Francis Marion Park and his family lived at Walnut Grove, McDonough Co, Illinois until 1885. They purchased a covered wagon and equipment and moved with their five children to Kansas traveling through Iowa and Nebraska. They arrived in Republic Co. Kansas on November 27, 1885. They established a home about two miles south of the Kansas/Nebraska border near the Repulican River. They then moved to Phillips Co. hear Phillipsburg in 1887 and then to Prairie View, Phillips Co, KS in March 1892. They lived in sod houses during this time. After enduring prairie fires, grasshopper and drought they decided to move back to Illinois. On their way they passed through White Cloud, Doniphan Co, KS arriving in January 1895. They found they were unable to cross the Missouri River because the ferry had been taken out of the water due to floating ice. There were no vacant houses so the city of White Cloud gave them permission to live in the jail. By spring the family had made friends and decided to make White Cloud their home. Francis Marion rented a farm west of White Cloud.3,4,1
Francis Marion was disabled in later years. He was missing part of his left hand, lost in an farming accident. He had broken his leg and it wasn’t set correctly leaving him unable to work.5
Lola Turner recalls that his farm equipment was sold following the accident. She says a hayfork rope broke throwing him to the ground breaking his leg and some ribs.4
After Margaret’s death in 1918 he moved in with his daughter Ada Taylor and family. Herman “Mike” remembers his Grandpa as his buddy.5
Lola Turner say Francis Marion was known as an honest, hard working man, respected by all who knew him.4
Biography written by Evelyn Park Blalock, with information provided by Don Park. Please do not publish elsewhere without providing full and proper credit. Thank you.
Francis Marion Park was born in Swan Creek, Warren County, Illinois, on 22 July 1850, to parents Henry Thomas Park and Sarah Ann Crawford. By December of that same year, the family had moved to Fall Creek in Adams County, residing with Henry's mother. The family returned to Swan Creek by 1860.
When Francis Marion was old enough to set out on his own, he moved to Walnut Grove in McDonough County and began working as a hired hand on the property of Alexander Crane. There, he met his future bride, Alexander's daughter Margaret Elizabeth Crane. On 8 September 1875, a few months after Alexander's death, Francis and Margaret were married. Margaret had inherited a small tract of land in Walnut Grove when Alexander died, and their young family lived on this land until 1885. Formal photographs of the family during this period indicate a fairly high standard of living.
In 1885, newspaper advertisements promising "great wealth in the former desert" encouraged Francis and Margaret to sell their holdings in Illinois and head further west. The family purchased a covered wagon and equipment, and then traveled through Iowa and Nebraska to reach Kansas. They arrived in Republic County on 27 November 1885 and selected a site on the Republican River (about two miles south of the Kansas/Nebraska border) to establish their homestead. Unfortunately, this was the first of several sites that proved unsatisfactory. In 1887, the family moved to Phillips County near Phillipsburg. In 1892, they moved to Prairie View. They lived in sod houses during this time.
Life on the prairie was not easy, especially during the years immediately after their arrival. (Those familiar with Kansas history will know this was not a favorable time to arrive!) After enduring prairie fires, grasshoppers, drought, and more, they decided to move back to Illinois. However, when they arrived at the ferry crossing of the Missouri River in January 1895, they discovered that the ferry had already been removed from the river for winter due to floating ice. The family found themselves stranded on the wrong side of the river without shelter, and no homes were available for rent in the nearby town of White Cloud, Doniphan County. The only habitation to be had at that time was the jail, which was a building 10 feet by 10 feet square, and fortunately unoccupied. The town council was consulted, and Francis and his family were allowed to occupy the jail for the winter.
By spring, the family had made friends and decided to make White Cloud their home, renting a farm that had become available west of town. The family subsequently became significant factors in the county. Francis continued to work at farming, stating that his occupation was "Fruit Grower" for the 1910 census.
In later years, Francis was disabled. He lost part of his left hand in a farming accident and had broken his leg and several ribs during a fall from the hay loft. The farming equipment was sold after it became apparent that the broken leg would not heal properly, and Francis would be unable to return to farm work.
Francis moved to the home of his daughter, Ada Taylor, after Margaret's death in 1918. He died four years later, on 2 February 1922.ADDITIONAL NOTES:
The obituary states that Francis Marion and his family moved to White Cloud in 1894. However, family records show the family departing from Phillipsburg in December 1894 and arriving at the Missouri River in January 1895.
Much of the historical information contained in this biography was obtained through personal interviews conducted by Donald E. Park with the children and grandchildren of Francis Marion Park, long before studying genealogy became "popular" among the public. We are indebted to all of these individuals for their efforts in preserving our family history. Some memories from relatives who knew Francis Marion personally:
-Herman "Mike" Taylor, a grandson, had fond memories of Grandpa being his good buddy.
-Lola Turner, a granddaughter, said that Francis Marion was known as an honest and hard working man, respected by all who knew him.
-George Woodrow Park, a grandson, said that Francis Marion Park owned very little in his life, but was one of the most Christian gentlemen he had ever known.
Children of Francis and Margaret:
Francis Edward "Ed" Park
Stella Margaret Park Taylor
Lawrence Asa "Parksy" Park
Lewis Elza "Lew" Park
Ada W. Park Taylor
Alex Elton Park
William Thornton Park
Canzada Frances "Zada" Park Porter