PRESLEY SMITH PARKER. The leading merchant and business man of Buffalo Springs, and a gentleman whose efforts have contributed much to the value and importance of that old village as a trading point, is Presley S. Parker, whose career in Clay county has placed him in a position of financial independence, in contrast with his insecure, anxious and dependent condition on seeking the county some twelve years ago. As a farmer here he was unstable, unsettled and restless, a trader of no mean talent, while, as a merchant, his ability has shown itself in his successful grasp of situations, turning them to his own financial account and becoming the real center of interest in the village itself.
In 1892 Mr. Parker first came into Clay county. He was possessed of a team and wagon a hundred dollars in money which he had accumulated in one of the counties of the black land after several years of unceasing and unremitting toil. He rented a tract of land and planted a crop, took possession of two hundred acres of new land southwest of Buffalo Springs and put on the initial strokes of its improvement. This tract he had bargained to pay the munificent sum of two dollars and fifty cents an acre for, borrowing the thirty dollars which constituted the advance payment on the place. While busied with making his first home in Texas, some months after he took possession of a purchaser took it at fifteen hundred dollars and his fist stroke of real luck had made its appearance. He bought another new tract near by a five dollars an acre and went through the same formality as to its improvement and in a couple of years a buyer came along with one thousand seven hundred and fifty dollars and exchanged with him “even up.” “Now,” he said to his wife, “we will go back to Collin county and buy us a little black land farm and settle down.” They bought one of forty-four acres and, by dint of hard work at corn and cotton raising, and supplementing it with outside work with team and himself, managed to eke out a bare living until the last couple of years when he fenced his place hogtight and planted his place to corn. Feeding this to his hogs brought him the “golden era,” yet after five years he sold out and returned to the county where it seemed so easy to get along. He paid one thousand five hundred and fifty dollars for his old home and took possession with the idea of climbing this ladder to final independence. His trading propensities again took hold on our subject and he bought C. R. Saunders‘ store and adjoining property at Buffalo Springs and began his mercantile career in 1901. A stock of goods of the value of three hundred dollars and sixty acres of land constituted the property, and the first year he took in, as his partner in the store, F. L. Aulick. They increased the stock many fold and made it a desirable place to trade and bought and handled everything in the huckster line that the farmer had to sell. In 1902, Mr. Parker became sole proprietor of the business, and the business increase, as time went on, made a remarkable showing. His chicken, eggs and butter trade amounted to more than a hundred dollars a month through 1904, and he turned his stock of goods in the store nearly three times in that twelve months.
When P. S. Parker came to Texas, in 1882, he was just past his majority and all his substantial capital was invested in a pair of strong and willing hands. He stopped near Wiley, in Collin county, and passed two years as a farm hand by the month. In that time he had acquired a team and some cash besides and, after returning from a trip to his old home in Arkansas, he married and settled on a rented farm. From thenceforward to 1892 his career was one of “ups and downs,” with a constantly backward tendency staring him and his young wife in the face. In desperation, he told his companion they would “pull out” for a new place and try their fortune elsewhere, as it was only a matter of time till their resources would be exhausted. With his team and all their possessions in a wagon a new life at Vashti, Clay county, began.
Mr. Parker was born in Washington county, Arkansas, May 5, 1860. Pleasant Parker, his father, was a native of Spottsylvania county, Virginia, born March 11, 1824. The latter was taken hy [by] his father to Hawkins county, Tennessee, in 1828, was there orphaned and at the age of ten years. He grew up there and at twenty-six years of age married Sarah Jones and moved west into Arkansas, December 25, 1851. In 1853 he settled near Carter’s Store, where he passed life as a farmer and where he died September 21, 1895. He was industrious, was a useful citizen and a Christian gentleman. He joined the church at twenty-five years of age and was ever afterward a consistent member of the Baptist church. His wife, who was a daughter of Riley Jones, a Baptist minister who passed his active life and died in Washington county, Arkansas, is yet living and makes her home in Washita county, Oklahoma.
Pleasant and Sarah Jones reared the following children: Lizzie, wife of J. W. Dian, of Washington county, Arkansas; Sarah, wife of D. I. Perry, of the same county; Alexander, of Washita county, Oklahoma; Presley S., of this review; Perry, of Washita county, Oklahoma; John, of California, and Larkin, of Washington county, Oklahoma.
Presley S. Parker was limited and sparingly educated in the country schools and was married in Collin county, Texas, July 4, 1885, to Mattie, a daughter of W. C. Parker. Mr. Parker was from Humphrey county, Tennessee, and settled in Collin county, Texas, in 1855. His first wife was a Miss Wilson and his second was the mother of the following children: Dr. C. D., of Houston; Mrs. Lizzie Rolan, of Montague county, Texas; Mrs. P. S. Parker, born January 28, 1865; Kate, who died single; Adelia, wife of Mr. Nottingham, of Dallas.
Mr. and Mrs. Parker’s children are: Dennis C., of Oklahoma; and Centennial, Bennie, Sarah, Mary and Linton. Mr. Parker is a Democrat, is postmaster of Buffalo Springs, has extended county convention of his party and is a notary public.
Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. II, pp. 490-491.