sleep, which lasted about an hour, when he aroused and exclaimed; "Oh, what beautiful things I have seen. I want to try and tell you!" And he did so with great earnestness, but we could understand so little that I got pencil and paper, on which he wrote the following words; "I saw twelve beautiful white oxen; they shone like silver!" then pointing upward, said they were all moving overhead. He tried to say much more, but we could not understand enough to know what. Those words were the last he ever wrote. He then lay quietly for some time, when his pain began to increase and he continued a great sufferer until his death, which took place about 12 M. His mind did not fail him until the last moment. Even after he could no longer speak he answered the questions of his children and friends by signs.

"Two days after his death his funeral was held in the F.W. Baptist Church at Greenfield, and was attended by a large concourse of people. Fifty four relatives and friends walked as mourners, and I know I may truly say there were many mourning hearts in the assembly."

He was a great student of history, and indefatigable in the collection of books. At the time of his death, his was probably the largest private library in Huron County, and one of the largest of any minister's in the denomination. His decease makes a chasm in the ranks of his favorite Society which no one else can fill. With Platt Benedict, George Woodruff, Elijah Bemiss and many other "mighty men" among the pioneers of the Fire Lands, he has gone to his rest.

"We live in deeds, not years -- in thoughts, not breaths -- In feelings, not in fugures or a dial; We should count time by heart throbs. He most lives Who thinks most -- feels the noblest --acts the best." D.H.P.

The above article is from the June, 1870 issue of FIRELANDS PIONEER (submitted for the Huron County Chapter OGS website by Kristi Wheeler, ggg-grandaughter of Reverend Seth Parker)If anyone knows of a picture of Rev. Parker, please email Kristi. Thank You!

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