Thomas Parks Collection of Parks and McElrath family papers, 1777-1981.

Creator: Parks, Thomas, 1889-1980, collector.
Collection number: 4464
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Abstract: The Parks family, like many other Scotch-Irish dissenters, made their way to the North Carolina Piedmont, settling in Rowan County. There, William Parks (1770-1842) was born. He married Mary Beaty (1778-1846) in 1795, and the two had ten children, among them a son, John L. Parks (1822-1906). John Parks married his first wife, Margaret McDowell, in 1848. Following two other marriages and service as a Confederate private, Parks moved to the Hopewell area, near Huntersville in Mecklenburg County, NC, in 1868. There he owned a substantial farm and cotton gin. One of his sons, William Beaty Parks (1851-1929), also became a farmer and was the owner of a general store. W. B. Parks married Nancy Alice Gluyas in 1873. They had three sons, one of whom was the Thomas Parks (1889-1980) who collected this material. The McElraths were related to the Parks by marriage. David McElrath left Scotland for America in 1730, and a son, also David, moved to Burke County, NC. Two of his sons, Robert (1770-1814) and John, married into the McDowell family. The collection includes correspondence, financial and legal items, photographs, and other material relating to ancestors and other relatives of Thomas Parks (1889-1980). Parks collected the material in an effort to document his genealogy, and much of the material concerns the Parks family of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. The bulk of the other material concerns the McElrath family of Burke County, North Carolina.

Repository: Southern Historical Collection

Collection Highlights: The Parks Family materials contain three bills of medical treatment for enslaved individuals owned by John Parks (Folder 20). Volumes 2 and 3 in Series 6 contains account books that record, among other items, the birth of enslaved individuals c. 1863.

The McElbrath papers include details of the use of slaves in California gold mines between 1851-1852 (see folders 2 and 13 and related financial items in folder 22); actions taken to thwart a slave insurrection in 1860 (Folder 5); and a deed of gift transferring ownership of a family slave to a physician, possibly in payment for health services (Folder 16).