John D. Parker was born November 22, 1799 at Saratoga,
New York to Abe L. Parker (AFN: 4QJP-WT) and Mary Davis (AFN: 4QJP-X1)
Although we find no record of his baptism, Parker
must have been an early convert to the Church for by 1834 he was a member
of the Zion's Camp mission to relieve the suffering saints in Missouri.
The History of the Church records: "Among the most active of those
who were engaged in taking care of the sick at the [Zion's] Camp, burying
the dead, etc., were John D. Parker, John Tanner, Nathan Tanner,
Joseph B. Noble, Brigham Young, Joseph
Young, Heber C. Kimball, Luke
S. Johnson and Eleazar Miller."
Possibly because of the faithfulness demonstrated
by Elder Parker during Zion's Camp he was named a year later in 1835 as
a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy placing him among the ranks
of the General Authorities.
In 1841, he was named in a special conference as
a missionary to serve in New Orleans, Louisiana.
By 1842 he was back in Nauvoo, Illinois where the
Prophet Joseph Smith wrote: These are
not the only ones who have administered to my necessity and whom the Lord
will bless. There is Brother John D. Parker ... My heart feels to
reciprocate the unwearied kindnesses that have been bestowed upon me by
these men. They are men of noble stature, of noble hands, and of noble
deeds; possessing noble, and daring, and giant hearts and souls.
Elder Parker seems to have been close to the prophet.
He served as one of the Prophet's bodyguards and often accompanied him
on trips seeking refuge. He was also a lawman, serving as a Deputy Sheriff
in Hancock County, Illinois during the Nauvoo era and as Sheriff in Pottawattamie
County, Iowa during the exodus west. In September 1842, the Prophet wrote:
" I accompanied the brethren and Emma to my house, remaining there a few
minutes to offer a blessing upon the heads of my sleeping children; then
called a few minutes at the house of my cousin George A. Smith, on my way
to my retreat at Edward Hunter's. John D. Parker accompanied me
He also served as an officer in the Nauvoo Legion, at the time the largest
single military unit in the United Stated and at its peak numbering a force
almost half as large as the entire regular United States Army. He was,
in fact, one of the organizers. From the History of the Church Vol.4,
Ch.15, page 295: "Minutes of the Meeting which Organized the Nauvoo Legion.
"Pursuant to an ordinance of the City Council of the City of Nauvoo, entitled,
"An ordinance organizing the Nauvoo Legion," passed February 3, 1841, a
court-martial, composed of the commissioned officers of the militia of
the state of Illinois, within the city of Nauvoo, assembled at the office
of Joseph Smith, on Thursday at 10 o'clock a.m., the 4th day of February,
1841: present--John C. Bennett, quarter-master general of the state of
Illinois; Lieutenant-Colonel Don Carlos Smith; Captains Charles
C. Rich, Wilson Law, Albert P. Rockwood,
Law, Titus Billings, Stephen Markham;
first lieutenants, Francis M. Higbee, John T. Barnett,
John D. Parker."
Also read the following: "Saturday, 24.SEP 1842--The legion was called
out for general parade, and reviewed by General Law. In the evening, Lieutenant-Colonel
Stephen Markham was elected Colonel of the 1st Regiment, 1st Cohort, to
fill the place of Colonel George Miller,
promoted; and Captain John D. Parker elected to fill his place;
and Captain Thomas Rich to fill the place of Major Wightman, deceased.
In researching Elder Parker, Grampa Bill finds a
difficulty. The International Genealogical Index (IGI) states that he was
married on February 3, 1846 to Almeda Sophia Roundy, by whom he fathered
ten children, yet the Prophet recorded on January 8, 1844, "At eleven went
to my office to investigate a difficulty between John D. Parker
and his wife. After laboring with them about two hours, brought about a
reconciliation." Whether Parker remarried after death or divorce, or the
IGI misreports the date of his marriage, Grampa Bill does not know. It
is also possible that the IGI is reporting a plural marriage.
As a lawman, Elder Parker on at least one occasion
had to arrest the Prophet himself. Whether this was a ploy to keep mobocrat
lawmen from arresting the Prophet or merely enforcing a legally issued
but ultimately bogus writ of arrest is not certain. The verbiage makes
the second seem more likely. On. Monday, May 6, 1844, the Prophet wrote:
"I had a warrant served on me by John D. Parker, issued by the clerk
of the circuit court of Carthage, on the complaint of Francis M. Higbee,
who had laid his damages at $5,000. but for what the writ does not state.
I petitioned the municipal court for a writ of habeas corpus which I obtained."
After the prophet's martyrdom, Elder Parker was on
October 11, 1845 appointed captain of the eleventh company for the trek
Elder Parker maintained a closeness with the presiding
brethren of the Church after the saints west west. As the saints faced
increasing difficulties over the practice of plural marriage. Brigham Young
determined to meet the legal challenges. He started a winter trip to face
a Federal Magistrate. It is recorded: "December 1872, The second day's
journey brought them to Kanarra, in Iron county. Here they met the veteran
life guard of the Prophet Joseph Smith, John D. Parker, "who wept
like a child because President Young was going back to face his enemies
in the court room, which he considered an act of madness."
A final record of Elder Parker occurs in the year 1891: John D. Parker,
another member of Zion's Camp, died at Kanarra, Iron Co.