Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Estelle (Mrs. C. Harrison) Parker, 1849-c. 1920
By Catherine Dean, Cataloger/System Administrator: University Library--Southern University at Shreveport, LA
Estelle Brown, daughter of Kentucky natives Richard H. and Sarah Ann Brown, was born in Louisville, KY in 1849. The 1850 federal census identifies her father as a grocer. In 1860, Miss Brown can be found in the household of farmer William A. Ellis, who her mother remarried. That census also lists a step sister, Martha, and a half-sister, Eva. Little else can be gleaned of Miss Brown's childhood or personal life until she married Colonel Caleb Harrison Parker of Mississippi in 1870.
Mr. Parker ran away to join the Confederate army in New Orleans and later became a recognized journalist and political figure in the city. He garnered national attention for his duels against rival journalists in 1882 and 1889. Despite his sometimes controversial actions, he and Mrs. Parker remained distinguished members of New Orleans society throughout their lives. They had one daughter, Eva Parker, who married Thomas Zimmerman Tyler. Mrs. Parker resided with her daughter and son-in-law later in her life.
Though Mrs. Parker did not have a career, she maintained an active social schedule, participated in charitable organizations, and supported efforts to establish a state suffrage organization. Mrs. Parker and her daughter are frequently mentioned in event, travel, and visit announcements in the Society section of the local papers from the 1890s onward. Some of these announcements also cover Mrs. Parker's participation in the Ladies Unsectarian Aid Society. The society assisted women by providing financial support, sewing rooms, and help finding stable employment. Mrs. Parker contributed by hosting musical performances at her home and donating the proceeds, which on one occasion reached a sizable $107. The Ladies Unsectarian Aid Society also established the New Orleans Training School for Nurses, for which Mrs. Parker served on the Linen and House Committee.
During this period in New Orleans women's charitable organizations were trending toward social reform (Green 1999, 89), and Mrs. Parker's active role in the Ladies' Unsectarian Aid Society serves as a precursor to her participation in the suffrage movement. Though in her sixties, Mrs. Parker is listed among women who worked to establish the State Equal Suffrage League in 1913. In the following years, she served on the equipment committee for the better babies contest hosted by the league at the Baton Rouge Fair.
After her husband's death on September 27, 1916, there is little documentation of Mrs. Parker's activities. She likely died before 1920 since she cannot be located in that year's census either in her own household or her son-in-law's, but she almost certainly did not live past 1922 when the contents of her home were advertised by the Fitzpatrick-Till Auction Company in the Times-Picayune.
Arceneaux, Pamela D. 2011. "Library." The Quarterly, 28(4): 17. Accessed on January 9, 2020. https://www.hnoc.org/sites/default/files/quarterly/HNOC_Q4_11.pdf.
"Col. C. Harrison Parker." 1916. In Daily Arkansas Gazette, September 28, 1916. Reproduced on Newspapers.com (website). Accessed on January 8, 2020.
"Contents of the Home of Mrs. C. Harrison Parker, 2606 Prytania St., Corner Third, at Auction, Wednesday, January 3rd, at 11 A. M." In The Times-Picayune, December 31, 1922. Reproduced on Readex (website). Accessed on January 22, 2020.
Bureau of the Census. 1850 United States Federal Census : Louisville District 2, Jefferson, Kentucky. Page 158A. Image 320. Reproduced on Ancestry (website.) Accessed on January 7, 2020.
Fortier, Paula A. 2014. "Crescent City Nightingales: Gender, Race, Class and the Professionalization of Nursing for Women in New Orleans, Louisiana, 1881-1950." New Orleans, LA: University of New Orleans, 34, 43-44. https://scholarworks.uno.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2986&context=td
Green, Elna C., ed. 1999. Before the New Deal: Social Welfare in the South, 1830-1930. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 89.
Harper, Ida Husted, ed. 1922. "Chapter XVII: Louisiana. Part I." In Vol. 6 of The History of Woman Suffrage. New York: J. J. Little & Ives Co, 216-35. [LINK]
Madison County Courthouse. Kentucky, County Marriage Records, 1783-1965. Film number 000482711. Reproduced on Ancestry (website). Accessed on January 7, 2020.
"New Orleans Training School for Nurses." 1893. In The Times-Democrat, June 6, 1983. Reproduced on Newspapers.com (website). Accessed on January 9, 2020.
"State Federation of Women's Clubs. News from Various Activities of the Organization." 1915. In The Times-Picayune, October 10, 1915. Reproduced on Readex (website). Accessed on January 9, 2020.
"The Woman's Club." 1893. In The Times-Picayune, March 23, 1893. Reproduced on Newspapers.com (website). Accessed on January 9, 2020.